[image description: A deep-space telescope image, showing, at the bottom of the image, a cavernous nebula with stars visible inside; the upper half of the image, “above” the nebula from our perspective, contains several very large and very bright stars, surrounded by increasingly smaller and less bright stars, against a backdrop of deep black peppered with the lights of still-smaller and more-distant stars.]
This was NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day on the 18th of November 2012. The text of NASA’s write-up accompanying the image:
NGC 6357: Cathedral to Massive Stars
Image Credit: NASA, ESA and Jesús Maíz Apellániz (IAA, Spain)
Explanation: How massive can a normal star be? Estimates made from distance, brightness and standard solar models had given one star in the open cluster Pismis 24 over 200 times the mass of our Sun, nearly making it the record holder. This star is the brightest object located just above the gas front in the above image. Close inspection of images taken with the Hubble Space Telescope, however, has shown that Pismis 24-1 derives its brilliant luminosity not from a single star but from three at least. Component stars would still remain near 100 solar masses, making them among the more massive stars currently on record. Toward the bottom of the image, stars are still forming in the associated emission nebula NGC 6357. Appearing perhaps like a Gothic cathedral, energetic stars near the center appear to be breaking out and illuminating a spectacular cocoon.
ESA is the European Space Agency, a multinational cooperative that has increasingly stepped in to pick up the slack as the U.S. guts NASA’s budget.
Go here for the current day’s Astronomy Picture of the Day (APoD homepage) or scroll down to browse the archives or search for a particular kind of image.
Rich and/or White Americans take an unfairly large share of government benefits.
Black people, who make up 22% of the poor, receive 14% of government benefits. White people, who make up 42% of the poor, receive 69% of government benefits.
Just so we’re all clear on what we just read. Black people make up 22% of the poor but only 14% of the government benefits. Meaning, 8% of poor Black people are not taking government benefits when they need them.
While, white people make up 42% of the poor but receive 69% of the government benefits. Meaning, there are white people who are classified as middle class who are receiving government benefits.
…but welfare queens and stuff.
LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT!
Black people make up 22% of the poor BUT only 14% of the government benefits.
White people make up 42% of the poor BUT receive 69% of the government benefits.
This needs to go viral.
This is essential piece of information revealing racial bias AGAINST Black people in receiving government benefits.
Never again do I want to hear about White people living in poverty.
Never again do I want to hear about Black people living on government benefits.
Reblog this. Over and over again. POST IT ON EVERY SOCIAL MEDIA SITE WHERE YOU HAVE AN ACCOUNT.
I DON’T WANNA HEAR ANOTHER FUCKIN WORD ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE AND WELFARE
NOT ANOTHER FUCKIN WORD
Among the interesting facts that turned up: almost 10% of “entitlement program” benefits went to people in the top 20% of households by income. There’s some wasteful spending that could be cut, instead of always going for stuff like “let’s make sure poor kids don’t freeze to death over the winter — if we can keep the program funded” or “every kid needs to eat breakfast and lunch if they’re going to be able to learn in school — and they will unless the program’s funding gets cut.”
I was disappointed that there didn’t appear to be any breakdown of benefits received vs. benefits eligible for, as far as Native Americans and Latin@s (although the latter category can and does overlap with both Black and White, depending on who’s asking and how the questions are framed; in this particular study, wherever it says “White” it does specifically mean non-Hispanic White) or any other ethnic group other than Black and White Americans.
Other facts of note from the study:
- Over 90% of benefits paid went to Americans who are either retired and thus (typically) no longer working, Americans who are substantially disabled and unable to work, or to Americans in working households.
- In other words, less than 10% of benefits went to people who weren’t working but could have been working.
- The distribution of what Alan Greenspan calls “tax entitlements” is even more problematically skewed: The Americans in the top 20% income bracket are not only taking 10% of the ‘traditional’ entitlement benefits (you don’t have to need Social Security or unemployment to be eligible for them, after all); they’re also the beneficiaries of 66% of tax-expenditure benefits.
- That ain’t a typo. Sixty-six percent of tax entitlements go to the people already enjoying the top twenty percent of income.
- That’s on top of those rich folks taking a larger share of other entitlements than go to people actually living on benefits instead of working — the ones Mitt Romney pretended to be so incensed about get less from so-called “entitlement programs” than Romney’s wealthy peers.
