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Posts Tagged ‘Warren Buffett’

Congratulations! Welcome to the club!

 

Captain Obvious Reading

Glad we cleared that up.

 

According to the US Department of Education, 14% of the US population – and 19% of high school graduates – can NOT read. In US adults, one in five reads below a 5th grade level, while nearly three-quarters of American prison inmates are unable to read above the 4th grade level. For juveniles in the system, the number considered functionally illiterate balloons to 85%. Statistics have shown that the lower the literacy rate of an individual, the higher their chance of being poor, on public aid, or incarcerated. [1]

 

if-you-can-read-this-thank-a-teacher-ef-yoo-20035752 (1)

So suri. Wish i cud giv yoo a raze.

 

Despite what the sad literacy rates might indicate, the Pew Research Center reports that nearly 65% of adults read at least one printed book in the past year, and 73% read a book in any format. [2] A slight decline from the 2012 survey, but still hopeful numbers. Sadly, these don’t seem to include the President. [3] When the supposed “leader of the free world” finds reading unnecessary, that can only mean even more cognitive bias and greater misunderstandings.

 

Enter Society

This could get ugly.

 

The digital revolution has increased the efficiency and availability of hardware and software that can take dictation, transcribe music, read print aloud, and anticipate the user’s next need based on previous interactions. However, there’s some argument against our gadgets actually being good for us. The Marist Poll indicates that a majority of poll respondents believed our devices are detrimental to relationships and lives, leaving us – ironically – less connected. [4]

 

cell-phone-zombie

And what about when your battery dies?

 

 

The more our toys do for us, the less we do for ourselves. Cursive is rarely taught in schools anymore, and an angry toddler with a broken crayon might as well have done what printing I’ve seen from the younger generation. Plus our collective attention span seems to be growing shorter by the minute. With instantaneous communication, video-on-demand, same-day shipping, and click-bait disguised as news, trying to focus on anything for any length of time is a growing challenge. But writing things by hand can lead to better comprehension, [5] and reading more can make you smarter. [6]

 

Reading_quotes_crave_book32

Wands supplied by Ticonderoga and Waterman.

 

 

And now that I’ve used lots of pretty pictures to keep your attention, here’s the point of the story: go read. Go read lots. Go read now. Go read printed or electronic. Go read with friends. Go read alone. Just read. We’ll all be better off. And maybe we can stave off the regression back into pictographs just a little while longer. [7]

 

AfraidEmoji

 

[1] “15 US Literacy Rate and Illiteracy Statistics”

http://brandongaille.com/us-literacy-rate-and-illiteracy-statistics/

[2] “Book Reading 2016”

http://www.pewinternet.org/2016/09/01/book-reading-2016/

[3] “Trump ‘does not read books’: report”

http://ew.com/books/2017/01/25/trump-does-not-read-books-report/

[4] “6/21: Is Technology “Dumbing Down” Society?”

http://maristpoll.marist.edu/614-is-technology-dumbing-down-society/

[5] “Why Pen and Paper Beats a Laptop Every Time for Taking Notes”

https://www.communicaid.com/communication-skills/blog/writing-skillsbusiness-writing-skills/taking-notes-better-using-laptop-tablet/

[6] “Warren Buffett’s reading routine could make you smarter, science suggests”

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/11/16/warren-buffetts-reading-routine-could-make-you-smarter-suggests-science.html

[7] “How Emojis are Like Hieroglyphics”

https://www.mabbly.com/how-emojis-are-like-hieroglyphics/

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These last few weeks – no, really, months – have been very challenging for me. I consider myself a moderate liberal. The progressive side believes in true equality for everyone: a human is a human is a human, and all us humans have the same basic rights. Things like the right to be free, to the pursuit of life and liberty and happiness, to free speech and open peaceful assembly; you know, those things put forth in the USA’s founding documents. [1] In fact, I take those rights to also include a basic standard of living for all, even the unemployed and disabled.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights[2], drafted in the aftermath of WWII and proclaimed in 1948, lays out an international groundwork I find even more compelling. Especially Article 25. Take a minute and really look at it.

(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Now think about it. A bunch of people from all over the world, all sorts of cultures and backgrounds and religions and ethnicities, came together to craft this document, and said there should be a security net for those disadvantaged among us, and that mothers and children deserved special protection. In 1948. That’s sixty-nine years ago. And the United States is a signatory. We’re also signatories to the Declaration’s sister documents that were drafted in 1954: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We, as a people via our duly elected representatives, agreed to these documents and their intent.

 

maimonides1

 

So why is it we, in the current age, as a people, duly elected representatives that seem to want to throw all that out the window? So far, we – and I do mean the collective we, because it’s our fault as voters that we’re in this situation – have stopped funding NGO’s that provide basic healthcare services to millions across the globe just because there might be some birth control and abortions involved.[3] Why are we even discussing this in the 21st Century, when it’s been clearly shown repeatedly that greater control over reproductive health leads to better lives in general (and a significant reduction in abortions – what’s that, “pro-lifers”…)? Why does somebody in a big house thousands of miles away have more say over a woman’s body than she does?

