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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Linkee-poo, blinded by the light

"'That was the feedback from players. They wanted a better shot at smaller prizes,' Tabor said." Nobody plays the lottery to win the $4 prize. However, a small prize and a "near miss" are guaranteed to reinforce the habit of gambling.

So, how do other countries deal with monuments of a past that are troubling?

"Donohue says many hospital emergency departments are not adequately set up to serve or even screen patients with addiction. 'They may not have strong connections to treatment providers. So they, at best, may leave patients with a list, but then there is no active follow-up,' Donohue says. 'People who are quite vulnerable and are at great risk for future overdoses are falling through the cracks.'" Much of what they say here is true, although they're missing a large part of the picture. First, there is empathy fatigue. Second, our emergency room doctors aren't licensed to give such treatment (many of the drugs used to treat opioid addiction require special certification). Third, there's no goddamn beds to send these people to for both inpatient and outpatient care. Hell, getting people in for standard psychiatric care can be daunting. Fourth, there is a shortage of slots for treatment (see 2 and 3). Finally, in Ohio at least, patients have to meet certain requirements before entering treatment. For some, that means going through a medication clearance, that is they show they are "clean" of drugs. That last law/rule really needs to be changed.

"Danish police said Wednesday that a headless torso found in waters off Copenhagen is that of missing Swedish journalist Kim Wall, the Associated Press reported." I've been reading about this for over a week and and this story just keeps getting stranger and stranger. But it seems likely now that Peter Madsen won't escape justice.

"Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's wife Louise Linton is facing a backlash for an Instagram post -- later deleted -- that touted the couple's wealth." Good thing all those people with "economic worries" voted in the guy who appoints his friends. There's just like us. Travel by jet for a day trip without our Hermes scarfs, etc, bashing folk who criticize their choices. Like you do.

And NPR takes the moment of this imbroglio to highlight exactly how a progressive tax system works and the concept of "equal marginal sacrifice." "To that poor person, paying 40 cents instead of 10 cents — or, to make this example more practically applicable, $40 instead of $10 — could cut heavily into basics like grocery or rent money. But for the rich person, that $40 is far less likely to be a necessity. Instead, it could cut into, say, the cost of an Hermes scarf."

Obamacare reform is still on the burner. "Staff for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican, are working on a joint plan to stabilize the country's health insurance markets. Kasich told Colorado Public Radio's Colorado Matters that they expect to release it ahead of September hearings in the U.S. Senate. They also intend to get other governors from both parties to sign onto the plan, to show support at the state level." Of course "They also agree that the possibility of national single-payer coverage is not on the table in their discussions."

"Another Obama-era regulation is on the Trump administration's chopping block — this one about nursing homes. The Obama administration's rule would've made it easier for nursing home residents to sue for negligence or abuse. But the Trump administration is proposing to replace that rule. And the new one could make it almost impossible for nursing home residents to get their day in court." Working for the little people my ass.

"As the tide of fascism swept across (Europe), scientists… were targets of terror and hatred. The principal victims where… Jewish researchers who were summarily dismissed from positions and attacked. As the climate grew ever more perilous, many of these brilliant men and women knew they had only one choice — leave or face death… That was how the exodus began. That was how some of the greatest minds in human history became refugees: refugees in America." And American Science flourished from our new citizens. But one part ignored by this essay is that after the war, the US actively recruited those scientists who stayed behind and served the Nazis (sometimes as active members of the party) in Operation Paperclip. And one of the things I most love, our space program, wouldn't have been as quickly successful without their help (no offense to Goodard).

"For the second time this year, the federal government tried and failed to convict four men who joined the high-profile Bundy family in its 2014 standoff with federal agents in a dispute over grazing fees for cattle." This will not end well. I wonder how the eventual movie will portray this?

"The mayor of Phoenix and the Phoenix police chief declared the overall handling of a Tuesday night speech by President Trump a success, despite it ending with streets filled with gas." Well, it depends on what you definition of "success" is.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Linkee-poo, Brenda and Eddie had had it already by the Summer of 75

So, how'd you do?

The alignment chart of fan fiction titles. Uh :: looks at titling scheme of this blog :: okay, fair cop. (Grokked from Seanan McGuire)

"The shooting occurred in Steubenville, Ohio, a place best known for a high-profile rape case involving high school football players. In a bizarre twist, the shooter was identified by authorities on Monday afternoon as Nathaniel Richmond, father of one of the two teenage boys found delinquent — or guilty — in 2013 as part of that rape case." That's, uh, not a bizarre twist, WaPo.

