Two recent books—Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America and Gordon Lafer’s The One Percent Solution: How Corporations Are Remaking America One State at a Time—seek to explain several puzzling aspects of American politics today. Why do people of modest means who depend on government-funded health care and Social Security or other supplements to their income continue to vote for candidates who promise to privatize or get rid of those very programs? Why do people who are poor vote for politicians who promise to cut corporate taxes?
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Laura Ingalls Wilder, whose “Little House” books are sweet, yearning stories of a bygone childhood on a vanished American frontier. They are also dark tales of crushing adversity in a land gained by dispossession of others and hostile to the purposes to which it was being put. Scenes of a loving, self-sufficient family working, talking, and eating together are offset by those of starvation, sudden blizzard, frigid cold, wildfire, drought, disease, blindness, infant death, isolation, madness, plagues of locusts: loss after loss. The books, written for children but read by the world, are autobiographical, with some jiggering and embellishment. But the tribulations they describe are only a portion of those endured by their creator, as described in absorbing, if distressing, detail by Caroline Fraser in Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Born on a farm in Wisconsin in 1867, Laura Ingalls was the second of Charles and Caroline Ingalls’s eventual five children, four whom survived to adulthood. Charles began to chafe under Wisconsin’s growing population, never seeming to grasp, as Fraser observes, “that his ambition for a profitable farm was irreconcilable with a love of untrammeled and unpopulated wilderness.” He moved the family to Missouri, then Kansas in 1869, to territory assigned to the Osage in the 1830 Indian Removal Act; thus the Ingallses became squatters, the government’s “weapon of choice,” in Fraser’s words, for displacing Indians. Unlike most of the would-be settlers, the Ingallses did not stick it out to see white settlers legitimized by the government — as, of course, they were. After two years, the Ingalls family returned to their farm in Wisconsin and from there to Minnesota, and thence to small-town Iowa to run a hotel, where the general insalubriousness of the place and their own indebtedness caused them to vamoose in the night and return again to Minnesota. In 1879 they moved to De Smet, in the Dakota territory, land promoted by the railroads in “one of the greatest boondoggles of all.” All told, by age eighteen, Laura had lost something like a dozen homes, thanks, in part, to her father, a dreamer and master of miscalculation, but thanks, also, to some of the worst luck imaginable, including the most severe drought and most destructive swarm of locusts in recorded history, along with bruising economic conditions.
In 1885 Laura Ingalls married Almanzo Wilder in De Smet. Soon enough her trials resumed, beginning with the discovery that her husband had taken on a frightening debt to build an overelaborate house — which they then had to rent out, moving to a claim shanty where Laura gave birth to a healthy daughter, Rose, in 1886. Their troubles continued: their crops were destroyed by drought and in one case hail, for three successive years. In 1888, both Laura and Almanzo nearly died of diphtheria, and Almanzo suffered a stroke that left him partially crippled. They had a second child who died in infancy. Their house burned down. They moved to a larger town, Spring Valley, but soon sold up and moved, disastrously, to Florida, seduced by railroad propaganda, much as Laura’s own parents had been. They lasted less than a year there and returned to De Smet. They were buffeted by a “free-market” economy gone awry, spinning off panics and “price famines.” Two years later they sold up again and traveled by covered wagon across drought-blasted Nebraska and Kansas to Missouri, eventually ending up in Mansfield, Missouri, a little town in the Ozarks. It was 1894, and here they stayed, first in town and later at a farm. Times remained very hard.
Wilder’s professional writing career began in 1911 with a regular column for the Missouri Ruralist that she kept up until 1924. With its harking back to pioneer days and the concreteness and clarity of style that she gained from having served for years as the eyes of her blind sister, Mary, the column was an excellent apprenticeship for the subsequent books. Just how those works came to be obliges Fraser to lay out the story of Wilder’s daughter, Rose’s, astoundingly messy life; and in this way, the latter part of the book becomes a dual biography of mother and daughter, the latter of whom Fraser clearly despises.
