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

Friday, December 16, 2016

Linkee-poo, we bow our hearts and thank our gods for winter rest and grace

Mary Robinette Kowal, "I’m running for the position of (SFWA) President."

"If you’re lucky, you can live in a home where a hairy little household imp will help keep your kitchen clean, or a domestic god will grant you everlasting good fortune. So long as you keep them happy." And how you do that can vary. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

An appreciation of Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things To Me and subverting the poisonous stories being told in the public sphere. I hadn't heard of this book, but I think I need to get it. "The tyranny of the quantifiable is partly the failure of language and discourse to describe more complex, subtle, and fluid phenomena, as well as the failure of those who shape opinions and make decisions to understand and value these slipperier things." (Grokked from Terri Windling, I think)

I'm sure during your schooling you learned that on Earth, absent any other force, objects will fall at the same rate. And you probably said, "bullshit" because you knew that a feather wouldn't fall as fast as a bowling ball. Well (as I hope you learned), you're wrong. "In the video, a feather and bowling ball are dropped at the same time in normal Earth conditions and after the air has been removed from the room." (Grokked from John)

"Apple has been ordered to cut a $2 million check for denying some of its retail workers meal breaks… California law requires employers to give hourly workers a 30 minute meal break if they're working more than five hours a day. They're also require to provide 10 minute breaks for every four hours worked." Good for California. Ohio used to have such a law. It doesn't anymore. I checked (last spring, actually). I don't remember hearing about the legislature removing it. And yes, there are employers in Ohio who do not give their employees lunch or even smoking breaks (and in some cases, pee breaks). And there's not much you can do about it. Although I will note most places that don't give those breaks experience high turn over.

"OK, Google: Remind me how silly I sound when talking to my phone (you know, when it seems like no one else is listening). If you use voice commands on Android or any other Google product (for instance, voice searches in the Google iOS app when you’re logged in with your Google account), head to the 'Voice & Audio' section of Google’s My Activity site to see and hear a comprehensive list of everything you’ve ever said to that inanimate object in your pocket." What Google knows about you, fourteen examples. In case you ever wondered why I harbor luddite tendencies. Considering I use google as an ersatz spell checker, yeah, my profile has got to be a little weird (given some of the ads served to me, I'm pretty sure that's correct, for the record I'm not a svelte 20something Google). (Grokked from Dan)

To those assholes who want to "bring back coal." "The government, through the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, reported 99 cases of "complicated" black lung, or progressive massive fibrosis, throughout the country the last five years… But NPR obtained data from 11 black lung clinics in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which reported a total of 962 cases so far this decade. The true number is probably even higher, because some clinics had incomplete records and others declined to provide data." Coal not only warms the planet, coal kills. It kills miners, power plant operators, and people who live downwind. Why are NIOSH's numbers so low? They only count miners who are still working. Most miners when they develop pneumoconiosis either can't work or are fired. Most mines ignore basic safety rules and the miners breath dirty air because it's cheaper to pay fines than to keep people alive. There is no need for this to continue. But because mine owners are (for the most part) unscrupulous greedy fucks, they allow conditions in the mines to remain hazardous. How do we know? Because people are developing black lung earlier, and at a more severe stage than ever before. "The actual extent of PMF in U.S. coal miners remains unclear."

And as a kicker, while the mines pay into a fund to compensate workers who develop black lung, that fund is chronically underfunded. So guess who picks up the rest of the tab. This is what is known as "cost shifting." Mining isn't the only industry that does this (energy production, smelting, almost any major industrial process). It's also why Obamacare was important. Before the ACA, if you had insurance, part of the premium went to cover losses incurred by health care from uninsured patients, many of whom couldn't pay their bills. Your tax money also went into direct payments to hospitals to help cover the uninsured (or "charity" care). Obamacare shifted the burden of that cost.

And as the Trump administration stacks up with fossil fuel supporters (and those who would benefit from more fossil fuel extraction), elsewhere in the world; "But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance… This year has seen a remarkable run for solar power… It started with a contract in January to produce electricity for $64 per megawatt-hour in India; then a deal in August pegging $29.10 per megawatt hour in Chile. That’s record-cheap electricity—roughly half the price of competing coal power." (Grokked from Dan)

Jim Wright on #pizzagate, creating our own reality, and why it can't be ignored or dismissed. "What you’re looking at here is a directed campaign of information warfare… And that’s the difference between the Salem Witch Trials or the McMartin Preschool Case and #Pizzagate… Salem, McMartin, those examples of mass hysteria were natural, they grew organically based on human nature and the state of society at the time… This, #Pizzagate, is something else – or at least partially so." Jim gives thought (and brings more experience) to something I've also seen and have been worrying about. The bubbles we live in, instead of becoming more transparent have become more opaque, and it's not an entirely self-driven function. There are forces, people, movements who are invested in producing this alternate reality. You see them adjusting their backstories right now (editing wikipedia entries, deleting articles and tweets). It's Kremlinology 101 all over again, only this time it's domestic. It's dangerous on the everyday level. And I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the twitter accounts (not all eggs) that started in November 2015.

"People who head to Twitter to discuss their ideals are, often unwittingly, conversing with legions of bots: accounts preprogrammed to spew the same campaign slogans, insults or conspiracy theories hundreds or thousands of times a day. And one of their most competitive battlegrounds is the prime digital real estate that opens up every time President-elect Donald J. Trump tweets." When I get into arguments on social media (what, me? never) I now read little into the timeline of the person I'm about to go up against. Bots can be sophisticated, and I think I've been duped more than once, but most of them can be spotted quickly (no original content, either retweets or responses and the responses all sound the same). Where were you when they outsourced outrage to Skynet?

"The Twitter account for the Russian embassy in the United Kingdom, @RussianEmbassy, has taken some pretty sharp and mocking jabs at the United States in recent weeks, a move characteristic of social media accounts run by and associated with Putin's government." Because the bullies always get in on the act after their toadies soften the target up.

From the NPR Story on what questions they would have asked Trump if he actually had a press conference yesterday. "5. The Carrier company is using the $16.5 million investment in the Indiana plant to automate it, which will lead to more layoffs in the future. Do you have a plan to stop the job-killing effects of automation?" Let that one sink in a little before you get hot under the collar. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

Unsurprising. "A new analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center breaks down who would benefit most and least from the tax cuts that would come with Obamacare repeal, assuming Republicans follow the model of their 2015 repeal legislation. It found that those in the top quintile would see their after-tax income rise by 0.8 percent due to the various cuts in the law, while those on the lower end of the earning scale would see their after-tax income decrease, mainly because of the loss of the law's tax credits to subsidize buying insurance." Did anybody really think it would benefit anyone except in the 0.1%? This is my shocked face.

RT America, what started as a fresh voice quickly became known for its propaganda. And Trump, and those he's appointing and surrounding himself with, are all for it.

Tweet of my heart: @jasonsanford When people say they don't want politics in literature or art, they really mean they don't want politics they disagree with.

Double dip: @SamSykesSwears Again, anyone who demands you change your opinions or else they won't buy your book wasn't going to buy your book, anyway. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

Third time charm: @Stonekettle If Democrats had done what Republicans are currently doing in North Carolina, Conservatives would march on Raleigh with their guns

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