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Though I saw it all around
Never thought I could be affected
Thought that we'd be the last to go
It is so strange the way things turn

Monday, June 19, 2017

Linkee-poo, oh well a touch of grey kinda suits you anyway

So, the president either is or isn't under investigation. But it could be he is under investigation and it hasn't proceeded to the point where he would have to be informed. But man is there an awful lot of guilty behaviors going on. And then there's the memes of the president playing 4d chess or giving grand consideration to actions… versus most people, including the president, saying he goes with his gut. Are we not entertained?

There's a bill that nobody seems to know anything about, but everybody knows everything about, which won't be actually introduced until right before a vote (and which the final amendment would be to either revert to the original language, lining out any previous amendments, or which we won't see the real text of the bill until the final amendment). It might be a smoke screen to give cover, or it might be a real thing. It might be "conservative ideals" or it might be the GOP's attempt to erase any victory by a black president.

In Syria we shoot down a Syrian MiG, and now the Russians want to play games (note, "following as a target" means lighting up with targeting radar, a very provocative move). It might be an actual aggression, or might be an opportunity to probe our technical capabilities.

A cargo ship runs into our destroyer killing 7 sailors, we have no ambassador or appropriate Naval secretary to respond or coordinate any response. And the president tweets about his popularity.

Here we are now, entertain us.

At the intersection of a writing link and a politics link, "President Donald Trump, Unreliable Narrator." On our president's twitter rages, the lack of fact-based reasoning shown in them, and what that does to our political discourse.

"'In hindsight, I guess we should have anticipated this,' occult museum director Greg Newkirk says, 'but when it comes to working with haunted artifacts in new, unexplored ways, you never know what’s going to happen. We’re attempting something that’s never been done before, laying the groundwork for future study of paranormally-active objects. There are going to be quirks we can’t see coming.'" New technology always causes these stories (there are stories of haunted telegraph wires). (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

So, thinking of taking a holiday from social media (haven't we all), but feel you'd miss the scrolling through content? Well, Binky is here to save you. Yes, Virginia, there is a social media app that has no impact on anything, anywhere. If I understand it correctly (and not by listening to the developer), it's essentially a news and entertainment media app in disguise as a social media app. Look, if this app could take the place of your social media use, I suggest just dropping the social media part in the first place. You'd gain so much energy and time. This is why I'm rarely on Facebook.

"In addition to its importance as an early and reliable warning of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, impaired smell offers a window into the underlying mechanisms of the two diseases."

There was a time when we thought the oceans were boundless. "And although the world they are exploring has really never been touched by humans, there's still plenty of signs of human life from above — in the form of trash and micro plastics… 'Every single net that we put down there picked up some rubbish: paint cans, old fishing wire, bottles,' O'Hara says."

No, the Nazis were not leftist. When they were a revolutionary party, there were some lefties, but they were all killed in the various purges of the party.

We don't need to regulation or rules. "About 20 percent of baby food samples tested over a decade-long period had detectable levels of lead, according to a new report from Environmental Defense Fund, a nonprofit group." I'm sure that's so the babies won't knock and ping (you might need to be of a certain age to get that joke).

And in "shooting fish in a barrel" news, "'Senate Republicans can't answer simple and critical questions about the health care bill they're crafting in secret,' says Vox after asking eight Republican senators how their bill will actually improve the health care system in the United States. Their vacuous non-answers are truly mind-boggling." This is about the conservatives making a strategic mistake naming the ACA "Obamacare." This is about erasing our first black President. It's not about health care.

On the importance of Medicaid… "On this Monday morning the clients at Our Place are sharing their goals — big and small. One man wants to finish a mosaic he's working on, while a woman down the table says she hopes to go to the movies with a friend someday." If the Republicans get their way, it's a good bet that woman will never get to the movies with a friend.

"The U.S. Office of Government Ethics on Friday released President Donald Trump's most recent financial disclosure, and it shows that the former real estate mogul carries at least $315 million in liabilities — $130 million to Deutsche Bank alone." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Linkee-poo read the news today, oh boy

"But health care has shifted toward value-based care that focuses on outcomes and avoiding preventable hospital readmissions. Now, "you are accountable for patients beyond the four walls of the hospital, and you have to think creatively about how to create stability for them," Lawton says… With that in mind, many health care systems are focusing on medical-legal partnerships that target patients who are high users of services." And medical-food panty services, medical-psychological services, medical-financial services, etc, as the medical field begins to refocus on the patient as a whole instead of the patient as signs and symptoms. And you can than Obamacare for that, because it's directly tied into Medicare reimbursements now (and will be tied into other insurance payments soon).

