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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Linkee-poo four calling-birds

Scene Magazine's contest to redesign the Cleveland Indians. IIRC, the main problem isn't with the name "Indians" but with Chief Wahoo's depiction. But there are some good ideas in there. Wish I would have seen the call for submission. Wish there was also an option for Cleveland Rocks with a rock and roll theme instead of the literal "rocks". Also wish there was a decent Tribe option (one of which is a direct rip-off of Mutual of Omaha). (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

And now, a message from Reince Priebus and the RNC. "Over two millennia ago, a new hope was born into the world, a Savior who would offer the promise of salvation to all mankind. Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King." And they totally meant Jesus, not Trump as king. Sure. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"But he knows he doesn’t like how much attention Barack Obama is getting and is also bothered by what Trump and his closest advisers see as an active effort to poke the president-elect and undermine the incoming administration with last-minute policy changes on his way out of office, according to two people close to the transition." (Grokked form Chuck Wendig)

Look, real election fraud… "Failed Michigan State House candidate Brandon Michael Hall—who was a prominent volunteer with the Donald Trump campaign—was sentenced to 30 days in country jail Tuesday for forging signatures on petition forms in 2012, the Detroit News reports." Wait, it's another conservative, never mind. Nothing to see here folks. (Grokked from Michele)

Peter Dreier on preparing for a Trump presidency with advice, information, and a plan for progressives going forward. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Friday, December 23, 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Linkee-poo, bring me flesh and bring me wine, bring me pine logs hither, thou and I will see him dine when we bear him thither

Just a reminder that with the holidays, posting may become infrequent (now watch me post 3 time a day).

It's the annual viewing of Nicholas Was.

The history of Wassailing and Mumming. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"Gartland says the conversations that Cayla records are sent to servers at a company called Genesis, which makes the doll, and to another company called Nuance, which makes voice-recognition software for this any many other products. Nuance also has a database used by law enforcement and military and intelligence agencies that matches voiceprints." I'm sure it's fine. We're all fine here. Remember when the NSA, CIA, and FBI forbade furbys from the offices?

What if instead of Big Brother installing the surveillance society, we did it ourselves for "commercial purposes." In this case, to monitor how students are engaging with the course material in college. Note, most colleges now hire a majority of "adjunct" faculty, who are paid pretty piss-poorly. So now you're going to make them monitor the students more closely in their own time (and most likely with the adjunct's own computer system)? Not to mention that more than likely by these metrics I would have been considered disengaged with the material for my recent degree (I didn't spend much time connected to Blackboard, I didn't belong to a study group, and I didn't come in off-hours to practice).

"After the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, people in a majority of states were less likely to skip doctors' visits because of concerns about the cost of care, according to a new report that attempts to paint a snapshot of the effects of the law as its days are numbered." Can't have that now, can we? I mean, if people think they can just get help whenever they need it, what kind of system is that? (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"The federal government will pay more than $100,000 to give someone a kidney transplant, but after three years, the government will often stop paying for the drugs needed to keep that transplanted kidney alive." Which then leads to them losing the kidney, and be put back on dialysis and on the transplant list. All of which costs several times more than the drugs to keep the kidney in the first place. "And instead of spending $15,000 a year on these anti-rejection drugs, people go back onto dialysis, which costs $90,000 a year or more. And that's taxpayer's money, provided with no time limit." Once more for the people in the back, universal healthcare coverage would costs us less, helps citizens live better lives, and improves the economy.

"John Kasich blocks Ohio cities from raising their own minimum wages." You know, given that conservatives are all about experimentation in governance and not having a top-down ruling philosophy, they sure are dead-set to stop local experimentation and like to strip local governments of home rule. If the higher minimum wage is a "bad thing", allow the cities to experiment and you can show just what happens? The answer is, as demonstrated by Seattle and LA, higher minimum wage is actually a good thing for local economies. Conservatives are just trying to forestall any dissent from the well known liberal bias of reality. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"After more than a year of delays, Texas health officials are moving to block the women's health provider Planned Parenthood from receiving Medicaid funds beginning next month." Can the rest of us vote to force Texas to succeed? What I'm really wondering is when conservatives will get tired of paying for these lawsuits that they lose on a regular basis. Of course, one of the reasons Trump was elected was because of his anti-abortion stance, so I'm sure Texas is counting on that.

"A Jewish family has fled Lancaster County after the cancellation of a 5th grade production of 'A Christmas Carol' was partially blamed on them by conservative news outlets… When news stories, which portray the school’s move as part of a 'war on Christmas,' broke on Fox and Breitbart News Network the school received more than 200 complaints." Too much to say about this that it won't all fit, so let me sum up… "FUCKSTOCKINGS!" (Grokked indirectly from Annalee Flower Horne)

"The leader of the Austrian far-right Freedom Party has signed what he called a cooperation agreement with Russia’s ruling party and recently met with Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, the designated national security adviser to President-elect Donald J. Trump of the United States." Someone just got sold out… and the rest of us may be on the list. Considering the Austrian Freedom Party was founded by actual Nazis, this isn't good. History may not repeat, but man it's rhyming pretty hard right now. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"A military airplane and two huge helicopters doing loops over Midtown last week were conducting an “emergency relocation” planning mission in case they needed to extract President-elect Donald Trump during an emergency or attack, DNAinfo New York has learned." Well, good thing we were freaking out NYers for no good reason. And yes, in my twitter TL I saw several mentions from people wondering just WTF was going on as the C-130 was flying over the city. The sad thing is that we're still so frightened that this is a problem. This isn't a thing against people, this is that our government has not made a conscious effort to make us feel that we're safe (because for the first 7 years keeping people in a state of fear was profitable). (Grokked from Dan)

"The chat is hardly the first step Trump has taken to re-establish ties to many of the billionaires he blamed for selling out working-class voters during the presidential campaign." Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, won't get fooled again (until 2020).

"President-elect Donald Trump struck a high-profile deal with air conditioning and heating giant Carrier that will end up saving under 800 Indiana jobs that would have been moved to Mexico, and he touted the deal as following through on a campaign promise to keep manufacturing jobs from moving overseas.… In the very same state as Carrier, ball bearings and valve manufacturer Rexnord has officially notified the Indiana government that it will lay off 350 employees and permanently close a factory in Indianapolis starting in February. The factory jobs will be relocated to Mexico; just 25 office jobs will remain. The company says about half of its total workforce is in the United States… Even the deal with Carrier proved the limits of what Trump can accomplish in keeping individual factory jobs in the United States with tailored deals. Carrier will still send 1,300 to Mexico while reaping the state incentives it was promised as part of the negotiations with Trump’s team." (Grokked from Michele)

Tweet of my heart: @JohnFugelsang The First Amendment is already the First Amendment Defense Act. (Grokked from Michele)

Double dip: @invisibleinkie Gettin' real tired of being told to empathize with people who think empathy is a laughable defect of character for them to exploit. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Solstice Greetings

Come winter night, come spring life
The wheel turns, the sun burns
Fires in the deep wake the world from its sleep



Linkee-poo, the first tree in the greenwood it was the Holly

How to walk on ice.

