What a field day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly saying, "hooray for our side"

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Linkee-poo uses Apple maps to find where to cross the river and go through the woods

Just wanted to mention that while many are bemoaning the current sexual abuse scandal (as in all of the people being outed as predators - not just a single case) I applaud those who are continuing to come out. And no, I don't care exactly whom it's against. But I also don't believe complete social ostracism is warranted in all cases. It is good, however, to have this conversation (again) and maybe the needle will tick a little further to the side of equality and justice before it all dies down. I've been debating a longer post about all this, and I'm not sure I'm (the one to, or am) going to write it. For full disclosure I'll say here that I was not always the good person most of you know and I wasn't always the best person to be around. On a sliding scale I was on the lighter grey side, but I was an ass and a jerk when I was younger (not all the time, but enough of the time). I've learned to be better. I have apologized where I could. And now I try to make the world better. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of what I did in this regard as young man. Hopefully I'm making up for it as I get older.

"According to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 58 percent of people celebrating the holiday are dreading having to talk politics around the dinner table. Just 31 percent said they were eager to discuss the latest news with their family and friends, while 11 percent are unsure." How much do you want to bet that a Venn diagram of that 31% is a circle within the 39% of Trump supporters. Because, yes, conservatives were more likely to say such conversations were more interesting and informative. Just from my own anecdotal experiences, conservatives are much more willing to talk about politics (note, not to change their own opinions but to express them and chide you if you don't share them) than liberals in a non-political setting. How about them Browns, eh?

"Follow-up observations (of Oumuamua)… have found that the asteroid is dark and reddish, similar to the objects in the outer Solar System. It doesn’t have any gas or dust surrounding it, like comets do, and it’s stretched long and skinny, looking a bit like an oddly shaped pen. It’s thought to be about a quarter-mile long, and about 10 times longer than it is wide. That makes it unlike any asteroids seen in our Solar System, none of which are so elongated." Rama?

"If you're eating less in preparation for huge holiday meals, don't. You're setting yourself up for an absolute disaster once those dinners, holiday parties, and other food-related gatherings finally happen." This is why the "exercise more" part is important. The exercise more statement is to keep your metabolism up. I know most people focus on the "calorie burn" part of exercise. Like, "I worked out today I can have another beer (or whatever)." While the extra calorie burn is good (seriously, most weight gain or lost is a matter of less than 300 calories a week) what you're looking for increasing you resting metabolic rate. This is where you burn the majority of calories. If you can tick that up 1 or 2 calories more per hour, you'll lose the weight.

"61-year-old DIY enthusiast and stuntman 'Mad' Mike Hughes is planning his first manned launch of a homemade, $20,000 steam-powered rocket with 'RESEARCH FLAT EARTH' written on the side on Saturday, the Associated Press reported." It's funny he has that on the side of his rocket, considering he doesn't believe in science (thinks it's like science fiction).

"Russia’s meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at nearly 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that an accident had taken place." The cat is on the roof.

"The device could make hydrogen cars affordable for many more consumers because it produces hydrogen using nickel, iron and cobalt—elements that are much more abundant and less expensive than the platinum and other precious metals that are currently used to produce hydrogen fuel." It's not the first time this was done, although the capacitor is different from the battery previously used (and slightly more dangerous). You might remember a NASA prototype high flying plane which used solar power for both flight, and to electrolyze water and store the hydrogen (and oxygen) and then use fuel cells to continue flying at night. (Grokked from Dan)

"Research investigating a popular form of surgery aimed at easing chronic shoulder pain doesn't fix the problem, a careful, placebo-controlled study suggests." Rhut rho. Although not all shoulder impingement or bone spurs are created equal. Also, significant bone spurs at the acromion and distal clavicle can lead to rotator cuff injuries. So one of my questions is did they control for severity of condition?

How's that "Do No Evil" motto coming along? "Google has been collecting Android phones' locations even when location services are turned off, and even when there is no carrier SIM card installed on the device, an investigation has found." (Grokked from Dan)

"Is it OK to ask someone where to get the best food of their culture?" Well, that's a loaded question. And this article runs down some of the things one should take into consideration. For my own choices, I tend to follow the "parking-lot rule." You want to know if the ethnic food of a certain place is good, check out who is dinning at the restaurant, how popular does it seem (which is easier because you can easily count cars in the parking-lot, instead of going inside and checking out the clientele).

"A Nebraska commission approved an alternative route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through the state on Monday, removing the last major regulatory obstacle to building the long-delayed $8 billion project." Oil spill? What oil spill? Although the vote was 3 to 2, so that's closer than I expected.

"'We’ve had a medical doctor that has said, actually based on (Ratko Mladic) diagnosed condition, any form of stress, including a trial proceeding, may increase his chance of having a stroke, a heart attack or dying,' Ivetic told The Associated Press." Aw, that's really too bad. Suck it up, buttercup. Although now I have a real desire for someone to use a boat horn behind him. Like every hour on the hour.

"Dr. Dan Lonergan says relapse is the biggest risk for patients recovering from opioid addiction. The drugs work by attaching to chemical receptors in the brain and sending signals that block pain and create pleasurable feelings. Repeated use can lead to drug tolerance, meaning increasingly high doses are needed to produce the same effect. In recovery, patients lose that tolerance so resuming the drugs can be fatal." Long-term opioid use changes the brain, but here's the kicker, when you stop, it doesn't change back. Once an addict, you're always an addict. The question is only if you're going to feed that addiction, find something else to fill it, or live with that hunger.

"Investigators believe a border patrol agent who died in West Texas after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body may have fallen down a 14-foot (4-meter) culvert, and his partner, who radioed for help, has no memory of what happened, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation." So much for the "they were attacked by hostile Mexicans" theme that was running yesterday. Of course they still could have been attacked, but I'm sure it's much less than what the president and some senators are pretending it to be.

"Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures." Hey, I know something in the budget which we could cut, if only the idiots in charge would know how to behave as real people. "(C)ongressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward." I think I see a policy which also needs changing.

"The Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, legally challenging a $85 billion deal that would give the telecom giant control of a media empire including CNN, Warner Brothers, HBO, and other major media brands." And while I don't think the merger should go forward (even if it's technically a vertical integration), my guess is one of the defense's main arguments would be interference from the president who has a vendetta against CNN.