"One of the challenges that can arise in communicating science (and medical information) and other forms of scholarship to non-experts is the jargon involved… But the most dangerous kind of jargon isn't the kind we notice. It's the kind that slips by… A common example comes from the statistical use of the word 'significance.' When a result is statistically significant, it means that it has been evaluated with a statistical test and found to meet some predefined threshold." That's especially true in medical trials. Let's say you test 1000 people, in the control group 3 suffer from a disease a treatment is meant to prevent, however in the group getting the medicine only 2 people have the problem. That's a 33% effectiveness rating (reduce 3 to 2). However, it's less than 0.1% change in the overall population study. But, that 33% is "statistically significant" and could be the drug or treatment is approved. What is even worse is the "unspoken" part of jargon. Sure, you may know that if you have coronary blockage you can have a cath procedure to open the arteries up (a little). But do you know you're not standing up for most of the next day (so you don't blow out the femoral artery patch)? Or that you have to change your diet and life? Or that even though you feel fabulous, the clock has started running on the final countdown (I mean it always is, but this is like hitting the snooze button). Your countdown number may be different from the person laying next to you in the Cath Lab recovery room, but that doesn't mean it hasn't started.

"Ever heard of the freshman 15? Nowadays, some people who are unhappy with the current political environment are complaining of the 'Trump 10.'"

"Trump is making America more hostile and mentally ill: New England Journal of Medicine study." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Protesters who gathered on Saturday to denounce Islamic law were met across the country with equally sized or larger counter-protests… Organizers called the 'March Against Sharia' rallies to protest what they say is the threat to U.S. society posed by the set of traditional Muslim practices, which they say includes oppression of women, honor killings, homophobic violence, female genital mutilation and other abuses." Again for the people in the back rows, these things are cultural, not religious, memes. And except for "female genital mutilation", there are no US laws against the others (you may try to add "honor killings" in there, but domestic abuse is still rampant in the US and each day women's partners kill them here in our own country for the exact same reasons families in other countries commit "honor killings" - we just have a slightly better record of winning prosecutions, but only slightly better). My guess is the people protesting "Sharia" law probably are quite fine with the (erroneous) concept of US laws being Biblically based.

So the president and many conservatives talk about getting the economy to 3% (or bigger) growth. Basically, this is an acid trip dream at this point. Here is a Planet Money podcast on what is needed to get there. One way to get it, immigration. As in, lots and lots of immigration (hopefully this will spark jobs, innovation and entrepreneurialship). More people leads to more industry, leads to increased economic growth. Probably not going to happen. Another way is to up the age of retirement (again, keeps more workers in the workforce). I hate to break it to the economists, but we're already doing this. Currently retirement age is ~65. To get "full" Social Security requires you to work to 70. Well, for my generation, it'll take until 72 to get "full" retirement and that means the general retirement age will move to ~67 (note, there are still many people who retire at the end of their 50s, I have no idea - okay, yes I do - how they do it). Life expectancy in the US is dropping. I doubt that'll go over well. Also, move the bar for me again, and thems fightin' words. Because I've been working since I was 12. I'm tired. I will cut you over this. We could have two Dot Com booms. Or we could see productivity increases (note, since about 2003 productivity hasn't increased all that much). There is another way not discussed in the podcast. That way is increase taxes and create a jobs program using government money to create a infrastructure revitalization program about twice as large as what the president has announced (that he hopes will be mostly funded privately). So you're choices are pipe-dream or politically untenable. Again I'll note I remember in the 80s when President Reagan basically stated that 2% is the best we can hope for.

"So it went on Monday in the Cabinet Room of the White House, as Mr. Trump transformed a routine meeting of senior members of his government into a mood-boosting, ego-stroking display of support for himself and his agenda. While the president never explicitly asked to be praised, Mr. Pence set the worshipful tone, and Mr. Trump made it clear he liked what he heard." Nothing unusual here. I wonder who will eventually have to play Cordelia.

