The monied elite, the PtB, want what they have always wanted: A populace with no options and no security, desperate enough to work for pennies or a workhouse bed for the night. Forget selling to the US middle class, they'll sell to the much bigger Asian markets.
Once you realise what their agenda is (and I'm not talking about an overarching conspiracy, simply that the corporate elites tend to have similar goals), everything makes sense. Education gets cut because worker drones only need basic literacy and numeracy. The plebs are pushed into debt because it makes them more desperate. Ditto eviscerating Social Security and welfare (and Clinton must take a lot of blame on that one). Keep them desperate, keep them scared, and you can get away with paying them pennies, or a meal or a workhouse bed.
About seven months ago, I asked a few DU members about their experiences with e-cigarettes. Most of those who had used them recommended them. So I tried a cheapie disposable (disgusting and lasted about six hours) and it proved that it could work for me. I ordered myself a Tornado V3 kit and some liquid the next day. That was the beginning of April.
Overnight, my 50 a day dropped to 5. Over the next week or so, I cut out the remaining five. April 23rd, I levered myself out of bed, went to pick up my baccy tin and lighter and thought "no, let's see if I can do without".
I haven't smoked a single cigarette since that day. My liquids still have nicotine (although that's slowly going down as well) but I've gone from 3000+ toxins and sucking concentrated smoke into my lungs, to one toxin and huffing flavoured steam. Perfect? No, but much, much better. My breathing is much easier, my sense of smell and taste are back (I hadn't realised how much hot sauce I was putting on everything!), I no longer have to worry about the effect of my smoke on my SO and cats, my SO is overjoyed and my cats much prefer the smell of cinnamon and cherries over the smell of stinky tobacco smoke.
Six months. No smoke. No tar. Just nicotine and a few nice flavours. E-cigs help people quit and I've taken to suggesting them to everyone who's having problems quitting the smokes.
Thank you to every DUer who encouraged me to try this. And Kat, Lily and Cracker thank you too.
It's difficult to explain but think of it as Lego with monsters (although you can turn the monsters off). Beware that you will need the Wiki to get anywhere. The crafting is incredibly deep and complex but there's no tutorial and much of it is counter-intuitive. You can find servers everywhere, I play on the PC Gamer server.
I would also recommend Introversion's Prison Architect. You run a private prison and have to do everything from build the place to staff it to organise supplies. The catch is that you can run the place however you like. If you want to do a prison that specialises in healing, rehabilitation and education, you can do that. If you want a fascist prison that keeps the inmates in line through fear and intimidation, you can do that too. Despite both approaches being viable, it's very, very hard to keep the place running properly and profitable (which may be a meta-comment on private prisons generally).
If you have a joypad (game controller) for your PC (you can play them with keyboard but it's more difficult), I'm a huge fan of Traveller's Tales franchise of Lego games. The basic premise is that they recreate popular movie series with Lego characters. Any violence is just done to Lego bricks who fade out. They're designed for kids but epitomize "fun for the whole family". I'm 38 and love them to bits. The third installment of Lego Batman is out soon.
The venerable Civilization series is now on it's fifth edition and more complex, time-sinky and maddening (in a good way) as ever. You pick a nation, covering everything from the Aztecs to the Iriquois, each with their own bonuses. You start out with one settler, who can found a city. Then you guide the nation to it's future, controlling everything from what gets built (will you concentrate on public education or build a huge army?), political policies, diplomacy, resource harvesting and religion. You can pursue a path of peace through diplomacy and mutual regard, you can raise armies and conquer your way to victory (although it's incredibly difficult to do the latter).
Finally, I'm a huge fan of the Thief games. You play a snarky criminal called Garrett who lives in a weird medieval/steampunk city. You steal things. You do this because it's the only thing you're good at and you need to pay the rent. Now, it is possible to kill everyone in sight and loot their corpses but Garrett is not much of a fighter and the game penalizes you for taking that route. The gold standard is the "ghost run", where no-one sees you or detects your presence and people only know you've been there when they discover their valuables missing.
There's five for you. All except Minecraft are available on Steam (huge online game store/community) for reasonable prices. Hope that helps, and have fun!
A) Capitalism requires some poverty, requires some unemployment, to keep wages low.
