Notes: May 2015

Quotations do not equal endorsement of persons or ideas.

May 31, 2015


“Each simple stone marker, arranged in perfect military precision, signifies the cost of our blessings. It is a debt we can never fully repay but it is a debt we will never stop trying to fully repay by remaining a nation worthy of their sacrifice.” President Obama, speaking at the Tomb of the Unknown at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. (PBS NewsHour)

“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” E.B. White (New York Times, in an article from 1969 worth reading in its entirety)

“Perhaps there never was more unpromising time for the encouragement of another newspaper, but it is said there never was a time when the encouragement of such papers was more necessary.” Benjamin Mecom (Lepore, Book of Ages)

“Going forward, we may see automation happen in a top-heavy fashion where the best jobs are the ones to get impacted. Lawyers, pharmacists, certain aspects of medicine like pathology and radiology, any kind of white-collar job where you’re sitting at a computer or a desk, the people who we might call ‘office drones’ — these are going to be very susceptible.” Martin Ford (PBS NewsHour)

Hope “is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.” Vaclav Havel (The Atlantic)

“I think opinions should be judg’d of by their influences and effects; and if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded he holds none that are dangerous…” Benjamin Franklin (Lepore, Book of Ages)


<1 – The number of pages of foreign news printed daily in a majority of American newspapers of all sizes; only slightly more than a single page was printed about the national government and politics, according to a study in the early 2000s. (American Journalism Review; Downie and Kaiser, The News About the News)

19 – The number of states which now ban the death penalty after Nebraska this past week joined the list. The others are Alaska, Hawaii, North Dakota, Minnesota, Illinois, Michigan, West Virginia, New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, the District of Columbia, Iowa, and New Mexico. (Pew Research Center)

31 – The average number of children treated in emergency rooms every day for injuries incurred in bounce houses (2010 figures; NPR; WBUR Here and Now)

38 – Indiana’s ranking among U.S. states for per capita income. The average worker in Indiana earns 86 cents for every $1 the typical American earns. In 1965, Indiana’s per capita income matched the national average. (Indianapolis Star)

>40 – The percentage of the global population held by the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa). These five countries account for nearly 20 percent of global GDP and 17 percent of global trade. But only two of these countries have permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council. (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

44 – The percentage rise of the average American movie ticket price since 2001. (Wall Street Journal; NPR; WBUR Here and Now)

2015 – Memorial Day of this year marked the first time in fourteen years that no American troops were involved in major ground combat on a Memorial Day. (PBS NewsHour)

40 Million – The approximate number of mattresses thrown away in the U.S. annually. Connecticut, Rhode Island, and California are working on recycling programs to address the issue in their states. (NPR; WBUR Here and Now)

May 22, 2015


16 – The percentage of registered voters in the U.S. who follow candidates, parties, or elected officials on social media sites. (Pew Research Center)

18 – The number of months the Ferrero confectionery has spent studying their Tic Tac products to ascertain whether “Tic Tacs are appealing to younger customers.” According to the company, there are three reasons people purchase Tic Tacs: to freshen breath, to “have a sweet, fruity moment,” or, bizarrely, for an “emotional rescue.” Tic Tacs are adding a flavor-changing variety to appeal to the Millenials. (Bloomberg; APM Marketplace)

23 – The number of states, as of May 2015, with “Republican trifectas.” In these states, the governorship plus both legislative houses are held by Republicans. Indiana is one of these states. (Ballotpedia)

>40 – The percentage of commercial honeybee colonies lost in 2014-2015 (to mites, colony collapse disorder, insecticides/herbicides). The “Acceptable Level” of loss each year is considered to be below 20 percent. (Vox)

60 – The percentage of the globe’s largest herbivores at risk of extinction. This includes rhinos, elephants, and gorillas. (Time)

22,616.46 – The annual compensation, in dollars, to members of Indiana’s General Assembly (House and Senate). Additionally, the members each receive a per diem of $152 each day of the legislative session. (2013 figures; Ballotpedia)

