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Addictive and wonderful TV and cable

(Updated 11-22-22 from a shorter 2016 list)  I assembled this alphabetized list of "best TV and cable shows of all time") for friends but got so many requests for it that I posted it here and update it periodically. Not all of the shows are current. I've added stars to shows that in my view are "must try" and I've provided links for many shows, but venues change. You can always google the name of a show and scroll down past the Google ads to see if and where the shows are streaming now. If you haven't seen it, start with Friday Night Lights (2006-2011, watch streaming on Hulu and maybe one other channel now). Read More 

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GREAT PODCASTS TO LISTEN TO AS YOU EXERCISE, DRIVE, IRON, FILE, COOK, FALL ASLEEP, DREAM, CLEAN, OR WALK, etc.

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Are you a "creator" or an "influencer"? Or neither?


What the “Creator Economy” Promises—and What It Actually Does (Kyle Chayka, New Yorker, 7-17-21) A lattice of new platforms and tools purports to empower online creators. In reality, it’s turning digital content into gig work. "“Creator” is a term with a more wholesome air, conjuring an Internet in which we are all artisanal blacksmiths plying our digital craft. But what, exactly, the word implies beyond that is up for debate. According to Taylor Lorenz’s reporting for The Atlantic, the term was originally marketed by YouTube, as early as 2011, as an alternative to vocabulary like “YouTube star,” which seemed to imply that only a few famous figures could succeed on the platform. But it’s now used to describe practically anyone who is producing any form of content online.
The Game Is Rigged: Rethinking The Creator Economy (Tara McMullin, Explore What Works, 1-27-22) “Building an audience to monetize and building a customer base are two different activities that are often conflated. The confusion between the two strategies is a large part of what ends up making so many would-be social media marketers miserable.”

      "The first way the game is rigged is that we’re playing a game that wasn’t designed for us....The second way the game is rigged is how these platforms manipulate unpaid labor. The reason posting more, learning what people like to share, trying out every new tool the platforms create, and responding to every comment seems to be the answer is that the platforms depend on our labor. They rely on us to fill the feeds with things that keep people scrolling, clicking, and viewing ads. The platforms care about us at a group level–they need those super users to stay on the factory floor. But they don’t care at all about us at the individual level."
The Real Difference Between Creators and Influencers (Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, 5-31-19) From 2011 to 2016, YouTube worked hard to promote  "creators," a term it applied to independent YouTube stars who could grow their audience (go viral) and monetize. In 2014-2016 Instagram grabbed attention with its Instagram stars or Instagrammers, and the term "influencer" gained in popularity. An infuencer is "anyone who leverages social media to grow a following and exerts influence over that following in order to make money."
Why Women Are Called 'Influencers' and Men 'Creators' (Emma Gray Ellis, Wired, 5-29-19)
TikTok and the Vibes Revival (Kyle Chayka, New Yorker, 4-26-21) "Increasingly, what we’re after on social media is not narrative or personality but moments of audiovisual eloquence....Vibes are a medium for feeling, the kind of abstract understanding that comes before words put a name to experience. That pre-linguistic quality makes them well suited to a social-media landscape that is increasingly prioritizing audio, video, and images over text. Through our screens, vibes are being constantly emitted and received."

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Where journalists get their medical news and information

by Pat McNees (updated from original 2017 post)

 

On the "Top of the Morning" page of the Center for Health Journalism, prominent health journalists and experts write what sites, newsletters, and social media feeds they turn to first every morning and why. Here below are links to those sites and others, in alphabetical  Read More 

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Adaptations: Movies and TV based on novels and short stories

Updated 11-5-22
A Primer on TV & Film Adaptation for Writers (Where the Rules Change Often) (Jeanne Veillette Bowerman on Jane Friedman's blog, 11-2-22) The elements of a great pitch package, logline, synopsis, treatments, the book, pitch deck. Do you need the screenplay written in advance?
How Does a Book Get Adapted for TV or Film? (Chaya Bhuvaneswar, LitHub, 5-20-21) A Roundtable Conversation with Laura Van Den Berg, Daniel Torday, Melissa Scholes Young, and Stephanie Beard
How Are Books Adapted for the Screen? Two Agents Demystify the Process (Sangeeta Mehta on Jane Friedman's blog, 8-10-22)
What Hollywood Wants (and How to Give It to Them): Intellectual Property Adaptations (Ken Miyamoto, Screencraft, 4-5-22) What types of screenplays are most desirable in the eyes of Hollywood insiders and decision-makers?
The best book-to-film adaptations ever, ranked (Marc Chacksfield, ShortList)
How to Adapt Jane Austen, and Why It's So Hard to Get It Right (CNN, 8-7-22)
The Best Movie Adaptations of TV Shows (IMDb)
31 Movies Based on Short Stories (Emily Temple, LitHub, 10-1-18) Or How to Turn a Nine-Page Story into a Feature Film
10 Best Movies You Didn't Know Were Originally Short Stories (Amber Nuyens, CBR, 5-14-22) Many great films have their origins in the short story medium.
10 Books You Should Still Read Even After Watching The Movie Adaptation Ajay Aravind, CBR aka Comic Book Review, 4-22-22) Though movie adaptations of books are exciting, they tend to leave out interesting information and moments.      

