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Posted by Mary Orlin

In Chinese medicine, “qi” is defined as energy, life force and ebbs and flows in balance. Element of qi — which is pronounced chi — that are out of balance are thought to affect one’s vitality. On a recent visit to Oakland’s new Qi Dumpling Lounge, we found many things that went right — and some that had yet to find that perfect balance.

This dumpling stop is the newest offering from the Auyoung family, who also own Montclair’s Silver Palace. Daughter Shirleen opened the dumpling eatery in Oakland’s Grand Lake district, near Charlie Hallowell’s Penrose and Boot & Shoe Service, to share her mother and grandmother’s tradition of making handmade dumplings for holidays and family dinners. With its dark, glossy colors, prominent bar and funky lighting fixtures that fill the long, narrow dining room, Qi has a lounge-y vibe.

We may be dumpling obsessed, but we expected a dumpling lounge to offer more dumpling varieties. The menu lists seven, including pot stickers and won tons. That said, it also advises allowing 15 minutes for dumpling preparation, a good sign that they are made to order.

Hoping to allay our hunger, we opted for an order of deconstructed Soy Glazed Pork Belly Sliders ($12) — you assemble the thin pork belly slice, cucumber and soft lotus bun yourself, then drizzle it with hoisin sauce. (Tip: Don’t add any more of the sweet, thick sauce. The pork belly is already glazed with plenty.)

Not long after, dumplings began arriving at a fast clip. Wrinkly Ying Yang Dumplings ($9) held a flavorful mixture of juicy pork, shrimp and chives, served with a housemade soy-jalapeño sauce with a mild kick. Earthy, meaty and delicious, the Cilantro Mushroom Chicken Sui Mai ($9) arrived with a housemade ginger vinegar sauce that made the flavors sing.

The Dragon Dumplings ($12), stuffed with shrimp, scallops and spinach, were rather bland, though, as were the Spring Harvest Pot Stickers ($10). The pot stickers were perfectly pan-fried, but while the combination of edamame, five-spice tofu, napa cabbage and silk thread noodles looked promising, they lacked spice and the filling was just mush. The salty sauces — wasabi soy and sweet sesame soy — served with both failed to bring the dishes into balance.

A sesame garlic paste packed a welcome punch in the Szechuan Pork Noodles ($11), a dish of fat, wavy egg noodles, minced pork and greens, though. We also loved the Dry Braised String Beans ($10), coated in a fiery, sweet garlic bean paste, spiked with jalapeño and dried red chiles.

Overall, dinner service was swift and attentive and servings were generous for the price. Qi doesn’t offer dessert right now, but is working on developing some sweets. Bottom line: All Qi needs is a little balancing and a more harmonious hand with the sauces and seasonings to improve the ebb and flow of their culinary experience.


Qi Dumpling Lounge

2½ stars

WHERE: 3300 Grand Ave., Oakland

CONTACT: 510-823-2082

HOURS: Open 12-3 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 12-9:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 12-9 p.m. Sundays

CUISINE: Chinese fusion

PRICES: Entrees $9-$12

VEGETARIAN: Options include veggie-filled dumplings, vegetable mains and salads, tofu chow mein, vegetarian noodles and fried rice.

BEVERAGES: Jasmine and oolong tea, limited wine and beer selection

RESERVATIONS: Recommended

NOISE LEVEL: Medium loud

PARKING: Street parking

KIDS: No childrens menu, but young diners will likely enjoy the pot stickers, broccoli chicken chow mein and chicken wings.

PLUSES: Generous portions, reasonable prices and some sensational chicken sui mai and pork and shrimp dumpling add up to a satisfying meal.

MINUSES: Salty sauces, some bland dishes need work

DATE OPENED: January

Policy

We don’t let restaurants know that we are coming in to do a review, and we strive to remain anonymous. We pay for our meal, just as you would.

Ratings 

Restaurants are rated on a scale of one to four, with four representing utter perfection in food, ambience and service. A three is a great restaurant and a two is fair to good. Ones are best avoided.


 

rydra_wong: Nichole watches TV: "My name is John Dean III and I want to spill my guts out." "Proceed." (john dean III -- watergate)
[personal profile] rydra_wong
Via [personal profile] robynbender, via [twitter.com profile] kristoncapps:

This useful cheat-sheet provided by Art Buchwald in the LA Times in 1973

tag yourself I'm a "paranoid John Dean believer"

Some kind person needs to re-make this as a bingo card. I believe it will come in handy.
[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

While the underlying causes of headaches can be pretty widespread (dehydration, lack of sleep and magnesium deficiency are just a few of the many options), it's nice to have a remedy or two tucked away in your back pocket for times of need. And a natural remedy you can find in your own home? Even better. Here are seven options to help you cope the next time you find yourself dealing with a pounding head.

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Two men shot in East Oakland

May. 29th, 2017 02:44 pm
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Posted by Harry Harris

OAKLAND — Two men were shot about a half-hour apart in East Oakland Sunday night, police said Monday, adding that is was too early to say if the shootings were related.

About 10:45 p.m., a 30-year-old man was shot in the leg in the 7100 block of International Boulevard.

He told police he was getting into his car when he heard gunshots and realized he had been shot in the leg. Another person drove him to a hospital where he was in stable condition. No motive has been determined yet and no arrests made.

About 10:12 p.m., a 24-year-old man was shot in the abdomen in the 7300 block of Weld Street, a residential area not far from Arroyo Viejo Park.

Someone gave the man a ride to a hospital where his condition was not available.

Police said they plan to interview the man to get more details about the shooting. Authorities said they don’t know if he was shot by someone on the street or in a car. No motive is known and no arrests have been made.

Police and Crime Stoppers of Oakland are offering up to $5,000 in reward money in each shooting for information leading to the arrest of the shooters. Anyone with information may call police at 510-238-3426 or Crime Stoppers at 510-777-8572.

[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

We've all seen them: the dreaded boob lights, marring apartments and builder-grade homes everywhere with their unrepentant mediocrity. If you're a little bit handy you've probably replaced one, or thought about it, but then you probably ran into the same difficulty I did when I started looking for a fixture to replace the boobs in my own apartment: flush-mount fixtures can be really ugly. If the room in question doesn't have the head room for a beautiful chandelier with a two-foot drop, finding the right fixture can be a real challenge. Where are all the nice-looking flush-mount lights? Surely, they have to be out there...somewhere, so we decided to do a little hunting, and here's what we found.

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Posted by Ars Staff

Enlarge / Tron 2 may not have been the best movie, but it sure made the internet look pretty. (credit: Disney)

There's nothing like the feeling of finding a group of true friends, or a gang of like-minded people who share your interests and annoyances. If you love technology as much as we do at Ars, that feeling probably hit you at some point when you were online. Today the Ars staff is celebrating some of the Internet communities we've loved.

Sometimes an online group is just a place to bitch about work, and sometimes it's a place to share your deepest secrets. Some of us found love online, and others found hope for the future of civil liberties. We gamed, we had deep discussions, we figured out how to prank dumb users, we talked about sports and science and digital surveillance.

And we're still doing it here, in Ars comments and forums. These are our stories, but they are yours, too. Tell us about the online communities you enjoyed for a quick joke, or the ones that changed your life.

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Making America Meaner

May. 29th, 2017 10:56 am
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Last Wednesday, on the eve of his election to the House of Representatives, Montana Republican Greg...

Five Wonder Women of the Middle Ages

May. 29th, 2017 06:00 pm
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Posted by Michael Livingston

So I watched Batman v Superman. You don’t need a medievalist wandering through your digital space just to pile on with the many things that went wrong with the film, so instead let me say this:

In a dark world of brooding boys, Wonder Woman’s every moment on screen was like the light of a sun threatening to break through the clouds. There were many reasons for this (number one: Gal Gadot is a terrific actress), but what struck me as I was watching the film was the fact that Wonder Woman seemed to be the only person on screen with a clear sense of purpose. No brooding and self-doubt and angst and what-not for her: Wonder Woman knows exactly who she is.

And who she is, obviously, is a woman who kicks ass.

Go back and watch the final battle again. Near the end, when seemingly all hope is lost, after she’s just been pounded through the fourteenth car on a ruinous landscape, she slides to a stop in the debris and the camera closes in on her. And in that moment of peril and pain, she smiles.

Because this is what she is. She’s a warrior. She was born to do this. She lives to do this.

wonderwoman-bvs

Which reminded me, because I am a medievalist, of the long line of amazing women in history who don’t always get the notice they deserve. During the publicity for the release of Shards of Heaven, I wrote a short blog post about “Five Amazing Women in Ancient Rome,” so today I thought I’d follow that up with “Five Amazing Women in the Middle Ages.”

Awesome, right? Except, well, the list of amazing medieval women that popped into my mind is massive. Amalasuntha, Christine de Pizan, Isabella of France, Hrotsvitha, Catherine of Valois, Hildegard of Bingen, Isabella of Castille … I could write post after post on these (and so many other) remarkable figures. And that’s just dealing with some of the Big Names. Because there are so many whose songs have gone largely unsung.

For instance, in 1999, Father George Dennis found a note slipped into the pages of an obscure manuscript in the Mediceo-Laurentian Library in Florence. Stuck in between the writings of the Byzantine monastic theologian Maximos Planoudis, a poem on meter, and the works of the late antique Greek rhetorician Libanius—I told you this was an obscure manuscript!—was this passage:

In the part of Karia just opposite Chios, it is reported that, in our own day, a mature woman, with some facial hair, named Makouraino, married and with children, displayed her valor and leadership when the occasion presented itself. What she did was no less than what a man would do, indeed what the bravest men would do. For her ability to stretch tight and stiff bows was awesome. It is said that, by herself, she stood up to two pirate ships and drove them from the shore by firing arrows at them. In the year 1341.

We know nothing else of her. The story is nowhere else preserved. But she sounds amazing.

All this to say, even if I’m going to confine myself to a list of just those amazing women whose stories have survived, it would be far too long. I have to cut it down somehow. And what with Wonder Woman and Makouraino both being warriors and all, I give you…

Five Amazing Women Warriors in the Middle Ages

Matilda of Tuscany

Matilda giving directions to the Pope and a penitent King. No joke.

Matilda giving directions to the Pope and a penitent King. No joke.

The Great Countess was a force of nature in Italy for nearly forty years. A brilliant and multi-lingual woman, Matilda was a key figure in the long and complicated Investiture Controversy. After an excommunicated Emperor Henry IV walked to her castle at Canossa and for three days knelt in the snow at its gates, it was Matilda who convinced Pope Gregory VII to meet him and restore him to the Church. In the years that followed she was one of the papacy’s staunchest allies, often taking to the field at the direct head of her forces to defend first Gregory and then his successor Pope Urban II against Henry IV and his own successors. Through decades of political dynamics and military maneuvering, it was Matilda who came out on top. In 1111, Emperor Henry V crowned her Imperial Vicar and Vice-Queen of Italy, a title she would hold until her death in 1115. In 1645, her remains were transferred to St Peter’s Basilica in Rome, one of only three women to hold such honor. The stunning facade of her tomb was designed by the famed sculptor Bernini himself.

Lagertha

Lithograph of Lathgertha by Morris Meredith Williams (1913)

Lithograph of Lagertha by Morris Meredith Williams (1913)

One of the best books no one has heard of, the Gesta Danorum, by the 12th-century monk, Saxo Grammaticus, recounts the story of Lagertha. Born into the family of King Siward of Norway, she and other female relatives were forced into prostitution by King Frø of Sweden when he defeated Siward. The dead king’s grandson, Ragnar Lodbrok (the protagonist of The History Channel’s Vikings show) went to war against Frø to avenge Siward, and several of these abused women took arms alongside Ragnar’s forces. Lagertha is described as an Amazon among them, hewing her foes and leading them all to victory. Ragnar eventually courts her as his wife—killing a bear and a hound with a spear and his bare hands to do so. Because, you know, Vikings. He eventually divorced her in favor of a political marriage to a Swedish princess, but Lagertha still came to his aid when he was in need and saved his life when he faced civil war in Denmark. And then, when her second husband proved unworthy, she cut him down with the point of a spear that she concealed in the folds of her dress. After that, she ruled over vast lands in her own authority (and as a badass, still) until the time of her death.