There is much to say in Rose’s favor from our perspective: She was intrepid, leaving home, becoming a telegraph operator and eventually traveling the world as a freelance journalist. She married Claire Gillette Lane, a traveling man and ne’er-do-well — but dumped him, preferring her independence. She contributed her editing prowess to her mother’s work. And, indeed, in all the “Little House” books, it was, Fraser writes, “the unique combination of [Laura’s and Rose’s] skills that created a transcendent whole.”
Still, Rose Lane was a thoroughly bad egg. The reader — this one at least — begins to look forward to her next laughably awful crime against decency. Among them were the “autobiographies” of Charlie Chaplin and Jack London she fabricated, making up quotations and incidents to the horror of Chaplin — upon whom she conferred a “vicious drunk” for a father — and the deceased London’s sister. After the success of Little House in the Big Woods, her mother’s first book, Rose wrote her own, poaching the stories from her mother’s past, “competing with her . . . over her material, first in secret and then openly, trying to put her own imprimatur on the family stories before her mother could.” Though her book sold, it lacked the peculiar genius of Wilder’s vision of the West, which Fraser describes perfectly as having been drawn “from her inner life” and “a work of pure folk art.” After her mother’s death Rose claimed to have been the true author of the books, thus setting in train a controversy that lasts to this day — and which Fraser’s tireless sorting-out of the record should lay to rest. Though it probably will not.
As Fraser points out, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s work takes an en ever-changing place in our culture. The novels have always appealed to readers for the feisty girl at their center, for their absorbing material detail and scrupulous attention to the mechanics of domestic and farm life, and as celebrations of home and, indeed, of the national obsession: home ownership. But where once they were read chiefly as stories that exalted independence and hard work, we, in our time, are more likely to notice what is also there: the dispossession of Native Americans, the rape of the land, the extortionate terms of homestead claims, and, in general, the use of poor settlers by the government in league with the railroads for opening the West. Fraser discusses all this, devoting special attention to the ecological and climatological mayhem caused by plowing up the great grasslands of the prairie to plant wheat. The result was desiccating climate change, soil erosion, and the monstrous dust storms that beggared the land. (In 1935 alone, winds swept away 850 million tons of topsoil.)
Prairie Fires is a brilliant contribution to our understanding of Laura Ingalls Wilder and of how her influential books were conceived, composed, and understood over time. Beyond that, it presents a great slice of American history — cultural, economic, political, demographic, climatological — and of the role of women in the agricultural sphere. It is an extraordinary book, far richer, deeper, and more complex than anything but actually reading it can convey.
The post Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder appeared first on The Barnes & Noble Review.
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If you are a fledgling businessperson who does not have a website and thinks that you can do well without one, think again.
Your website functions as your business’ online recognition. When created right, a website can promote your business, bring in new leads and glue your present customers. It can also provide your company an edge over your competitors in the industry.
So, what makes a great website?
Below, we have highlighted all the elements that should be on your company’s website.
Your site’s homepage undoubtedly needs to be attractive but that doesn’t mean you should invest all your efforts, time and attention on just the aesthetics. Remember that the interaction weighs more than the beauty of your website. Think as a visitor.
What would your targeted visitor look for or do when landing on your website?
Once you have the answer to that, you can start working on the usability of your website.
Validation and Credibility
Time matters a lot. Your customers are not going to spend a long time deciding whether they can trust you or not. You have to find a way to make them trust you.
One of the best ways is to exhibit customers’ reviews and testimonials on your website. Video testimonials look more authentic and they can engage customers to a greater level. Moreover, you can also exhibit your physical address where your customers can find you in person.
A user-friendly layout doesn’t demand much effort. You can start by keeping your navigation bars easy to discover and with clearly marked titles. You should make the important details on your website easy to read and locate for your users.
Ingenious 404 Error Page
The thing about technology is that it breaks and this is where a 404 page comes to play. But, why not use that page to clearly convey your brand story? Fill in all points with creative ideas as each of them is a valuable chance to convey your brand story.
An About Us Video
You have to be sure that your value proposition is clearly communicated to your website’s users. A great way to do this is by having an introductory explainer video on the homepage.
Many of your website visitors will watch it before skimming the text-based content. This makes an explainer video effective in making visitors take your company’s branding seriously. Furthermore, videos do not demand much time to grab visitor’s attention and get viewed.