>200,000 – The most recent estimates for the number of Syrians who have lost their lives due to the ongoing civil war. Nearly 12 million Syrians have been displaced due to the conflict. (PBS NewsHour)

144 Million – The population of Russia. The U.S. has 320 million people. There are 1.3 billion people in India and 1.4 billion in China. (Time)

347 Million – The number of users on LinkedIn. Windows has 1.5 billion, You Tube has 1 billion, and iTunes has 800 million. (Time)

2.5 Billion – The number of dollars spent annually by Americans on commercial weight-loss plans. (Time)


Replacing Dan Coats: The Early 2016 Race to Become U.S. Senator for Indiana: There are two officially announced candidates – Representative Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3) and former Coats aide and Indiana Republican Party Chair Eric Holcomb. Both candidates are on Twitter: @RepStutzman or @MarlinStutzman and @HolcombForIN.

It is rumored that Representative Todd Young (R-IN-9) is close to making a decision to enter the Republican Senate primary. His Twitter account is @RepToddYoung.

Former Representative Baron Hill (D-IN-9) is planning to enter the race (@BaronHill2016) and Indiana House Representative Christina Hale (D-IN-87) (@HaleIndy)is reputedly leaning towards running as well. There are whispers around that say former Governor and Senator Evan Bayh (@SenEvanBayh) has not ruled out running for the seat, either.

And the Early Report on Indiana’s 2016 Gubernatorial Election: Incumbent Mike Pence (R) will be announcing his re-election campaign on June 18th. (@mike_pence and @GovPenceIN on Twitter). (Regarding Pence, Just IN, and the Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 expansion: see “Governor Pence Had a Bad Week. And He Co-paid for It.”)

Democrats John Gregg (the 2012 gubernatorial candidate) and state Senator Karen Tallian (IN-4) have both announced they will be seeking the bid to replace Governor Pence. To follow Gregg and Tallian on Twitter, check out @GreggForGov and @KarenTallian. For two takes on John Gregg: see “Gregg Clarifies Positions” at Jon Easter’s site and “John Gregg and the Left-Wing Whackadoodles.”

Does my car have one of those faulty airbags that can kill and/or maim me? The recent airbag recall for Takata airbags affects nearly 34 million American vehicles from 11 auto manufacturers according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. This recall is considered probably one of the most complex consumer recalls in U.S. history. You can find out if your car is one of the many affected ones by visiting and entering your VIN. (PBS NewsHour)

May 21, 2015

“Well, it’s a very strange book…essentially it reads as sort of a 1950s British guidebook, written in kind of jolly style, talking about the food…saying you’ll be happy to know the caliphate serves some of the best lattés and cappuccinos around. The weather and exquisite Mediterranean climate, the people…If you thought London or New York was cosmopolitan, just wait until you step foot in Islamic State because it screams diversity…[The book] is trying to sell an idea, presumably to potential recruits, that they can have a really good time, like at a holiday resort, if they come to the areas under IS control.” Sebastian Unger, describing the new online guidebook which the group calling itself the Islamic State has published, describing life in the “caliphate” in areas under their control in Iraq and Syria. (BBC Global News)

“We’ve been here for four days now and we call on the government to enable us to get out of here. Most of the children are suffering from diarrhea. What have the people done to deserve this? Everyone is unwell. We urge the government to find a solution because our children are sick. Families have been displaced. We cannot live in the desert forever without food and drink.” A citizen of Ramadi, Iraq, who has fled the city with his family and tens of thousands of others and is stranded in the desert after the city fell to ISIS/ISIL. (BBC Global News)

“But you know, Banana Republic can’t audit your taxes. Banana Republic can’t put you in jail. The only thing Banana Republic can do is sense somehow that you want to buy a pair of jeans and barrage you.” Susan Page, explaining the difference between commercial meta-data collection and governmental mass data collection (NSA). (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

