Random (but not really)

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Podcasts I’ve Been Enjoying

As I noted on the book roundup, I’ve been listening to podcasts rather than audio books recently, so I thought I’d give y’all a round up of what I’ve been enjoying.

First up is Make Me Smart with Kai & Molly. Because I love listening to Kai’s voice, and the repartee between Kai and Molly is wonderful. Especially when Molly utterly geeks out.

Also, the episode What. The. Fed. opens with Kai cussing, and it is delightful.

But what you really want is CRISPR for Beginners. For work a wrote a piece on ethics and gene-editing, because this is something we need to consider NOW.

Next up is Planet Money, which I listened to right after it started (and even have the T-shirt!)

What I especially like about Planet Money is that I had NO (zero, none, zip, zilch) classes in economics and finance through all my many years of school. Planet Money doesn’t assume you know anything about economics AND it has really interesting stories.

You should check out this short episode on the Indicator, The Private Firefighter Industry . I recently read a book that was set during the time public fire companies were first being set up in London, and I find it disconcerting that we might be returning to a time when only those with money can afford real protection.

Another podcast I’m adoring is Smart Podcast, Trashy Books, which is (unsurprisingly) the podcast for Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Yes, the focus is romance books, but they can talk about so much more here, and I recommend to every woman a recent episode: Burnout – A Feminist Book about Stress: An Interview with Emily and Amelia Nagoski

If you like science, I highly recommend This Podcast Will Kill You. They recently did a two-parter on vaccines that I HIGHLY recommend.

They also talk a fair amount about epidemiology, which is a highly underrated science. (Correlation is not causation!) Thanks to Mary for pointing this one out to me.

So have you been enjoying any interesting podcasts?

Written by Michelle at 10:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Politics,Science, Health & Nature  

Thursday, July 4, 2019

IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States, that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

New Hampshire:
Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton

Massachusetts:
John Hancock, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island:
Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery

Connecticut:
Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott

New York:
William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris

New Jersey:
Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark

Pennsylvania:
Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross

Delaware:
Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean

Maryland:
Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton

Virginia:
George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton

North Carolina:
William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn

South Carolina:
Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton

Georgia:
Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton

Written by Michelle at 8:23 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: History,Holidays,Politics  

Sunday, June 23, 2019

WV Roads

I’ve talked about WV roads before, and I truly don’t think most people really get it.

US Route 50 stretches from the east coast to the west coast. It was constructed in the mid 1920s. So it’s been around for awhile and used to be a major thoroughfare.

West of I79, US 50 in WV is relatively straight, and for the most part a divided highway. East of I79 it is two lanes, 7-11% grades, and hairpin turns. The GPS often loses signal along the more winding stretches and has us either inside the mountain or floating above the gorge. (“Damnit! You’re off-roading again!”)

When I talk about reasons why WV has trouble getting jobs because of lack of infrastructure, US 50 East of I79 immediately comes to mind. No one in the right mind would bring production into an area where you cannot drive large trucks.

So in an effort to try and explain WV roads, here is a small section of US 50, taken over approximately 5 minutes, up to and then down one of my least favorite stretches of US 50. (This is NOT the section with the switch backs.) I named the pictures with the date and time, and all should have GPS coordinates.

Ready? Here we go!

18-55-00. Coming up to the top of the mountain, there are multiple signs warning trucks about the hill. “Trucks must stop 1/4 mile”

18-55-16. “Trucks must stop 1000 FT”

18-55-27. “ALL TRUCKS”

18-55-39. “Trucks. 20 MPH Curve Bottom of Grade.”

Oh yeah, this section of downhill ends in a sharp curve.

18-56-03. Here we go!

18-56-20. “Rough Road”

Because of course the road is subsiding.

18-56-55

18-57-12.

18-57-15. “9%”

18-57-27.

18-58-46. “30 MPH”

18-59-12.

18-59-23. “9%”

18-59-45.

19-00-13. “9%. 1/2 MILE”

19-00-39. “20 MPH”

That’s the final turn and now you’re down in the valley.

Five minutes. 9% grade. And it you mess up you’re smashed into the side of the mountain or plunging into the gorge.

These is a US route, not a county road. THIS is why we can’t get jobs in WV. Not because the people are unwilling to work, but because businesses can’t GET to the areas where jobs are needed.

Written by Michelle at 6:19 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Photos,Politics,West Virginia  

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Summer Food Programs

USDA: Find Summer Meals in Your Community

Nutritious free meals are available for children and teens 18 and younger at many locations throughout the nation throughout the summer while school is out of session. Use the mapping tool below to find a site near you.

Mountaineer Food Bank

Mountaineer Food Bank is located in Gassaway, WV. Our organization provides food and other household items to our emergency food network in 48 counties including programs such as food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, Backpack programs, senior programs and mobile pantries.

