This was me at the rally yesterday. We librarians* stand with the teachers whose vocation was disparaged and attacked and made to seem the enemy by the incumbent.
* Even former part-time librarians currently employed as tax accountants.
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From Amanda Palmer's latest email update on her fantastically successful Kickstarter-funded album:
... to review the people-who've called list:
rolling stone called, the new york times called, time magazine called, the new yorker called, the wall street journal called, billboard called, and the economist called.
they want their media back.
i might give it to them to borrow, but first i want a picture of 24,883** people holding my naked body aloft on the cover of LIFE.
then we'll talk.
I LOLed at that, and it was too good not to share.
** The number of people who donated to the Kickstarter project.
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What I did on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend:
Yes, that's right, I hung out with my new BFF, Brenda Dayne. She is on a teaching / knitting / family visit / whatever tour of North America and taught several classes at The Yarnery*** in St. Paul. I took her class on how to design and construct a top-down raglan ("Basic Top-Down Daglan (With a Difference)").
And before you ask, no, I did not knit that gray alpaca lace shawl myself. I won it and blogged about it here (scroll down).
*** If you follow the link to The Yarnery, do watch the slide show of drool-worthy yarns on their front page.
Today I shook the hand of ::fingers and toes crossed, hoping:: the next governor of Wisconsin. He is Tom Barrett, mayor of Milwaukee, the tall white-haired gentleman in the blue plaid shirt in the photos above. The last photo is of Senator Herb Kohl, senior senator from Wisconsin, who accompanied him on his swing through northwest Wisconsin today. I also shook Mrs. Barrett's hand -- that's her in the fourth photo.
Three days to go, and the Barrett campaign's internal polling shows the two candidates are within half a percentage point of each other. The incumbent being recalled has raised over $30 million (MILLION!), 80% of it from out-of-state; the challenger has raised $3 million. The incumbent is the only governor in the country with a legal defense fund and absolutely refuses to reveal who is funding it.
Word in the crowd was that the incumbent will be indicted on Monday.
In fourth quarter 2011, MNCPA [Minnesota Society of CPAs] surveyed members to identifythe most creative tax deductions proposed by clients. Survey results are being shared with the media as part of the MNCPA's tax campaign promoting hiring a CPA for tax preparation. Following is the MNCPA list of strange deductions for 2011. It's a good bet that many of these deductions would have triggered a letter from the IRS had a CPA not intervened and encouraged the tax filers to not include them on their returns.
1. Questionable dependents. One woman wanted to include the months she was pregnant, even though she relinquished rights upon the child's birth; another taxpayer wanted to claim his elected official because he "pays his salary;" and one taxpayer wanted to claim a former spouse.
2. Charitable donations? The market value of whole blood that the taxpayer donated; a $100,000 deduction for burning down an old cabin; gambling losses; private school tuition; and raffle tickets.
3. "Fido" as a business expense. Pets proved popular with taxpayers wanting to deduct everything from pet food to vet bills.
4. Inflated mileage calculations. A handyman proposed taking a $25,000 mileage deduction, even though he had only $10,000 in revenue. He justified it by saying he drove 50,000 business miles in one year.
5. Creative medical expenses. A rental house in Arizona; an in-ground swimming pool without a doctor's order; a spouse's drug habit; breast implants and tummy tucks.
6. Investment or not? An attorney's fees for a divorce, considered an "investment" by the former spouse.
7. Business travel and entertainment deductions. A personal luxury car; three country club memberships; a motor home; and the full cost of a wedding.
The saddest part? I didn't even find these funny. They all just sounded like part of a normal day's work...
"All my adult life, I’ve been pretty sure I’m a sentient, even semi-competent human being. I have a job and an apartment; I know how to read and vote; I make regular, mostly autonomous decisions about what to eat for lunch and which cat videos I will watch whilst eating my lunch. But in the past couple of months, certain powerful figures in media and politics have cracked open that certitude.