"Mama In Her Kerchief and I In My Madness." It's an old fashion, Cthulhu Christmas.

The Rock Hall Class of 2017 Inductees. In all the news stories on this YTF don't they mention Joan Baez or Nile Rodgers? WTF news media? Also it's time for my annual "Why the fuck do they have the induction ceremony in NYC?" drum beat (yeah, I know, cause NYC was a little baby about not getting the Hall).

BBC4's Stardust by Neil Gaiman. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

Don't blink.

"Pope Francis has named a graphics arts history expert to head the Vatican Museums, which include the Sistine Chapel with Michelangelo's frescoed ceiling."

A little nightmare fuel, a Gizmodo article on a Russian deep sea fisher who posts pictures of his weirder catch on twitter. Note that some of these fish are distorted by the decompression of being hauled to the surface. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"Several people were wounded in a shooting at a mosque frequented largely by Somali immigrants in Switzerland's largest city, and the suspect remains at large, Zurich police said Monday." Wonder if we'll hear about this as much as we've heard about the truck that drove through the Christmas Market? Yeah, probably not.

"A woman in Louisville, KY caught an ugly confrontation on video Tuesday in which an angry white shopper went on a racist tirade against a pair of Hispanic women who were shopping together." As Soledad O'Brien, who shared this link on twitter, said, "I feel confident this lady voted on her 'economic concerns'." (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

Again, repealing NC HB2 in a deal to remove the protections Charlotte put in place is not a deal. It leaves NC business, schools, etc all with the power to discriminate against LGBTQ peoples. This is not progress, it's a step back.

"Two of Flint's former emergency managers and two water plant officials were charged Tuesday for felonies of false pretenses and conspiracy -- the allegations are that they misled the Michigan Department of Treasury into getting millions in bonds, and then misused the money to finance the construction of a new pipeline and force Flint's drinking water source to be switched to the Flint River… (the) emergency managers put in charge of Flint during a years-long financial crisis, reported directly to the governor and are the highest level officials to be charged so far. They also face misdemeanors of misconduct in office and willful neglect of duty." Somebody's going to emergency. Somebody's going to jail. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A federal court in New York is scheduled to release redacted copies Tuesday of the search warrant and other documents that gave the FBI new license to dig into a trove of Hillary Clinton emails days before the presidential election."

"'What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent,' Obama told NPR's Steve Inskeep in an interview on Morning Edition." Yes, this.

"The nation’s largest police union this week amended a document listing the group's apparent executive and legislative priorities to clarify that it was simply an outline of what members may expect from a Trump administration, and not an 'wish list' meant to outline the group's goals." Everybody got that? This list sent out to FOP members outlining expanded police powers and a roll-back of Obama era policies restricting police from pursuing racial agendas is totally not a demand or wish list for their support of the President-elect. Totally.

"Eric and Donald Trump Jr. are behind a newly-founded non-profit that is hosting a charity event over inauguration weekend offering top-tier donors access to the President-elect and themselves, the Center for Public Integrity reported Monday." What? This is my surprised face. Supposedly this fundraiser is now offline.

"'Nobody wants to go first,' said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.), who received nasty phone calls, letters and tweets after he penned an August op-ed in The New York Times, calling on Trump to release his tax returns. 'People are naturally reticent to be the first out of the block for fear of Sean Hannity, for fear of Breitbart, for fear of local folks.'" Well, we now have a list of the blackshirts. If we all weren't going to sink together I would be all "how do you like your politics now, assholes." This is the beast the conservatives created (support of fringe right-wing media, support of RINO hunts, support of thuggery in the name of politics). Did you not understand that eventually that dog always bites the hand that feeds it (a case of the ever shrinking circle of "who is in" because there always needs to be an enemy)? So let me give these conservatives some back bone, these bullies only have power because you give it to them. Of course you're also frightened that your fellow conservatives won't back you up. That's a legitimate fear. But is that how you want to live your lives? Are you the ones who chided the liberals for not having a backbone? Grow one yourselves. You can die (politically) in the public square, fighting for your beliefs, or you can die quietly in your chambers stifled by your politics an unable to mask your lying eyes. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Greensleeved

Linkee-poo, all I want for Christmas is you

"But a new industry-funded study published in a prominent medical journal questions the evidence used to generate the specific recommendations to limit sugar in our diets." (Emphasis mine) Yeah, I sure we can trust it. Just like we trusted the industry-funded studies that said smoking wasn't bad for us, and that there wasn't any effect from secondary smoke exposure, and how particulates from industrial problems quickly disperse and don't cause any health issues, and…

Yes, I'm sure the Pentagon is shelving its study using pressure gauges on soldiers to try and reliably determine when soldiers have concussions because what can cause a concussion for one person doesn't cause it for another. I'm sure it's totally not because of the discovery of constant over-pressure events happening simply because soldiers were doing their jobs (in the vicinity of high-powered weapons). Anyone who has stood near a tank as it fires could have told you this. Personal note, when a nephew gave some really bad answers as to why he was thinking of joining the Army (thank you laws allowing military recruiters access to high school students) I seriously looked for someplace that had live-fire tank exercises that the public could attend to take him. Fortunately 1) I couldn't find any and 2) he quickly lost interest.

"North Carolina's Legislature is poised to repeal the controversial 'bathroom bill,' after the Charlotte City Council unanimously voted to repeal its local anti-discrimination measure." Okay 1) I agree that the "bathroom bill" should be repealed in full (because it does a lot of other heinous things besides the "bathroom" part) but 2) that means that in NC you can still discriminate because Charlotte repealed their anti-discrimination law. So nothing has changed. Except that the right is trying to blame this all on the left, to which I call bullshit. "Then, on Monday morning, (the Charlotte City Council) had a surprise session — not announced to the media — and changed course." Um, that might not be legal, then (depending on "sunshine" and/or meeting notification laws). But, again, to be clear, with Charlotte backing down, repealing HB2 does absolutely nothing. Status quo. Plus it's an attempt for people to say, "well, maybe they aren't all bad" after they spent last week striping the incoming governor of a lot of power and autonomy. Not buying it.