"The Trump administration has decided to dissolve a federal advisory panel that contributes to a report that measures the current and future impacts of climate change on the U.S., The Washington Post reports." Because why would we need actual scientists to help direct our response to Climate Change when it's all a hoax and you don't plan to do shit about it.

"As of Sunday, with the president's return to Washington, D.C., from a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, he has visited at least one of his properties on more than a third, 35.7 percent, of his days as president -- or 76 days out of 213, according to an ABC News' count." You would think they would offer the US Government a discount in that case.

"Former spokesperson for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, Katrina Pierson, appeared on 'Fox and Friends' Monday morning to defend keeping Confederate statues on display as politicians and activists call for their removal, saying Americans love their 'good and bad' history." I don't have enough fucking spoons for this.

"The Secret Service can no longer pay hundreds of agents it needs to carry out an expanded protective mission – in large part due to the sheer size of President Trump's family and efforts necessary to secure their multiple residences up and down the East Coast… But even if such a proposal (to raise the salary caps) was approved, about 130 veteran agents would not be fully compensated for hundreds of hours already amassed, according to the agency." Jobs jobs jobs. Hey, I gotta idea, Mr. President. How about you comp the government the expenses of the security detail at your properties? You know, like write off the $60,000 in golf cart rental fees. Okay, well most news stories make this sound like "The Secret Service is running out of money." No, they have enough money. It's just that by law you can only pay an agent so much every year, and with all the overtime a lot of agents are hitting that cap.

"As a show where massive dragons fly, Faceless Men dwell and Bran Stark has become an all-knowing Three-Eyed Raven, the director of the episode, 'Beyond the Wall,' told the New York Times that being concerned about the speed of a raven should not be a priority." Dear Alan Taylor, welcome to fandom. And yes, the airspeed velocity of a laden raven is important. (:: winks at everyone who got that ::)

"A dozen Browns players took a knee in prayer during the national anthem before Monday night's preseason game against the New York Giants." Waits for the Christian Right to declaim this. I also can't wait for the inevitable work conversations.

"Though numerous studies have linked genital talc use to ovarian cancer, the research findings have not been consistent. They consist mostly of epidemiological or population studies, which cannot conclusively prove a cause-and-effect relationship between an exposure and later development of cancer." And that's the problem. Because cancer can take a long time to develop to the point of being noticeable (and not have the body kill the cancer cells itself), the exposure to a possible carcinogen is so distant in time it becomes nearly impossible to make a direct link. But this is also thought of in the terms, "can you determine if This Specific Cigarette caused my cancer"? No, but a lifetime of smoking can be (but then there are people who get lung cancer who never smoke a single cig). Also pointed to because of the example of language use in studies, "The company statement pointed to a National Cancer Institute report in April that said, 'The weight of evidence does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.'… But elsewhere, the cancer institute uses more ambivalent language, saying 'it is not clear' if talcum powder increases the risk of ovarian cancer."

"House Speaker Paul D. Ryan… has not hidden the fact he disapproves of President Trump equating white supremacists in Charlottesville with counterprotesters… Nine days after a woman died when an alleged white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd, Ryan posted a statement on Facebook saying: 'There is no moral relativism when it comes to neo-Nazis.'… Would you support a censure of the president by the House? That’s a hard no. Ryan: 'That would be so counterproductive, if we descend this issue into some partisan hackfest.'" So, no moral relativism, unless it means upsetting the President and criticizing your own party before you get your tax cut passed.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Linkee-poo, hey Lady!

"The day of the long-awaited coast-to-coast solar eclipse has arrived — and if history is any guide, it's likely that somebody's eyes are going to get hurt." Don't be one of those people.

In one day both Jerry Lewis and Dick Gregory, and the day before Brian Aldiss. Wow, 2017 is certainly trying to top 2016.

Florida monkeys around with people on Medicaid. Specifically children on Medicaid. Fuckers. Well, to be fair, Medicaid is very much like this all throughout the system. Patients are asked questions they really don't know exactly what is being asked, but because they're asked a question they feel they need to respond. And they make that's choice without knowing all the consequences of their answer. That doesn't mean they should lie, but say asking someone if they need in home care, etc may say no because someone is hoeing them temporarily. However, when they then say they now need in home care, Medicaid can say that they declined. Or because of the way Medicaid works it will now take 3 months or more to get someone or help. When if they had said yes, it would still have taken 3 months, but that's how long their friend was staying. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"In the aftermath of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, Va., many civil rights activists took to Twitter and shared photos of people who allegedly were at the march. The idea was to identify who they were and shame them. But identifying someone from a photo can be tricky — and the activists managed to make at least one mistake." Sometimes crowdsourcing isn't the best option. Now imagine when the various sides realize they can play disinformation campaigns against each other.