"You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as 'XX,' a deviation of the normative 'XY' pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway. This debate has reached critical mass, and leaves me uncertain of my legal and moral status. Am I a person? An object? A ward of the state? A 'prostitute'? (And if I’m the last of these, where do I drop off my W-2?)"
Anyway, what sort of a company would choose right now as the best time to start buying ad time from Rush Limbaugh? What sort of company would think that Rush Limbaugh's listeners are a good market for what they sell? Ashleymadison.com, the dating site for married people who wanna cheat on their spouses, that's who. Since this all started with Limbaugh slut shaming, I think that's kinda priceless. Now Limbaugh refused to run their ads, but they responded by saying,
"We are in the business of selling affairs...And our audience is absolutely his audience."
Senator Glenn Grothman (R-Wisconsin) apparently introduced Senate Bill 507, which would declare single parenting child abuse.
Grothman also proposes strict cuts in programs that assist single parents with caring for their children, including childcare. He recommended that children spend no more than 40 hours per week in a childcare setting.
According to an audio video on Fox Radio, he targets mothers, wanting to educate them about “abuse and single parenting”, encouraging them not to leave their abusive husbands and go on welfare, telling them they would risk abusing their children to do so. He states that children in two parent households are at lower risk of abuse and believes women know when they are getting into an abusive situation. He believes women purposely have children out of wedlock and abuse their children. He also believes his bill will become law in two years, due to single mothers abusing their children and having children out of wedlock. He even stated that this is not a good reason for birth control for women and believes all women have access to birth control. He also believes women do not become pregnant byaccident. He blames women for the change since the 60s and we should educate women that leaving abusive men and becoming single parents is a mistake.
Thank FSM he is not my senator. Well, maybe not; if he were I could have the unmitigated pleasure of voting against him.
The bill to repeal Wisconsin's equal-pay-for-equal-work law was introduced in the state Senate last September by Sen. Glenn Grothman (R) of West Bend, a small city northeast of Milwaukee. (The link takes you to his web page, which includes his email address, his snail mail address, his telephone and fax numbers, plus his office address in Madison. Just in case, ya know, you wanted to let him know your feelings on the matter.) It was passed in the Senate with the vote coming down -- predictably -- along party lines; the same thing happened in the state Assembly last month.
Of course, there are still federal laws on discrimination and equal pay, etc., but this bill makes it impossible to file a wage discrimination suit in state court. A petitioner will now have to file in (an overburdened) federal court. Says State Senator Tammy Baldwin here,
"It is much easier for somebody who's been unfairly compensated to gain access to a state court than a federal court...It is something that if you want these laws to have meaning, they have to be enforceable. So I'm very disappointed with the Wisconsin state legislature. Yet another big step back for women. This is becoming a real pattern."
As far as I can tell, there are exactly two (2!) federal courts in the state of Wisconsin, one in Milwaukee (a seven hour drive from where I live) and one in Madison (a six-hour drive). There are 69 state courts in Wisconsin, one in all but three counties: the one in my county is exactly 6.7 (highway) miles away. That tells you how easy or difficult it is to file a wage discrimination suit this month vs. last month.
Hmmmph. If these people want to live in a Third World country*, why don't they MOVE to a Third World county... instead of trying to remake my state into one.
*I was going to suggest Mississippi, but that would have been unfair to Mississippi.
Edited to add: The federal law, The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (1963! I bet a number of you were not even born yet in 1963!), says this:
"No employer having employees subject to any provisions of this section shall discriminate, within any establishment in which such employees are employed, between employees on the basis of sex by paying wages to employees in such establishment at a rate less than the rate at which he pays wages to employees of the opposite sex in such establishment for equal work on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions..."
"On February 21st, in a stunning move, Assembly Republicans voted to repeal Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Act... Assembly Republicans repealed the law that ensured that women cannot get paid less than a man for doing the same job. Women in Wisconsin still only make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men."