(For the sake of transparency, I should admit that Lagertha might well be a fiction. There is good reason to believe that her story and her name are the result of a series of misreadings of tales about the minor Norse deity, Thorgerd. But there’s a chance she was real. And by the gods, I want her to be so!)

Jeanne Hachette

Illustration by H. Grober

Illustration by H. Grober

Born Jeanne Fourquet or Laisné, this peasant girl earned her name in history by wielding—you guessed it—a hatchet. On June 27, 1472, just over four decades after the death of fellow Frenchwoman Joan of Arc, Jeanne was a citizen of the town of Beauvais, which was besieged by the forces of the Duke of Burgundy. That day, the Burgundians made a furious assault, and according to the stories they managed to make their way onto the battlements of the town. In declaration of the impending victory, a Burgundian planted a flag upon the battlement—a deeply symbolic act of victory, as the Americans who raised the flag on Iwo Jima can attest. In that perilous moment, with the future of her city in doubt, Jeanne took in hand an axe and rushed the flag. She smote the man, tore down the flag, and the tide of the siege was turned.

Joanna of Flanders

joannaflanders

When the Duke of Brittany died without heir in 1341, there were two rival claimants for the duchy: Charles of Blois and John of Montfort. John traveled to the court of King Philip VI of France to press his claim, but Philip —who just happened to be Charles’ nephew—instead imprisoned him. Rather than capitulate to this act, John’s wife, Joanna of Flanders, declared their infant son the de facto leader of the Montfort claim and promptly declared war against the House of Blois. What would become known as the War of the Breton Succession became a kind of “Cold War” during a time of supposed truce in the Hundred Years War when Joanna called upon King Edward III of England to defend her claim. In one of her many moments of triumph, she was besieged in the two of Hennebont by the forces of Charles. Touring her fortifications, she saw that the enemy encampment was ill-defended and so, donning armor and taking arms, she led a raid that burned the enemy’s tents and supply lines and then went on to seize another nearby town. For the daring action she is known as “Jeanne la Flamme,” and it was just one of her many exploits. The chronicler Jean le Bel declared that she “was indeed a courageous woman,” and the famed writer Jean Froissart agreed: “she had the heart of a lion.”

Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc depicted in a manuscript dated May 10, 1429

Joan of Arc depicted in a manuscript dated May 10, 1429

Of course. I mean, obviously. The Maid of Orléans is one of the most remarkable figures in history: of any kind, of any gender, of any age. At the age of sixteen, with the kingdom of France teetering in the Hundred Years War with England, she walked from her home in Domrémy to the town of Vaucouleurs. She asked to see the garrison commander, and she informed him that God had told her that she needed to stand at the king’s side in the war. According to legend, she told him that divine revelation had also informed her that French forces had been defeated at the Battle of Rouvray. When word later arrived that this was, in fact, true, she was granted an escort to Chinon, where she met the king. Within months she led the French forces that lifted the siege of Orléans—the first in a striking series of victories. Captured in an ambush on 23 May 1430 (she could have escaped but stayed with the rear guard in order to allow others to do so), she was transferred into English hands and put on trial for ecclesiastical crimes. She was burned at the stake on 30 May 1431. Whether you or I believe that she truly heard voices of divine inspiration is immaterial: she believed that she did, and so did the many men who fought and died behind her banner.

 

There you go. Five amazing women warriors of the Middle Ages. Already I want to add more!

If you want to read more about some amazing medieval women (including many I didn’t discuss here), take a look at “Sex, Society, and Medieval Women,” a wonderful web resource by N.M. Heckel, hosted by the Robbins Library at the University of Rochester.

This article was originally published in February 2017 as part of our Medieval Matters series.

gates-hellMichael Livingston is a Professor of Medieval Literature at The Citadel who has written extensively both on medieval history and on modern medievalism. His historical fantasy series set in Ancient Rome, The Shards of Heaven and its sequel The Gates of Hell, is available from Tor Books.

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Prior to the renovation, Cybele described the kitchen in her Park Slope apartment as "Functional, but...a little worn". It was still getting the job done, but the kitchen had seen better days. There were giant holes in the walls behind the cabinets, the electrical was outdated, and a dark countertop and backsplash sucked the light out of the room. The mosaic tile floor, with its miles and miles of grout, was a nightmare to clean.

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Let's pretend for a moment that we all live in the same world as those couples on HGTV's House Hunters. The ones where the husband is a part-time web designer and the wife is a stay at home mom and somehow they have a budget for their new home around a million dollars. That's your life now! You can take on any job, from any place in the country, and you have a cool million to find yourself the home of your dreams. Where would you live?

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Posted by Sean Gallagher

RPV away, off the stern of the USS Iowa in 1987. (credit: US Navy photo)

Today is Memorial Day in the US, and we wanted to recognize the Ars readers and staff who've served by resurfacing another military memory from our resident Navy man, Sean Gallagher. Sean served aboard the USS Iowa, and here he recalls how he contributed to drone warfare with chocolate chip cookies (seriously). This piece originally ran in May 2015.

Two weeks ago, I made a pilgrimage to the Port of Los Angeles to visit the ship that played a central part in setting me on the path that put me where I am today—the battleship USS Iowa. And as I walked toward the Big Stick at its new home in San Pedro, a ship's boat sitting on the pier alongside her triggered a recollection of one of the most memorable episodes in my tour aboard Iowa: a night in late September of 1987 when I left my somewhat minor mark on the history of drone warfare with a box of chocolate chip cookies.

I was an ensign aboard the USS Iowa, which was taking part in a joint military exercise with the Turkish military called Display Determination '87, a rehearsal for a reinforcement of Turkish forces by US Army, Navy, and Marine units in the event of a Soviet invasion. From off the Turkish coast in Saros Bay, the Iowa was to provide shore bombardment in advance of a Marine amphibious landing. But the helicopter we had used to put our Marine forward observer in the air the day before was "tits-up," as they say, and we needed eyes in the sky for the final bombardment.

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Posted by Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer

“Labyrinth,” the middle story of Borders of Infinity takes us to Jackson’s Whole, the Galactic Nexus’s official wretched hive of scum and villainy. We’re here to pick up Dr. Hugh Canaba, who Barrayar very much wants to involve in their genetics projects. Barrayar has genetics projects now. Which makes sense, because Barrayar has a tissue sample from Terrence Cee. We learned all about the potential multi-generational consequences of handing out your tissue samples in Ethan of Athos. Borders of Infinity was the sixth Vorkosigan book published, first appearing in 1989. This was thirteen years prior to the UN’s adoption of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, banning the recruitment of children under the age of 18 by guerrilla and non-state forces.

This reread has an index, which you can consult if you feel like exploring previous books and chapters. Spoilers are welcome in the comments if they are relevant to the discussion at hand. Comments that question the value and dignity of individuals, or that deny anyone’s right to exist, are emphatically NOT welcome. Please take note.

Miles’s plan is simple—The Dendarii take their fastest ship to Jackson’s Whole to buy some weapons from House Fell. While they are there, a guy named Vaughn will enlist in the Dendarii fleet as a medtech. Then the Dendarii will get the heck out of Dodge and Vaughn will desert at Escobar, thus covering up Barrayar’s super-secret connection to the Dendarii Mercenaries.

And if I may just say, if you’re trying to cover up your government’s connections to a mercenary outfit, having it named after one of your major mountain ranges and commanded by the quite-distinctive-looking son of one of your most important political leaders is maybe not the most effective approach. The Dendarii’s cover relies on a lot of people basically ignoring everything that happens on other planets, which is completely plausible for unfortunate numbers of civilians, but defies credulity when proposed as the behavior of rival military intelligence outfits. Bel Thorne is pretty close to admitting to Miles that they have the secret worked out (still not comfortable using it for Betan hermaphrodites—sorry, Bel! If you weren’t a fictional character, I would work a lot harder at using your preferred forms of address). I assume Bel held back because Bel has romantic goals that would be ruined by Miles’s cover being blown. Bel is very lonely. Miles does not reciprocate Bel’s interest, possibly because of his as-yet-unrealized interest in Elli, who is also deeply infatuated with him. Is this a common problem for military commanders or are the Dendarii special? Does Tung have his own coterie of followers? I bet he and Oser were lovers once, and then they fell out over ship commands or financial issues or something and that’s the secret reason why things got so bitter between them, before Oser’s unfortunate end.

“Labyrinth” explores Jackson Whole’s role as a galactic hub for human trafficking. Bel and Miles’s straightforward geneticist-fetching mission is going to be complicated by their efforts to also rescue Nicol and Taura. Nicol is the first Quaddie we have seen in a few books. She is a hammer dulcimer player who didn’t realize what she was getting into when she signed a contract with House Fell. I was thrilled by the first moment we saw a Quaddie play an instrument and I’m pleased that instrumental music has grown into a significant part of Free Quaddie culture. Bel and Nicol are both marketable freaks to the Jacksonian barons, and their part of the story focuses on their value as individuals and their desire to protect their descendents by not sharing tissue samples with the Jacksonians. The Jacksonians also express interest in a tissue sample from Miles. He does not provide one, and they do not admit that they already have one. Miles’s cover is very much on his mind here, and I wonder if the request is part of Ryoval and Fell’s cover.

Taura is the last survivor of an effort to create a genetically engineered super-soldier, and Canaba has stowed samples of his current work in her leg. He refuses to leave without the leg. Canaba was willing to leave the rest of the sixteen-year-old super-soldier behind. I know Barrayar really needs scientists, but I don’t think Canaba deserves to be rescued. There’s probably another geneticist languishing in a post-doc fellowship somewhere who could get to Barrayar on a regularly-scheduled commercial flight.

Taura is the main focus of this story. Canaba’s refusal to leave without her leg requires Miles to rescue her from House Ryoval, where she is being prostituted following her sale by House Bharaputra. Nicol’s situation is difficult, but Taura’s is truly desperate. The Dendarii operation to retrieve Canaba’s samples was built around incomplete information, so Miles is shocked to discover that he is expected to sacrifice a person, not a lab animal. Having never been treated as a human before in her life, Taura is surprised to be seen as a person, not a lab animal. In fact, Miles gives her the name Taura—before meeting him, she went by her laboratory designation, Nine. The moment when Miles begins Taura’s military training by showing her how to use the least possible amount of force against her enemy is a beautiful example of Miles teaching the lesson he needs to learn, as well as a pivotal moment in Taura’s evolution as a character—she learns that she doesn’t need to be a monster to destroy her enemies.

I like stories where Miles insists on the essential humanity of everyone he encounters. Up to a point, I’m very happy with “Labyrinth.” Past that point, it’s the story where Miles has sex with a sixteen-year-old human trafficking victim. And I HATE the sexual aspects of Miles and Taura’s relationship. I hate them here, I hate them in Memory, and I think it’s more than a little odd when Miles encourages Roic to pursue Taura romantically in “Winterfair Gifts.” Roic and Taura make a great pair—my objection is that Miles gets much more graphic in his discussion with Roic than I think a gentleman should. Taura is in a dark, desperate, vulnerable place when Miles finds her in the basement under Ryoval’s genetics lab. She propositions Miles as a way of making him prove that he sees her as human. I can see how a sixteen-year-old with no experience of normal human interaction would arrive at this strategy. I cannot identify Miles’s excuse for going along with it in the basement, and I cannot imagine an excuse for continuing the sexual relationship once they return to the Ariel. The presented options include animal magnetism and a makeover.

Tune in next week when Miles redeems himself (at least a little) by rescuing almost an entire prison camp!

Ellen Cheeseman-Meyer teaches history and reads a lot.

[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed
(Image credit: Esteban Cortez)

Have you ever been jealous of someone's closet? I don't mean their clothes or their shoes, but their actual closet space—as someone with a tiny closet full to the brim with luggage and clothes and shoes, looking at house tours and seeing other people's closets look so beautiful and well-organized definitely makes me a little envious, and I know I'm not alone in that.

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Posted by Marta Yamamoto

Save Mount Diablo’s mantra is preserve, defend, restore and enjoy. Through this the group has been working to preserve, defend and restore natural lands on Mount Diablo since the organization’s founding in 1971.

Only half Mount Diablo’s wild lands are preserved, the other half is threatened by development, signaling the loss of wildlife corridors, ecosystems and opportunities for recreation.