"As President Trump doubled down on his defense of Confederate statues and monuments this week, he overlooked an important fact noted by historians: The majority of the memorials seem to have been built with the intention not to honor fallen soldiers, but specifically to further ideals of white supremacy." It's time to remove them. Understand that these statues are different than the statuary in our National Battlefields. Those were actually erected to memorialize those who fought and died (for the most part). While some serve dual purposes, they are not there specifically to terrorize and impose a (discredited) world view.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Linkee-poo, don't trust your soul to no back woods Southern lawyer

In case you want to get all woo-woo-y on Monday, capturing the "magic" of the eclipse. I should mention that while I'm not fully versed in Wicca and I understand that an eclipse is a special moment, I'm not entirely certain it has an energy, though. In fact, I think it's special because of the specific lack of energy being given. Sure, it's a major calendar event. We cross a barrier. But the full moon has energy (as exampled in their Full Moon Water gathering). I don't see the eclipse as giving energy that could be captured that way. If you know how I'm wrong here, please comment (or send me an email). I'd really be interested in knowing.

"For doctors, public emergencies bring to mind ethical duties and dilemmas that never go away. Current events compel us to examine our core beliefs and do a gut-check of our own ethical standards and sense of professionalism." It's not just doctors, doc. Most of the rest of us spend way more time with the patients than the doctors do. I've also had an internal dialog with myself about this. What if there were a rally near the hospital I work at and things went pear-shaped. Could I work on someone bearing Nazi/Klan symbols? I had some minor run ins with this last year when several patients came in (not at the same time) in Trump gear. First I was kinda shocked as the ER really isn't a place for such a display. But I did treat the patients. I had one patient a while back who injured himself because he was on a 3 day bender because of the celebration around Jackie Robinson. Yes, he told us without being asked. I joke about that time doing a pantomime of taking a portable chest x-ray and saying, "Okay, this is going to burn a little, take in a deep breath, click!" Jokes all around. But here's the thing, with the patients (all of the above), I did the exams as professionally as I could. I don't think it was much different than any of the other exams I've done. So I think I would be able to deal with it. However, I reserve the right to not offer to get a warm blanket in case they're cold (it is, after all, outside my scope of practice to do so).

"A man who appeared in a Vice News story this week where he advocated for violence -- particularly against non-white people -- now says he fears for his life." Ya know, I don't have a lot of sympathy. "'I think (Heyer's death) was more than justified," Cantwell said. 'The amount of restraint our people showed out there, I think it was astounding.'" In fact, I have less than zero.

And, he's right to be scared of arrest. "Officials from the Virginia Commonwealth Attorney’s Office said Thursday that Cantwell is wanted for illegal use of gases, and injury by caustic agent or explosive. Both are felony charges, officials said."

And to top it all off, apparently OK Cupid doesn't want Cantwell on their site (which he was).

"But now the neo-Nazi from New Hampshire is fighting against claims of cowardice." Because, you know, crying means you aren't a man. Or something. Cantrell, the racist gift that keeps on giving. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the majority opinion in the infamous Dred Scott case, was removed from the grounds of the Maryland state capitol, the Baltimore Sun reported… The statue will be moved to a secure Maryland State Archives storage facility…" Where, we presume, it will be studied by Top Men.

"When the states' perceptions of discrimination are lined up against states' votes for Trump in 2016, it shows a clear negative correlation — places where there was bigger perception of discrimination had a lower likelihood of voting for Trump. Reliably liberal California and reliably conservative Wyoming reside at opposite ends of the spectrum." I'm sorry, I don't see where they've correlated "economic anxiety" in that chart. I don't see it anywhere in the data. It's like that really wasn't the issue at all and was just a red herring thrown out by a few writers and echoed by the rest of the media.