-From a newsletter put out by the state assemblyman from the Racine area.
I could not believe this when I read it. But it is true. Welcome to 1952, or maybe 1902.
If you are a woman or are married to one or have daughters and were thinking of moving to Wisconsin, you may want to think again.
Remember Google's original motto, "Don't be evil"?
Apparently that is true for only certain Google-defined values of evil.
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In the interest of calming everyone the f*** down, here is a Lifehacker post showing one way to keep your Google browsing history to yourself. There are several good ideas in that article; many and more thanks to Chris for including it in her regular Friday linkety post.
Undoubtedly libraries are a good thing. The access and training that we provide for technology isn't offered by any other public service (largely because public services are rapidly becoming a dirty word in this gilded age of decadence and austerity), and without our services it wouldn't be the end of the world, but it would be a significant dimming.
If you can take yourself out of your first world techie social media smart-shoes for a second then imagine this: you're 53 years old, you've been in prison from 20 to 26, you didn't finish high school, and you have a grandson who you're now supporting because your daughter is in jail. You're lucky, you have a job at the local Wendy's. You have to fill out a renewal form for government assistance which has just been moved online as a cost saving measure (this isn't hypothetical, more and more municipalities are doing this now). You have a very limited idea of how to use a computer, you don't have Internet access, and your survival (and the survival of your grandson) is contingent upon this form being filled out correctly.
Do you go to the local social services office? No, you don't. The overworked staff there says that due to budget cuts they can no longer do walk-in advising, and that there's a 2 week waiting list to get assistance with filling out forms. You call them up on the by-the-minute phone you're borrowing from your cousin (wasting 15 of her minutes on hold) and they say that they can't help, but you can go to your public library. OK, so you go to your public library after work (you ask your other cousin to watch your grandson for the day since wasting those minutes has temporarily burned some bridges). Due to budget cuts the library no longer has evening hours, sorry, try again (and you also don't get back the bus-fare or money you spent on a hack to get across town to the nearest branch, since other budget cuts closed the one in your neighborhood). OK, so you come back on the weekend. You ask the overworked librarian at the desk to sign up for a computer. She testily tells you that you're at the wrong desk, and that sign-ups are at circulation. You feel foolish and go over to the circulation desk, who tells you that you need to sign up for a library card to use the computer. After filling out the forms the librarian starts to make your card for you, and informs you that she can't process a card, since you have fines from 2 years ago that total fifty dollars. It's an emergency, you say, you need to use the computer. She sighs heavily, informs you that it's against policy, and then prints a guest pass anyway. You get 30 minutes at a time for a total of 2 hours per day. Computers are on the second floor.
You go up to the second floor to find a total of 20 computers with a waiting list of 15 people. You do some quick math in your head, and realize you're probably going to be here for a while, so you walk over to the magazine section, and read People while you wait. Finally, it's your turn. You walk over to your terminal, and your time starts ticking. Your breath seizes in your chest, and you realize you have no idea what to do. You have the form that they gave you at the social services office, which has an address, which you sort of know what that does, but you can't quite remember – 17 minutes, by the way. You try typing X City Social Services in a box at the top, a page comes back and says “address not found” with a list of things below it. You're panicking, because there's a line forming (there always is) and the library will probably close before you can make it back on – 10 minutes, by the way. After a little more fumbling and clicking you have no luck, you're kicked off, and immediately someone is standing behind you to use your computer. You relinquish your seat, and head back down stairs. You're about to leave, already trying to think of who you know who has a computer who might let you use it, and might know about filling out these forms, but the only person you can think of is your friend in the county, and taking a bus out there would be awfully expensive.