  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

  Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

  One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey

  The Call of the Wild by Jack London

  Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

  Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh

  Dune by Frank Herbert

  To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
10 Things The Game of Thrones Series Changed from the Books (Ajay Aravind, CBR.com, 5-3-22)
40 of Our All-Time Favorite Book-to-Movie Adaptations (Jeff Somers, BookBub, 4-22-21)
15 Must-See Book-to-Screen Adaptations Coming Out in 2022 (Melissa Flandreau, BookBub, 1-6-22)
29 Best Movies Based on Books That Are Actually Worth Watching (Anna Moeslein, Glamour, 5-19-21)
100 best movies based on books (Jacob Osborn, Stacker, 8-29-20)
50 movies that address the history of racism in America (Elona Neal, Stacker, 1-23-21)
The 19 Best Movies Based on Books of All Time (R. Eric Thomas, Elle, 4-17-20)
Lists of works of fiction made into feature films (Wikipedia)
---List of short fiction made into feature films (Wikipedia)
---List of plays adapted into feature films (Wikipedia)
---List of non-fiction works made into feature films (Wikipedia)
25 Best Movies Based on Books: Read It Then See It (Yen Cabag, TCK Publishing)

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Why writers keep journals, notebooks, and/or diaries

A few extracts (quotes), not unlike what you might keep in a writer's journal:

 

•"Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea forever.” ~ Will Self, quoted by Judy Reeves in A Writer’s Book of Days (See a long, interesting selection on that Amazon page.)


Not a Journal Person? Post-Pandemic Might Be the Perfect Time to Start (Anne Carley on Jane Friedman's blog, 5-5-22) A journaling practice can serve as a laboratory for your writing and your life. See Your Journal as Time Machine (5-12-22): Our unprogrammed available slices of time, only a few minutes per slice, become time confetti. We can use them to write in our journals. The pages of our journal can transport us from the here and now to snapshots of our internal world, over the years.


Morning Pages (Julia Cameron, The Artist's Way) "There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand."
---"Julia Cameron’s time-honored three pages a day have populated millions of journals."~ Anne Carley


• "The daybook is a record of my intellectual life, what I'm thinking and what I'm thinking about writing." ~ Donald M. Murray, A Writer Teaches Writing


•"Writers react. And writers need a place to record those reactions....That's what a writer's notebook is for. It gives you a place to write down what makes you angry or sad or amazed, to write down what you noticed and don't want to forget, to record exactly what your grandmother whispered in your ear before she said good-bye for the last time.... A writer's notebook gives you a place to live like a writer, not just in school during writing time, but wherever you are, at any time of day." ~ Ralph Fletcher, A Writer's Notebook: Unlocking the Writer Within You

• "Pay tribute to all the everyday and extraordinary things. Everything's essential; every thing belongs in the pages of this notebook." ~ Natalie Goldberg, The Essential Writers Notebook: A Step-By-Step Guide to Better Writing


Silent Companion (Anne Carley, Bacca Literary, 11-16-20) "I turned to my green notebook. I needed to sort out my feelings about this good news that turned sideways when it revealed a transgression. I found a steadfast companion that night.... Open to whatever I write, annotate, or doodle, it welcomes me every time. Virginia Woolf’s ideal, a framework 'so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind,' is attainable."


• “[T]he habit of writing … for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. … What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind." ~ Virginia Woolf, A Writer's Diary

 

"The writer's notebook is a sourcebook of collected insights and a testing ground for ideas. . . . [I]t's important to know the differences between this sort of notebook and a diary, so that you avoid making entries that will not help you. A diary is a daily record of events. It is for recording everything that happens. A writer's notebook, on the other hand, is for recording only special perceptions that might serve as the core statements of essays. These insights may arise from the particular way in which you view something that occurred during the day, from your response to some book, or simply from an unsummoned idea that pops into your head.

To illustrate:

Diary: Finished reading Norman Mailer's book about Gary Gilmore.
Writer's Notebook: Mailer ennobles the killer Gary Gilmore in his book.
--This shows how naif Mailer is. The most satisfying part of maintaining a writer's notebook is that it becomes a record of how your perceptions change and grow over time."

          ~ Adrienne Robins, The Analytical Writer: A College Rhetoric


8 Reasons Keeping a Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals (Joshua Becker, Becoming a Minimalist)

 

Several of the quotations above and others can be found at Writer's Notebook (Richard Nordquist, ThoughtCo., 2-12-20).

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Social media regulation in European Union

I honestly don't understand how these entries on the proposed Digital Services Act and Digital Marketing Act will work or if they will affect people in the United States, but they seem to be a game-changer in Europe and might eventually create pressure for more regulation of social media in the United States. I am providing some links here, moving the Popular Science entry from last to first because it's in the plainest English:
Everything you need to know about the battle between US tech and EU laws (Harry Guinness, Popular Science, 4-27-22)

    "The European Parliament recently approved the Digital Services Act and the Digital Markets Act. Here's how that could affect big tech.
     "According to the EU, the DSA and DMA have two big goals: “create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected” and “establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.”

     "In practice, this means overseeing how large social networks, search engines, and other tech companies do business, and limiting how they use consumer data.
     "The DSA in particular has rules targeted at online services like Facebook, Instagram, Google, and TikTok. It bans targeted advertising aimed at children, or based on sensitive data like religion, gender, race, sexual orientation, or political affiliation. It also bans “dark patterns” or deceptive design elements that can trick you into buying or signing up for something unintentionally. For example, websites will have to present the buttons to opt in and out of targeted ads equally; the option to opt out can’t be tucked away behind a text link on the second page of settings and written in a small font colored to match the background. Unless US tech companies create separate page and app designs just for EU customers, this will hopefully improve the web user experience around the world."

     Etc.