"The IRS scandal came to a pathetic, whimpering conclusion earlier this month. For half a decade the scandal had kept delinquent members of Congress occupied and served up reliable programming to Fox News and other conservative media. But when Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen walked out of his office on Nov. 9, of his own volition, on schedule, his fine reputation intact, the whole greasy production quietly expired." It was all much ado about nothing? Shocked, shocked I am… (Grokked from Katheyrn Cramer)

:: waves to my Russian friends :: "Members of a Russian 'troll army' were quoted more than 80 times across British-read media outlets before Twitter revealed their identity and banned them, a Guardian investigation has shown." That's how propaganda works. Also, that's only from the accounts Twitter has been able to identify and doesn't include twitter handles that may have just cut and pasted content from those trolls. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A group of about a dozen U.S. State Department officials have taken the unusual step of formally accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law designed to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers, according to internal government documents reviewed by Reuters." The 3 countries delisted from the official record of nations involved with recruiting children soldiers had previously received waivers from the law banning US military assistance (Iraq and Afghanistan are after all active combat zones where the US is involved), but there's a difference between "national security concerns" and just not recording that our allies are recruiting children. "Documents reviewed by Reuters also show Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office and its own in-house lawyers." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump returns to his private Palm Beach club Tuesday for the first time since April, and several of his dues-paying members said they plan on making a beeline there in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the president or even chatting him up over the holiday weekend, including an extravagant Thanksgiving buffet." While there's some grumbling, it looks like a financial windfall for the president.

"One of President Trump’s golf courses paid back more than $158,000 to Trump’s charitable foundation this year, reimbursing the charity for money that had been used to settle a lawsuit against the club, according to a new tax filing."

"President Donald Trump's charitable foundation, which last year admitted violating federal rules on 'self-dealing,' is in the process of dissolving, according to newly filed documents reviewed by NBC News… The move fulfills a promise Trump made last December, when he said he would wind down the Donald J. Trump Foundation to avoid conflicts of interest. New York's attorney general ordered the foundation to stop soliciting contributions in October 2016." I'm sure the admitting self-dealing and being ordered to stop accepting contributions didn't really figure into the decision to shut it down. Not at all. But I'll bet that "can't shut down while under investigation" thing might slow down the unwinding. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Linkee-poo can trace my history down one generation to my home in one of our submarines

The ARA San Juan is missing. "Stormy conditions off the coast of Patagonia were hampering efforts to locate a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members. Doubts also surfaced over the origin of satellite signals that were initially thought to have come from the vessel."

"4,000 years ago in the northern steppes of Eurasia, in the shadow of the Ural Mountains, a tiny settlement stood on a natural terrace overlooking the Samara River… But the researchers quickly discovered this was no ordinary settlement. Unusual burials and the charred remains of almost fifty dogs suggested this place was a ritual center for at least 100 years." Lots of speculation, but interesting fodder for world building. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

"When was the last time you were asked to sit without saying a word for five minutes before your blood pressure was measured? If your answer was 'I never remember doing that,' you're in good company." Nobody takes blood pressure properly. Given that they've just lowered the numbers for standard/normal blood pressure, this will become important going forward. Also a little on using checklists in medicine.

Clues still point to Russia to explain the ruthenium-106 release.

"Charles Manson, the cult leader of the Manson family who masterminded the Tate-LaBianca killings of 1969 and one of the most reviled and fascinating figures in American pop culture, died Sunday night, CBS Los Angeles reports. He was 83." Some people you mourn, some people you're happy about their death.

"Trump’s 41 percent job approval rating in the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey is on the high end of where other surveys find him. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Trump has a 38 percent job approval rating, a historic low for a first-term president at this point in the term." It's like a limbo contest.

Reveal show "This week, we… explore how fake news starts, snowballs, and sometimes erupts into gun-fire… The conspiracy theory Pizzagate alleged that top Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of Comet Ping Pong, a D.C. pizza parlor."

"Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero claimed on Friday that he had completed the world's first human head transplant between two corpses — but gave no evidence to back it up." Come on, at least do "Puttin' on the Ritz!"

"Democratic Ohio gubernatorial candidate and sitting state Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill responded to the recent sexual misconduct accusations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Friday by boasted about his own sexual history." Well that's one way to end a candidacy.

"Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican, had been accused of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual 'stuff' earlier this year. Federal prosecutors will drop three additional child pornography charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea." Sen. Shortey was also Trump's Oklahoma campaign manager. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"In his tweet, Trump referred to the Minnesota Democrat as 'Al Frankenstien,' and suggested Franken may have done more with his hands in subsequent photos." Please, bitch. Goes and make more popcorn.

On The Media show on the current sexual harassment/assault public discussion. "As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to dominate the news, a look at how we are dealing with high-profile offenders and who is being ignored. Plus, a critical reexamination of Bill Clinton's reputation, the difficulty of processing good art made by bad people, and how to brace ourselves for the potential backlash."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Linkee-poo, we were never meant to worry the way that people do

Lore. Now an Amazon series as well as a podcast, books, newsletter and of course, a store. I've only watched one of their videos (on Amazon), but I've started listening to the podcast. Aaron Mahnke does a very good mix of William Shatner and Christopher Walken in his presentation. It takes a little getting used to. I'm beginning to think there is something about the Northern East Coast (I grew up in New Jersey) and a love of the ghost story. Other parts of the US may have their traditions of ghosts, but theres something about the home of Lovecraft, King, the witch trials, and a religious puritanism mixed with spirituality.

Terri Windling has a patreon. Lots of authors and artists I like have patreon sites, Kameron Hurley, Tobias Buckell, Mur Lafferty, and Jim Wright just to name a few, and some I've debated hard about contributing to.

"Astronomers in California are building the largest digital camera in the world. It will go on a giant telescope taking shape in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."

"A portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci has shattered all previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately, fetching a whopping $450.3 million on Wednesday at Christie's in New York." There inflates another bubble in the art world. Sell 'em while you can, people. The cash won't keep flowing forever.

"The future of the coyotes that roam forests, cities and suburbs from Newfoundland to Virginia could hinge on the animals becoming the 'wolves' of the East Coast. And humans better get used to them." Evolution in progress.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it has lifted an Obama-era ban on importing sport-hunted trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia." Fuckers. "It's not clear exactly what convinced the Service to make the change." I don't know, maybe it's because the president's sons like to go trophy hunting? Could that be it?

"The driver of a pickup displaying an expletive-filled message to President Donald Trump and his supporters in the Houston area was arrested Thursday on an outstanding warrant (for fraud)."

"Like Ellis, some 4.2 million young people experience unaccompanied homelessness in the course of a year, according to a new study from Chapin Hall a research center at the University of Chicago."

