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Cafeteria Keynesianism

Eric Cantor is giving Tom Delay and Newt Gingrich a run for their money as slimiest Republican congressional leaders in history. He isn't quite as aggressive as those two, but he has an even worse quality --- a lugubrious sanctimony, which only Mike Pence's furrowed brow and phony compassion rivals for sheer oiliness.

And hypocrisy, needless to say, is his fundamental characteristic. Take this, for example, from Jonathan Cohn at TNR:

According to the Congressional Budget Office, restoring the "Medicaid discount" for low-income seniors could save more than $100 billion over the course of a decade, depending on the structure of the proposal. And, at one point, many health care reformers had hoped to include that proposal as part of what became the Affordable Care Act. The administration and leaders of the Senate Finance Committee agreed not to include the proposal in the final legislation, as part of their infamous deal with the drug industry lobby. But that was a one-time deal, at least in theory, and congressional negotiators are looking seriously at enacting the proposal now.

The problem is lawmakers like Cantor, who oppose the idea. According to the Politico story, written by Matt Dobias, Cantor is making the same argument that the drug industry lobby does: That the proposal would amount to a form of government price controls, retarding economic growth and discouraging innovation.

I just love this cafeteria Keynesianism. We can't raise taxes because it would hurt the economy at a time of low demand. But we can slash the hell out of spending (as it doesn't affect a favored industry) because the economy is dragging due to "expectations" and "confidence" not demand.

Cantor is no tea partier and cares nothing for spending and deficits. He is simply a tool of business who seeks to take your tax dollars and give them to the wealthy.Just like all the Republican leaders. I think that if we understand that, we understand his negotiating position much better.

Read the whole article for the sickening details. Like a bad dream, this deficit kabuki dance has morphed into a writhing orgy of deceit and double dealing.


The narrow mind of Greenpeace [Class M]

Way back when I was just a novice environmentalist, Greenpeace seemed like a good idea. It published a decent newsletter, was drawing attention to otherwise neglected issues, and, while understandably suspicious of technology, seemed to have more than a grudging respect for science as a tool to preserve those things worse preserving. It was one of the few NGOs that received what little I could afford to donate to charitable causes. I don't regret supporting them in the 80s, and not just because I shared the group's desire to save the whales.

I still want to save the whales. I no longer support Greenpeace.

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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


The Deal To End All Deals

So the President explained this morning that the most important thing is to "send signals" that we are serious about spending cuts (he didn't specify who we are sending them to.) Also, it would be better if millionaires have to "sacrifice" what amounts to tip money so that old and sick people will feel better about living in even worse poverty than they already do. (This would seem to be what's become of the Grand Bargain) And finally, progressives should support this "deal to end all deals" because if we cut spending to fix the deficit then we'll be able to start spending again on all the things we really care about. (He didn't say anything about "birth pangs" of a brave new world, but I did have to step out for minute so I might have missed it.)

Judging from my twitter feed, many liberals are soothed by this message so I'd guess he's looking at a winning formula. I do have to wonder how the president is going to slip enough Ecstasy into the GOP water cooler to make them cooperate with that wonderful plan.

I've been rooting for McConnell for the past couple of days, but it looks like the Democrats have decided to screw that up too. Here's Greg Sargent:

Larry Kudlow, who’s plugged in with Congressional Republicans, scoops a key new detail about the emerging Mitch McConnell proposal to transfer control of the debt ceiling to the president:

McConnell is negotiating now with Sen. Harry Reid for a large-scale package that will allow the debt ceiling to rise unless overturned by a two-thirds vote. If a White House debt-ceiling deal comes through with $1.5 trillion of spending cuts, that will be part of the package. Right now, it’s not completed because enforceable spending caps have not been determined.

The key part of the new McConnell package is a joint committee to review entitlements in a massive deficit-reduction package. Unlike the Bowles-Simpson commission, this committee will be mandated to have a legislative outcome — an actual vote — that will occur early next year. No White House members. Evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats. No outsiders. This will be the first time such a study would have an expedited procedure mandated with no amendments permitted. Also, tax reform could be air-dropped into this committee’s report.

A source with knowledge of the emerging proposal confirms to me that while nothing has been finalized, this is where the discussions are headed.

I'm afraid that the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that grandma must pay, come what may.

And the sad thing is that because Democrats have a right wing opposition party that's batshit insane it means that they can run as Ronald Reagan and people feel they have no choice but to vote for them anyway. It must be so liberating for politicians not to have to worry about the effects of their policies on real people.