EU poised to impose sweeping social media regulation with Digital Services Act (Technology + Press Freedom, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, 5-8-22) The European Union is on the verge of doing what the U.S. has not done (and, in some cases, could not do) — comprehensively regulate social media platforms. Last week, the European Parliament and EU Council reached an agreement on the Digital Services Act, and while the final text has not been released, the law would impose sweeping new rules for internet platforms, regulating everything from “dark patterns” and algorithms to public safety threats and illegal content.
       The DSA, and its partner regulation, the Digital Markets Act, were introduced to the European Parliament in 2020. The European Commission said the regulations were intended to accomplish two goals: “create a safer digital space in which the fundamental rights of all users of digital services are protected” and “establish a level playing field to foster innovation, growth, and competitiveness, both in the European Single Market and globally.”
Digital Services Act: Council and European Parliament provisional agreement for making the internet a safer space for European citizens (Council of the European Union, 4-23-22)
    The Digital Services Act package "The Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act aim to create a safer digital space where the fundamental rights of users are protected and to establish a level playing field for businesses. What are Digital Services?
Digital services include a large category of online services, from simple websites to internet infrastructure services and online platforms.
      "The rules specified in the DSA primarily concern online intermediaries and platforms. For example, online marketplaces, social networks, content-sharing platforms, app stores, and online travel and accommodation platforms.
      "The Digital Markets Act includes rules that govern gatekeeper online platforms. Gatekeeper platforms are digital platforms with a systemic role in the internal market that function as bottlenecks between businesses and consumers for important digital services. Some of these services are also covered in the Digital Services Act, but for different reasons and with different types of provisions.
Deal on Digital Markets Act: EU rules to ensure fair competition and more choice for users (Press Releases, European Parliament, 3-24-22) Twitter LinkedIn Whatsapp

     "On Thursday evening, Parliament and Council negotiators agreed new EU rules to limit the market power of big online platforms.
      "The Digital Markets Act (DMA) will ban certain practices used by large platforms acting as “gatekeepers” and enable the Commission to carry out market investigations and sanction non-compliant behaviour.
       "The text provisionally agreed by Parliament and Council negotiators targets large companies providing so-called “core platform services” most prone to unfair business practices, such as social networks or search engines, with a market capitalisation of at least 75 billion euro or an annual turnover of 7.5 billion. To be designated as “gatekeepers”, these companies must also provide certain services such as browsers, messengers or social media, which have at least 45 million monthly end users in the EU.and 10 000 annual business users.
      "During a close to 8-hour long trilogue (three-way talks between Parliament, Council and Commission), EU lawmakers agreed that the largest messaging services (such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger or iMessage) will have to open up and interoperate with smaller messaging platforms, if they so request. Users of small or big platforms would then be able to exchange messages, send files or make video calls across messaging apps, thus giving them more choice. As regards interoperability obligation for social networks, co-legislators agreed that such interoperability provisions will be assessed in the future.
Digital Services Act: agreement for a transparent and safe online environment (Press releases, European Parliament, 4-23-22)

---Access to platforms’ algorithms now possible
---Online platforms will have to remove illegal products, services or content swiftly after they have been reported
---Protection of minors online reinforced; additional bans on targeted advertising for minors as well as targeting based on sensitive data
---Users will be better informed how content is recommended to them

Digital Services Act: Council and European Parliament provisional agreement for making the internet a safer space for European citizens (Council of the European Union, 4-23-22)

      "The DSA follows the principle that what is illegal offline must also be illegal online. It aims to protect the digital space against the spread of illegal content, and to ensure the protection of users’ fundamental rights. The DSA introduces an obligation for very large digital platforms and services to analyse systemic risks they create and to carry out risk reduction analysis. This analysis must be carried out every year and will enable continuous monitoring aimed at reducing risks associated with:
---dissemination of illegal content
---adverse effects on fundamental rights
---manipulation of services having an impact on democratic processes and public security
---adverse effects on gender-based violence, and on minors and serious consequences for the physical or mental health of users."

EU officially boots Russia’s RT, Sputnik outlets (Laura Kayali and Clothilde Goujard,Politico Pro, 3-2-22)

     "Kremlin-backed media outlets RT and Sputnik are officially banned in the EU as of Wednesday morning, in a move meant to crack down on Russian disinformation amid Moscow's invasion of Ukraine.
     "The sanctions against the news groups were published in the EU's Official Journal, effectively providing legal grounds to implement the Commission and EU governments’ decision to take both Russian state-run organizations off the air and offline within the bloc.
    “[The measures] are also limited in time, because they should be maintained until the aggression is put to an end and until Russia and its media outlets cease to conduct propaganda actions against the Union and the member states,” the EU official added."

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Good reading about the Covid pandemic

In this order:

Books (fiction) Books (nonfiction) Children's books (fiction and nonfiction)

BOOKS (FICTION) in alphabetical order by title:
Burntcoat by Sarah Hall (“A slim, tense page-turner . . . I gulped The Fell down in one sitting.”―Emma Donoghue, author of The Pull of the Stars)
COVID Chronicles: A Comics Anthology ed. by Kendra Boileau and Rich Johnson ("As the pandemic lengthened and deepened, the response across the comics community intensified-first online, where many went viral, a turn of phrase that tinged a few shades darker in light of the virus....In a diverse, impassioned book, these quick responders illustrate the impact of the pandemic with work of lasting value."~ Kirkus)
The Fell by Sarah Moss ("Explores the way individual freedom conflicts with collective responsibility . . . [It] crystalizes our shared moment of global danger and allows us to observe its different facets.” ―Hannah Joyner, Star Tribune
56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard (a pandemic murder mystery by an Irish writer)
French Braid by Anne Tyler (“The wonder of French Braid is the easygoing fluidity with which Tyler jumps and floats between characters and decades to create what in the end is a deftly crafted family portrait that spans some 70 years . . . We read in fascination.” —Christian Science Monitor)
Life Without Children stories by Roddy Doyle (“There is an immediacy in the stories in Life Without Children, an emotional charge that comes with writing in real time, and an optimism too.")
Our Country Friends by Gary Shteyngart ([Shteyngart’s] usual humor and absurdity, but it’s deepened by a new empathy.”—Los Angeles Times)
The Sentence by Louise Erdrich ("A novel that reckons with ghosts—of both specific people but also the shadows resulting from America’s violent, dark habits."~Kirkus Reviews)
Together, Apart by Auriane Desombre, Erin A. Craig, et al. (A collection of love stories by young adult writers, set in pandemic lockdown. "Romantic, realistic, sweet and uplifting.") For young adults ages 14-25.
Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult (“Stealthily surprising and very moving . . . absolutely a must-read.”—Booklist, starred review)

 