Before leaving you decide to try one last thing. You go up to the desk, and explain your situation. The tired, overworked person at the desk nods along, and says, “well, we're not supposed to do this, but...” and tells you to walk around the desk. With a few clicks on the mouse they have the site up that you spent 30 minutes trying to find. They bring up the electronic form, politely turn their head aside as you fill in your social security number, and then ask you a series of questions to satisfy the demands of the form. It comes to your email address, and you have to admit that you don't have one, so the librarian walks you through setting up a free one and gives it to you on a slip of paper. “We have free computer classes,” he says (and you're lucky, because a great deal of public libraries don't), but you look at the times and realize that between your job and taking care of your grandson you'd never be able to attend, and it'd probably be too hard anyway. You thank him, and he smiles, and you leave. Congratulations, you've staved off disaster until the next time you need to use a computer for a life-essential task.
Now let's start that again, but this time you don't speak English. Just kidding, I don't want to give you too much culture shock in one day.
I have shortened this a bit. It was written by codacorolla, a library school student and library worker, in a thread responding to the fact that a large amount of state funding was recently cut from California libraries.
My sister-in-law (she of the scarf) also has a blog. Every woman among you should go read this post.
Doctors are human beings, and like the rest of us, do not like to talk about bad things. It may be up to us to ask them the hard questions. Like, Can this come back? Exactly what are the chances? What should I watch for?
I have mentioned before how much I love my Signature circs. The points are perfect, the needle tips are smaller than many and thus fit my smallish hands perfectly, and the cables are incredibly flexible.
But not indestructible.
When the cable broke I immediately went to the Signature website to see if the needles had a lifetime guarantee. Nope, only a 21-day return policy if a needle appeared to be defective. Still, in my mind a $40 needle ought to have some sort of guarantee, so I emailed the company and got this response:
Thank you for contacting us. I have attached a prepaid shipping label for the return of the defective needle. Please fill out the attached form and include the RMA# in your package. You do not need to fill out the payment information as there is no charge associated with this. Thank you for your continued support of our product and I apologize for any inconvenience.
I wrote back:
Thank you! I will mail the needle back tomorrow.
I have defended the high price of Signature needles on my blog, saying that they are made in the US, probably by union labor, so their manufacturing cost is higher than those made in China or Bangladesh or some other third world country. Was I correct? In any case, I will also blog about your excellent customer service.
Signature needles are worth every penny :-)
Thanks again, k
What was even better was the email I received this morning from Cathryn Bothe, the president of the company (reprinted here with her permission):
I see all the emails and wanted to personally answer yours.
Signature is the “child” of our 62 year old US manufacturing company. Bothe Associates Inc (www.bothe.com) has been making high tolerance metal products since 1950.
When Signature was starting up we bought samples of many of the cheap “box store” needles and were beyond shocked to see their tolerances were horrible, that is, if you thought you were getting a US 7 needle which is a 4.500 mm size you could be off by a large amount. There were even differences from one in a pair to the 2nd. Then we cut them open to see what metal was being used. That, too, was a real surprise.
We know what the cross section of a bar of aluminum should look like but what we saw was astonishing. We think they threw many scraps of various alloys into a furnace and came up with a mess but one that could be covered with the anodizing. We even found one that was sort of powdery. I had them stop working with that and put the pieces in a Hazmat bag.
We also know that only 1/3 of the zillions of Chinese have good drinking water. Some of that is because they just throw any excess or used chemicals literally, in some cases, out the back door. We have had people here who have traveled to the big manufacturing centers in China who say the air is so bad it looks like heavy fog.
And then..there are the workers: Being a student of history I know that many mill towns in the East in the 1800’s employed young women who came from their poor rural families with the hope of earning hard cash but were exploited along with children. You don’t have to read much to see that is exactly what is happening in China. Even worse is that the “low cost” manufacturers are moving to India or Thailand where they can get even cheaper labor!
Here at Signature we pay US wages and healthcare and unemployment taxes. We provide a clean, well lit, air conditioned factory. I know every person and for many a lot about their families. We even found someone to sew our bags in Milwaukee.