Why Do Chemicals Get Such a Bad Rap? [USA Science and Engineering Festival: The Blog]

He's known to his students and fans simply as "Dr. Joe," but then Joe Schwarcz, professor of chemistry, has always kept things light, uncomplicated and a little magical, especially when pursuing his challenging goal: demystifying science for young learners and the public.

Joe has created a multi-faceted career in using his skill as a chemical scientist, magician, author, broadcaster, food expert and motivational speaker in communicating science to others in very interesting ways. This includes his role as Director of the Office for Science and Society at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, where he and his colleagues use their unconventional "Chemistry for the Public" lecture series to wow students and the public about chemistry and other areas of science, and how such knowledge can be applied to everyday life .

"Our mandate at the Office for Science and Society is to demystify science, separate sense from nonsense and hopefully foster critical thinking," says Joe. "When people are ill-informed about science, they are at risk of falling into the clutches of charlatans... unless we arm the public with enough informational weaponry to make sure that doesn't happen."

Here is an article written by Joe with a cautionary tale about a celebrity chef and his "science free" diet.

Joe says chemicals get a bad rap. Can you name some chemicals that improve our lives without causing any harm to us or the environment?

Read more about Joe here.

And watch this video interview with Joe discussing the role chemicals play in our every day lives.

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One Day After Winning CA-36, CA Redistricting Commission “Visualizes” Janice Hahn Out Of District


The newest member of Congress could be among the most adversely affected by new political maps currently being considered by the state's redistricting commission.

Democratic Congresswoman-elect Janice Hahn of San Pedro could find herself in a new district that runs along the coast from the South Bay to Malibu, and stretching inland to grab parts of West Los Angeles and Beverly Hills. Much of that district is currently represented by Rep. Henry Waxman. The other option for Hahn is a Long Beach district that has none of her South Bay political base and also includes two other Democratic incumbents -- Reps. Linda Sanchez and Laura Richardson.

Democratic consultant Paul Mitchell, who has been actively monitoring the redistricting process, says Hahn could be "in serious trouble."

"She's losing the seat that she just won," Mitchell said.

Mitchell says that under new working maps released by the commission this week, the number of Latino seats in Los Angeles is likely to increase, while one of the basin's three African American congressional seats could disappear.

Here's what happened: The California Citizen's Redistricting Commission just released a third version of their "visioning" maps for Congressional and State Assembly Districts. And as indicated above, these new maps are radically different from anything we've seen before.

There are three different proposed versions of CA-36. Depending on which option you chose, our newly-elected Congresswoman Janice Hahn could end up sharing her district with Henry Waxman, or she could even end up outside the district. All of the options include everything from Malibu to Rancho Palos Verdes, while cutting the Beach Cities - Redondo, Manhattan, Hermosa and Torrance - in half just west of the 405 freeway.

Click here to see version One.
Click here to see version Two.
Click here to see version Three.

To see more detailed congressional maps, go to this link, type in your home address, then go to the "Select District" pull-down menu, and select "congress la opt1, opt2, or opt3"

The new Assembly districts in Southern California aren't much better. My Assembly district, AD53, is now partially divided into three separate districts, with Venice as the nexus. Which means that Venice - 1 square mile wide - could potentially be represented by THREE different Assembly members.

To see the new Assembly map, Go to this link, type in your home address, then go to the "Select District" pull-down menu, and select "assembly la opt1"

So now what? The final district maps are slated to be released July 28, according to a press release, and adopted by the commission on Aug. 15. So you still have time to make your voice heard.

The Commission needs to hear from you. Send an email to and let them know what you think.

Be sure to put down where you live so they know you're a constituent.


Google Maps brings live traffic coverage to 13 European countries, makes work weeks even shorter

The next time you head out for a leisurely Sunday drive along the autobahn, you might wanna take a minute to consult Google Maps' live traffic feature, now available in Germany and 12 other nations across Europe. Announced earlier this week, the new addition offers regularly updated coverage of all highways and major thoroughfares in countries like Spain, the Netherlands and Switzerland, while bringing more detailed street-level data to users in the UK. Europe's road warriors will also be able to use a legend to learn about traffic patterns at specific times or days of the week, making it even easier for you to micro-manage your summer getaway to the Swiss Alps. Learning how to fit all your luggage into the back of a Twingo, however, is another matter altogether.