The organization uses several tools, both acquiring land directly and working with other agencies to acquire land. Every week it tracks 50 different planning agendas and responds to development threat, actually preserving more land through the development planning process than through direct acquisition. Meanwhile, its Discover Mount Diablo hike program encourages people to see firsthand the beauty of places that could be lost to development.

Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area has been on its radar for quite awhile. The city is considering 4,000 units in that four-square-mile-area, one of the largest developments in the Bay Area, and one that could cause decreased property values, neighborhood traffic and congestion, stretched police and fire services and destruction of nearby hills, watersheds and wildlife, with limited water supplies lost forever.

A development known as “The Ranch” would build more than 1,000 units, about one-third of the approximately 4,000 housing units that the Sand Creek Focus Area Land Use Plan would allow.

“That is too much and would dramatically affect the spectacular open space there, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and a new park that most people are not even aware of that isn’t open yet but already includes 3,000 acres, called Dear Valley Regional Preserve,” said Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo Land Conservation director.

The organization, also responding to development applications in the Brentwood area and Pittsburg, described East County as ground zero for development threat for the entire Bay Area.

“Greenbelt Alliance just released its most up-to-date, at-risk report of how much land is at risk in the Bay Area,” he said. “Contra Costa leads both in terms of total acres at risk as well as total acres at critical risk and almost all of that is in East County.”

Save Mount Diablo’s main approach is to help educate the public about what is going on and show them how to get involved. Every other week an E-Blast is sent out describing what is going on with land projects, development projects and sponsored recreational opportunities.

Community Facebook pages are created for specific campaigns, such as organizing to Stop The Ranch development and Save Sand Creek from the 4,000 housing units proposed in southeast Antioch.

Agreeing strongly with John Muir who believed “take people out and show them what’s at stake,” Save Mount Diablo organizes and leads hikes every week to a variety of destinations, some open to the public, some in areas protected by Save Mount Diablo and many to places that people can’t normally go.

On Sunday,  a three-mile hike along Sand Creek will make evident how development plans threaten four-square miles of hills, creek, grassland and resident wildlife.

“People who come on the walk will see that the area’s absolutely spectacular. Antioch should work to protect open space and agricultural land, not to just keep spreading out,” Adams said. “We’ll collect names and show people what’s going on. That’s really how we win these battles, we show enough people what’s at stake and generally they’re on our side.”

Audible guides for self-guided hikes are described as invitations to adventure. Each can be downloaded or watched online and include multiple short segments with naturalists describing the history and natural history of a location, there are photos to identify wildlife and descriptions of stops along the trail.

“The whole idea was to create something similar to what you’d hear at a museum with an expert describing what you’re seeing,” he said. “You can literally use it to take a hike following the directions in the guide or you can just learn about the place before you go there.”

At present East County residents can enjoy guides for Round Valley and Los Vaqueros, with Black Diamond Mines in the works.

The Round Valley Regional Preserve 15-part audible guide describes the grassland’s history and habitat of secluded meadows. Aside from being, for Adams, ‘the most beautiful valley in the East Bay,” Round Valley is a shining example of how the work of Save Mount Diablo pays off.

“Round Valley was proposed as a land fill so there’s this amazing history of our work to preserve these kinds of areas and make them available to the public,” he said.


Sources

For more on Save Mount Diablo, go to www.savemountdiablo.org/index.html.

Sign up for E-Blast: https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001kGlTg99yfXU_CwEJN0HzOR8t25OrhjvLcnMP-1_htqG_VOkaE7VM50IpJdMM_ZLb26nOqBESkiJ2PLyYzdcp1CpfnGnoabEnR2-4SQ1lugE%3D

Save Sand Creek Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/antiochsavesandcreekandstoptheranch/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Discover Mount Diablo hike schedule: http://www.savemountdiablo.org/Activities_HikeSchedule.htm.

Sand Creek Hike:  June 4, 9 a.m. to noon. Free, must register on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/967077683395212/.

Audible guides: http://www.savemountdiablo.org/activities_hikes.html#hikes_audible.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!

May. 29th, 2017 04:16 pm
[syndicated profile] pats_hotlist_feed

You can get your hands on the digital edition of Philip Pullman's The Golden Compass for only 1.99$ here.

Here's the blurb:

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other. . .

You can also download the sequels, The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass, for the same price. =)
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Trent Hamm

What’s inside? Here are the questions answered in today’s reader mailbag, boiled down to summaries of five or fewer words. Click on the number to jump straight down to the question.
1. Arguing over frugality
2. Selling possessions before big move
3. Maximizing lifespan of blue jeans
4. Cheap deep fat fryer setup
5. Cracked tablet screen
6. Resolving debts to family members
7. Clothes during weight loss
8. Baby advice in tiny apartment
9. Car downsizing as a parent
10. Subscription service as gift
11. Roth TSP or normal TSP?
12. Basics of learning about money

Over the past few days, I took a trip out to Denver by myself to visit a family member and several friends. I had been intending to see them for a long time but had never really made the time to do so, but Memorial Day weekend offered that opportunity.

I drove out there and the thing that sticks in my mind about the entire drive is how the landscape slowly changed from the flatness of Nebraska and Kansas into the rise in altitude and the mountains on the horizon in Denver. The shift is gradual, but if you drive 100 miles or so from the western end of Nebraska well into Colorado, the change is really noticeable.

It’s funny – I can travel for several days and the things I remember about the trip are all about the landscapes and about the people I was with. Expensive meals fade quickly. So do expensive hotels. What I remember are the people and the scenery. To me, that’s a hint as to how I should plan vacations.

Q1: Arguing over frugality

My hubby and I sometimes argue about my cheapness. Whenever we have date nights I usually suggest doing something cheap and I buy store brands at the store and stuff. Sometimes he gets really frustrated and says that we don’t have to live like this and gives me the cold shoulder for a while. I don’t see anything wrong with how we live and we have no debt and plenty of money in the bank. Had a big blowup the other night. Not sure what to do and hope you have some good advice!
– Monique

Marriages work when you communicate and compromise with each other. It sounds to me like there are some areas of your spending choices that are bothering your husband.

What I’d suggest is sitting down sometime when he’s not angry and discuss things. Ask him specifically what things he’s bothered by, figure out which things bother him the most, and give a little in those areas. It may be that a certain brand of product has a strong sentimental value to him, so it’s worth buying it instead of the store brand that you buy, or maybe you can agree to his more expensive date night ideas sometimes.

At the same time, make sure he appreciates the strong financial state that you’re in and that you’re deeply worried about falling into a pattern of overspending that will undo that great financial state.

There’s a happy medium between the two things you’re both wanting here. The trick is finding it together in a peaceful way.

Q2: Selling possessions before big move

I currently live in a 1BR apartment in Sacramento. I accepted a job in Boston with a nice pay raise and am moving there in a month. My employer is paying for some moving expenses. I am considering what items it makes sense to move to Boston and what to sell off. Part of me wants to sell everything and move with basically two or three bags of stuff and then use the moving money and the sale money to buy new stuff when I arrive. I will pay a markup to replace a lot of this stuff though. Which is the smarter route?
– Jim

If I were single and moving across the country, I would probably lean toward selling off the vast majority of my possessions before the big move. I would not want to deal with the effort of moving so much stuff and, honestly, having less stuff means you have more flexibility.

To tell you the honest truth, if I were single, I’d mostly live out of a bag or two. I might have a small apartment somewhere, but it would be basically a place to rest my head and prepare a bit of food, not a place to spend my time. I’d spend a lot of time at community events, at the library, at Meetup events, and so on. I’d barely be home, so why have a bunch of stuff at home?

In your shoes, yes, I’d lean toward a big selloff. Unless your apartment is loaded with incredibly expensive decor and you plan to decorate it with similarly expensive stuff upon arriving in Boston, transporting your possessions will probably cost more than they’re worth, especially when you include the sale value of the items.

Q3: Maximizing lifespan of blue jeans

Do you have any suggestions for making jeans last as long as possible? Do they last longer if you wear them several times between washings?

I wear jeans pretty much any time I’m not in the office and so I wear out a lot of jeans and I want them to last as long as I can. My jeans usually wear out at the ankles first.
– Roger

Jeans most certainly do not need to be washed after every wearing. Inspect them when you’re done wearing them and if they’re actually dirty, wash them. If not, then don’t wash them.

Your instinct regarding the fact that washing jeans puts a lot of wear and tear on them is absolutely right. Washing machines are the primary source of damage to a lot of garments over time, and jeans are no different.

If you’re noticing a lot of wear on your jeans near the ankles, consider wearing slightly shorter jeans or “boot fit” jeans. This used to be a problem for me until I realized I was choosing jeans that were perhaps an inch or so longer than they needed to be, so now I get jeans with a shorter inseam and I rarely have this problem.

Q4: Cheap deep fat fryer setup

We often have fish fries where we will fry up a bunch of fish filets and whole fish and some onion rings and fries in a deep fat fryer that’s basically a big kettle of oil with a basket on top of a propane burner. We have to replace the burner every 2-3 years and the cost of all of the propane and oil adds up. Suggestions on keeping costs down?
– Dylan

I talked to an avid fisherman who often hosts fish fries in order to answer your question and he suggested three things.

First, if you’re just using the oil to cook fish and onion rings and fries, you can probably reuse the oil a few times. He suggests saving the oil in a big resealable container in the refrigerator between uses. At some point after it cools, strain the oil through several layers of cheesecloth at once to get out all of the tiny particle matter. He says you should be able to use the oil three times using this method before you should throw it out.

Second, he strongly encourages you to thoroughly clean your propane burner every few months because, according to him, propane burners don’t usually go bad that quick and there’s probably some clogging involved due to not cleaning it. He suggested using a cleaning brush and cleaning it thoroughly inside and out and to look up a guide on how to do it for your model if you’re not sure.

Finally, he says that if you’ve got the oil heated up, you should cook plenty of fish filets because they’re quite good when reheated and you can eat leftovers. This reduces the propane cost per piece of fish. Just store them in a container with paper towels separating the layers. If you’re making fries that are just sliced potatoes dropped in the fryer, I recommend making extras of those, too, as those are good reheated as well in my experience.

Q5: Cracked tablet screen

I have an iPad Pro which I use so much that it’s now my main/only computer. I have a keyboard case for it and use it for email and writing and then I take off the case for lap use and reading.

A few months ago, I cracked the edge of it. There’s a crack that extends into the screen area. When you’re using it, you definitely notice the crack. It’s visible when you’re watching or reading something. However, the touch interface is just dead around the crack and it makes it hard to open the app that’s in that area of the screen and can sometimes mess up other interface issues.

When do I make the leap and just replace the thing? It still works, mostly, but the cracked part is a constant annoyance.
– Connie

The first thing I’d do is look into the cost of getting the screen repaired. Is it under any kind of warranty? Did you get a protection plan for it that might cover it?

I’d take the device to an Apple Store and have them look at it and provide an estimate for repair. If it’s high, you can also talk to independent phone and tablet repair shops, who may be able to repair it at a nice price. You may find that it is far less expensive to repair the screen than it is to buy a replacement.

If you do need to go for a replacement, do your homework first and take your time. Evaluate your needs very carefully. What does your tablet actually do for you? Are there other devices that could do all of those things at a lower price? Do you need the most current version of that tablet, or would an older one suffice?

Q6: Resolving debts to family members

I am a former meth user who has been clean for three years. During that time I borrowed a lot of money from family members to feed my habit. I kept track of those debts in a notebook. Now that I have a good job I am starting to try to pay them back but all of them keep telling me no and that it is forgiven and that I have repaid them by getting clean. But I am still feeling really guilty about taking their money and using it for drugs and stupid things.

I borrowed money from my older brother, my uncle, and my mom. For my brother I am going to pay him back by putting money in a college savings plan for my nephew and for my uncle I am going to do the same for his daughter. For my mom, I am going to put money in a savings account and buy her a car to replace her old beater.

What is the best way to do these things?
– David

David, first of all, I have a ton of respect for your character, not just for getting yourself clean, but for wanting to make things right. Your family is full of awesome people, too, as they seem to have just forgiven this debt that you owe to them.

If these moves will make your conscience clear, then you should absolutely do so, but you shouldn’t feel like you have to. Consider this not a repayment of debt, but a gift back to them.

