As seen on reddit 

Question: Why do you need a Master’s Degree to become a librarian, especially when the median salary is barely above $50,000?

Answer: I’m halfway through my master’s right now. Classes center around three topics. (1) The philosophy of librarianship (2) The business side and management aspects of running a library (3) The nitty gritty of turning raw information into a searchable form and organizing it into something relatively intuitive for the layman.
Compared to most degree programs, it’s not difficult. But there is a lot more to it than people realize.
I’m willing to get the degree and spend the rest of my life making a five-figure salary because I’m passionate about reading, history, knowledge, democracy, sticking it to the man, helping people realize their full intellectual potential, and – yes – getting a pension and medical for life. I used to work for the most hated bank in America and I didn’t like myself or what I was doing to the poor people in my community. Now I like waking up on Mondays. Do you know how good it feels to talk Harry Potter with a seven-year-old? Or help a woman covered in bruises find legal aid to escape her abusive husband? It feels amazing. It’s worth it to me.

The invention of heterosexuality

So much yes to this article. The author is a superb writer, making post-structuralism understandable to nonphilosophers.

I wrote my senior thesis for my BA on same-sex sexuality in the 14th century. No kidding…I found lots of info because before sexual identity was invented, people were simply doing acts with each other that were sometimes socially acceptable and sometimes not, but in neither case did those acts have to do with identity, nor were they judged on that accord. “Sexuality” had not been invented yet. 

You can imagine the arguments I fielded from the conservative history majors — all self-identified heterosexual white men — who refused to consider history or culture as constructive of anything. I’m sure they’re all now teaching Latin at private schools and wondering what’s gone wrong with the world since 312 AD.

Why judge what is natural and ethical to a human being by his or her animal nature? Many of the things human beings value, such as medicine and art, are egregiously unnatural. At the same time, humans detest many things that actually are eminently natural, like disease and death. If we consider some naturally occurring phenomena ethical and others unethical, that means our minds (the things looking) are determining what to make of nature (the things being looked at). Nature doesn’t exist somewhere “out there,” independently of us – we’re always already interpreting it from the inside.

(BBC)

Great news in stocks!

Congratulations if you’re rich enough to own substantial stocks. 

The market is up again due to the news that federal agencies and Congress have suspended or reversed more than 90 rules in the past month and a half, giving more freedoms to bankers, gun sellers, polluters. 

If you’re not rich enough for that — or you care about anything longer term than the next quarter’s dividends — sorry, you’re fucked. 

Blue Zones – it’s not the diet

Sweet Jesus, I ran across more ideology that has such an obvious blind spot I can’t believe it was published.

An article in The Atlantic from  Blue Zones Solution gives the example of a town in Finland that went from low incidence to the highest rate of cardiovascular disease in the world. The excerpt below explains the situation before and after this change, but from this broad description, how is it that saturated fat emerges as culprit and how is it that vegetables and fruits emerge as the heroes?

To Puska and the researchers, the roots of the disease were clear. Before World War II, North Karelian men were largely lumberjacks whose diets revolved around hunting game, picking berries, and fishing. Besides the occasional bear mauling, their main health concerns were tuberculosis, infectious diseases, and death at childbirth. After the war, veterans, as part of their compensation, were given small plots of land. Lacking agriculture skills, they cleared the land to raise pigs and cows. Predictably, pork and diary consumption skyrocketed. Butter soon made its way into almost every meal: butter-fried potatoes, buttered bread. Even traditional fish stew was half butter. They had fried pork or meat stew for dinner, chased with buttered bread and milk. Vegetables were considered food for the animals. Adding to the problem, GIs had returned home with a new habit: By 1972, more than half of all men smoked.

First of all, SMOKING. Smoking is not “adding to the problem”. It is the MAIN problem and affects not only the smokers but those around them.

Secondly, “butter-fried potatoes” and “buttered bread” means butter is the bad guy? Let’s consider how much more empty carbohydrates these people ate at this point. Where is the logic behind pointing at the butter?