Google Maps brings live traffic coverage to 13 European countries, makes work weeks even shorter originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 15 Jul 2011 10:49:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Great Muppaphone Expansion, Riots and Classes [Casaubon’s Book]

What, you ask, has Sharon been duing, besides getting mud and manure on her? (I feel like there's been a theme to some of my recent posts, no?) I'm sure you have nothing but this on your mind - the doins a'transpirin at my house being the focus of whole tens of people (well, maybe one ten on a good day wink. Still, I'm going to tell you.

Well, what we've mostly been doing is getting ready for the fall garden season, and getting ready for the family expansion project. As of this week, our house is open as a foster home, but of course, in our usual "doing at the last minute something we should have done weeks ago" fashion, we're not quite there yet. Still awaiting the stair gate (I stupidly gave ours away when the kids got big), still awaiting one of the mattresses for the beds, etc... and most of all, we needed a larger vehicle.

For the last few years, our sole family vehicle has been the "farm truck" - which is our joking name for the 1994 Ford Taurus we inherited from Eric's grandmother. When we got it, it was literally the car that the little old lady only drove to the supermarket on Sundays. Since then, it has carried six passengers regularly, and driven chickens, turkeys, ducks, goats, calves and bees in the back (and occasionally front) seat. It can carry four bales of hay if you really push it, and close to a ton of feed, if absolutely necessary. It has developed a permanent depression on the roof from where the goats have sat on it, and constantly has little baby goat hoofprints on it.

Grandma (whose memory is always a joy and a blessing) was a very tidy sort of person - she once confided gently to me that she could not sleep if she thought there was dust under her bed. I, as those of you who have been to my farm can attest, am not. There are way scarier things than dust under my bed, or would be if I didn't sleep on a futon on the floor wink. We sometimes theorize that if there was a way to harness the energy created by Grandma spinning in her grave, we'd be able to run the farm on it, but she was also such a kind, loving and practical person that I know she'd be grateful her car went to good use.

It has been good use - it has been reliable and energy efficient. But we have outgrown it - we need a vehicle for going to market, and since we were certified to take up to four foster children (gack!), that means we need a vehicle that can seat 10 at least some of the time. Since that lets us out of the minivan category and firmly into the "big wonkin' vans that if you are lucky get 18mpg" it will be interesting to see how we manage to hit our gas use targets (we have pretty consistently hovered at using 85% less gas than the US average, except for Eli, who is bused to a school for autistic children and runs about 75% less). We will still use the "truck" for Eric's commute (on days he can't carpool) and for any occasion when a subset of us can travel.

We looked at a selection of large passenger vans, including my favorite, the one that was a state prison transport van (they didn't leave the logo on, sadly) and ended up with a 14 passenger vehicle - horribly and ironically, I am now the proud owner of something called a "suburban."

Meanwhile, we've been trying to get our lives in order before 2-4 more people join in them and disrupt our managed chaos into less managed chaos. As much as we want to do this, it is a little like being pregnant for the first time, I think - the slow realization that this might be harder than you think kicks in. My husband deals with this by looking on the bright side. Discussing what we would do if we suddenly doubled the number of children in our household, Eric pointed out cheerfully that "hey, I could tune them to a full octave and use them as a muppaphone!"

(Just in case you don't know what a muppaphone is. Simon has already claimed low C wink).

This, of course, is the kind of thing that makes me adore my husband, and is also the kind of thing you probably don't want to mention to social workers evaluating the merits of your family. Corporal punishment is absolutely forbidded in foster families - I'm pretty sure that includes musical performances as well wink.

Having the van does make it real. It also will make the Riot for Austerity more challenging - which is good. After all, just cutting your energy usage by 90% over the national norm is totally easy, right? Good - I'm adding a gas-guzzling tank and a few new household members to make it interesting. Remember, the Riot will re-start on August one.

Miranda Edel and I took the title of the Riot from George Monbiot's book _Heat_ - in it he wrote "nobody ever rioted for austerity." He argued no one will ever march saying "we want less!" - and that's true. On the other hand a whole heck of a lot of us might march saying we want more for our kids and grandkids, to leave a better legacy, to honor and value what we have. There were more than a 1000 participating households around the world last time - I'm hoping to make it 5000 this time! Lots more information coming!

