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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Linkee-poo, someone's screaming my name, come and make me holy again

Just two notes. The Senate healthcare bill isn't dead, it's just "delayed." The Senate needs to clear that healthcare bill (either pass it, or have it removed from the schedule) before they can begin either budget work or tax reform work (by the rules of the Senate and by the reconciliation process McConnell used to try and pass this bill).

The I Should Be Writing podcast where Mur discusses Brain Weasels. There comes a point where everything is hard. Most people can do a lot of things passingly (law of averages), there are particular things we can do well (our talents), and then there's the professional (or Olympic if you want to remain amateur) level. The difference between the last two levels is an amazing amount of hard work. Unfortunately our culture tells us the opposite. Our mythology tells us everything is hard work, but to work at the top level, especially in the arts, is amazingly easy. It's your "gift," after all. Hundreds of movies and thousands of stories about an artist being "discovered" and suddenly shining and everybody is just amazed at their abilities change our views of reality. The reality is to do anything at that level is hard work. Sure, you could win the high school talent contest without practicing too hard. Your parents will always put your finger-painting on the fridge (okay, the way families are supposed to work they would, YMMV). You can sing karaoke. But everyone will hit a wall in every endeavor where they want to be more widely recognized/competent, or when you start facing more competent competition for the same space. I have yet to find an exception here. And yes, for all those Talent Reality Shows you're being sold the myth that talent is easy. They make up (or gloss over a lot of) histories for the contestants.

"Behind the scenes at major art museums, conservators are hard at work, keeping masterpieces looking their best. Their methods are meticulous — and sometimes surprising." Susan Stamberg goes behind the galleries at the National Gallery to see the work of these incredible people.

We don't need no stinking regulations. "The most common complaints… (to the FDA against hair care products, skin care products and tattoos)… were hair loss or breakage and local skin irritation. Baby products, personal cleanliness products, and hair care and coloring products were found to have the highest proportion of serious adverse events, including serious injuries, hospitalization and death… From 2015 to 2016, the number of reported adverse events more than doubled." I'm sure the market will sort all this out. And if a few hundred people need to spend thousands to rectify damage done to them (such as with Wen hair care products), or may even die, well that's the price of freedom, isn't it? Hell, maybe we could make Black Friday a National Holiday in remembrance of all those brave and ignorant consumers who died from the use of products not regulated by the government.

The battle of the studies continues. "Three years ago, Seattle became one of the first jurisdictions in the nation to embrace a $15-an-hour minimum wage, to be phased in over several years… Over the past week, two studies have purported to demonstrate the effects of the first stages of that increase — but with starkly diverging results." Could be good, could be bad. Both sides have a vested interest in making their case.

And then two studies about school vouchers. And, again, a "meh" result.

"So by getting people to change just five of 100 trips, the researchers saw the neighborhoods in their experiments become more economically balanced." Well, yes, "shop local" is a wonderful idea. I wonder if the researchers worked out if it was possible to change the destination of 5 shopping trips. While in Europe it may be easier, in the US poorer neighborhoods are food (and business) deserts. The reason why people may be traveling to richer neighborhoods to shop is to purchase the goods they want, instead of the goods available in their (or poorer) neighborhoods. I doubt we'll see many people in swanky neighborhoods travel to the nearest Dollar Store.

I love the conservative mindset that can hold the concept of "can't fund the healthcare side of Planned Parenthood because that directly supports the abortions side of Planned Parenthood" and "we can fund the 'secular' side of churches without directly supporting the religious mission of churches." I think George Orwell had something to say about that ability.

"New research from Erin Kearns and colleagues at Georgia State University shows that the president is right — sort of. There is a systematic bias in the way terrorism is covered — just not in the way the president thinks." And the difference isn't even close. Here is another story about this research. And I recommend listening to the Hidden Brain podcast, "Is He Muslim." Each story shows a part, but the podcast includes much more research.

The first stress cracks appear as Brian Karem takes deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to task over being called "fake news." Beat a dog long enough and eventually it will bite you.

Oh sure, complimenting a female reporter on her smile and than implying that she treats the politicians in her home country (Ireland) "well" while on a phone call with the Irish PM… totally not sexist or creepy at all.

