Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1

Labor Day 2014: Sept. 1
The first observance of Labor Day was likely on Sept. 5, 1882, when some 10,000 workers assembled in New York City for a parade. That celebration inspired similar events across the country, and by 1894 more than half the states were observing a “working men’s holiday” on one day or another. Later that year, with Congress passing legislation and President Grover Cleveland signing the bill on June 29, the first Monday in September was designated “Labor Day.” This national holiday is a creation of the labor movement in the late 19th century and pays tribute to the social and economic achievements of American workers. 
Who Are We Celebrating?
155.6 million
Number of people 16 and over in the nation’s labor force in May 2013. 
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-1

                                         Our Jobs

Largest Occupations May 2013                                                       Number of employees
Retail salespeople                                                                                       4,485,180
Cashiers                                                                                                     3,343,470
Combined food preparation and serving workers,                                             3,022,880               including fast food
Office clerks, general                                                                                   2,832,010
Registered nurses                                                                                       2,661,890
Waiters and waitresses                                                                               2,403,960
Customer service representatives                                                                 2,389,580
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand                                  2,284,650
Secretaries and administrative assistants, except legal                                 2,159,000
medical, and executive
Janitors and cleaners, except maids and housekeeping                                2,101,810
 Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupations with the Highest Employment, May 2013, <>

Largest Occupations 1910                                                               Number of employees

Saturday, August 30, 2014

UN Draft Climate Report Leaked: Greenhouse Emissions Getting Worse, Not Better

From Daily Kos:

Those hoping for good news about the effects of climate change are not going to find it here.
Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel of over 800 scientists and climate experts that periodically assesses and updates the state of climate research, will release its summary "synthesis" report in October.  A draft version of the report, still subject to final editing, was provided to member governments this week and a copy was obtained by the New York Times.  While much of the research underlying the synthesis document can be found in the IPCC's three Working Group Reports released during the past year, the summary and conclusions carry particular weight and are presented in starker language designed to motivate lawmakers from those countries that choose to pay attention.

Friday, August 29, 2014

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email

From the New York Times

THIS Labor Day weekend, odds are you’ll peek at your work email on your "day off" — and then feel guilty about it.

You might envy the serene workers at Daimler, the German automaker. On vacations, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode.” Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn't in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence...

If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States? Absolutely. It not only could, but it should.

White-collar cubicle dwellers complain about email for good reason. They spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

Journalists killed in the last decade, by country

From GlobalPost:

When James Foley was executed last week by the Islamic State, he became the 32nd journalist killed in 2014, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ has been documenting every work-related death of a media member since 1992. We've used CPJ's data to create the graphic below, which provides information about the journalists killed around the world in the last decade.

CPJ defines journalists as "people who cover news or comment on public affairs through any media — including in print, in photographs, on radio, on television, and online." That includes staff journalists, freelancers, stringers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

The numbers we've used total the cases CPJ defines as "motive confirmed," meaning the death is directly related to the individual's work as a journalist.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As Office of US Courts withdraws records for five top benches, can we make them open?

From BoingBoing:

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has announced that they are removing the archives for 5 important courts from their infamous PACER system. PACER is the ten-cent-per-page access to U.S. District and Appeals courts dockets and opinions."

Public.Resource.Org, in cooperation with our friends at the Free Law Project and the Internet Archive have sent in formal proposals to 5 Chief Judges asking for an Administrative Order to access this data...

Our judiciary is based on the idea that we conduct justice public, not in star chambers and smoke-filled back rooms. Our system of justice is based on access to the workings of our courts, and when you hide those workings behind a pay wall, you have imposed a poll tax on access to justice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School: 2014-2015

By August, summertime will be winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It’s a time that many children eagerly anticipate — catching up with old friends and making new ones, and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan newspapers and websites looking for sales on a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation’s students and teachers.
Back-to-School Shopping
$8.6 billion  
The estimated amount of money spent at family clothing stores in August 2013. Sales at bookstores in August 2013 were estimated at $1.6 billion. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services <>
For back-to-school shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2012, there were 25,421 family clothing stores, 6,945 children and infants clothing stores, 25,455 shoe stores 7,443 office supply and stationery stores, 20,893 sporting goods stores, 7,244 book stores and 8,196 department stores. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 County Business Patterns, NAICS: 448210, 44814, 448130, 453210, 451211 and 4521<|44814|448210|451211|4521|453210>

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate

As congressional policy makers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality.” However, most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

What, if any, action should be taken to ensure “net neutrality” has become a major focal point in the debate over broadband regulation. As the marketplace for broadband continues to evolve, some contend that no new regulations are needed, and if enacted will slow deployment of and access to the Internet, as well as limit innovation. Others, however, contend that the consolidation and diversification of broadband providers into content providers has the potential to lead to discriminatory behaviors which conflict with net neutrality principles. The two potential behaviors most often cited are the network providers’ ability to control access to and the pricing of broadband facilities, and the incentive to favor network-owned content, thereby placing unaffiliated content providers at a competitive disadvantage.

More from Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar.

If you weren't taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools.

And while it was once commonplace, many people today don't even know what it is...

Burns Florey and other experts trace the origin of diagramming sentences back to 1877 and two professors at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. In their book, Higher Lessons in English, Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg made the case that students would learn better how to structure sentences if they could see them drawn as graphic structures.

After Reed and Kellogg published their book, the practice of diagramming sentences had something of a Golden Age in American schools.

More from NPR.

Diagram sentences! (Works on only some computers.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gap Between Higher- and Lower-Wealth Households Widens

       Median net worth increased between 2000 and 2011 for households in the top two quintiles of the net worth distribution (the wealthiest 40 percent), while declining for those in the lower three quintiles (the bottom 60 percent), according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The result was a widening wealth gap between those at the top and those in the middle and bottom of the net worth distribution. Each quintile represents 20 percent, or one-fifth, of all households.
       “The types of assets that households hold may vary,” Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck said. “Therefore, business cycle changes over time may affect households differently based on their net worth quintile and demographic characteristics.”
      According to  Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011 and associated detailed tables, median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the first (bottom) net worth quintile and increased by $61,379 (or 10.8 percent) for those in the highest (top) quintile (Figure 1). Median net worth of households in the highest quintile was 39.8 times higher than the second lowest quintile in 2000, and it rose to 86.8 times higher in 2011. (Figure 2).