Alan Colmes: Congressional Democrats Making Huge Mistake Targeting Hate Speech

Alan Colmes: Congressional Democrats Making Huge Mistake Targeting Hate Speech 2014-04-18


Democrats Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Hakeem Jeffreys of New York want to clamp down on what can be said on radio under the rubric of "hate speech," and it's a terrible idea. Government should stay as far away from broadcast content as possible. And who will define "hate speech?" Hate speech can be anything you disagree with. It can be speech directed at a person who is offended. There is no asterisk in the Constitution that says "except for hate speech." With bills in the House and Senate, the lawmakers would direct the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to "analyze" media outlets -- including radio -- to determine if they're working to "advocate and encourage" hate crimes.

Oh, and how are they going to "analyze" media outlets? Using what metric?

Tying their bill to this week's alleged white supremacist shootings in Kansas, Markey says it is "critical to ensure the internet, television and radio are not encouraging hate crimes or hate speech." He brushes aside expected First Amendment arguments, saying "criminal and hateful activity" aren't covered by the Constitution.

Well, the Constitution isn't something to "brush aside." And, no matter how many heinous crimes are committed by deplorable white supremacists, it's inane to make the case that it's because something someone said on the radio. It takes more than a ranting talk show host to instill the kind of hate in someone that spurs on this kind of depraved behavior.

It doesn't propose any specific penalties but, instead, would collect information and report the findings to congressional oversight committees.

Just we need, a law that creates committees but has no enforcement power, on something the government shouldn't be enforcing in the first place. That will stop the white supremacists!

A who's who of left-leaning activist groups have gone on record supporting the bills, including the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which has clashed with talk radio in the past, and low-power FM advocacy Prometheus Radio Project.

They're all wrong

Andrew Wild: Wild Stat Of The Week: Paying Tribute To The Best There Ever Has

Andrew Wild: Wild Stat Of The Week: Paying Tribute To The Best There Ever Has Been 2014-04-18

WIld Stat of the Week: 64 (Years Vin Scully has been working the booth for the Dodgers)

There's any number of statistics to impress you with showing how long Vin Scully has been with the Dodgers. For example, over his time with the Dodgers, Vin has seen 11 Dodger managers, 12 U.S presidencies, 14 expansion teams, 22 Yankee platy-by-play announcers, and 33 Olympic games. Those numbers are certainly impressive, but what's really amazing about Vin's storied career has been his consistency and hard work through all 64 years. No other announcer is able to handle a game solo on their own like Vin still does at 86. Anyone who has ever listened to a Dodger game knows this is because of the incredible amount of trivia and anecdotes Vin has on hand to dispense, and always at the right time. It can be the second baseman's story about getting a scar as a kid, a history of the rookie center fielder's hometown in the pioneer days, or how the veteran catcher's great uncle scouted Jackie Robinson, but Vin always finds a way to turn the dog days of summer into can't miss TV.

The funny thing is that even though Vin started doing radio broadcasts and had to learn how to do a TV broadcast, he understands the medium better than pretty much anyone else out there. When we can see the action on the field, we don't need a separate play-by-play announcer just to tell us what we already know. Vin lets us watch the game ourselves, and simply peppers in all the extra things that make your average game a work of art.

Every Dodger fan and every serious baseball fan has a Vin story. Their favorite call or story Vin placed so naturally in the flow of the game. I wasn't in front of the TV to hear my Vin story, but I think my story stacks up to anyone's. During the Dodger's run to the NLCS last year I got the chance to see my first playoff game in person when the boys in blue play the Braves in Game 4 of the NLDS. I sat in the outfield bleachers, and right below me was another fan with an old school radio where he eventually found the station Vin was on. Even though we were at the game, our entire section was listening intently to get our fix of Vin's sweet broadcasting. Unfortunately we couldn't listen to Vin the entire game as he steps out of the radio broadcast after the third inning. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the eighth, Juan Uribe twice failed to bunt and advance Yasiel Puig who was on first base. But at 2-2 Uribe launched a game-winning home run and Dodger Stadium erupted like nothing I've ever seen before. After the Dodgers punched their ticket to the NLCS, my dad and I were talking in the car on the way out. We were trying to remember if it was possible that Juan Uribe really failed to bunt in the same at bat as his game-winner. At that exact moment they replayed Vin Scully's classic call as Uribe ran the bases: "Isn't it amazing what someone will do when they can't bunt?" No one could have put it any better.

Leave your best Vin Scully moment in the comments.

Jim Wallis: The Risen Christ: A Call To Conversion

Jim Wallis: The Risen Christ: A Call To Conversion 2014-04-18

But the angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him." Matthew 28:5-7

"Christ is risen!" That is the Easter greeting that Christians around the world have used for generations. It is one of my favorite parts of Easter -- I love to hear the words "He is risen."

But for so many of us, Easter is not just a religious holiday -- it is a personal celebration and re-commitment. How do we personally experience the resurrection? Every year, as I hear and say "He is risen," I remember that it's not just a theological affirmation, but something I need personally.

Because I need -- I think we all need -- to remember and celebrate the hope that those words proclaim. "He is risen" is much more than an optimistic expression. It is not an empty platitude or wishful thinking, but the assertion of that in the midst of all the personal and collective pain, brokenness, injustice, and oppression that we see or experience, Christ is victorious. And we start over every Easter with a new affirmation and conviction of the hope that will always change both our lives and the world.

As I've been personally reflecting on the resurrection, I wanted to share an adaptation from the last chapter of my book, The Call to Conversion that explores what "Christ is risen!" meant to the earliest disciples. I hope that it will help you this Easter, as you celebrate the fact that "He is risen, indeed!" and reflect upon what this day of hope means for you.


Jesus is alive. That was the rumor which spread through Jerusalem that first Easter morning. Women came to the tomb early in the morning, the first witnesses to the resurrection. Their testimony as women was not even admissible in court under Jewish law; the word of a woman had no public credibility in that patriarchal culture. But God chose to reveal the miracle of Jesus' resurrection first to women. They were told to report the astonishing news of the empty tomb to the men. At first, the men did not believe it.