"'Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn,' (Mitt) Romney wrote in a post on Facebook this morning." Must be time for another bus (to throw Romney under). (Grokked from John)

I am Sparticus! "Upward of 100 people showed up to support the suspects (who toppled a Confederate monument Monday in Durham, N.C.), filling the building to such an extent the fire marshal 'determined the crowd posed a security risk,'… But the demonstrators did not settle simply at the courthouse. Dozens of them marched on the Durham County Detention Facility, hoping to turn themselves in for the very same crimes in solidarity with those arrested…"

New Look

Thought I'd pull the redesign trigger to clear out anything going on in the HTML. This was a good temporary holding space. Expect in the next week or two to see other changes or tweaks to this look. Hopefully all those slow loading issues will be gone now.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Check, Check, Wheat Chex, Rice Chex, Chex Mix…

This is a test of the system. Please pay no attention.

Trump is a puppet.

:: waves to all my Russian friends ::

We now return you to your regular broadcast.

Linkee-poo ain't seen the sunshine since I don't know when

The Hidden Brain podcast on "WHOOP, there it is" on the detrimental effects of positive fantasies. Sometimes thinking and fantasizing you've already achieved a goal can lead to you not achieving that goal. Now trying to process this in relation to my writing.

The Southern Poverty Law Center's report on Confederacy symbols and just whose heritage they're about. Link is to a PDF. (Grokked from John)

"At the intersection where protections against unreasonable search and seizure meet the rights to free speech and association, there's now a web hosting company called DreamHost… The California-based company is resisting a Department of Justice warrant that demands it hand over all files related to, a website created by one of its customers to plan and announce actions intended to disrupt President Trump's inauguration." When they were asked for specific information, they complied. But now the DoJ is going on a fishing expedition.

What could go wrong if we crack down on every undocumented person? Well, it makes it harder to actually fight crime. Yes, the crack down is hampering our attempts to root out MS-13, including labeling teens as gang members when they tried to escape from the gang by coming north. And then there's the whole grabbing the low hanging fruit when the President said he was going after the hardened-criminals. I'm getting tired of having to relearn the basic lessons of how the real world works because the conservatives have their head up their ideology.

"The Texas Legislature closed out the special session Tuesday night amid a stalemate on property tax reform, leaving unfinished Gov. Greg Abbott's top priority." But they sure got a lot of other stupid shit done, just not the property tax, the bathroom bill, and taking all money away from Planned Parenthood. Let the finger pointing begin.

Sure, they were in Charlottesville for peaceful purposes. "'For half an hour, three men dressed in fatigues and armed with semi-automatic rifles stood across the street from the temple,' (Alan Zimmerman, the president of Congregation Beth Israel) said…Zimmerman said the men did not try to enter the synagogue, but passing 'parades of Nazis' shouted 'There’s the synagogue!' when they passed the building, 'followed by chants of "Seig Heil" and other anti-Semitic language.'" I mean, who are you going to believe, the Nazis and White-Supremisists or the people they intended to terrorize?

"The email forwarded by John Dowd, who is leading the president’s legal team, painted the Confederate general Robert E. Lee in glowing terms and equated the South’s rebellion to that of the American Revolution against England." That's not actually the strangest part of this story. The email's most quote part is about how Gen. Washington and Gen. Lee are the same. Yeeeeeaaahhh, not so much. "It declared that Lee 'saved America' by opting to surrender rather than launch guerrilla attacks in the final days of the Civil War." Fucking for chastity. So, to sum up: yes some black people hate other African-Americans and conservatives live in a different reality than the rest of us.

Whelp, that didn't take long. It's like Baltimore had a plan before they had the final vote.

An American, Canadian, and Mexican walk into a bar to renegotiate NAFTA… "But then, this is what makes trade a complex political issue: the benefits tend to be widespread, but the costs tend to be acute. A trade agreement might modestly improve the lives of many Americans (think lower prices or a greater assortment of goods), but it can also devastate a much smaller population of Americans by displacing their jobs." And that's why you include provisions to mitigate such issues. Like, say, money for retraining for anyone who lost a job due to trade (yes there are problems with that, but then, there's problems all around).

The Ukrainian Connection. "Profexer was not arrested because his activities fell in a legal gray zone, as an author but not a user of malware, the Ukrainian police say." (Grokked from Dan)

"The 'alt-right' March on Google has been cancelled… Event organizer Jack Posobiec posted the announcement on the group’s site Wednesday morning, claiming 'Alt Left terrorist threats' the group has received posed safety concerns. Prosobiec also said in the post that the group reported these threats to the relevant authorities. However, the Mountain View Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department, and the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C., told the Los Angeles Times that they were not aware of such threats." There is no "Alt-Left." There are "anti-fa" (for anti-fascists), but they already have a monicker.