Also, if you wondering how to keep the garden produce coming into fall and winter, I'm teaching my Fall Gardening and Season Extension class, starting on Thursday 7/21, and running until mid-August. It will be a four week class focusing on everything from growing in containers to hoop houses, low tunnels, cold frames, timing your plantings, root cellaring, in garden storage and winter harvesting. You can take the class with a greenhouse or if you've just started your first garden and aren't even sure what these words mean wink. Keeping the garden going - all year long or late in the season - is one of our keys to food security. Email me at Cost of the class is $100 or equivalent barter. I also have five free spots for low income participants. Email for details.

Finally, on Sunday July 31, from 1-4pm, I'm running a class at my house in Knox, NY (about half an hour west of Albany) on growing, preserving and using herbs - from the culinary to the medicinal to the truly unusual. The class will involve a garden tour, tools for plant identification and both history and present uses, a snack of tasty herb-based treats and a demonstration of preservation techniques. Everyone will get herbs and herb products to take home as well. Cost of the class is $75 and includes all materials. Limited space available, so please register soon. Email for details, directions, etc...

On Sunday August 21, from 1-4, we'll be having another class at our place - "mini goat camp." Learn to milk a goat, trim hooves and the basics of goat care and housing including basic home vet work. Find out what it takes to keep dairy goats, including safe milk handling. Learn about feeding and kidding, and then do some basic cheesemaking and dairying. Sadly, in this case, everyone can not take home a goat wink, but you will get a valuable skill set. If you do want to get into dairy goats, I also have goats for sale -email for details. Cost of the class is $75, space is limited, so please email at Older children (10 and up) are welcome in both workshops at a reduced rate ($45).

Ok, hope you are all having adventures too! Please tell me about them if you are so inclined!



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Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


Krugman Goes Full Driftglass


I must say, it was Almighty de-lightful to read this in the New York Times today (and h/t to Anonymous for pointing it out to me):

Getting to Crazy
Published: July 14, 2011

There aren’t many positive aspects to the looming possibility of a U.S. debt default. But there has been, I have to admit, an element of comic relief — of the black-humor variety — in the spectacle of so many people who have been in denial suddenly waking up and smelling the crazy.

A number of commentators seem shocked at how unreasonable Republicans are being. “Has the G.O.P. gone insane?” they ask.

Why, yes, it has. But this isn’t something that just happened, it’s the culmination of a process that has been going on for decades. Anyone surprised by the extremism and irresponsibility now on display either hasn’t been paying attention, or has been deliberately turning a blind eye.

And may I say to those suddenly agonizing over the mental health of one of our two major parties: People like you bear some responsibility for that party’s current state

First of all, the modern G.O.P. fundamentally does not accept the legitimacy of a Democratic presidency — any Democratic presidency. We saw that under Bill Clinton, and we saw it again as soon as Mr. Obama took office.

But there has been no such price. Mr. Bush squandered the surplus of the late Clinton years, yet prominent pundits pretend that the two parties share equal blame for our debt problems.

So there has been no pressure on the G.O.P. to show any kind of responsibility, or even rationality — and sure enough, it has gone off the deep end. If you’re surprised, that means that you were part of the problem.


Of the +3300 posts I have written since I began blogging in 2005 (and the +83 podcasts Blue Gal and I have done since we began podcasting over a year ago), arguably a very strong plurality of all of it has been devoted to examining this very phenomenon: Not "Damn, aren't those wingnuts crazy.", but "Damn, why are you Mr. Centrist, Mr. Reasonable GOP Leader and Mr. TeeVee Gasbag continuing to get away with pretending that the wingnuts aren't crazy...or that the Left is just as crazy?"

Like virtually the entire Liberal blogosphere, this has been The Big Question for me since forever.

From one of my very first posts in April 2005 when I moved out of Steve Gilliard's place and struck out on my own:
But short run…Tom DeLay is now a Household Name. Been waiting 10 years for that to happen and always amazed that Republicans had no fucking clue who he was, even though you’d tell them five or a hundred times. Sheesh. All RAM and no Hard Drive with some people.

Every GOP Leader knows the Gingrich Lesson: No matter how much the membership owes you, they’ll go absolutely Lord of The Flies on your Piggy-ass the minute you becomes a measurable liability. Newt was so completely “I Am The Reich” that he would have been perfectly happy to go into the bunker and fight it out until the GOP was razed to rubble had he not been stopped by his own House Republicans.

