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Out of the night that covers me,
    Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
    For my unconquerable soul.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Linkee-poo, black water keeps rolling on past just the same

Hmm, I see some of our friends from Russia are still here. But man have you guys been overtaken by China. (Debates adding ads and starting a turf war between Russian trolls and China link farmers)

"Oxfam's accounting works like this: your net worth is your assets minus your debts… That means if you are debt-free, and have one penny, you are richer than the poorest 40% of the Earth: 2,800,000,000 people." What it really means is that those who are least able to afford debt, are the ones who carry the most. And here in the US, much of your debt is indexed against your FICO. The lower it is, the more you will have to pay (and that includes everything from not being able to get a good paying job, to what you pay for insurance, to your interest rates on loans - if you're even able to get a loan).

"The newly-minted chair of the House Appropriations Committee said Monday that both House and Senate leadership, as well as the incoming Trump administration, had made a “promise” to have a replacement ready for Obamacare as soon as it is repealed." Would you trade Obamacare for what's behind Curtain Number 3?

"Under this (legislative) proposal (from a conservative controlled legislature), if a utility provided energy produced by a large-scale wind or solar plant to Wyoming residents, it would be fined $10 per megawatt sold. Only energy from coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydroelectric, oil and small-scale, privately-owned solar panels and wind turbines could be sold without repercussions." Remember when Republicans where the "free-market" party? (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"Generally, this model forces insurers to take fewer risks so that they can still make money. They do this by excluding preexisting conditions and paying fewer claims. In such a market, fewer people are helped, and when they are able to get insurance, they pay a lot more for it than if they were part of an employee-sponsored plan… The Affordable Care Act changed all of this. Companies were required to stop doing these bad things. In exchange for taking on substantially more risk of less healthy patients, they were promised more business by getting access to more potential customers." On what went wrong and why repealing will not lead to a replacement. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

"U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R-The Woodlands, faced a skeptical and at times testy crowd Tuesday as dozens of people arrived at an afternoon meeting to make sure he knew they would not let the Affordable Care Act end without a fight." He still supports repeal. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Millionaire president-elect Donald Trump tweeted at @Ivanka, but that ain't his daughter. Even better, Ivanka Majic smacked him down for good measure." It's. His. Own. Fucking. Daughter. Drunk tweeting again. (Grokked from Dan)

The DeVos confirmation hearing train wreck. I guess "extreme vetting" isn't for internal consumption. This is what happens when you choose people for ideology, especially when it's a one-trick-pony kind of ideology (school vouchers/dismantle public education). Mrs. DeVos is all over that. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Conservative talk radio host Laura Ingraham says she's considering a 2018 challenge to Democrat Tim Kaine for a U.S. Senate seat representing Virginia." Oh please let us see that salute at the RNC 1000x over creating another "I'm not a witch" moment.

"In response to Donald Trump’s pending inauguration, Shepard Fairey has designed a series of posters featuring groups he considers traditionally marginalized. The “We the People” series is the work of Fairey — with contributions from artists Jessica Sabogal and Ernesto Yerena — and it has raised several hundred thousand dollars to purchase full-page ads with the posters in the Washington Post to make a statement on Inauguration Day." Stands and salutes. (Grokked from Dan)

So, with only a few days left, how is the transition going? Opens door. "The Obama administration has written 275 briefing papers for the incoming Trump administration: nearly 1,000 pages of classified material on North Korea’s nuclear program, the military campaign against the Islamic State, tensions in the South China Sea, and every other kind of threat the new team could face in its first weeks in office… Nobody in the current administration knows whether anyone in the next has read any of it." Closes door. To be fair, there's a lot that needs to happen for the transition, and almost no modern transition has been without hiccups (you might remember the stream of Obama appointees who had tax issues). But, yeah, sorta wow. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Tweet of my heart: @Attervar If you feel like you're in the wrong universe, remember all this weird crap only started after they turned on the Large Hadron Collider. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Scenes from a Commute

Yes, it was that blurry.

Linkee-poo, here's your ticket, pack your bags, time for jumping overboard

The James White Award for new writers in SF. From their rules page (which you should read in full) "The James White Award is open to previously unpublished stories between 1000 and 6000 words by non-professional authors. Submissions are welcome from authors based anywhere in the world, but the stories must be written in English." No fee, online submission process. Deadline is Friday. (Grokked from Steven Gould)

Terri Windling on every day being Judgement Day. "Some artists fear the judgement of failure: the manuscript unpublished, the painting unsold; and others the judgement of the marketplace: bad reviews, poor sales, disappointed fans. Some fear specific kinds of judgement: the lowered esteem of colleagues or certain critics, the negative opinions of family or friends. And for others, the harshest judge of all is the one who whispers inside our own head…" And the bad part, as a graduate of Art School, I was critiqued every single day and in every class. I have about a thick of a skin as you're likely to see. And since August I've been dealing with this question of "perfection is the enemy of good." Being the grandchild and child of perfectionists it's a high-hurdle to cross once you stop running. Damn Newton, inertia is a hard thing to get past. "Perfectionism is a bargain with the Universe: If my work is absolutely perfectly, then you, oh Universe, will absolve me from my mortal share of judgement, criticism, disappointment, and hurt. But the bargain never works." I may need to read this post a few more times to let all those lessons I once learned sink back into my thick skull and try to kick out the others who have invaded it.