MFB works with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to distribute USDA commodities in 43 counties in West Virginia, almost 3.5 million pounds annually. The products are generally staple items such as green beans, corn, canned fruit, juices and proteins such as meat or peanut butter.

Written by Michelle at 10:01 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Monday, April 15, 2019

It’s Tax Day! HOORAY!

That’s right, I like taxes! I like the benefits of living in a society that cares for all members, not forcing the indigent and needy to struggle and do terrible things if they don’t want to die on the streets.

So what are some of the benefits?

Public roads!

Made about the potholes? Of course you are! Justifiably! You know what those potholes are there! Because of people who try to avoid paying state and local taxes! (Yes, I AM judging you!)

But it’s more than that. We’ve traveled much of WV, and I can tell you precisely why the economy is so bad in so many areas: because no manufacturer in the right mind is going to build a plant where there are two lane roads with 9-11% grades and hairpin turns. They just aren’t. And it takes state and federal tax money to build those roads that might–just might–bring in businesses.

Without those roads? It’s just not going to happen.

Public schools!

Even if you don’t have kids, public education is necessary for a an informed citizenry. The number of complete idiots who refuse to vaccinate their kids because they don’t understand how herd immunity works is in many ways a failure of our education system.

We’ve failed not just to teach people about basic science, we’ve also failed to instill critical thinking skills, which is possibly more important than basic science. (Possibly.)

Public Sanitation!

Read much about London during any number of historical periods?

Here’s something I read earlier this month. The woman is interview a night-soil man.

“The worst is them cesspits what’s hooked up to them newfangled water-flushing contraptions.”

“Why?”

“’ Cause a cesspit, it ain’t designed t’ take all that water, that’s why. So them things is always overflowin’. If ye ask me, what they oughta do is let them nobs who wants them danged patented washdown pedestals connect ’em to the sewer system.”

London had long possessed an elaborate sewer system, but the sewers were intended only for stormwater and underground rivers. It was illegal to use them for the disposal of waste.

Hero said, “The sewers empty into the Thames.”

“Aye.”

“We get our water from the Thames.”

William Bell laughed, showing a mouthful of surprisingly even, healthy teeth. “Aye. So?”

Harris, C. S.. Who Slays the Wicked (Sebastian St. Cyr Mystery) (p. 341). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

You think dog poop on the sidewalks is annoying? Without public sanitation, human waste was just thrown out into the streets.

Public Safety!

Ever read anything about police services 200 years ago? If you were rich, you could hire people to solve your crimes, and if you were very rich, you’d have to do something really terrible to keep the authorities from looking the other way.

In general, a child who stole food to eat could be thrown into prison or transported. And sometimes the only alternative to thievery was prostitution. Or starving to death.

Fire services were even worse. The first fire services were private ones–you paid them in advance to make sure your house didn’t burn down in there was a fire. You didn’t pay a fire service? They’d protect your neighbors home while watching yours burn to the ground. Which sometimes meant a “protected” home burned as well.

Public Health!

Just 100 years ago, the “Spanish Flu” swept the world, killing more people than WWI, which was happening at the time.

Public health laws required people to wear masks in public, which helped slow the spread of the virulent and dealy illness.

Public health also protects our food supply, as well as regulating those who prepare our food. Everyone has heard the phrase “Typhoid Mary” but do you actually know she was a real person who caused serious illness and death? She was a carrier of Typhoid, but it did not make her ill.

(P)reviously the cook had served in 8 families. Seven of them had experienced cases of typhoid. Twenty-two people presented signs of infection and some died.

That year, about 3,000 New Yorkers had been infected by Salmonella typhi, and probably Mary was the main reason for the outbreak. Immunization against Salmonella typhi was not developed until 1911,

Public health also insures that our water supplies are safe–and if you think this isn’t still a problem, then you have not been paying attention.

Public Parks and Forests!

To end on a more positive note, our national and state parks and forests are a result of state and federal taxes. Thanks to Theodore Roosevelt, we have wild and historical places preserved for us and for future generations.

The Grand Canyon, the Giant Redwoods–without our park system, these things would be either destroyed, or available only to the wealthy. Forests and park contribute to our health and well-being, from the air they clean, the plants and animals they preserve, and the green spaces they provide for the physical and mental health of those who use them.

I’d also like to note that here in WV, our state forests are also public hunting grounds. Without our state forests, that land would be in private hands, unavailable either because it had been destroyed, or because it had been restricted by private land-owners.

These–and many other reasons–are why I am always glad to pay taxes. And why I am judging you every time you use ploys to avoid paying taxes while still wanting to government to fix your potholes and fight crime and all the other many services governments provide.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

You Want to Spend Money on WHAT?!

There are not words strong enough for me to describe how I feel about this: Three delegates want to divert $10 million from WV surplus to fund border wall.

I love West Virginia.

But this? This is despicable.