BOOKS: NONFICTION
Alone Together: Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 anthology ed. by Jennifer Haupt ("...showcases the human desire to grieve, explore, comfort, connect, and simply sit with the world as it weathers the pandemic. Jennifer Haupt's timely and moving anthology also benefits the Book Industry Charitable Foundation, making it a project that is noble in both word and deed." ~ Ann Patchett)
And We Came Outside and Saw the Stars Again: Writers from Around the World on the Covid-19 Pandemic, a collection of essays, ed. by Ilan Stavans. Title from the last line of "Dante's Inferno." (“Mexican American writer and educator Stavans has gleaned powerful responses to the pandemic from 52 contributors who share their experiences in deftly crafted essays, poems, photographs, and artwork. . . . The impressive cast of contributors―Jhumpa Lahiri, Mario Vargas Llosa, Claire Messud, Ariel Dorfman, Rivka Galchen, Daniel Alarcón, and others―reveal feelings of fear, loneliness, and, for some, a surprising sense of connection. . . . Although many look optimistically to the future, for others, the pandemic has laid bare a long plague of inequality and hatreds. Stirring reflections to illuminate dark times.”~ Kirkus Reviews)
The Anthropocene Reviewed: Essays on a Human-Centered Planet essays by 'young adult' author John Green. ("... loved The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast, and the book has a similar delightfully engaging, emotional, funny, and thoughtful take on the human experience.")
Apollo's Arrow: The Profound and Enduring Impact of Coronavirus on the Way We Live by Nicholas A. Christakis (“Provocative…Astutely shows how pandemics are as much about our societies, values, and leaders as they are about pathogens.”―Samuel V. Scarpino, Science)
Covid By Numbers: Making Sense of the Pandemic with Data by by Anthony Masters and David Spiegelhalter ("A concise, humane, data-driven guide to all the big covid questions of the day in a series of crisp chapters."~Tim Harford)
How We Live Now: Scenes from the Pandemic by Bill Hayes ("...a living, breathing diary of the city in one of its darkest times―and a celebration of New York’s grit, its people." ~ Afar)
Intimations by Zadie Smith (six powerful essays about the lockdown)
The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid by Lawrence Wright. (“By far the best book yet on COVID-19 . . . [An] exemplary chronicle [with] countless examples of hope, sacrifice, and heroic feats. Wright’s interviews with experts in virology, economics, public health, history, politics, and medicine are enlightening . . . Wright is at his finest here in frontline research, expert analysis, and lucid writing.” —Tony Miksanek, Booklist)
The Premonition by Michael Lewis. ("Frightening and honest, this book looks at the many ways governing systems were not prepared to respond to a pandemic of this size."~Business Insider, and "I would read an 800-page history of the stapler if he wrote it."― John Williams, New York Times Book Review)
The Rules of Contagion: Why Things Spread -- And Why They Stop by Adam Kucharski (explains "the principles of contagion, which, Kucharski argues, can be applied to everything from folk stories and financial crises to itching and loneliness, are suddenly of pressing interest to all of us."―Sunday Times, UK)
Shutdown: How Covid Shook the World's Economy by Adam Tooze ("Economic historian Tooze examines the unprecedented decision of governments around the world to shutter their economies in the face of pandemic . . . As the pandemic hopefully continues to fade, other crises remain....a valuable forecast of future problems."—Kirkus Reviews)
Spike by Anjana Ahuja ("an excoriating insider account of how the UK mishandled the early months of the pandemic."~Tim Harford)
The Unthinkable: Who Survives When Disaster Strikes - and Why by Amanda Ripley (“The thinking person’s manual for getting out alive.” ~NPR’s “Book Tour”)
Vaxxers: The Inside Story of the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine and the Race Against the Virus by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green

CHILDREN'S BOOKS
Coronavirus: A Book for Children about Covid-19 by Elizabeth Jenner, Kate Wilson, Nia Roberts (ages 5-10, illustrated by Axel Scheffler) ("I have explained the COVID situation to my son, but this book made me realize I left out many things. I also have probably not acknowledged his feelings enough. This book goes through everything and explains what is happening, why it is happening, and why we need to take the extreme steps."~ John Diggs)
Lucy's Mask by Lisa Sirkis Thompson, illust. by John Thompson ("It takes just a few words from her mother to convince Lucy that she will be playing a much more important role than an ordinary superhero when she wears a mask that covers her mouth instead of her eyes. That is a kind of everyday heroism we can all emulate..." ~Cotsen Children's Library, Princeton University)
Outside, Inside by LeUyen Pham (ages 3 to 6) (“This authentic, important book will mean a great deal to many kids.” --School Library Journal)
Paula and the Pandemic by Dorothea Laurence ("A sweet book for helping kids cope with a hard situation." ~Mark Zweigenthal and "The illustrations make this book" ~Micah Harris)
What is Social Distancing?: A Children's Guide & Activity Book by Lindsey Coker Luckey

BROAD RECOMMENDATIONS and ROUNDUP REVIEWS:
The best books about the pandemic (Tim Harford, 12-13-21)
How Covid Breaks All the Rules of Human Narrative (Frederick Kaufman, Opinion, NY Times, 4-23-22) "The plague version of the Covid plot may also help to explain why some evangelicals were suspicious of human interventions to prevent the virus’s spread, such as vaccines and social distancing. But as death rates decrease and masks come off — and both apocalypse and rapture have, once again, been postponed — the vengeance-of-God narrative may be harder to sustain."
The Problem With the Pandemic Plot (Alexandra Alter, NY Times, 2-20-22) Literary novelists are struggling with whether, and how, to incorporate Covid into their fiction.
These are the first books about the COVID-19 pandemic to have been published in the midst of it (Katherine Fiorillo, Business Insider, 1-25-22)

Let me know if I've missed any good books.

