The Millenial Consumer

Millenials have been driving advertisers crazy. We don’t respond to ads like other generations have. Instead, we respond to how well a company embraces our values: sustainability, advancing social issues, knowing where our food and products come from, etc. This suggests that instead of brands driving consumer tastes, Millenials are pushing brands to make smarter decisions and better choices.

In a 2012 study of American and British adults, 8 in 10 millennials said they appreciated “behind the scenes” commercials for their food, like Whole Foods Market’s Values Matter campaign, which links back to a page where the readers can verify the company’s sustainability claims personally. By comparison, only 6.5 in 10 baby boomers indicated that they wanted more information about their food from brands.

Is Trump A Fascist?

If you ask progressives on the Left, even some moderates, you will probably here an answer in the affirmative. I’ve been guilty of it–no, I won’t take it back–and will probably continue to do so if only because I feel that his brand of rule isn’t democratic, nor do I think he really cares about our democracy and institutions. It’s fairly clear from his tweets that he doesn’t hold any regard for checks and balances. Pay close a

Corey Robin, who studies Conservativism and the politics of fear, notes that:

Here’s what I learned about Fear, American Style: The worst, most terrible things that the United States has done have almost never happened through an assault on American institutions; they’ve always happened through American institutions and practices. These are the elements of the American polity that have offered especially potent tools and instruments of intimidation and coercion: federalism, the separation of powers, social pluralism, and the rule of law. All the elements of the American experience that liberals and conservatives have so cherished as bulwarks of American freedom have also been sources and instruments of political fear. In all the cases I looked at, coercion, intimidation, repression, and violence were leveraged through these mechanisms, not in spite of them.

Emphasis mine.

To explain, American Imperialism, genocide, slavery, Jim Crow, the surveillance state were allowed to happen because our institutions were set up in a way that it let it happen. Americans were the ones inflicting pain on others. The Trump era has brought a completely different kind of attack. This time our institutions are attacking the American people. This attack on institutions themselves could potentially lead to an unprecendented amount of power for Trump and his inner circle.

In How to Build An Autocracy, David Frum states

Over the past generation, we have seen ominous indicators of a breakdown of the American political system: the willingness of congressional Republicans to push the United States to the brink of a default on its national obligations in 2013 in order to score a point in budget negotiations; Barack Obama’s assertion of a unilateral executive power to confer legal status upon millions of people illegally present in the United States—despite his own prior acknowledgment that no such power existed.

Sam Wang, a neuroscientist at Princeton who developed the Princeton Election Consortium, developed a checklist to determine if the new administration is authoritarian or not. Trump has managed to check of 5/10 of them and he isn’t even a month into his term.

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How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning

Measles is no joke and we could be on the verge of a major outbreak.

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Measles is one of the most contagious and most lethal of all human diseases. A single person infected with the virus can infect more than a dozen unvaccinated people, typically infants too young to have received their first measles shot. Such high levels of transmissibility mean that when the percentage of children in a community who have received the measles vaccine falls below 90 percent to 95 percent, we can start to see major outbreaks, as in the 1950s when four million Americans a year were infected and 450 died. Worldwide, measles still kills around 100,000 children each year.

Source: How the Anti-Vaxxers Are Winning – The New York Times

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Biggest Scandal in Washington

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Biggest Scandal in Washington:

According to the consensus assessment of US intelligence agencies, Russian intelligence, under the orders of Vladimir Putin, mounted an extensive operation to influence the 2016 campaign to benefit Donald Trump. This was a widespread covert campaign that included hacking Democratic targets and publishing swiped emails via WikiLeaks. And it achieved its objectives. But the nation’s capital remains under-outraged by this subversion. The congressional intelligence committees announcedlast month that they will investigate the Russian hacking and also examine whether there were any improper contacts between the Trump camp and Russia during the campaign. (A series of memos attributed to a former British counterintelligence officer included allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.) Yet these behind-closed-doors inquiries have generated minimum media notice, and, overall, there has not been much outcry.

Dan Rather pointed out on Facebook that this is “one of the bigger stories I have seen in a long time.” If Dan Rather says it’s a big story then it must be. So where are the stories about it?

Trump’s Foreign Policy

It’s been quiet on the foreign policy front as far as Trump is concerned–it’s been a few days since he threatened to attack anyone–but that doesn’t mean Trump’s foreign policy issues are going away. We need to seriously consider what has been happening both outside of the Trump administration but also inside. Most administrations surround themselves with people that are experts for a reason but Trump seems to think that’s a dumb idea. Meanwhile, Bannon thinks WWIII is going to happen. Based on his past remarks he might even be willing to start it himself. Which is scary. Really scary. Especially when you consider that Trump thinks Bannon is his man.

