Virtually Speaking Thursday

Virtually Speaking with Jay Ackroyd – 6p PT/9p ET –

Veteran campaign strategist, journalist & author Glenn W. Smith stops by to talk with host Jay Ackroyd about Texas as harbinger for the nation. Follow @GlennWSmith @JayAckroyd

Read Glenn at Progressive Voices & Firedoglake

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Interesting news

So it can be linked to a disease, not just random effects:

Apparently getting sick while you’re pregnant sucks in even more ways than you realized. Children are more likely to develop bipolar disorder later in life if their mothers caught the flu while pregnant, a new study published yesterday in JAMA Psychiatry suggests. The effect is fairly small, amounting to just a 3% to 4% bump in risk, and most people with bipolar disorder had no history of in utero flu. But it’s an interesting finding because it echoes earlier research linking maternal flu with schizophrenia, the BBC observes.

Solar eclipse tonight

At 8:28 p.m. EST in Taurus.

Big Sky Astrology:

This New Moon/Solar Eclipse is in Taurus, “the money sign.” Since eclipse times are usually pretty frantic and stressful, many of us might be fretting a bit over our bank accounts lately. It’s no fun to feel worried about how you’re going to pay your rent or your car mechanic. So by all means, at this New Moon, do some rituals (I love this one from Dana Gerhardt) and set intentions around attracting more money into your life.

But to focus only on money is to miss the larger point of Taurus, and perhaps of whatever crisis in which you find yourself. And the larger point is the need for self-sufficiency.

Aries represents the challenge of withstanding immediate threat, but Taurus is where we meet the challenges of day-to-day survival. It represents how we put shelter over our heads, food on the stove, clothes on our back. If we don’t have these basic necessities or can’t provide them for ourselves, we’re in a serious crisis of security. Nowhere is this crisis more evident and immediate than in the way we feed ourselves.

Eclipses usually bring about forced change. In Taurus, these changes might have come in the form of reduced income or other resources, including your physical health. If that’s the case for you, you might be in the process of rethinking your relationship to the food you eat, either to save money or to feel better. And learning to do a little bit of cooking or gardening is a great first step.

More here.



This is a riot. I love Pinterest, but I ignore much of what’s on there because there’s an entire faction of Christian fundies and Mormon moms who make me very tense. (They post a lot of inspirational quotes about asking God to make your husband a Godly man, etc.)

I’ve turned a lot of people on to Pinterest, but they’re all sensible types like me who understand that posts about how to throw the ultimate party are for your amusement only. I like to look at the art, the home decor and the funny posts people put up. I dream about one day owning the Greek-island eternity pool that I see on Pinterest —- but I don’t actually expect to get one.

I do love the “how to” section. How to get rust stains off your shower floor! How to clean your oven without harsh chemicals! What’s not to love? (Many of these tips are completely useless. There are many, many blogs that feature Pinterest recipes or tips that didn’t work. (Sometimes the wisdom of the crowd is just the lowest common denominator.)

My friend Maya and I go to thrift stores together and talk about seeing the world “through Pinterest eyes” — which is really just a way of figuring out how to turn trash into treasure. (Or “recycling,” as we used to call it.) But we’re not obsessive at all. It’s just fun.

And I’m actually sad to read that so many women are defining themselves through the site, and holding themselves up to that standard. Really? That’s no different from those women who are so obsessed with Martha Stewart.

Here’s a revolutionary idea: Why not become yourself?

So many women define themselves in relation to someone or something else, and that’s a shame. Because being the authentic you is ultimately the most creative thing you can do.

Ho hum

Nothing’s ever going to be done about hazardous working conditions as long as Walmart and other American companies continue to places pennies of profit above human lives:

A fire in an 11-story garment factory in Bangladesh killed eight people, including a ruling party politician and a top official in the country’s powerful clothing manufacturers’ trade group, as the death toll from the collapse of another garment factory building passed 900 on Thursday.

The fire Wednesday night engulfed the lower floors of the Tung Hai Sweater Ltd. factory — which had closed for the day — said Mamun Mahmud, deputy director of the fire service. The blaze, fed by huge piles of acrylic products used to make sweaters, produced immense amounts of smoke, he said.

The victims died of suffocation as they ran down the stairs, Mahmud said.

`’Apparently they tried to flee the building through the stairwell in fear that the fire had engulfed the whole building,” he said.

Had they stayed on the upper floors they would likely have survived the slow spreading fire, he said.
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Our broken university financial aid system

They don’t even pretend anymore. Our institutions have happily acquiesced to the idea that the plums in life should only be plucked by the children of the elite:

Felix Salmon draws our attention today to a new study by Stephen Burd of the New America Foundation about Pell Grants and low-income college students. The news is grim. More and more universities, he says, have joined the “high tuition, high aid” brigade:

In theory, the structure should work well. Rather than charge every student the same amount, have a high rack rate, paid by the richest students, and then use the proceeds to put in place a generous scholarship system which will help support the poorest students.

In practice, however, that doesn’t happen. The scholarships go towards “merit aid”, which is often, dismayingly enough, a polite way of saying that the college is helping to pay for wealthy kids to attend, even if they’re not particularly smart. Some 20% of students with GPAs below 2.0, for instance, receive merit aid. And at the same time, the “need aid” is carefully calibrated so that poor kids won’t take the colleges up on their offers.

Apparently this called “gapping,” or “admit-deny,” which is the practice of offering a “a financial-aid package that is so rotten that you hope they get the message, ‘Don’t come,’” Mark Heffron, a senior vice-president at the enrollment management firm Noel-Levitz, told The Atlantic Monthly back in 2005. ‘They don’t always get the message.’”


Of course, our “leaders” will ignore anything that doesn’t validate what they’ve already decided to do!

A new poll reveals that Democratic and Republican voters similarly believe Congress should prioritize jobs creation and growing the economy instead of focusing on guns and immigration. The voters surveyed placed reducing gun violence and immigration at the bottom of a list of 12 priorities for Congress and the president to address.

The Gallup poll, released Wednesday, shows 86% of voters believe Congress should make its top focus jobs creation, with 86% saying Congress should prioritize work on improving the economy.

Only 55% of the voters surveyed believed reducing gun violence should be a top priority, with 50% saying Congress should focus on immigration reform.

Democrats and Republicans assigned similar priority ratings to various issues, including jobs creation, economy growth, addressing problems with Social Security and Medicare, and reforming the tax code, according to Gallup. Ninety percent of Democratic voters and 84% of Republican voters said creating more jobs should be Congress’ top priority.

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