"'Didn’t feel like I was bothering anybody,' Kyle said. 'I am a hunter, I do like to hunt and I just wanted to sit on my front porch with my gun, I didn’t think that was a big deal.'… Kyle said he’s just exercising his second amendment rights and is always responsible with guns. But parents said it still makes them uneasy with it being so close to a school." Right across the street from a school in Kansas. Yeah, I mean, who doesn't just want to hand out on their porch, holding their gun. Across from a school. Where you had an argument with a woman blocking your driveway. I'm sure it's all innocent. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"This mostly white city wants to leave its mostly black school district." I'm sure it's just about doing the best for all the kids, you know like not helping the entire school system.

"Sentance revealed earlier this month that high schools there have 'misstated student records… resulting in diplomas that were not honestly earned.' At a recent meeting of the state school board, he also admitted that Alabama's education department had not provided enough oversight." Getting them "out the door." I thought when I heard a local school official say, "What if high school is the best these kids will ever achieve," that I had heard the worst description of education possible. I was wrong.

From May of last year, somewhat still relevant. "It’s been extremely common for news accounts to portray Donald Trump’s candidacy as a 'working-class' rebellion against Republican elites. There are elements of truth in this perspective: Republican voters, especially Trump supporters, are unhappy about the direction of the economy… But the definition of 'working class' and similar terms is fuzzy, and narratives like these risk obscuring an important and perhaps counterintuitive fact about Trump’s voters: As compared with most Americans, Trump’s voters are better off. The median household income of a Trump voter so far in the primaries is about $72,000, based on estimates derived from exit polls and Census Bureau data… it’s well above the national median household income of about $56,000. It’s also higher than the median income for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders supporters, which is around $61,000 for both." (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

"The mayor's chief of staff in Mobile, Alabama, is apologizing for his role in having a large tree cut down at a city park so it could be used as a prop during President-elect Donald Trump's recent 'thank you' rally." They didn't realize people would 1) notice and 2) be upset with them cutting down a tree to use as a prop. As a former local councilman, cutting down a tree in a park is a very big deal. Even when said tree obscures the marker it was placed next to when the marker was the reason for the park in the first place. So, no, this most likely isn't just a "they used it for Trump" thing. However, I hate to say, this appears to be a modus operandi for the next four years.

"Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich suggested that Donald Trump could pardon members of his administration who break the law… Referring to a law that could prevent Trump from hiring his daughter and son-in-law to serve in his administration, Gingrich said on The Diane Rehm Show Monday morning: 'In the case of the president, he has a broad ability to organize the White House the way he wants to. He also has, frankly, the power of the pardon.'" See, as Gingrich goes on to explain, Trump is really rich and "We’ve never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"A prominent businessman with close ties to Donald Trump has been arrested in Turkey so the country can use him as leverage in their dealings with the US President-elect, it has been claimed… During a phone call with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan on the day after his election win, Mr Trump mentioned Mr Muratoglu by name only for him to be arrested shortly afterwards… It goes on to claim that they plan to use his detention as leverage in a deal that would see the US extradite the Imam, Fethullah Gulen, who Mr Erdogan has blamed for masterminding an attempted coup in the country earlier this year…" I'm sure it's fine. We're all fine here. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A Republican congressman outlined the way he would like to see the health care system operate if Obamacare is repealed, as GOP lawmakers are promising. It is a brave new world in which parents would wait and think about it before bringing in their sick or injured kids for costly treatments." What an asshole. Dear Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-MI), for most of us, insurance doesn't work that way. To go to the ER I have a $200 co-pay. Most people with HSAs will pay the full cost (until they meet their $6,000 - $10,000 deductible). For most people's insurance, they are paying much more for the costly bits. Also, some people can't miss work to take their kid to their GP, so getting medical treatment after 5pm is their only option. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"Much has been written about Trump’s demagoguery and its similarity to totalitarian leaders of the past, but what about Trump’s opponents? Are many of us borrowing a page from totalitarianism without realizing it? Are we empowering him? Are we coordinating?" In a lot of ways, yes. This is why there is the common phrase in my twitter TL, "this is not normal". It's also why here and in person I've been pushing back against the common narrative of Trump's victory. Stories matter. Trump is not "of the little people," he's an oligarch conman who duped a lot of people into voting for him because he channeled their anger and told them the scapegoats they had picked (the ones the conservatives have been using for decades) were the right ones. That the deck was stacked against them (even though they are the privileged few, but that doesn't mean life is easy). And it was all those other people's fault, not the uber-rich (like Trump). "The symbolism and the propaganda form a kind of feedback loop, each reinforcing the other, regardless of the underlying truths ― or lack thereof." This is a basic premise of marketing and advertising. (Grokked from Ken McConnell)

"I’ve heard non-Trump voters wonder, 'Are Trump’s female supporters aware of wage inequity? Are they aware of workplace discrimination?' And yes, the women Trump supporters I got to know in southwest Louisiana are well aware of gender inequality. They all work, too. But inequality was not the main thing on their minds." An interview with Arlie Russel Hochschild who wrote, "Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right." I have to say, I'm tired of this "we have to reach out to Trump Conservatives…" line. Really? You all feel "ignored" by the Democratic Party, get in line. This is akin to the idiotic "War on Christmas", which really is "the world is no longer constantly enforcing and validating my point of view." In the past, American culture was heavy handed in it's promotion of white, Christianity (I don't say "values" because, well, that's a doctoral dissertation on how far from actual Christianity the "Christian right" has gone). Everywhere you went, being white and being Christian was the default. And now it isn't, and people no longer feel validated. Too fucking bad for you. Janice Areno, you're tired of hearing about LGBTQ issues? Well, Missy, the movie isn't always about you. And by supporting LGBTQ issues we're supporting your freedom. There is one party that is telling you that isn't the case. They're the party that also have been screwing your own life over. Mike Schaff you wonder why having uncontaminated fish and air to breathe is a "left-wing cause"? It isn't. But the riga-wing has rejected those values and then points at the left and says, "see, they're causing problems." So then you go and vote for those right-wing assholes who are the very ones who promoted unregulated business activity which lead to you loosing your neighborhood to a sink-hole. The left, by supporting minority rights are enforcing your rights. We just want to make sure everyone has them. Because when they don't, nobody has those rights (as the conservatives are proving to you every single election). You want empathy? Fuck you. Grow up and join us, we're fighting to save you and the world. We're out here fighting for you and you're upset we're just not saying your name? No. Sorry. You want to support conservative values? Fine. Pull yourselves up by your boot-straps. You say you don't have boot-straps? Who took them away? It was probably the party that says that the government shouldn't give people anything, ever. I do have empathy. I do want you all to success. I do care about you. You just aren't all I care about, and because of that you've decided to give power to the people we've been fighting to get them to stop pissing all over your neighborhood and telling you "it's just raining." Asking for "empathy" is a delaying and diffusing tactic designed to go to progressive values (we do value empathy). It's a distraction to keep progressives busy while conservatives dismantle our republic. (Grokked from Lara Kristin Herndon)

You want to know where I learned that reaction? I learned that when I was a conservative.