And since the Suddenly Huge Liability named Tom DeLay is now just “Tell Tale Heart”--thundering away under the GOP floorboards, threatening to drown out everything else, the question is, will that same dynamic play twice?

Well DeLay ain’t Gingrich. He learned from that episode, and they don’t call him The Hammer for his shipwright skills. He spent a decade forcibly collecting GOP testicles and caching them in his private Crown Royal bag. At the slightest provocation he will to politically and personally destroy anyone who doesn’t bend a deep knee to His Gorgon Awfulness.

And both the Texas and National Republican parties have shown absolutely craven willingness to rewrite the Rules on the fly any time the Beast’s wet-bar needed to be restocked with virgin’s blood, or whenever a law or policy might make threaten to cinch-in the bottomless lust he and his stooges have for Power, Money, Trinkets and Perks, even a trifle.

So (hahah!) they’ve kinda disarmed themselves to accommodate him, and now they’re stuck very much up on that very windy gibbet with him.

To this obit for David Broder in March, 2011:

Death of the Anti-Gonzo

While there were many, many things David Broder loved -- centrism, politics, bi-partisanship, equidistanthood, divarication, bisect-uality, decussation -- one thing he really hated was hippies.

Those those damn, dirty, disrespectful fucking hippies.

He especially hate those fucking imaginary hippies: they were the sawdust and breadcrumb filler he kept heaping into his increasingly inedible journalistic meatloaf; the thumb he pressed down ever harder on the scales of his funny little rambles about America during his declining years (which encompassed all of the 21st Century and a big chunk of the end of the 20th) to artificially "balance out" the clear and horrifying fact that Party of Lincoln and Eisenhower that he had known as a barefoot lad growing up in the swampland of Chicago Heights was devolving into a billionaire-industrialist-funded mob of fundies, racists, imbeciles and sociopaths.

In fact, this fetish became so obsessive that, in the end, it became the great, tragic irony of David Broder's professional life. Because at last he simply could not bear to part with his fantasies about what he wished America to be and face the brutal realities of what America was actually becoming, David Broder -- this "Dean of the Washington press corps" -- totally missed out on covering the greatest story of his time; the utter collapse of the American news media and the mutation of the GOP from a political party into a dangerously fascistic cesspit of oligarchs, lunatics and rubes.

It was a story which his background and years of hard work had almost uniquely prepared him to cover, and one that was literally staring him in the face for much of the last 20 years.

And he completely fucking blew it.

To this other random sample grabbed from 2010:

"Then A Miracle Occurs..."

Like all Modern Conservatives, Bobo simply unremembers inconvenient facts that stand in the way of his pet theories. In this case, it is the grossly inconvenient fact that, since even before those heady days of the media obsession with Conservative lies about Clinton the Depraved Monster, Clinton the Secret Commie, Clinton the Rapist and Clinton the Murderer, it has been Bobo's Conservative Movement which has been gleefully driving this country off cliff after cliff after cliff. And plowing right through the "Catcher in the Rye" mobs of Liberals who -- at each junction -- were trying to block their serial, headlong plunges into one disaster after another all along the way.

So rather than facing the horribly painful reality of our nation's recent past, Bobo instead takes another loooooong hit off that Reagan crack-pipe, squints into a imaginary bright future and invents an entire movement of imaginary Patriot Centrists...

And from 2009:

"Here is a Revised List..."

So it turns out that virtually all of Mr. Sullivan's hard-won epiphanies amount to little more than the well-thumbed history and plainsong lore of our Fucked Up Modern Age as it has been long understood and passed down among those awful Liberals. And so when I see statements like this -- "Does this make me a "radical leftist" as Michelle Malkin would say? Emphatically not." -- what I see is a man who might want to distance himself from the appalling actions and despicable outcomes of his former allies, but still wants to continue honoring their idiotic parameters and debased vocabulary.

Yes, Mr. Sullivan, your objections emphatically do make you a "radical leftist", because in the hands of the shitkicker demagogues of the Right like Malkin, phrases like "radical leftist" have long since lost any meaning. They are just the pejorative-du-jour, pulled from a random grab-bag of Limbaugh-words -- socialist, elitist, feminist, Marxist, anti-American, compassionate, cut-and-run, surrender, Liberal, extremist, collectivist, queer, Communist, fascist, atheist, humanist, "New York", "San Francisco", “Chicago”, French, European -- that each used to have discrete and very different meanings, but are now bleated interchangeably by the Pig People and their overlords at anyone with a softer heart than Curtis LeMay and less imperial ambitions than Genghis Khan.

