"Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters." -- Abraham Lincoln
Even with all the fact-checking and truth squading, finding accurate information about the claims tossed out by political candidates during the silly season can be time consuming and frustrating. And misinformation leads to cynicism on all sides, which has to have an impact on voter turnout.
But since we’re big believers that every vote matters, we decided to do some fact checking of our own. Just how hard is it to find non-partisan information during an election? Depends on your definition of "hard." Here are some sites that can help.
We seem to be having a robot moment. Last month, The New York Times introduced us to Baxter, a robot designed not only to do assembly-line work but, with its roughly human form and big, widely-spaced eyes, to appear less threatening to the workers it will presumably be replacing. (Baxter's progenitors say Baxter is not meant to displace human workers, but they also note it can do menial tasks for about $4 an hour). In the recently released film Robot and Frank, a robot, working as a health aide to a retired jewel thief, becomes his partner in crime. And if you've got a newish iPhone, ask Siri to "Open the pod bay doors," repeatedly. She gets irritated, and as long as you're not on a mission to Jupiter, it's pretty funny.
Now there's research from Northeastern University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cornell University showing just how easily we're willing to ascribe human motives to robots, and to evaluate them using the same subconscious tools we use with people. The researchers started by isolating some of the body language that we rely on to determine whether or not we think someone is trustworthy.
Mark Jensen, one of the owners of Smoot Honey in Power, Montana, knows a lot about honey. His family has been in the honey business for generations. He currently serves as president of the American Honey Producers Association, a national organization that promotes the interests of beekeepers.
But when I asked Jensen, a former president of the Montana State Beekeeper’s Association, with a degree in environmental biology, to tell me how the average person can tell the difference between real honey and some of the adulterated products being passed off as honey by some unscrupulous packagers, he admits it’s tricky.
Every year, Merriam-Webster releases a list of words added to the new version of its Collegiate Dictionary. The editors decide which words make the cut based on one rule: usage. They figure out which words people are using most often and in what context.
And every year, you’ll find articles about how the words we’re using signal that the English language is dead. But is it really? Sure, the 2012 list certainly says something about our culture, with additions including F-Bomb, sexting, mash-up, earworm, bucket list, brain cramp, gastropub, aha moment, life coach and man cave.
But how bad is that compared to the list of words that made it into dictionaries back in 1929 and 1930, when F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and Edith Wharton were the writers of the day? That list includes effing, whoop de-do, snack bar, whodunit and moxie, another word for a sense of audacity and spunk. Spunk, by the way, made its first appearance in 1582.
If your kid is Ivy League material, congratulations. You’re in deep trouble.
The average cost of tuition, room and board for four years at a private college in the U.S. was $119,400 last year, according to The College Board. That’s just an average. Harvard University already will set you back more than $54,000 a year.
College costs are rising at about six percent a year, far faster than inflation. If you have an infant, four years at a private college will cost, on average, $340,800 by the time he or she is ready to enroll. Even in-state tuition at a state school will set you back $95,000.
You need a plan, Stan. Specifically, a 529 plan.