Page Load Time
Humans want quick solutions. An effective way to increase your website’s conversion rate is to keep your homepage clean, streamlined and easy to navigate. Not all of your visitors have a speedy broadband. In fact, a lot of people use their phones to surf the Internet and their network speed may vary.
As stated by a Web Development Company in Dubai, a website should be responsive to get scaled on multiple screen resolutions and devices, such as smartphones, laptops, tablets and desktop computers.
Clear Concise copy
A good copy has the power to convert potential customers. Successful websites are known for the clarity, concision, and relevancy of their content to their visitors’ demands.
If you want to convert your customers effectively, write a copy that can enlighten them about your company’s value. Because of that, it is essential to know who you are writing for, what they are looking for and where they are coming from.
Case studies are essential, particularly for more serious customers who want to discover about your previous customers and how they are benefited by your offerings. This will give them a clearer and tangible standpoint about how your business functions. They help customers discover more about your business, objectives and the effectiveness of your products/services.
A Powerful Call to Action
Call actions can do wonders when used correctly. It is important to have an influential call-to-action on your homepage as that is what you want your customers to do when they hit your website.
Your call to actions should be clear on what your website visitors should do. Guide them to write a mail, call a number or register for a free trial if that is what you want them to do.
Links to Social Pages
A number of startup websites are unable to mention direct links to their social profiles. If you are one of them, it’s probably the right time to reconsider your strategy.
Rather than using these links on the “Contact Us” page, place them somewhere they are visible to your visitors. This will allow your visitors to connect with your company directly on the social platforms.
The post What Makes A Great Website? 10 Helpful Tips For Every Aspiring Entrepreneur appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
It’s a great time to flock to Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge. An hour’s drive north of California’s state capital, the refuge provides critical habitat to migrating waterfowl. Duck and geese numbers peak in November and December with huge groups filling the sky. It’s an amazing experience, and another great reason to #OptOutside. Photo of snow geese by Steve McDonald, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Are you making the most of the new LinkedIn?
If you’re like most people, you log in to LinkedIn whenever you need to update your resume, click “like” on your colleagues’ work anniversaries and maybe post a link relevant to your field. Then, you log off for the next six months until something else happens in your career that you need to update.
If you haven’t logged in for a while, you might not have noticed the changes taking place all over LinkedIn. And with that, you also might not know what you are really missing out.
What’s New on LinkedIn?
To start, there are literally millions of more people on LinkedIn now than there probably were when you first signed up. Back in 2011, there were just 140 million users. Today, there are 500 million users, 9 million companies, more than 10 million active job listings and 100,000 new articles published daily.
There are new features that tell you when people are online so you can chat with them on the new messaging system. You can share your story via native video with filters, too. You also have access to top leaders in your field and there’s a possibility that mentoring services will roll out soon, in addition to many other updates rolling out weekly.
Forget Resumes – Get Hired on the New LinkedIn
The days of mailing out hundreds of copies of your resume in hopes of getting a few job interviews are in the past. These days, if you want to advance your career, you need to connect with people in your field on LinkedIn.
Where do you want to work and what do you want to do there?
Highlight your skills set on LinkedIn and show them why you would be a great fit for the job. Grow your network by engaging with people one on one. Show people what you’re made of by creating engaging posts. It’s all about ongoing engagement.
Remember, people log on to LinkedIn now more frequently than ever and they spend more time there. This creates a more open and collaborative environment. So, find the job you want on LinkedIn and then go after it.
In fact, 75% of people who recently changed jobs used LinkedIn to research their options and make decisions about where to go. More than a third of job seekers use social media to contact potential employers.
When you think about it, it totally makes sense – we don’t fax our resumes to potential employers anymore. How do people communicate these days? The answer is social media.
So, it only makes sense that we search for new jobs through the platforms where we do most of our communicating.
Personal Branding is the New Resume
What do you think makes a bigger impact — a piece of paper with a few facts about you or your longstanding digital footprint?
These days employers are searching for you online before you ever step foot in their office. This is where personal branding comes into play and your LinkedIn profile is the perfect place to build it.
We all know that networking is crucial for professional growth, but we all also know that going to “networking events” is not the most effective way to do so. You need to connect with people who share your interests and work in your field. The mishmash of people who show up to “networking events” aren’t always going to be the people you will make the deepest connections with.
