Archive | March 2, 2014

The Rent Really Is Too Damn High

Vindication for Jimmy McMillan, the inimitable New Yorker profiled in the movie DAMN!, whose political slogan “The Rent Is Too Damn High” propelled him to fame following a gubernatorial debate with Andrew Cuomo, courtesy of Salon:

Jimmy McMillan is right. The candidate of the Rent Is Too Damn High Party may have lost the New York mayoral election to Bill DeBlasio. But it’s true — in New York and much of the United States, the rent really is too damn high.

This graph, based on 2012 data by the consumer expenditure survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics, breaks down consumer expenditures by pre-tax income:

Graph from Salon

Graph from Salon

As a percentage of income, many expenditures are the same across income groups — in part because social programs for the poor like Medicaid and food stamps limit out-of-pocket costs on food and health care for low-income Americans. But spending on housing as a share of income increases as income declines — only 29.9 percent for the highest 20 percent, housing costs are 37.6 percent for the second 20 percent and 39.9 percent for the lowest 20 percent.The classic rule is that you should not spend more than 30 percent of your income on housing, whether in the form of rent or a mortgage on a house or condo.

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‘Selfies’ Are Spreading Lice, According to CNN

CNN reports that the practice of taking selfies, photos in which a person uses his or her phone’s camera to take a picture of themselves and friends (usually crowded in closely), is spreading head lice. What do you think, Disinfonauts? Credible or more ridiculous scaremongering from this increasingly irrelevant media giant? Why lice? Why not the flu or head colds? Is it that the louse “ick” factor is more likely to – ahem – turn heads?

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Volcanoes Contribute to Recent Global Warming ‘Hiatus’

Pic: "Volcano" Lionel Walden ca. 1880 (PD)

Pic: “Volcano” Lionel Walden ca. 1880 (PD)

Volcanoes, the cause of global warming?  Au contraire, they’re an antidote!  Via ScienceDaily:

Volcanic eruptions in the early part of the 21st century have cooled the planet, according to a study led by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This cooling partly offset the warming produced by greenhouse gases.

Despite continuing increases in atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases, and in the total heat content of the ocean, global-mean temperatures at the surface of the planet and in the troposphere (the lowest portion of Earth’s atmosphere) have shown relatively little warming since 1998. This so-called ‘slow-down’ or ‘hiatus’ has received considerable scientific, political and popular attention. The volcanic contribution to the ‘slow-down’ is the subject of a new paper appearing in the Feb. 23 edition of the journal Nature Geoscience.

Volcanic eruptions inject sulfur dioxide gas into the atmosphere. If the eruptions are large enough to add sulfur dioxide to the stratosphere (the atmospheric layer above the troposphere), the gas forms tiny droplets of sulfuric acid, also known as “volcanic aerosols.” These droplets reflect some portion of the incoming sunlight back into space, cooling Earth’s surface and the lower atmosphere.

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Fragmentation of Bitcoin Community Begins after the Collapse of Mt. Gox and Secondmarket’s Wall Street Exchange Proposal

bitcoin wall streetvia chycho

A few comments regarding Bitcoin and the recent developments with Mt. Gox (2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9) and the announcement that SecondMarket is stepping into the game and planning to launch the “first New York-based Bitcoin exchange” (emphasis added):

“SecondMarket CEO Barry Silbert says that he’s modeling it after the early days of The IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), and that he hopes to have a set of founding members in place by the end of March (i.e., a ‘seat’ model). These members are expected to include Wall Street banks and well-funded Bitcoin startups (think Circle and Coinbase). Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade — at least at the outset — but likely could do business via the member firms.

When Wall Street insiders announce that they are joining your game, but not allowing you to play on their field, which is what is implied with “Non-member firms or individuals would not be allowed to trade”, one should be concerned that the fundamental rules of the game may be changing, but, unfortunately, with fear running rampant within the Bitcoin community due to the collapse of Mt.

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On The Consumerist Order Of The New City

cityNew Left Project describes the reshaping of the meaning and rules of our cities:

The commercialisation of the urban landscape has resulted in the privatisation of public space. As manufacturing industries have diminished and the consumer and service economy has grown, the places we inhabit have radically changed. As city centres have become tributes to consumption, private interests have permeated these spaces. Although these places hold the semblance of being “public”, they are owned by corporate interests and are therefore under private control and not accountable to the public.

The quasi-public space of the commercial city centre is unwelcoming for a growing number of citizens. Non-consumers, such as the homeless, the unemployed, the poor, the young and the old are branded as ‘others’ to the hegemonic consumer order. The right to the city is increasingly a privilege for those with the material and cultural capital to consume. The quest for clean and sanitized space has meant that ‘out of place’ individuals who fail to match up to a highly circumscribed model of ‘consumer citizenship’ are hidden from view.

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Mess With Glenn Greenwald At Your Own Risk

Glenn_greenwald_portrait_transparentClearly, there’s an officially sanctioned, if not supported, backlash underway to cast doubt on the those who are disseminating the information that Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers are exposing to the global public.

What better way to respond to the evidence of government overreach and criminality in the spying by the NSA and other agencies than to try to change the subject by smearing the people who are funding the reporting on it to us.

This latest round of the media battle should not be surprising. In fact, it’s all too predictable.

In the latest round, lawyer and journalist Glenn Greenwald, the point person/interpreter for the majority of the Snowden disclosures, came under attack by indirection with a high profile smear on Pierre Omidyar, the eBay billionaire funding his new venture, First Look Media.

Leading the charge publicly is one MarkAmes, who writes for Pando Daily, a rival news agency funded by another Silicon Valley tech moneyman.… Read the rest

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