Experts think Trump has already messed up.

One thing we know about Iran is they don’t particularly respond well to American pressure. If we start threatening them militarily, if we start taking military action against them, that will give them an obvious incentive to try and restart their nuclear program. And that then places the United States in the position of whether or not it genuinely wants to go to war to try and prevent that. I think the Obama administration understood that that path was not the path we wanted to go down. I think we have to worry now, given the attitude of Mr. Trump and some of his closest advisers, that they actually see a conflict with Iran as being in the United States’ interest. The big problem, of course, is they also seem to want to have a conflict with almost the entire Islamic world, while at the same time getting some of the members of the Arab or Islamic world to help us with ISIS. Again, this is just an example of where their policies are deeply contradictory and, therefore, are unlikely to succeed.

Obama donated over $1 million dollars while in office

Obama-charity-giving

Well, this is pretty incredible. Wonder how much Trump is going to donate? I mean actually donate, not made up donations.

The biggest recipient was the Fisher House Foundation, which supports families of veterans and received $392,000 from the former commander in chief from 2009 to 2015. That money appears to have come from sales of Obama’s children’s book Of Thee I Sing. Just before entering the White House, Obama finished a manuscript for the book, which he published with Random House. Obama pledged to donate all of his post-tax proceeds from the book to the Fisher House Foundation to support a scholarship fund for children of wounded and fallen soldiers.

Jokes aside, I think donating to charity should be an important part of everyone’s life if they can afford to do so. $5 counts. If you can’t donate money, donate time.

Some of my favorite places to donate to:

  • DonorsChoose – Help teachers in communities that need it. You can help them buy classroom supplies or fund special projects for their students.
  • Watsi – Help fund healthcare for individuals around the world.

In addition, I think donating to the ACLU, CAIR, and Planned Parenthood are all worthy as well considering the current events going on.

You can use VolunteerMatch to find opportunities to volunteer your time if you can’t donate money.

President Bannon?

Leaks abound the Trump administration, which news that Trump isn’t in charge. Bannon seems to be pulling the strings and the latest leaks seem to confirm it:

But for the moment, Mr. Bannon remains the president’s dominant adviser, despite Mr. Trump’s anger that he was not fully briefed on details of the executive order he signed giving his chief strategist a seat on the National Security Council, a greater source of frustration to the president than the fallout from the travel ban.

Either Trump isn’t reading the Executive Orders he’s given, isn’t being fulling briefed on what the EO’s involve, or he isn’t being told what the implications of such orders are. All three alone are absolutely insane and amount to neglect but since most are in agreement that all three are happening then we have someone that is legitimately incapable of performing the job he was elected to do. His voters, although the minority, didn’t vote for Bannon. They voted for Trump.

I Work from Home

I Work from Home by Colin Nissan

OPERATOR: And when’s the last time you saw someone else? Was that today?

ROBERT: Uh, my wife . . . this morning, I guess.

OPERATOR: Anyone else?

ROBERT: I don’t think so. Well, the mailman, but that was through the blinds. I don’t know if that counts.

OPERATOR: I’m afraid not. (Pause.) I’m going to ask you to open the blinds, O.K.? Let’s go ahead and let some light in.

ROBERT: How much light??

OPERATOR: Just a little is fine.

ROBERT: O.K. (Pause.) I did it. (Pause.) It’s bright. It feels so bright on my face.

I’ve been working from home for almost two years now and I can honestly tell you that there are days, weeks even, that are similar.

I recently had a conversation with a colleague that works in one of our offices and she lamented how she wished she could work from home more. I advised against it since I often feel like a hermit and miss the socialization that an office setting gives you. The Oatmeal explains why working from home is both awesome and horrible.

Working from home means you get a lot of freedom in how you dress, how you eat, how many bathroom breaks you can take, and how and where to work but trying to stay motivated to work when there are so many distractions is rough. It takes a lot of discipline and the ability to focus, which on a lot of days I don’t have.

Clinton Can’t Escape Obama’s Legacy

Clinton Can’t Escape Obama’s Legacy – Like him or not, Obama’s 8 years in office have been about as successful as possible. He’s implemented a health care system that’s insured millions and has made some much needed services cheaper, especially for women. His economic policies have lowered the unemployment rate. The next president has tough policy shoes to fill. Trump could potentially dismantle everything Obama fought for (everyone move to Canada!) and Hillary could bring another 4 years of Obama-ism.