News

It’s Not Easy Being Green, Except in Vermont Where It’s Mandatory

The largest city in Vermont is now powered entirely by green energy! The largest city in Vermont is under 50,000 people. Still, good news!

“We’re now in a position where we’re supplying Burlington residents with sources that are renewable,” said Ken Nolan, manager of power resources for Burlington Electric Department, earlier this month. “The prices are not tied to fossil fuels — they’re stable prices — and they provide us with the flexibility, from an environmental standpoint, to really react to any regulation or changes to environmental standards that come in the future.” … The Washington Electric Co-operative, which has about 11,000 customers across central and northern Vermont, also reached the 100 percent renewable milestone earlier this year. Both utilities acknowledge that when renewable sources aren’t readily available — if the wind isn’t blowing or water levels are low — they will purchase traditional fossil fuel-generated electricity. However, when the wind is strong and water levels are high more than enough electricity is generated and the surplus can be sold to other utilities. On average, they will be selling more than they buy.

Thanks to some kid with a clipboard who approached me when my defenses were down, my little family buys its electricity through Green Mountain Energy, which swears that the only power that comes to our apartment is clean, healthy, renewable energy from wind turbines. (Plenty of other providers out there, such as Arcadia, make the same promise.) Maybe our electricity is actually formed by the tiny hands of children, like the ones that enable the Snowpiercer engine, who knows, but we get to feel good about ourselves for no extra cost.

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Link Roundup!: Sleep You Need vs Sleep You Get; Podcast Love

+ Another way we are unequal in this paltry excuse for a civilization? The number of hours of sleep we get a night, on average, varies based on how much money we have. The effects are real, lasting, and frightening:

McCalman’s life reveals a particularly sorry side of America’s sleep-deprived culture. Though we often praise white-collar “superwomen” who “never sleep” and juggle legendary careers with busy families, it’s actually people who have the least money who get the least sleep.

Though Americans across the economic spectrum are sleeping less these days, people in the lowest income quintile, and people who never finished high school, are far more likely to get less than seven hours of shut-eye per night. About half of people in households making less than $30,000 sleep six or fewer hours per night, while only a third of those making $75,000 or more do. …

A later study on 147 adult humans found that the sleep deprived among them had actively shrinking brains. This suggests that no amount of “catch up” sleep can ever reverse the effects of sleep loss on the body.

“How do you sleep at night?” “On top of a pile of money with many beautiful ladies.”

+ The ‘Fold got some love on the newish Slate parenting podcast “Mom and Dad Are Fighting!”

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WWYD: Porn Star BF Asks Porn Star GF to Quit Work Because Love

We are all worse at managing our own romantic lives — and occasionally our professional choices — than Miley Cyrus is at getting dressed.

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Can Science Have It All?

According to two recent articles, science as a field is male-dominated and old-fashioned in a patriarchy way, and, if that weren’t enough, suffering from funding problems. The Washington Post reports that science isn’t simply unfriendly to women but also to dudes who want to be good dads:

The majority of tenured full professors at some of the most prestigious universities in the country, who have the most power to hire and fire and set the workplace expectation of long hours, are men who have either a full-time spouse at home who handles all caregiving and home duties, or a spouse with a part-time or secondary career who takes primary responsibility for the home. And it’s not just women who are being squeezed out of academic science, the study concludes. It’s also men who want to be more active at home. … “Academic science doesn’t just have a gender problem, but a family problem,” said Sarah Damaske, a sociology professor at Penn State and one of the report’s authors. “We came to see that men or women, if they want to have families, are likely to face significant challenges.” …

Damaske said age didn’t play a role in their findings. Some men in egalitarian partnerships were well into their 60s. And some graduate students in their 20s had traditional marriages or planned not to have children in order to dedicate their lives to their careers.

At the same time, lots of talented lab types are also leaving the field because of frustrations about how research is funded

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I Want to Illustrate Your Daydreams About Money

Hey! I want to do a series of illustrations of different daydreams of unexpected financial good fortune. For example, I once met a lady who told me she was at a party where someone stepped outside for a smoke and found a paper bag full of hundred dollar bills.

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Can TV Women Have It All?

An in-depth Flavorwire investigation into the fall TV schedule shows that we are indeed obsessed with the question of whether American women can “have it all” — lacking, as we do here, any kind of real social safety net or infrastructure for working moms. Basically it’s like a reality show everyday for many of us: Can we achieve reasonable success in our personal *and* professional lives without paid maternity leave, subsidized quality child care, or guaranteed health insurance?? And can we remain attractive while we’re at it? TUNE IN TONIGHT, AFTER “JERSEY SHORE.”

Not surprisingly, the results are mixed:

This year, we are blessed with so many different women: a detective who struggles to balance her work and personal life, a Secretary of State who struggles to balance her work and personal life, a CIA analyst who struggles to balance her work and personal life, and so on. Once again, TV wants to know: Can women have it all? …

The best plot description is of the fictionalized sitcom version of The Life of Hillary Clinton, which is an actual real thing that’s happening whether we like it or not, starring Tea Leoni: 

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All the Single Ladies, Which is Everyone, Put Your Hands Up

America is now majority single-people for the first time in recorded history. Cue Beyonce!

Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 50.2 percent of those who were 16 years or older, according to data used by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in its monthly job-market report. That percentage had been hovering just below 50 percent since about the beginning of 2013 before edging above it in July and August. In 1976, it was 37.4 percent and has been trending upward since. … The percentage of adult Americans who have never married has risen to 30.4 percent from 22.1 percent in 1976, while the proportion that are divorced, separated or widowed increased to 19.8 percent from 15.3 percent, according to the economist.