Jesus' first appearance was also to a woman, Mary Magdalene. She was in the garden near the tomb, stricken with grief. The one who had accepted and forgiven her, the one whom she loved so deeply, was gone. She saw a figure she thought was the gardener and said to him, "They have taken my Lord. Do you know where they have laid him?" Then a familiar voice called her name, "Mary." She looked up and recognized him. "Master!" she cried. Her Lord had come back, and the heart of the woman who had been cleansed by his love leapt for joy. Mary went straight to the disciples with a simple testimony, "I have seen the Lord." Their excitement must have been enormous.

The disciples were in hiding behind locked doors from fear of the authorities, says the Bible. They had seen what had happened to their leader and were afraid they would be next. So they huddled in secret.

The ones at the tomb who appeared as "young men in shining garments" told the women to go tell the disciples and Peter. Peter had always been the leader among the disciples, but he had betrayed his Lord three times with oaths and curses. Peter denied his Master from fear. The strong fisherman wept bitterly and became utterly dejected after the death of the Lord. Jesus especially wanted Peter to know of his resurrection. He wanted to make sure Peter was told, not as a rebuke, but so Peter would know that he was alive and that he still loved him. When the women told them the news, Peter and John ran to the tomb. John, younger and faster than Peter, arrived first and waited at the entrance, peering into the darkness. Peter, always the impulsive disciple, didn't stop at the entrance; he went right inside. He had to see. He had to know. They saw the empty tomb, and they believed.

Then Jesus came and stood among them. "Peace be with you," he said, as he looked into their eyes. Think what they must have felt at that moment. He showed them his hands and his feet. "It is I, myself . . . touch me and see." They could hardly believe what they were seeing. He even took a fish and ate it, just to show them he was real. He recalled to them the Scriptures and his own foretelling of his death and resurrection. It was really he, and he was really alive.

Thomas wasn't there. When the others told him, he didn't believe it. Perhaps wounded with pain and disillusionment, perhaps filled with bitterness and cynicism, Thomas would not let his hopes be rekindled. He said, "Unless I see the marks of the nails in his hands, unless I put my fingers in the place the marks were, and my hand into his side, I will not believe."

Later, Jesus came to his disciples again. This time, Thomas was present. "Thomas," he said, "put your finger here and see my hands. Put out your hand and place it in my side. Do not be faithless, but believing." Thomas must have witnessed the marks of Jesus' suffering with tears in his eyes. "My Lord and my God," he humbly exclaimed. For Thomas, and for them all, unbelief was turned to belief when they saw their Lord and the marks of his suffering. They were converted by the resurrection. The disciples had left everything to follow Jesus. He had touched their lives as no one else ever had. He was the one who loved them, and the one whom they had grown to love. Jesus was alive again and among his disciples as before, but now in a new way. The first words spoken to Jesus' followers at his empty tomb were, "Do not be afraid... He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay." And the Scriptures say, "When they saw the Lord they were filled with great joy."

Until they saw Jesus, the disciples viewed the world the way others did. The central reality of their lives had been the power of the system and their own powerlessness. But when they saw him, they unlocked the doors, came out, and began turning the world upside down. The disciples were converted; they knew another reality then, one that was truer, greater, stronger, and a more compelling authority than the realities that had paralyzed them with fear. Jesus had risen, and Jesus was Lord.

We, too, are hiding behind locked doors and are afraid to come out. Jesus knows our fears. He wants us to know his resurrection. He says, "Go, tell my disciples that I have risen and that I am going before them. And go tell..."-- he slowly repeats each of our names. Tell him, tell her that we need not be afraid anymore. Like Peter, we have betrayed Christ because of our fears. But Jesus didn't hold Peter's fear against him. Nor does he hold our fears against us. We, too, have doubted like Thomas. We have become cynical, skeptical, and faithless. But Jesus stands among us, shows us his hands and his side, and he tells us to reach out and touch him. He tells Thomas and he tells us not to doubt .but to believe.

Jesus died for our sins, our doubts, and our fears. He rose from the grave to demonstrate his victory over them and to set us free from their power. He wants us, like Peter, Thomas, Mary, and the others, to know his resurrection. He wanted them to know, and he wants us to know, that his love for his disciples has no bounds, that he died to set us free, and that he rose from the dead to show us his way was true. "Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

___________ Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, On God's Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn't Learned About Serving the Common Good, is now available. Watch the Story of the Common Good HERE. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.
Food Riot: How To Use A Coffee Shop As An Office And Not Be That Person

Food Riot: How To Use A Coffee Shop As An Office And Not Be That Person 2014-04-18

First appeared on Food Riot by Susie Rodarme

Confession: I used to be that person who got super annoyed at people who work in coffee shops. I hated how they would spread their laptops all over the place, hog up space because they had to be near an outlet, sip the same damn cup of coffee for three hours when the table could have turned over several times in the interim and brought the coffee shop more money.

I still hate those things, but I am one of those people who uses a coffee shop as an office now. Unashamedly.

Since I got this writing gig (not to mention being the editor of my own, less illustrious site), I found that I really did work better when I was out of the house and pouring a steady stream of caffeine into my person. I concentrate better when I don't have fifty things in my peripheral vision nagging, "Hey! We are things that need to be done! Why aren't you doing us? WHY? WHY? WHY?" And that's before my cats start grumbling at me or using me as human cat furniture.

So where do I go? The coffee shop. Of course.

I imposed some rules on myself, though. I think these rules kind of mystify the employees, who will occasionally give me a break on something and look at me like I'm insane when I say no, no-I want to pay full price. Because I'm aware that camping out in the same seat for hours doesn't help my favorite neighborhood coffee shop, and I don't want to hurt their business while also using their electricity and free WiFi.

These are my rules for using a coffee shop as an office:

Take up the smallest space possible. I see people unnecessarily using two tables when they really could condense down into one and scoot that second table over so that it could be used by someone else. I know being near an outlet is Mission Critical, but if you have a laptop, a beverage, and a snack, you can work that with only one regulation-sized coffee shop table.

Spend money. One cup of coffee is my ticket to work for maybe an hour, and I kind of feel like that's pushing it a little. (Yes, even if it's fancy.) Coffee shops are affected by turnover, too; if, for example, you are not going to the cafe to work, and you know that it will be full of people not getting up from their work and there will not be a seat, you will probably choose a different shop. That coffee shop just lost business due to low turnover of tables. When I'm working, I try to buy things at least once an hour to justify my time there. If I'm getting refills, I add snacks or switch up my drink.