"A source tells ThinkProgress that the Kuwaiti embassy, which has regularly held the event at the Four Seasons in Georgetown, abruptly canceled its reservation after members of the Trump Organization pressured the ambassador to hold the event at the hotel owned by the president-elect. The source, who has direct knowledge of the arrangements between the hotels and the embassy, spoke to ThinkProgress on the condition of anonymity because the individual was not authorized to speak publicly. ThinkProgress was also able to review documentary evidence confirming the source’s account." Emoluments clause. There are some pretty strict rules against bribery and accepting of gifts if you are a government contractor. This kind of thing, totally verboten. If Trump was a minor government official, this is a jail-time offense. (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

Hey, remember when the incoming Trump administration asked the Energy Department to provide a list of all employees who worked on climate change and the social cost of carbon? Remember how they said that they just wanted to figure out who was working on what, standard incoming administration thing to do. Yeah, well, "Donald Trump’s presidential transition team has asked State Department officials to disclose how much money it provides each year to international environmental groups. It’s the latest example of how the incoming administration is reassessing the U.S. government’s approach to tackling climate change and other environmental priorities." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"President-elect Donald Trump is adding another billionaire to the top ranks of his administration." Another. Billionaire. That's the lead.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Linkee-poo, it was Christmas in the trenches where the frost so bitter hung

Another busy morning. Whelp, the electors cast their votes today.

Jim Hines tweet storm on abuse and control mechanisms. Yes this. Plus personal history, Jim Frenkel charmed me and it took more convincing than it should have for me to open my eyes, and I already knew the content on the chart that Jim Hines shares. While Jim Hines makes this about people attempting to control young authors, the information there is applicable to almost any abusive relationship.

"The unfettered shipments amount to 433 pain pills for every man, woman and child in West Virginia… The Gazette-Mail obtained previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey's office. The records disclose the number of pills sold to every pharmacy in the state and the drug companies' shipments to all 55 counties in West Virginia between 2007 and 2012." The article continues, "For more than a decade, the same distributors disregarded rules to report suspicious orders for controlled substances in West Virginia to the state Board of Pharmacy, the Gazette-Mail found. And the board failed to enforce the same regulations that were on the books since 2001, while giving spotless inspection reviews to small-town pharmacies in the southern counties that ordered more pills than could possibly be taken by people who really needed medicine for pain."(Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A white supremacist website called The Daily Stormer has posted a call to 'TAKE ACTION' against Jewish people in Whitefish (Montana), providing personal contact information and urging a 'troll storm' against them." Whitefish is the hometown of Richard Spencer (that's the asshat at the center of several white nationalist stories, the one who held the conference in Washington DC where the attendees threw the fascist salute), and apparently his mother is losing her real estate business (well, having a rough patch). The white supremacists are blaming backlash against his mother by the local Jewish population. Of course he specifically says "no violence" against them, but then posts personal contact information for them. They aren't waiting for January 20. Not that we expected them to. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Andrey Karlov, Russia's ambassador to Turkey, was giving a speech in Ankara, Turkey, when he was shot." Yeah, that's not going to end well. (Grokked from Dan)

Tweet of my heart: @GeeDee215 you call out your uncle at the holiday dinner table for saying racist stuff — not for your uncle's sake, but for nieces and nephews. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Xmas shopping


Spent part of the day at Kraynaks. They have a pretty good display of Xmas Trees that we like to go see. Plus it's also good to get some decorating ideas and see some good ideas. There were a lot really nice trees this year, but this one stood out, and now I'm thinking of how to make one myself. The construction doesn't seem complex (okay, there's some difficult cuts, but I think I can work it out. The major issue would be the LED candles (as the one they used are about $30 a shot).

Linkee-poo weekend wrap-up

"The pharmaceutical company Mylan says a generic version of its EpiPen anti-allergy device will be in pharmacies starting next week… The company is introducing the generic at a price of $300 for a two-pack, half the cost of its brand-name cousin." But still 3x what Epi-Pens costed just a few years ago. Plus the "'Families will continue to face sticker shock for medications and may be forced to make difficult choices until the pharmaceutical pricing system is reformed to address the increasing shift of costs directly to consumers,' (CEO Heather) Bresch said in the company's statement." Okay, last I knew there was no centralized pricing scheme for pharmaceuticals and it was up to the individual companies to set the price. Can anyone point to anything different? Until then these are just words to the effect of "not really our fault" when it's entirely their fault.

"As this post was publishing, the auction for coffee with Ivanka Trump was pulled from the Charitybuzz website. The link now redirects to its home page, with no explanation." I'm sure it was just for charity, but even soliciting for charity can be a form of influence peddling (depends on who get the tax advantage, also, you're still selling access). Remember in the election where this was this whole pay-to-play scandal against Clinton (and her family's foundation)? Remember how several government agencies investigated and found there was no basis for the claim. This is a member of the first family auctioning off their time. This is literally how "pay-for-play" works.

"Congressional Republicans quietly closed a year-long investigation into Flint, Michigan's crisis over lead in its drinking water, faulting both state officials and the Environmental Protection Agency… In letters to fellow Republicans, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee said Friday that Michigan and federal officials were slow in detecting high levels of lead in the water and did not act fast enough once the problem was discovered." So, basically, "it'll make Republicans look bad" so we'll shut it down. Also in the report, Rep. Jason Chaffetz writes, "The committee also found that the federal regulatory framework is so outdated that it sets up states to fail." This goes against the mantra of "no new regulations." So, yeah, embarrassing. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"China's Navy seizes American underwater drone in South China Sea." Oh fuck. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Although there's now reports that they'll return it. And that Trump is taking credit, even though he didn't do anything but misspell a tweet about it.