Thirdly, these people stopped moving. No more hunting and gathering food. Now they picked and bought. No mention of weight here. But later in this article the author talks about how the Blue Zones Project helps:

Four the past five years, my colleagues with the Blue Zones Project and I have taken a similar system-wide approach to health in 23 American cities. We’ve seen decreases in smoking, obesity, and healthcare costs for city workers by combing influence in a city: The mayor, city manager, chamber of commerce, local CEOs, health department, restaurant association, and school superintendent all need to understand—and endorse—approaches to improving the health of a community. We help city planners envision streets design for people­–not just cars. We introduce tax-neutral polices and show communities how to make their streets safer, more walkable, and more bikeable. The average American burns fewer than 100 calories a day engaged in exercise, yet according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, you can raise the activity level of an entire city by up to 30 percent with designs that favor the pedestrian and bicyclist.

Smoking cessation and activity are the winners here, as they show above.

The shotgun approach taken with this Finnish town to turn their health around was not necessary. If they had focused on smoking cessation and regaining traditional foods along with he movement that entailed, they would have seen the same results.

Now the town lives with a new paradigm:

…rows of healthy butter substitutes and candies sweetened with xylitol, a sweetener made from birch sap. In an open market we saw row after row of berry and wild-mushroom vendors [to make sausage fillers]. There were only two holdouts from the old dietary regime: One vendor sold butter-fried smelt; another offered pocket pastries filled with rice porridge and about a half stick of butter each. After that we breezed through a restaurant and saw the prominent salad bar. Soft drinks were served in small glasses and customers paid for refills.

This is better? Manufactured food? Imports? Focus on nutrient-poor food over nutrient-dense food?

No mention of weight in this town, either. You can bet it’s looking as grim as the rest of the western world by now.

Iowa moves to deregulate professions

Republicans always want to deregulate things.

The big push started with President Reagan, who deregulated among other things, the savings and loans. While he removed federal oversight, he did NOT remove federal insurance that backed up the loans, so executives made risky loans because they had nothing to lose. They could give away money because no one said they couldn’t, and someone else would foot the bill if they failed. Many of these savings and loans lost their money and then the taxpayer paid off the debt while rich people got richer (The Bush family, for example). Sound like 2008? Same thing happened. However, in 2008 there were regulations, but a lax administration didn’t worry about enforcement.

So, regulation is important if you’re going to provide insurance. I mean, if I give you a loan and need it back, I’m going to want a say in what you do with it. Simple logic and an awareness of human nature. Republicans aren’t so good about human nature. Besides the policies that show this, I see it everyday in friends and family. Republicans tend to believe rich people work hard and poor people don’t. They tend to believe greed is a great leveler, the driver of competition, and unfettered markets will even out in the end (think Ayn Rand). They believe rich people will provide jobs if we give them more money, despite the reality that they instead cut the work force as much as they can (this is the biggest cost of any company) and sock away their extra millions in nontaxable accounts.

This ideology is criminally naive. Unfettered capitalism favors those with influence. Sure, overcoming that influence can be done by masses of “little” people when they protest, form unions, and boycott…you see where I’m going? A Republican who favors the free market and wants the people to participate with their dollars rather than have government regulate things is ALSO the same guy who hates unions as corrupt or unnecessary and whines about protests and boycotts. The Trump administration is even trying to make protesting illegal. No, seriously.

All this preamble is to introduce the idea of deregulation and the problems with it. The Republican congress of the state of Iowa is considering removing license requirements for numerous professions.

The affected professions include respiratory therapists, massage therapists, barbers, funeral directors, mental health counselors, and social workers. But not cosmetologists. CR Gazette

Certification vs license

The argument the Republican congress in Iowa is making is that removing licensing decreases government costs and allows more people to enter these jobs. That is, entering these fields would require no specific training or minimum competency other than what a particular employer required.

Let me tell you how that works in a profession without licensing.

I work in a profession that is not licensed. No state currently licenses personal trainers. Some states have considered it, and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) has a stand against licensing. Why?

