Mike Konczal and Bryce Covert at The Nation instruct us how Paul Ryan's New Big Idea -- replacing federal poverty programs with "block grants" to states -- is the same old Republican hogwash. If you think about it for a minute -- that giving states a pile of money to use as they please isn't a good way of replacing a federal program addressing very specific needs that may rise or fall over time -- you see through it. Why our "liberal" media doesn't see through it is, of course, a matter open to speculation.
William Finnegan at the New Yorker writes a magnificent profile of activist workers at a McDonalds in the Washington Heights neighborhood of New York City. It's a lengthy read, but worth your time. My perhaps idiosyncratic list of highlights: McDonald's absurd scheduling system made manifest in a strip of paper in paragraph 5; McDonald's well-publicized "advice" to its employees ("Fresh fruit and vegetables are good for you"!) in paragraph 17; the sudden appearance of the Washington Heights franchise owner when TV cameras come to investigate a worker's collapse in paragraph 26. Also, don't miss the William S. Burroughs reference.
Tara Culp-Ressler at Think Progress says "You Shouldn't Ask Why Janae Rice Stayed." Many folks wonder why Ms. Rice -- now married to former Ravens running back Ray Rice, who beat her unconscious in a casino elevator in Atlantic City in July -- "didn't just leave him." Anyone who's ever been in love knows half the answer to that, and here's the other half: a) you could die, b) you could lose your family, c) you may be financially dependent on your partner, and d) if your partner is black, it's more likely the cops will beat him/her up. And asking "why don't you leave?" is also, of course, a way of avoiding the more pertinent question of "why doesn't your partner stop being an asshole?" We do believe in blaming the right people, don't we?
Last week, I nominated Thom Tillis's "the process worked" blunder -- uttered during his North Carolina U.S. Senate debate with incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan -- as the campaign-killing blunder of this election cycle, but many other observers seem more concerned with Mr. Tillis's apparent condescension toward Ms. Hagan -- told her she was bad at math, repeatedly called her "Kay" instead of "Sen. Hagan," like that. I don't think all that's so big a deal, possibly because I rarely pay the proper respect to a U.S. Senator myself, but I also don't live in North Carolina, and I also thought Mr. McCain's obvious disrespect for Mr. Obama in the first 2008 debate wouldn't amount to a hill of beans, either, until it was all the talk at the water cooler at work the next day. So I could well be wrong about this, too.
Finally, European researchers suggest that babies who sleep on animal fur may be less likely to experience asthma and allergies as they grow older. Babies would have to receive a great deal of exposure to animal fur -- through a sheepskin blanket or rug, say -- in order to receive the beneficial effects. But then, this may be why our housecats keep shedding on our clothes -- so that we may benefit from it later. Cats are wise, you know.