This is great! The more single people there are, the more normal being single is and the less I have to worry about accidentally offending my friends who are dating by seeming either too excited about their romantic prospects or not excited enough, or somehow both at the same time. (Though I mean well, I am constantly messing up. In this way, having single friends is kind of like life!)

But now that we’re an early-Bridget-Jones-type singleton as a nation, what does that mean for us financially? Unencumbered folks have fewer young children to oversee, take out fewer mortgages, and so on. Since basically the only real downside to remaining independent is the fear and expense of dying alone, Bloomberg suggests investing in long-term care insurance while you’re still young because “in most of the U.S., a private room in a nursing home can cost more than $100,000 per year” (!!!) and after you hit 40 or 50, insurers are likely to decline you because you’re already too close to the chasm. Be clear about your end-of-life plans and choices. And enjoy your awesome DINKy lives! Don’t forget to babysit.

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Fast Food & Fashion: Not As Different As They May Seem

THE GOOD NEWS IS: To get a meaningful job, you don’t have to go to a top-tier or fancy school! (Let alone pay a consultant $700,000 to get you into one.)

Which majors should meaning-seeking students choose? Medical fields, social work, and education, according to PayScale’s data. Counting down the top schools in the job meaning category are: Loma Linda University (91 percent saying that their job makes the world a better place), University of Texas Medical Branch (88 percent), and Thomas Jefferson University (86 percent)—all with a strong prevalence of nursing majors. …

Of the majors that are dead last in terms of job meaning: fashion, art, and business. “Finance majors are in the bottom 20 percent of majors for job meaning,” says Bardaro. The two least meaningful jobs are fast-food cooks and lawyers—the latter being one of the highest-earning professions with low job meaning. And the bottom school for job meaning: Fashion Institute of Technology in New York at 25 percent.

THE BAD NEWS IS: Most of us don’t have “meaningful” jobs, and many of us, especially women, have to rush from one difficult, un-meaningful PT job to another — which can be fatal:

Police found Maria Fernandes dead in her car on Monday night, parked in a convenience-store parking lot in Elizabeth, N.J., according to a police press release. Fernandes, 32, was wearing a Dunkin’ Donuts uniform when she was found. A friend and fellow employees told officials she worked as many as four jobs, said Lt. Daniel Saulnier, a spokesman for the Elizabeth police department. Authorities are waiting on a toxicology report to determine the exact cause of death, but Hazmat investigators found that fumes in Fernandes’ car were caused by a gasoline can that had spilled in the back, according to the release. Friends told police that Fernandes kept gas in her car to avoid running out of gas when traveling between jobs. And she often slept in parking lots to get a few hours of rest between jobs, authorities said.

 

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One Good Intern Deserves Another

Watch out, CBS! And other media conglomerates that have enriched themselves while benefiting from the unpaid labor of the servile, desperate underclasses for decades now because they could! The Interns are coming for you. And you deserve the full force of their wrath.

Late last week, Mallory Musallam filed a class action complaint against CBS Broadcasting, CBS Corp. and the retiring late-night host’s Worldwide Pants on behalf herself and everyone who has ever been an intern on the show. “Named Plaintiff has initiated this action seeking for herself, and on behalf of all similarly situated employees that also worked on The Late Show With David Letterman, all compensation, including minimum wages and overtime compensation, which they were deprived of, plus interest, attorneys’ fees, and costs,” says the jury demanding filing in New York Supreme Court. …

“Named Plaintiff performed various tasks, including, but not limited to, research for interview material, deliver film clips from libraries, running errands, faxing, scanning, operating the switchboard, and other similar duties,” claims the complaint against CBS and Letterman. Musallam’s attorneys allege that she worked a 40-hour week like a full-time employee and did not receive any “academic or vocational training” while atLate Show. In fact, they say that was the point, so the production company could keep its payroll expenses down. “Upon information and belief, Defendants would have hired additional employees or required existing staff to work additional hours had the Named Plaintiff and the putative class members not performed work for Defendants,” the 14-page filing adds.

As someone who was kicked around the Entertainment industry for years and barely made it out with all bodily functions intact, I say hoo-fucking-ray. Lawyer up and get yours, Interns.

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Canadian Health Care Awesomeness: Is It As Awesome As It Seems?

We’re all jealous of the Canadian health care system, unless we’re Canadian ourselves, in which case we spend our time eating poutine and watching hockey and politely marveling at the idiocy of Americans. But is the universal, public, accessible, single-payer health care that folks north of the border enjoy REALLY as great as it seems? Jacobin investigates:

The two largest holes in Canada’s health care system are the lack of universal coverage for dental care and the inadequate defraying of optical and prescription drug costs. As of 2012, an estimated one in five Canadians — disproportionately women, the unemployed, and freelancers — did not have the supplementary private health insurance that foots the bill for these services.

Uh. 20% of Canadians might have to pay for some dental and vision out of pocket, and these are your biggest problems? Here is the world’s tiniest violin, and here is me smashing it with a hammer made out of solidified resentment.

Universal health care is not just being eroded via underfunding. The federal government has been unwilling to enforce the Canada Health Act, which makes funding contingent on meeting certain standards. The lax regulatory environment has led to a proliferation of private clinics across Canada and inequitable access to some medical services.

OK now we’re getting somewhere. Maybe. It’s still hard for me to get worked up over the kinks in what seems like, overall, still a vastly preferable system to the one we’re stuck with down here, but pain is relative. And it does suck that abortions are hard to come by on Prince Edward Island.

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