"It may well be that the Russians didn't affect the actual numbers last November but, as Bloomberg points out, that was not for lack of trying." The best hacks are the ones you can't detect.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Flower Porn

Friday, June 9, 2017

Car update

Well, that was a little surprising for a 5 mile trip. And, no, it didn't last. More's the pity.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Linkee-poo starts making pop-corn for tomorrow

"Now, almost 100 years after its conception, Cthulhu is making a creepy comeback via a new crop of board games." Not to mention the slew of books, short stories, and every other conceivable story telling methodology. "Loucks says Lovecraft fans don't really like Lovecraft the man, and some don't even like his writing… But the fans do love the creatures and monsters he created… Then, with it being in the public domain, they were free to use his work to create some of their own…" Yes to that. The most response I've received from my short-stories and the ones accepted (but never getting to publication) were all Cthulhu stories.

The Invisibilia podcast this year is taking on emotions. In the first podcast of the series there is a lot of discussion of where emotions come from. "The classical view of emotion is the idea that somewhere lurking deep inside you are the animalistic engine parts of your brain. There are circuits — one each for anger, sadness, fear, disgust and so on. And that when something happens in the world to trigger one of those circuits — say, for fear — you will have a very specific facial expression, a very specific bodily response, and that these expressions and responses have universal meaning. Everyone in the world makes them and recognizes them without learning or any experience at all." Only that's not how our brains actually work. To reiterate, this "movie" you see (if you have vision) that you think is reality is actually a VR construct your brain conjures to make sense of the stimulus you're receiving. The same is true of your emotions, it's a learned behavior. This is how people react differently to emotions, why they seem "irrational" or "contradictory" or just plain "confusing." I highly recommend the podcast. Note, podcast includes some tough emotional concepts, including parents dealing with the loss of a child.

The Note to Self podcast about content moderation, Meet the Humans Who Protect Your Eyes. Note, semi-NSFW image of a carrot (depending on how dirty-minded your coworkers are). The big social media sites promoted their "algorithms" that sort through the photos and videos (mostly talked about here, but also text of posts as discussed elsewhere) when it's become clear this is still human work. So meet the people who "protect" you from the worst humanity has to offer (and frankly what gets through can still be pretty bad) who do that inglorious work for 4 cents a click. They also discuss how the social media sites while claiming to not moderate content for, well, content (offensive political, abusive text, etc) because they aren't "media" sites actually do have guidelines that sound an awful lot like they're moderating the political content of their sites.

How fucked up are we about gender? "…on Sunday, Mili's dad… found out his daughter's girls' team had been disqualified from the finals of a Springfield tournament, set for that day. The Azzuri-Cachorros Chicas couldn't play, The Washington Post reports. Somebody had complained that there was a boy on the team… 'They only did it because I look like a boy,' Mili told WOWT 6 News." Because she cuts her hair short, and she's 8. The soccer league says it's because her registration lists her as a "boy." Also noted because of the response of professional athletes (who also are female). And this is why women's soccer, basketball… women's sports in general have a positive image.

"McConnell began the process under what is known as Rule 14, according to the Senate minority whip’s office, to allow a repeal bill to be put directly on the Senate calendar so that it is available for a floor vote when Republicans are ready to vote on it. The move comes as GOP senators continue their closed-door meetings to hash out a deal that would secure the 50 votes they’ll need to pass legislation dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which they they are pushing through a process known as reconciliation that avoids a Democratic filibuster." Everybody enjoying the hearings? (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Well, now that the word is out that the Gulf States who cut ties with Qatar (whom, to be frank, has never been in their good graces) did so based on fake news (note, no scare quotes) out of Russia, which our president cited and then claimed responsibility for helping the Gulf States to decide to cut off Qatar (which hosts the largest US Air Base in the region, BTW), the White House press push is trying to play down our president's supposed role in it all. Not noted in the article, but the source of much of the friction between Qatar and its neighbors, Qatar hosts and funds al Jazeera, a news organization that doesn't flatter the other hereditary monarchies of the area by having a reputation for telling the truth. And while we're speaking of the truth, guess which country is responsible for funding much of al Qaeda and some other "radial" groups? That would be the same country that the majority of 9/11 hijackers held passports from.

"U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 'at one point recently' offered to resign because his relationship with President Trump had grown so tense, according to reports from ABC News and multiple other news outlets… Sessions was among Trump's earliest and most ardent supporters during the presidential campaign — a loyalty that Trump rewarded by nominating the long-time Alabama senator to be his chief law enforcement officer." The wages of loyalty.