“The F-35 costs — it was going to cost 237 billion dollars. It’s now up to 1.5 trillion. Also, doesn’t seem to work. Cannot take a lightning hit. So they have to stay 25 miles away from lightning. So we can get into a war unless it rains. That’s 1.5 trillion dollars from the people who want to cut the Amtrak funding by how many millions.” Bill Maher (HBO; Real Time with Bill Maher)

“Even people who are sympathetic to the Native American point of view, I think, have tended to see them mainly as victims —and they were — but they also fought back, fought within the democratic process and added to our democratic tradition. There’s much to be proud of [t]here.” Steve Inskeep (PBS NewsHour)

“Right now, transcripts have some statistics on your grades and maybe some standardized test scores. But in the future, they should include a portfolio of things you’ve created — robots you’ve built, programs you’ve written, things you’ve painted, whatever — along with what your peers and your community think of you as a leader, a communicator, and an empathizer. This is what people already care about, but it hasn’t been formally recognized.” Salman Khan, predicting one component of the future of education: better transcripts. (It seems possible that there’s room in the future for a more portfolio-based approach to resumes, CVs and human resources as well.) (Time)

“…what struck me at one point: that part of his [Bush’s] answer was ‘I don’t need to answer these hypotheticals’ and we heard Mike Huckabee say ‘I don’t have to defend everything I’ve ever done’ when he was asked about…diabetic medication he used to peddle. And you think to yourself: well, isn’t running for president a hypothetical? Isn’t that the whole point?” Gwen Ifill. And yes, hypotheticals are a large part of running for president. That and defending everything you’ve ever done. (PBS Newshour)

“I happen to believe that we should move to a Medicare-for-All, single-payer [health] system similar to what other countries around the world have.” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (I), running for the Democratic presidential primary in 2016. (PBS; NPR)

“If Pence runs, I’m going to run against him.” Bob Thomas, Fort Wayne car dealer and Carmel resident, maybe announcing he might run for the Republican nomination for Indiana governor. If Governor Pence runs. (WFYI; Indiana Week in Review)

“The problem with Governor Pence running for a second term is that it is still unclear why he ran for a first term. If he thought it was a stepping stone to higher office — well, he certainly stepped in something.” Matthew Tully (Indianapolis Star; MSNBC)

May 17, 2015:


30 – The percentage of global commercial shipping which passes through the South China Sea. Areas of the South China Sea are claimed by China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Brunei, and Vietnam. (APM Marketplace)

68 – The average train speed, by miles per hour, on America’s Northeast corridor, our highest-speed rail. In Spain, the line between Barcelona and Madrid averages 154 mph. Japan’s route between Osaka and Tokyo has an average speed of 200 mph. (MSNBC)

350,000 – The amount, in dollars, it costs (a low-end estimate) per hour to keep the International Space Station flying. The ISS weighs nearly 1 million pounds, stretches the length of a football field, has interior space nearly 10 times the size of the interior of a space shuttle, and has solar arrays covering more than an acre. Since it was first launched, 216 men and women have lived there. (Charles Fishman; The Atlantic)

12.5 Million – The number of trees in California which have died due to the extreme drought. (U.S. Forest Service; CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

500 Million – The cost, in today’s dollars, of George W. Bush’s presidential library. The cost of the first presidential library for Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941 was $7 million in current dollars. (BBC)

1.8 Billion – The predicted number of people, worldwide, who will be living with absolute water scarcity within a decade. (UN; CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)


May 27, 2015: Rick Santorum (R) Presidential Campaign Decision Announcement.

May 28, 2015: George Pataki (R) Presidential Campaign Decision Announcement.

May 30, 2015: Martin O’Malley (D) Presidential Campaign Decision Announcement.

June 1, 2015: Lindsay Graham (R) Expected Presidential Campaign Decision Announcement.

June 1, 2015: The Patriot Act expires. Congress will probably pass an alternative (the USA Freedom Act), a revised version, or an extension before that time.

June: Supreme Court will be releasing their decisions on both ACA subsidies and same-sex marriage before they recess for the summer.