"The political world's latest feast is chewing over the stunningly candid comments of Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump's polarizing and already embattled chief strategist, trashing associates and policies on North Korea and China…" Heard the interview with the reporter he called on NPR, but so far there's no transcript there. The disfunctionality of this administration is startling.

"A wave of Republican-controlled states are petitioning the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for permission to enact measures that will knock more people off Medicaid and the Trump administration has signaled they will give a green light to these efforts." Because, I don't know… freedom?

"President Trump on Thursday mourned the loss of 'beautiful statues and monuments' in the wake of the violent clashes in Charlottesville during a white supremacist demonstration protesting the planned removal of a statue depicting Confederate military commander Robert E. Lee." Just tell him they're clearing space for statues of him and he'll be okay with it. Really, how much more does the public need to hear before we all get that the president is a racist and an ignorant fool?

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Linkee-poo, close your mouth, you're drawing flies

Are we fucked, or are we fucked?

"In other words, millennials didn't go for it, and the regulars got turned off. In fact, Applebee's isn't the only big restaurant chain struggling." ZOMG, millennials are killing Applebees… only, not so much. Basically, they failed at their rebranding (if it was chasing a market that wasn't there, or they just didn't hit the right note, that's for someone else to determine). All the restaurants in that category are hurting, Applebees was the one that spent a shitload of cash to rebrand, so they're hurting the most. Plus, you know, given my personal experience there, I'm not all that hep to go back anytime soon.

"The jury in the Taylor Swift assault trial ruled in favor of the singer and her mother Monday, rejecting a radio DJ's claims that they unjustly had him fired from his job after allegedly groping the singer during a 2013 backstage meet-and-greet." While the media focused on her performance during the cross-examination, if felt a lot like it was more prurient than praiseworthy. Waiting to see how many times they could say "ass" on the air. But still, good for her. Hopefully that symbolic victory can lead to better outcomes and lives for everybody.

"The Environmental Protection Agency and the Transportation Department have opened the public comment period on the rewriting of standards for greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks for model years 2022-2025." Because fuck the environment. Look, the auto industry always fights these and says they're impossible and they could never make it work… and then there's an oil shock and suddenly they're able to meet the standards and find a way to make it work for consumers. Other countries are discussing how soon they can get to all electric vehicles, we're still squabbling about getting to an average 40mpg. And here's the odd thing, as Americans we love larger and more powerful vehicles, the ideal platform for and the performance ratio of electric engines. the only things holding us back are infrastructure (easily remedied) and 40 years of the American Auto Industry marketing and hype that makes the public wary of electric engines. Doesn't mean gas is going away soon (we also like to drive long distances), but vehicles like the Volt, Bolt, and Prius demonstrate how we could integrate electrical engines and keep to our love of the car. All that's missing is the engine growl.

"Nearly 100 previously unknown volcanoes lurk beneath Antarctica, and scientists still don't know how many of these volcanoes are active." I believe that's the opening line to a disaster movie. "However, as climate change warms the continent, thinning the ice, some of the now-dormant volcanoes could roar back to life, the scientists said in a statement." Okay, it's been decades since my last Earth Sciences course, but I don't think volcanoes work that way.

Speed bumps filled with non-Newtonian fluids. Well, okay then. Going slow they're like liquid. But the more force you hit them with the more solid the bump. (Grokked from Dan)

"The organization suggests keeping passwords simple, long and memorable. Phrases, lowercase letters and typical English words work well, Grassi tells NPR's Audie Cornish. Experts no longer suggest special characters and a mixture of lower and uppercase letters. And passwords never need to expire." Yeah, tell that to the IT Departments. At the day job we have a little issue with passwords, but at the hospital, boy howdy. At the hospital I have a desktop computer login, logins for each of the X-ray machines (4 of which I use on a normal basis), then there are the software logins. During a typical day that means being logged into 4 pieces of software (IDX/RIS, EMR, PACS, and a patient tracker), all of which have separate logins (for EMR, I have to log into a software launcher, and then into EMR as well… yeah, I don't get that one either). On a bad day, at 2 or 3 more pieces of software. And all those things time out quickly, requiring us to keep re-entering our passwords. There is a badge swiping system, but it hasn't been rolled out for us yet.