Networking on LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to network with people who share your interests on a whole other level. 61% of professionals say that this kind of interaction has led to new job opportunities for them.
On LinkedIn, half of its users say that they have found a job through a mutual connection while 35% say that a casual conversation on LinkedIn has led to a new opportunity. There’s power in the new LinkedIn and you just have to take the steps to unlock it.
Learn more about the new LinkedIn by the numbers from this infographic. Are you making the most of the power of LinkedIn?
Source: Number Sleuth
The post Using The New LinkedIn For Personal Branding And Career Success appeared first on Dumb Little Man.
How to fix my credit score in 6 months?
This is the question that’s probably bugging you for quite some time now. And unfortunately, you’re still as clueless as ever.
Fixing your credit card score in just 6 months is never going to be easy but it’s doable. The trick is in knowing the right strategies that can improve your standing quickly. For someone who’s stressed out and frustrated with a poor credit report, this can be an overwhelming and intimidating experience.
To help you get started, here are some of the most effective tips you can use in improving your credit score fast.
Know Where You Stand
Before you start on anything, you should first get an accurate picture of your debt and your credit score. Take out your credit report and carefully read every entry to make sure that all data are accurate. You can check out sites like AAACreditGuide for a free credit report from your issuer to start.
Well, based on the Federal Trade Commission, around 5% of consumers have errors in their reports that are so bad that they get charged higher for an insurance or financial product. If you see any errors in your report, make sure to file a dispute right away and have them removed.
Eliminate small credit card balances
Having a card with an unpaid balance of $45 and another card with a balance of $35 can hurt your credit score more than having the total amount of those two balances on one card. This is because your credit score is affected by how many of your cards have balances.
So, if you have small balances on a number of credit cards, make sure to pay them off first. Once you’re able to eliminate them, choose one or two cards you can stick with for your future transactions.
Pay your bills on time
This is pretty obvious if you think about it.
Your ability to pay your bills on time is your credit score’s most critical part. Unfortunately, it’s also the hardest to increase, particularly in such a short period. In the next 6 months, you have to make sure you don’t make any late payment. The longer you can do on-time payments, the higher your credit score will be.
You should also deal with any past-due bills as soon as possible. You can call your creditor to ask if you are behind on any accounts and be sure to get current with them. Any account that’s marked delinquent can hurt your score.
Put any extra cash to paying your debts
When it comes to your credit score, your payment history isn’t the only thing you have to worry about. The amount of debt you have matters, too. In fact, it constitutes around 30% of your FICO score. It’s a type of credit score lenders typically use to determine a person’s credit risk.
When you pay off your debt, it’s not just your debt level that gets reduced; your credit utilization becomes lower, too. This can create a major bump in your total credit score. So, whenever you have any extra cash, such as getting a bonus from work, set it aside for your debt repayment.
Don’t close your old credit accounts
Another factor that can affect your credit score is the length on your accounts. Even if your accounts have zero balance, avoid closing them.
On the same note, you should also refrain from opening a new credit account. Although a fresh account can create a small bump in your score because of a new credit line, credit inquiries can make you lose 5 to 10 points.
Get multiple forms of credit
Around 10% of your credit score relies on the type of credit you have. This means that opening multiple forms of credit can greatly help. Instead of having just one, having student loans and credit card can help you build credit faster.
There’s just one caveat.
Although opening multiple forms of credit can have a positive effect on your score, obtaining too many credit lines simultaneously can end up damaging your record.
Don’t do anything that could indicate risk
Apart from missing payments, another thing that can create a dent in your credit score is paying less than you’re supposed to. In addition to that, getting cash advances and using your card on things that can indicate future money stress can also negatively affect your score. One good example is paying an attorney for your divorce.
Before using your card, think about the risk it can create first. The last thing you want to happen is to create a risk that could scare your card issuer and your credit score.
Remain under your credit limit
One of the biggest factors in your credit score is your credit utilization. This refers to how much of your credit limit you’re actually using. Ideally, to fix your credit score, you should keep your balances to 30% of your credit limit.
