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Zoo Disappointment

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jhamill
2 days ago
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I know that feeling.
California
MotherHydra
1 day ago
This is me, every time. The very definition of insanity.
MaryEllenCG
3 days ago
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Greater Bostonia
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Oh no! Illegal immigrants are cancelling SNAP benefits to avoid deportation

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Our latest chapter in the ongoing saga of how President Trump’s immigration policies are destroying the world is once again brought to us by the Washington Post. This time it has to do with “immigrant families” who are asking to have their food stamp benefits (SNAP) canceled to avoid scrutiny by immigration enforcement officials. This somewhat dubiously sourced story deals with a relative handful of people which the media would clearly love to paint as some sort of growing trend. But it also curiously encompasses two different categories of immigrants.

Our tale opens with an account from Luisa Fortin, a SNAP outreach coordinator in Georgia.

Since mid-January, five of Fortin’s families have withdrawn from the SNAP program. One, the single mother of three citizen daughters, had fled to Georgia to escape an abusive husband. Another, two green-card holders with four young children, were thinking of taking on third jobs to compensate for the lost benefits. These families represent a small fraction of Fortin’s caseload — she estimates she has signed 200 immigrant families up for SNAP over the past six months — but based on the calls she gets from other clients, she fears more cancellations are imminent.

“I get calls from concerned parents all the time: ‘should I take my kids out of the program?’” Fortin said. “They’re risking hunger out of fear … and my heart just breaks for them.”

The reason I specified “two different categories” of immigrants can be found right in that first paragraph. Notice how the author describes a “single mother of three citizen children.” Why would anyone go to the trouble of specifying that the children are citizens unless the underlying assumption is that the mother is not? It is, as the article helpfully notes, against the law for illegal immigrants to collect SNAP benefits. (And I’m sure we’re all quite positive that that never happens. Perish the thought.) But the children most certainly can qualify if the family is in financial distress. The reality, of course, is that everyone in the family is realizing those benefits even if they are only being awarded in the names of the children.

The other stories being told by Ms. Fortin involve families of legal immigrants including green card holders. This certainly provides cause for more than a little confusion when considering this report. If you are in the country legally and are eligible for supplemental food benefits, why would you have anything to fear? These people are either getting some terribly bad information from government officials and outreach coordinators like Fortin or there is more to the story which we are not being told. If the desire to “escape scrutiny” stems from the fact that there are others in the household of, shall we say, more dubious legal status, then things begin to make a bit more sense.

In the end, this brings up the question of precisely how this turns out to be “bad news.” People who enter the country illegally are not supposed to be draining resources out of the system which should be designated for those who follow the rules, not to mention all of the actual citizens who may require them. And I’m not going to expend any sympathy on someone who is “fearful of scrutiny” if they are breaking the law and aren’t supposed to be here in the first place, or if they are here legally but are violating another federal statute by harboring illegal immigrants. The one area where we certainly can have a soft spot in our hearts is for the citizen children of illegal immigrants because no one wants to see them going hungry. But whose fault is that? To play the bad guy here and just rip the Band-Aid off, the fault lies with the mother who made the decision to jump the border illegally and then bring children into the world because she was placing them in peril herself.

The last thing I would note in this report is the fact that the Washington Post freely admits that the story is essentially impossible to verify. They were “unable” to speak to any of the immigrant families in question who had supposedly decided to drop out of the program. They attempt to bolster their claim by citing statistics showing that there has been a recent marked drop off in eligible immigrants applying for supplemental assistance. But given the scenarios I laid out above, might that not also be a factor accounted for by the fact that illegal immigration rapidly dropped off in the last month as well? We actually have nothing more to go on than the story provided by Ms. Fortin. I’m willing to take her at her word, but even then we don’t know if this is actually a trend or a few isolated incidents.

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jhamill
3 days ago
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"The one area where we certainly can have a soft spot in our hearts is for the citizen children of illegal immigrants because no one wants to see them going hungry."

We can't have a soft spot in our hearts for anyone else except American citizens because USA! USA! USA!? Let those undocumented immigrants starve because they're not really people anyway? I do not understand this.

We live in a society that says we should help others in need, the separation of "us vs them" to get help does not help those in need.
California
bce
8 days ago
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The horrors.
MaryEllenCG
2 days ago
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Greater Bostonia
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duerig
3 days ago
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It is clear that legal immigrants have the most to fear from the current presidency. They are the ones that are 'on the grid', have registered themselves, and have been granted conditional entry which can be revoked at any time on almost any pretext. In trying to prove his toughness on immigration, Trump has mostly been the drunk man looking under the lamp post for his keys. His measures have mostly been aimed at the legal immigrants which are visible to him and the apparatus of the state.

samhumphries: nalgasss: valarhalla: valarhalla: Fun fact: Tenochtitlan fell in 1521. From 1603...