"On Wednesday… a Google document entitled 'Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda' began making the rounds online. Its origin was the Twitter account of Ezra Levin… His tweet’s simple message, 'Please share w/ your friends to help fight Trump’s racism, authoritarianism, & corruption on their home turf,' belied three weeks of unpaid work by some three dozen mostly young progressives who had been collaborating on the document since the week of Thanksgiving.'" (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Not that the NY Post is highly reputable, but… "Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin told a Manhattan federal judge in a court filing Thursday that neither she nor Anthony Weiner ever received FBI search warrants for emails found on her estranged husband’s computer — raising questions about whether FBI warrants for the emails were ever issued, and if so, to whom." Um, ein klein a bitte moment. (Grokked from Michele)

"Why does Trump publicly reject these intelligence agency conclusions and the bipartisan proposal for a congressional investigation? As president-elect, he should have a strong interest in presenting a united front against Russia’s interference with the electoral process at the core of American democracy." Yeah, it's also been bothering me. The excuse of "thinking it legitimizes his election" doesn't fully wash beyond a superficial gaze. And as I've stated (and what has become apparent) there are just too many connections between Trump's staff and Putin. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"Tucked away on a corner of the site, next to links for Twitter and YouTube, is a link to another social media platform that most Americans have never heard of: VKontakte, the Russian equivalent of Facebook. It is a clue that Patriot News, like many sites that appeared out of nowhere and pumped out pro-Trump hoaxes tying his opponent Hillary Clinton to Satanism, pedophilia and other conspiracies, is actually run by foreigners based overseas." James Dowson is what they call "a true believer", which means he's convinced of his own superiority and his importance.

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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Scenes from a Commute


Snow, in case you were wondering. Doubled the time in. Not that this was necessary. There were plenty of times the road and the sky was clear, but people still wanted to go 20+ mph below the speed limit. Save that for where it's treacherous, people. Make up time elsewhere.

And yes, my windshield is now very cracked. That happened last week. Fortunately it's all in the lower fifth of the windshield.

Linkee-poo, and man and beast and bird and tree, each one in its own place

"The law will require any signed item sold for over $5 to be accompanied by a detailed certificate of authenticity, which must, among other things, include the name and address of any third party to own the item (read: anyone who sold a signed book to a used bookstore) along with a seller-generated identifying serial number; these records must be retained by the seller for seven years." (parenthetical original to story) That's going to put a crimp in both used and new book sales. I see why it's there, and why it would also specifically apply to books (even though they're trying to carve out an exemption). Collectables are a major segment of the secondary sales business and provenance is important (and a major part of the valuation). Fakes are easy to produce and pass off onto unsuspecting collectors (many are mostly amateurs who buy the objects because of internal values, unlike professionals who are looking to resell). So "chain of custody" is very important in these cases. Hell, auction houses have whole departments devoted to provenance. I'm just not sure this is the correct way of cleaning up the market. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Evernote, "(t)he note-taking app quietly announced earlier this week its intentions to update its privacy policy, which will let some of its employees access and read user content as part of the company's effort to improve the service… Unsurprisingly, that hasn't gone down so well with the community." Yep. Time to stop using Evernote (I was actually just getting better at using it too). (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

"Earth’s innards are cooling off surprisingly fast… The thickness of new volcanic crust forming on the seafloor has gotten thinner over the last 170 million years. That suggests that the underlying mantle is cooling about twice as fast as previously thought, researchers reported December 13 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting." Oh great, cue the global climate deniers latching on to this to shout about how "it'll all be okay as the core cools and the atmosphere gets hotter, it'll equal out." One, doesn't work that way. Two, my brain just snapped as I started to think of the process of plate tectonics is a slow motion version of the convection vortices of the atmosphere (how the atmosphere evens out temperature differentials, creates wind and storms) so how not only is the atmosphere is an ocean, but how it's all fractal just with different viscosities and states of matter. And three, say, if the core is cooling doesn't that mean the supposed "iron core" will slow, weakening the Van Allen belts? (insert dramatic music here)

The Ipsos Mori Perils of Perception in 2016 survey referenced in the Guardian article from yesterday, including a slide deck that shows a lot more of the data and expanse of questions that weren't covered in the Guardian article. (Grokked from John)

We don't need no stinkin' regulations. "City officials in Corpus Christi, Texas, are warning residents not to use their tap water — at all — after possible contamination by an unknown chemical… The city suspects an 'oil-based petroleum chemical,' city spokeswoman Kim Womack told the Caller-Times." And that's why many municipalities have regulations regarding back-flow preventers. Which, I can tell you, most businesses despise.

"Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack… announced new regulations that are intended to protect small farmers from mistreatment at the hands of meat packers, swine dealers, and poultry companies. Advocates for small farmers… praised it as an important step toward ending abuses of power by the handful of companies that dominate the meat industry. The National Pork Producers Council, on the other hand, was furious, calling Vilsack's move 'an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president.'" Since these rules won't take effect until after inauguration, I expect they will be set aside. You know, to show rural America just how much Trump loves them.

It's a long standing part of elections that conservatives promise to roll back regulations, which gets a lot of applause because "fuck those, we don't need them." However candidates are often reluctant to talk about which regulations they would do away with. Well, the Freedom Caucus has actually posted a list of those regulations they would like overturned. The short read is anything that makes the citizens' lives safer, more prosperous, more inclusive and saves you money, time, and from being taken advantage of in the marketplace has to go. (Grokked from Michele)

"The federally funded Voice of America… is intended to provide reliable news reports in multiple languages to countries that lack a viable independent media and to promote democratic values abroad… (A) new law strips away the presidentially appointed bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. The broadcasters instead would answer to a chief executive nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate." While I agree with having an executive that is available to manage daily operations, I'm not so sure about this.

"The GOP's most likely path for repealing Obamacare immediately eliminates hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue that would otherwise be available to fund their replacement plan… The large tax cut, which would go disproportionately to high earners, will seriously handcuff lawmakers as they try to cobble together a replacement plan…" Again for the people in the back, there is no replacement plan. If the conservatives get their way we will just eliminate Obamacare and let us go back to what we had before (a free-market, employer based system). They might let us keep the "pre-existing conditions" part (although there will be no control over costs, which makes it useless) and extending coverage for dependent children until 26 years of age. They had six years to come up with something. There's been a lot of bluffing (such as Speaker Ryan's plan which isn't much more than expanded conservative talking points), but as you can see there is nothing close to being ready to even be discussed as legislation. That's an epic fail.

"Five weeks after a national scandal involving broken Detroit voting machines and ineffective poll workers, state Elections Director Chris Thomas said Wednesday evening that the city will get all new voting machines in time for the 2017 mayoral and City Council elections… Thomas said his staff soon will head to Detroit to get a better understanding of why the city has such problems running elections and to find ways to help." I'm sure it had nothing to do with the state knowing the problem existed, and budgeting money to fix it, but then never appropriating and distributing the money to actually make the purchase. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Not only are conservatives bad winners, they're sore losers as well. "In a surprise extra special session on Wednesday called with just hours notice, the Republican-led North Carolina state legislature introduced measures that would reduce the power of the incoming Democratic governor." This is what a "velvet" coup looks like. I would say these NC legislators should be ashamed of themselves, but that would require them to be able to see outside of their own personal world and they obviously can't do that. You might remember that at the end of the GW Bush administration many political appointees used their positions to gain civil service jobs so that the "conservative ideals" would still be relevant in the departments. This is all about power and control and nothing about what is best for the citizens.