Tip well. Even if I'm spending money periodically, I'm still probably not spending as much as the table could earn were it open to many people, or groups of people, who might sit for just fifteen or twenty minutes (unless your cafe of choice is just totally dead). Tipping well keeps the baristas from giving me the side-eye.

I also take the baristas treats sometimes. I've taken cookies and soup (uh, not at the same time) to the baristas at my "office."

Be cognizant of rush hour. High volume times = more seats needed and more opportunities for table turnover. I don't like going during rush hour anyway because it's harder to find an outlet seat. Or any seat. I try to target off-peak times for maximum consideration.

Do you have personal rules for working in your "coffice"? (And also are you a little squigged out by how that sounds like "coffin"?)

Read more at Food Riot

Katie Koestner: The Real Reason Many Young Men Say They Won't Report Being Rap

Katie Koestner: The Real Reason Many Young Men Say They Won't Report Being Raped 2014-04-18

The Ivy Quad is a sacred space. TBTN is well attended by flawless SAT's and international superstar students. We start in the lecture hall and are notified that we have violated the fire code with our crowd. So we spill out to the grassy space. The stories pour forth. She looks like she is 6'2" and says her boyfriend says he'll break up with her if she won't sleep with him. Then, another woman says it was her coach in middle school.

A guy wearing plaid pants speaks up. I imagine him to look like a state senator from Maine. It is the brown curly hair and the glasses. He says you don't put "rape victim" on your resume. It's not good for interviews. You are perceived as weak -- in mind and body -- if you say that you've been raped. I assume he is providing an observation of societal expectation. He is not. He is telling us why he never told anyone. Male victims vs. female victims. Gender and intelligence do not make one impervious to rape.

In Pittsburgh, I'm at a high school. It's private. Parents travel, have four homes and personal pilots. He says this guy texts him. He's got a whole thing of vodka. A party across town. Does he want a ride? Standing in the high school theatre, now, he says, "We never made it to the party. I shouldn't have known not to have gotten in the car." Self-blame by most every victim.

In New Jersey, it is spring break, senior year. They go 'down the shore' with friends. He remembers going to the bar and leaving the bar with a girl he just met. He winds up in a random hotel room with no shirt and shorts around his knees. He says maybe they slipped roofies in his drink at the bar. He's glad he doesn't remember more, but the STD he has from it is a constant reminder. It doesn't matter how much you can bench-press if someone can drop something in your drink.

When I am at MIT, he waits until everyone is gone except the guy in the sound booth. All 1200 incoming students have left Kresge Auditorium. He is epitome of ectomorph. He says he is from a small town in Texas, and I've probably never heard of it. "It happened on the floor in the family room in front of the television." It was his uncle. He says he's never told anyone until today. Secrets kept by many, most.

So, are we even now? Men and women. More women are raped than men. But fewer men who are raped report. But, too many people are raped, and not enough report. Who has the competitive edge? The disadvantage? When rape was a property crime and women who were raped were "damaged goods" was that worse for women because we weren't even part of the equation? Or, would you argue that when it is presumed that all men want (hetero)sex all the time, that is worse?

All bad. Winning is losing.

This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and Take Back the Night in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To learn more about Take Back the Night and how you can help prevent sexual violence, visit here. Read all posts in the series here.

Need help? In the U.S., visit the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline operated by RAINN. For more resources, visit the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's website.

John Hanacek: Beyond Network Feudalism

John Hanacek: Beyond Network Feudalism 2014-04-18

Our civilization has a new reality. Computers meshed together by digital networks have transcended the system that built them becoming a new reality, a place where duplicating and moving information has near zero marginal cost. This alone has changed the nature of the world; we have a virtual playground where the reality of scarcity we have known and endured is largely gone.

Now Jeremy Rifkin endeavors to take us one step further. In Zero Marginal Cost Society, he argues for the next step in the human journey, applying the principles and benefits of zero marginal cost virtual space to physical reality. Decentralized renewable energy production at near zero post-investment cost enveloped in ubiquitous wireless computing and sensing networks, the Internet of Things (IoT). The pervasive truth of existence in a capitalist system, Rifkin maintains, is giving way to a hybrid economy; incorporating both traditional capitalism and the growing segment of technologically empowered peer-to-peer individuals Rifkin so eloquently calls the "Collaborative Commons."


Yet there is a specter looming large over this world. The Internet that appears distributed is fundamentally centralized. Right now there are key players that sit atop the largest networks reaping all the financial rewards. Google is the portal to the world's information and Facebook links over 1.2 billion users. Networks themselves have value for their structure and their data. Whatsapp selling to Facebook for $19 billion is only the beginning. These networks connect distributed users but are dependent on communications infrastructure and cloud computing controlled by others. We migrated computing into the cost effective cloud and now face a situation where most new web apps and services to facilitate the peer-to-peer society and economy are built atop a centralized "stack." The data and interactions users engage in, from pictures of cats to literal dollars, are funneled toward central servers with value being siphoned from the data flows. Centralized fortunes are built atop free data users provide. Moreover, the world's governments can roam the networks and cloud-stored data to survey the digital landscape at will, seeing almost whatever they desire.

Data is emerging as the new "oil," the new resource, the ultimate distillation of all civilization into an exponential pool of zeros and ones. Already the global economy is built from networks and powered by data. Economic value on Earth is steadily being digitized; "currency" was long ago. As we envelop the world in a unified Internet framework we are facing a dark truth: in a world of free-flowing data, the biggest computer wins.

Once we have the Internet of Things and its free-flowing data, the new global power rests with those who can extract insights: those who can "refine the oil." As Rifkin highlights, the build-out of IoT infrastructure will be expensive and intensive, but after initial investment in infrastructure the marginal operating costs are trivial. Every networked person might have access to IoT data, but businesses and governments have the computing power and expertise to do far more with that data. They do not need ownership of the data. Finding value in the investment comes down to applying massive computing power to find insights in the data flows. Insight is emerging as the new "profit," the new ultimate value.

Even if existing companies and interests fade away, new power-hungry actors will inevitably emerge empowered by the Internet of Things and its free-flowing data. These new actors will place themselves and their computing power at the zenith of massive networks, pooling exponential data. A computing arms race seeking value in exponential data pools will define the 21st century. From immense data amazing things are forged, even Artificial Intelligence. Data is not some nebulous ether; it is the resource building the new world.