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Republicans vs Democrats: Some differences on hot topics

Updated 1-17-23

 

"I don't like paying higher gas taxes either but it's incredible that people will buy GOP outrage on gas that's $5 instead of $3.50--but then excuse GOP for keeping minimum wage at $7.25 instead of $15, insulin at $1200 instead of $35, & paid leave at 0 weeks instead of 12 weeks." ~ Qasim Rashid

 

First, some surveys of differences between the two parties. Note: GOP stands for Republicans ("Grand Old Party")

Democrat vs. Republican (Diffen)This comparison examines the differences between the policies and political positions of the Democratic and Republican parties on major issues such as taxes, the role of government, entitlements (Social Security, Medicare), gun control, immigration, healthcare, abortion, environmental policy and regulation.
Both Republicans and Democrats prioritize family, but they differ over other sources of meaning in life (Laura Silver and Patrick van Kessel, Pew Research Center, 11-22-21)
U.S. Political Party Preferences Shifted Greatly During 2021 (Jeffrey M. Jones, Gallup Poll, 1-17-22) Shifting party preferences in 2021 are likely tied to changes in popularity of the two men who served as president during the year....The GOP advantage may be starting to ease, however, as Gallup's latest monthly estimate, from December, showed the two parties about even -- 46% Republican/Republican leaning and 44% Democratic/Democratic leaning.


Qasim Rashid, Esq. @QasimRashid tweeted(4-29-22):

Just so we're clear
Far Left:
• Living wage
• Universal healthcare
• 4-year public college
• Police demilitarization

Far Right:
• Big Lie
• Pro Putin
• Billionaire tax cuts
• Speak at Nazi/white nationalist events
• Ban all immigration, books on racism, & LGBT


•  The political positions of the Republican Party (Wikipedia) "The positions of the Republican Party have evolved over time. Currently, the party's fiscal conservatism includes support for lower taxes, free market capitalism, deregulation of corporations, and restrictions on labor unions.''

    "The platform of the Republican Party of the United States is generally based on American conservatism, contrasting with the modern liberalism of the Democratic Party. The positions of the Republican Party have evolved over time. Currently, the party's fiscal conservatism includes support for lower taxes, free market capitalism, deregulation of corporations, and restrictions on labor unions. The party's social conservatism includes support for gun rights outlined in the Second Amendment, and other traditional values, often with a Christian foundation, including restrictions on abortion.

    "In foreign policy, Republicans usually favor increased military spending and unilateral action. Other Republican positions include restrictions on immigration, more specifically opposition to illegal immigration, opposition to drug legalization, and support for school choice." Wikipedia provides footnote references for these generalizations.
The political positions of the Democratic Party (Wikipedia) "Democratic platforms seek to promote social programs, labor unions, consumer protection, workplace safety regulation, equal opportunity, disability rights, racial equity, regulations against environmental pollution, and criminal justice reform.

      "The platform of the Democratic Party of the United States is generally based on American liberalism, contrasting with the conservatism of the Republican Party. The party has large centrist and progressive wings, as well as smaller fiscal conservative and democratic socialist elements. Democratic platforms seek to promote social programs, labor unions, consumer protection, workplace safety regulation, equal opportunity, disability rights, racial equity, regulations against environmental pollution,and criminal justice reform. Democrats tend to support abortion rights and the LGBT community, as well as a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Democrats typically agree with the scientific consensus on climate change and favor a multilateral approach in foreign policy." Wikipedia provides footnote references for these generalizations.
Americans not only divided, but baffled by what motivates their opponents (Eric Plutzer and Michael Berkman, The McCourtney Institute for Democracy) A report on a poll taken by the Institute. Many Republicans told us that Democratic voters were “brainwashed by the propaganda of the mainstream media,” or voting solely in their self-interest to preserve undeserved welfare and food stamp benefits.A 64-year-old strong Republican man from Illinois: “Democrats want to help the poor, save Social Security, and tax the rich.” Roughly one in six Republican voters answered in the persona of a Democratic voter who is motivated “free college,” “free health care,” “free welfare,” and so on.  They see Democrats as voting in order to get “free stuff” “without having to work for it.” “Democrats welcome all people into the country whether they are here legally or not.” More than four in ten Democratic voters (42%) felt that most Republican voters had the country’s best interests at heart, but Democrats quoted as seeing Republican taking a “harsh stance on immigration; standing up for the 2nd Amendment; promised tax cuts,”  with desires to “stop abortion… stop gay marriage from ruining our country… and give us our coal jobs back.” Plus the GOP’s “opposition to Obamacare.

The Underlying Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives (Doug Muder,The Daily Sift, 8-24-20), Doug Muder's analysis of the differences between the two party positions is interesting and persuasive. Do take a look at it.

A Georgia Republican Brags That Voter Suppression Helped Them in 2022 (Joan Walsh, The Nation, 1-17-23) This is a perfect example of how even comparative GOP “moderates” are promoting the Big Lie—and have participated in deranging their own party and eroding American democracy. A 'Wisconsin Republican election commissioner boasted of the party’s success in dampening Black turnout, especially in Milwaukee, last November. Thanks to the state GOP’s “well thought out multi-faceted plan,” commissioner Robert Spindell e-mailed colleagues, 37,000 fewer voters cast ballots there than in 2018, “with the major reduction happening in the overwhelming Black and Hispanic areas.” It could have cost Democrat Mandela Barnes a Senate seat...

    'After the bill imposed restrictions on voting by mail, mail-in ballots plunged by 81 percent from 2020, and Black voter turnout dropped from 2018 midterm levels...'Loeffler says the law did something equally important: it reassured conservative voters “disenfranchised” by the myth of Democratic voter fraud that their votes would count, and thus boosted white GOP turnout.
     'That’s confirmation of what we knew all along: At its best, SB 202 was a solution to problems that never existed and a cynical, dishonest “confirmation” to its base that Donald Trump’s Big Lie about election fraud was true.'