"In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it's clear that the course wasn't free--that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament." That Forbes article all the kids are talking about.

"A State Department official says the (Saudi) agreements are worth $380 billion: $110 billion in arms sales and $270 billion in commercial agreements. But beyond that, U.S. officials were slow to provide a complete list of the agreements or a full accounting of the totals they provided." That's because there are no real hard sales (what's actually come to fruition is significantly less), and most of the deals were struck with the Obama administration. "It turns out most of what was signed in the palace wasn't completed deals or signed contracts, but rather nonbonding agreements ('Memoranda of Understanding') between U.S. companies and Saudi entities."

"… the printouts contained invisible dot patterns added by the printer to identify the worker who sent the print job. All surviving photocopying, scanning and PDF compression to be published, plain as day, on the world-wide web. Errata Security explains how, in detail." Metadata in the real world.

Tweet of my heart: @kiptw I keep seeing conservatives who think they know This One Weird Fact that instantly ends the discussion. They're always surprised it doesn't. (Grokked from Teresa Nielsen Hayden) (again noted that the oft quoted or used in advertisements "mic drop" often are anything but).

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Linkee-poo don't wanna know your name, cause you don't look the same, the way you did before

I'll just start by pointing out that the Trump administration's DoJ has asked the Supreme Court to take up the appeal of their travel ban even before the 9th Circuit rules (SCOTUS will probably wait until after that ruling before deciding, as, IIRC, that's precedent). And just as a reminder, this was meant to be a "temporary ban" that "would last a few months" while the administration "reviewed screening procedures" to make sure no nasty people were admitted to the US. Note the first travel ban was signed four months ago, "few" is often defined as "three." So, how's that review coming?

A comic about the Janes Collective. I wasn't fully awake when Roe v Wade was decided, but I was awake when I heard women talking about abortion in the 70s about what it was like before. This, more than anything else, is why I'm pro-choice. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

"Democrats on the panel say they believe the latest direction of Nunes’s investigation is designed to deflect attention from the Russia probe. In April, Nunes was forced to recuse himself from the committee’s probe of Russia because of allegations he may have inappropriately disclosed classified information." Nothing to see here folks, just a chairman who had to recuse himself attempting to divert the spotlight from the investigation he had to recuse himself from. Although the intelligence agencies decided to provide information for all unmasking requested of them, including the House Intelligence Committee, because guess who asked for the most of them. Well, it's no fun if you don't make a guess. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

NPR fact checks the President's speech on withdraw from the Paris Climate Accords. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. And while it's interesting, it's by no means either exhausting or complete (it picks the low hanging fruit, and leaves a lot on the table that is also easily disputable without much hard research or deep subject matter investigation). Mostly these things are meant to be annotated transcripts of speeches. Basically the speech was a foregone conclusion and this was merely the end of the process to make it look like he is considerate and well informed. The speech itself was a giant circle jerk, including the cheerleading section.

Nice Farage, he of "Brexit" fame, is a person of interest in the Russian-Trump investigation. Well, I didn't see that plot twist coming.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Linkee-poo, with a little help from my friends

In case you feel like (health care) things will get worse before they get better, if they ever get better, you aren't alone.

There's this news cycle where there is some Big Medical Discovery that's going to change all of our lives and make it so much better. Only the discovery doesn't pan out, or survive the animal models, or really do anything better, or ends up killing the patient faster than the disease it's meant to treat. Whelp, hang on to your hats, folks. Here we go again. "With clever chemical tweaks, an old antibiotic can dole out any of three lethal blows to some of the deadliest bacteria—and give evolution one nasty concussion." Researchers have tweaked Vancomycin (one of the "drugs of last resort") to increase it's potency and efficacy. The article is pretty good for laying out how antibiotics work, but I wouldn't get sucked in by the breathlessness of the reporting. One, it hasn't even made it to the mouse model studies yet. And two, it doesn't actually stop evolution (it's just that the microbes take longer to respond). As Ian Malcolm in Jurrasic Park states, "Life finds a way." It could be that these changes make Vancomycin too hepatotoxic or nephrotoxic to actually use in living beings. It could turn out that in the wild, bacteria form resistance faster (petri dish experiments typically use a monoculture of bacteria to test against). Or it could be so damn effective, it spurs opportunistic infections in it's wake which end up worse than the initial disease (Ciprofloxacin and c-dif anyone?). So while it's "Good News", I'd keep the champaign on chill for the time being.