"An adviser to President-elect Donald Trump compared the scientific consensus that human beings contribute to global warming to old scientific theories that were proven to be incorrect, including flat earth theory and geocentrism… He later added, 'I’m saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet.'" Remember that "he'll surround himself with smart people to advise him" line? Yeah, this is what they were talking about.

Gee, what ever could Russia gain by gaming the US election to install a favored candidate? "Donald Trump hasn't been inaugurated yet, but members of his campaign entourage are already riding the president-elect's coattails all the way to Moscow." I have no idea. (Hint, most of the sanctions against "Russia" affect the business sides of the oligarchs.)

"RNC communications director Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that while President-elect Donald Trump, who has eschewed regular intelligence briefings, is meeting once or twice daily with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for an 'intel update.'" This is the same General Flynn who improperly released classified materials, twice, and has also retweeted a number of the fake news articles as truth and proof, right?

"A second former intelligence officer who spoke on background went further in pushing back against Trump’s claim that little in the brief changes from one day to the next. “There are continuing themes but never the same briefing and always something different,” the former official said. The daily briefing, this person added, is by far the best, most easily digestible product the intelligence community produces, as well as the most interactive—assuming, of course, the briefee engages with the material and the briefer on a regular basis, something Trump has made clear he has little interest in doing." (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

The ethical (and legal issues) surrounding the involvement of the "first daughter" in a Trump administration. I made a comment the other day on twitter about how I've noticed a trend of pictures of Trump with Ivanka in the background, like Walsingham to Elizabeth I. The familial relationships of the uber-rich are different than the rest of us (I speak here from experience with executives and from my own extended family, some of whom are/were very rich). But this seems a little strange, a little too close, a little too much like a child caring for an ailing parent.

To wit: "Already, no president-elect (dating back to at least Carter) has waited longer to hold a press conference. One irony of Trump's extended run without a press conference is just how critical he and his campaign were of rival Hillary Clinton's choice to go an extended period (276 days in total) without holding a press conference." And there are rumors of doing away with the daily press briefings and other access routes.

"'What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust.'" A post on BoingBoing which points at the NYT article (in case you're running short on the NYT free articles count). This is why you see all the posts on "this is not normal." They're trying to move the Overton Window (I might be using that wrong), don't let them.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Linkee-poo, we know anew that little babe is born to us again

"Rheal LeBlanc, head of press and external relations, said Tuesday the appointment of Wonder Woman as an Honorary Ambassador for the Empowerment of Women and Girls would end this week, a move that come less than two months after a splashy ceremony at the U.N., which attracted actresses Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman in the 1970s TV series, and Gal Gadot, who has taken on the role in the forthcoming 'Wonder Woman' film."

Your next wearable biometrics device may be your new earbuds. (Grokked from Dan)

"Voting irregularities in Detroit have spurred plans for an audit by Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson’s office, Elections Director Chris Thomas said Monday… State officials are planning to examine about 20 Detroit precincts where ballot boxes opened during the recount had fewer ballots than poll workers had recorded on Election Day." Well now that they can frame other people for their failures (and it has no chance of changing the outcome), the State of Michigan is all about the investigation of what went wrong. Cynical? Yeah, probably. But why wasn't this shit (broken machines, poor training, etc) corrected before the election? Because now the conservative state government of Michigan can cry "voter fraud!" (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"There are almost 1,000 surviving official documents and several contemporary histories from the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693. But little of this relates directly to the 19 hangings that punctuated the notorious period of hysteria and paranoia, and none of the documents record where the executions took place." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Security researchers have found malware hidden in the firmware of several low-end Android smartphones and tablets, malware which is used to show ads and install unwanted apps on the devices of unsuspecting users. 26 Android device models have been found to be vulnerable. The common link between all these devices is that all are low-cost devices, mostly marketed in Russia, and which run on MediaTek chipsets." (Grokked from Dan)

And, "Almost three million Android phones, many of them used by people in the US, are vulnerable to code-execution attacks that remotely seize full control of the devices, researchers said Thursday." (Grokked from John)

"A thousand years ago, huge pyramids and earthen mounds stood where East St. Louis sprawls today in Southern Illinois. This majestic urban architecture towered over the swampy Mississippi River floodplains, blotting out the region's tiny villages. Beginning in the late 900s, word about the city spread throughout the southeast. Thousands of people visited for feasts and rituals, lured by the promise of a new kind of civilization. Many decided to stay." Excavating Cahokia. (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

"According to a lawsuit the U.S. Justice Department filed Monday in federal court in Virginia, that decision represented a discriminatory effort on the part of Culpeper County to keep Muslim worshippers from having a permanent place to gather and to pray." That makes 2, IIRC. Also, it's always funny to me (having served on a local council) how many local politicians think they can get away with discrimination because they're "too small to be sued" and "we have a reason to not approve the permit (which we've previously approved for other people)." Um, no. No you're not. And you have to justify your decisions.

"Oklahoma plans to force hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and public schools to post signs inside public restrooms directing pregnant women where to receive services as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the state… Businesses and other organizations will have to pay an estimated $2.3 million to put up the signs because the Legislature didn't approve any money for them." But, and I'm only assuming here, no funding for long-term birth control and fact based sexual education, two things which are proven to reduce the number of abortions. And of course they won't pay for them.

"Housing discrimination happens all the time. But the shocking thing here was just how visibly the tool let advertisers discriminate. On Facebook, all they had to do was check a box." How online "personalization" advertising tools help companies discriminate and enforce racial barriers. "This cartoon is about how those personalized experiences impact whether or not we get real-world opportunities — like the chance to move to a better neighborhood. This story could very well have been about job listings or college advertisements, but it seems apt to talk about how algorithms have sorted us online and, in turn, in real life." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Alarmed that decades of crucial climate measurements could vanish under a hostile Trump administration, scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference." (Grokked from Dan)

"Members of the public in European states including France, Belgium, Germany and the UK greatly overestimate their country’s Muslim population and the rate at which it is growing." You might remember "a commie in every closet" days. We're back there again. Match this up with the studies on how people misunderstand their own position within their own economy (and the number of rich people and how much wealth they hold) and basically you see the break between reality and fantasy. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Donald Trump's pick to be secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, leads a company currently under investigation by state attorneys general for potentially misleading investors about what the company knew about climate change." I'm sure it's all fine. And, as others have pointed out, Mr. Tillerson is perfectly fine with fracking… when it's not in his backyard threatening his water supply and level yard.