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samhumphries:

nalgasss:

valarhalla:

valarhalla:

Fun fact: Tenochtitlan fell in 1521. From 1603 onwards, large numbers of honest-to-god fricking Japanese Samurai came to Mexico from Japan to work as guardsmen and mercenaries. 

Ergo, it would be 100% historically accurate to write a story starring a quartet consisting of the child or grandchild of Aztec Noblemen, an escaped African slave, a Spanish Jew fleeing the Inquisition (which was relaxed in Mexico in 1606, for a time) and a Katana-wielding Samurai in Colonial Mexico.

Also a whole bunch of Chinese Characters BECAUSE MEXICO CITY HAD A CHINATOWN WITHIN TEN YEARS OF THE FALL OF THE AZTEC EMPIRE.

!!!!!! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

This is amazing!!!

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jhamill
3 days ago
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Someone make this movie happen.
California
mikedanger
3 days ago
This already exists as Neal Stephenson's novel The Confusion, I think
bibliogrrl
10 days ago
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Chicago!
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micdotcom: Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald compares Planned...

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micdotcom:

Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald compares Planned Parenthood to Nazi death camp

  • On March 8, Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald fired off an ungrateful missive after receiving a thank you note from Planned Parenthood Great Plains. 
  • One of Fitzgerald’s constituents made a donation to the health care provider in the senator’s name, a donation he did not appreciate because, in his estimation, Planned Parenthood is on par with Dachau, the first death camp established in Nazi Germany.
  •  "This is as bad — or worse — as having one’s name associated with Dachau,“ Fitzgerald wrote Planned Parenthood Great Plains, in a letter the organization tweeted. Read more (3/14/17 9:33 AM)
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jhamill
4 days ago
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Old White Men are the worst.
California
bibliogrrl
11 days ago
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Chicago!
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the-future-now: No, Winter Storm Stella doesn’t disprove...

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the-future-now:

No, Winter Storm Stella doesn’t disprove climate change

  • Climate change deniers are at it again. The logic goes, “How could global warming be real when your driveway is piling up with cold, cold snow?”
  • Well, there’s bad news for deniers — research has shown that extreme weather, for example, massive snowstorms, are actually linked to climate change.
  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, which has studied climate change extensively winter storms have increased in both “frequency and intensity,” and climate change is “increasing the odds of more extreme weather events taking place.”
  • As meteorologist Eric Holthaus wrote in Slate in 2016, just after a record-breaking winter storm dropped 26.6 inches of snow on New York City in just one day, “there is clear evidence global warming is boosting the odds of recent big Northeast snowstorms.” Read more (3/13/17 6:21 PM)

follow @the-future-now

The warmest Chicago winter on record, with no snow for all of January and February, but one single snow storm in early March disproves decades of actual evidence? Who gives a shit about climate change deniers. People that stupid can fuck right off.

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jhamill
4 days ago
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When "people that stupid" are in charge of the budgets of government then everyone will be able to "fuck right off" because they won't fund the projects and legislation that can combat (if we can still combat) climate change.
California
wtf
23 hours ago
It was very bad PR to have named the thing Global Warming in the very begining. Now go explain it to Homer Simpson that Warming might also mean cooling.
bibliogrrl
11 days ago
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Chicago!
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Do we really want an app for everything?

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“Have you tried our mobile app?” That’s bound to be a pop-up that you’re all too familiar with now, and this week a number of major brands have rolled out new apps in the name of convenience and innovation. Starbucks has brought mobile payments to India through its app and McDonald’s is testing a new ordering app in California. Fair enough ideas on paper, I suppose, but do we really want yet more apps cluttering up our home screens? Perhaps more importantly, are we being taken for fools by allowing more and more brands to secure valuable time in front of our eyes?

I say this because branded apps are virtually everywhere now, yet I question the utility that many actually bring to consumers. Before anyone says what about the Android Authority app, know that I’m not opposed to branded apps in principle. These can be great ways to keep up to date with a specific publication, hobby, or even a brand or set of products that you really care about, when done right. Instead, I’m taking issue with the increasing trend for every little thing to require an app – an app for the sake of having one.

Do we need dedicated apps for the one time that we compare car or travel insurance prices each year? It's also much quicker to 'OK Google' restaurant locations than to open the Burger King app.