 • How ‘Stop the Steal’ Captured the American Right (Charles Homans, NY Times, 7-19-22) The movement to reinstate President Trump has gone far beyond him — and now threatens the future of American elections. An excellent overview of party trends in the 21st century. The Tea Party idea "that a substantial part of the American public were not legitimate actors in American politics" reached its purest expression in the conspiracy theories about Obama, whose presidency was so unsquarable with what the Tea Partyers believed to be the true nature of America that to some it seemed, ipso facto, to represent a crime. The nation was imperiled by "the cult of multiculturalism, aided by leftist liberals all over, who don't have the same ideas about America as we do," Tom Tancredo, a former Republican congressman from Colorado and a star of the new movement, declared at the first Tea Party convention in Nashville in early 2010.

    "Trump's 2016 campaign marked the moment that the Tea Party's intimations of illegitimacy were converted into a leading presidential candidate's political strategy. Trump rode into politics during the Obama years on the birth-certificate conspiracy theory and the uproar over the Islamic cultural center in Manhattan..."

Why Republicans are obsessed with pedophilia, gender identity, gay people, and abortion (Robert Reich, 5-7-22) "Voters, don't be deflected by “culture war” messages intended to deflect the public’s attention from how badly big corporations and the super wealthy are shafting them. Americans won’t understand how these economic abuses all relate to record amounts of income and wealth at the top, and what must be done to reverse this imbalance (break up monopolies, enact a windfall profits tax, raise taxes on large corporations and the super wealthy, strengthen labor unions, reform campaign finance, stop corporate welfare, and so on).
      "Oh, and by focusing on pedophilia, gender identity, gay people, and abortion, Republicans don’t have to talk about Trump and January 6."
The Conspiracies Powering the GOP-Controlled House (Kara Vought, Rolling Stone, 1-17-23) Speaker McCarthy said that the new Select Committee on the Weaponization of Government will be tasked, in part, with interrogating how the Justice Department treated conservative protesters at school board meeting because of a “disturbing spike” when conservative parents had inundated school board meetings across the country under the banner of “parents’ rights,” a catchall for the anti-mask mandate, anti-critical race theory, anti-LBGTQ sentiment that emerged during the pandemic. Also, “Our very first bill will repeal the funding for 87,000 new IRS agents,” McCarthy promised after he finally ascended to the speakership. GOP lawmakers began pushing the talking point that nearly 90,000 “mostly armed” new agents would “hunt down and kill middle class taxpayers that don’t pay enough.” The conspiratorial claim took hold after Democrats added funding to the IRS last year to hire some new IRS agents to scrutinize the wealthy and businesses, not the middle class, for underpaying on taxes.


Robert Reich (1-7-23): For years now, a major goal of the extreme right has been to undermine Social Security and Medicare, the most popular programs in the federal government. The extremists will not succeed. But the coming fight over raising the debt ceiling seems likely to become the defining battle over the next six to nine months.

      [In return for voting in Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House the right-wing Freedom Caucus got a promise from McCarthy that he would not approve a simple increase in the debt ceiling unless spending was held back at 2022 levels — which, with more than 7 percent inflation, would require huge cuts in everything from defense spending to Social Security and Medicare.]

   

Political and Religious Identities and Views on Abortion (Diana Orcés, PRRI,* 4-8-22) PRRI (the Public Religion Research Institute) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to conducting independent research at the intersection of religion, culture, and public policy. I discovered it when researching how Republican and Democratic opinions vary. It turned up as conducting interesting polls.

      "In 2021, PRRI asked a series of questions related to how important personal identities are to Americans. About one-third of Americans (35%) said that their religious identity is the most important thing or a very important thing in their lives, compared to about one in five who mentioned their political identity (19%).

    "About six in ten Americans who identify strongly with their political identity (61%) agree that “Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, was the right decision and should be upheld,” compared to 43% of Americans who identify strongly with their religious identity. Democrats who identify strongly with their political identity are substantially more likely than Republicans to agree with this statement (80% vs. 36%). By contrast, the majority who identify with their religious identity (55%) disagree that “Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed a constitutional right to abortion, was the right decision and should be upheld.” This percentage is particularly high among white evangelical Protestants (78% disagree vs. 20% agree) and white Catholics (60% disagree vs. 38% agree), but white mainline Protestants tend to agree more than disagree on this question (44% disagree vs. 55% agree)."

 

50-State Survey: More Americans Than Ever (Eight in Ten) Support LGBTQ Discrimination Protection Laws, Even as Legislative Efforts Opposing Them Proliferate (PPRI press release, 3-17-22) Eight in Ten Support Nondiscrimination Laws to Protect LGBTQ People More Than Two-Thirds Support Marriage Equality Two-Thirds Oppose Religiously Based Refusals to Serve Gay and Lesbian People See the full report, Americans’ Support for Key LGBTQ Rights Continues to Tick Upward (3-17-22)
Right-Wing Think Tank Family Research Council Is Now a Church in Eyes of the IRS (Andrea Suozzo, ProPublica, 7-11-22) The Family Research Council, a staunch opponent of abortion and LGBTQ rights, joins a growing list of activist groups seeking church status, which allows organizations to shield themselves from financial scrutiny. The FRC has pushed for legislation banning gender-affirming surgery; filed amicus briefs supporting the overturning of Roe v. Wade; and advocated for religious exemptions to civil rights laws. Its longtime head, a former state lawmaker and ordained minister named Tony Perkins, claims credit for pushing the Republican platform rightward over the past two decades.

        Warren Cole Smith, president of the Christian transparency watchdog MinistryWatch, said he believes groups like these are seeking church status with the IRS for the protections it confers. “I don’t believe that a lot of the organizations that have filed for the church exemption are in fact churches,” he said. “And I don’t think that they think that they are in fact churches.”The IRS uses a list of 14 characteristics to determine if an organization is a church or an association of churches, though it notes that organizations need not meet all the specifications.