It’s pretty easy to start a 529 college savings plan with a relative as a beneficiary. Just look up the 529 system in your state and start plans for each of those two children and start socking away money in there when you can until you feel things are right. If I were you, I’d keep quiet with the account until they start to move toward making plans for their post-high school lives, then I’d tell their parents first. It’s pretty hard for a parent to refuse a 529 with their kid on it as a beneficiary.

As for your mother, I’d simply sock money away in a savings account, and do it as quickly as you reasonably can so that you can replace that old car that sounds like it might be on its last legs. Just get a savings account at your local bank and start socking money away in there.

You’re making great moves here and it sounds like you have a good family around you. You’ll be just fine.

Q7: Clothes during weight loss

In November I weighed 415 lbs and now I’m down to 355 and I don’t intend to stop. I’ve figured out a rhythm that really works for me and I can stick with it for the rest of my life. I mostly eat what I like for supper with some portion control in mind and eat healthy stuff for other meals.

My problem is that a lot of my clothes aren’t fitting well any more – they are really clown sized on me. I intend to lose another 100 pounds in the next year, so if I buy anything that fits well right now, it will be too big in a few months too.

What’s the cost effective approach to clothes that you will only wear for a while?
– Tim

The best approach you can take is to shop for your entire wardrobe (sans underwear and socks) at Goodwill and other secondhand stores for now and only switch to buying other garments when you start to get really close to your target weight.

I highly recommend going to secondhand clothing stores that are fairly near wealthy neighborhoods, because you’ll often find that such stores are loaded with items that are high quality and practically new. I am amazed at the clothes items that can be found at secondhand stores near the pricier neighborhoods in Des Moines, for example.

Just buy whatever you like that fits. Since all of it is pretty inexpensive, you don’t have to worry about it too much. Then, in six months, when those clothes don’t fit well any more, take the whole bundle back to a secondhand store. You’re effectively renting those clothes for pennies per use.

Q8: Baby advice in tiny apartment

My wife and I share a 400 square foot studio apartment. We currently are expecting a baby in early October. We considered moving but the cost of everything around here is so high that we just can’t make a larger apartment work and a house is just out of the question.

I came across some of your early articles where you describe living in a small apartment with a baby. Do you have any advice on making it work?
– Stephen

To back up a bit, in 2005, my wife and I welcomed our first child into the world. From 2005 to 2007, we lived in a roughly 600 square foot apartment with that baby and didn’t move until a second one was on its way.

The best trick you can use is to recognize that, besides a crib of some kind, you really don’t need much large stuff devoted just to your baby. You don’t need a changing table, as you can basically turn any surface into a changing table with a towel. You don’t need lots of big toys or anything like that. A baby needs love, food, clean clothes, closeness, and soft words. You can provide all of that with very little stuff.

Just focus on what you need for the baby, not what you think you should have. Quite often, a baby’s actual needs are much less than the stuff that parents are tempted to buy during the “nesting” period, where hormones are telling people to prepare their home for a baby and marketers manipulate that emotion like crazy.

Remember what a baby needs. A baby needs love, food, clean clothes, closeness, warmth, and soft words. That’s it. You don’t need a ton of space or a ton of stuff to provide those things.

Q9: Car downsizing as a parent

The argument I’ve always made about getting rid of a vehicle is that it means our children would have to drop out of activities they enjoy. Our two oldest children are both on soccer teams for example and there are just times where it is impossible to get them both to their practices or games without two cars. One of them at least would have to drop out of soccer if we downsized a car.
– Anna

There are definitely life situations where downsizing a car isn’t the best move for you or your family. The thing that really matters is whether the question is even being considered or not, and if it is, whether it’s being considered seriously or not.

If you can point to routine things – things that actually happen on a regular basis in your life – where your current vehicle count is necessary or provides a tremendous time savings, then it probably doesn’t make sense to downsize. It sounds like you’re in that very situation when it comes to soccer practices.

For us, the real challenge would be situations where our children are sick at school, which happens every few months. I am at a loss as to how we would handle that situation. Normally, given my job flexibility, I simply go get sick children and take care of them, but if I were without a car, I couldn’t do that. We’ve brainstormed many times to try to come up with realistic solutions to this problem (and a few other similar ones) and we haven’t figured it out. So, for now, we remain a two vehicle household.

Q10: Subscription service as gift

What do you think of giving someone a subscription to a service that delivers boxes of goodies each month? Are these good gifts?
– Tammy

I think the idea behind it is good. If you put in the time to choose a service that really matches their interest, then it’s worthwhile.

However, the vast majority of the time, the contents of the crate simply don’t add up in value to make the sticker price worth it. It just doesn’t add up.

Most of the time, you’re better off finding a hobby store that the person you love is really into and buying them a gift certificate to that hobby store. Figure out what they like, figure out a really good retailer that caters to that hobby with really good prices, and give them a gift certificate to that store equal to what you would have spent on the crate subscription. The recipient will then get a lot of stuff he or she really wants from that certificate rather than the mixed bag that comes in a crate.

Q11: Roth TSP or normal TSP?

I am a federal employee and want to start contributing to my TSP but I do not understand the difference between Roth TSP and regular TSP. The guy at work that tried to explain it just left me more confused. Which one should I pick?
– Brenda

So, you’ve gathered that TSP is the Thrift Savings Plan, which is a program for government employees to put aside money for their retirement. The way both TSP plans work is that they take money directly out of your paycheck and put it into your TSP account. Once it’s in there, there are restrictions on how you can use it, but in general, if you wait until retirement, you can use it more or less however you wish.

To understand the difference between the two, you need to step back and think about your paycheck before TSP. As it is now, you get paid a certain amount, income taxes are taken out of that amount, and you receive a paycheck after those taxes are removed.

With a traditional TSP plan, you get paid a certain amount, then the TSP money is taken out, THEN taxes are taken out, then you receive a check out of what’s left.

With a Roth TSP plan, you get paid a certain amount, then taxes are taken out, THEN your money for your Roth TSP is taken out, then you receive a check out of what’s left.

Imagine, for example, that you’re paying 20% of your salary in income taxes and you’re contributing $100 per paycheck to your TSP plan. You make $1,000 per paycheck before anything is taken out.

With a traditional TSP, you get paid $1,000, you put $100 of that into TSP leaving you with $900, and then you pay 20% income tax on that $900, which is $180. You thus bring home $720 each paycheck.

With a Roth TSP, you get paid $1,000, you pay 20% income tax on that $1,000, which is $200, which leaves you with $800. You then put $100 into your Roth TSP, which means you bring home $700 each paycheck.

So why would a person ever use the Roth TSP? Well, the Roth TSP has a really big advantage when you retire: the money you take out of that account is tax free. You don’t have to pay income taxes on it in retirement. On the other hand, when you take money out of your regular TSP in retirement, you will have to pay income taxes on that money.

Which is better? It depends really on how flush you expect your retirement to be. If you’re young and plan on contributing for a lot of years, having at least some of your money in the Roth TSP is a good idea. If you’re older and won’t have a whole lot of years to contribute and don’t have other retirement savings, then you won’t save much in retirement with a Roth TSP and the other way is the right way to go.

Honestly, though, the fact that you’re saving at all blows away the relative advantages of each plan. One might cost you a little more than the other in taxes over the course of your life, but the difference won’t be enormous unless you’re saving a ton of money.

With all else being equal, I tend to lean toward the Roth option, simply because I don’t believe tax rates will remain this low forever and I’d rather pay lower rates now. I believe rates will go up, and thus they’ll be higher in retirement, and I’ll be glad to have money in a Roth so I won’t have to pay it then.

Q12: Basics of learning about money

Where should a person go to learn the basics about money? Like how to invest money and how to plan ahead for the future?
– Terry

If you’re looking for a good starting point, I’d suggest one of several personal finance books out there. My own book, The Simple Dollar, is one good entry point. It’s kind of a mix of memoir and personal finance advice.

For my own self-education on money, the most valuable books I picked up were Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin, The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey, and The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, and Michael LeBoeuf.

You can get any of those books at your local library for free. Just head down there, get a library card if you don’t have one, and borrow them for a few weeks! If you find one is really useful as a reference, then consider buying it!

For online reading, a great place to start would be my own book-length series, 31 Days to Financial Independence, which is entirely free.

Got any questions? The best way to ask is to follow me on Facebook and ask questions directly there. I’ll attempt to answer them in a future mailbag (which, by way of full disclosure, may also get re-posted on other websites that pick up my blog). However, I do receive many, many questions per week, so I may not necessarily be able to answer yours.

The post Questions About Moving, Apartment Babies, Weight Loss, Denim, and More! appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

The Truth About Dollar Cost Averaging

May. 29th, 2017 10:00 am
[syndicated profile] thesimpledollar_feed

Posted by Matt Becker

Dollar cost averaging is a popular investment strategy that usually gets even more popular in environments like this, where all-time market highs and political uncertainty have people worried that the next big stock market crash could be just around the corner.

And while dollar cost averaging can absolutely be a good way to ease yourself into the market, it’s a strategy whose benefits are often oversold and misunderstood.

In this post we’ll explore exactly what dollar cost averaging is, what the benefits and downsides are, and what alternatives you have so that you can make the right decision for your situation.

What Is Dollar Cost Averaging?

Dollar cost averaging is the practice of investing your money a little bit at a time instead of all at once.

Let’s say that you just received your bonus and you have $4,800 that you’d like to invest for the long term. You could invest it all right away, or you could dollar cost average by investing, say, $400 per month over the course of a year.

Why would you do the latter? The idea behind dollar cost averaging is two-fold:

  1. You reduce the risk that a market crash in the near future would affect all of your money.
  2. By investing the same amount every month, you automatically buy more shares when the market is down and fewer when the market is up. This is the “buy low” half of the “buy low, sell high” strategy and could, theoretically, improve your returns — though we’ll largely debunk this theory below.

To be clear, this is not the same as making a consistent contribution each month or every time you receive your paycheck. That’s a good practice, but it’s technically not dollar cost averaging because you are actually investing all of the money you have available to save as soon as it’s available.

Dollar cost averaging is really for situations like receiving a bonus or inheritance, or wanting to move money from a savings account to an investment account. Rather than investing some of your income as you receive it, these situations give you an unexpected sum of money that you have to decide what to do with.

The Benefits of Dollar Cost Averaging

There are two big arguments you’ll hear in favor of dollar cost averaging, one of which is truer than the other.

1. It Reduces Risk

Dollar cost averaging reduces your investment risk, which is the main benefit. By keeping some of your money out of the market for some period of time, your overall investment strategy is temporarily more conservative and less susceptible to a market crash.

There are other ways to reduce risk, which we’ll get into below, but the real reason this matters is because this reduced risk can make it emotionally easier to start investing. And since investing is such an important part of building long-term wealth, anything that helps you start is worth a look.

2. You Buy Low

Some proponents of dollar cost averaging argue that it can actually increase your returns. Because you contribute a pre-defined amount of money at pre-defined intervals, you will automatically buy more shares when the stock market is down and fewer when the market is up. Which means that you should get better bang for your buck.

This is partially true. Dollar cost averaging does cause you to buy more shares when the market is down, and it can lead to better returns in a declining market. But as you’ll see in the next section, this isn’t the expected outcome.

The Downsides of Dollar Cost Averaging

While dollar cost averaging does reduce your investment risk, there are a few downsides to consider before jumping in.

1. Lower Expected Returns

Almost every investment decision involves a trade-off between risk and return. If you want the chance at better returns, you have to accept a larger risk of not receiving them.

The same is true with dollar cost averaging. Although it can lead to better returns in some cases, most of the time the reduced risk comes with reduced returns.

The reason is simply that the stock market goes up more often than it goes down. So by investing your money in little bits over time instead of investing it all at once, your odds of missing out on gains are greater than your odds of avoiding losses. According to a 2012 Vanguard study, investing all of your money at once would historically have produced better returns than dollar cost averaging about 66% of the time.

Nothing is guaranteed, but the fact of the matter is that dollar cost averaging will typically lead to lower returns in exchange for less risk.

2. Straying from Your Plan

One of the biggest pieces of your investment plan is your asset allocation, which is essentially how you choose to divide your money between high-risk, high-return investments like stocks and low-risk, low-return investments like bonds.