Idiot 1, R-Upshur, Idiot 2, R-Lewis, and Idiot 3, R-Webster

First of all, this is no more and no less a political game.

Second, WV is struggling so much, the idea of throwing away money on ANYTHING that doesn’t directly benefit the state enrages me.

Let’s take a look at just a couple of things the state could be spending money on.

Education

Estimated average annual salary of teachers in public elementary and secondary schools, by state

Source: National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/

Here are the numbers for the five states at the bottom of that list.

Colorado 46,506
West Virginia 45,701
Oklahoma 45,245
Mississippi 42,925
South Dakota 42,668

Here we see how WV compares to the surrounding states:

Maryland 66,961
Pennsylvania 65,863
Ohio 57,000
Kentucky 52,339
Virginia 51,049
West Virginia 45,701

See also: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_wv.htm#25-0000, https://www.wvea.org/content/goal-set-starting-teacher-salaries-west-virginia

——

Let’s move on.

Broadband

Last year I ranted about high speed internet access .

These numbers are the percent citizens in the selected counties with access to broadband internet.
Pocahontas = 0%
Calhoun = 0%
Ritchie = 14.0%
Clay – 16.7%
Monroe = 17.9%
Barbour 21.4%

That’s right. We have two counties where there is NO ACCESS AT ALL to high speed internet.

You can go to my original post for the sources and data.

——

Moving along again.

Food

You may remember I’ve also ranted about the number of food deserts in WV. The data in that post was from 2017, so it’s about two years out of date. Unfortunately, I can’t update it because of the government shutdown means much of my source data is currently inaccessible, but here’s what I found.

West Virginia has 14 counties that contain major food deserts [C]–cities are were more than 20 miles from “grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers.” The entire county of Gilmer is a food desert. Nine (9) of those counties with food deserts are NOT along the state border, and nine (9) of those counties also have a mean yearly income less than $50,000.

Here’s a more recent articles about food deserts in WV:
In McDowell County ‘food desert,’ concerns about the future

——

Let’s continue further.

Roads

One of the things I will go on about are the roads in WV.

Here are the “major” roads in WV. The heavy green and red lines are our interstates.

The rest of those highways are anything from four lane divided highways to two lane roads with 11% grades and hairpin turns. (Note the significant amounts of area without interstates or highways.)

Outside of those “major” roads?

Well, I’ve mentioned them before. The GPS Really Is Trying TO Kill Us, Traveling WV: The GPS Really Is Trying To Kill You

Also: ‘Enough is enough’ say advocates for better W.Va. road maintenance

——

One final thing (for now).

Water

Lots of people heard about the crisis when the chemical spill in Charleston left more than 300,000 without usable water in 2015.

Thing is, in many areas of WV, lack of safe drinking water is a way of life, rather than a one time event.

Today, an estimated $17 billion is needed to correct water infrastructure challenges for all of West Virginia, per the Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council, a state agency that serves as a clearinghouse for funding on infrastructure projects. That figure is almost four times the state’s entire budget for 2018.

Stirring the Waters: In Southern WV, days without water are a way of life

$17 billion so all of WV can have access to clean drinking water.

Here’s an excerpt from a WV DEP report on streams and rivers in WV:

(There are currently) 1,142 impaired stream segments, covering approximately 5,091 stream miles that are impaired…

The most common criteria violations in West Virginia streams in order of total stream miles are:
Fecal coliform
Total iron (warmwater)
Biological impairment, as determined through application of the West Virginia Stream Condition Index
Dissolved Aluminum
pH
PCBs
Selenium

Why is stream and river health important? Because here in WV, that’s where our drinking water comes from. Here’s a bit from our water company on where my water comes from.

In 2016, MUB produced 3.67 billion gallons of drinking water, an average of 10.868 million gallons per day. The main source of drinking water for the Morgantown area is surface water from the Monongahela River, which supplied 75.7 percent of the area’s drinking water. The remaining 24.3 percent of our raw water supply was taken from the Cobun Creek reservoir.

And I’ll give you three guesses as to where our treated sewage goes.

Here’s another article on drinking water in WV:
Millions consumed potentially unsafe water in the past 10 years

So, here in WV we have underpaid teachers. Many areas WV lacks the roads for industry and manufacturing to be willing to move here. Significant stretches of the state are food deserts and lack access to safe tap water. And we didn’t even get to the opioid crisis.

All that? THAT’S why we lack jobs and economic growth.

You want to fix WV? Improve education. Build roads and infrastructure. Fix the water supply. Until those things happen, we’ll remain at the bottom. And with the ideas of the Republicans currently in power, that won’t be happening any time soon.

Written by Michelle at 10:38 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics,West Virginia  

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Best Lack All Conviction, While the Worst Are Full of Passionate Intensity

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
— W. B. Yeats (1919)

Written by Michelle at 3:27 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Politics  
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