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Crazy socialists!

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November 14, 2018

I am in the checkout line at the Lawrenceburg Kroger when the couple in front of me stalls to chat with the cashier. “You know I’d have done quit already if I could,” the wife says, sliding her credit card. “But he’s the one I’m worried about.”

She nods her husband’s way, but he shrugs her off. “Between the shoulder he fell on last winter, his knees, and the neck thing, I mean, he’s still got 12 years to Medicare, and I got 14. I pray to the good Lord we make it and that we can both still walk when we do.”

I take in every word because I have just read a Facebook post from an old friend. This friend lives in France half the year, and she’s posted a story about how, after a long flight from Minneapolis to Nice, her husband (with early stage Alzheimers) collapsed coming out of the shower. So she did what she does in France. She called her doctor and he came right over, helped her get her husband into bed, figured out he was just badly dehydrated, got an IV going, and left.

No ambulance. No ER. No panic. The cost? Nothing.

This is what socialized medicine looks like in real life. Not the scary ads politicians like Andy Barr bombard you with on TV, not two years to get a simple surgery, and not long lines in a clinic. Well-run, socialized medicine looks like my friend’s story: a doctor who does all the basics for one small area of town and gets to know his patients as both caregiver and friend, all paid for by the government through taxes.

This August, I went to my 35 year high school reunion. The day of our big shindig, we got bad news. One of our classmates, a sweetheart of a man who’s been fighting cancer for a few years, was being moved to hospice, and this not only cast a pall over the night, it sparked a lot conversation over beers and loud music about illness, aging, and healthcare.

A teacher with a chronic illness: I’d retire tomorrow, she told me, but who can afford private insurance? Plus, I don’t trust that pre-existing conditions will always be covered, and I am still years from my pension. I have a family. I can’t take that risk.

A long-haul trucker from a large family: My wife and I are moving to North Dakota, he said. She’s been sick a lot, so she needs me to be home more, and I can get a driving gig up there with good insurance and where I’m home most nights. But how do I leave here, how do I leave my family?

I could go on, but you get the point. Like the woman in line at Kroger, we are all throwing the Medicare dice. Good Lord in Heaven, we should or could retire … but healthcare: 65 or bust!

I am a Democrat, so I have spent a lot of time the last six months talking about healthcare (Amy McGrath’s healthcare plan included a Medicare buy-in at age 55) which means I have spent a lot of time hearing the word “socialist” screamed my way.

For the record, I am not a socialist. I believe in the free market economy. But I also believe that our workforce would be a whole lot more productive with accessible, affordable, you-can’t-ever-take-this-away-from-me medical care.

Imagine if my teacher friend could simply retire because she’s done teaching, opening that job for a new teacher who really wants to be there for our kids.

Imagine if my truck driver friend, a nice man with a decent savings, could stop driving altogether to stay home and with his sick wife instead of having to move to another state, far from his family, to work for healthcare coverage?

I know you’re skeptical, so I encourage you to Google a 2008 NPR story titled, “Healthcare Lessons from France” to learn more about what good, nationalized healthcare looks like.

And ask yourself this: if socialized medicine is so evil, why are you so desperately praying to reach age 65 so you can sign up for Medicare, the American version of socialized medicine?

My friend’s France story continued into the next day. She was taking her morning walk around the neighborhood when she ran into her doctor coming out of someone else’s house. How’s Ronnie? he wanted to know. And as they talked, she said she’d forgotten one of her medications back in Minneapolis. No problem, the doctor said, and pulled out his prescription pad and wrote the prescription for her, right there in someone else’s driveway.

Crazy socialists. Who in their right mind would want healthcare like that?



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cjheinz
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J.D. Alt: Treasury Bonds Are Future Dollars

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Clearing up fundamental misconceptions about US Treasury bond issuance.
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The Art Institute of Chicago Has Put 50,000 High-Res Images from Their Collection Online

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Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

Art Institute Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago recently unveiled a new website design. As part of their first design upgrade in 6 years, they have placed more than 52,000 high-resolution images from their collection online, available to all comers without restriction.

Students, educators, and just regular art lovers might be interested to learn that we’ve released thousands of images in the public domain on the new website in an open-access format (52,438 to be exact, and growing regularly). Made available under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license, these images can be downloaded for free on the artwork pages.