"A thick, green scum coated western Lake Erie. And Steele, a semipro angler, was sickened by it." No, literally sickened by the poison the algae give off. And here's the fun part, the minimal funds the Great Lakes receive to fight toxic blooms have been nearly eliminated in the GOP budget.

"TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) shut part of its Keystone oil pipeline system after a 5,000-barrel leak in South Dakota, the company said on Thursday, four days before neighboring Nebraska was set to decide on the company’s long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline." Well I'm sure Nebraska won't worry about its safety record.

"Thousands of Dreamers thought they had met the final deadline to renew their DACA status last month. But some of those applications got stuck in the mail." And then there's this, "In cases where the rejected application arrived at the post office box on time, USCIS says it will 'proactively reach out' to the applicants to let them resubmit." Resubmit? How about you just say, "Hey, we made a mistake, your application was here in time, we're processing it."

"Leading researchers castigated a federal plan that would use artificial intelligence methods to scrutinize immigrants and visa applicants, saying it is unworkable as written and likely to be 'inaccurate and biased' if deployed." Yeah, but what if "inaccurate and biased" was the plan?

"LA radio host Leeann Tweeden said now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., forced himself on her and groped her while the two were on a USO tour in 2006." It's not a party thing, it's a power thing.

Because there seems to be a counter narrative developing about how liberals are all sanctimonious when it comes to sexual misconduct on the right, but doesn't deal with its own issues I offer this. "As NPR's Board of Directors meet in Washington, D.C., this week, the network finds itself confronted by a series of dispiriting developments: a CEO on medical leave; a chief news executive forced out over sexual harassment allegations; the sudden resignation of a board chairman; fresh complaints over inappropriate behavior by colleagues; and a network roiled by tensions over the treatment of its female workers." Yes, we do take it seriously. Sexual harassment is not a political ideology, it's a product of power inequity. So yes, Virginia, we do deal with our own. But here's the difference, our party doesn't claim to be the more virtuous, religious, or morally superior.

"The federal conspiracy trial against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is hitting right at the heart of the country's divide over information and truth."

"… (M)any Canadians find it baffling that there's anybody in the United States who can't afford a visit to the doctor… So even as Canadians throw shade at the American hodgepodge of public plans, private insurance, deductibles and copays, they hold in high esteem a little-known Affordable Care Act initiative: the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation." Of course the current administration is trying to cut its effectiveness and eventually write it out of the budget. Did you really need to ask that.

What's the problem with Trump's appointees? "The Department of Homeland Security’s head of outreach to religious and community organizations resigned on Thursday after audio recordings revealed that he had previously made incendiary remarks about African-Americans and Muslims while speaking on radio shows." The head of outreach. Attacked African-Americans and Muslims. The head of outreach. I would say I'm shocked, but I'm really not. I'm just sad. Three more years of this. Gods, will we all survive?

"The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that starting in 2021, many families earning less than $30,000 would have tax increases under the bill. By 2027, families earning up to $75,000 would face higher levies, while those earning more would get tax cuts." Also the president has gone to Capitol Hill to push passage of the tax cuts (I'm not sure we can call it tax reform anymore). Something he couldn't be bothered to do with the Obamacare repeals. So guess where his real priorities lay.

"Addressing a black-tie crowd at the National Building Museum on Thursday night, Vice President Pence hailed congressional progress toward what he said would be the 'biggest tax cut in American history.'… As he spoke, less than a mile away the Senate Finance Committee was racing to wrap up work on a tax bill that will hand large cuts to the wealthiest while raising taxes on those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 over the next decade." Well I'm glad the top-hat and monocle crowd is all on board for the tax cuts.

"Senior White House adviser and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner, failed to hand over to Senate investigators emails concerning contacts with WikiLeaks and a 'Russian backdoor overture,' according to a letter sent by two senior lawmakers." Oopsie. What's a few critical emails to someone who forgot a few billion dollars worth of investments off his financial disclosure form?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Linkee-poo can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail

Took NyQuil much too late last night. Still fighting off the effects.

"A demonstration of the limited edition Holographic Vinyl Soundtrack to Star Wars The Force Awakens." (Grokked from Rodney)

"As more executives accused of sexual harassment are being ousted from companies around the nation, including NPR, many are rethinking whether human resources departments are willing or able to handle the job of fielding and investigating complaints. Many have grown skeptical, after recent news stories suggesting some HR departments knew of issues, but failed to adequately respond. Many others have lost faith in HR through experiences of their own." I've worked in places where it was known that you never go to HR with a problem, and for places where HR will work for the employees. It also usually came down to what kind of issue was being brought to their attention.

Well, there's Flint and then there's the Navaho Nation. "When she was pregnant, Nez and her children drank from a spring, located on Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona, with uranium levels at least five times greater than safe drinking water standards…" Tell me again how nuclear power doesn't have environmental impact.

"Mattel unveiled its first hijab-wearing Barbie doll on Monday, modeled after fencer Ibtihaj Muhammed, who has broken ground herself as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in the head scarf."

The Hidden Brain podcast Eyes Wide Open Part 2. Sleep as the "Swiss Army Knife" of health. A little on using sleep to process information as well as the connect between sleep deprivation of poor health (including the statement of how getting 1 single night's 4 hours of sleep reduces your immune system's "natural killer" cells - which fight cancer - by 70% the next day). Sleep has been linked to several instances of cancer, and the WHO considers nighttime shift work as a possible carcinogen. Sleep is the most "non-productive" time according to modern culture, except if it weren't necessary evolution would have cut it back a long time ago. I'm screwed.

"Passengers on a morning train on the Tokyo region's Tsukuba Express line might not have noticed anything was amiss Tuesday. But when their train left Minami-Nagareyama station, it did so 20 seconds ahead of schedule — and when the company noticed, it issued an apology to customers." Imagine a travel system that leaves on-time (or just a little early). Image a travel system where the people in charge apologize for any inconvenience you may experience in the timing of the trip.

"On Monday, in a medical first, Brian Madeux received an experimental in-body gene-editing treatment intended to cure him of Mucopolysaccharidoses II, known as MPS II or Hunter syndrome, a rare disorder that causes progressive damage to the body's cells." While I think this method is the first of its kind, but IIRC this isn't the first time we've tried to edit the DNA of a living human. As I remember a while back they tried to "correct" a patient's lungs which had a deadly side-effect and the patient, after showing initial signs of improvement, died of persistent pneumonias.