Elizabeth Bear on a similar vein. "Because as all writers know, the only way to get that book--the book that speaks with your own voice--is to write it… And then fail, because every book is a failure in some way, even if only its author knows it." There's a recurring theme in my reading about writing, it's "get off the internet." And it's something I'm struggling with. Hell, I've been struggling with it since Alex C. Renwick made the comment to me so many damn years ago. But I've been struggling hard with it since Nov. 8th. You might remember that I said before the election that I would be going lighter with posting here after the election. That hasn't happened (do I need to explain why). However I have taken large breaks (and have been very creative during those times). I don't know why I need to keep relearning this lesson. Sorry to make this about me (isn't this whole damn blog about me?), but it's reached a point that the Universe is trying to send me a message.

"A lot of people mix up children's names or friends' names, but Deffler is a cognitive scientist at Rollins College, in Winter Park, Fla., and she wanted to find out why it happens. So she did a survey of 1,700 men and women of different ages, and she found that naming mistakes are very common. Most everyone sometimes mixes up the names of family and friends." The mind is not a computer. Also note the use of "folder" as an easy metaphor. Before graphic UI (like the Mac and Windows) they would have said "directory."

"Gretchen Rubin, mega-bestselling author of The Happiness Project, says the key to long-term habit change is understanding how we respond to expectations. She names four broad categories of responders: the Ravenclaw, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin of habit-changing. Figuring out your cognitive house might be the key to changing your bad habits for good. Including one habit we hear about a lot: clinging to the phone right up until our eyes drop closed." A Note to Self podcast.

"The report by the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports legalized abortion, puts the rate at 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age (ages 15-44) in 2014. That's the lowest recorded rate since the Roe decision in 1973. The abortion rate has been declining for decades — down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981." Some of it is because of restrictions, but the majority is because of better, cheaper, and longer last birth control for women. Another effect of Obamacare which is about to be gutted in a one-two punch from dismantling the ACA and defunding Planned Parenthood. Also, the experiment in Colorado, which provided free long term birth control to low-income women, wasn't adopted by the state lawmakers (the trial period was privately funded) even though it would save Colorado hundred of millions in other programs.

Payola is alive and well even if it isn't called that.

"There is one fact that is both central to the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act yet strangely absent from explicit discussion about it. One of the main ways the ACA makes health insurance affordable is by providing families earning less than 400 percent of the poverty line… with tax credits to defray the cost of purchasing insurance… Democrats who wrote the law didn’t find the money for those subsidies hidden in a banana stand — they did what Democrats like to do when paying for things and raised taxes on affluent families." This may have a lot to do with conservative scorn of Obamacare, but I still believe they see it as a threat to their power and learned the (wrong) lessons of Social Security and Medicare (when they lost power in Congress for decades). And I don't believe they'll move on from repealing the ACA because they can't propose a workable alternative, they'll just repeal and never replace (except with half-hearted gestures that in reality mean nothing). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

How big pharma has high-jacked the Orphan Drug legislation to get big subsidies for their best selling drugs. Yep, we have too much regulation going on. This is why we have "too much" regulation. It's because assholes always try to get a free ride and spoil the punch.

"In control of Congress and soon the White House, Republicans are readying plans to roll back the influence of the Endangered Species Act, one of the government’s most powerful conservation tools, after decades of complaints that it hinders drilling, logging and other activities." Because why the fuck not. Because after we actually have the renewable power revolution, we won't want or need any of those animals and we'll accept blasted landscape in place of natural beauty. Can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail? A smile from a veil? Do you think you can tell? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus claimed during a Sunday interview that Republicans never questioned the legitimacy of President Barack Obama's election victory, despite the fact that President-elect Donald Trump himself spent years pushing the so-called birther movement." Well that answers my question about if Reince Priebus looks like he drinks too much. The answer is yes.

Going to see your congressman in person works. "Colorado congressman Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO), who vowed to 'stand up' to President-elect Donald Trump, left his own community event early on Saturday after a crowd of constituents showed up with questions." In fairness, he met with constituents a few at a time, which left many people who showed up out in the cold.

Apparently, for Trump, his first day will be Monday. Cause, you know, Friday will lead to a weekend bender or something. I would point to the Time of London article, but unfortunately it's behind a paywall. Great work ethic you've got there, Mr. PEOTUS. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Some flippers, who acquired tickets to Trump's inauguration with the intent of reselling them on the secondary market, are striking out in their efforts to peddle them and are now looking at some relatively 'yuge' losses." Considering I saw the Inauguration offer "free" tickets in a Facebook ad last night, yeah, I think they're in big trouble. (Grokked from Maureen Johnson)

Tweet of my heart: @matociquala if you're keeping a safe distance from your work while you're in the first flush of creation, you're not making good art. (actually the whole tweet storm is worthwhile)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Linkee-poo, and every time I thought I'd got it made it seemed the taste was not so sweet

Today it seems relevant to return to an old quote, "Freedom can not be given, it must be torn from the hands of those who would deny it to you." Or as Dr King put it, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