But then again, if Mr. Sullivan simply outed himself as a Liberal, he would instantly lose his place in the food-chain, wouldn’t he? Because like that microscopic number of self-loathing black Conservatives who make their daily bread by serving the interests of the Southern Bigot Party, more than any other single factor, it was always the sheer gawking, oddballness of the brazen self-delusion inherent in being the gay champion of the Christopath Homophobe Party that put Mr. Sullivan in the spotlight.

That was what gave him his unique and lucrative cache.

Because in Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" does not refer to a political ideology, but to an impoverishing political ghetto from which no amount of "being right about everything" will permit you to achieve escape velocity. In Mr. Sullivan's world, "Liberal" is a terrible disease that afflicts losers who do not get invited to spout their views on teevee.

Mr. Sullivan regularly receives such largess, therefore he must not be a Liberal.

He instead must be the lone member be of some rare and singular new species; some miraculous form of haploid political minotaur.

Because if he is not something spontaneously-generated and utterly sui generis, then he is just another Lefty-Come-Very-Lately, showing up at our door at 3:00 A.M., 20 years late and trailing toxic baggage behind him like a Halley Comet.

And who in the world would pay him to do his little dance then?

From 2007:

"The 27% Problem"

Understand that a world in flames, their every enemy – imaginary, real, here, abroad – writhing in agony, dying in as uncountable vast numbers as grains of sand on a beach is not a nightmare to them.

It is their dearest dream.

Hunkering over a bleeding globe, armed, insane, invulnerable, leering, dictating terms at the point of an ICBM and making the rest of humanity DANCE is their dream. The Bill of Rights a tattered memory. The bequest of our Founders mounted on pikes and paraded around in torch-lit processionals on Saint Reagan Day.

The do not fear fascism. They do not have the slightest problem with a New Inquisition.

They have no problem making this America’s New Face...the face of a raving nuclear-tipped sociopath, indiscriminately killing anyone who looks at them funny based on imagined slights and the voices in their head.

They only fear a holocaust where they are not the ones wielding the axe.

As I have said before, it’s a helluva story.

The most important story of our generation.

Too bad we no longer have a free and fearless press interested in reporting it.

From...well, you get the point grin

So thank you Mr. Krugman.

You have absolutely made this dirty fucking hippie's day.


Why Images Are Important for Blog Posts and Content

Remember how much you would have rather read a book with lots of pictures versus one with only text when you were a kid? The same applies, even now.

A picture speaks a thousand words, and when it comes to your content, that cannot be truer if your image is relevant. Images add richness to your content, and make readers more willing to read a long article. And they have great SEO value too!

Best Images for Content

The following are the types of images you can use to add an extra bit of pizazz to any blog post, article, or other piece of online content.

Eye Catching Photography

Dramatic Photography for Content

That photo grabbed your attention, right? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been lured into reading a post simply because it had an eye-catching photo attached to it. The key is to find something that either relates to your content or proves your point. In this case, my point was to catch your eye. Some examples include:

  • An article on how to calm the mind including photos of peaceful gardens or open meadows.
  • An article on how to build a treehouse including photos of awesome treehouse designs.
  • An article on the perfect cupcake recipe including photos of the ingredients and the finished product.

Relevant photos can help the audience really feel the point you are trying to make with your content as well as breaking up the text making the story seem like less of a daunting read.

People Photos

Have you ever noticed that you tend to trust a Twitter user or Facebook friend more if they have a photo of themselves as opposed to a cartoon, logo, or other non-personal bio image?

The same goes with content. Readers love to see the face behind whatever topic is being covered in a piece of content. This includes:

  • Author bio photos for blog posts and articles.
  • Photos of a person who authored a book or an eBook that you are reviewing.
  • Photos of people included in a list, such as the top designer bloggers on Twitter.

Including people photos will increase the reader’s engagement and trust with your content as it lets them know that there is a real person on the other side of the screen creating the content.


Screenshots, in my opinion, are essential when it comes to two particular types of content – how to articles and lists.

How-To Screenshots

You can write the greatest tutorial on how to use a piece of software, but if it doesn’t include screenshots, it will make the reader still feel that the software may be to complicated for them to understand. For example, I could say that, when editing photos in Gimp, you should scale the image to the appropriate size to fit the article, such as I did with the above photo in this post to make it 570px wide. Or I could say that and then include the following:

Screenshot Images for How To Articles

Including the screenshot directs readers to the right menu option to correspond with my instructions, helping readers get to know the software before they get to it and give them a reference point if they get stuck.