Once more unto the breach, my friends. Once more. "Senate Republicans now plan to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of a tax overhaul bill." Also as someone who works with the ED (emergency department), you never known when you're going to be in an accident or you might feel incredibly healthy when you go in for something unrelated and get a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. I've seen people in the 20s get that diagnosis, you're never too young.

"A Houston-area sheriff said Wednesday he's concerned the driver of a truck displaying an expletive filled message against President Trump and those who voted for him is creating a situation that could lead to confrontations with people offended by the sign." Who's the snowflake?

"There are a lot of anxious graduate students at universities around the country right now… That's because to help pay for more than $1 trillion in tax cuts for U.S. corporations, the House Republican tax plan would raise taxes on grad students in a very big way. These students make very little money to begin with. And many would have to pay about half of their modest student stipends in taxes." This will pretty much end advance degrees for US citizens (unless you're already wealthy - hint, there's a reason this system is in place).

"Richard Cordray, the embattled director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Wednesday that he will leave the agency by the end of November." Hello Governor Cordrey. Sad he's leaving, but his term was up next year anyway.

"Magazine publisher Meredith Corp. reportedly is again in talks to acquire Time Inc., this time with financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers." We're in the midst of another round of media "consolidation" which coincides with the Trump Administration rolling back regulations on how many media outlets into markets any one organization can own. Isn't that fantastic?

"It was initially thought that five people had died in the incident, including Neal. But Johnston said in an update on Wednesday that an additional body had been found — Neal's wife. He said that her body was found under the floor in Neal's home, and that police believe it's 'what started this whole event.'" Funny (not really) how a lot of mass kills start with domestic violence. It's almost like domestic violence was a precursor.

"Republican women who voted for President Trump in North Carolina said during a focus group Wednesday night that they are embarrassed by and exasperated with him." Thanks for coming, please take a seat in the back as the meeting is already under way. Yep, some people are finally coming to realization that Trump is all hat and no cattle. But there's also a lot of "better than the alternative" and "both sides are the same" in there. (Grokked from Dan)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Linkee-poo on a hump day

"Tiny homes have been promoted as the solution to all kinds of housing needs — shelter for the homeless, an affordable option for expensive big cities and simplicity for people who want to declutter their lives. But the same popularity that inspired at least six national TV shows about the homes often fails to translate into acceptance when developers try to build them next door." Yep. Hell, getting regular sized homes built for low-income people face unbelievable headwinds. Even in an area that's already been duplexed and includes many rentals, even when the new homes would look the same as the existing duplexes.

"If you're poor, uninsured and have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there's a chance in most states to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months… 'retroactive eligibility' provides financial protection as patients await approval of their Medicaid applications. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients… But a growing number of states are rescinding this benefit." Fuckers. Tell me again how both sides are the same. My Mom labored for years trying to keep up with Medicare premiums when she was eligible to Medicaid the whole time. With that look-back period we were able to keep her solvent. Given the other heinous fuckery around Medicaid (like Medicaid Recovery), this is just fucking over the poor for absolutely no reason than mean people in office can. Understand just how destitute you have to be (for a significant period of time) before you qualify for Medicaid. You can't have more than $2000 to your name or you're kicked off. So, yeah, let's saddle these people with medical debt they'll never be able to repay (note this retroactive coverage is to save the medical institutions - doctors and hospitals - that have helped these people).

How do we stop drugs from coming into the US. "Build a wall," they all shouted. "The bazooka had been 'adapted' to use a compressor for launching drugs into the United States. The Mexican daily El Universal reports the device was inside a van with a sliding roof, allowing the bazooka to shoot the drugs from the cover of the vehicle."

"'I'm very sorry for the language I used. I'm not proud of it,' (former Dallas prosecutor Jody) Warner said at a press conference as she fought back tears. 'I appreciate being given the opportunity to give my side. I'm not trying to make any accusations against that driver. I don't know what's in his heart. I can tell you that not everything he said was true. I never touched him.'" I guess we believed him, Ms Warner, and not you.

The art of the "non-apology" apology. "Papa John's is apologizing for comments made by CEO John Schnatter blaming sluggish pizza sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem… The company tweeted a statement Tuesday night saying 'the statements made on our earnings call were describing factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive.'" Or to paraphrase that, "the racist and unfeeling statements of our asshole CEO were only meant for people with money. All the rest of you shouldn't have heard it." Still make crappy pizza, that might have something to do with your reduced sales. Oh, wait, I've got it, "Millennials are destroying Papa Johns." Yeah, that'll work.

The non-coup coup. "Zimbabwe's army said Wednesday that it has seized control in what is being described as 'a bloodless transition' that has apparently pushed aside President Robert Mugabe. The military said he and his family are 'safe and sound.'"

"Question to CEOs: If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase your company’s capital investments? [Just a couple hands are raised] Gary Cohn: 'Why aren't the other hands up?'" Because CI doesn't add to stock value like buybacks do. This reminds me of when Ohio conservatives fought tooth and nail to cap damages from medical liability suits to halt the double digit increases in medical liability insurance. After they won, medical liability insurance continued to increase in the double digits. When reporters finally asked the insurance companies why, the response was, "We never said capping damages would lead to lower rates." So, did Ohio reverse themselves and remove the caps? Hell no. It wasn't the point of them anyway. (Grokked from Vince O'Conner)

"That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election. The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election." Somehow I get the feeling they're just trolling us now.

AG Jeff Sessions to Congress, well, you know, it was a fuckup of a campaign, we were all tired, and you cann't expect me to remember every instance of someone selling our country out to a hostile foreign power. You know, to paraphrase. Funny how the other people seem to remember it.

The Johnston, PA progressive are getting a little sick and tired of how they're portrayed by the media. "But Adams also voted for Trump, and by a bigger margin than Cambria County. The town backed Trump by a 39 point margin over Clinton (68 percent voted for Trump, 29 percent for Clinton). So why don't national publicans travel to wealthy suburbs like Adams to write stories about Trump supporters? Electorally, they provide similar support." But we've done the "rich people are republicans" stories to death. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"President Trump was slammed on social media for an apparently errant tweet about last week’s mass killing in Texas — sent on the same day a gunman went on a killing spree in California." And he signed it in his own personal rubber stamp. Our president accused of not actually giving a damn? Shocked, shocked I am… Don't worry, I'm sure there's some intern he can blame. (Grokked from Dan)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Linkee-poo, and none of you stand so tall, Pink moon gonna get ye all

"On Saturday, private spaceflight company Sierra Nevada announced that its Dream Chaser spaceplane had successfully glided and landed on a runway after being released from a helicopter. The stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle’s landing capabilities. It’s an important milestone in the Dream Chaser’s development, as Sierra Nevada readies the plane for spaceflight."