"Free speech advocates see President-elect Trumps's testy relationship with the media and his middle-of-the-night tweets reacting to critics as evidence that he is — at best — insensitive to the First Amendment. And they say one recent controversy, the decision by Simon & Schuster to publish a book by social media provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, has grown out of an atmosphere that encourages hate speech." Severe teen-aged eye-roll. The call to boycott S&S as censorship? The right to free speech doesn't include a publishing deal (if so, where the fuck is mine?), it doesn't mean there are no consequences. Is it a form of censorship? In an exceedingly around the park way (equal to going to your corner store by way of orbiting the Moon). There there are bigger forces of censorship that fall into play that are considered "acceptable" before you get to that. As Dennis Johnson, head of Melville House, says "Nobody in the protest is saying 'you have no right to be published… You have no right, Simon & Schuster, to publish this guy, and this guy, you have no right to be published' — nobody's saying that. What they're saying is, 'we're shocked and we're outraged that you would stoop so low to make a buck as to publish this purveyor of vile hate speech.'" We're also saying, "and it won't be our bucks you'll be earning." Harsh, but very far away from the concept "the press is only free if you actually own a paper." Milo is a walking, talking load of crap most sewage plants wouldn't accept. As long as his work isn't plagiarized or falls into any of the buckets by which we restrict the 1st Amendment, S&S can publish him. But we also get to say he's crap and S&S is being opportunistic and catering to the worst of us and we won't buy his (or their) books. That said, S&S might sell a buttload of his books to the faithful (who probably won't read them, but buy them because "can't let those damn lefties win") and with that money might be able to publish some more mid-range authors that will give us good stories. They just won't do it with my money and Milo can fall down a well.

Light pillars. (Grokked from Jim Hines)

Ah sheep. So peaceful, so passive. OMG, WTF? That's a video of a ram being spooked by a car doing what rams do (butting heads) but to the shepherd. "When cometh the day we lowly ones, through quiet reflection and great dedication master the art of karate…"

Making nail salons a slightly less toxic environment for their workers. Now, if we could also get them to a living wage and stop the rampant wage theft in the industry, that would also be great.

Tying knots with chemicals. I don't remember that from Boy Scouts.

Sure there's no race problem with police in this country. They're all upstanding… the Vanity Fair article on the DoJ investigation of the Chicago Police. Just a reminder, Chicago Police ran at least one "off the books" interrogation center. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Toadies will always volunteer. "A pack of former Breitbart staffers are publicizing their plans to create a political action committee that would pressure lawmakers into falling in line with Donald Trump’s political agenda." Ooh, ooh, they should all wear black shirts when they "organized town hall confrontations and a team of reporters that would 'ambush' unfriendly lawmakers." Maybe they could get matching ones at the Hugo Boss store.

"The more persuasive theory, supported by no less than Edward Snowden, is that the Shadow Brokers are one of the same Russian government hacking groups now accused of targeting the U.S. election. Coincidently, the same day the Shadow Brokers said goodbye, the hacker who claimed responsibility for penetrating the DNC suddenly re-emerged after nearly two months of silence." Say "Moose and Squirrel". Come on. Just for me? (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

The sound of shoes dropping. "The Justice Department's watchdog has launched a sweeping review of conduct by the FBI director and other department officials before the presidential election, following calls from Congress and members of the public."

Your giggle moment for the day, "Workers preparing for the inauguration Jan. 20 have taped over the name of the company — 'Don's Johns' — that has long supplied portable restrooms for major outdoor events."

Friday, January 13, 2017

Linkee-poo shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die

Whelp, that's actually not such a bad idea to generate a social media filter list. (Grokked from Daniel J. Hogan)

"‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ played on a 100-year-old fairground organ." Okay, starts out slow, but by the time you get to the trial you should be hooked. (Grokked from Dan)

Engineering salmonella to eat glioblastomas. Okay then. Wow, that would be amazing if it works without killing the patient. That's going to be a hellofahurdle to overcome to get approval for trials, because basically you're giving the patient meningitis. There would have to be something that kills the salmonella when it can't find anymore purine rich cells (because, IIRC, once the "good stuff" is gone it'll just go to a slow growth by eating other cells (which have lower purine content). And there's a reason we have a blood/brain barrier. (Grokked from John)

"Later, I used an intermediary to pass some questions to active duty CIA officers dealing with the case file - they would not speak to me directly. I got a message back that there was 'more than one tape', 'audio and video', on 'more than one date', in 'more than one place' - in the Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and also in St Petersburg - and that the material was 'of a sexual nature'." It's quite possible this is all a part of a grand disinformation plan (again, the Russians aren't friends of either party, but they will play them against each other and might have set up one party to make a spectacular fireball and crash of democracy). Or, it could all be true and the Russians are still playing it to the same ends. It could also be an EU attempt to force Trump into supporting NATO (of which they think he's rather weak), although that appears less likely after Brexit. Actually there are at least 3 more grand scenarios with multiples of complications and motivations that I can think of just off the top of my head. But I'm thinking the obvious answer, most of the memo is correct if incomplete, is probably the best bet at this point. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

"Sometimes, the general public is completely unaware of very important decisions government makes because they are shrouded in technicalities. Yesterday, the House of Representatives passed a bill that could crippled the ability of government to regulate private industry." And we all know how well we can trust private industry to keep us safe. Remember this goodie from 2008 when some Chinese industries use melamine as a milk additive to boost its protein count? (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

Project Vertias caught trying to recruit liberals to be paid to demonstrate and disrupt the inauguration. Writes fan fiction where some people in organized crime take up the offer, successfully disrupt the inauguration, and then show up in O'Keefe's office demanding payment. (Grokked from Michele)

This is how you do it. On live TV at a CNN town hall a GOP activist and cancer patient confronts Paul Ryan, asks him why he is proceeding with Obamacare repeal without a replacement ready. He then says to Ryan that without Obamacare he would be dead (and yes, he would have been, many people don't remember what it was like before Obamacare) and thanks Obama. Again, conservative changes mind when the problem becomes real to him and his family.

