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Best Article of 2016: Number 9

How the Media Manufactured Hatred of Hillary Clinton

Clinton’s popularity didn’t start to plummet until the press focus turned to her emails.

As the late columnist Walter Winchell used to say: Onions. Onions to virtually everyone in the press corps for promoting a narrative that has, I believe, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. More than that, it is a narrative, I also believe, that undermines confidence in the election process and damages the country.

We all know the story. This is the hate election, the lesser-of-two-evils election, the most-unpopular-candidates-in-the-history-of-modern-presidential-politics election. Everybody hates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. If only we had different candidates from whom to choose, the pundits say, as they roll their eyes and emit heavy sighs! No doubt, you don’t like either one of them very much. You will pull the voting lever with resignation. Or so we are told.

But I began to speculate on how much of the Hillary hatred at least (Trump was very unpopular as reflected in polling data from the get-go) was driven by the press coverage, how many Americans were effectively brainwashed into hating Hillary or felt peer pressure to join the anti-Hillary chorus because the media kept telling us how awful she was, and we didn’t want to be outliers to the hate brigade.

And while there is no definitive way to measure the impact of press coverage on public opinion, I think a fairly powerful case can be made that the media narrative created the media narrative – yet another case of political post-modernism.

The fact is that Hillary Clinton wasn’t unpopular when she announced her decision to run in April 2015. If you look at the Gallup survey in March of last year, 50 percent of Americans had a favorable impression of Clinton, only 39 percent an unfavorable one. So there was clearly no deep reservoir of Clinton hatred among the general public at the time. On the contrary: Americans liked her; they liked her quite a bit.

Already by June, however, her favorability had not only taken a hit. It had plummeted. By July, according to Gallup, her favorability hit an all-time low with only 38 percent positively and 57 percent viewing her negatively — putting her 19 points underwater. So what happened?

Wind & Solar Review

Solar and Wind: How Low Can They Go?

That’s because right now, in much of the United States, wind and solar are the cheapest form of power available, according to a new report from investment bank Lazard. Analysts found that new solar and wind installations are cheaper than a new coal-fired power installation just about everywhere — even without subsidies. The cost of renewables continues to fall rapidly.

Solar And Wind Are Getting Really, Really Cheap.

Since just last year, the cost of utility-scale solar has dropped 10 percent, and the cost of residential solar dropped a whopping 26 percent — and that is coming after years of price declines. The cost of offshore wind declined by 22 percent since last year, though it still remains more expensive than onshore wind.

The Lazard report is just the latest chapter in the success story of renewable energy. Since 2009, the cost of solar has been cut nearly in half. The cost of wind has fallen by two-thirds. The precipitous drop in price is reminiscent of shrinking costs for personal computers. Wind and, particularly solar, have yet to level off. New technologies and cheaper materials will continue to drive down costs in the years ahead.

Research on psychological concepts like “cultural tightness” and “optimism bias” offers insight into the rise of Donald Trump.

The psychological research that helps explain the election

The research that helps explain the election.

At the end of most years, I’m typically asked to write about the best psychology papers of the past twelve months. This year, though, is not your typical year. And so, instead of the usual “best of,” I’ve decided to create a list of classic psychology papers and findings that can explain not just the rise of Donald Trump in the U.S. but also the rising polarization and extremism that seem to have permeated the world.

To do this, I solicited the opinion of many leading psychologists, asking them to nominate a paper or two, with a brief explanation for their choice. (Then I nominated some stories myself.) And so, as 2016 draws to a close, here’s a partial collection of the insights that psychology can bring to bear on what the year has brought about, arranged in chronological order.

Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper’s “Biased Assimilation and Attitude Polarization”

In 1979, a team from Stanford University—Charles Lord, Lee Ross, and Mark Lepper—published a paper that made sense of a common, and seemingly irrational, phenomenon: that the beliefs we hold already affect how we process and assimilate new information. In other words, we don’t learn rationally, taking in information and then making a studied judgment. Instead, the very way we learn is influenced from the onset by what we know and who we are. In the original study, Lord and his colleagues asked people to read a series of studies that seemed to either support or reject the idea that capital punishment deters crime. The participants, it turned out, rated studies confirming their original beliefs as more methodologically rigorous—and those that went against them as shoddy.