"A recent study found that women preferred the body odor of men who ate a lot of fruits and vegetables. Whereas men who ate a lot of carbohydrates gave off a smell that was less appealing… Men who ate a lot of meat did not produce a sweat that was any more — or less — attractive to women. But meat did tend to make men's odor more intense." You are what you eat.

"Earlier this summer, a modest little startup in Barcelona, Spain, unveiled its newest product — a biodegradable, Internet-connected funeral urn that turns the ashes of departed loved ones into an indoor tree." Uh oh, someone forgot to water Grandma while we were on vacation.

I'm developing a theory of whyTrump keeps reposting racists' tweets. He or someone he knows and trusts follows a shitload of them. You know, for purely platonic reasons that aren't related to their rampant white nationalism or conspiracy theory promotion. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

"Texas A&M has canceled a white nationalist protest planned in September, citing safety concerns." I have thinky thoughts about this. But, it appears as if no campus organization actually invited the group, so, yeah, buh-bye.

"Originally published by The Daily Caller and later syndicated or aggregated by several other websites, including Fox Nation, an offshoot of Fox News' website, it carried an unsubtle headline: 'Here's A Reel Of Cars Plowing Through Protesters Trying To Block The Road.' Embedded in the article was a minute-and-a-half long video showing one vehicle after another driving through demonstrations." But now those websites are trying to scrub their postings. To bad the governments that enacted laws to help indemnify drivers who hit protestors aren't as contrite. (Grokked from Tobias S. Buckell)

"In a stunning reversal from comments he made just one day prior, President Trump said on Tuesday 'there's blame on both sides' for the violence in Charlottesville, Va." That's just one of the ignorant statements he made, but then if you're in the news you've only got so much space. "Alt-Left"? Okay, seriously, given the prevalence of the "well, people kept calling them Nazis, what did you expect them to do" arguments online, I'm about half-way to accepting that gauntlet. I was going to joke about the President going full-bore on the "crazy, racists, conspiracy toting Uncle at Thanksgiving Dinner," but really that's just too damn depressing.

Saturday, August 12, 2017


Wow, that's interesting. After making a comment about all my Russian friends yesterday, Russia (the country) drops from #2 to #8 in traffic. But whoa boy, look at all that traffic from France, Belgium, Philippines, and Kuwait (US numbers look the same, but the US is now #2 in traffic). Oddly enough, those numbers from France look exactly like the numbers from Russia last summer. I'm sure it's just a coinkidink.

I'm sure that suddenly, just like Jerry Lewis, I'm big in France. Not like it might be people tunneling through routers, spoofing addresses, or using zombie servers. I'm sure it's nothing like that.

:: waves to all my Russian friends::

If there was some sudden surge in my popularity on The Continent (as they say in the UK), and I was called out in some fantastic French Press (oh, please let it be le Monde) maybe one of my many admirers there could drop a link (same for Kuwait and the Philippines).

Friday, August 11, 2017

Linkee-poo hopes the Russians love their children, too.

If you're on Twitter and aren't following my friend, Jim Wright, YTF not? Jim did a great service this past week exposing troll tactics, how to recognize a bot, and what to do about it. His final analysis? The US is currently under an information warfare attack. Guess who it's coming from (why, it might be the people who monitored this site last summer :: waves to all my Russian friends ::)

The entire Star Wars Episode IV in one graphic. It's a very long graphic. (Grokked from John)

Patagotitan mayorum, the new kid on the (old) block.

NPR story on an experiment in Zambia about just giving poor people some money instead of goats, or medical care, or food. Note, Africa has the same problems the West has with cash assistance. Namely, "ZOMG, they might spend it on something we don't approve of!" Memo to ignorants, mostly they don't. Say, know how much of our welfare budget is actual cash assistance? How much to we restrict what SNAP benefits can pay for? So what does the researcher tracking the economic impact of this cash assistance have to say about it? "I've never seen impacts so large in my life."

"The Power Tool Institute has already invested tens of thousands of dollars this year to lobby Congress against the CPSC rule…" that would make table saws much safer. One of the first lessons I learned with woodworking is that companies make tools cheaper by removing safety features. But, yes, table saws are dangerous (not as dangerous as jointers, but fewer people have those). Here you see industry fighting to keep their products as cheaply manufactured as possible and damn the public safety concerns. The free market does not work.

"Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has suggested fellow Republican Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor and the after-midnight timing of the vote were factors in McCain’s decisive vote against the GOP health care bill." Hahahahahahahahahaha :: breath :: hahahahaha.