Tweet of my heart: ‏@jakebackpack Almost as if boomers engaged a massive generational program of capital sequestration, treating their children's future lives as unpaid debts (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

Was in response to this tweet: @AP Millennials earn 20 percent less than baby boomers did at the same stage of life, according to a new analysis.

Quote du jour: Johnny "Cash said: 'You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone. Close the door on the past. You don't try to forget the mistakes, but you don't dwell on it. You don't let it have any of your energy, or any of your time, or any of your space.'" (Grokked from the Writers Almanac)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Linkee-poo's OK, I'm alright, I ain't gonna face no defeat

"Fitness tracking is all the rage right now… Fresno Chaffee Zoo, in Fresno, Calif., is taking fitness tracking to a mammoth new level — part of a national project to guard the health and happiness of zoo elephants." Mommy, why is the elephant wearing a fitbit?

"Computer scientists at University College London recently felt a disturbance in the force. They discovered a Twitter botnet – which they think could comprise more than 350,000 accounts – that has tweeted thousands of random quotations from Star Wars novels." While the researchers seem puzzled as they don't know why these accounts were set up, the miss the point that in warfare there are long hours of intense boredom that surround an intense few seconds. Or, just because an army is not on the march does not mean they are not an army waiting to be used. They're just setting up background noise so a casual look a the account will see it has been online for years and during that time it looks innocuous enough.

A Pew Research Center study, "Amid protests and calls for reform, how police view their jobs, key issues and recent fatal encounters between blacks and police." Also tied in with the general public. Wow, look at that disconnect. There's a lot of overlap on some things, though. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"At about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, Republicans moved one step closer to repealing (Obamacare)… By a final vote of 51-48, the Senate approved a budget resolution that sets the stage for broad swaths of the Affordable Care Act to be repealed through a process known as budget reconciliation. The resolution now goes to the House, where leaders are hoping to approve it by the end of the week." I know there's going to be consternation over how they're doing this, but that's a distraction. Be very upset that they're doing this. Again, repeal without a replacement means there will be no replacement. As is being said all throughout my twitter feed, they're voting to kill people. People will die because of this. Call your representatives and senators.

"1. Sherri Dillon of Trump's law firm Morgan Lewis forgot to mention Trump + her firm were hit with $1B fraud lawsuit by Holocaust survivors." And their law firm was once named the law firm of the year… in Russia. Folks, you can't make this shit up. If the Trump people started sporting long mustaches they could twirl it wouldn't be the most outrageous and unbelievable part of these stories.

So, how did the press conference go? "The Trump employees laughed at his jokes and shouted out supportive answers to his rhetorical questions. One even took it upon himself to look over a reporter’s shoulder and ask if he intended to publish the words written on his notepad. When Mr Trump was finished, his acolytes pronounced his performance a resounding success."

"President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday would not let a reporter from CNN ask him a question during a press conference, saying that he worked for a 'fake news' company."

"In any case, welcome to the world of kompromat, America." Or how Russia does blackmail. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

Tweet of my heart: @FlynnFan1 @xeni Blu*Cr*ss told me in '05 my breast cancer was a PEC & dropped coverage. I had had them for 10 YEARS at that point.

Most people forget when this was common practice. And it was only 6 years ago.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Scenes from a commute

Linkee-poo in a rush

Sorry, not much from this morning, lots of things at the day job.

Go to Family Tree Now and opt-out your address. (Grokked from Mur Lafferty)

Twelve writers on how they revise. It's a messy, grimy, stinking business. And it's so very important. Also note, people don't do it the same. YMMV, take what works, discard the rest (except keep it in mind because it might work the next time). (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022, give or take a year, creating an explosion in the night sky so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye."

"A dossier making explosive — but unverified — allegations that the Russian government has been 'cultivating, supporting and assisting' President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks." Here it comes… Just yesterday I tweeted this (as a part of my concern of what the Russians are really up to), that the conservatives are so cute that they don't think that Russia won't come after them. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

From CNN, "The allegations were presented in a two-page synopsis that was appended to a report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The allegations came, in part, from memos compiled by a former British intelligence operative, whose past work US intelligence officials consider credible. The FBI is investigating the credibility and accuracy of these allegations, which are based primarily on information from Russian sources, but has not confirmed many essential details in the memos about Mr. Trump." (Grokked from Fran Wilde)

Tweet of my heart: @StevenBrust Voice will get you through times of no plot better than plot will get you through times of no voice.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Linkee-poo, well, if it rains, I don't care, don't make no difference to me

Why do authors cross-out their names when signing a book? I didn't even know this was a thing. Unfortunately the article is mostly people responding to the question (not an actual exploration of the subject). But wow, what fragile beasts we are.

"It's certainly interesting that few men employ the move in films, preferring hand-to-hand over crotch-to-face combat. So maybe there's more work to do in terms of political awareness." Finally saw "Capt. America - Civil War" and had the thought that Black Widow certainly does that whole scissor up over the shoulders of a guy with her thighs and spin him to the ground move a lot. Is this the modern incarnation of vagina dentata, a fear of cunnilingus, or a general fear of female sexual power?