Party Division in the U.S. Senate Over Time (U.S. Senate)

It’s time for Biden to strongly attack the White-grievance industry (Jennifer Rubin, WaPo, 5-30-22) 'It’s not the plague of “polarization” or “distrust,” some sort of floating miasma, that has darkened our society. Bluntly put, we are in deep trouble because a major party rationalizes both intense selfishness — the refusal to undertake even minor inconveniences such as mask-wearing or gun background checks for others’ protection — and deprivation of others’ rights (to vote, to make intimate decisions about reproduction, to be treated with respect).

      'The White-grievance industry (right-wing media, politicians, pundits, think tanks) keeps its voters in a constant state of rage over the loss of a society in which far fewer women competed with men in the workplace, White power was largely unchallenged, and diversity was less pronounced. And it has persuaded millions of White Americans that they are victims of “elites” or the media or globalism or attacks on masculinity or … something.'  [Do read the whole article, including the paragraph about MAGA voters' complaints.]

 

Some differences on hot topics:

White Christian Nationalism Found Fertile Soil in Post-9/11 America (Robert P. Jones, Interfaith America, 9-23-21) "Since the Bush era, the attitudes of Republicans, including white evangelicals who comprise its base, have increasingly aligned with a worldview rooted in centuries of white supremacist theology that conjures visions of light-skinned Christians engaged in a holy war against brown-skinned Muslims both at home and abroad. They have succumbed to the temptation Bush named: the conflation of acts of terrorism by a few with a faith followed by about 2 billion people worldwide.

     "According to Pew, just one year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, less than half of both Republicans and Democrats reported that they believe significant numbers of U.S. Muslims were anti-American. By 2016, attitudes among Democrats were unchanged. By contrast, the percentage of Republicans and white evangelicals who held this view jumped to nearly two-thirds (63% and 64% respectively).

       "Similarly, PRRI finds negative attitudes toward Muslims have continued to increase across the last decade among Republicans and white evangelical Protestants. In 2011, 63% of Republicans agreed "the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life," and that proportion crept up to 67% by 2020. By contrast, the percentage of Democrats who agreed with this statement dropped 14 percentage points, from 40% to 26%. In other words, over the last decade, the partisan gap on this question nearly doubled, from 23 points to 41 points.

         "Republicans are more than three times less likely to say they would prefer the U.S. to be a religiously pluralistic nation than a Christian nation (13% vs. 43%). By contrast, Democrats are more than three times as likely to prefer a religiously pluralistic nation (53% vs. 16%)."


The Right-Wing Mothers Fuelling the School-Board Wars (Paige Williams, New Yorker, 11-7-22) Moms for Liberty claims that teachers are indoctrinating students with dangerous ideologies. But is the group’s aim protecting kids—or scaring parents? Christopher Rufo, a conservative activist, argued that liberal educators, under the bland banner of “diversity,” were manipulating students into thinking of America not as a vibrant champion of democracy but as a shameful embodiment of white supremacy. (As he framed things, there were no in-between positions.) Rufo later called [Critical Race Theory] “the perfect villain”—a term that “connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American views.”

 

On gun control:

In a somber address to the nation hours after an 18-year-old took the lives of nineteen children in a Texas elementary school, President Joe Biden pleaded for new gun restrictions: “As a nation we have to ask: When in God’s name are we going to stand up to the gun lobby? When in God’s name are we going to do what has to be done?” he asked. “Why are we willing to live with this carnage?” "But the prospects for any reform of the nation’s gun regulations appeared dim. Repeated attempts over the years to expand background checks and enact other curbs have run into Republican resistance in Congress." ~ AP, Washington Post, 5-25-22)

 

On improving state facilities for the mentally ill:

      "The advent of psychopharmacology in the 1950s facilitated, but did not cause, the emptying of state psychiatric hospitals. The deinstitutionalization of people with major mental illness resulted from an unusual convergence of left-wing and right-wing political critiques, as Mr. Scull emphasizes. Critics on the left were appalled by the decrepit, overcrowded and understaffed hospitals. Critics on the right objected to taxpayers picking up the tab for the enormous expense incurred by maintaining these institutions. Some states were spending as much as one-third of their annual budget housing psychiatric patients. State hospitals once housed 500,000 patients; today the total population is less than 55,000, even though the American population increased by 33% since the 1950s." 

    ~ From a review of Desperate Remedies: Psychiatry's Turbulent Quest to Cure Mental Illness by Andrew Scull: 'Desperate Remedies' Review: Mental Health, From Asylums to Zoloft (Richard J. McNally, Wall Street Journal, 5-13-22) Psychiatry's goal was to transform the treatment of mental illness via science—but the results have been anything but conclusive.  H/T Lynne Lamberg.


Megan Phelps-Roper's story of losing faith in the Westboro Baptist Church (Tom Stafford, Reasonable People blog #28, 4-4-22 ) "Westboro Baptist Church is a small faith-based community from Topeka, Kansas. Their white church building is surrounded by the homes of families who are part of the Church. They are a SPLC designated hate group, who you may know from their inflammatorily named website - godhatesfags.com - or from their devoted picketing of the funerals of US soldiers killed abroad....

     "Megan-Phelps Roper is the granddaughter of the founder of the church, and spent 26 years with the church. She was, as she self-describes, "all in": picketing, proselytising, giving interviews and leading the charge of the Church's flamboyant social media presence.

     "In November 2012 she left the church, her family, and the absolute certainty of their doctrine.

     Stafford: 'Thought-provoking account of Unfollow: A Memoir of Loving and Leaving Extremism, Megan Phelps-Roper's memoir of growing up in her family's fanatically conservative Westboro Baptist Church. "They were so confident in their rightness that they didn’t see any need to ban Hollywood movies or pop music. Elton John’s Candle In The Wind was rewritten as Harlot Full Of Sin so they could celebrate the death of Princess Diana."'