What's the worst that could happen if we close our borders and cut back on all immigration? "Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California." Yeah, that might have an impact. Who could have foreseen it (someone shows you results of Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia crop losses after those states enacted tough immigration rules). (Grokked from Miranda Suri)

While we hear about the Epi-Pens and Daraprim, there's a lot of drugs that have experience extreme price hikes (and unexplainable shortages) in the past few years. Tell me again how the market will fix this, cause that never gets old.

"Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, migrants who came to the U.S. from across the globe — Syria, Congo, Haiti, elsewhere — arrive here where Roxham Road dead-ends so they can walk into Canada, hoping its policies will give them the security they believe the political climate in the United States does not." Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Except those people. Screw them, Trump's right-wing nationalism (and nativism) would like to add. "The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are adding electricity and portable toilets. A Canadian flag stands just inside the first tent, where the Mounties search the immigrants they’ve just arrested and check their travel documents. They are also offered food. Then shuttle buses take the processed migrants to their next destination. Trucks carry their luggage separately… The Canadian military said Wednesday that about 100 soldiers began arriving to prepare a site for tents to accommodate almost 500 people. The soldiers will also install lighting and heating equipment." Compare that to our southern border.

Lousiana, Lousiana, they're trying to wash us away. They're trying to wash us away.


And let's go to the weather. "The year 2016 was the warmest on record for the planet as a whole, surpassing temperature records that date back 137 years, according to an annual report compiled by scientists around the globe." But the good news is 2017 is shaping up to be cooler. It looks like it'll come it at number 2.

"Wisconsin’s top conservation official promised Wednesday that regulatory rollbacks in Gov. Scott Walker’s incentive plan for a giant Foxconn plant won’t harm the state’s environment." Oh, I'm sure they won't. That's why you waived all the requirements.

"State and local Republicans have expanded early voting in GOP-dominated areas and restricted it in Democratic areas, an IndyStar investigation has found, prompting a significant change in Central Indiana voting patterns." I'm sure it's all… okay, I've got nothing. Heinous fuckery abounds. (Grokked from Michele)

This is how you do it. "But most of Brar's mental energy was expended on figuring out the chicken's best camera angles… He said he spent hours studying CNN and other cable news channels that used the same shot with the White House in the foreground and the Washington Monument in the background… 'I understood that if I positioned it correctly and got the permit for the correct place, I would be in full view of the cameras. And, I did it in such a way that the White House wasn't blocking it, which I knew would be what would take it viral globally,' he said."

Remember when he said he'd make insurance cheaper? "Actions by the Trump administration are triggering double-digit premium increases on individual health insurance policies purchased by many people, according to a nonpartisan study." Trumps statements, tweets, and actions (and by extension Congress' and the Senates' actions) are creating instability in the markets, to which the insurers are responding to by increasing insurance rates… by a lot. Oh, and if you think this will only affect the private market, you haven't been paying attention (especially to the recent CBO scores on how Obamacare influences and controls the employer-based-insurance market). Oh, and your tax dollars will be paying for the majority of that increase, by the by.

"Hospice care is for the dying. It helps patients manage pain so they can focus on spending their remaining time with loved ones. But in recent years, nearly one in five patients have been discharged from hospice before they die, according to government reports."

What happens if the President gives the launch order to our nuclear weapons forces? Specifically, what if you don't trust the President to be in their right mind at the time? The article makes it seem a little simplistic, having faced this conundrum personally while in the Air Force I have some experience here (no, I was not in the silo, this was a part of being inducted). Could I turn the key (FailSafe is a little more involved with that, but it's an easy metaphor)? Yes. And I say that with full knowledge of what turning that key would set into motion. Would I turn the key? That's a little more complex. Given the right conditions, yes. Knowing it might mean my life (and the missile being launched anyway), given the wrong conditions, no. There were experiments done in the 80s. While I didn't see the hard data the rumors were that up to 30% of the officers refused to turn the key (fortunately the side arms had been loaded with blanks, still painful in the confined space of the silo launch room - those guns were for more than if your silo buddy went the big nutty). This was at a time of heightened tensions with the USSR, when a nuclear exchange seemed plausible. So this wasn't a "nice day with blue skies above, lets see who would initiate nuclear Armageddon" test. (Grokked from John)

Repeat after me. "There is no such thing as a 'limited' nuclear exchange."