"Trying to make out what someone is saying in a noisy environment is a problem most people can relate to, and one that gets worse with age." Yes. I have this. It's called the cocktail-party effect. Oddly, I am pretty well trained in music. For instrumental music I can still tease out individual instrumental lines (but then I also don't play my music incredibly loud). So this is why, in BarCon, if it looks like I'm not following the conversation, or have checked out, it's because I can't hear what you're saying because of the background noise. I might need you to repeat something. You may see me touching or cupping my ears. And yes, I've left BarCon early because I can no longer follow what people are saying. And sometimes the background noise level is so high (or of a particular quality, I haven't worked it all out) that it becomes physically uncomfortable and occasionally painful. But I've already been singing more (when I'm in the car by myself and nobody can hear me crack a note). I didn't know it could help with this. It's just because I've noticed my range isn't acceptable anymore. And, yes, when you sing, you should do it full throatily. One time when I had a 2 hour drive and I was belting out some classic Billy Joel I came home a little hoarse. Yeah, I'm way outa practice.

A successful ICBM intercept test. Except, didn't we do this before? See, that's the problem. We keep touting our "success on the first (real) test" until you remember we had those before. Which leads you to realize, these are "real world" tests, but shows for domestic and international consumption. Note the through line of "Ha ha, North Korea! See, you can't strike us anyway. Neener neener." Yeah, I'm not buying it. Why? Because they aren't real "tests", they're tests of the interceptor system. Both the launch team and the intercept team are on the same side, and they have the same goal, a successful intercept. Now, set it up as a competition with incentives for the launch team to get past the intercept team, add a "real world" twist of both not knowing when or where the ICBM will be launched (a little hard as you have to schedule them with advanced notice to the Russians and Chinese, who aren't going to cooperate with our testing) and then lets see how good it works.

On the top 20% of the country holding all the mechanics to achieve the American dream, "They are also disproportionately powerful and the fact that they are not only separate but unaware of the degree to which the system works in their favor strikes me as one of the most dangerous political facts of our time." I've seen this first hand. Good People support Good People. Hell, it's how I got my new full-time day thing. Yes, I've benefited from this, because I have been taught and have learned how to pass as Good People (also my work ethic and the known quality of my work had a little to do with it - but that's all my reputation). I benefited by someone who could help me to become a home owner. And I've paid back some of that, helping others up, which if I was completely honest with myself probably also fell into the Good People helping Good People category (although I didn't consciously make the decisions on whose family someone was from).

An insight into the president's mind from his spelling errors in tweets and the problem with the White House staff shakeup, "Trump doesn't think he needs advice. So changing the names of the people giving it to him doesn't really matter."

"Eight years ago, working in the department’s now-defunct Extremism and Radicalization Branch, Johnson authored a memo intended to warn law enforcement about the threat posed by right-wing extremists… Right-wing extremists, he wrote, could capitalize on 'racial and political prejudices' to reach a 'wider audience of potential sympathizers.'… The backlash to Johnson’s 2009 memo was swift. Some conservatives portrayed it as an Obama administration attack on the tea party movement. Under political pressure, the administration backed away from the memo. They dismantled Johnson’s team. He left the government." How did that work out for us? (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Remember that whole "make it in America" part of the Trump philosophy? So… "Two Chinese labor activists are missing, and presumed to be detained by police. The two were investigating alleged labor abuses at a factory that makes shoes for Ivanka Trump's brands." Not only outsourcing, but using economic slave labor to do it.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Linkee-poo rained out

So, there's been a rash of conservative twitter fiends running the line about how "the left wing violence agains Trumps supporters" blah blah, whatever. Talk to the hand. "Right-wing commentator, conspiracy theorist and Donald Trump–obsessed sycophant Wayne Allyn Root spent a good portion of his radio broadcast yesterday ranting about the need for conservatives to hire special forces operatives who 'have killed people' to destroy liberal groups before 'our lives are erased.'" (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Hundreds of protesters opposing Texas’ tough new anti-'sanctuary cities' law launched a raucous demonstration from the public gallery in the Texas House on Monday, briefly halting work and prompting lawmakers on the floor below to scuffle — and even threaten gun violence — as tense divides over hardline immigration policies boiled over." Dear Rep. Rinaldi, if Rep. Poncho Nevarez did assault you on the House floor, file charges. As I remember, the Texas House is videotaped during sessions, so there will be a record. If you don't, we can all assume you're lying. Like we are now.