Our processes are controlled by OSHA and EPA. Any water that leaves the plant where the anodizing is done must be cleaner than when it came in the building. We go so far as to collect any “drippings” of coolant and oil (needed for machining metals) from the chips that are made. We then send the barrel when filled for proper disposition (at a cost of almost $1000.00) but we don’t let it soak into the ground. Actually we have the chip hoppers inside and should they have even a pin prick leak we have grates on the floor that collect the drips and pump into that barrel.
Every single needle is hand polished on the point. I know the people who do it and would [not] allow any scrimping. I
I am proud to say that our products are made here. Yes they certainly do cost more but we are making steady, secure jobs for the families of those that work here. I know that the company could make more money if the needles were made abroad but I won’t do it. They know I mean it when I say that I will go out of business before I go to China.
I know it seems like I am rambling but I wanted you to know a bit more of the background.
In this world of often shoddy workmanship and indifferent customer service and help lines staffed by (admittedly hard-working) people who perhaps cannot speak English as well as one might hope, I cannot let this incident go unrecognized. I love a bargain as much as the next person, but products manufactured in such a way as to degrade the earth and abuse its people are not bargains.*
I salute this company, its products, and its people.
Now, to put my money where my mouth is, I shall offer an incentive to y'all. Mention this incident on your own blog and provide a link both to this post and to the Signature site and I will put your name into a hat. Winner will receive the skein of Twisted fingering weight that I got in my mailbox a few days ago. If you have ever attempted to buy Twisted yarn, you know what a sacrifice this is :-)
You can see it on the Twisted site here -- scroll down to Netherfield Self-Striping Yarn. The colors in my photo are more accurate, on my monitor at least.
Deadline is, oh, um, let's see, Sunday, February 11, midnight CST. Blog away, people, and think about buying some Signature needles!
(You might say that this contest is a bit self-serving, in that it will draw people to my blog. To that I say, And your point is...?)
* I did a tiny bit of research. Knitters Review says that Addi needles are made in Germany, Knit Picks are made in India, Crystal Palace in Japan, and Lantern Moon in Vietnam. Hya Hya needles are made in China. Presumably the inexpensive needles found at Wal-Mart and Michael's and Joanne's are the ones Ms. Bothe refers to in her letter and are probably made in China, as well.
Ensure that every child in America has access to an effective school library program. Every child in America deserves access to an effective school library program. We ask that the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provide dedicated funding to help support effective school library programs. Such action will ensure more students have access to the resources and tools that constitute a 21st century learning environment. Reductions in school library programs are creating an ‘access gap’ between schools in wealthier communities versus those where there are high levels of poverty. All students should have an equal opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to learn, to participate, and to compete in today’s world.
The librarians need 5,0835,074 5,073* more signatures on this petition…
* The first number was how many more signatures were needed when I first went to the website. Between then and when I went back after verifying my account via email, 9 more people had signed. Then I did.
What is it? This is a screen capture of Wisconsin's Government Accountability Board's webcam feed of their personnel verifying the one million (ONE MILLION!) signatures on the Recall Walker petitions. (You may not remember, but the number of signature required for a gubernatorial recall election was 540,000 and change. We blew that out of the water.)
Yeah, it's kinda like watching paint dry, but at the same time it is thrilling.
Take this quiz at the Pew Research Center site and report your results in the comments. There are only 13 questions and the whole thing will probably take you less than a minute.
From the email wherein I found this quiz:
"This is a terrific and reasonably easy 13-question test. And it shows results in a number of ways. It clearly indicates that the majority of Americans don't have a clue about what's going on in the world. No wonder our politicians take such advantage of us. It's astonishing that so many people got less than half right. These results say that 80% of the (voting) public doesn't have a clue, and that's pretty scary.
"There are no tricks here - just a simple test to see if you are current on your information. This is quite good and the results are shocking.
"I believe it was Winston Churchill who opined that ' . . . the biggest argument against democracy is a 5-minute conversation with the average voter . . .' "