Who needs regulation or local offices for regulators? "To Juan Flores, the phrasing of EPA statements after Harvey felt like a slap in the face. He had been smelling gasoline in his neighborhood for days when the agency told residents there was nothing to worry about."

"A California judge could decide Tuesday if Gloria Single will be reunited with her husband, Bill. She's 83 years old. He's 93. The two have been married for 30 years. They lived in the same nursing home until last March, when Gloria Single was evicted without warning." On nursing home evictions and how seniors have few rights (that are enforced).

"In a Friday interview with the New York Times, McConnell acknowledged that some working families would end up paying higher taxes if their bill passed, contradicting his comments from earlier this week." Some meaning most.

"Tens of thousands of nationalists marched in a demonstration organized by far-right groups in Warsaw Saturday, as Poles celebrated their country’s Independence Day." World-wide fascists.

Britain's politicians begin to panic over Brexit. I love the talk about postponing the Brexit if the deal is only struck at the last moment in an attempt to give Parliament a chance to vote on it. That only works if the opposite side agrees to a postponement. What does the EU have to gain from that? Nothing. And if no deal is worked out, it's not like Brexit halts. Britain has already signaled it's withdraw in 2019. If nothing else happens, they're out as of that date.

"I think that there are people who are really concerned and some groups who are really big on payment reform who are really concerned that Price coming in and putting the brakes on some of these programs and canceling some completely was a sign that he was just going to be protecting doctors' incomes and not wanting to move forward with ways to save money and make them think more about the quality of care they're providing." So much for the Trump administration wanting to slow down cost creep in healthcare.

"Hate crimes rose for the second straight year in 2016, with increases in attacks motivated by bias against blacks, Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, according to FBI statistics released Monday." This is my shocked face.

Why it's important when labeling people "heroes". "Green Beret discovered SEALs’ illicit cash. Then he was killed." By those SEALs, who did a horrible coverup.

"Two former CIA employees are accusing the Trump administration’s choice for CIA chief watchdog of being less than candid when he told Congress he didn’t know about any active whistleblower complaints against him."

"During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump Jr. was in direct contact with WikiLeaks at the same time the muckraking website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials that proved damaging to the Clinton campaign, according to several major publications." You know, after the campaign and VP Pence stated there was no contact.

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. But hey, they may appoint a special council to investigate Clinton. So Republicans may be happy. You know, until the special council discovers what all the House and Senate committees discovered is that there is no there there.

"Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its report last week on allegations from several women who said Moore pursued relationships with them while they were teenagers." You do that, Roy. And let us know when you file papers, until then you're blowing it out your ass. Also, apparently more women are coming forward.

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, 'I believe the women' and called on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to 'step aside.'" That's gonna leave a mark.

"But according to The New Yorker, back in the eighties, as local DA in his early thirties, Roy Moore was banned from his hometown mall because of cruising the facility for teenage girls." Man, this story has a whole footlocker of shoes just waiting to fall.

If Moore is actually elected, even if the Senate expels him, we are going to be hearing about him for the next 3 years.

"Altogether, under the House bill, around 70 percent of the tax benefits would initially flow to people earning six figures or more per year (or about 23 percent of tax filers), according to an NPR analysis of figures from the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation." And then the benefits to the middle-class would phase out. So guess which side of the charts I expect to be on. And again, all the so called "benefits", even the moderate plans, are based on overly optimistic economic growth. Look, for the past two decades corporations have been squirreling money away. Many of the largest have huge war chests, and they're just sitting on that cash. If companies having more money actually equaled higher job growth we'd all have our choice of jobs and the companies would be publicly begging to increase immigration (privately many are encouraging expansion of H1b visas and other work permits).

"Fox News host Sean Hannity cheered on his fans on Sunday night as they published videos of themselves smashing their Keurig coffee makers due to the company’s boycott of Hannity’s show." Supposedly this offends us lefties. Hahahahaha. For them saying that Keurigs are crap, an awful lot of ditto heads own them. And then Sean was going to buy 500 of them to give away (I'm assuming for them to also be destroyed). Yep, that'll show Keurig. But another 500, Sean. Just to make sure you hurt them where it counts.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Linkee-poo doesn't forget this fact, you can't get it back

Okay, so I have to admit when Apple did their iPhone X rollout and introduced the animoji I did an eye roll so hard ships in the Pacific were rocked. But here's an interesting take on that tech. That basically it allows voice communication with "human" expression while protecting privacy. So, dialing in from home to that 9am video meeting with your boss and coworkers across the world and you don't want them to see your bed hair, tattered robe, the drool line on your cheek and the leftover pizza and beer bottles on your desk? No worries. Dial in as an animoji. (Grokked from John)

"I met a man who despised me." Jim Wright on Veterans Day. Stands and salutes.

"Global carbon pollution rose this year after three straight years when levels of the heat-trapping gas didn’t go up at all, scientists reported Monday." We're boned.

"The connection between Delrahim abandoning his previous legal analysis and his sudden zeal to cudgel one of his new boss’ media foes can’t be ignored. Despite the obvious First Amendment implications of the Executive Branch using an enforcement agency to bring a news outlet to heel, the formerly principled Delrahim appears to be his boss’s attack dog." The government is insisting that their okay of the AT&T and Time Warner merger is contingent on AT&T selling off CNN.

"For years, Word of Faith Fellowship has used its muscle — attorneys, money and influence — in custody, foster-care and other cases involving children, the AP found… Even if it meant lying, former members said, ministry leaders have regularly attacked parents who launched custody battles for their kids when they broke with the church, staunchly taking the side of the remaining parent." A study on political manipulation, abuse and co-dependency wrapped in a "church".