Networks create vast wealth through data, but are structured incorrectly enabling only individuals at their figurative centers to truly win. Fortunately there are other options. We can build systems that organize and bind us together directly without giving singular entities control. We can build true, rather than illusory, peer-to-peer networks. Wireless mesh networking can send data directly in a web of laterally connected devices. This technology already exists in Apple's iOS 7 and enables device-to-device messaging apps like Firechat. Approaches like Bittorrent can be applied to more than just file transfers but to messaging too. The block chain that powers Bitcoin represents the realization of a grand dream: a globally verified database with a public ledger. No one owns the Bitcoin network, it owns itself. Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin could enable a truly independent peer-to-peer and global Collaborative Commons by providing a decentralized means to directly exchange verifiable value.

As computing power becomes ever more important, it is also becoming more distributed and ubiquitous. From Folding@home to cryptocurrencies to often-nefarious botnets, it is possible to solve singular computing tasks using many disparate networked computers that are not under central ownership. The Bitcoin network is already more powerful than the top 500 supercomputers on Earth combined. Distributed computing could become quite pervasive as the Internet of Things expands and billions of computers blanket the Earth, potentially sharing processing resources with each other as needed creating a dynamically scaling mesh of global computing power. In this way the worry of a few powerful players owning all relevant computing power might be assuaged, but likely never truly eliminated. Quantum computing looms and the risks of unreasonably centralizing that power must not be underestimated.

Zero Marginal Cost Society excites with potential and gives us a kind of permission to rethink everything. Rifkin describes technology within our reach that can build a more just, humane, and sustainable global economy for every human being. Of course there will be forces actively corrupting the dream; the desire for control is not set to vanish. If we truly empower individuals and create network structures that properly reward collaboration we can build a much more fair and creative world. If we continue moving forward with business as usual we risk building a new feudal world, where cyber lords reign over networks unwittingly constructed by their cyber serfs.

John Hanacek is a futurist writing on implications of technology in society for Atlantic Council's FutureSource blog, he maintains a personal blog and tweets about emerging science and technology.

Bob Burnett: Inside Paul Ryan, Inside The Gop

Bob Burnett: Inside Paul Ryan, Inside The Gop 2014-04-18

After six months attacking Democrats for the alleged faults of Obamacare, Republicans finally went on the offensive with the budget plan developed by Representative Paul Ryan. The Ryan/Republican budget draws a stark contrast between the two parties.

According to the Ryan budget, America's number one problem is the deficit. Republicans claim their plan "...reduces deficits by $4.6 trillion over the next ten years... By tackling the debt, this budget will help grow our economy today and ensure the next generation inherits a stronger, more prosperous America." Nonetheless, national polls have consistently shown that most Americans feel jobs and the economy are the nation's number one problem; we believe America should do something about the jobs crisis before we tackle deficit reduction. A January Pew Research Poll found that 80 percent of respondents wanted to strengthen the U.S. economy and 74 percent wanted to improve "the job situation." Only 63 percent of respondents wanted to reduce the budget deficit. However, 80 percent of Republicans felt this should be a top priority; only 40 percent of Democrats agreed.

In 2014, Republicans are championing an austerity budget that has been decried by economists such as Paul Krugman and Harry Stein and Michael Madowitz, who noted; "The Congressional Budget Office, or CBO, projects that [the Ryan] budget will actually shrink the economy for the next three years."

The Republican job creation "plan" is tax cuts for the wealthy. The Ryan budget has no plan for job creation other than cutting the tax rate for the rich from 39.6 percent to 25 percent (thereby handing them an average $265,000 per year tax break) and reducing the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent. This diminishes federal revenue by $6 trillion. Republicans pray their tax cuts will stimulate the economy and create the lost tax revenue.

Ryan and his fellow Republicans adhere to their failed "trickle down" ideology. Economists Harry Stein and Michael Madowitz observed: "A 2012 paper by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez also found that cutting top marginal tax rates has not led to economic growth, but that it does seem to help the rich get richer."

The Ryan budget clobbers the social safety net. The Republican philosophy is: "For years, the federal government has been encroaching on the institutions of civil society. A distant bureaucracy has been sapping their energy and assuming their role -- when it should have been supporting them." Accordingly, the Ryan budget repeals Obamacare, cuts welfare programs, destroys Medicaid, and turns Medicare into a voucher program.

Despite its rocky start, the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has provided insurance to more than 13 million uninsured. "[The Ryan] budget repeals the President's onerous health-care law. Instead of putting health-care decisions into the hands of bureaucrats, Congress should pursue patient-centered health-care reforms that actually bring down the cost of care by empowering consumers." (A February Kaiser Family Foundation Poll found that the majority of respondents (56 percent) wanted Congress to keep or improved the Affordable Care Act. Once again, opinions were divided by party; with 83 percent of Democrats positive about Obamacare and 62 percent of Republicans negative.)

The Ryan budget would repeal the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid and turn the existing Medicaid program into a block grant system administered by the states. For those Americans aged 55 and younger, the Ryan budget would turn Medicare into a voucher program.

The Republican Budget penalizes the middle class. A recent ABC News/Washington Post Poll found that when asked "which political party... do you trust to do a better job helping the middle class?" respondents preferred Democrats to Republicans by a 47 percent to 34 percent margin. (In the same poll, 68 percent of respondents described Republicans as "out of touch... with the concerns of most people in the United States.")

The Ryan budget is consistent with the perception of the GOP being out of touch with the 99 percent. Not only does the budget repeal the Affordable Care Act and radically alter Medicare and Medicaid, it also cuts welfare programs, agricultural programs, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program and the popular Pell grant program for student financial assistance. Republicans cut domestic programs by $791 billion over a decade, while adding $483 billion for the Department of Defense.

The Republican plan disproportionately impacts women The National Women's Law Center observed: "[The Ryan budget] changes would leave millions of women and their families without the financial security of high-quality health insurance, unable to access the health care services they need, and facing dramatic increases in their healthcare costs."

It's startling to see the difference in perspective offered in the Ryan/Republican budget and the progressive Better Off Budget. The Democratic budget creates jobs while protecting the middle class and demanding that wealthy Americans pay their fair share.

The Ryan/Republican budget puts the 2014 midterm election in perspective. Americans will choose between a new congress that caters to the 1 percent or one that protects the 99 percent. We will choose between plutocracy or democracy.