- Far cry from Romney’s claim that 47% of Americans were on the dole and happy to stay there sucking money out of the pockets of hard-working (HA) Americans like Mitt.
Let’s not just bat these stats around tumblr. Write letters to the editor (people who read those also tend to vote), bring a copy of the study to your city council meeting (or whatever they call it in your area), make sure your legislators at the state and federal level know about these and ask them to bring the study up on the floor of their chamber. Heck, make copies of the points you consider most salient and hand out flyers on street corners — if you live somewhere that can be done without it getting you arrested. We’ve got a heck of a lot better resources for spreading the word and inflaming outrage at injustices than the pamphleteers of eighteenth-century America, after all…
Transcripts and why I hate the rise of video discussions
I’m in a ranty mood after seeing yet another cool-seeming podcast that has NO TRANSCRIPT. So I’m going to insert:
Do, definitely, if you’re reading this, click through and read hastybooks’s rant about the lack of transcripts for audio and video content.
I’m not deaf, as hastybooks is, but I am somewhat hard of hearing, and find spoken language particularly difficult to parse at times. So I tend to use captions when they’re a) available and b) not so badly-realized their only value is the absurdist humor of their meaningless mangling of the words they’re meant to transcribe.
(Put on the closed captioning on your TV sometime and see how far off the captioning sometimes gets — for programming that has captions at all. If your set isn’t CC-ready, try a hospital waiting room or a bar, two public places where captions are often enabled, or at least where they’ll be able and even willing to put the captions on if asked. Check out YouTube’s “automatic captions” ‘feature’, too.)
Also like hastybooks, I try to put image description text on any post I make with images that weren’t already image-captioned before I reblogged it. I haven’t managed it 100% of the time, and I’m aware of that. (I also try to properly credit any image I post or reblog, which is a whole separate rant for another post, and no, I haven’t managed 100% with that goal, either.) Both image descriptions for people who can’t view the image — whether due to anatomical or technological issues — and transcripts for people who can’t listen to audio and/or video files are things most of us can do to help avoid shutting out people with limited hearing or vision.
Do you have to do an image description or voice transcript of everything you post? No. It isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. As I said, I don’t manage 100%; sometimes I don’t have the energy, or I want to post something ASAP and plan to add the accessibility aid later, or I just can’t figure out how to describe an image, or I can’t parse the audio well enough to transcribe it myself.
But every little bit helps. Every post. Every image in a multi-image post that gets a description helps. Every audio or video file that has even a partial transcript.
One last thing, and the lecture will be over (for now):
If you come across a post that has image descriptions and/or proper attribution and/or a transcript, and you want to reblog it? Please, please do NOT remove any of those features. You can add your own commentary if you want, of course. But removing attribution is tantamount to stealing from the person who created the content you deem worthy of reblogging (and in some cases is exactly stealing from them). And removing accessibility features that someone else took the time to put there is saying to the people who need those features in order to access that content that we don’t matter, that we don’t deserve to enjoy something you felt was worth sharing, and that the people who put those accessibility aids into the post wasted their time.
So, bare minimum… if you’re not going to make your posts accessible, at least don’t make them less-accessible than they were when you found them. And if there’s attribution information, don’t delete that, either. Just… don’t be a dick, y’know?
Definitely view this photograph at full size (click the image to view alone).
[Image description: The night sky, tinted violet by the combination of ambient light and long exposure, with a portion of the Milky Way appearing on a diagonal between the centers of the top and right sides of the image. Along the bottom of the photo, both distant mountain peaks and nearby plants are silhouetted against the star-filled sky.]
Utterly captivating. I can imagine spending a night under those stars, but not sleeping; just staring up into luminous eternity. Big thanks to spacettf for actually including the link to the source of the photo!
Notes from photographer dfikar1 about “More Milky Way From the Big Bend”:
I ran this frame through a star-counting program and came up with over 12,000 distinct star lights detected!
I used a long exposure time (around 100 sec. I think) with the aid of my camera’s GPS module which freezes the stars for astrophotography (Pentax O-GPS1 module). That is the only way I could get a long enough exposure without star trails.
taken on April 1, 2012 in Brewster County, Texas, US, using a Pentax K-5.
#Big Bend, #Desert, #Milky Way, #Ten Bits Ranch, #astrophotography
Also, that GPS module thing is mind-bogglingly awesome. They’re doing things with technology today that I’d never imagine were possible. I love living in the future!