Damien Walker would like you to believe that we live in a fallen world. Well, he would like you to believe that the myths of the Vikings (and our other pagan ancestors who worshiped sky/thunder-gods) made them fearless and strong, where as our current mythology makes us weak and compliant. It's something I've heard in many places. And it's complete bullshit. He's entranced by the History Channel's "Vikings" show and, yes, it does present the history in that fashion. It's easy to look at Christianity as practiced today (also, just for the record, Christianity, while holding a majority of believers in the US, is by far not the only religion/mythology available) and sees that it makes us "weak." Really? I've got about two thousand years of cruelty and barbarism done in the name of the Christ to show how Christians and Vikings weren't all that different (what was different was tactics, logistics, technology, and world scope). Today, somewhere in the world someone is on bended knee asking the Lamb for forgiveness and strength as they buckle on their battle-rattle and ride out in MRAPs to face their possible death. I would also make the argument that mythology and religion, while they look the same (and we often call non-Christian religions "mythology") they aren't the whole story. There is an entire mythology not based on sky-god worship enforce today (for example, "turn off and turn on the computer and see if that solves your tech support problem", "celebrity deaths come in threes", "the USA is the leader of the free world and everybody looks to us for inspiration"). The difference is the level of population density and the societal changes that mandates and a misunderstanding of history. Most Rus never went viking. They were farmers and laborers. Ragnar himself (loosely based on a historical character) was a farmer who supplemented what he could grow with raiding his neighbors crops (and what little gold they had). The soil in that part of the world was poor, and the population kept growing. He just had the idea that other peoples may have better crops and more gold and (with the help of learning from others) did something about it. Killing, torturing, and being cruel to people is neither brave nor heroic, no matter which gods you prefer. Mythology is internal, it explains the world in a way that makes sense for us. It is not external, imposing it's will on the oppressed. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

Continued… We are the brass (Greek Mythology if you're curious)… our fathers fought dragons and giants… in the time of legends… our Country's Forefathers believed… the Greatest Generation defeated fascism… it's all the same bullshit just in a different wrapper. The past was always wonderful, kids these days don't respect their parents/don't understand/aren't tough enough, etc, etc. Here is the thing. Let me laugh at the idea of "Christianity makes us compliant and week." Because Yahweh is a sky/thunder god. I present most of what Christians call "the Old Testament" as my proof (man there's a lot of killing, smiting, raping, pillaging and general fuck all in there to satisfy anyone). The difference is there's a hellalot more of us, and we have to get along or we will end up killing each other (because you can see that happening as well). Our current "religious" mythology is so very damn similar to all the other sky/thunder god worship it's laughable (seriously, Wotan worship made them fearless? You do know if you die in the service of God while staying true to your faith you will also obtain Heaven, just like Vikings would make Valhalla, this is why Christians try to emulate the martyrs and saints). Yes, the Christ gave us a new covenant based on loving our neighbor as ourself, but I'll just plop a History of Western Culture book down to show how well that worked out for everyone. One difference is modern people see our spiritual world as a continuous line, most ancients and pagans saw it as a cycle (even modern concepts of reincarnation are based around we as an individual being resurrected in some fashion). Those who made it to Valhalla did not obtain eternity either. Ragnarök (winter) was coming. Christianity believes in the eternal (as long as you're not consumed in the fire during Final Judgement). The world is as it is now, we can not live in the past (or like they did).

Ah, the past, when men were men… Either that or it's a call to "might makes right", which some people miss.

In an attempt to give workers in the "gig economy" (gods I hate that term, freelancers, they're freelancers) benefits legislatures may just screw over the workers (more than they are already). Seriously, it looks like some people don't understand exactly why the "gig economy" was created. And putting in 2.5%? Puh-lease. And guess who is going to actually pay that 2.5%? Think it'll come out of corporate profits? Yeah I expect to see a renegotiation of how much of the fee the freelancer gets. This won't help freelancers, but it may push many companies to enter into these agreements with employees who used to be full-time. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"Lawmakers in Georgia make $17,342 a year, plus a per diem for lodging and meals when the Legislature is in session and reimbursement for mileage. Serving in the Georgia Legislature is considered a part-time job, but it took much more of Jones' time than that and she had to hire extra help for her law firm." There are many reasons for this, but mostly is comes from the tradition of citizen government. Your leaders shouldn't be politicians, but they should altruistically give their time to serve. This worked well when you could plant your crops and have 4 months before a harvest, or 4 months after the hunt before you needed to plant again. While I agree with that position (it was, after all, the view of Ben Franklin), I don't think we live in a world where that works anymore. Right now it only draws those who would be oligarchs (the already wealthy) who have the free time to be politicians. Full disclosure, as a councilman I started at $200 a month (which 5 years before I was there, you were only paid if you showed up to the meetings). That really wasn't enough compensation for the time spent. Halfway through I helped pass a pay raise to $400 a month (which I only got after being re-elected after that went into effect, which meant it was only for the last 4 years of my 9 year run). Even that wasn't enough, but it was much better. Also, when we changed from a Mayor to Village Manager we cut 3 of our council jobs (and 3 other paid elected positions) to pay for the manager (and that's when I got out). If the pay was significant enough, while it might draw unscrupulous fucks, that's all low pay really does anyway, and keeps those of us who do it for "service to our fellow citizens" out of the running.

"A shocking new Republican-backed bill would force school teachers to inform the parents of transgender kids who are in the closet." Again, this is the conservative agenda. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"The source later added, 'I’m more and more coming around to the idea that we’re so very very fucked.'" The incompetencies of the Trump nascent-administration just keep coming. "Rosner noted that the Obama Administration has already essentially begun rebuilding the nuclear program, making Trump’s promised expansion 'a perfect example of Trump basically being clueless.'"