Mark R. Kennedy: Hill Staffers: Your Reality Is Not Made For Tv

Mark R. Kennedy: Hill Staffers: Your Reality Is Not Made For Tv 2014-04-18

There are reports that a reality show starring "D.C. up-and-comers" is in the works. If you wanted to attach an anchor to your career in politics, my advice to you would be to sign up.

Whether this show ever gets off the ground remains to be seen, but I would offer a few words of wisdom for anyone considering an audition.

Whether working for a candidate, elected official, or a cause, the first rule of a political staffer is "it's not about you." Everything you do on the job should advance your principal's or constituents' greater goals. It's not clear how appearing on a television show does that.

Dealing with the ups and downs of campaigning and legislating is challenging. Having a staffer act inappropriately on television once a week is basically a 30-minute free advertisement against your cause. With employees like that who needs opponents? Additionally, reality shows never show the "good" side of anything. A room full of people getting along and agreeing doesn't make for very compelling television. These programs thrive on conflict. Much of that conflict is fueled by, or at least aided by alcohol.

The phrase "loose lips sink ships" was invented to keep sensitive information away from wartime enemies. In a city that thrives on access to information, booze and cameras are part of a disaster waiting to happen.

As I've noted before, legislating in Washington isn't an episode of House of Cards. It's hard, sometimes boring work. Being able to deliver on the promises you make to constituents and your superiors will be the thing that makes you a star in Washington, not being a Survivor, Bachelor, or Apprentice.

_____________ Hon. Mark R. Kennedy (@HonMarkKennedy) leads George Washington University's Graduate School of Political Management and is Chairman of the Economic Club of Minnesota. He previously served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives and was Senior Vice President and Treasurer of Federated Department Stores (now Macy's).
Bustle: I'm The Guy Who Is Always 'just A Friend'

Bustle: I'm The Guy Who Is Always 'just A Friend' 2014-04-18

This post originally appeared on Bustle.

By Chris Tognotti

Hello. My name is Christopher Tognotti, and I'm no good with women.

This is a slight generalization, perhaps, but that's how it feels. Whether I've been bright-eyed or gloomy, fat or slender, young(er) or old(er), the ladies have never seemed to love me quite as much as I love them. My days as a fit gym employee involved no more fulfilled loves than my days now as a portly writer.

Let me lay it on the line: At nearly 28 years old, I've never been in a proper relationship. Even further -- I've never actually been on a date with anyone I felt a real flare of passion for. I'm not virginal in any other sense, but at least for me, the emotional droughts feel much worse than the sexual ones.

Many people I know can measure out sections of their adult lives by the benchmarks of sustained, serious relationships, and that's an ability I find myself brutally envious of. I've cried over the feelings and experiences I've longed to have, and cried to the people who, one way or another, haven't provided them.

That's not to say I haven't spent time with women I've liked or fallen for. I've been more or less surrounded with women since my childhood, having always gotten along more easily and naturally with girls than boys. As you might expect, I've sometimes found myself smitten; a situation considerably more perilous when the person you desire is also your friend. Which is to say, someone with whom you might be wrecking something that's already pretty good.

I have a handful of images frozen in mind of the moments at which I've told people how I truly felt about them. I've become adept at reading the language of rejection: It's most often been the eyes where the answer comes first, while the face stays still. You'd be shocked how easily the thought I really like you as a person but I'm not attracted or interested in dating you can be conveyed with just the flicker of an eyelid.

"Local heterosexual white man dissatisfied with love life." I know, some headlines aren't as grabbing as others. There is at least one way in which I'm not dissatisfied however: my own ability to weather life and love's disappointments, and to never blame the women who reject me in the process.

Perhaps you've heard this story before, of a self-proclaimed "nice guy" who feels miffed by the romantic inattention of a close female friend. But assumptions that the alleged "nice guy" may be making -- feeling aggrieved, maybe even angry, that she couldn't be more open-minded, or see how great a couple they'd be -- fall perilously short of anything describable as "nice."

Vehemently complaining that a woman is dating somebody else instead of you hinges on the assumption that she'd want to date you otherwise. I understand the impulse, even the drive to convince oneself that such a romance could flourish.

And it's true -- friendships can sometimes lead to pretty awesome relationships -- or so I'm told. But if a man is basically complaining that female friends aren't actively seeking to repay their platonic kindness with sex, then let me say, clearly and loudly: that attitude is full of sh*t.

Sometimes, the answer to the question "why don't they love me?" is best given simply: because they don't. The amount of mental exhaustion I've put myself through in dodging this truth is embarrassing in retrospect.

I owe immeasurable amounts of my life's happiness and well-being to women who've never been anything but my friends. Those relationships, and the experiences shared within them, are not consolation prizes, or pathetic stepping-stones. Unless, of course, you decide to treat them as such.

I'd love to end this on a note of some burgeoning optimism. But in truth, I can't. It simply wouldn't feel true to my heart, my state of mind, or my expectations right now.

But I'm buoyed by the knowledge that all things change in time, and that what (or who) waits around the corner could also be a pleasant surprise. It might sound small, but if dime-store optimism is the best I can muster, I'll try to take it, every time. In that way, I'll always be a romantic.

Image: Sean Hurlburt

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Ziad J. Asali, M.d.: Men Must Play Their Part In The Battle For Arab Women's R

Ziad J. Asali, M.d.: Men Must Play Their Part In The Battle For Arab Women's Rights 2014-04-18

I feel compelled to write this article because the issue of women's rights in the Middle East is not, strictly speaking, a "women's issue," but a pressing and urgent concern for the whole of society, and perhaps even more so, men themselves.

After all, the culture that marginalizes women -- and that bars them from success and prevents them from competing with men on a level playing field in politics, science and economics -- is largely the product of men. Therefore, the onus is on Middle Eastern men to be the first to demand and create changes in this unacceptable situation.

Men, having largely created the problem to begin with, are obliged to move quickly to liberate women from the negative impact of a culture that limits their access to, not just progress and success, but also often basic human rights. The struggle is for Arab women to attain these rights, and therefore it is a battle for the whole of society against those men (and some women) who have historically ( and many continue today) defended this oppressive culture.