"They found that in states that didn't expand, the percentage of low-income, nonelderly adults with unpaid medical bills dropped from 47 to 40 percent within three years… 'The economy improved and maybe other components of the ACA contributed to a 7 percentage point reduction,' Sojourner says. 'Where they did expand Medicaid, it fell by almost twice as much.'" Medicaid expansion works for the people. And that's just the economic side of it, this doesn't include quality of life issues. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

Well, the opposing argument in the opioid crisis/discussion is coming back sooner than I thought. See there are many people who need opioids to help manage chronic pain. That is, after all, what opioids were designed to do. And with all this "OMG, people are getting hooked on heroin after taking opioids we gotta limit their use." Well, no, people are getting addicted to heroin because they're using heroin 1) recreationally or 2) because they medical system has cut them off from pain medications they need. Yes there is a major industry of black market prescription opioid medications. Yes there are doctor/pill farms. An yes the pharmaceutical industry is complicit with all of that. But if it takes $40 to get the same high you can get from $5 of heroin, which do you think people will go with? People do get addicted to opioid medication and then go to heroin. So stopping that pipeline is a big concern (although if all you're doing is choking off the flow of pills, you have no chance of stopping this crisis). Addiction has many fathers as the saying goes, access to prescription opioids is just one of many. But choking off supply affects those who are living with chronic pain (and these are the people for whom the relaxed rules were meant to help back in the 90s). So what to do? Well, you address the other ways people become addicted (social and economic). But that's the hard road for politicians (especially conservative politicians).

There is some hope for new drugs. But then Vicodin was also one of those drugs when it came out. Surprise, people also got addicted to Vicodin. My guess is people will also be addicted to these new drugs, but it'll take another decade after their release until we realize that.

Also just going to mention here that chronic pain does change brain morphology. The differences can be seen on fMRI and it's possible that even a standard MRI can show signs of chronic pain. Pain is exceptionally complex and our brain is highly interconnected. So when you try to affect one part, you inevitably affect other parts of the brain.

"In a bizarre segment on Friday, Trenton Garmon, attorney and friend of Roy Moore tried to dub CNN’s Don Lemon as 'Don Easy Peasy Lemon Squeeze-e'—and was totally shut down." I know people find this behavior bizarre, especially as the president give opponent derogatory nick-names (a previous president gave people nick-names but they were mostly not derogatory), but you have to understand these people have been doing this for over a generation. It's just this new generation never knew that they shouldn't say these things outside certain circles. But they now have no compulsion to not share their contempt for others. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In a 26-minute question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One, the president managed to dismiss probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an 'artificial Democratic hit job,' said he believed Putin's insistence that Russia did not attempt to meddle in the 2016 electon, and warned that the continued focus on Russian election meddling risks lives." Yeah, a Bush saw "Putin's soul". Considering how gullible this president thinks the rest of us are, I'm surprised he believes we believe he's that gullible. It's a meta gullibility. Its like the Spruce Goose of gullibility. Plus, you know, if he did collude with Russia, this is exactly what you'd expect him to say. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

The rumors about Mueller's probe, they are a flying. "It appears to be limited to five individuals, but that means there’s a total of 22 criminal charges against seven different defendants. Clearly, more arrests are coming, but who is next?" I haven't found many articles that agree on the number of sealed indictments, but it's clear there are many more ready to go. Manafort was the shot over the bow. I feel a mixture of excitement and bowl reaching nausea for the future of my country. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump on Monday barged into congressional Republicans’ carefully calibrated work on revamping the nation’s tax code, calling for a steeper tax cut for wealthy Americans and pressing to add a contentious health care change to the mix." Because of course he would. Here's the thing rich people know, if you're going to ask for a little, ask for a lot instead.

Fact checking the president on the VA and the economy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Story Bone

Murder mystery where in a group of friends one of them is a murder, but they never discover which one of them did the deed. At the end of the story they've all come to peace with this. From the armchair analysis any one of them could have been the murder. In the end they're all complicit.

Linkee-poo, okay, who ordered the snow platter?

Hope you didn't blink, because that was Fall. And also I've seen the true signs of Xmas. The groceries are selling Hillshire Farms Summer Sausage and egg nog.

Just a general note. I do try to find links that don't have autoplay video, but that is becoming harder and harder to do (this is also why a lot of NPR links have been showing up, but also NPR was been doing very well lately). So I apologize for all the links that start blasting at you. For the record, these days I surf with the sound set to mute. I only un-mute when I want to play something directly and usually I'm surprised to find my computer already making noise from some buried tab deep in the stack.

Edited to add some links that went hiding and I finally found.

"Stephen Hawking warns about dangers of AI as motorized wheelchair drives toward lake." (Grokked from Dan)

"The appearance of a years-long supernova explosion challenges scientist's current understanding of star formation and death, and work is underway to explain the bizarre phenomenon."

"Las Vegas' self-driving shuttle service marked its return by getting into a minor collision… just an hour into its year-long trial… the shuttle was hit by a delivery truck that was backing up." So it was human error, but still not a good start (although it's initial test in January went well).

"The Boston researcher who examined the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez says it showed the most damage (Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy) her team had seen in an athlete so young… and that they had never seen such severe damage in a brain younger than 46 years old." He was 27 when he hanged himself in prison for the murder of a friend.

China's coal industry is dealing with the same issues the US coal industry has been dealing with. And they're having a similar reaction. Waiting for coal to "come back."

"A cloud of radioactive pollution over Europe in recent weeks indicates that an accident happened in a nuclear facility in Russia or Kazakhstan in the last week of September, the French nuclear safety institute IRSN has said." Ah, it's just a cloud. Nothing to worry about (severe side eye here). Just nobody knows where it came from (most likely Russia or Kazakhstan). The isotope detected is only produced during nuclear fission, but could be from reprocessing fuel rods or generated for medical use. Um, yeah, Bob. No reason to be concerned here?!

"Republican leaders seeking to overhaul the federal tax code faced new challenges Wednesday, including a new $74 billion hole in the House’s plan and a drubbing in Tuesday’s state and local elections that will be on members’ minds as they prepare for difficult tax votes." The only reason why Tuesday's elections should change the tax bill is if Republicans never thought you'd go out to vote or be able to vote. And an election shouldn't change the economics (which is their main selling point). You know, unless their reasoning is complete bullshit. Right now they're trying figure our which Peters are going to get robbed to pay which Pauls.

"Senate Republicans released their own version of a tax plan Thursday, and it varies just enough from the House's bill to set the two chambers up for a dramatic showdown over tax policy in upcoming weeks." This is my shocked face. It'll come to showdown of whom is going to screw over whom the mostest.

"The United States and Russia are nearing an agreement on Syria for how they hope to resolve the Arab country’s civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, officials said Thursday." Ah, nothing like two parties who don't actually own or govern the land coming to an agreement about how best to settle a conflict there. Not like the Middle-East doesn't have a long history of that.