We’ve also enhanced the image viewing capabilities on object pages, which means that you can see much greater detail on objects than before. Check out the paint strokes in Van Gogh’s The Bedroom, the charcoal details on Charles White’s Harvest Talk, or the synaesthetic richness of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Blue and Green Music.

I’ve included a few notable works from their collection above: The Great Wave by Katsushika Hokusai, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte by Georges Seurat (which you can zoom and pretend you’re Cameron in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh, Nighthawks by Edward Hopper, Mao by Andy Warhol, and Two Sisters (On the Terrace) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The resolution on the images is high enough to check out the brushstrokes on the paintings. Here’s some detail on the van Gogh:

Art Institute Chicago

I love seeing more museums doing this.

Tags: art   Art Institute of Chicago   museums
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cjheinz
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#art
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StunGod
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Thanks Art Institute!
Portland, Oregon, USA, Earth

Fascism is Not an Idea to Be Debated, It’s a Set of Actions to Fight

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Writing for Literary Hub, author Aleksandar Hemon writes about his friend Zoka — who he grew up with in Sarajevo before Hemon moved away and Zoka became a Serbian nationalist — in the context of the media trying to figure out if debating with racists & fascists is a good idea.

The public discussion prompted by the (dis)invitation [of Steve Bannon from the New Yorker Festival] confirmed to me that only those safe from fascism and its practices are likely to think that there might be a benefit in exchanging ideas with fascists. What for such a privileged group is a matter of a potentially productive difference in opinion is, for many of us, a matter of basic survival. The essential quality of fascism (and its attendant racism) is that it kills people and destroys their lives-and it does so because it openly aims so.

Witness Stephen Miller and Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance for illegal immigration” policy. Fascism’s central idea, appearing in a small repertoire of familiar guises, is that there are classes of human beings who deserve diminishment and destruction because they’re for some reason (genetic, cultural, whatever) inherently inferior to “us.” Every fucking fascist, Bannon included, strives to enact that idea, even if he (and it is usually a he-fascism is a masculine ideology, and therefore inherently misogynist) bittercoats it in a discourse of victimization and national self-defense. You know: they are contaminating our nation/race; they are destroying our culture; we must do something about them or perish. At the end of such an ideological trajectory is always genocide, as it was the case in Bosnia.

The effects and consequences of fascism, however, are not equally distributed along that trajectory. Its ideas are enacted first and foremost upon the bodies and lives of the people whose presence within “our” national domain is prohibitive. In Bannon/Trump’s case, that domain is nativist and white. Presently, their ideas are inflicted upon people of color and immigrants, who do not experience them as ideas but as violence. The practice of fascism supersedes its ideas, which is why people affected and diminished by it are not all that interested in a marketplace of ideas in which fascists have prime purchasing power.

Tags: Aleksandar Hemon   politics
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Midnight in America

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When we were little, Daddy and our uncles would hide outside our bedroom windows at night to scare us. If we’d been bad—sassed back, refused to eat our peas, protested bedtime—we could expect the boogeyman. The boogeyman was how they got us to behave.

My fear of the boogeyman lasted, embarrassingly, into my 20s. I remained afraid of the dark and of what lurked beyond nighttime windows. I knew this was irrational. But irrational fear is still fear.

In the weeks before the midterms, the president and his allies employed a boogeyman scenario: a caravan of Honduran migrants was marching like an army toward our southern border; thousands of aggressive, marauding criminals bringing both murderous intent and diseases of Biblical proportion. Small pox! Leprosy! Middle-Eastern terrorists hiding amongst the women and children!

And at numerous rallies endorsing Republican candidates, including Kentucky’s Andy Barr, the president declared that a vote for the candidate was a vote for him personally, a vote for security and safety.

On Oct. 27 in Murphysboro, Illinois—the same day congregants of the Tree of Life Synagogue were gunned down, and following a week of pipe-bombs mailed to prominent Democrats—the president repeated the falsehood that Democrats want to abolish U.S. borders. Vote for me if you want to be safe! And “of the dozen people interviewed at Mr. Trump’s rally, almost all of them spoke in considerable detail about their concerns over immigration. Ms. Hooten, the Trump supporter at the rally on Saturday, blamed Mr. Soros [a prominent Jewish benefactor], Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama for the caravan. ‘I think they’re all involved in this,’ she said. ‘I feel it’s treason.’”