  • ACSM supports non-degreed personal trainers working in nonclinical/community settings with apparently healthy clients, but does not support the need for them to be licensed.
  • ACSM also provides resources that help employers of fitness centers, wellness centers, worksite health promotion programs and hospitals determine their own hiring criteria for the various exercise professional positions they have available. (bold text my emphasis)

See, certification (not licensing) is a business with no agreed upon standard. Each business — ACE, ACSM, NASM, etc — can create their own idea of what competency looks like. None of these bodies want to give up control or lose money to state governments. THEY will negotiate with employers, trying to influence their choice of standard. So ACE used to be the largest. Through aggressive advertising and spending, NASM may be bigger. And when I say aggressive, I mean it. Their money-focused message was the main reason I avoided certifying with NASM, even though their science is agreeably rigorous.

The price of integrity

Additionally, not even certification is required. Indeed, it couldn’t be or that would be called “licensing”. I could legally train you and charge you whether I had any education or experience. I chose to certify and stay certified because I feel it demonstrates a spirit of excellence. I spend around $800 every two years for 25 hours of CEUs and the re-certification application and another $120 for CPR-First AID certification.

But there are many personal trainers with no certification. They can’t afford it, can’t pass the tests, or just don’t care. They work clubs or mobile training. The big question is do clients or employers care? Some do. Some box gyms require a cert, but they aren’t picky. Any will do so they can advertise this and get cheaper insurance.

Oh sure, even non-certified trainers can get insurance. It just costs more. And still, many trainers don’t even buy insurance.

I have never had a client who says they chose me over another trainer because I am certified. I guarantee the public doesn’t care or just isn’t aware enough to realize their trainer may not be certified. I’ve pointed out to clients that the trainer they had before was not certified, yet they assumed the state actually licenses personal trainers. They assumed they were with someone that possessed a minimum amount of competence as guaranteed by the state.What’s all this mean?

  • It means the profession of personal trainer is a Wild West of talent and safety where big businesses (certifying agencies) gain the most and all the risk falls on the customers and trainer.
  • It means customers choose training based on cost and convenience first and competence or safety least considered. Buyer beware? Sure, but businesses make an effort to muddy the water so the public isn’t clear on what’s licensed.
  • It means the profession will become saturated with lesser aptitude and less dedication.
  • It means insurance costs for the profession will rise across the board. So big businesses thrive. Taxpayers lose.

The fallout for de-licensing is seen in the current state of personal training — unaware public, unprotected public — and we don’t even work with sick people. Imagine the risk that grows with some of the professions the state is considering.

 

Transracism

My son reads a lot. He thinks a lot. Today, he mentioned he thought one day we’ll have people who feel transracial, in the way we have transgendered people.

I put a halt to that thinking right away. 

Not that he’s wrong. But if he mentions that idea, he’ll be attacked and ridiculed by…liberals. 

Remember Rachel Dolezal? A few years ago she was all over the news for being transracial. Only, many liberals still say there is no such thing (some psychologists disagree), that it doesn’t compare to transgender at all, and besides she was lying for employment advantages.

Existing squarely in the post modern/deconstructionist mindset that I am, I defended the idea of transracial identity on the same grounds I defend transgender. Both are socially-constructed categories. Humans move into and out of such categories quite easily.

Of course, there are frauds sometimes, and Dolezal may have been one, but in principle, I couldn’t find an adequate argument to deny the reality of transracial identity. No one who attacked me could, either. 

If, as a liberal, you feel a transracial person is lying, that such a thing doesn’t exist, and the person is just using the category for advantage, then you should well understand why conservatives give you hell about which toilet everyone uses.

I lost a number of liberal friends on social media who blasted me for thinking transgender and transrace are equivalent. They vanished amid hysteria when I asked for a logical argument.

Gender is a category socially-constructed with privileges and liabilities, based on some physical characteristics. Race is a category socially constructed with privileges and liabilities, based on some physical characteristics. One could argue one or the other is more complex, more physical, more consequential. 

Psychologists have said they see transracial people living in fear of coming out in the same way transgendered people have in the past. Meanwhile, I’m still waiting on a logical argument that makes them qualitatively different…while telling my son to be careful.

International fees rising 

I use Paypal transactions for my small business. I received a notice today that every international transaction fee is rising by 1/2%.

I wonder if Amazon is next. 

This will likely affect me more as a consumer than business owner. But I’m just waiting for that awesomely better economy the GOP promised…