B) Much of the country believes that, if you provide funds for people at the bottom, they'll get to like it there. They genuinely believe that making poverty "too comfortable" will stop people trying to do better.
C) Much of the country has been trained to resent anyone getting anything at all in welfare, has been trained to view a penny spent in welfare as a dollar stolen from them personally.
D) Much of the country still thinks in Dickensian terms, that the poor are poor because of some fault of their own, because they drink or take drugs or "don't have the habit of work" (our demonically evil DWP Sec).
E) The PtB is talking about alleviating "extreme" poverty on the fairly safe bet that, if you handle teh people actually starving in the streets, everyone will assume the problem has been dealt with. Anyone in poverty after that obviously doesn't work hard enough. The plebs, in both our countries, have been trained to only ever kick downward, to never question the oft-told myth that it's possible to make more from benefits than working and never consider that doesn't mean benefits are too high, it means wages are too low.
I grew up poor. Being disabled (I'm severely mentally ill and physically crippled), I'm still poor. And I have heard all the excuses, all the moralising, all the resentment. I';m for a national minimum guaranteed income but it'll take a real, blood-in-the-streets revolution before the PtB let that happen.
You want to argue about the various backward things that various MidEast governments do, feel free. But claiming that Islam is uniquely awful and that fundie Christians wouldn't be every iota as bad, if not worse, if the law didn't prevent them, is willful self-delusion that attempts to "otherise" Muslims. Fundie Christians, when they have had control of the law, have been exactly as bad. See Roeder (and the violent anti-abortion movement generally), the Lord's Resistance Army, the Hutaree, parts of Naziism and part of the Irish Troubles. I have personally been physically attacked over my religion. And that was on a British street, in about 2002.
Insisting Islam is different because, well, it's just different, is delusional "it can't happen here" wishful thinking. It seeks to alleviate fear by otherising the danger to people not like me (no, I'm not meaning brown although some certainly include that). The problem isn't Christianity or Islam. The problem is fundamentalism in general and the fact that the Muslim version of the KKK have power in particular.
And my Ignore list can be of infinite length, btw. So feel free to tell me how uniquely horrible Islam is.
It's an urn with a seed and plant nutrients that your ashes are placed in before the whole thing is buried. Then a tree will grow from your final resting place. I have a somewhat similar arrangement in my will that a tree is to be planted on my grave so that my decomposing body can help it grow and my loved ones will have the tree to shelter under as they mourn.
No judgement about how you feel about trees. I worship Lucifer as the righteous rebel against a tyrannical god. Everyone's belief system looks nuts from the outside.
She used to be a PSO. You know those phone lines you can call where some woman talks dirty to you for a buck a minute? She was one of the people at the end of the phone line. She did this for several years and I had zero problem with it (although I had to stop being in the same room as I'd often have to fight laughter). The only reason she doesn't do it anymore is because my mental health issues make me paranoid of phones (I can't explain it so please, don't ask).
I find that at least some of the stigma to sex work comes from women who consider themselves feminist. They say they wish to empower women but if a woman chooses to express their sexuality in a particular way or chooses to make money off it, that's suddenly not allowed and/or should be banned. They don't want to empower sex workers, just get rid of sex work entirely. It's like there's only a small box marked "empowered woman" and if a woman doesn't fit into that, she gets shamed to hell. In a way, they've internalised one significant part of patriarchy: The shame nature of female sexuality. A woman who chooses to commodify their sexuality or gets off on being watched are shamed as disempowering to women. It's one of the few times blaming the victim is considered acceptable, even by liberals. A stripper gets called names? Well, it's their fault for being a stripper.
Republianity is a mixture of lip service to Jesus (while jettisoning virtually everything he actually taught), Nieztchian will-to-power, Randian beliefs to justify psychotic anti-tax beliefs, Nazi-level nationalism and worship of the military and Rapture beliefs that were invented wholesale out of a few twisted-from-context Bible verses about a century ago. It has it's own high priests (Pat Robertson, Limbaugh, Beck), it's own messiah figure (Reagan), it's own devil figure (Obama although really, it's whoever the most high-profile liberal of the time is), it's own designated scapegoats (liberals) and it's own versions of history, economics, psychology, theology and jurisprudence.