"Bomb threats targeted Jewish community centers in several states, but it wasn't immediately clear whether the threats were linked, authorities said Monday." So, part of me is wondering if this will actually get more attention than when they threatened mosques?

"Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) was asked by the Huffington Post if Trump’s Cabinet picks should be asked to disclose income from foreign sources, as he and 25 other senators asked of President Barack Obama’s nominee for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, back in 2013… Infohe said no." Doesn't this lack-a-brain have a snow fort to go build?

Monday, January 9, 2017

Linkee-poo, the stage is set, the band starts playing suddenly your heart is pounding wishing secretly you were a star

"Why do you do what you do? What is the engine that keeps you up late at night or gets you going in the morning? Where is your happy place? What stands between you and your ultimate dream?… Heavy questions. One researcher believes that writing down the answers can be decisive for students."

A video on 17 number facts about 2017 in 2 minutes, seventeen seconds. For you math fans. (Grokked from Rodney Ross)

"Many people spend most of their waking hours at work or thinking about work. In the dim chill of a Monday morning in January, the prospect of another year at a job that fails to satisfy can be daunting, if not downright depressing."

The dirty little secret of modern AI, chances are it's a human doing the work behind the scenes. Or at the very least a human giving the machine coaching. Ew, you've got your human in my AI! No, you've got your AI in my human! (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

"This isn't a bug in an IT system: it's an executive giving developers instructions to implement a malicious system." Australia is using executive directions to program a welfare system to check for cheats. Unfortunately the people giving the orders don't understand (the generous explanation, the other is that they willfully misunderstand) what it is they're doing (and how the two offices they are using the data for have collect distinctly different data, although they're somewhat tangentially connected, the quality of data is very different). Or, why government should never be involved in big data programs (note, in the US we have laws against this kind of data sharing, but they've been under attack since the 80s and openly since 2001). (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"Maternal mortality in Texas doubled in 2011 & 2012 - right after they slashed funding for Planned Parenthood." I'm sure it's just coincidence. There this often repeated statement about how people will die. Well, no, people are dying right the fuck now. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

A lot of what Bernie Sanders says here makes a lot of sense. And the Democratic Party should really listen to it. He wouldn't have won (the opposition research would have killed him politically). But that doesn't mean he's wrong about some things.

"At the dawn of 2017, there is a Russian president making bellicose boasts about his modernized arsenal. There is an American president-elect who breezily free-associates on Twitter about starting a new nuclear arms race. Decades of cooperation between the two nations on arms control is nearly at a standstill. And, unlike the original Cold War, this time there is a world of busy fanatics excited by the prospect of a planet with more bombs—people who have already demonstrated the desire to slaughter many thousands of people in an instant, and are zealously pursuing ever more deadly means to do so… And there’s one other difference from the Cold War: Americans no longer think about the threat every day." To those of us who worked it, who knew exactly what these things were, we were very glad that "Americans no longer think about the threat every day." It's also why the lines that start this link terrify us. You've forgotten. We haven't. That' why we're afraid. For one thing, there is no such thing as a "limited exchange." Every scenario leads to retaliation and overwhelming annihilation. This is what kept the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty running, and because people forgot this very important fact we have North Korea and others rattling a particularly dangerous saber without knowing the full consequences (N. Korea will prepping an ICBM that could hit the US, if they used it, our response would wipe N. Korea - and much of S. Korea - from the map, which would bring in China, which would bring in Japan, which would bring in Russia, and in pretty quick order the mushroom clouds blossom across the globe. In other words, even when the concept of "proportional response" actually meant something, there was no such thing when it came to a nuclear exchange. Everything lead to mutual assured destruction. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Russia says it's starting to draw down it's forces in Syria. Or, in other words, the sea trials of Admiral Kuznetsov are done and the battle-testing of land and air systems is nearly complete. Thanks, Syria, for being to Russia what Franco's Spain was to Germany.

Look, election fraud! "According to a letter obtained by The Associated Press, federal regulators say (L.L.) Bean's (heiress) Making America Great Again LLC was limited to individual contributions of $5,000 in a single year— and Bean contributed $60,000. The group spent $66,862 supporting Trump." Oh wait, it's the GOP again. Never mind. Nothing to see here, citizen.

You may wonder why I disparage conservative ideals and pain the GOP as a social conservative movement which has abandoned fiscal responsibility and any pretense at being for the "little guy". Well, you only need to look at what their priorities are when they take control of power. In several cases they gained the governorship and legislatures in many states, that article lines up what their legislature priorities are. Right to work and anti-abortion legislation leads the way.

"The new, declassified report on Russian efforts to influence the presidential election has a troublesome prediction: Russia isn't done intruding in U.S. politics and policymaking." And given the love shown by the PEOTUS, there's not going to be too much effort made to counter them. Fantastic. I think I mentioned before that their actions post election show they're after something more than just putting Trump in the White House / Making sure Hillary wasn't in the White House. With any story, to find the real point of the story, the main plot, watch for when the action climaxes and you enter the denouement. Whatever just was resolved was the "real story."

"A subcontractor that worked on Donald Trump’s new luxury Washington, D.C. hotel has filed a lien claiming that the Trump Organization and its construction manager have not paid it almost $2.1 million." Again, Trump is not a successful business man. He continually screws over people who he thinks he can screw over.

