One Vote Can Make a Difference

From the Modesto Bee: Coin flip decides Newman-Crows Landing school race.

Pepper Spray for Competitive Shopping

Do we need to explain why pepper spray should not be used as a competitive shopping tool? This is another reason, moreover, why our government agencies should not be so quick to use it to deal with inconveniences.

Romney Lies in Ad

Should anyone want to be president this badly? Great job here by the DNC with a video response to the ad approved by the person who is supposedly the most electable Republican in the presidential contest.

Media Consolidation’s Illusion of Choice

In 1983, 90 percent of the American media was controlled by 50 companies. Now it is six. Here's a great infographic from Frugal Dad about the state of media consolidation in the United States.

Media Consolidation Infographic

Source: Frugal dad

The Origins of “Black Friday”

Mother Jones' Kevin Drum has a great post explaining how the origins of the term "Black Friday" appear to be different from what we assume–or, rather, what corporate public relations people have worked hard to get us to think.

Violence Against Journalist in Egypt

The rest of the world has not paused. The Guardian's Shiv Malik reports:

"The US-based Egyptian journalist Mona Eltahawy has been released, according to her personal Twitter account, after 12 hours in detention at the hands of Cairo security forces. A later tweet from the account @monaeltahawy said that she was sexually and physically assaulted while being held inside the interior ministry in Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday morning."

The Difference A Week Makes

In a story today about the nationwide outrage over the abuse of pepper spray at UC Davis, the reporter writes:

"A half-dozen law enforcement officials interviewed for this story agreed that the use of pepper spray at UC Davis did not appear to be appropriate or reasonable. All agreed that the incident would not likely have happened at their agencies."

Really.

Turning the clock back a whole, um, week, we see in one of the first stories about the UC Davis incident that another reporter included the following:

"Charles J. Kelly, a former Baltimore Police Department lieutenant who wrote the department's use of force guidelines, said pepper spray is a "compliance tool" that can be used on subjects who do not resist, and is preferable to simply lifting protesters…"What I'm looking at is fairly standard police procedure," Kelly said."

One of these things is not like the other. So:

  1. Did law enforcement policies and procedures change in less than a week?
  2. Did public opinion shift so markedly that people are being more measured in their comments? Or
  3. Did public opinion shift so fast against the casual torture of passive protesters that reporters are now seeking out a different type of quote?

My money is on 2 and 3, with a lean towards 3. Hopefully some work on 1 will be forced by public will.

The History of English in 10 Minutes

This trip down our language's memory lane is well worth 10 or so minutes of your time. Thanks Roxanne for sharing it!

The California Public Education Funding Crisis (Continued)

State Board of Education President Michael Kirst comments on California's school funding system in this KION story:

"You need to essentially throw out the past; you cannot fix what we have." Michael Kirst says there's no fixing when it comes to the education finance system. Kirst is the President of the State Board of Education, and says the system, "has no underlying rationale," and,"it's not coherent."

It's one of the reasons our schools are in a state of fiscal emergency.

A Lack of Social Mobility

Here's another example of how the facts can differ from our assumptions.

In the New York times' Economix blog, Catherine Rampell writes about a recent Pew Research Center report on American exceptionalism:

"Even so, American nongraduates still seem to think they have more control over their destinies than the average German, Frenchman or Spaniard does. Almost three-quarters of Germans, for example, believe that success is determined by factors outside our control.

These findings are particularly interesting when juxtaposed with a separate report from the Pew Economic Mobility project. That report, which examined economic and social mobility in 10 Western countries, found that Americans actually appear to have less control over their success in life than their counterparts do."

This is one of the reasons our politics currently is incapable of responding to what the public needs. Our dreams do not match reality. And we have many politicians more than willing to exploit this fact.