"It's a good thing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once forgot he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, because President-elect Donald Trump is nominating him to lead the agency. That's according to reports by multiple news outlets." God help us all.

"Republican Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Tuesday imposing a 20-week abortion ban while vetoing stricter provisions in a separate measure that would have barred the procedure at the first detectable fetal heartbeat." And that's why there were two bills (so he could veto the more egregious one). Also, defending that other bill is going to be an expensive case to fight.

"Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones is scrubbing online content pushing the false and dangerous conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton’s campaign trafficked children through a D.C. pizzeria. A man who recently entered the pizzeria with a rifle and fired shots reportedly shared a piece of Jones’ content before the shooting; the video he shared is still on the website." We have always been at war with Eastasia. (Grokked from Michele)

"An examination by The Times of the Russian operation — based on interviews with dozens of players targeted in the attack, intelligence officials who investigated it and Obama administration officials who deliberated over the best response — reveals a series of missed signals, slow responses and a continuing underestimation of the seriousness of the cyberattack." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Tweet of my heart: @JosephKay76 'My wages, terms and conditions get worse every year. You don't see me striking.' MATE THESE THINGS MAY BE RELATED. (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Linkee-poo, when cold morning's radiant star shines over hill and plain

When I decided to use the lines from Winter's Grace for linkee-poo titles, I didn't know how well they'd fit. Arctic cold is a coming down tonight, folks. Bundle up.

Now this is an Xmas tree I can support. (Grokked from Dan)

FiveThirtyEight is looking for part-time and freelance political writers. Hmmm. (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

SF's special snowflake Theodore Beal is upset that someone called him a neo-Nazi. Not because he, in reality, isn't one (what's the difference between someone who espouses the rhetoric and social program of a movement and someone who is a card carrying member of such an organization is not very much except for maybe keeping up with dues and attending meetings), but because it could land him in legal troubles. It's the old issue of labeling. Theodore Beale seems to be adverse to being labeled, but is all to happy to label others. It's part of his supposed jester's game where he thinks he's the smartest person in the room because he berates, threatens and bullies until he gets some minor point and then crows about his grand victory. You can see echoes of the same in the President-elect claiming about his historic victory (where he lost the popular vote by the largest margin ever, and ranks around 46 out of 58 electoral college victories). It's symptomatic of the fragile personality. (Grokked from several people, this time from Jer)

"An incredibly luminous outburst that astronomers had previously classified as possibly the brightest supernova ever actually might have been caused by the explosive death of a star torn apart by a giant black hole, a new study finds."

"Scientists attending the American Geophysical Union's Fall meeting are worried Trump could have a profound effect on the effort to understand climate, and not in what they consider a good way. Peter de Menocal, dean of science at Columbia University says he's heard colleagues express 'feelings of rage, anger, confusion, fear — they're all negative emotions.'" For the record, I don't think Trump is sending "mixed signals" with his meeting with Al Gore. It's a smokescreen to say "I've listened to all sides" when he's already come to a conclusion. This is nearly a standard part of the playbook in modern US business.

"For many years, research on the relationship between spending and student learning has been surprisingly inconclusive. Many other factors, including student poverty, parental education and the way schools are organized, contribute to educational results… Opponents of increased school funding have seized on that ambiguity to argue that, for schools, money doesn’t matter — and, therefore, more money isn’t needed… But new, first-of-its-kind research suggests that conclusion is mistaken. Money really does matter in education, which could provide fresh momentum for more lawsuits and judgments like the Connecticut decision." Odd how spending on education actually helps people become educated. It's also odd how places of poverty fight for better funding, but are told by places of wealth that money doesn't help. Yeah, I'm sure all those kids in Orange Township (east side of Cleveland) are getting a crappy education which is why families are bankrupting themselves to get into that school. "They found a consistent pattern: In the long run… states that send additional money to their lowest-income school districts see more academic improvement in those districts than states that don’t. The size of the effect was significant. The changes bought at least twice as much achievement per dollar as a well-known experiment that decreased class sizes in the early grades."

There's this phishing scam/hacking method of making it appear like you're getting the phishing email from a trusted source (either spoofed or they hacked your friend's account). Now ransomware writers are going one step beyond. "'With Popcorn Time, not only can a victim pay a ransom to get their files back, but they can also try to infect two other people and have them pay the ransom in order to get a free key.'" So they're now actively "recruiting" your friends into hosing you. (Grokked from Dan)

Ima just gonna leave this here. "A pipeline leak has spilled tens of thousands of gallons of crude oil into a North Dakota creek roughly two and a half hours from Cannon Ball, where protesters are camped out in opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline… North Dakota officials estimate more than 176,000 gallons of crude oil leaked from the Belle Fourche Pipeline into the Ash Coulee Creek… It's not yet clear why electronic monitoring equipment didn't detect the leak… about 37,000 gallons of oil have been recovered." Except to say, I think 176,000 is more than "tens of thousands". Specifically it is 17.6 "tens of thousands". (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

WTAF, a headline on Breitbart (which, you may remember, the person formerly running that site is now the closest advisor to the President-elect) that says if a scientist brings up "peer-review" that's a dangerous enough concept that you should get your gun. This is equal parts horrendous, idiotic, so man-child fragile acting out that I can't suss them all out from each other. There's this voice in the back of my head from an earlier life that keeps saying, "some fuckers just need killing", and the other part of me is beginning to agree more and more. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Our President-elect isn't just a loose-cannon, he's playing with matches in the powder room. "President-elect Donald Trump took a swipe at Lockheed Martin's F-35 program Monday morning, saying the cost was 'out of control.'… Shares of the aerospace company dropped more than 4 percent in early trade, but then recovered some of those losses, ending the day about 2 percent lower. After the tweet, the company's market value initially dropped $4 billion." He may think this is a wise negotiating strategy, but that's only because he doesn't understand the contracting schemes set up by the Pentagon, mandated by law, which eschew actual "deal making" for rigorous proposal vetting (proposals being awarded on the basis of points awarded by several proposal judges). And my googlefu is failing me. Does anyone have access to overnight stock market performances? Would be damning if this proves out. "Someone started dumping Lockheed Martin stock just before Trump's tweet: Tweet was 8:26 AM EST, LMT dumping started 8:20 AM". (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

So, what exactly is the Presidential Daily Brief and why is it important.