"This summer, Reuters reported that then-Trump Transition chair, Governor Chris Christie, had told a group of Trump insiders that, if he won, Trump would seek new ability to purge the government of non-loyalists… As I explained at the time, this kind of purge of civil servants is often one of the first moves of an authoritarian, and, ironically and frighteningly, getting legislation to do so was also one of Hitler’s first moves, upon taking power." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

In the precedent games (they did it first, etc), "The Republican-controlled U.S. Senate plans to rush forward this week with confirmation hearings for many of Donald Trump’s nominees for cabinet and other key executive positions. Though many of the picks have not yet completed the customarily required ethics clearances and background checks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has shown no willingness to delay… But back in 2009, McConnell took the exact opposite view. A letter to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), posted on Twitter by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington co-founder and former Obama administration ethics adviser Norm Eisen on Sunday, shows he demanded that 'financial disclosures must be complete' before any confirmation hearings be scheduled." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The tweet from @RussianEmbassy, featuring a cartoon embraced by white supremacists, seemed to chide critics for calling on British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election during her upcoming meeting with President-elect Donald Trump:" Yeah, I've been getting close to my theory of exactly what the Russians are up to. Boy howdy are the conservatives attempting the "but they didn't do anything (because we won the election)" gonna be in for a surprise in (possibly 2018 and) 2020. For those talking heads pontificating and trying to wave us off from a "New Cold War", too late, dudes.

Ricky Santorum is shocked, shocked to discover the GOP has no actual replacement plan for Obamacare. If you'll remember, Ricky once stated that he would "repeal and replace" when he was running, so where the fuck is his plan? I'm just kidding folks. Conservatives don't have a plan because Obama stole theirs back in 2008 and they haven't had any fresh ideas since then. Yep, the "repeal and replace" is just "repeal." Because a lot of people like Obamacare (they just don't like that name, no, really, there's polling on that) they know once it becomes entrenched the Dems will get all the credit and they'll be out of power for decades (just like Social Security and Medicare).

Friday, January 6, 2017

Linkee-poo, twelve drummer drumming

"I’ve seen a lot of cover letters in my time. Some ramble, some describe the story, others list thirty small publications, some are misaddressed or rife with typos." Cat Rambo with some good advice for (short story/poetry) cover letters. Get in, get out, quit messing about.

Tobias Buckell is looking for your favorite quotes about writing.

"John Scalzi's 10-point plan for getting creative work done in the time of Trump." Also generally good advice for getting work done no matter who is in charge.

"Put another way: The north isn’t just warming. It has a fever… This matters to you and me even if we live thousands of miles away, because what happens in the north won’t stay there. Birds migrate. Disease spreads… This is where Burek comes in. Fundamentally, a veterinary pathologist is a detective. Burek’s city streets are the tissues of wild animals, her crime scenes the discolored and distended organs of tide-washed seals and emaciated wood bison." (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Yes, wouldn't it be great if the federal government would actually change federal laws regarding employee compensation and benefits instead of forcing local and state governments to act to provide citizens with livable situations. So it's very confusing to employers who have different sites that fall into different jurisdictions. Allow me this moment to laugh. Look, this is only a problem when your business model is based on maximizing profits by paying your employees the lowest possible compensation. I would recommend, instead, a business plan based on providing the customer the highest-quality product at the lowest price point possible. As to the Burger King manager saying they just won't be able to hire all these people and that there's headaches when their employees work at several stores… Dude, you're killing me over here. Okay (breathe breathe breathe) here's the solution, take the most restrictive regulations in all of the places you have a business and base ALL your employees' compensation at that level (the highest minimum wage, the most paid time off, the most benefits, etc). Makes your HR issues vanish. You'll also find your costs of management and the costs of replacement will be greatly reduced (it might not pay for all of it, but it'll be more than 50%, trust me on this). As for not hiring employees… yeah, cause the fast food industry hires people just to hang around the store and keeps them on the clock when there isn't enough work for them… oh man, my sides hurt from laughing so much. You let me know how well not hiring people works out, okay?

"The CEO of a popular fast food chain said this week that he was 'stunned' to see profits soar each time California passed minimum wage increases… In an interview with KQED on Tuesday, Wetzel’s Pretzels CEO Bill Phelps admitted that his investors were worried about how a 2014 wage hike would impact the business… Mike Jacobs, owner of a Wetzel’s Pretzels franchise in Concord’s Sunvalley Shopping Center, told KQED that the increased business can be attributed to the fact that his customers are making more money." Funny how that works out. For all the supposed business and economics pundits out there, it's called "the virtuous cycle." Whereas being a self-important dick by cutting employee wages to the bare bones (and sending them off the clock the moment they're no longer 100% productive) is called "the vicious cycle." (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Edit Jim Hines tells us that Ann Coulter has been counting down the days until Trump is president, and that there is no nefarious motivation here. End Edit "Ann Coulter today spawned celebration from Twitter’s Nazis by simply posting the number 14." The "14" is a reference to a white genocide passage in Mien Kampf. I'm sure by the time you reads this Annie will have come out with "I was just provoking the left to see how they'd take it." So let me say 1) Support for Nazi is not joke material (unless you're making fun of that support) and 2) most kids realize by the time they're 12 that "playing the Nazi" is not acceptable in roll play and 3) it's not like the first time or all that surprising she would be a Nazi and finally 4) Actual fucking Nazis. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

The cost of free college education.