Your asset allocation is the primary way you can manage your expected risk and return, and you should choose your asset allocation knowing ahead of time that you will occasionally lose money in down markets. The big question is how much you’re willing to lose at any one time. The less you’re willing to lose, the more conservative your asset allocation should be.

Whatever you decide, dollar cost averaging by definition causes you to stray from that asset allocation plan. By temporarily keeping some of your money in cash, you are temporarily investing in a portfolio that is more conservative than you originally decided was appropriate based on your needs and appetite for risk.

So if you don’t feel comfortable investing your money all at once, it’s possible that the real problem is that you’ve chosen an asset allocation that’s more aggressive than it should be. If that’s the case, the solution may simply be to invest your money all at once into an asset allocation that’s more conservative, and therefore less susceptible to a market crash.

3. Complexity

Finally, dollar cost averaging makes your life more complicated. Setting up and monitoring periodic contributions takes more work and more time than investing your money all at once.

And again, if you could accomplish the same end goal simply by choosing a more conservative asset allocation, it might be worth doing so simply to make your life easier.

Should You Dollar Cost Average?

With all of that background, the big question is this: should you dollar cost average or invest your money all at once?

Here’s my take:

  1. The most important thing, by far, is to save money and stay invested for the long term. If dollar cost averaging helps you do that with less anxiety, then go for it.
  2. From a purely analytical standpoint, it’s typically more efficient to invest your money all at once into an appropriate asset allocation. If pure rationality is what gets you going, that may be the better approach.

Matt Becker, CFP® is a fee-only financial planner and the founder of Mom and Dad Money, where he helps new parents take control of their money so they can take care of their families. His free book, The New Family Financial Road Map, guides parents through the all most important financial decisions that come with starting a family.

The post The Truth About Dollar Cost Averaging appeared first on The Simple Dollar.

What makes you switch your ways?

May. 29th, 2017 04:00 pm
[syndicated profile] unclutterer_feed

Posted by Alex Fayle

For a business course I’ve been taking on change management, I’ve recently read the book, Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It was published back in 2010 and Erin talks about it briefly in relation to a video interview with one of the authors.

Although the book is seven years old, its content is 100% current and presented me with a whole new way of creating change — not just at work but also in my life in general.

The Heath brothers tell us to forget about the reward-punishment dichotomy of the carrot-stick approach to change.

For real lasting change to occur, it needs to be appealing on three levels:

  • It needs to make sense.
  • It needs to resonate emotionally.
  • And it needs to be clearly articulated and have easy-to-implement steps.

They talk about these three points using the analogy of trying to ride an elephant. Logic (the Rider) can only go so far in directing the change. Emotion (the Elephant) is a much stronger element and can’t be forced to go where it doesn’t want to. And finally, if the path isn’t easy, neither the Rider nor the Elephant are going to want to make the change in direction.

As I said, the book opened my eyes to a new way of managing and encouraging change, but as with all methods, you need to take into account your audience. In a work situation, I didn’t do that and had to twist and turn to avoid a staffing disaster.

I’ve been trying to convince staff to adopt a new program, and was facing resistance. After reading Switch, I realized I was neither appealing to the Elephant nor making the path easy. So, armed with a hugely motivating presentation, I held a staff meeting where I was going to do a bang-up job of getting staff excited about the program before diving into the details of how we could all work together to make the transition easier and better for everyone.

Unfortunately, one staff member hates emotional appeals — I mean, despises them! He sees red whenever anything “motivational” floats before his eyes. From the first slide in the presentation, he turned confrontational and spent the rest of the hour-long meeting arguing against something that logically he and I have agreed upon as necessary and practical.

The next day, he and I spoke and we agreed that in the future, any time that I plan on motivating staff, he will be excused from the meeting and I will send him an email logically extolling the virtues of whatever change I am proposing to the rest of the staff.

Although it was an intensely frustrating hour, I learned a great deal from the confrontation, the main point of which is that when you are discussing change with anyone, you need to know what will best appeal to them.

If you want to change teenage behaviour at home, for example, neither logical nor emotional appeals will likely work very well. You need to make the change easier than not changing at all.

No matter your approach, however, if you are looking to make any sort of change in your personal or work life, I highly recommend reading Switch before embarking on the journey.

Post written by Alex Fayle

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Posted by Marta Yamamoto

Save Mount Diablo’s mantra is preserve, defend, restore and enjoy. Through this the group has been working to preserve, defend and restore natural lands on Mount Diablo since the organization’s founding in 1971.

Only half Mount Diablo’s wild lands are preserved, the other half is threatened by development, signaling the loss of wildlife corridors, ecosystems and opportunities for recreation.

The organization uses several tools, both acquiring land directly and working with other agencies to acquire land. Every week it tracks 50 different planning agendas and responds to development threat, actually preserving more land through the development planning process than through direct acquisition. Meanwhile, its Discover Mount Diablo hike program encourages people to see firsthand the beauty of places that could be lost to development.

Antioch’s Sand Creek Focus Area has been on its radar for quite awhile. The city is considering 4,000 units in that four-square-mile-area, one of the largest developments in the Bay Area, and one that could cause decreased property values, neighborhood traffic and congestion, stretched police and fire services and destruction of nearby hills, watersheds and wildlife, with limited water supplies lost forever.

A development known as “The Ranch” would build more than 1,000 units, about one-third of the approximately 4,000 housing units that the Sand Creek Focus Area Land Use Plan would allow.

“That is too much and would dramatically affect the spectacular open space there, Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve and a new park that most people are not even aware of that isn’t open yet but already includes 3,000 acres, called Dear Valley Regional Preserve,” said Seth Adams, Save Mount Diablo Land Conservation director.

The organization, also responding to development applications in the Brentwood area and Pittsburg, described East County as ground zero for development threat for the entire Bay Area.

“Greenbelt Alliance just released its most up-to-date, at-risk report of how much land is at risk in the Bay Area,” he said. “Contra Costa leads both in terms of total acres at risk as well as total acres at critical risk and almost all of that is in East County.”

Save Mount Diablo’s main approach is to help educate the public about what is going on and show them how to get involved. Every other week an E-Blast is sent out describing what is going on with land projects, development projects and sponsored recreational opportunities.

Community Facebook pages are created for specific campaigns, such as organizing to Stop The Ranch development and Save Sand Creek from the 4,000 housing units proposed in southeast Antioch.

Agreeing strongly with John Muir who believed “take people out and show them what’s at stake,” Save Mount Diablo organizes and leads hikes every week to a variety of destinations, some open to the public, some in areas protected by Save Mount Diablo and many to places that people can’t normally go.

On Sunday,  a three-mile hike along Sand Creek will make evident how development plans threaten four-square miles of hills, creek, grassland and resident wildlife.

“People who come on the walk will see that the area’s absolutely spectacular. Antioch should work to protect open space and agricultural land, not to just keep spreading out,” Adams said. “We’ll collect names and show people what’s going on. That’s really how we win these battles, we show enough people what’s at stake and generally they’re on our side.”

Audible guides for self-guided hikes are described as invitations to adventure. Each can be downloaded or watched online and include multiple short segments with naturalists describing the history and natural history of a location, there are photos to identify wildlife and descriptions of stops along the trail.

“The whole idea was to create something similar to what you’d hear at a museum with an expert describing what you’re seeing,” he said. “You can literally use it to take a hike following the directions in the guide or you can just learn about the place before you go there.”

At present East County residents can enjoy guides for Round Valley and Los Vaqueros, with Black Diamond Mines in the works.

The Round Valley Regional Preserve 15-part audible guide describes the grassland’s history and habitat of secluded meadows. Aside from being, for Adams, ‘the most beautiful valley in the East Bay,” Round Valley is a shining example of how the work of Save Mount Diablo pays off.

“Round Valley was proposed as a land fill so there’s this amazing history of our work to preserve these kinds of areas and make them available to the public,” he said.


Sources

For more on Save Mount Diablo, go to www.savemountdiablo.org/index.html.

Sign up for E-Blast: https://visitor.r20.constantcontact.com/manage/optin?v=001kGlTg99yfXU_CwEJN0HzOR8t25OrhjvLcnMP-1_htqG_VOkaE7VM50IpJdMM_ZLb26nOqBESkiJ2PLyYzdcp1CpfnGnoabEnR2-4SQ1lugE%3D

Save Sand Creek Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/antiochsavesandcreekandstoptheranch/?hc_ref=PAGES_TIMELINE&fref=nf

Discover Mount Diablo hike schedule: http://www.savemountdiablo.org/Activities_HikeSchedule.htm.

Sand Creek Hike:  June 4, 9 a.m. to noon. Free, must register on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/967077683395212/.

Audible guides: http://www.savemountdiablo.org/activities_hikes.html#hikes_audible.

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_local_feed

Posted by E. Paul Baca

A stolen car chase by the Vacaville Police Department early Monday morning that ended on the Nut Tree Road overpass just north of Orange Drive escalated into a deadly shooting of a suspect and the non-life threatening injury of an officer on scene.

According to a Facebook post by Vacaville Police, at 12:38 a.m. on Monday, an officer was traveling behind a white Honda Accord that had been reported stolen out of Davis. The officer followed the vehicle onto eastbound Interstate 80 and waited for an additional officer to assist with a stop of the stolen car.

Two additional Vacaville officers arrived to assist and tried to stop the car by turning on their lights and sirens. The stolen car did not stop and a chase ensued. The car took the Leisure Town Road offramp and then turned onto Orange Drive. Police said the officers performed a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) and that it had been successful.

The pursuit concluded on the Nut Tree Road overpass, just north of Orange Drive. Shortly after this transmission, officers broadcast that shots were fired. According to the Vacaville Police, two officers fired their guns. The adult man driving the stolen car was struck by gunfire.

Life saving measures were performed but the man died at the on scene, police said. There were no other occupants in the car. An officer was transported by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Police said the officer has since been released and suffered from a minor injury sustained during this incident. They did not elaborate on the type of injury.

Detectives remained on scene for several hours after the incident in conjunction with the Investigators from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, looking into what led to the incident.

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_local_feed

Posted by George Avalos

SUNNYVALE — Real-Time Innovations aims to do more than jump into the emerging world of the internet of things. It has devised software that enables companies and other organizations to connect industrial, transportation, medical and energy devices so they can communicate with each other and operate more efficiently.

Sunnyvale-based RTI expects to grow its sales to more than $30 million in 2017 from more than $25 million in 2016.

This newspaper recently interviewed Stan Schneider, chief executive officer of Real-Time Innovations, to discuss RTI’s role in the internet of things.

Q: How does your company fit into the internet of things?

A: RTI is in the industrial side of the internet of things. The industrial side of IoT is a new infrastructure for how the planet runs. We provide software to assist with the improvement of IoT.

Q: What does your software do to support this infrastructure?

A: It allows speedier connections between systems that are out there. Our software adds intelligence to the system.

Q: What is RTI doing as a company, or you as an executive, to improve how things work in the internet of things?

A: We are very involved in a new consortium called Open Fog. We have jumped into the guidance leadership of the internet of things. We are looking at really making improvements in robotics, factory systems, avionics and more. We are the largest company selling a connectivity framework, a way to hook things together. It’s a very exciting world.

Q: What are some of the industry sectors in which you’re most active?

A: Autonomous cars, planes, trains. Renewable energy systems. We are very active in transportation, the medical space and hospital instruments. We are enabling connected medical devices. You go into a hospital, and you see a respirator, an incubator, EKG machine, and so forth. They are currently not connected with each other in a way that makes them work intelligently. Our software can be used by transportation systems to find all the cars within 200 yards of an intersection as a way of enabling autonomous driving.

Q: Are IoT technologies getting to a critical mass now?

A: All the analysts agree on only one thing about the future of the internet of things: The number, the value of this market, will eventually be in the trillions of dollars. We are not anywhere near that today. Some serious investments are going on. New projects are taking off. And most of them are being driven by some compelling needs.

Q: How do things look in the medical sector?

A: We are really working on getting medical devices and systems to talk to each other. After heart disease and cancer, medical errors are the third leading cause of death. We are trying to help medical professionals not make as many mistakes. It’s the same principle as computer systems being able to make vehicles safer.

Q: What sort of opportunities do you see in the energy field?

A: One of our big goals is to make green energy really more practical. Look at a solar panel. Solar panels on a house do produce electricity that can be put on the grid. But the utility really can’t use that electricity easily. Our software makes these electricity devices more intelligent. We believe we can make the electricity generated by residents through solar more predictable. It can’t just randomly be thrown on the grid.