The Memo. Or paranoia strikes deep…

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Linkee-poo is searchin' in the sun for another overload

NPR asks the question if sugar in fruit is the same as sugar in candies. Short answer, no. Even if you take away all the extras in the fruit (the fiber, vitamins, proteins, fats and flavonoids), processed sugar is made in a way to be easily absorbed by your body (this is why "sugar in the raw" can be better for you). Now, chemically it's the same, but there are slightly different shapes of sugar. Glucose (what your body needs), fructose and galactose are all C6H12O6, but they are all different shapes. Remember, the engines of your cells are enzymes, and enzymes are all about the shape (and electrical charges, but mostly shape). Maltose, ribose, lactose and a few others have different chemical compositions (but they're all Carbon, Hydrogen and Oxygen), and then fats are basically these sugars stacked together with some extra bits to hold them all together. But not only are the shapes important (your body needs to convert fructose to glucose before using it), the composition and mixture of all of these is important.

"The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has proposed spending $275 million to upgrade defenses against an invading force. The enemy? A fish. Specifically, Asian carp that are threatening to break through to the Great Lakes." For those of you who don't live near the Great Lakes, this is a Very Big Thing™ and it's also something the Trump Administration has proposed cutting funds for (actually for anything to do with the Great Lakes).

And then this asshole. Male jogger pushes woman into path of oncoming bus.

"President Donald Trump, who constantly rants about 'leakers' and warns his Twitter followers to be wary of anonymous sources, on Tuesday morning retweeted a Fox News report that cited anonymous intelligence community officials."

Someone needs to get Steve Forbes to adjust his medication. "When it comes to communications, Republicans too often are cowardly and incompetent." He then goes on a tear that's basically,"screw the CBO, screw the pundits, for Tax Cuts go big or go home." Because blah blah Reagan (and now Kennedy, it's a nice talking point meant to diffuse Democratic opposition) give rich people more money and somehow magic happens and we have a better economy with more jobs and higher incomes. Well, Steve, hate to break it to you but Reagan's cuts tanked the economy, which he then had to raise taxes to get back on track. And since Reagan's time a 2% GDP growth has become the norm. It was his (and conservative) policies that drug us down (and making sure banks broke their "boom/bust" cycle). Also, we've had several "tax cuts" meant to bring us more jobs and higher wages and not a single one worked (except for the Social Security holiday, and because that was Obama it was never extended or renewed). And then he ends with "So make simple cuts now, and go for major tax reform after next year's elections." Seriously WTF, Steve.

"Eager to attract good help in a tight labor market — and unsure of the future of the Affordable Care Act — large employers are newly committed to maintaining health coverage for workers and often for their families, too, according to new research and interviews with business analysts… That's a marked change from three years ago, when many big employers… contemplated ending medical benefits and shifting workers to the Affordable Care Act's marketplaces." When I was being poached for the new job I started in March my first question was about their health plan. And then there's this, "Employers expect health costs to increase 5.5 percent next year, up from 4.6 percent in 2017, according to the Willis Towers Watson report." Compared to the increases we saw in the late 90s and early 2000s, that's hellasmall increases. Also note their comment about double-digit increases in the Obamacare marketplace isn't true everywhere. Ohio, which expanded Medicaid, has seen similar 5-8% increases.

"Cairo, Ill., is one of the fastest depopulating communities in the nation, with abandoned buildings throughout the river town. The federal government plans to demolish two public housing projects where many of the remaining residents live." Dr. Carson does the "Hi, I'm from the government, we're here to help," line in Cairo.

"President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer on Tuesday claimed Trump has sent special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, private messages of 'appreciation and greetings.'" Pictures or it didn't happen. Actually this is a blunt attempt to get opposition to Trump's potential firing of Mueller to soften. It's the ol' "don't throw me in the briar patch" gambit by saying, "Oh no, we really like Mueller and think he's doing a bang-up job."

In a fantastic diplomatic move President Trump tries the one strategy every former president and diplomats have eschewed, he threatens North Korea. Here's his own red line, which North Korea promptly overstepped. Just to remind everyone, Clinton did reach a multilateral agreement with the prior Kim Jung to stop his nuclear arms program. A deal the GW Bush administration immediately broke by turning around the tankers carrying heavy fuel oil to North Korea when they took office. Literally turned them around.

"FBI agents raided former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort's home… the raid reportedly took place in late July, one month after Manafort registered as a foreign agent."