December 12, 2013

If you've been good this year...

...and we are using an honor system, you have Goat Rope's permission to reward yourself by watching this cute duck billed platypus video. And take a look at these swimming pigs while you're at it.

Thanks to a friend for forwarding those links. Now, back to the salt mines:

BUDGET DEAL. Here are two takes on the recent federal budget compromise. Economist Dean Baker is not amused, but the good folks at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities seem to think it could have been worse. Maybe they're both right. Still, it's a shame the deal didn't include an unemployment insurance extension.

OWNING WEST VIRGINIA. There's been a good bit of press about the release this week by the WV Center on Budget and Policy and the AFSC WV Economic Justice Project about who owns the state. Here's my favorite.


December 11, 2013

A better idea

Prison overcrowding has long been a problem in West Virginia (and elsewhere). Here, though, well over 1,000 inmates who have been sentenced to prisons remain in regional jails, which are temporary holding facilities that don't offer the kinds of programs that can help people get parole and stay out.

For the best of reasons, the WV Division of Corrections is considering voluntarily shipping such inmates to out of state private for profit prison corporations, which, aside from being expensive is a bad idea for reasons discussed here, here, and here.

Recently, a better solution has been proposed by a program official with the state regional jail authority: hire counselors in the regional jails to offer programs specifically for those inmates. I think there are plenty of other things that need to be done, like actually following through on previously agreed on plans, but we need to reject the Trojan horse of private prisons.

December 09, 2013

One for fun, three for real.

OK, I don't usually sit around watching stuff on YouTube. Really. But I recently discovered a hilarious web-based show that is tailor made for karate geeks like myself. It's called Enter the Dojo and is a great spoof of the martial arts world and especially "McDojos." If you liked The Office you just might love it.

Watch at your own risk.

OK, back to business.

WHO OWNS WEST VIRGINIA? You probably guessed it: not West Virginians. Here's info about a new study by the American Friends Service Committee and the WV Center on Budget and Policy.

SPEAKING OF WEST VIRGINIA, here's an interesting op-ed by a friend of mine on the state's political climate. The author, Perry Mann, is even generous enough to feed the trolls that lurk at the Gazette website.

AND WHILE WE'RE AT IT, McDowell County, historically one of the counties from which the most coal wealth has been extracted, has life expectancies at or near the lowest in the nation.