There are a lot of ways you can do that. You can make micro-payments or multiple small payments to keep your credit balance down. You can also ask to increase your credit limit. This will automatically lower your credit utilization.
However, before you actually do that, you should ask your credit card issuer first. Ask if you can have an increase in your credit limit without causing a hard credit inquiry. Remember, inquiries can cause a drop in your score.
See Also: 9 Valuable Credit Card Perks
Let’s face it.
Building a good credit score can take a lot of time and work. It’s not something that can happen overnight or in just weeks.
Although there are ways for you to increase your credit card score in just a few months, you still have to be realistic. Negative credit history can remain for a long time.
Filing for bankruptcy, for example, can weigh your score down for 10 years. If this is your case, you shouldn’t expect your credit score to miraculously improve in a short time. However, with discipline and the right strategies, you can improve your score little by little.
See Also: 4 Ways to Start Building Great Credit
Thanks to the power of the internet, it’s now easier than ever to make money online and start a business of your own. People are using the internet for three main reasons: to find something, buy something and be entertained.
If you have an idea or business model that caters to any of these needs, you can definitely start making some serious money. To help you out, here are 5 legitimate ways to earn money online.
Create a Website or Blog
A quick and easy way to start making money online is through a website or blog. It’s easy to go live with a site of your own, thanks to the power of WordPress. It’s a free CMS platform that is powering the majority of sites on the internet today.
Through content creation and placing advertisements on your site, such as Google AdSense, you can start making money. You just need to grow your audience, so you can start earning a commission every time someone clicks on the advertisements on your site.
See Also: 7 Life-Enhancing Reasons To Start A Blog
Start an Online Course or Membership Site
If you have any type of expertise or knowledge in a specific area that people are willing to pay for, then building an online course or membership site might be a great idea for you. There are a lot of tools you can use in creating and selling digital products and online courses, like Kajabi. These tools give you the opportunity to get started with an online business even without any technical skills or business history.
To learn more about this process and how to start selling online courses, be sure to take a look at any of the existing tutorials, testimonials, and success stories already out there. One of the best ways to discover what’s working in the world of online marketing and sales is to follow the formulas and examples of the successful people in the industry.
Make Money with Affiliate Marketing
The concept of affiliate marketing is quite simple. Site owners, content creators, and online marketers will earn a commission every time they refer a sale, lead or action to a specific website they’re sending traffic to. A perfect example of this is Amazon’s affiliate program.
If you have a website or blog, you can link to Amazon through your affiliate link and earn a commission every time a new purchase is made. Best of all, there is no need to hold any inventory or deal with customer support and orders. Affiliates simply direct traffic to the online merchant and you’ll earn a commission for that.
Launch an Online Review Site
Have you ever went to Google and search for product reviews before buying something? Of course, you have.
What you probably didn’t know is that the majority of online review sites are making money whenever someone goes to their site or purchases something through their recommendation. You can do the same thing through Google AdSense or affiliate marketing.
When launching a review site of your own, be sure to keep your content as focused on your niche as possible. Provide the most value for your audience to make it easier for you to monetize your site in the process.
Freelance Writing in Your Spare Time
The aforementioned methods above are all about creating content and building an online platform for your audience. However, you don’t really need to build a website or course just to earn money online. With over a billion active websites and blogs on the internet today, millions of sites are looking for original content. This is where freelance writing comes into play.
Freelance writing sites like iWriter and Textbroker allow freelance writers to connect with companies that are in need of content. You can start making money there even if you don’t have an extensive writing experience.
These are just some of the ways to earn money online. You actually have a lot of options if you just do your research first. Explore those options and see which might be best for you.
You’re reading How Yoga and Meditation Made Me a Better Person, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’re enjoying this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.
When I was young, I was privileged to have been born in a family where money was not an issue yet my father combined his hard work with hard alcohol daily leaving my mom to raise myself and my 3 brothers. My dad’s income presented my mom with a security that she was unable to attain on her own with no college education. She was married at 18 and pregnant with her first that following year. My fathers’ growing pay check and increased absence gave her the freedom to hire babysitters, shop, or go on fancy trips. We had many babysitters and family rules were not part of our upbringing.