My point is not that men have to rescue women. That would be only to re-inscribe normative notions of dependence that lead to unjust gender hierarchies in society and reinforce patriarchal ideas. Instead, I am insisting that the battle for women's human and social rights in the Arab world cannot be resolved without a major contribution from those men who are aware of how this marginalization is not only unjust, but detrimental to society at every level and reduces the abilities of their countries to compete with others around the world. It's unlikely the demonstrations by women's rights activists in the Middle East alone can achieve the necessary corrective to an intolerable set of cultural norms. There needs to be a critical mass.

Therefore it's imperative that men throughout society, including but not limited to those who are politically active, move quickly into the front lines to join those Arab women who are demanding their rights immediately and without any delay. It's not enough to celebrate International Women's Day. This has to be a full-time commitment in the interests of the whole society, and therefore it must be dealt with by societies as a whole.

Of course, historically there have been many Arab men such as Qasim Amin, Maarouf Rusafi and others with real intellectual integrity and social consciousness that have been committed to the struggle for women's rights. They were no less courageous than leading women activists such as Houda Sha'arawi and Anbara Salaam. They all participated together in securing real accomplishments for women at the beginning of the past century. Those men who joined the battle for women's rights did not call their masculinity into question. Instead, they insured the importance of their own historical legacy, for now their example calls for emulation in the present day.

Even though there are indications of improvement on women's rights in the region that have to be acknowledged, this project is still clearly in its infancy and faces both the reality and potential for setbacks.

One of the pitfalls that can be avoided is to shield this crucial issue from political opportunism, ideological disputes and the politics of personal advancement. Instead, if they care at all about the health of their societies and countries, people from all different political and social orientations ought to be able to put aside their differences and focus on the improvement of the status of women.

In order to create an effective program of action that can garner buy-in from the broadest possible set of constituencies we must first create a comprehensive diagnostic framework that illustrates the problems that we seek to correct which face Arab women.

A good place to start is to compare the situation in which Arab women find themselves today with circumstances in countries where women have made significant progress. Nothing makes the basic outlines of the comparative realities clearer than the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Index 2013 thumbnail map. Just a quick glance at it shows that most of the countries stained in red, indicating the largest gender gaps at all social registers, are dominated by Arab or Muslim countries, along with India and some African states. The message is obvious: both the present living conditions and future of women in these countries is in peril, and that has terrible consequences for the overall health, stability and competitiveness of those societies in a globalized world.

The popular image is that American women live under the best conditions of freedom and equality. But, in truth, women still have to work harder than men to compete at every level, and especially to achieve parity.

"The truth is that men still rule the world," wrote Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, in her book, Lean In, which, though published in 2013 is still a subject of controversy in the United States. Sandberg called on women to assume leadership positions in society as men do, and not simply bear a "double burden" in the home. She also put a due emphasis on the responsibility facing American men to collaborate in making this happen. Yet only 14 percent of senior executive positions in the United States are now held by women, and 18 percent at the Board of Directors level, despite the fact that women typically exceed men in educational and scientific excellence.

Nevertheless, women in the West and in many Asian countries are moving steadily towards achieving equality. In some countries and some fields, they are actually starting to outpace men, as noted by Liza Mundy in her 2012 book, The Richer Sex.

Catching up with men, and possibly outpacing them in many social, political and economic fields is becoming a plausible part of the future for women in many countries, despite inevitable setbacks. Sadly, the outlook for women in the Middle East and North Africa seems far less encouraging. According to the 2013 World Economic Forum report, this is the only region in which women did not make a measurable improvement in their overall position during the previous year.

If we are to understand the lessons taught by the American historian Gerda Lerner, we can only interpret this stagnation as a manifestation of a patriarchal order that is deeply rooted in human history and the anxieties and imperatives of males. As she points out, any phenomenon this deeply rooted will not be overcome without a broad and historical collective correction.

Is it just a coincidence, or might there be a direct relationship between the deplorable conditions facing women and the overall weakness and backwardness that has beset the Middle East as a region in recent decades? Certainly it's impossible for any society to make major strides forward without the active participation of half of its citizens.

Arab women urgently need to be protected by strong laws that ensure their equality to men. Moreover, they are in need of a new set of cultural attitudes that will encourage them to compete with men, and each other, in various fields. With or without the hijab, women should be promoted and encouraged to thrive. And there should be a particular emphasis on science and technology training, increased employment, and an overall improvement in their economic status.

One of the crucial shifts in the West towards women's rights occurred in the 1960s when women and others investigated the crucial distinction between "sex" and "gender." They pointed out that "sex" simply refers to biological distinctions, with no clear social meaning, whereas "gender" -- which does not have an Arabic equivalent -- refers to the entire network of social signifiers that distinguish women from men in terms of assumptions, norms and traditions that are culturally constructed, almost always to the detriment of women. Arab women are not limited by their biology from achieving, and indeed exceeding, what Western women have achieved. But their main obstacle is the ongoing assumptions they face about what is expected of and from them as women.

The problem must be seen in its broad historical context with the full weight of the past taken into account. And it must be firmly rooted in what we want for the future of women in the Arab world: advancement, progress and real achievement for themselves, their families, and the broader societies. With the appropriate diagnosis and prescription, together we, men and women alike, can work to smash the obstacles that impede women's advancement and eliminate social and psychological obstacles in the home, office, street and school.

How is it possible to have any hope for an Arab society that labors under the shadow of laws permitting the marriage of girls as young as nine, or even younger, as one government recently tried to permit? How could a 10-year-old girl raise a child? What would her future be like beyond the home? Any set of attitudes that produces such laws, even in theory, is an enemy to its own society -- its men and women, its sons and daughters. And they are unlikely to change until men raise their voices alongside those women in this all-important struggle.

Tedtalks: Watch: Does Penis Size Matter? Here's One Answer From The Animal Kin

Tedtalks: Watch: Does Penis Size Matter? Here's One Answer From The Animal Kingdom 2014-04-18

From a sea creature's detachable, swimming penis to violent bedbug sex, this is a tour of the animal kingdom as you've never seen it before. What can we learn about a species from how it has sex? Let's get it on.

This talk describes explicit and aggressive sexual content.

Ideas are not set in stone. When exposed to thoughtful people, they morph and adapt into their most potent form. TEDWeekends will highlight some of today's most intriguing ideas and allow them to develop in real time through your voice! Tweet #TEDWeekends to share your perspective or email to learn about future weekend's ideas to contribute as a writer. .ted-headline { clear:both;}

Peter H. Gleick: Throwing Away Good Water

Peter H. Gleick: Throwing Away Good Water 2014-04-18

[Heads up for the overly sensitive: I'm going to talk about pee, piss, taking a leak, and other euphemisms for urine and urination. But hey, you all do it.]