"I spent last week in southeastern Kentucky talking to Obamacare enrollees, all of whom supported Trump in the election, trying to understand how the health care law factored into their decisions… Many expressed frustration that Obamacare plans cost way too much, that premiums and deductibles had spiraled out of control. And part of their anger was wrapped up in the idea that other people were getting even better, even cheaper benefits — and those other people did not deserve the help… I kept hearing informed voters, who had watched the election closely, say they did hear the promise of repeal but simply felt Trump couldn’t repeal a law that had done so much good for them. In fact, some of the people I talked to hope that one of the more divisive pieces of the law — Medicaid expansion — might become even more robust, offering more of the working poor a chance at the same coverage the very poor receive." And I've heard that a lot in the various political talking-head venues. "Surely they won't…". I've got news for you all, the GOP doesn't give a fig. Not because they don't care (although I'd argue that they don't), but because they can't tolerate another social program that works and benefits the vast majority of people (like Social Security and Medicare). They know that their opposition will be remembered, and that Democrats will get the benefit (although it doesn't appear that will happen in the short term). The GOP knows they lost the Congress for decades because of those other programs. Look at how much they've invested in the story line about Trump caring for "the little-guy" and how the Democrats have abandoned the white working-class. When you're in pain from them repealing Obamacare (and not replacing it with anything other than "the market will fix it") they will blame Obamacare and the Democrats for your pain. And many people will believe them. (Grokked from Hannah Bowman)

"How to defeat an autocrat: flocking behavior." Or, the "they can't kill us all" method. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

One of the things I said during the campaign is that it might be interesting to see Trump as President to find out what happens when the first person tells him to fuck off because 1) they don't really need him, and 2) there are rules to protect civil service employees from retaliation. The Energy Department just told the Trump administration to go pound salt, they're not going to give them a list of people who worked on Climate Change and the social/economic cost of carbon. He'll bluster and bully, but my guess is the next move will be to declare "I am Spartacus" by the employees of the department. A department that he just nominated someone to lead who declared in the previous election they would dismantle. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Tweet of my heart: @Stonekettle You wouldn't let an amateur take the controls of a 747 or perform surgery, but Americans think any random citizen can run government

Double dip: @tannenbaumr "False flag" is devious GOP double-talk for "I'm rubber, you're glue." It's where evidence gets choked to death by agenda and lies. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Third time charm: @scalzi The next few years are going to be a test of character for everyone. You'll find out who you are. So will everyone else. So be the best you.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Linkee-poo, and the morn, along the fallow field does silver shine

Been a busy morning at the day thing, so not much.

"The third strand in the braid is that no one is entitled to another person’s energy, attention, or joy3. Not random sea lions on the internet, nor politicians, pundits and priests. My term for people who demand my energy without my consent is spoon bandits; I’m as fond of them as I am of any brigand or pickpocket. There are people whose requests for my attention I will entertain; there are also requests that are entertaining enough that I’ll listen on those merits alone. But my energy is mine." Abi Sutherland on Making Light with good words for the coming four years. It is something I keep relearning. For the fight ahead, we do need to take care of ourselves. Also, Abi introduced me to a term for a tactic the right has used since 1994 and I didn't know had a term. Gish Gallop. Or, as I used to think of it, slinging enough shit that the opposition can't counter it all.

"In general, traditional news organizations are more reliable because their business model is to paint the clearest picture of the world that they can manage. But in the post-trust era we know that any news source can steer you wrong at times, and they're likely all jumbled together in your news feed anyway." With some rules on how to proceed in our "post-truth" future. Or as I was taught, it's not enough to question the answers, you need to question the questions.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

In the snow

Since some people asked for photos of the decorations in the snow. Well, we now have snow.


The good thing about LED lights is that they don't give off much heat. But that also means they don't melt the snow that covers the decorations.

Linkee-poo, a time when the corn is all into the barn, the old cow's breath so frosty white

Need some encouragement and rewards for writing? How about 4theWords.com. It's a subscription service that costs $4 a month. There's a free one month trial. (Grokked from Mary Robinette Kowal)

Just realized I had this tab open (which meant I hadn't posted it); Jason Sanford's post on mags with quick responses and how there is some negative pushback from authors. I remember when getting a response within a month was considered fast. Now, with online submission systems, it's real easy to send a form (or even slightly personalized) rejection. It's automated. Yes, for the most part editors can quickly determine if the story if for them. There is no time to "develop" authors (like there used to be). Even the "request for edits" (where and editor says they think they might be able to use a story if certain changes are made, but even this isn't a guarantee they'll buy the edited story) doesn't seem to be happening as often as it used to. For most markets, if you're a new author, your work needs to be of a higher quality than established authors (sucks, huh, but a known author brings an audience and you don't) and it needs to be submitted in a condition of high polish (one or two typos probably won't sink you, but nobody is going to do a full copy edit on your story). That's the game. Novels are a little more forgiving, but even that game is changing.

"Scientists have found a superbug — hidden 1,000 feet underground in a cave — which is resistant to 70 percent of antibiotics and can totally inactivate many of them." Well, most antibiotics are based on penicillin (we're at Generation IV of such drugs, with each progressive generation they become more powerful, but specific to the diseases they fight), and that's also been around for a long time. Also, most of the rest are derived from naturally produced compounds (discovered in other bacteria and fungi).

"Yesterday, the National Center for Health Statistics released a report that should further puncture the myth of American superiority when it comes to health outcomes — and which should set alarm bells loudly clanging for anyone worried about how the country treats its most vulnerable residents. The report found that life expectancy in the United States dropped from 78.9 in 2014 to 78.8 in 2015, the first drop in life expectancy since 1993." The author then goes on to propose a "one-bad-break theory" to explain how this is happening. It's basically the concept that most people live paycheck to paycheck (or not much ahead of that). So when they have a bad break (health, economic, lifestyle) it quickly leads to a downward spiral and since the 80s we've been removing the social safety net so there's not much to catch them as they fall. Add in that wages for middle and low income people haven't even kept pace with inflation and it creates an exceptionally hard environment if something goes wrong. Have I mentioned how personal debt is back to pre-2007 levels? Most other so-called "advanced" economies have stronger safety-nets and support their citizens and residents to a much greater degree. (Grokked from Jeff Beeler)

"Donald Trump often invoked Ronald Reagan on the campaign trail this year, and did so again as President-elect last week at a North Carolina rally as he described his plans for the military. But just how similar are the two men? As NewsHour Weekend Correspondent Jeff Greenfield explains, their differences are a testimony to how much our political landscape has changed over the past 35 years." A PBS Newshour report. Reagan was checked in his agenda by an opposition controlled congress and Senate and the fact he had some decency. This is not true for Trump.