Trump is wrong about war. Russia’s failure in Ukraine shows why. (Max Boot, Washington Post, 4-11-22) "Right-wingers have long claimed that the U.S. military should not be hobbled by humanitarian considerations or even the laws of war. During the Vietnam War, when U.S. aircraft dropped more bombs than during World War II, many conservatives fumed that we were fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. “Bomb them back into the Stone Age,” Gen. Curtis LeMay demanded.

       Most of the public supported 2nd Lt. William L. Calley, the only perpetrator of the infamous My Lai massacre (when U.S. troops killed more than 500 civilians) to be convicted by a court-martial. He served only three years of house arrest. More recently, former president Donald Trump has been an enthusiastic advocate for war crimes: He endorsed torture, vowed to “bomb the s--- out” of terrorists, suggested killing terrorists’ families and said that the United States should steal Iraq’s oil. Trump did not order the U.S. military to carry out war crimes — the military would never have done so — but he did pardon members of the military accused of war crimes. Since Trump left office, Republicans have been loudly complaining that the U.S. military has become so “woke” that it can’t win wars.

Climate Science as Culture War (Andrew J. Hoffman, Stanford Social Innovation Review, SSIR, Fall 2012) The public debate around climate change is no longer about science—it’s about values, culture, and ideology. 'Climate change has become enmeshed in the so-called culture wars. Acceptance of the scientific consensus is now seen as an alignment with liberal views consistent with other “cultural” issues that divide the country (abortion, gun control, health care, and evolution). This partisan divide on climate change was not the case in the 1990s. It is a recent phenomenon, following in the wake of the 1997 Kyoto Treaty that threatened the material interests of powerful economic and political interests, particularly members of the fossil fuel industry.'

__________

 

'Everything that gets labeled "far-left" in the US is common sense policy in the rest of the industrialized world.

"Guaranteed health care. Paid family leave. Government drug price negotiation. Gun control.

"It isn't radical. We're talking about the basics of a functioning society."

        ~ Public Citizen @Public_Citizen 

______________
White House shifts pandemic money to vaccines, cutting other programs (Tony Romm, WaPo, 6-8-22) Republicans on Capitol Hill have repeatedly blocked the sort of robust aid package that the Biden administration has sought for months. The Biden administration is shifting dwindling federal coronavirus funds toward securing another round of vaccines and treatments — rationing money and cutting back on other critical public health programs as Congress remains at odds over whether to spend more to battle the pandemic.
Division within the Republican party (Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, 10-11-21) Both the New York Times and the Washington Post today ran op-eds from Republicans or former Republicans urging members of their party who still value democracy to vote Democratic until the authoritarian faction that has taken over their party is bled out of it....Boot writes, “It is mind-boggling that a defeated president won’t accept the election outcome…. What is even more alarming is that more than 60 percent of Republicans agree with his preposterous assertion that the election was stolen and want him to remain as the party’s leader.”
Conservatives Are Defending a Sanitized Version of ‘The Great Replacement’ (Adam Serwer, The Atlantic, 5-19-22) 'Large sections of the manifesto attributed to the Buffalo shooter were plagiarized from the writings of the perpetrator of another racist massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand. Both share the premise that violence against nonwhite people is justified to prevent “white genocide” or the “replacement” of white Americans by nonwhite immigrants.
      'In recent years, Fox News has consciously amplified the same line of argument, with popular hosts such as Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham echoing its logic. Carlson, for example, has said that “the Democratic Party is trying to replace the current electorate, the voters now casting ballots, with new people, more obedient voters from the Third World,” while Ingraham has maintained that Democrats “want to replace you, the American voters, with newly amnestied citizens and an ever increasing number of chain migrants.” Having promoted the conspiracy theory for years, Carlson told his audience recently that “we’re still not sure what it is,” before reaffirming its veracity.'
      'There are two versions of the “replacement” conspiracy theory, but both of them share the same basic premise. The first version is the idea that a secret cabal (typically one that is composed of Jews) is fostering demographic change in the United States through immigration in order to replace its white population—the motive of mass murderers in Pittsburgh, El Paso, and now Buffalo. The second is that liberals are fostering demographic change in the United States through immigration in order to replace its white population. Both conceive of America as fundamentally white and Christian, and in so doing posit not only a racial conception of citizenship but a racial hierarchy, one that must be maintained if America’s true nature is to endure.
Defamation Suit About Election Falsehoods Puts Fox on Its Heels (Jeremy W. Peters, NY Times, 8-13-11) 'In the weeks after President Donald J. Trump lost the 2020 election, the Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed to have “tremendous evidence” that voter fraud was to blame. That evidence never emerged but a new culprit in a supposed scheme to rig the election did: Dominion Voting Systems, a maker of election technology whose algorithms, Mr. Dobbs said, “were designed to be inaccurate.” The suit filed by Dominion Voting Systems could be one of the most consequential First Amendment cases in a generation.
       'Those unfounded accusations are now among the dozens cited in Dominion’s defamation lawsuit against the Fox Corporation, which alleges that Fox repeatedly aired false, far-fetched and exaggerated allegations about Dominion and its purported role in a plot to steal votes from Mr. Trump....Defamation claims typically involve a single disputed statement. But Dominion's complaint is replete with example after example of false statements, many of them made after the facts were widely known.'

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Which LED light bulb to buy: A WATTS-to-LUMENS conversion chart

Thanks to My Green Montgomery (Maryland) for this wonderful chart and explanation:
Compared to less-efficient incandescent bulbs that emit light everywhere, LED light bulbs more efficiently emit light in a particular direction. What needs to be lit will still be bright, just without wasting energy.
 
LEDs are versatile and can be used in a variety of lighting situations. They use far less energy and last significantly longer than other light bulbs (for approximately 50,000 hours). If used for 8 hours a day, an LED bulb could last more than 17 years! For “Going Green,” this means less energy and materials will be needed for replacement bulbs.
 
For fuller explanations, and answers to questions you might not even know enough to ask, read
 
Light up your home with LED light bulbs

Connection between craft brews and LED light bulbs
 
 

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