Man urinates in reservoir, "ruins" 38M gallons of water. That was the headline in an article in the news today, except without the "quotes."

On April 16, security cameras recorded some teenage delinquents trespassing around the Mount Tabor Reservoir No. 5 in Portland, Oregon. One of them was seen peeing through the fence. According to the police, the culprits were caught, cited, and released.

The city announced that because of this incident, they would throw away 38 million gallons of potable water and clean the reservoir, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars, not including the actual value of the water to consumers, which is far higher. The water will go to the sewage plant and undergo the same treatment the city's regular sewage gets. After that, the water gets thrown away again, into the Columbia River. Why? Because of concerns that the water was now "contaminated."

This incident shows, in many ways, why our relationship to, and understanding of, our water system needs to change.

First: Ruined? Really? Let's do a little math:

The typical volume of the human bladder is perhaps 600 to 800 milliliters, though people often feel the need to pee when it gets to 150 to 200 ml. Yes, scientists actually studied this. While it is likely this miscreant is simply an immature jerk, perhaps he simply couldn't hold it anymore. For the sake of this calculation, let's assume he had a really full bladder: 600 ml.

Next, if you look at the news pictures of the reservoir (see below), you'll see that it has very sloping sides, so it is highly unlikely that any of this moron's pee actually reached the water: it appears likely it fell on the sides, where it probably evaporated. But, again, to be conservative let's assume it ALL reached the water.

2014-04-18-Portlandreservoirslopingsides.PNG The arrow shows the long sloping side of the reservoir. Photo by Benjamin Brink, Modified by Peter Gleick.

Now, it turns out that urine is 95 percent water. The rest (5 percent of the 600 ml) is dissolved salts (potassium, sodium, chloride), a tiny bit of urea, creatinine, and trace amounts of enzymes, carbohydrates, and hormones (in this case probably elevated levels of juvenile testosterone). So, 30 milliliters of things other than water.

What does this mean? It means that -- at worst -- around 30 milliliters of mostly harmless stuff might have fallen into 38 million gallons (144 billion milliliters) of high-quality potable drinking water: this is 0.2 parts per billion or 200 parts per trillion.

Folks, even if this guy is pissing out pure concentrated evil, rather than some basic minerals and organic chemicals, it's not going to have any effect on the water quality. By the way, this reservoir is open to the air. And birds. And insects. As someone local noted, animals sometimes fall into the reservoir and die without any such action taken.

OK: it's questionable about whether a reservoir holding treated water about to be delivered to consumers should be as open and accessible as this one seems to be. This incident raises valid security concerns. But if the public is worried about water quality -- as we all should be -- our water managers should educate us about and protect us from real risks, like unmonitored and unregulated chemical plants right upstream of our water intakes in West Virginia, rather than pour perfectly good water down the drain because of unwarranted fears.

[And yes, I'd drink that water.]

Peter Gleick

Larry Magid: Google Glass: I Have Better Things To Do With $1,500

Larry Magid: Google Glass: I Have Better Things To Do With $1,500 2014-04-17

I didn't apply to be one of the early "explorers" when Google first made its "Glass" wearable computing device available last year, and I didn't opt-in when they sold them online to anyone willing to pay $1,500.

Although I don't own Google Glass, I have tried it.

Part of the reason, of course, is the price. I have better things to do with $1,500 and, besides, if I wait a while, the price is sure to come down. If Google is serious about providing wearable access to the Internet and to its mapping service, to the general public, it will have to find a way to price them for $600 or less.

But price isn't the only reason. For one thing, they are not yet ready for prime-time, and I'm not sure they ever will be. I'm not against wearable technology. I just want the technology to solve a real problem or enhance my life in a meaningful way. That's why I'm not excited about most current smartwatches, though I do wear a Lifetrak exercise watch because it's affordable ($50), it doesn't require being recharged (has a one-year coin battery) and it does solve a real problem -- incentivizing me to walk more.


One issue with Glass is the user interface. There is a touch-pad that lets you use hand-gestures to activate Glass or navigate to a different web page, and you can use head movements, but the main interface is voice, which is great when it works, but still not 100 percent reliable.

Some are waiting till Glass gets more stylish. The fact that they're quite geeky looking wouldn't stop me, but I can see how many would prefer more fashionable eyewear. Google has signed a deal with an eyeglass company, so we can expect better-looking versions, including some with prescription lenses.

There are some who worry about distracted driving and walking. Indeed, having a computer monitor just above your eye could be distracting, but it doesn't have to be. If you look straight ahead, you see what's in front of you, not what's on the tiny monitor. Still, there is the temptation to look at the screen at inappropriate times, just as some are tempted to look at or touch their phones when they shouldn't.

My biggest concern about Glass is that I'm not convinced it's the best form of wearable technology. I like the idea of having the Internet accessible all the time, but I'm not so sure I want to be wearing a monitor on my forehead.

Another issue is lack of social acceptance. There has been quite a backlash against Google Glass. Some is probably unfair, but there are those who worry that they can be used to surreptitiously take pictures or video. But to be fair, there are plenty of other ways to do that with digital cameras and smartphones, including plenty of wearable cameras. For some, Google Glass is simply symbolic of the growing number of well-heeled techies who are flaunting expensive technology that many can't afford. There is even a pejorative term that starts with "glass" and ends with "hole." The word in the middle is a synonym for donkey.