"Russian government officials discussed having potentially 'derogatory' information about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and some of his top aides in conversations intercepted by US intelligence during the 2016 election, according to two former intelligence officials and a congressional source." Steele Dossier, anyone? Well, they do say the information is "financial." And we've moved the marker for Trump from "absolutely no financial connections" to "virtually no financial connections." I'm sure it's fine.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Linkee-poo, hello world, I'm your wild girl, I'm your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb

So, those fitness trackers, good at some things, not so good at others. I'm reminded of Random Michelle K's comparative study of pedometers and how far off they were from each other. But, yes, if you're using your pedometer to count calories, you may want to change your methodology.

"Police investigating the Manchester Arena bomb attack have stopped sharing information with the US after leaks to the media." That'll go over well. Score one for the "leakers aren't patriotic" crowd. The same people who cheered the DNC wikileaks release.

You know that homeless guy in Manchester who rushed in to help victims of the bombing (actually it was a number of the homeless in the area who helped, but they weren't all interviewed on camera)? Well, apparently a lot of people now want to help him so they've offered to pay rent, give him money, find him a job. Ah, what a warming human story… except what it shows is that many people (the ones who can help the most, at least) mostly see the poor and "down and out" as deserving their lot in life. And they were shown, graphically, how these people are just like everyone else. So now they want to help. And I applaud that. But my question is, what held them back before this? And what does that say about us?

"A Mississippi lawmaker apologized Monday for saying the Louisiana leaders who supported the recent removal of four Confederate monuments 'should be LYNCHED!' Karl Oliver, a GOP state representative, had made the comment in a Facebook post this weekend." Dear Rep. Oliver, I think you need to check your ignorance and lingering racism at the door.

Think I'm being a little hyperbolic here? "During an interview with Sirius XM radio on Tuesday, Mr Carson suggested people are poor because they learned the 'wrong mindset' from their parents." For many people, they think being poor is a choice. If only you worked a little harder, paid more attention in school, ignored the "bad parenting," whatever. This is how bad the mind fuckery of the right has gone. Here is someone raised in poverty, got his way out (with a lot of help from government programs I might add) and he still has no clue. The unexamined privilege is contagious. Dear Dr. Carson, so if your Mom had this great mindset, why was she poor? Oh, and please fuck off.

"'If you're on food stamps and you're able-bodied, we need you to go to work. If you're on disability insurance and you're not supposed to be — if you're not truly disabled, we need you to go back to work,' Mulvaney said Tuesday… But the reality is, many people (44 percent) who rely on SNAP — the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as food stamps is now known — have at least one person in the family working, according to the latest figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture." Treasury Secretary Mulvaney then then went on to state that there's plenty of money to help those who "deserve it," but not enough for those who don't. This is classic divide and conquer. Because, of course, we all know there are people getting benefits who don't really need them or "deserve" them. Those welfare queens for instance… Sec. Mulvaney, you too, sir, can fuck right off. Anybody who has had direct experience with trying to get these benefits knows just how far gone you have to be to qualify and how tough it is to actually qualify. But there are plenty of people, who will find themselves on the fuzzy end of this lollipop, believe that their struggle to qualify was so hard because of all the people freeloading off the system who have some advantage on qualifying that they don't have. Like being black (no, seriously, I have heard that said to my face). In the same way people finally woke up to what Obamacare actually was (and that they were benefitting form it) as the conservatives were writing their AHCA, many people won't realize their benefits are going to go away until the checks stop coming.

"One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities." So much for that "charities can pick up the slack" line of reasoning.

Think if you have employer sponsor health care you don't have to worry about the new Republican plan (AHCA)? Think again. Besides the economic benefits you receive from having fewer uninsured people that your payments cover their costs (because providers increase their fees to cover their loses), yes, Virginia, the GOP doesn't think you need to be all that healthy anyway.

The Office of Government Ethics tells the White House to get bent. "The Office of Government Ethics has rejected a White House attempt to block the agency's compilation of federal ethics rules waivers granted to officials hired into the Trump administration from corporations and lobbying firms."