Reporters told a different story about the caravan, filing photo after photo of crying, bedraggled children and stories of exhausted men and mothers, but no matter. The president continued flogging his fear narrative in the days before the big election, inexplicably dispatching 5,200 troops to the border for a caravan of refugees still a thousand miles away and on foot. “This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!” he tweeted.

Then came election day and warnings about the caravan miraculously disappeared. No more tweets. No more warnings of invasion. No more terrifying, presidential pronouncements. No more FOX news alerts. Just like that.

In 1984, President Reagan declared that it was morning again in America, but President Trump seems hellbent on an American midnight. Dangerous, dark people are invading this country, he reminds us every chance he gets, and you’d better stick with me, your White Knight, the only one you can trust to keep you and your loved ones safe.

In Bob Woodward’s book “Fear,” he quotes then-candidate Trump from a March 31, 2016 interview. “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear.” And as we have learned, he wields that power with abandon.

When the president held his post-midterm election press conference, he mocked every Republican candidate who had not welcomed his embrace on the campaign trail. The message? Fear me, I can hurt you.

When questioned about his phony, caravan campaign tactic, the president bristled, declaring the reporter asking the question an “enemy of the people” and later, in a unprecedented act of retribution on the free press, stripped that reporter’s White House credentials.

When I look back now, I can see where my young daddy and uncles were coming from. They used what they knew how to use, scaring us and calling us names like “sissy” or “big baby” because that’s all they knew, and they were overwhelmed at having a houseful of children and no idea how to control us.

Sadly, and I would argue dangerously, this president is equally overwhelmed and ill-equipped. He lies, scares, and threatens because has no other tools in his toolbox. Like my daddy and my uncles, the president uses the one tactic he knows—fear—to maintain a sense of control.

On a recent trip to Missouri to visit my Trump-trusting parents, I was greeted with Dad showing me his iPad. “Have you seen this? The Muslims are going around to all the Walmarts in this area and buying up burner phones! They’re planning something.”

You might call my dad’s fear irrational, but it is still fear, and I blame the president for gleefully stoking it.

It is midnight in America, and I am not a kid anymore. I know enough to be afraid.



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The woman who invented Abstractionism

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The Hilma af Klint retrospective at the Guggenheim is by far the trippiest thing I’ve seen within the confines of an esteemed art institution. The show is expansive and stunning and truly transcends time (images in her paintings look like things discovered decades later, from a double helix to the 80s electronic memory game Simon). As if to prove she’s a futurist, she envisioned that her major body of work would be displayed in a spiral temple.

temple-altarpiece-af-klint.JPG

Words cannot fully describe the power or style of her pieces, which are botanical, psychedelic, scientific, occult, and truly mystical. Her abstract paintings, which she started producing five years before Kandinsky or any other of the more famous men of her time created something of the sort, were channeled through her spiritualism. She was influenced by Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, and later in life, anthroposophy.

hilma-af-klint-ten-largest.jpg

It’s all a bit mind-bending. af Klint knew that the world was not ready for her work, so she specified it not be shown until 20 years after her death. This was likely because, at a visit to her Stockholm studio in 1908, Rudolf Steiner was “unable to decipher the paintings and claims that no one during the coming 50 years will be able to.” She died in 1944, the same year as Kandinsky and Mondrian, and it was over four decades until there was a show that included her paintings.

the-swan-af-klint.JPG

From The New Yorker:

The art is fearfully esoteric. But something about it resonates with a restlessly searching mood in present culture, hostile to old ideas. Af Klint has a lot of people’s rapt attention. From what I hear, young artists of many stripes are mad for her.

Yes, people are ready for it. Never before have I witnessed so many museum-goers studying paintings so up close (see my top photo, above) and really being with the art. And I’d argue our current #MeToo era is fertile ground for retelling origin stories with more representation of women and those who were otherwise overlooked.

The endlessly inspiring Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future is up at the Guggenheim in New York until April 23, 2019.

n.b. You may recall that Acne Studios did a capsule collection using Hilma af Klint prints in 2014. (thx Eviana)

Tags: art   futurism   Hilma af Klint   museums
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