Tuscany from the lens of iPhone 8+

Om Malik visited Tuscany and took some incredible photos:

I don’t see any reason why anyone needs a point and shoot, or even a medium priced camera. Most of us don’t print photos. We share and consume photos on digital screens. And if these are good enough to be a desktop background, they are good enough for sharing. For me, smartphone photography is the future. One needs to learn how to make it professional grade by applying skills and not thinking about the camera.

The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms

Trigger warning: This linked article has some pretty graphic images.

This article highlights one of the issues that I could not ignore any longer; widespread animal torture and abuse. This is why we have chosen a 100% plant-based diet. And this decision is based as much on ethics and the environmentalism as it is based on politics.

Glenn Greenwald at the Intercept:

Gestational crating: Where that technique is used, pigs are placed in a crate made of iron bars that is the exact length and width of their bodies, so they can do nothing for their entire lives but stand on a concrete floor, never turn around, never see any outdoors, never even see their tails, never move more than an inch. That was the condition in which the activists found the rotting piglet corpses and the two ailing piglets they rescued.

Yet animal sanctuaries are raided by the FBI, its volunteers are followed home to be questioned by agents.

A recent change in U.S. political discourse — spurred by events such as the 2008 financial crisis, the Occupy movement, and the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign — is the increasingly common use of the words “oligarchy” and “plutocracy” to describe the country’s political system. Though dramatic, the terms, melded together, describe a fairly simple and common state of affairs: power exerted by and exercised for the exclusive benefit of a small group of people who wield the greatest financial power.

It is hard to imagine a more vivid illustration than watching FBI agents don bulletproof vests and execute DNA search warrants for Lily and Lizzie, all to deter and intimidate critics of a savage industry that funds politicians and the lobbyists that direct them.

Substantial attention has been paid over the last several years to the “revolving door” that runs Washington — industry executives being brought in to run the agencies that regulate their industries, followed by them returning to that industry once their industry-serving government work is done. That’s how Wall Street barons come to “regulate” banks, how factory owners come to “regulate” workplace safety laws, how oil executives come to “regulate” environmental protections — only to leave the public sector and return back to lavish rewards from those same industries for a job well done.

Though it receives modest attention, this revolving door spins faster, and in more blatantly sleazy ways, when it comes to the USDA and its mandate to safeguard animal welfare. The USDA is typically dominated by executives from the very factory farm industries that are most in need of vibrant regulation.

The Fight for Free Time

Miya Tokumitsu writing for Jacobin:

Free time…is essential for basic dignity; to care for ourselves and our communities, we need time away from generating profit for employers. Just as importantly, we need it to realize our human potential. Our ability to think independently, experience romance, nurture friendships, and pursue our own curiosities and passions requires time that is ours, time that belongs neither to the boss nor the market. At its core, the campaign for fewer working hours is about liberation, both individually and collectively.

Today, however, with wages flat and precarious employment often the norm, many people, particularly those at the beginning of their working lives, no longer toil under the illusion that putting in more time is the key to dignity and happiness. How could it be, when decent pensions are a thing of the past? When the boundaries between working and non-working time require constant negotiation? When the push and pull of whether to work more is always on our minds — whether to pick up one more Lyft fare, whether to cover an extra shift at the hospital, whether to agree to grade fifty psych 101 exams over the weekend?

What will you do with your surplus?

Seth Godin on his blog:

If you have a safe place to sleep, reasonable health and food in the fridge, you’re probably living with surplus. You have enough breathing room to devote an hour to watching TV, or having an argument you don’t need to have, or simply messing around online. You have time and leverage and technology and trust.

For many people, this surplus is bigger than any human on Earth could have imagined just a hundred years ago.
What will you spend it on?

If you’re not drowning, you’re a lifeguard.

I’ve been thinking this a lot. Patricia and I both have moments when we feel very guilty about our surplus of time and money that allows us to travel indefinitely. While we are both working on other projects, I couldn’t say either of mine are lifeguard duty.

This morning, I read about a woman from Vigo who helps refugees without ever leaving her couch.

How can we be lifeguards?

How to Win Against Big Soda

Anna Lappé and Christina Bronsing-Lazalde in The New York Times:

We have only recently awakened to the alarm bell of sugary drinks. For years, these drinks were flagged for “empty calories” that lead to weight gain. Today, the public health community understands that consuming sugar — particularly in liquid form — increases risks of serious health conditions, such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, not to mention tooth decay. A 2010 study found that consuming just one to two sugary drinks a day increases your risk of developing diabetes by 26 percent.

While sugar is everywhere — in cookies and crackers, breads and pasta sauce — the single largest source in the American diet is sugary drinks. A 20-ounce Coca-Cola contains 65 grams of added sugar, significantly exceeding the American Heart Association’s daily maximum recommendation for adult women, 25 grams, and adult men, 36 grams.

It’s not hyperbolic to claim that sugary drinks pose a major public health threat. Nationally, we spent $245 billion on diabetes medical costs in 2012. By 2030 we could be spending as much as $818 billion on the direct medical costs of heart disease. Both illnesses are associated with the consumption of sugary drinks.