June 4, 2015: Rick Perry (R) will make a “special announcement” regarding 2016.

June 12-13, 2015: Holy Rosary Italian Fest, 5-11 p.m. (South Downtown, Indianapolis)

June 27, 2015: Greenwood Freedom Festival. (Greenwood, Indiana)

June 30, 2015: Deadline for Iran-US and P5 nuclear agreement.

June 30, 2015: Qualification period for first round of National Trivia League finals ends. You can play at Friday’s on Mondays, Tuesdays at McGilvery’s or Wednesdays at the Mucky Duck (South Indy/Greenwood).

July 4, 2015: Pork of July at the Oaken Barrel (Greenwood, Indiana).

July 4, 2015: Here Come the Mummies perform in Kokomo, Indiana.

Ongoing: Free admission at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Thursdays, 4-8 p.m.


May 13, 2015:


“I think it’s like eating a doughnut without sugar: you know immediately something’s missing. Honestly, until we see some wage growth [in the monthly U.S. jobs report], it’s not going to be a good jobs report. Wages are barely keeping up with inflation. So even though the economy is adding [223,000] jobs this month [for April], until raises grow that’s not going to be as meaningful as it needs to be for the economy.” Nela Richardson of Redfin (APM Marketplace)

“…we’re going to see more of what we saw in Texas last week [the self-described ISIS shooters who were killed while attempting to act against a “Draw the Prophet” exhibit]. Now the good news is: it’s very, very unlikely that we’re going to see the kinds of attack that Al Qaeda really wants to conduct, that carefully-planned, slow-moving mass casualty attack against an iconic target…But these low-level attacks— that’s what’s left to them and that’s where they’re going to go…You might want to characterize Al Qaeda as an elitist terrorist organization and ISIS as a populist one. And we’re seeing violence from ISIS not coming from the top down, but from the bottom up.” Former CIA Director Michael Hayden (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

“[ISIS wants] to provoke the United States to bring ground troops to the country. It’s a clear target. They want that the Americans bring their boots on the ground. They want to fight Americans. That’s their dream, the ultimate fight against Americans. That’s what they want. That’s what they hope.” Jurgen Todenhofer, after spending time with ISIS members in Mosul, Iraq in 2014 (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS; Blindsided)

“We’ve gone far beyond what our constitution describes and we’ve begun to just allow it to expand based on what the political class wants because they like to increase their power and their dominion over the people. And I think it’s time for the people to rise up and take the government back.” Recently-declared Republican presidential primary candidate Dr. Ben Carson, advocating his election, the use of mob force and pitchforks, and/or the non-power of playing fast and loose with pronouns. (NPR; WBUR On Point with Tom Ashbrook)

Mike Huckabee “is talking about protecting Social Security, not cutting Social Security and Medicare at a time when the Republican Party [in Congress] just dropped a very controversial budget to do just that. And so I think it’s important to kind of point out how even though [the presidential candidates are] all talking about populism, Mike Huckabee is actually taking the extra step of proposing some policy behind it.” Heidi Przbyla of Bloomberg News (NPR; WBUR On Point with Tom Ashbrook)

“Every Republican in America is now running for president. Debates will be held in Texas. Not a theatre in Texas, but in the entire state of Texas. Moderator Wolf Blitzer will stand at the edge of Oklahoma and shout.” Peter Sagal (NPR; Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me)


9 – The percentage of overall American egg production which comes from Iowa, the country’s top producer. Approximately 100 billion eggs are produced in the country each year. (Tom Villsack; U.S. Dept. of Agriculture; PBS NewsHour)

15 – The percentage of U.S. women between the ages of 40 and 44 who were childless in 2014. 18 percent of women these ages had one child; 35 percent had two, 20 percent had three; and 12 percent had four or more children. (Pew Research Center)

50 – The percentage of suicides, worldwide, in 2013 which occurred in either China or India. Since 1990, suicide rates have risen in India, while they have declined in China. (CNN; Fareed Zakaria GPS)