Carol Pierson Holding: Fighting Fracking: Where Moral Outrage Fails, Earthquak

Carol Pierson Holding: Fighting Fracking: Where Moral Outrage Fails, Earthquakes Prevail 2014-04-17


In response to pressure from students, faculty -- and apparently alumni -- who oppose Harvard Endowment's refusal to divest its fossil fuel stocks, Harvard University's President Drew Faust's office issued her second statement on climate change and sent a an email link to Harvard alumni. (N.B.: I am one). Instead of divesting, Harvard will become a signatory to the UN Principles of Responsible Investing and the Carbon Disclosure Project. Alumni are also asked to contribute to a $20 million Climate Change Solutions Fund. Harvard is chipping in $1 million. Meh... I was not alone in my reaction. My email was buzzing with disappointed environmentalists and sustainability investment managers. 100 Harvard faculty members posted a letter objecting to Harvard's failure to divest. Students who worked so hard for divestment must be crushed. But really, even Harvard's full commitment to fossil fuel divestment would be symbolic. Only $33.6 million of the fund's $33 billion is invested in fossil fuels. And even Harvard's entire endowment pales in comparison to the reserves the fossil fuel industry holds, valued at $27 trillion. Or the $100 million a day Exxon alone spends in exploration. My own stance against Harvard's failure to divest hasn't changed. My argument is both moral and economic. Investment research professionals including Asperio Group have proved that fossil fuels aren't a good investment over time. But even economic arguments don't get you far in the face of $27 trillion. If not moral outrage or economics, what can we use to fight fossil fuel companies? Unfortunately, health risks aren't enough to spur regulators to act. One example: the harm from fracking is widespread and well known. Even oil and gas company executives know that fracking is unhealthy. Exxon's CEO Rex Tillerson joined a lawsuit to stop fracking in his wealthy Bartonville, TX neighborhood. For too many of the rest of us, water degradation from fossil fuel drilling and transport has become a fact of life. We get almost daily reports of leaking or exploding pipes and drilling platforms. Just this past Friday, an shale gas pipeline leaked into the water plant for Lanzhou, China, contaminating water for its 2.4 million residents and sending a fireball across the landscape. If even water desecration isn't enough to rally regulators, what is? I'm betting on earthquakes. When a big one hits, as happened as a result of fracking in Christchurch, New Zealand, the results are so grim and last so long as to force action. Josephine Ensign, a professor at University of Washington who also teaches Community and Environmental Health in New Zealand, visited Christchurch in February. She describes the earthquake's after effects in her blog Medical Margins: I knew we would likely encounter some signs of the destructive earthquakes that hit Christchurch and surrounding areas in September 2010 and again in February 2011 (killing 185 people, including many international students.) But I wasn't prepared for the magnitude of the still-raw destruction in the downtown core. It's been almost three years and entire blocks of quaked-out buildings are propped up with shipping containers or just left in charred ruins. Just a year after the second earthquake, Christchurch's city council banned fracking entirely. In the U.S., fracking has so far caused only tremors. Nonetheless, they are terrifying. As happened in Christchurch, cities are the first entities to ban the practice. Given the frequency of earthquakes in California, it's no wonder Los Angeles was the largest city in the U.S. to call a moratorium. Other smaller municipalities in California have done the same, joining cities in Texas -- including Dallas! -- New York, Vermont and Colorado in either outright moratoriums or limitations so severe the end result is the same. The state of California is now considering a state-wide ban. Mass media is a great help to the anti-fracking movement. For example, last Friday night, Brian Williams announced on the NBC Nightly News that state scientists in Ohio linked fracking to recent seismic activity. Associated Press called it "The Big Story." Unlike protests or even poisoned water and soil, earthquakes are shutting down fracking drills all over the world. And that's more "earth-shattering" than anything Harvard divestment or economic arguments can do. Image courtesy of Alistair Paterson via Flickr CC.

Ravi Parikh: How To Lie With Data Visualization

Ravi Parikh: How To Lie With Data Visualization 2014-04-17

Data visualization is one of the most important tools we have to analyze data. But it's just as easy to mislead as it is to educate using charts and graphs. In this article we'll take a look at 3 of the most common ways in which visualizations can be misleading.

Truncated Y-Axis

One of the easiest ways to misrepresent your data is by messing with the y-axis of a bar graph, line graph, or scatter plot. In most cases, the y-axis ranges from 0 to a maximum value that encompasses the range of the data. However, sometimes we change the range to better highlight the differences. Taken to an extreme, this technique can make differences in data seem much larger than they are.

Let's see how this works in practice. The two graphs below show the exact same data, but use different scales for the y-axis:


On the left, we've constrained the y-axis to range from 3.140 percent to 3.154 percent. Doing so makes it look like interest rates are skyrocketing! At a glance, the bar sizes imply that rates in 2012 are several times higher than those in 2008. But displaying the data with a zero-baseline y-axis tells a more accurate picture, where interest rates are staying static.

If this example seems exaggerated, here are some real-world examples of truncated y-axes:

2014-04-17-222misleading1_fox.jpg 2014-04-17-333misleading1_baseball.jpg

Cumulative graphs

Many people opt to create cumulative graphs of things like number of users, revenue, downloads, or other important metrics. For example, instead of showing a graph of our quarterly revenue, we might choose to display a running total of revenue earned to date. Let's see how this might look:


We can't tell much from this graph. It's moving up and to the right, so things must be going well! But the non-cumulative graph paints a different picture:


Now things are a lot clearer. Revenues have been declining for the past ten years! If we scrutinize the cumulative graph, it's possible to tell that the slope is decreasing as time goes on, indicating shrinking revenue. However, it's not immediately obvious, and the graph is incredibly misleading.

There are lots of real-world cases of cumulative graphs that make things seem a lot more positive than they are. A prominent example is Apple's usage of a cumulative graph to show iPhone sales.

Ignoring conventions

One of the most insidious tactics people use in constructing misleading data visualizations is to violate standard practices. We're used to the fact that pie charts represent parts of a whole or that timelines progress from left to right. So when those rules get violated, we have a difficult time seeing what's actually going on. We're wired to misinterpret the data, due to our reliance on these conventions.

Here's an example of a pie chart that Fox Chicago aired during the 2012 primaries:


The three slices of the pie don't add up to 100 percent. The survey presumably allowed for multiple responses, in which case a bar chart would be more appropriate. Instead, we get the impression that each of the three candidates have about a third of the support, which isn't the case.

Another example is this visualization published by Business Insider, which seems to show the opposite of what's really going on:


At first glance, it looks like gun deaths are on the decline in Florida. But a closer look shows that the y-axis is upside-down, with zero at the top and the maximum value at the bottom. As gun deaths increase, the line slopes downward, violating a well established convention that y-values increase as we move up the page.

There's a simple takeaway from all this: be careful when designing visualizations, and be extra careful when interpreting graphs created by others. We've covered three common techniques, but it's just the surface of how people use data visualization to mislead.

Ravi is co-founder of Heap, a data analytics company.

Do you have an example of a particularly poorly built visualization? Let us know on Twitter.