As kids, we were pretty much given whatever we wanted whether it be ordering out pizza every night or money to buy material items. Living life in this way may have seemed nice to many, but without the stability of 2 parents teaching family values such as love and kindness towards others, my family life often resulted in a chaotic blend of self entitlement, without compassion, love or respect towards others.
When I turned 25, I was in the middle of College with average to low grades and my dad had made a series of poor business decisions which resulted in him filing for bankruptcy. My mother was filing for divorce. Suddenly, I no longer had the financial support that I used freely to get by in life. I’ll give you an example. This was me speaking to my car insurance company: ” Oh, you’re not going to insure me anymore because I skipped a few payments and was living and driving in the States? – Who cares. I’ll find another car insurance company.” So, I did and my dad paid double.
“Oh, you mean, I can’t come back to school because I missed too many classes and essentially failed out? Whatever…I am going to school in Europe next year.” So off I went.
By the time I was thirty the family money was all dried up with my parents fighting over it in court, and I was left with a very poor set of values and wondered why things just weren’t working for my very entitled self. I no longer had my dad’s money as a crutch. Whatever good things came my way, I realized I would have to work hard for them and learn how to maintain them. It was a while before I found yoga and process of meditation, and in the interim I would say that my life was a series of lessons learned without any real guidelines to go by. I was frustrated with life’s curve balls and was searching for some form of peace and guidance in my life. Once discovered, it would seem that yoga and meditation process was the perfect solution.
I think one of the first things I learned was that life is so unpredictable. From Hurricanes to Earthquakes and so many other Natural, Social & Personal Events can bring you way up, then way down. Then way up, then way down, just like a seesaw in a playground. Yet with life’s unpredictability, I could always find shelter from ups and downs through mantra meditation. When practicing this meditation on a daily basis, I felt safe. I especially felt warmth and love in my heart.
So, my whole world could be turned upside down but I always had somewhere peaceful to go to. This constant consistent practice gave me peace of mind, and soon I learned how to detach from the things that were out of my control. I realized that my life’s events of going up and going down were essentially just part of my karma. And the only way to ride my karmic storm without getting all caught up in it would be to surrender to it. This was very humbling. I learned that I had to detach from the outcome because after all, we have very little control over how people will respond to us or what life brings us and takes way.
With learning this powerful lesson, I was humbled and my heart softened. I began to realize that one of the only things I could control was the way in which I treated other people, especially my friends and family. I no longer wanted to feel guilty about how I would mistreat my friends and family if I wasn’t getting what I wanted. This feeling soon spread to no longer wanting to be a cause in the mistreatment animals by eating them.
I came to the understanding that all living things are spirit in nature covered by material bodies. And each spirit soul is part and parcel of the Supreme Being. Once I understood this, I felt the desire to treat all living things with kindness and respect from the smallest ant on the sidewalk to my elderly grandmother. I began to see the world as literally one big family with the Supreme Being as the Father of all living entities.
The truly most wonderful thing I learned about yoga and meditation was that the more I practiced it, the more I achieved self-realization. The more I achieved self realization, the more I understand about the science of identity, my essence, purpose and goal in this life. This has become a wonderful journey and I feel so blessed to have found yoga and meditation.
I make an effort each day to meditate upon the Supreme Being, and in return, I feel a sense of love and happiness which supersedes all other forms. In return, I can’t but help to try and emanate the same love and kindness I feel in my heart to all. This can only be done through the regular daily practice of chanting the names of the Supreme Being. I truly know this because I have experienced it.
You’ve read How Yoga and Meditation Made Me a Better Person, originally posted on Pick the Brain | Motivation and Self Improvement. If you’ve enjoyed this, please visit our site for more inspirational articles.
Brunette Sylvia was certainly the way Plath felt a serious woman writer should present herself. In any case, a representation of Plath is still a blank slate on which readers, curators, observers, and fans project their views of her and their assumptions about the proper portrait of the young female artist. Plath anticipated that she would become famous for her sexuality and her suffering, as well as for her poetry. In “Lady Lazarus,” she speaks in the voice of a terrifying alter ego, a suicide survivor and femme fatale who rises from the ashes with her red hair and eats men like air. Lady Lazarus angrily warns the voyeuristic spectators that they must pay to see her.