>2,000 – The number of women and girls which have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since the beginning of 2014. (Amnesty International; NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

11 Billion – The approximate number of 9 gram ketchup packets sold by H.J. Heinz annually, primarily to the dining industry. The packets are the company’s top-selling product. (APM Marketplace)


Free and Reduced-Cost Health Clinics in Indianapolis and Franklin, Indiana

Cottage Corner Health Center, 1424 S. Shelby St, Indianapolis (317.655.3200)

Gennesaret Free Clinic, For Marion County Residents; Multiple and Mobile Locations (317.639.5645 ext. 200)

Healthnet Southwest Health Center, 1522 W. Morris St, Indianapolis (317.488.2020)

Raphael Health Center, 401 E. 34th St, Indianapolis (317.926.1507)

St. Thomas Episcopal Free Clinic, 570 Paul Hand Blvd, Franklin (317.535.6057)

May 9, 2015:


“By the way, there are other things to worry about here. You know, something like 75 to 80 percent of the chip sets that go into an F-35 fighter are made in Asia, not made here. 70 percent of the active pharmacological ingredients in drugs taken in the United States are made in China, not here. In other words, we are growing increasingly dependent on certain strategic things from Asia and I think we have to keep an eye on that because there’s some danger in it.” David Rothkopf, discussing current trade issues (NPR; WAMU The Diane Rehm Show)

“…the likely outcome is that Congress adopts a package of reforms which it’s been considering for the past year known as the USA Freedom Act. It has the support of the Administration and basically those reforms would not reinstitute the [mass data collection] program the court held illegal…[The Act’s reforms] provide a different way for the government to get some of the information. They also make reforms to other sections of the Patriot Act that…weren’t addressed by the court. There’s widespread, bipartisan support for those reforms in both houses of Congress…There has been, I think, a kind of peculiar effort to say, oh no, we should continue the program as it is when the intelligence community itself isn’t asking for that and says these reforms would be better.” Kate Martin, talking about alternatives to the Patriot Act, which expires at the end of May (PBS NewsHour)

“The paranoid in American life exists everywhere there’s American life.” David Plotz (Slate Political Gabfest)

“There’s no Texas takeover! The United States’ government already controls Texas — since, like, the 1840s and then they left and came back and — just borrow a textbook from a neighboring state. It’s all in there.” Jon Stewart, commenting on the Great Jade Helm 15 Conspiracy Theory (The Daily Show)

“I said [President Obama] reminds you of a psychopath, because they tend to be extremely smooth, charming people who can tell a lie to your face…It looks like sincerity, even though they know it’s a lie…He plays fast and loose with the facts.” Republican presidential primary candidate Dr. Ben Carson, who has now called the President a psychopath in GQ and on CNBC’s Speakeasy (The Hill)

“…if you look at the actual shape of the [Republican] party as it’s represented in its congressional wing…and these numbers are actually out of the previous Congress, but there were 108 majority-minority districts and Republicans represented just nine of them. So that’s quite opposite from the diversity of the presidential field. The average Republican House district was 75 percent white and the average Democratic district was 51 percent white. The House conference for Democrats (I believe it’s still true) is: white men are a minority. So the party is not just defined by its presidential aspirants; there’s also the other group of elected officials and there’s not a heck of a lot of diversity in that.” John Dickerson (Slate Political Gabfest)


1 – The rank of Iowa among pork-producing states in the U.S. North Carolina is the second-highest producer. (Barry Estabrook; NPR; WHYY Fresh Air)

4 – The number of U.N. World Heritage Sites located in Nepal: two of them are cultural, two are natural. (PBS NewsHour)

6 – The number of official Democratic presidential primary debates which will take place for 2016. There were 26 for the 2008 presidential election. The Republican Party has announced that they will hold 9 official primary debates in the coming year. (MSNBC)