Managing my automated home, checking social media, and streaming music or video are all in need of a proper app interface, as the various menus and functions that tie into the wider OS are deserving of some dedicated software. But is ordering a coffee, booking a train ticket, or comparing car insurance quotes really worthy of a dedicated app? Shopping apps, in particular, are becoming my new pet peeve.

See also:

A look at the billion-install club: the most installed apps

January 14, 2017

Building walled gardens

As an experiment, have a browse through high street sports shops or even electronics retailers on the Play Store and they’ll almost certainly have a dedicated app. Rather than providing something more purposeful, like news on new products or previews of upcoming new releases, they’re just carbon copies of their web storefront. Why any of these apps is preferable to a functional and well designed mobile website is beyond me, which is where my cynicism starts to creep in.

If I installed a company's dedicated app for every item of clothing or take-out I've ever bought I probably would have filled my phone's internal storage. What's wrong with a robust mobile webpage?

I don’t know about you, but I always shop around when buying things online. Comparing prices, returns policies, shipping times and so on before I settle on where I want to buy. Obviously, a company would rather you didn’t check out its competitors, and encouraging consumers to buy through an app instead of online makes checking out alternatives that little bit less likely.

Furthermore, you’ll almost always need an account with these apps, and that’s a great way to track your browsing and purchasing habits. It’s cheap data collection for these companies, with tailored recommendations to lure you back into their app. Then there’s the usual loyalty card, bonus points and rewards cards traps tied into these apps too. I may sound cynical, but these apps are all about capturing your long term business and building up that advertising profile, rather than offering us a superior service.

Companies spend a fortune squeezing their logos into magazine and TV ads, and yet with an app they can have their brand in our pockets 24/7 at virtually zero cost.

Then there’s the logo. A big bright Golden Arches or Nike swoosh in your app draw is a subtle reminder to give them some business in the future, even if you swipe past it 20 times a day. Companies spend a fortune squeezing their brand logos into magazine and TV ads, yet with an app they can have their brand in our pockets 24/7 at virtually zero cost.

Proprietary vs universal payments

Going back to the McDonald’s app that they’re trialing in the US or the Starbucks mobile payment rollout, this is just more of the same hidden under a more subtle disguise. There’s no reason why these orders needs to be placed through a dedicated app, in fact this is probably more of a hinderance, as company’s opt for proprietary technology over superior existing platforms. Not to mention that it wasn’t exactly time consuming to place a McDonald’s order anyway.

Firstly, these apps are at best just another layer on top of better platforms. With Android Pay, Apple Pay, or PayPal I can make quick, one tap payments in stores and online, which is wonderfully convenient.

However, if I want to place an order with the Starbucks app, first I have to register for yet another account, even if I want to use an existing mobile payment system. I haven’t a clue why that’s at all necessary. Failing that, all of these are yet more apps that I have to enter my card details into, rather than using helpful options found in web browsers, such as Chrome, that can save my checkout information for a quick purchase.

Between signing up for an account, adding payment options, and topping up your loyalty card, Starbucks has made mobile payments more difficult than they should be.

Secondly, why can’t any of this be done over local Wi-Fi instead of a dedicated app? It would surely be more convenient to connect up to a cafe Wi-Fi, be presented with a menu and make my purchase using Android Pay or a PayPal web checkout. This technology is already around, is just as easy to develop as an app, and is available to anyone as soon as they come into the store, rather than having to pre-install the app or wait for a 10-20 MB app to download.

Why can't cafe or fast food menus and payments be handled over a local Wi-Fi landing page instead of requiring a 20 MB dedicated app?

When it comes to purchasing items online or new innovations for speedy mobile orders, companies and software developers seem to have forgotten the old adage that good software should achieve its goal in as few steps or clicks as possible. I don’t want to have to remember 20 different account details for 20 different clothing and fast food apps when I already have an Android Pay account that I can activate with a simple swipe of my finger.

Reel it in

Ok, I know that no-one is forcing me to use these apps, yet, and I can still get on just fine without them as most places still have functioning mobile websites. That said, the increasing focus on apps could leave mobile websites lacking in important features in the future. Try using Facebook Messenger on a mobile browser, for example.

Maybe I’m relatively alone in finding this a problem though, as many of these branded shopping, food, and other “experience” apps are quite highly rated by users, often receiving 4+ stars. Perhaps a quick link into an app rather than fumbling through browser bookmarks is the type of convenience that consumers are after?

Where do you stand on the prevalence of these trite branded apps? Do you use any of them regularly, or are you frustrated at being asked to install something else on your limited flash memory?

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jhamill
6 days ago
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TL:DR - Betteridge's Law of Headlines - No, we never did.
California
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