"Republican officials in Alabama and across the country have had mixed responses to a Washington Post report alleging that Roy Moore, the Republican candidate in Alabama's special U.S. Senate race, initiated sexual contact with a 14-year-old when he was 32 and pursued relationships with three other teenagers while he was in his 30s… Some politicians are casting doubt on the women's stories, while others are expressing dismay — and, in some cases, Republican officials are defending Moore's alleged actions as not problematic at all." The party of family values, everyone.

"A federal judge has issued a gag order in the federal government's case against former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates, preventing them and their legal teams from speaking to the press."

"Federal investigators are examining whether former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn met with senior Turkish officials just weeks before President Donald Trump's inauguration about a potential quid pro quo in which Flynn would be paid to carry out directives from Ankara secretly while in the White House, according to multiple people familiar with the investigation." If proved true, that's in the "Holy Fuck" category. IANAL but I believe that's also hard time in Federal Prison. Rumors are that Mueller's team already has enough evidence to bring charges and now they're keeping their cards close to their chest to work their way through all contacts to see who else falls into that net (like Flynn Jr.).

"After a business meeting before the Miss Universe Pageant in 2013, a Russian participant offered to 'send five women' to Donald Trump's hotel room in Moscow, his longtime bodyguard told Congress this week, according to three sources who were present for the interview… Two of the sources said the bodyguard, Keith Schiller, viewed the offer as a joke, and immediately responded, 'We don't do that type of stuff.'" And then, of course, the Trump lawyers decried the leak (probably not the best choice of words here) and said that what was leaked was false and a partisan hack. So, uh, are we then supposed to believe the opposite happened? Or is the "the cat is on the roof" part of the plan?

"A year later, the shock of Trump's win hasn't totally worn off in either party." Oh honey, that's not shock, that's PTSD. While the Democrats dither over whether Bernie would have won (hint, he wouldn't have, and I'm suspecting part of this fervent flogging is being driven by our friends in that other place, the Republicans are coming to grips with their new found popularity and the ramifications of exactly why they're popular (hint, it's not about the fiscal conservatism). One can be mended and build a stronger bond, the other is pulling the wheels off the bus. In the article there's a little confusion between rhetoric and action. "In a shake up that took even the Republican establishment by surprise, Trump has challenged the image of the Republican Party as the party of corporate America, into a party that fights for working America." But you know what, he isn't governing that way.

Hey, remember that Carrier plant that Trump saved all those jobs because he was winning for America. Yeah. More layoffs. How's those tax abatements working out for ya? (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Linkee-poo, Mister Sandman, someone to hold would be so peachy before we're too old

Type nerdery ahead. Two apps to help you identify a font in the wild. Okay, so this is fantastic and a horror. One, okay, this is really damn helpful (especially if they're accurate) for my day to day work. If I had been paid for all the time I've spend searching for the exact font used on a design that I now need to recreate because the client "lost the original" (or more likely didn't know who did it or didn't want to pay them any more money)… well, okay, I did get paid for (most) of that time. But still, OMG where have you been my entire life. And two, it's a fucking nightmare because I'm really good at identifying fonts and now if any asshole with Paint can figure out the fonts that's going to cut into my special skills (it's a handy skill of designers and most can do it to a rudimentary level, but only a few are as good - I mean there's still thousands of us, but we're not everywhere). Anyway. My saving grace here is that designers like to get tricky with type and sometimes it means knowing that the font maybe your standard Helvetica cut, but it's set to a 92% horizontal scaling (instead of a compressed, condensed, or narrow face) with a different slant set to the italic that isn't the regular oblique. Plus I'm near the end of my career in design so I'm not entirely worried about this amount of automation. (Grokked from John)

The Hidden Brain podcast on going without sleep. Mostly focusing on Randy Gardner who holds the world's record for 11 days without sleeping. Guinness World Records has deemed any attempt to break that record as too dangerous so they won't certify any new attempt to break it. Sleep deprivation, I don't recommend it, but even after gaining all this insight into the effects, our society still rewards those people who go without. And if you suffer from chronic insomnia, please seek medical attention. Full disclosure, as a young man I once worked 72 hours straight, took an hour nap, and worked another 12 hours. I often would work 24-36 hours at a time. Fortunately I was also paid for my overtime for most of that. I do not recommend doing this (at any age). This is also why when people offer the writing advice of "just get up an hour early to writer" (or exercise) I advise against it (unless you can go to sleep earlier as well). As they state in the article, there is some evidence that you can store up some sleep to stay awake later, but you can never do the reverse. Any damage done by staying awake doesn't go away by sleeping more. Of course I'm also now at the age where I look at younger people and think, "How can you not want to go to sleep?"

"A Merlin rocket engine exploded Sunday at SpaceX's test facilities in Central Texas. According to the company, no one was injured during the mishap, which damaged two bays in a Merlin engine test stand at the MacGregor facility." And that's why they test them out first. (Grokked from John)

"'This year may be (an) especially difficult (flu season) because, in addition to this egg adaptive mutation which was present last year, there's indication that the H3N2 viruses are actually evolving,' he said." Fuck. Me. Okay, well that's just about one of the strains in this year's flu vaccine, the other two look good. And it's hoped that even if it may not stop you from getting sick, it might prevent the worst effects of the flu (like death, and yes, people do die from the flu).

"Pixium Vision, a French company, has received the approval to begin in-human trials of a miniature wireless sub-retinal implant. Named PRIMA, the device may help those with advanced dry age-related macular degeneration get improvements in their eyesight. The company is in talks to also conduct trials in the United States." No word if you can telescope in with it or if it makes that neato sound effect from the Six-Million Dollar Man. (Grokked from Dan)

Genetically modified skin. Living in the future.

"Getting rid of the requirement that everyone in the country have health insurance coverage would save the government $338 billion over the next decade, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis released Wednesday." But it would make health insurance (for everybody) more expensive. Also it could lead to unexpected economic costs (increase in bankruptcies or hospital debt for charity care).