305 – The number of people who, as of 05/05/2015, have filed the official paperwork to run for president in 2016: 67 Republicans, 46 Democratic, 84 Independent, 7 Libertarian, and 1 from something calling itself the Natural Born Citizen Party. (Federal Election Commission; MSNBC)

>300,000 – The number of Yemeni citizens who have fled their homes since the Saudi bombing campaign began in March. In that time, around 6,000 have been wounded and an estimated 1,400 non-combatants have been killed. (PBS NewsHour)

>50 Million – The average number of damage, in dollars, which feral pigs do to farms in Texas every year. Texas has the worst feral pig problem in the U.S. and there is an estimated feral pig population of 2.5 million in the state. The Texas government estimates that 700,000 feral pigs would need to be killed every year in order for the population to remain static. The average number culled annually is around 400,000. (Barry Estabrook; NPR; WHYY Fresh Air)

1.2 Trillion – The amount, in dollars, of American student loan debt. (PBS NewsHour)

And this week’s best example of Poor Planning: See Carly Fiorina and her presidential campaign, who failed to secure the web domain for ““. So of course, now it’s been purchased by someone who used it to provide 30,000 emoticons representing all the workers laid off from HP while Fiorina was at the helm.

May 5, 2015:


“I feel like America’s made this bargain with itself — like we’re going to have really desperate, rank poverty in return for what we see as more opportunity…That’s the political trade-off for not having a sufficient safety net…We get more and more separate from people who are different from ourselves…; the ease with which you can never cross over to the East Des Moines of wherever you happen to live only grows.” Emily Bazelon (Slate’s Political Gabfest)

“Many who before regarded legislation…as chimerical, will now fancy that it is only dangerous, or perhaps not more than difficult. And so in time it will come to be looked on as among the things possible, then among the things probable; — and so at last it will be ranged in the list of those few measures which the country requires as being absolutely needed. That is the way in which public opinion is made.” Anthony Trollope (The Atlantic)

“Even aside from the religious freedom law fiasco, the session was devoid of serious action on big issues. Even for those who watched from the sidelines it was clear that pettiness ruled the year. Attacks on local government control and silly social-issue pandering filled the days.” Matthew Tully, summarizing the 2015 Indiana legislative session. (Indianapolis Star)

“I am horrified that I have to choose between the possibility that my Governor actually believes this stuff and the possibility that my Governor doesn’t have the backbone to stand up to those who do.” Former Texas State Representative Todd Smith, in a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) after Abbott sent the Texas State Guard to oversee U.S. military exercises in the region in order to ensure the federal government didn’t take over the state and establish martial law. (NPR News)

“Everything [President Obama] does is against what Christians stand for, and he’s against the Jews in Israel. The one group of people that can know they have his undying, unfailing support would be the Muslim community.” Probable Republican 2016 presidential primary candidate Mike Huckabee, speaking in February. (The Atlantic)

“I think in realpolitik terms, you want an opponent who can’t win — and that’s Bernie Sanders.” David Brooks (PBS NewsHour)

“…He represents a constituency that has been underrepresented in American politics and that is the disheveled constituency…I am with him. He is not blown-dry; the hair is not done; I mean, his clothes are not designer. But he’s the real deal…” Mark Shields (PBS NewsHour)


1 in 5 – The number of Baltimore residents who live in an area designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert. (PBS NewsHour)

4 – The approximate number of pounds of trash generated per American per day (WAMU; The Diane Rehm Show)

9 – The number of times since Chris Christie (R) has assumed the state’s governorship that the credit rating for New Jersey has had to be lowered. (Mark Shields; PBS NewsHour)

>25 – The percentage of U.S. renters who have to use at least half of their household income to cover the costs of housing and utilities. Since 2010, rental housing prices have risen nearly twice as fast as have hourly wages. (U.S. Census Bureau; Zillow; U.S. Department of Labor; USA Today)

>2.8 million – The number of people displaced by the earthquake in Nepal. Nearly 6,300 people are estimated to have perished in the quake. (PBS NewsHour)

April 30, 2015



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