Your Obamacare Repeal Talking Points. (Grokked from someone, sorry)

"The House of Representatives Select Investigative Panel investigating the procurement of fetal tissue for research has disbanded, but not before recommending that the National Institutes of Health be required to stop funding fetal tissue research, and that the huge health provider Planned Parenthood be stripped of U.S. funding." Fact checking the Congressional report on fetal tissue research. The quick story, Congressional Conservatives still lying to support their radical social agenda."Blackburn’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the errors. In a statement responding to the report, Planned Parenthood noted that three other congressional investigations and 13 state-level probes of the group, including one by a grand jury in Texas, have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing." That. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

In regards to yesterday's link about sportsmen being worried about losing access to public lands… "A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer." And this is from the party of "business smarts" and "fiscal responsibility." Let the pillaging of America begin - new GOP slogan for 2016-2018. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Donald Trump's transition team announced Thursday an addition to the President-elect's White House policy team who has a history of railing against chemical birth control, claiming that it causes abortions and 'deliberate miscarriages.'" We're going to need more desks and more foreheads in the coming four years than I think we have any chance of supplying.

Tweet of my heart: ‏@ReformedBroker If you drive off in a stolen Tesla, it becomes an Edison. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Double dip: @fawfulfan This is the last month conservatives will deem the #JobsReport a huge conspiracy. They'll praise the exact same #s as miracle growth in Feb. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Linkee-poo, oh, 4, 5, 6 come on and get your kicks, now you don't need that money when you look like that, do ya honey

Paul Ryan is (again) running a phone-in poll on Obamacare. "Paul Ryan's office is conducting a phone poll… Call (202) 225-0600… Press 2 to weigh in on the issue. You'll hear a recording about the bill to repeal it, then Press 1 to support continuing the Affordable Healthcare Act. It takes less than 2 minutes!" When I called this morning it's been busy. This is what, his 4th poll. Note he hasn't released the results of the earlier polls. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Some continuing concerns over California's new signed memorabilia law and how it relates to autographed books.

Jason Sanford releases a recommended reading list for titles release in 2016.

So, after performing a dope-ass smack-down of a detractor on Twitter, "Wendy's made a major misstep Wednesday when a community manager tweeted a meme featuring the most prominent symbol of the white nationalist so-called 'alt-right,' Pepe the frog, made to look like the fast food chain's mascot." Oh Wendy's, boy have you lost any remaining business I might have given you. Full disclosure, Wendy's was my first paycheck job. And yes, I know the meat is fresh because one of my many jobs there involved pressing patties on the night shift. One of the many reasons that given the option, even with it being more expensive over McDs, I would buy Wendy's. Now probably only will happen if my wife insists on it. Hold your protest, if your "community manager(s)" aren't more aware of the social media landscape you really shouldn't have hired them.

Sketches demonstrating how to light photography. And don't forget to white balance. (Grokked from BoingBoing)

You know that show, "Drunk History"? Well, funny thing… "Ultimately, the book he did write, Colonial Spirits: A Toast to Our Drunken History, tells the story of a time when water was full of deadly bacteria, making alcohol the safest liquid to consume." And yes, some of the alcohol our fore fathers made would kill you (just like how people kill themselves with opioids and other drugs today).

Rethinking ancient Egyptian pot burials.

"A mighty membrane that twists and turns through the gut is starting the new year with a new classification: the structure, called the mesentery, has been upgraded to an organ." It's not as big a deal as the media is portraying it (unless you're in research). Mostly people are now thinking, "I wonder what else it does?" Mostly it hold your guts together and in relative positioning, providing a structure for them and for the vasculature. It was thought of as mostly connective tissues, but with the new classification research will be devoted to finding other functions. And again, it shows just how little we actually know. (Grokked from Dan)

Everybody likes conservative ideals, until they realize they're the ones who will get screwed. In this case, hunters who use federal lands in Wyoming are a little upset about proposals to return federal land to the states (who really can't manage them, but figure they can cash in by selling them off). Welcome to the new range wars.

Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who heads the committee that will lead the charge to repeal Obamacare tweets "Do you support the repeal of Obamacare? RT if you do, and share what you want to see as the replacement." gets an earful back. Single-payor, Rep. Blackburn. Sometimes you should read the comments.

NPR fact checks some of the claims flying around about Obamacare. Especially important to know the facts as conservatives attempt to dismantle the ACA. And here I'll call BS on the "replace" part of their plan. If you start with "repeal" without the "replace" plan in place and ready to go, it is just a repeal (no matter what they promise or say there's a schedule to come up with a replacement plan). It's a shell game. It's Whimpy telling you he'll gladly pay Tuesday for a hamburger today. He's not going to pay, and you're out the hamburger. At this point any "repeal" or "rollback" or "defunding" without a replacement plan will be a disaster, which the conservatives will try to foist off on being "Obamacare's fault". This is like their attempt to blame Democrats with the government shutdowns. Only they may get a lot more people to believe it this time. Democrats should be setting this move up. "You break it, you bought it."

What's your superpower. Mine are detecting bullshit and humor. My Kryptonite, that you don't get to know. It's very hard to find and when it's accurately deployed it doesn't sap my strength, it turns me into a rage-blind supervillain. I really hope I'm never asked this in an interview or have it on the agenda of a meeting or I might violate Super Power Pro-tip #3. (Grokked from Jer)