Q: Which power companies are using your software for energy applications?

A: It is being tested by Duke Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratories in Tennessee, and others.

Q: What will be needed for your technology to really take off in the energy field?

A: Commercial deployment requires complete re-design of the nation’s power grid. This will create a lot of jobs and a huge economic boom.

Q: What is happening in autonomous vehicles? How would your software enable vehicles to operate better?

A: Vehicles in the future will free people from driving. It will purge deaths from highway accidents. About 35,000 people a year died in auto accidents in 2016. That number will go down dramatically. We can get rid of the entire auto insurance industry. Roadside motels will go away. These technologies will make real estate that is far away from cities more valuable. We can get rid of most of the parking structures and parking lots.

Q: What would be some practical example of how this would work, using your software?

A: It would be like an Uber or Lyft service. The car picks you up, drops you off, then goes and picks up someone else, or goes back home. Then when you or someone else needs it, the car comes back for you or the other person.

Q: How is the growth of the internet of things affecting your company?

A: We are hiring aggressively. Not just in Sunnyvale, but all over the world, we are hiring especially sales people and service engineers.

Q: What are your sales numbers?

A: More than $25 million last year, and we are anticipating more than $30 million in sales this year.

Q: How many employees do you have now?

A: Considerably over 100 now.

Q: What kind of venture funding have you obtained?

A: We are a Silicon Valley anomaly. We don’t have external capital, and we are not seeking external capital. We got a good capital infusion from the previous sale of a company.

Q: How can you make sure that your software doesn’t allow cars to get hacked?

A: RTI is very much a security company in addition to everything we do. Our systems will be very hard to hack. We have a security test bed being built outside of Chicago that is designed to specifically answer that question. The attention to security is orders upon orders of magnitude greater today than it was in recent years.

Q: Will IoT really be a game changer?

A: We are just scratching the surface. Because of the internet of things, the world will be unrecognizable 40 years from now.


STAN SCHNEIDER

Company: Real-Time Innovations.

Job: Chief Executive Officer.

Age: 59.

Birthplace: Ann Arbor, Mich., but raised in Grand Rapids, Mich.

Residence: Sunnyvale.

Education: University of Michigan, B.S. Applied Math and Physics; M.S. Computer Engineering. Stanford University, Ph.D. Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences.

Family: Married for more than 30 years. Four children.


FIVE THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT STAN SCHNEIDER

A Favorite Quote: “There is no mistake so great as that of being always right.” — Samuel Butler

Favorite Books: “Ender’s Game,” “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “Selling the Wheel” and “All the Light We Cannot See.”

First Job: Washing dishes on the Friday and Saturday graveyard shift at The Golden Ladle.

Start to Engineering Career: Crashing cars at a University of Michigan laboratory.

Bill Gates connection: He was one of Gates’s early customers because he led a project building a BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) when MS-DOS, the original Microsoft operating system, was introduced in August 1981.

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_local_feed

Posted by Joan Morris

DEAR JOAN: I am a working senior citizen who has raised many cats through most of my adulthood. They were all healthy and happy.

Then I took four feral cats off the street when they were kittens. Three are from the same litter, the other shares a mother. We had a serious flea problem a few years ago but it was taken care of.

Slowly over the past year, three of the four have chewed off most of their hair and are scratching themselves bloody. Over the last few months, they are all licking the cinder block bricks that surround their sandbox.

These cats were not handled as kittens because they were wild. When I try to bathe them or give medications, they are all jaws and claws.

I took one to a vet last year and it cost $400 and I cannot afford another trip to the vet. I am on a budget that does not allow for extras and no vet in my area will work with me on costs.

Why are they licking the cinder block bricks? I feed Purina Pro Plan Focus Sensitive Skin and Stomach lamb and rice dry kibble. Is there a better dry food to feed?

Why are these feral cats so much harder to deal with, health-wise, than my other cats? They are strictly indoor cats.

Linda Parker-Fedak, San Leandro

DEAR LINDA: Believe me when I say that I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet, but providing health care for pets should never be an “extra.” These cats are suffering and they need to be seen by a vet.

Try calling rescue groups in your area to see if they can recommend a vet that will work with you on fees. Some groups also have emergency funds to help low-income folks pay for vet care. They might be able to help you, too.

Only a vet can give you an explanation for your cats’ behavior, but generally speaking scratching typically is either an insect problem, an allergy or stress. Licking the cinder blocks is a good indication it’s a nutrition or food problem. They could have an allergy to something in the food, and they are licking the blocks because their bodies are craving a mineral missing in their diets.

That’s not to blame you or the food. Some cats, like humans, just have allergies or an intolerance for grains, corn or gluten.

While waiting for an appointment with the vet, changing food might help. It should be done gradually by slowly mixing in more of the new food while adding in less of the old. Talk to the folks at your local pet food store for recommendations.

I don’t think the fact that the cats were feral is to blame for their difficulties. These things can be common even in purebred cats.

Good luck to you. I really hope you’ll be able to get them treatment.

Get more pet and wildlife news delivered to your inbox for free on weekdays.

Sign up for our Coffee Break newsletter here.

DEAR JOAN: What can be done about very large black birds hovering in my neighborhood, leaving poop over our cars and sidewalks and eating at our roofs?

Cathie G., Bay Area

DEAR CATHIE: The bird — I’m assuming crows — are a part of the urban and suburban landscape, and it’s difficult to discourage them when they are so widespread.

They likely are attracted to your neighborhood by the presence of food and habitat. You can try hanging foil balloons and streamers in the trees, removing bird feeders, and playing recordings of bird distress calls.

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Posted by Gary Peterson

Kate Kelly will tell you she is not the story here. She insists the veterans — 93 and counting — whose oral histories she has documented are the stars of the show. Being anointed Mother of the Modern Memorial Day is unlikely to be the highlight of her holiday.

But hey, facts are facts. Here’s one: Kelly and her husband, Kevin, were still settling into Pleasanton’s Stoneridge Creek senior living community when they attended a Veterans Day program. Vets were asked to raise their hands by branch — Navy, Army, Marines, Air Force. “I realized, that’s a lot of hands,” Kelly, 66, said.

The show of hands, plus a display of veterans-themed storyboards in the community center, inspired her to “get some of these stories.” Another fact: Three years later, Kelly has several meticulously organized binders for her efforts. In compiling the personal stories of veterans in her community — she calls the project Stoneridge Creek Served — she has put a twist on the concept of Memorial Day.

Unofficially observed for more than a century, Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, honoring those who died while serving in our military. Forty-six years after the holiday’s official designation and nearly 77 years after V-J Day, those who memorialized service members killed in World War II are themselves being memorialized. Same with the Korean War, which ended nearly 64 years ago. The United States pulled out of Vietnam 42 years ago, if you can believe that.

By compiling these oral histories, which include photos, documents and signed letters from U.S. presidents, Kelly, the daughter of a career Navy officer, is essentially rebranding Memorial Day. It’s not just names and faces she wants preserved in our national mind’s eye, but essential chunks of our history and the tenor of those times. Which is why she includes in each veteran’s history “what the fashion was like. What were the movies of that period?” she asked. “What books were people reading? Who were the stars? What were cars like?”

Some veterans Kelly runs across consider their service mundane, unimportant. They don’t get a pass. The more details and slices of life the better.

“That’s what I face all the time with my boys,” she said. “They feel that if they didn’t undergo something horrendous, something traumatic, that they didn’t do anything. This is not about whether you were in combat. This is not whether you were shot at, or whether you were a war hero. It’s answering your country’s call when your country needed you.”

In the case of William Crain, 87, he felt the call so strongly that he joined the Army Air Forces (later the U.S. Air Force) the day after his high school graduation in 1947. A teenager who had “never been outside Duluth, Minnesota,” he soon found himself in Europe and North Africa, places “I had studied in a geography book in grade school or high school.”

“I think it’ll be interesting to my children,” he said of his binder. “My dad was in World War I. I never knew a thing about what he did. He just never talked about it, and we never asked questions.”

Dick Sovish, 92, served in the Army in World War II. “You have to tell the children what happened in World War II,” he said, “what the war was like so they know what their freedom is. That’s the way I feel.”

Phil Wire, 90, served on the USS Independence from 1944-46 and lauds the project, given that “a lot of people today don’t know anything about World War II. So it’s nice that they’re doing it.”

Interestingly, the reluctance of Wire and Crain’s father to talk about their experiences is partially responsible for the history void that Kelly is trying to fill.

“I guess during my marriage I never talked much about it,” Wire said. “There were other things going on. There didn’t seem to be any interest.”

Margaret (Peg) Crystal, 95, who taught instrument flight procedure to American, French and British student pilots during World War II, has her doubts.

“It’s interesting to preserve this,” she said, adding with a laugh, “though I can’t say that my kids ask me very many questions.”

Kelly is undeterred. She started interviewing the World War II veterans “because they’re our oldest.” She now is focusing on Korean War vets. There are Cold War and Vietnam War veterans at Stoneridge Creek as well. Kelly says more than 20 percent of residents there served in the military.

“There’s so much in these binders that you’ll never read in history books,” she said. “Every single person in there has his own unique view of those times. And those times are gone. So if we don’t (document) them, they’ll always be gone.”

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_local_feed

Posted by Tatiana Sanchez

Since her untimely death in 2004, the legacy of world-renowned Chinese-American author Iris Chang has lived on in the pages of her bestseller, “The Rape of Nanking.” But now that legacy has also found a home in a museum in China dedicated to her work.

Chang, a San Jose resident, took her own life in Los Gatos at age 36. Her book is internationally recognized as the most detailed Western account of the 1937 Nanking massacre, when the Japanese army brutalized thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The elegant memorial hall honoring Chang opened last month in her ancestral home of Huai’an, Jiangsu province. Construction took two years, according to her mother, Ying-Ying Chang, a retired microbiology researcher who lives in San Jose.

Chang remembers her daughter as a diligent and passionate person who never gave up in her quest for the truth and the pursuit of social justice.

Shau-Jin Chang looks at a bust of his late daughter, Iris Chang, in the archive library at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Shau-Jin Chang looks at a bust of his late daughter, Iris Chang, in the archive library at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. 

“That really inspired me,” the author’s mother said. “And these are the things I hope inspire other people.”

Through the museum, she added, “I hope people will know who Iris was and why we memorialize her and what she did.”

Ying-Ying Chang and her husband, Shau-Jin, a retired physics professor, donated more than 100 pieces for the museum — everything from their daughter’s old books and letters to her clothing. The memorial is divided into six parts, each depicting a different aspect of Chang’s life. Designed by architect Qi Kang, the building’s exterior follows the style of China’s ancient Han Dynasty, according to her mother. It’s the first memorial to honor the late author and the second to commemorate the Nanking massacre.

Though Iris Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey, she was deeply curious about Chinese history, according to her mother. She made trips to China to do research for her book and to interview elderly survivors of the massacre.

She also spent a significant portion of her career educating others about what took place during the Rape of Nanking and defiantly called on the Japanese to acknowledge the attack.

“I want the Rape of Nanking to penetrate into public consciousness,” Iris Chang said in a 1998 radio interview during a national book tour. “Unless we truly understand how these atrocities can happen, we can’t be certain that it won’t happen again.”

During the massacre — dubbed “the Forgotten Holocaust” — an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians were bayoneted, machine-gunned or burned alive. Japanese troops raped tens of thousands of women and girls.

But the horrors did not begin and end there, scholars say. From the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 until their surrender in 1945, Japan engaged in germ warfare, slave labor, mass rapes and dissection of live bodies for medical research. Some scholars say 15 million Chinese died as the direct result of Japan’s invasion.

A significant movement among the Chinese to get Japan to apologize for World War II and the Nanking massacre has centered around Silicon Valley for decades. Chinese immigrants in the valley in the early 1990s founded the Cupertino-based Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War, sparking a first-of-its kind campaign to make the world aware of what happened during Japan’s 14-year occupation of China.