Yes, Education Secretary DeVos is a wretched human who still hasn't learned about the programs she is supposedly "managing." Yes, they're coming to take your education away. Especially if you're poor or disadvantaged. Because we know that's what our economy needs, and our business leaders are demanding. We need even more lower skilled employees and consumers who don't make enough money to buy anything but the basics, and we need to direct money to all the "better" people who will, I don't know, somehow miraculously be able to do all the jobs… which in my experience they don't want to do anyway.

Milwaukee's voucher program. At best, a mixed bag of results.

In Montana, the Republican candidate to replace the vacated House seat, body slams a reporter asking about his reaction to the CBO score. Yeah, I'm sure that'll go well. (At the time of writing this, I don't know the outcome of the race which was Thursday)

"One in eight Americans — 42 million people — still struggles to get enough to eat. And while that number has been going down recently, hunger appears to be getting worse in some economically distressed areas, especially in rural communities… Food banks that serve these areas are also feeling the squeeze, as surplus food supplies dwindle but the lines of people seeking help remain long." To which the conservatives in government and our President's budget plan basically says, "Sounds like an excellent time to cut SNAP benefits."

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Flower porn

Well, somebody likes this weather.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Linkee-poo meet you anytime you want at our Italian Restaurant

"Basically, how do we even know what reality IS any more?" The Note to Self podcast on the election, living in different realities, the power of substitute world views, and the reinforcing values of social media (and the dark side of disparate groups finding home and support through long distance connections). :: waives "hi" from our shared delusion ::

"As the debate over health care continues in Washington, one thing not in dispute is that health care industry employment has been going up steadily over the past decade. In Ohio, health care industry jobs now outnumber those in manufacturing. The jobs are good news to state and local economies, but some analysts also say it's a reflection of the high costs and complexity of health care." Okay, yes, it's true that healthcare has some baggage, but it's not at the bottom. It's at the top. The number of VPs at a hospital is in direct proportion to their cost and in inverse proportion to the quality of care. You want to cut people out of the system? Great. Two words. Single. Payer. So many of those jobs in "administration" are there to handle health insurance coding, payments, wrangling, and pre-certification. Get to 1 form, 1 unified coding system (ICD-10 for instance), and standardize the scope of care and you can eliminate about 25% of jobs and increase the quality of care. As for the people involved with directly caring for patients, yeah, we need to up those numbers. Look at every quality of care survey and you'll find the thing everyone gets dinged on is not having enough staff to handle all the jobs. That and "call button wait times", which, again, is a staffing issue. In x-ray, our base mark is 10 minutes or less per exam (note, this is general x-ray, not CT and definitely not MRI). Why? Because we have too many people to x-ray and if we take longer, we push back all the appointment times.

The 10 ways the GOP has been sabotaging Obamacare. Note, most of the horror stories are from states that didn't expand Medicaid and had leadership in government actively trying to sabotage Obamacare. In the rest of the country, things aren't all that bad. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

While it appears that since 2015 people who have switched parties is roughly even (percentage wise) between GOP and Democratic Parties, there's a trend among younger voters to switch from GOP to Democrat and remain there. Not really unexpected (hell, that's when I left the GOP). But there are more young people switching from the GOP to Democrat than there are old Democrats switching to the GOP. And as the data shows, the older one gets, the less likely they will switch parties.

"Many I spoke with said they had made a fundamental mistake of viewing Trump primarily as an ideologue with whom they disagreed rather than what he increasingly appears to be: an ill-prepared newcomer to the world stage, with uninformed views and a largely untested team that will now be sorely tried by a 9-day, 5-stop world tour that would be wildly ambitious even for a seasoned global leader." Our European allies are increasing viewing Trump as incompetent and a clown. Ever see a clown get angry? (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sorry

Sorry for the lack of posting as it appears the center will no longer hold. It isn't for not seeing materials, but for having been caught in the firehose stream of it all and not being able to fight back to the edge. Plus lots and lots of personal stuff. I feel like I'm letting you all down. But really, it's hard to keep up with it all.

I'll just state for the record again, 1) this is what happens when you reward incompetence and can't distinguish between actual success and the ability to keep from crashing into the ground. And 2) Trump is a nightmare, but Pence was so far to the right that there was no way he would have won in the primaries. Pence is a deep "social" conservative. He's disciplined, and experienced. While it might stop this ongoing foot shooting, the results may be worse (you know, except for accidentally starting a nuclear war, or doing it because he's feeling pissy).

Hang on folks. This merry-go-round is losing the brakes.