A Bernie cutout done right

This meme is already dead, but I needed a decent version of the Bernie cutout for something I’m working on, and every one I’ve come across so far is really sloppily done. Too much reliance on the magic wand tool; not enough attention to the finer details. Granted, the flyaway hair on top of his head is almost impossible to deal with, but I’ve seen some of these that cut off the bottom of his shoe or are missing part of the crossbar on the bottom of the chair. Come on, people!

So, I went out and found the highest-resolution version of the original photo I could, and I did my own cutout — entirely by hand, the way it needs to be done if you want it done right.

I’ve saved it as a PNG so it has a transparent background. Feel free to take this and use it as you see fit!

Bernie cutout

Photo credit: Brendan Smialowski.

A brief musing on Twitter FINALLY permanently suspending Donald Trump’s account after his attempted coup, when they might have saved untold damage to our country and the world by doing it in 2015, before he even formally announced his candidacy, but had already violated their terms of use to the extent that warranted a permanent ban

There are some interesting questions to explore now regarding what exactly Twitter does with the data from suspended accounts, as well as tweets users have deleted. As a user, when you delete something, you want to believe they’re really deleting it from their systems (which I doubt is the case), but I think definitely there can be legal ramifications if a tweet causes a crime to be committed and the user subsequently deletes it. The tweet may be essential evidence in the legal case against them.

Trump’s entire “body of work” on Twitter is, sadly, an important part of the public record and may need to be archived as part of presidential records (though he always used his personal account, not the official POTUS account). And they may be necessary as legal evidence against him in an impeachment trial or post-presidency legal cases.

Remember how when Obama was president, not only was he rarely allowed to post directly on social media, he wasn’t even allowed to have an iPhone? He had to have a specially secured BlackBerry. What the hell happened to that presidential accountability??!!


Originally posted to Facebook, but I want this to actually live somewhere semi-permanent for myself, not just in Mark Zuckerberg’s database.

Why Capitalism Is Stupid: A Case Study

Note that I didn’t say bad, or evil, but stupid.

Before we go any further, let me state that I have never studied economics, and I’ve only taken one intro-level philosophy class. The topics I’m bringing up here are steeped in both, and I know I’m out of my element.

Capitalism has, as a core principle, a belief that competition drives innovation and growth, which helps a society to thrive; whether its helping society to thrive is intentional or just a consequence is debatable. And in practice capitalism is just as susceptible to corruption as communism — both fail as a result of the boundless greed of the powerful. But for the moment let’s not dwell on the big picture… let’s just look at one example of how capitalism can be… well, stupid.

I live in Minneapolis, a large city of 425,000. Along with St. Paul (pop. 310,000) it is the core of a metro area of 3.6 million. Like all large cities, Minneapolis is divided into a number of distinct communities. The community I live in is called Longfellow, and combined with neighboring Nokomis, the immediate area has a population of around 65,000 people.

Unlike many other parts of the city, Longfellow-Nokomis has always resisted the heavy encroachment of large chain businesses. Of course we have a Target, a scattering of McDonald’s and Subway locations, etc. But for the most part, the businesses here are small and local.

In fact, in an area comprising about 13 square miles, home to 15% of the entire city’s population, there is only one Caribou Coffee, and until recently, zero Starbucks (not counting the one inside the Target… which is a capitalism story for another blog post). Of course we have dozens of local independent coffee houses, but only one each of the two big chains.

And they’re right across the street from each other.

How does it benefit the citizens of the community to have a Caribou and a Starbucks within sight of each other, when the vast majority of residents of the area don’t live within walking distance of either one? Who does a decision like this really serve? How does this help society to thrive?

What we’re looking at here is not a failure of capitalism in principle, but an example of how it fails in practice, as power is consolidated in the hands of a few greedy, powerful corporations.

I’m sure this is the point where a (21st century) Republican dutifully says, “But how can a corporation be greedy? Greed is a human emotion, and corporations are businesses, not people.” Oh right, corporations are only people when it comes to exercising their right to free speech. (And political money equals speech.) I’m sure few, if any, of the individuals within these corporations are ruthlessly greedy. But they don’t need to be. The system is built on a principle whose logical consequence is that increasing profits outweighs any other considerations. That could be defined as greed.

One could argue that Caribou and Starbucks have grown to that tipping point in capitalism where they are no longer focused on competition through innovation, but on stifling competition through consolidation of power. Nothing better exemplifies to me capitalism’s absurd failure than a business opening its first location in a large, heavily populated area within feet of its rival.

Sadly, I’m sure these corporations did extensive research and determined that the best location in Longfellow-Nokomis for a major chain coffee house was right at this spot, even if there was already another one right there. And I bet both will do booming business, because… honestly? Most of us just don’t question it.

Now get in the car. I want some coffee.

Reflections on a particularly rough week for race relations in America in 2016

Note: I initially posted this on Facebook. But things on Facebook have a tendency to get lost in the noise. Better to also preserve it here in the musty silence of my blog.

Seeing some pretty extreme responses on social media from some white people in the wake of the past few days’ events. If I could say anything to white people who are scared and/or angry and/or, God forbid, arming themselves for a race war, it would be this:

Social justice is not a zero sum game. You don’t have to do worse for others to do better. To quote the late, great Paul Wellstone, “We all do better when we all do better.”

You may have a vision of what “America” is, or what an “American” is, and that vision may be a particular color. But Americans who aren’t white are still Americans, just as much as you are.

Black Americans who are reacting to their friends and relatives being gunned down by police at routine — far too routine for many of them — traffic stops have a right to be scared, and angry. But Black Lives Matter is not about revenge. It’s not about starting a war. It’s about JUSTICE. About bringing more PEACE to our streets, our cities, our country. It’s about the “American” in “African American.”

At least, that’s how I see it. And living in the city, I’m probably in much closer proximity to BLM than most white Americans who are themselves scared or angry right now. So please, don’t be. Stop. Listen. Think. Feel. Understand.

Our fellow Americans who weren’t born with the inherited privileges conferred by white skin are living under the burden our ancestors placed on them — a burden that we perpetuate every day that we don’t actively acknowledge and work to counteract it. Hear their voices. Amplify them. Don’t silence them.

And when something happens like the shootings in Dallas, wait for the facts. BLM is a peaceful movement. Dallas PD has a good relationship with BLM. Officers were there to PROTECT the BLM marchers. The shooters do not represent Black Lives Matter or its goals.

I could go on, but I’ve already spoken too long. But don’t stop listening. Seek out those voices that are demanding peace and justice and hear what they are saying. And I will continue trying to do the same.

Thinking out loud on Twitter about the new Minneapolis paid sick time rules

No further commentary, but I wanted to gather up my thread of tweets on this topic from today.

First, the news behind it: Minneapolis paves way to give thousands of workers paid sick time

Here’s what I had to say, as I thought through things on Twitter. (I know I should have used Storify or embedded tweets or something but a screenshot of the whole thread was easier.)

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 9.42.34 AM