As part of an exhibit at Stanford's Hoover Institution in 2009, a video played continuously of an interview Iris Chang gave to a Canadian TV reporter. Chang's parents, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin Chang, watched as they toured the exhibit, titled "Shattered Peace: The Road to World War II."
As part of an exhibit at Stanford’s Hoover Institution in 2009, a video played continuously of an interview Iris Chang gave to a Canadian TV reporter. Chang’s parents, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin Chang, watched as they toured the exhibit, titled “Shattered Peace: The Road to World War II.” 

The Japanese government has never formally apologized for the war.

During a joint visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama in December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the victims but did not apologize.

The issue has been an uncomfortable one for some Japanese-Americans. As a state assemblyman in 1999, Mike Honda, a San Jose Democrat and former congressman who had spent the war years as a child in a U.S. internment camp for people of Japanese ancestry, won approval of a resolution calling on the Japanese government to say it was sorry for wartime atrocities.

But although Honda drew careful distinctions between modern-day Japan and the aggressor of the 1930s and 1940s, his resolution was opposed by fellow Democrat George Nakano, an assemblyman from Torrance who felt it was divisive and would foster ill will toward Japanese-Americans.

Ignatius Ding, a close friend of Iris Chang and a founder of the Cupertino-based Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia, worked with Chinese officials to design the museum.

Chang, he said, inspired the Chinese to become more open-minded, helping to create the more “open society” that exists in the country today.

“That’s a major, major thing,” he said. “The fact that they created a memorial for her, in her name … that never happens.”

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Posted by E. Paul Baca

A stolen car chase by the Vacaville Police Department early Monday morning that ended on the Nut Tree Road overpass just north of Orange Drive escalated into a deadly shooting of a suspect and the non-life threatening injury of an officer on scene.

According to a Facebook post by Vacaville Police, at 12:38 a.m. on Monday, an officer was traveling behind a white Honda Accord that had been reported stolen out of Davis. The officer followed the vehicle onto eastbound Interstate 80 and waited for an additional officer to assist with a stop of the stolen car.

Two additional Vacaville officers arrived to assist and tried to stop the car by turning on their lights and sirens. The stolen car did not stop and a chase ensued. The car took the Leisure Town Road offramp and then turned onto Orange Drive. Police said the officers performed a Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) and that it had been successful.

The pursuit concluded on the Nut Tree Road overpass, just north of Orange Drive. Shortly after this transmission, officers broadcast that shots were fired. According to the Vacaville Police, two officers fired their guns. The adult man driving the stolen car was struck by gunfire.

Life saving measures were performed but the man died at the on scene, police said. There were no other occupants in the car. An officer was transported by ambulance to a local hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries. Police said the officer has since been released and suffered from a minor injury sustained during this incident. They did not elaborate on the type of injury.

Detectives remained on scene for several hours after the incident in conjunction with the Investigators from the Solano County District Attorney’s Office, looking into what led to the incident.

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_ca_feed

Posted by Tatiana Sanchez

Since her untimely death in 2004, the legacy of world-renowned Chinese-American author Iris Chang has lived on in the pages of her bestseller, “The Rape of Nanking.” But now that legacy has also found a home in a museum in China dedicated to her work.

Chang, a San Jose resident, took her own life in Los Gatos at age 36. Her novel is internationally recognized as the most detailed Western account of the 1937 Nanking massacre, when the Japanese army brutalized thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

The elegant memorial hall honoring Chang opened last month in her ancestral home of Huai’an, Jiangsu province. Construction took two years, according to her mother, Ying-Ying Chang, a retired microbiology researcher who lives in San Jose.

Chang remembers her daughter as a diligent and passionate person who never gave up in her quest for the truth and the pursuit of social justice.

Shau-Jin Chang looks at a bust of his late daughter, Iris Chang, in the archive library at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
Shau-Jin Chang looks at a bust of his late daughter, Iris Chang, in the archive library at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. 

“That really inspired me,” the author’s mother said. “And these are the things I hope inspire other people.”

Through the museum, she added, “I hope people will know who Iris was and why we memorialize her and what she did.”

Ying-Ying Chang and her husband, Shau-Jin, a retired physics professor, donated more than 100 pieces for the museum — everything from their daughter’s old books and letters to her clothing. The memorial is divided into six parts, each depicting a different aspect of Chang’s life. Designed by architect Qi Kang, the building’s exterior follows the style of China’s ancient Han Dynasty, according to her mother. It’s the first memorial to honor the late author and the second to commemorate the Nanking massacre.

Though Iris Chang was born in Princeton, New Jersey, she was deeply curious about Chinese history, according to her mother. She made trips to China to do research for her novel and to interview elderly survivors of the massacre.

She also spent a significant portion of her career educating others about what took place during the Rape of Nanking and defiantly called on the Japanese to acknowledge the attack.

“I want the Rape of Nanking to penetrate into public consciousness,” Iris Chang said in a 1998 radio interview during a national book tour. “Unless we truly understand how these atrocities can happen, we can’t be certain that it won’t happen again.”

During the massacre — dubbed “the Forgotten Holocaust” — an estimated 300,000 Chinese civilians were bayoneted, machine-gunned or burned alive. Japanese troops raped tens of thousands of women and girls.

But the horrors did not begin and end there, scholars say. From the invasion of Manchuria in 1931 until their surrender in 1945, Japan engaged in germ warfare, slave labor, mass rapes and dissection of live bodies for medical research. Some scholars say 15 million Chinese died as the direct result of Japan’s invasion.

A significant movement among the Chinese to get Japan to apologize for World War II and the Nanking massacre has centered around Silicon Valley for decades. Chinese immigrants in the valley in the early 1990s founded the Cupertino-based Alliance for Preserving the Truth of the Sino-Japanese War, sparking a first-of-its kind campaign to make the world aware of what happened during Japan’s 14-year occupation of China.

As part of an exhibit at Stanford's Hoover Institution in 2009, a video played continuously of an interview Iris Chang gave to a Canadian TV reporter. Chang's parents, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin Chang, watched as they toured the exhibit, titled "Shattered Peace: The Road to World War II."
As part of an exhibit at Stanford’s Hoover Institution in 2009, a video played continuously of an interview Iris Chang gave to a Canadian TV reporter. Chang’s parents, Ying-Ying and Shau-Jin Chang, watched as they toured the exhibit, titled “Shattered Peace: The Road to World War II.” 

The Japanese government has never formally apologized for the war.

During a joint visit to Pearl Harbor with President Barack Obama in December, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered “sincere and everlasting condolences” to the victims but did not apologize.

The issue has been an uncomfortable one for some Japanese-Americans. As a state assemblyman in 1999, Mike Honda, a San Jose Democrat and former congressman who had spent the war years as a child in a U.S. internment camp for people of Japanese ancestry, won approval of a resolution calling on the Japanese government to say it was sorry for wartime atrocities.

But although Honda drew careful distinctions between modern-day Japan and the aggressor of the 1930s and 1940s, his resolution was opposed by fellow Democrat George Nakano, an assemblyman from Torrance who felt it was divisive and would foster ill will toward Japanese-Americans.

Ignatius Ding, a close friend of Iris Chang and a founder of the Cupertino-based Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia, worked with Chinese officials to design the museum.

Chang, he said, inspired the Chinese to become more open-minded, helping to create the more “open society” that exists in the country today.

“That’s a major, major thing,” he said. “The fact that they created a memorial for her, in her name … that never happens.”

Vid Rec

May. 29th, 2017 05:36 pm
kat_lair: (Default)
[personal profile] kat_lair
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Harry Potter vid rec: Oh Minerva.




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truepenny: artist's rendering of Sidneyia inexpectans (Default)
[personal profile] truepenny
So apparently what I do on Mondays is write open letters to Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI).


Dear Senator Johnson:

Today is Memorial Day. To show my respect for the men and women who served--and are serving--our country bravely and honorably, I am writing you a letter I know you won't read.

Two of those men died this week for standing up against bigotry and terrorism. They were not on foreign soil and they were not combating Muslims or ISIS or any of the other bugaboos our current administration likes to shout about. They were combating white Americans. As of right now, our President, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, who has found time to tweet gloatingly about Congressman Greg Gianforte bodyslamming an unarmed journalist, has not, apparently, been able to find the time to make a public statement about Sergeant First Class Rick Best, Second Lieutenant Richard Collins III, or about the civilian who also died combating white supremacist terrorism on American soil, Taliesin Namkai-Meche.

Senator Johnson, I am appalled and disgusted. I would greatly appreciate it if I could see evidence that you are also appalled and disgusted--or at least that you condemn the actions of Sean Urbanski and Jeremy Christian. This is not a complicated issue; there are no shades of gray or subtle nuances to be explored. This is white supremacist bigotry, and it is continuing to motivate domestic terrorism as it has done for more than 150 years. (The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865. I am not exaggerating.) Sergeant Best, a white man and a veteran, did an honorable and morally right thing; he stood up against bigotry, and he died for it. Lieutenant Collins, a black man and a veteran, did the same thing and died for it. The only way we can honor their memories, and the memory of Taliesin Namkai-Meche, is to take the same stand and to turn the force and strength of the American government and the American people against the terrorists in our midst. "Thou hypocrite," said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, "first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye" (Matthew 7.5 KJV). I am old enough to remember the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. I don't know why that wasn't enough to convince Democrats and Republicans alike that a bipartisan effort to eliminate domestic terrorism was necessary, that we need to be as "tough" on white supremacists as we claim we are on foreign terrorists (by which we seem to mean Muslims), but if it wasn't enough, as it seems it was not--since white supremacism continues to flourish and, in fact, to grow--I am asking you to understand that the murders of Best, Collins, and Namkai-Meche are enough. Grassroots efforts are necessary and valiant, but they have to be echoed by those in positions of power. They have to be echoed by legislators.

Please speak up. Please advocate against domestic terrorism committed by white Americans. Please make Collins, Best, and Namkai-Meche the last people who have to die before we finally call white supremacism unacceptable and move to eradicate it. It is the beam in our eye, and we need to cast it out.

Thank you.
hananobira: (Default)
[personal profile] hananobira posting in [community profile] amplificathon


Summary:
Being in the Inquisitor's party means a lot of walking. So much walking.

Notes and Acknowledgements:
Thanks to all of my fantastic podficcers for giving me one of the easiest editing jobs I've had for months.

*****


Author: Hananobira
Readers: blackglass, daisydiversions, Kess, Opalsong, RsCreighton, SomethingIncorporeal
Fandom: Dragon Age Inquisition
Rating: Teen
Pairing: Mostly Gen with some Dorian/Bull
Warnings: None
Song/Sound Effects: "Sera Would Never (Instrumental Version)" from the DAI soundtrack
Length: 00:09:34

Paraka: MP3 (13 MB) or M4B (9 MB)
Audiofic Archive: Check back later.

carbonel: (Default)
[personal profile] carbonel
I'm doing a major catch-up on LJ, mostly of the RSS feeds I'm subscribed to, in preparation for adding all of those on DW. In the process, I'm also going to be unfriending anyone that I'm already subscribed/friended/whatever to on DW.

So if you receive a "you have been unfriended" notice from LJ, please don't take it personally. I'm posting this because I've been on the receiving end of some LJ unfriend notices, and it always gives me a bit of a pang, even when I know what's going on.
[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

Name: Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw
Location: Seattle, Washington
Size: 200 square feet
Years lived in: 1 year, owned


Natasha Lawyer and Brett Bashaw's 1971 Airstream Sovereign packs incredible style into a compact space — every inch has been thoughtfully designed and curated by the couple. Over one very eventful year of renovation and restoration, they have been able to build a home that is warm, bright, and that even boasts a feeling of loftiness, all in 200 square feet!

READ MORE »

[syndicated profile] karolynprg_tumblr_feed


when I hold you close and you see everything #hospitalglam
[#imagedescription: #tbt self portrait taken during a standing chest x-ray. I’m wearing a #hospitalgown and braided pigtails. A black transport chair is also in frame.]

[syndicated profile] tor_dot_com_feed

Posted by Michael Moreci

For most Star Wars fans, there’s one true thing that surrounds us, and binds us. Sure, we may squabble about which movie is the best and argue over who Snoke really is (it’s the angry resurrected ghost of Qui-Gon Jinn, obvs), but we all agree that there’s no such thing as too much Star Wars. But the fact is, only so much Star Wars exists. Granted, when all’s told between movies, TV shows, canon novels, non-canon novels, video games, board games, and comics, there’s a lot of content out there. But it’s already been five months since Rogue One, and a grim reality is taking hold: there’s still 200 whole days that separate us from our next cinematic Star Wars fix. And if you’ve already read/watched/consumed everything there is to consume, you’re going to need to fill your time with… something.