List Post Screenshots

Have you ever seen a piece of content such as the top 25 ___ websites? Have you noticed that some lists go viral while others are just blah. The difference is generally in whether the post has included screenshots of the websites in question.

Screenshot Images for List Posts

A good example of this is how Dainis listed 33 blogs to make you a social media and marketing guru with screenshots of each site.

So the next time you do a list of your favorite people on Twitter, include a screenshot of their Twitter profile. Or if you do a list of your favorite brand’s Facebook pages, include a screenshot of their fan pages. This will make readers love your list even more and share it with their audience!

How to Get Images for Your Content

So now that you have some good ideas of what kind of images to include in your content, here are some tools and resources to get those images.

Eye Catching Photography

The following are great sources for eye-catching photography.

  • Creative Commons Images – My favorite resource is Flickr’s Advanced Search to find eye-catching photography. Be sure to check the box to Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content and include a photo credit with the image you use.
  • Royalty-Free Stock Photos – If you can’t find what you are looking for through Creative Commons, your next best bet is sites like iStockphoto that allows you to buy a photo for use in your website content and designs.

There are tons of other resources – simply search for creative commons images or stock photography on Google to find them, but the above are a great place to start. Also, if you find a photo you want to use but it isn’t creative commons licensed, all hope is not lost. Just email the owner of the photo / photographer and let them know what you had in mind. You might get a great response!

People Photos

Whenever I need to grab a photo of a person, I tend to go with their Twitter profile photo as it is one they have chosen to represent themselves online. Other places to grab a photo include:

  • A person’s Gravatar (if they have commented on your blog).
  • The author bio page on their blog.
  • The photo on their corporate bio page.

Or, if you prefer, you can contact the person and ask them to send you a photo of their choosing for an upcoming piece of content you are working on. Generally, if you let them know you are including them on a list or a positive review, they will be happy to oblige!


If you don’t have a program like Snagit or similar to get screen captures, then you have some free options to work with.

  • Screenshots on Windows Based PCs – I tend to rely on the Print Screen (Prt Scr) button on my keyboard to do a screen capture, then resize and crop it in Gimp, a free image editor.
  • Screenshots on Mac OS Machines – If you’re running a Mac, you can use shortcuts such as Command-Shift-3 to take a screenshot and save it on your desktop, Command-Control-Shift-3 to take a screenshot and save it to your clipboard, or use other shortcuts listed here. Gimp also works on Mac for editing your screenshots.
  • Website Previews – If you use Safari and need an image of a website, then you’ll be happy to know that Safari actually takes screenshots of websites in .png and .jpg format. In Windows 7, you can find these previews under C:\Users\YourUsername\AppData\Local\Apple Computer\Safari\Webpage Previews. You can then edit the website’s capture in Gimp to fit your post.

Windows 7 also has a Snipping Tool that allows you to grab screenshots easily, but I have found those captures are very low quality, so depending on your needs, you might want to use one of the above options instead.

Your Thoughts on Images for Content

Now it’s your turn. How do you use images in your content? Please share your strategies and resources with us in the comments!

Photo Credit: Ground Squirrel of the Desert


Chevy Volts invade NYC police fleet, give cops all new ways to taze bros

New York's boys in blue will soon be able to creep up on evildoers with even more subtlety, thanks to some new electrified vehicles the city unveiled yesterday. As part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's environmentally-friendly PlaNYC initiative, 70 new EVs have been added to the city's fleet of public cars, in the hopes of lowering emissions and creating a "greener, greater New York City." Joining the force are ten Ford Transit Connect cargo vans, ten Navi-star E-star trucks and a full 50 Chevy Volts -- some of which will be used as NYPD squad cars. These newcomers will be shared among nine different departments, joining 360 other city plug-ins already purring their way across the five boroughs. Bloomberg is also working toward adding EVs to New York's army of 13,000 taxis -- which we're totally cool with, as long as they're not minivans. Zip past the break for a rather Homeric press release.

Continue reading Chevy Volts invade NYC police fleet, give cops all new ways to taze bros

Chevy Volts invade NYC police fleet, give cops all new ways to taze bros originally appeared on Engadget on Fri, 15 Jul 2011 01:03:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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