"The statement also says (Notre Dame) 'will not interfere' with the insurance company’s coverage (of still providing ND employees with birth-control at not cost to to ND), although it’s unclear whether there’s any way they could. So it’s possible that—depending on your insurer—the executive order (allowing all employers to waive the birth-control mandate) doesn’t give religious employers the power they thought it did." Because 1) birth control pills aren't always prescribed for just birth control (there are several medical reasons) and 2) it's a hellalotta cheaper than an actual normal (ie. no complications) birth. So unless they're self-insured (which, IIRC, already takes them out of the Obamacare mandate) they're going to get birth-control coverage whether they want it or not. My guess is they're not interfering with the decision because Aetna gave them a cost for cutting it out (and it's higher than what they pay now - see reasons above). Dumbasses. (Grokked from Dan)

"A report that President Trump asked CIA Director Mike Pompeo to meet with a former NSA employee who denies Russian interference in the U.S. election has drawn fire from two ex-intelligence chiefs." Apparently this person believe that an insider leaked the emails, which was an early theory that was quickly disproven.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Linkee-poo needs to laugh, and when the sun is out I've got something I can laugh about

"Researchers at NASA have discovered a huge upwelling of hot rock under Marie Byrd Land, which lies between the Ross Ice Shelf and the Ross Sea, is creating vast lakes and rivers under the ice sheet." And now we'll hear from the climate change denialists that the Earth is warming because of a mantle bloom under the whole Earth.

The new tax gimmick of letting provision expire (to get a better CBO score). And here I'll just say that while all those other "temporary" reductions sometimes were extended, the one example they gave of a tax cut that wasn't directly impacted "middle-class" people. All the ones that did get extended have an active and vocal lobbing system. There's not a lot of money lobbying for the middle-class.

"Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) got points for honesty Tuesday while advocating for Republicans’ tax bill to slash the corporate tax rate and eliminate the estate tax, among other things… 'My donors are basically saying, "Get it done or don’t ever call me again,"' Collins said." Dear Rep. Collins, you're not supposed to say that out loud in front of reporters.

"The Democratic sweep in the off-year elections Tuesday arguably dials up the urgency for the GOP to deliver a major legislative win after nearly a year of coming up short. Yet the knotty work of solving the math problem at the heart of the exercise remains." You know, if the GOP had actually done it's homework over the last 8 years, it wouldn't be in this predicament. Instead, it was easier to mouth platitudes, lie, and promise the Moon instead of doing the work. There's a lot of talk about the Tortoise and the Hare, but there's also the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper. It's a long, long way to Tipperary.

"Health care spending in the United States increased by about $933.5 billion between 1996 and 2013, according to an analysis published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA. More than half of this surge was a result of generally higher prices for health care services." This is my shocked face.

"Whereas in the past states had to prove that proposed changes (to Medicaid) would 'increase and strengthen' health coverage of their low-income population, that requirement is gone, replaced with language that welcomes proposals for work requirements, drug tests and other hurdles that experts predict would reduce the Medicaid rolls by hundreds of thousands of people." Remember when candidate Trump said he wouldn't touch Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid?

"Even though medical marijuana is legal in more than half of US states, it remains illegal under federal law. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate derivatives of the plant, including (cannabidiol) extracts."

"… Trump said(,) 'And I can only say this, if he didn’t have a gun, instead of having 26 dead, you would have had hundreds more dead. So that’s the way I feel about it.'… The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, on Sunday opened fire in a Texas church, killing 26 and wounding about 20 others. After leaving the church, Kelley was confronted by a nearby resident with a gun, police said. He was found dead with three gunshot wounds, including at least one self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said." Note the gunman was finished firing in the church and leaving the scene before being confronted, and that it is most likely the bullet that killed him came from his own gun.

The automation of the legal profession. The robots are coming for your job.

"The House Intelligence Committee on Monday released the full transcript of the former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page's testimony before the panel last week, portions of which support details in an explosive collection of memos outlining alleged collusion between the campaign and Moscow before the 2016 US election." Well, there's a little fire in that smoke after all (not that I doubted it, given that I actually paid fucking attention at the time). (Grokked from a number of people)

"So began the mystery of Wilbur Ross' missing $2 billion. And after one month of digging, Forbes is confident it has found the answer: That money never existed. It seems clear that Ross lied to us, the latest in an apparent sequence of fibs, exaggerations, omissions, fabrications and whoppers that have been going on with Forbes since 2004." Big hand for our Secretary of Commerce, everybody. So basically a braggart nominating another braggart, who'd a thunk it? So, besides the imbroglio of the money laundering going on at the Cyprus bank he worked at, apparently he is merely a hundred-millionaire, not the billionaire he made himself out to be. (Grokked from Dan)

Ah the Democrats, exceptionally adept at snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. But last night was pretty damn sweet.

"Residents in (Maine) grappling with a heroin epidemic and an aging population voted Tuesday to deliver a rebuke to Republican Gov. Paul LePage and join 31 other states that have expanded Medicaid under former President Barack Obama’s health care law." Odd, people actually want government to work for them and help improve their lives. "'Voters have made it clear they want more health care, not less.'" (said David Farmer, spokesman for pro-expansion Mainers For Health Care).

But, "In a statement Wednesday morning, LePage said he would not allow expansion to go into effect until the program 'has been fully funded by the Legislature at the levels DHHS has calculated.'" Because why wouldn't he block it as much as he could.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Linkee-poo is not Tuesday's child

"A photo of Juli Briskman flipping off President Trump's motorcade while riding her bike went viral, and now, her employer has fired her for it… On Halloween, in an attempt to get ahead of her employer finding out that she was the woman in the picture, Briskman told her bosses at the government contracting firm Akima LLC and was promptly fired." But she'll never pay for a drink again.

"The U.N.’s International Organization for Migration put the number of dead in the center Mediterranean route from Libya to Italy at over 2,600 through Nov. 1." People are dying to get to Europe, like they're dying to enter the US.

"According to Kamin’s calculations, the initial tax cut for the family making $59,000 becomes a $500 tax increase by 2024 compared to the status quo." But the tax cuts for the wealthy and businesses are permanent. So guess who's going to get stuck with the $1.5t extra debt? Also I'll note here that most of the tax "benefit" comes from having children, like the "middle-class tax break" in the Bush tax cuts. If you don't have children (as we don't), you get doubly screwed.

As in, "By 2027, after many of the middle class tax cuts in the GOP plan expire, the difference would be even more stark. The report found that people earning less than $55,000 a year would see an average increase in their taxes, of nearly $2,000, while those in the top 1 percent would get an average tax break of nearly $53,000. For the richest of the rich, the top 0.1 percent of Americans, the windfall is even greater: an average of nearly $300,000 a year." (Although note that the Tax Policy Center forgot to add one of the child deductions to these calculations and are redoing the report, however that deduction would also expire by 2027). This will play into some social economics in that people will want to get a dollar now even though they may need to pay two dollars in the future (it's not rational, but then that's why Richard Thaler won the Nobel Prize in Economics).

"It does seem that in America today, it is something of a golden age of grievance." Trump, one year from election.