Well, if you can’t have Star Wars, there’s always the next best thing: stuff that’s like Star Wars! Here’s six novels that can help tide you over until The Last Jedi drops in December.

 

Behind the Throne by K.B. Wagers

throne

While the dust jacket of this novel, the first in Wagers’s Indranan War trilogy, bills it as featuring a lead character who bears similarities to Han Solo, Leia, and Rey, it still carves out its own unique own protagonist and drops her into a darn good space adventure yarn. It takes the best of the smugglers’ corner of the Star Wars universe and adds political intrigue and family drama. Wagers builds a slick and immersive world around her protagonist, an heir to the throne of a massive empire who wants nothing to do with her namesake. It rides high with a lot of twists and turns and feels like it could fold seamlessly into a corner of the Star Wars universe.

 

Emperor of the Eight Islands (The Tale of Shikanoko series) by Lian Hearn

tale

While on the surface this book doesn’t bear much similarity to Star Wars—it doesn’t take place in space, after all, and it’s not even sci-fi—but many of the elements that influenced Star Wars seep into every page of Shikanoko. It’s well known that Kurosawa’s work played a significant role in Lucas’s career, and much of the samurai tradition informed the creation of the Jedi (the word Jedi, in fact, is derived from the term jidaigeki, which is type of Japanese historical drama). Shikanoko is playing in a very similar sandbox, with a magical realism bent, as it tells the story of a young man, Shikanoko, as he pursues his destiny in the shadow of an evil emperor ruling the land. Sounds familiar, right?

 

Battlefront: Twilight Company by Alexander Freed

battlefront-twilightcompanyOkay, this one is cheating. After all, it’s a Star Wars book. But, Battlefront was a bit of a sore thumb when it was released; while the flood of other Star Wars novels released at the time focused either on content that teased The Force Awakens or featured iconic characters like Luke, Han, or Leia, Battlefront didn’t have the luxury of either. In fact, it was a tie-in to a video game that was widely criticized for not having a storyline (the Battlefront video game had no story mode). But, Freed used that freedom to his advantage, and the book is fantastic. It captures the war aesthetic of Rogue One (it’s no coincidence that its author, Alexander Freed, was tapped to write the Rogue One novelization) while delivering some truly remarkable characters that enrich that Star Wars universe in a really fresh way.

 

Fear Agent by Rick Remender, with art by Tony Moore, Jerome Opena, and others

fearagent-vol1You can basically slide nearly any book penned by Remender into this list. No one in comics is doing pulpy sci-fi/fantasy the way Remender does, and Fear Agent is the book that crystalized his unique voice and laid the groundwork for his many, many great series that followed (I would have placed his latest series, Seven to Eternity, on this list, but there’s no collected edition available yet). Basically, the series—which is complete and available in two massive hardcover collections—follow Heathrow Huston, the last remaining Fear Agent—someone who wipes out alien threats—as he gets into all kinds of adventures. The book is crazy with ideas, big on character, and never relents on inventiveness.

 

A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

A Thousand Pieces of You excerpt Claudia GrayI’ll tell you what: the current crop of Star Wars canonical novels have ranged from great to spectacular, though even with such a collection of immensely satisfying books, Claudia Gray is standing tall amongst her peers. Her two books, Lost Stars and Bloodline have managed to capture the very best of Star Wars while giving readers unique and true characterizations of new and old faces alike. Before entering the Star Wars universe, Gray already had a number of books under her belt, one of which being A Thousand Pieces of You, the first in her terrific Firebird series. Like Gray’s Star Wars work, Pieces relies on a whiplash—and surprising—plot, terrific characters, and crisp, engaging writing.

 

Consider Phlebas by Iain M. Banks

considerphlebasIf you’re looking for something that’s sci-fi but is a bit off the beaten path, just about any Banks novel is the right call. Phlebas, which is part of Banks’s Culture series, may be the most accessible of his works as it balances a fast-moving plot with thought-provoking ideas on religion, human existence, technology, and more. It’s classic space opera with a lot of meat on its bones; it’s a challenging read, but a rich and rewarding one as well.

 

This article was originally published in January 2017.

Michael Moreci is a comics writer and novelist best known for his sci-fi trilogy Roche Limit. He’s also a Star Wars obsessive, who is lucky to spend his time playing Star Wars action figures with his two sons by day and writing Star Wars-inspired stories by night. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelMoreci.

[syndicated profile] sjmerc_opinion_feed

Posted by Jordan Bruneau

Memorial Day weekend marked the unofficial start to summer. But for young jobseekers, there is nothing to celebrate.

American retailers that have traditionally staffed up in summers are closing at an unprecedented rate. More than 3,500 stores have closed already this year, with at least 10 well-known retail chains filing for bankruptcy protection. These include RadioShack, Payless Shoes, and Rue21, which plan to close more than 1,000 stores this year. Other mall regulars like American Apparel, Abercrombie & Fitch, BCBG, and Guess plan to close hundreds more.

Since last August, Macy’s, J.C. Penny, and Sears have announced they are closing nearly 400 stores, with the latter admitting it’s on the verge of bankruptcy. Because of these retailers’ outsized importance as mall anchor tenants, their pain trickles down to other nearby stores.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics tracked 26,000 job losses at traditional retail stores in February alone. Once a symbol of youth summer jobs, malls are becoming a memorial to them.

This retail apocalypse is occurring for several reasons, including the fierce competition from online retailers and a slew of state and local minimum wage increases that eliminate scant profit margins. American cities with Amazon warehouses will probably fare alright, but the rest of the country is seeing its retail jobs disappear because of them.

Even traditional summer job opportunities that aren’t in direct competition with Amazon are disappearing. Many movie theaters now use ordering kiosks. Grocery and convenience stores have self-checkout lines. And major restaurant chains like Chili’s, Applebee’s and Panera use tablet ordering systems. These are automated tasks that were once performed by a mostly young workforce.

The disappearance of these jobs is demonstrated by the data. Less than one-in-three young Americans aged 16-to-19 has a job, significantly below the historical norm.

Last year, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a report indicating that one-in-six young American men aged 18-to-34 was either jobless or incarcerated, up from one-in-ten in 1980. These negative employment numbers are especially stark given the current strong economy.

These starter jobs provide summer workers with more than just a paycheck. A growing research consensus indicates they offer a set of skills that help employees throughout their career. Research by economists at the University of Virginia and Middle Tennessee State University finds that those with early-career work experience earn 20 percent more later in their careers than those without.

At a recent speech in Washington, D.C., Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stressed the importance that early-career work experience has in protecting workers from economic downturns as well as integrating them into their communities.

A recent study in Science found that summer jobs reduce crime, adding to a body of literature illustrating this association.

What can policymakers do to help their young jobseekers? The tech and automation trends cannot be stopped. But policymakers can avoid doing more harm by opposing dramatic minimum wage proposals that would outlaw certain job arrangements and accelerate the automation of jobs.

Given that labor costs are often retailers’ biggest expense, massive starter wage increases in the $12-$15 range demanded by activists can push struggling retailers on single-digit profit margins into insolvency.

Hundreds of businesses have already been forced to cut hours, lay off employees, or close altogether in parts of the country experimenting with these wage mandates. (Specific stories can be found on Facesof15.com.)

Young jobseekers are facing a perfect storm of employment barriers this summer. Their elected representatives should avoid raising new ones with workplace mandates that weaken the already fragile first rung of the career ladder.

Jordan Bruneau is a senior research analyst at the Employment Policies Institute, which receives support from businesses, foundations, and individuals.

"Rare as a Unicorn" by Ciwu

May. 29th, 2017 04:57 pm
jadesfire: Teddy bear wearing headphones (Teddy in headphones)
[personal profile] jadesfire posting in [community profile] amplificathon
Title: Rare as a Unicorn
Author: [profile] ciwu
Reader: [personal profile] jadesfire
Length: ~11mins
Rating: T
Warnings: None
Pairings: Percy/Vex, Gen

Download link: MP3 (right-click, save-as)
Streaming: At AO3

Summary: Vox Machina argues about the nature of unicorns, debates whether or not they're worth killing, and learns some surprising information about human versions of fairy tales, as well as a little secret about their resident human.

Notes: It's a while since I did this, so I'm rusty at posting/tagging - very happy to be corrected if I messed something up :)
[syndicated profile] apartmenttherapymain_feed

I think it safe to say that, while we're probably at the height of the bed-in-a-box phenomenon, beds themselves are at an all time low, literally. Many of the popular sleep startups' mattresses don't require a boxspring, and a bunch of new bed frame designs are basically hovering just a few inches above the floor or right on top if it, a la this Lonny bedroom. So what was once the look of college crashpads is basically now high design. I'm not entirely sure how I feel about this.

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[syndicated profile] torrentfreak_feed

Posted by Andy

As recently as perhaps six years ago, there was no question over where the majority of Internet video pirates would be getting their online fix. Just as they had done for at least as many years before, BitTorrent was the go-to protocol.

While still massively popular today to the tune of scores of millions of daily users, torrent consumption has been tempered in recent years by the rise of streaming platforms. These sites, with their glossy indexes and YouTube-like interfaces, grant easy access to a wide range of movies and TV shows, almost as quickly as their torrent counterparts.

So why, when these streaming services are so easy to use, would anyone bother with relatively cumbersome torrent downloads? The answer isn’t immediately obvious but for those with intimate experience of both, it’s a pretty serious question.

First of all, we have the important question of content ‘ownership’.

While people have easy access to the latest movies on streamingmovies123 or whatever .com, users never ‘own’ those streams. They are absolutely transient and once the stop button is pressed, that movie or TV show instance is gone forever. The user downloads the file of course, but it is almost immediately dumped into the ether.

For the same download bandwidth expenditure, the user can visit a torrent site and obtain exactly the same content. This time, however, there are two key differences. One, they help to distribute that content among other downloaders and two, they get to keep that content for as long as they choose.

Storing content locally is important to many pirates. Not only can that content be played on any device of the users’ choosing, it can also be played offline. Sure, it takes up some drive space, but it doesn’t require streamingmovies123 to stay online to be enjoyed. It can be played again, potentially forever, and certainly long after the streaming site has disappeared, which they often do.

But while maintaining control of content rarely has a downside for the consumer, the issue of whether distribution (uploading) via BitTorrent is ‘good’ depends on perspective.

Users of streaming sites will correctly argue that with no uploading, they are much safer than their torrenting counterparts. Torrent users, on the other hand, note that their participation in uploading helps to provide content to others. Torrent users are effectively a plus to the piracy ecosystem, while streamers (if we refer to them in torrent terms) are merely leechers.

There’s a whole generation of streaming consumers coming through today who literally have no idea about the concept of sharing. They do not understand where the content comes from, nor do they care. This lack of ‘pirate education’ could eventually present a negative for content availability.

While we’re on that topic, there’s the important question of how and why pirated content travels through the online ecosystem.

There are long-established routes for content from so-called ‘top sites’ to be shifted quickly to torrent sites. Furthermore, torrent sites provide platforms for non-scene P2P releasers to distribute their offerings to the public. In this respect, torrent sites contribute much more to the overall piracy ecosystem than most streaming sites.

Also, there’s the not inconsiderable issue of where streaming sites obtain their content. Of course, many people involved in that area of piracy will have either direct or indirect top-site access, but many simply choose to grab their content from either public or private torrents like the average user might. It’s not hard to see who relies on who here.

This brings us to how each kind of piracy is perceived by Hollywood interests. It doesn’t take Einstein to reveal that both torrents and streaming are the enemy, but since streaming platforms are closest to legitimate offerings such as Netflix and Amazon, the threat they pose is often portrayed as being the greatest.

Indeed, the rise of modified Kodi setups (and the aggressive response to them) seems to support that, with piracy shifting from the relatively geeky torrent environment to the point-and-click living room domain, occupied by the general public.

So the question of what is best – torrents or streaming – is largely down to consumer preference. However, for those with an interest in the piracy ecosystem, it’s a question of whether streaming can improve or even survive without torrents, and whether exclusively supporting the former is a potential road to nowhere.

Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and ANONYMOUS VPN services.

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