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  • Culture & MediaDecember 2, 2011Steven Mikulan

    It Came from Madison Avenue

    The other day I was streaming It!, an old science fiction film, and saw something odd on my computer screen. There, in the storage hold of the rocket ship returning from Mars, sat a crate of Heinz soup cans. The box was barely visible – blurry and jammed in the corner of a locker, next to all the cartons of cigarettes the crew members were smoking on their trip back to Earth. Still, we’re trained to notice product logos and I couldn’t miss Heinz’s distinctive lettering on its case of Creole Gumbo.

    I was shocked that Heinz had even sold soup in 1958, when the film was made – let alone that they would figure in the story’s Tomorrowland of 1973. I did what any futuristic earthling would and Googled “heinz soup.” Sure enough, the company did sell a supermarket line in the 1950s, but eventually got out of the business except for its current Heinz Foodservice trade of selling tub-sized containers of Tomato Florentine to institutional clients.

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  • EnvironmentDecember 1, 2011Sabrina Bornstein

    On the Trail of Trash: Tracking Our Disposable Society

    Every few days I drag my trash and recyclables out to the big gray dumpster and blue bin in the back of my apartment complex. The materials get picked up, the bins emptied, and they’re out of sight and out of mind. But where does it all go? Few of us actually know where our piles of trash and recyclables end up, with whom they come into contact and whom they impact along the way. While it may seem as though our trash magically disappears each week after the point of collection, it often ends up burned or buried near schools or homes in our city – or it may take a long journey, ending up outside of our communities, regions, state or even country.

    The first step in raising our consciousness about our trash problem is to track where our waste goes. Trash | Track, a project out of MIT that builds on previous work of the SENSEable City Lab and is inspired by the NYC Green Initiative,

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  • Labor & EconomyNovember 30, 2011Vivian Rothstein

    Retirement: Sitting on a One-Legged Stool

    As Janet Heinritz-Canterbury of the California Alliance for Retired Americans explains it, retirement in America has historically rested on a three-legged stool – the pension from  your job, income from your own investments and assets, and Social Security.

    But where are most Americans today in their ability to even contemplate retirement?  Most of us no longer get pensions from our jobs; what investments we may have are losing money while home prices have declined; and now some members of Congress and possibly President Obama are out to substantially lower Social Security benefits.

    According to the American Association of Retired People (AARP), a frightening 35 percent of Americans over 65 currently rely only on Social Security (an average person gets benefits of $14,000/year) to survive.  On January First of this year and continuing for the next 19 years, an additional 10,000 people A DAY will be turning 65. 

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  • Culture & MediaNovember 30, 2011Jon Zerolnick

    Boycott THIS!

    Recently, we noted that our friends at American Rights at Work called for a boycott of Amazon.com.  As friend-of-this-blog and renaissance-man-about-town Joshua Joy Kamensky notes, however, we need to be more careful with the B-word.

    Boycotts are ubiquitous.  Progressives boycott Wal-Mart because of its anti-worker practices and its impact on local economies.  Conservatives boycott stores that say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”  Los Angeles boycotts (kinda sorta) the state of Arizona over the anti-immigrant SB1070.  Animal rights activists boycott Nestea for animal testing.  Anti-Islamists boycott halal turkeys.  Every time some politician says something idiotic or offensive, people dig up the donor list to that politician, and boycott the corporate sponsors.

    But sometimes things get confusing.  Are we boycotting Home Depot to get it to stop using old-growth redwoods,

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  • Culture & MediaNovember 29, 2011James Elmendorf

    Occupy NBA

    It wouldn’t be Christmas without basketball. So goes the thinking in the NBA, as the players and owners reached agreement over the holiday weekend on a new six-year deal that will give us a shortened, 66-game season and the all-important marquee games on Christmas Day.

    For all the discussion of the issues the past few months, writers have been quick to move from analysis of Basketball Related Income to breaking down the 2011 (barely)-2012 season. In part, that’s because all the details aren’t in, but here are a few links for your reading pleasure.

    First up is a memo from National Basketball Players Association head Billy Hunter explaining the deal. Take the cheerleading with a grain of salt, of course, since Hunter’s been under fire and needs to tell players what they won after giving up some paychecks. (This is what everyone says,

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