We’ve also said it’s okay to build more oil pipelines, while “expediting” environmental impact studies, and gagging the Environmental Protection Agency.[4] Yeah, toxic sludge, poisoned water, and smog alerts are something I really miss from my childhood. Hey, guys – this is the only planet we have. And we are certainly capable of living on her a whole lot more intelligently. You wanna make money, fine. There’s a shit-ton of it available in advancing our clean energy technologies. Just ask California.[5]

And then there’s our latest debacle: a nation formed of immigrants and refugees has banned entry of immigrants and refugees trying to escape horrific circumstances. We’ve allowed fear and anger and hate to fuel a prejudice that is largely unfounded, and inarguably inhumane. Most of these people have already gone through some of the toughest background checks available.[6] Most of them literally have no where else to go because it means certain death to return “home.” Our small-minded leaders and their “America First” ideology are causing a human rights crisis of epic proportions. For all their purported “Christian” ethics, they seem to have forgotten something Christ Himself said:

Matthew 25:40   King James Version (KJV)

40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.[7]

jan_wijnants_-_parable_of_the_good_samaritan

Jan Wijnants (1632–1684) “Parable of the Good Samaritan” 1670 oil on canvas 127 × 137 cm (50 × 53.9 in) Hermitage Museum

 

There are three things that humans must have to survive. The first is air. Without air, we are dead in minutes. The second is water. Without that blessed liquid, we are dead in days. The third is food. One must take in sustenance to fuel the body, or we are dead in weeks. Deliberately depriving someone of any of these is murder. You saw that right: MURDER. If you are one of those people that think people living in disadvantaged areas where food, water, and even clean air are luxuries just need to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps,” then you are complicit to murder when they die. Because there are no bootstraps – there are no boots. Sometimes there are not even feet.

We in the USA live in the richest, most technologically advanced nation on the planet. We have more than enough money and resources to give everyone of our people a basic standard of living, and help him or her become a more productive member of society. I would rather my tax dollars go to feeding a hungry family, or educating disadvantaged youth, or making sure even the most poor among us have decent health care, than feed our already-overwhelming military machine, offer up corporate subsidies to industries already making billions of dollars, or support a hateful rhetoric of discrimination.

I believe in giving people a hand up when they’ve fallen. I believe that helping one person is helping us all. As the old saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats. Giving tax cuts to the rich and corporations while gutting the social services that help the least among us only causes even more boats to sink. It’s more than hurtful and hateful, it’s shortsighted. Sure, you might have a pristine view and clear sailing for your yacht for a while, but eventually you’ll need repairs. And without the rest of us to support you with our backs and our money, where will you be?

Contrary to what some of you might be thinking, I have no problem with people being rich. My problem is with the rich that got there and stay there at the expense of others. Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg are just some examples of wealthy people who use their money for the good of all. They’re still rich, despite giving away millions – even BILLIONS – to charitable causes. They can still have their fancy lifestyle, while people all over the world have better access to clean water, education, and health care because of them. The more balance we can bring to the world, the less anger and hate there will be.

There was a part of me that really wanted to stop writing about politics. I’m sure there are those of you out there who would much rather read about my latest cat adventures, the silly things I do to avoid writing, and my sometimes-humorous battle with depression. But I just couldn’t sit back and be silent. Not when we in the arts and the press are told to just shut up, that we don’t have a right to speak our opinions.[8]

Not just no, or hell no, but FUCKING HELL NO!!!

Read the Bill of Rights, asshole. Free speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble, all guaranteed right there in a 230 year old document you, as a member of this great republic, agreed to uphold. Don’t like what I have to say, feel free to take a hike and find somebody more appealing to your sensibilities. I’m not going to hold my tongue when basic human rights are threatened by a narcissistic bag of wind with delusions of god-hood and his sycophantic hound dogs. Don’t like seeing that said about our president? I don’t like saying it. But, believe me, I’d much rather be on the other side of all this going “Damn. Sorry. I was wrong.” than “See, I told you so.”

 

pic

[1] https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/bill-of-rights-transcript

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Universal_Declaration_of_Human_Rights

[3] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jan/23/trump-abortion-gag-rule-international-ngo-funding

[4] https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jan/24/epa-department-agriculture-social-media-gag-order-trump

[5] http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/experts-say-california-s-environmental-polices-are-bellwether-economic-growth-n631841

[6] https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/01/29/us/refugee-vetting-process.html?_r=0

[7] https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Matthew-25-40/

[8] http://www.themarysue.com/meryl-streep-globes-speech/

http://money.cnn.com/2017/01/27/media/steve-bannon-media-reaction/

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