Money. An article from the archive about getting real

by Richard @ Bizmarts – Dec. 2011

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Every day we see another article in the media about the positive signs in the economy; from the decline in the number of new unemployment claims, to a decline in the number of new foreclosures, to the claims that the world economy as a whole can expect another year of strong growth,to the reported rebound in stock prices, or that the U.S. can expect a real GDP growth of 4%.

Pardon my French, but this is bullshit – this macro-economic blather is meaningless drivel from the perspective of individual citizens.

Home prices continue to fall nationwide, small business loans are back to 2004-2005 levels, credit card companies and banks are continuing to raise interest rates and fees. Food, fuel, clothing, health care, and service charges escalate daily. Fees and provisions from utilities and large-scale service providers are up to and beyond rates considered immoral, or illegal in other times.

For the banking industry, 55% of bank securities are still in the form of mortgages, there has been a decline of 25% in the number of FDIC insured banks in America while the total value of assets held by these banks almost doubled. Which means increasing difficulty for small businesses to borrow, and small neighborhood banks and credit unions to survive. Just yesterday, two more Georgia banks failed and were taken over by the FDIC.

Evidence supports the observation that personal income for over 80% of Americans has actually declined over the past decade, even without the mortgage fueled depression of 2007-20xx. The typical small investor and home owner experienced a loss of 31% of their net worth since 2007, and yet the half empty/half full glass chimera is still a viable public stance for politicians, and those who benefited from the housing bubble collapse.

Over 20 million citizens are unemployed, with at least another 10 million underemployed. The average hourly earnings for all nonfarm employees in March 2011 was $22.87 with a norm of 34.3 hours worked per week, which comes to a gross of $784.00 per week. Subtracting payroll and withholding costs, these workers take home about $30k/yr. Comparing this to the “take home” from previous decades in actual buying power, after adjusting for inflation, demonstrates clearly that over 70% in the middle economic distribution are doing worse financially then at almost anytime in our recent history.

So what can you or I do to deal with this issue?

Well, the number one thing you -should- do is to not take this as a minor issue that only affects others. It affects everyone. No-one can afford to be nonchalant about the fallout when the full repercussion of the Worldwide financial meltdown reaches the tipping point, or comes home to roost where one lives. Acting as if “this will all be over soon and we’ll be back to normal” is the height of naivety. It’s way past time to make some changes to deal with the present and future elements of your financial, and social condition.

On the importance of select recycling considerations

New York CRT processor struggles to meet regulatory requirements

via Resource Recycling – posted on   by
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Despite having a CRT glass recycling furnace in place in New York, Nulife Glass has for years had difficulty coming into compliance with state facility rules.

Nulife began processing up to 10 tons per day earlier this year at its Dunkirk, N.Y. facility. With the furnace built, the company has been able to garner material from a wide range of vendors, including those tied to original equipment manufacturers. The firm says it has temporarily turned the furnace off in Dunkirk to perform maintenance and address a handful of repairs.

But Nulife has been battling state and federal regulations since the day the company opened for business in 2013.

A few months ago, Pennsylvania officials accused Nulife of running afoul of “speculative accumulation” regulations. Under the federal government’s CRT Rule, speculative accumulation doesn’t occur — and CRTs won’t be regulated as hazardous waste — as long as 75 percent of the material is recycled or transferred to a different site for recycling during the calendar year.

Pennsylvania officials say Nulife has speculatively accumulated 17 million pounds of material in the Keystone State. Now E-Scrap News has learned why that material was stored there in the first place: years of struggling to meet New York’s regulations.

Can recycling keep pace with plastic’s evolution?

via Resource Recycling – Posted on   by p

Innovators in the resin realm often get a bad rap for prioritizing functionality over recyclability. But according to one bioplastics executive, end-of-life is still top-of-mind for many companies developing cutting-edge materials.

In a webinar earlier this month, Steve Davies of PLA resin manufacturer NatureWorks pointed to estimates that show only 14 percent of plastic material globally actually gets recovered, and he said those types of statistics keep him and his colleagues up at night.

“We are always thinking about how to avoid being part of that 86 percent,” Davies noted.

The question of how to make such resin recovery hopes a reality as the plastics industry rapidly evolves was the focus of the Dec. 9 Pac Next webinar that featured Davies as well Marina Pietrosel of the SustainableStrat consultancy and Mike Centers ofTitus MRF Services.

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