"However, if a bill before the House of Representatives passes, the maximum (a victim would be able to receive for such 'non-economic' damages would be $250,000." Open letter from Ohio to Congress, we tried this. That's the exact cap Ohio placed on 'non-economic damages' back in 2004. And guess what, it did squat to healthcare costs and to medical malpractice insurance premiums. As the insurance industry said in 2005, "We were never asked what it would take to reduce malpractice premiums." But as a victim, you're still limited in the reward. The amount of $250,000 is what poor people think of as a lot of money, so they won't think they're getting ripped off. However, it's low enough that most lawyers won't take on a case without a contingency fee (or even just a fee for service contract). All it does is allow insurance companies to keep greater profits.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Linkee-poo, it was 20 years ago today, JK Rowling taught the world to read

See, this whole "the book is dead" isn't new. e-Books are just the latest in a long line of supposed book destroyers. Twenty-years ago it was "nobody reads books anymore." It wasn't "fashionable" (or, frankly, there were a lot of pompous books published where you had to have invested years of study and prior reading to get exactly WTF was going on). And then a little boy with a lightning scar appeared, and everybody was reading again. You're a wizard, Harry. Thanks, JK. We needed that.

"… United Parcel Service already is looking ahead to the colder seasons with plans to charge retailers an extra fee for orders placed around Black Friday and Christmas." I believe that will be listed on the bills as the "Happy Holidays, Fuck You" charge.

"Twenty-five years after they were convicted of a crime that never happened, Fran and Dan Keller were formally exonerated on June 20 in Austin, Texas… The couple’s prosecution in 1992 was part of a wave of cases across the country amid an episode of mass hysteria known as the Satanic Panic." A little slice of history. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday." Next up, we'll build special homes for them, maybe have them do laundry for the community. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Wallace and her husband James are both in their 20s. In early June, they traveled a couple of hours from Knoxville, Tenn. to a free medical clinic in Chattanooga hosted by the nonprofit group Remote Area Medical. The Wallaces joined around 100 people camped out in their cars — and a few in tents — overnight to get a morning medical or dental visit… Under the Affordable Care Act, millions more Americans now have insurance through online exchanges and Medicaid. But like the Wallaces, many still lack coverage, especially in states like Tennessee where elected leaders declined to expand Medicaid." See, that's the problem, many state governors and legislatures in their spite refused to accept the Medicaid Expansion (thanks to the SCOTUS ruling that allowed them to refuse). It's in those states that Obamacare is having the most problems (and thanks to Trump and the GOP held Congress and Senate, many other states are now seeing similar problems because the insurance industry doesn't trust them to do what is right). So here is just a little reminder of what our healthcare delivery was like before Obamacare. And these people are the lucky ones, they have an organization offering free healthcare clinics, even if they have to drive hours and sleep in their cars to take advantage of it.

"Wednesday, the administration announced that Thursday's* press briefing by Sarah Huckabee Sanders would be one such no-video affair, then introduced a Kafka-esque twist by declaring that the announcement itself was 'NOT REPORTABLE.'"

"President Trump gave a straight answer on Thursday about whether he has recordings of his private conversations with fired FBI Director James Comey — No." Yeah, just a little witness intimidation going on.

"An extensive Republican database of information about 198 million Americans was obtained by a security researcher, who found it on an Amazon server, with not even a single password protecting it."

Monday, June 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

Here we are now, entertain us.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Linkee-poo read the news today, oh boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 12, 2017

Flower Porn

Friday, June 9, 2017

Car update

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

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Linkee-poo starts making pop-corn for tomorrow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 3, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Linkee-poo, with a little help from my friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Linkee-poo rained out

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

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

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

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Flower porn

Well, somebody likes this weather.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Linkee-poo on a Sunday

"But after reaching a peak in 2014, sales of e-readers and ebooks have slowed and hardback sales have surged. The latest figures from the Publishing Association showed ebook sales falling 17% in 2016, with an 8% rise in their physical counterparts. At the same time, publishers’ production values have soared and bookshops have begun to fill up with books with covers of jewel-like beauty, often with gorgeously textured pages." Don't get cocky. Quality is the hallmark. It's possible for ebooks to gain quality, but it most certainly won't be in the current direction. That doesn't mean ebooks are dead. It's often easy to say one side or the other. From here on out, it'll be a mix.

So you want to be a writer.

So there was a lot of talk about illegal immigration, the bad hombres, and specifically linking them to the rise of MS-13 during Obama's tenure. Well, all of that was shit. MS-13 was founded in the US in the late 80s, by US citizens, and grew most during Clinton and GW Bush's tenures (it's actually been in decline for the last 6 years). But, hey, let's have ICE go after them. "Though the effort was led by ICE, the focus was not exclusively on immigrants. Of the arrests, 933 were US citizens and 445 were foreign nationals, with 384 in the country illegally." Now MS-13 is a dangerous gang, don't get me wrong here. But you can't defeat it by telling lies about them (to continue to knock the first African-American President) and pretending they are something they are not.

(Map) "Republicans always say 1000 counties with I insurer. They don't tell you that most r in a handful of R-led states where they sabotaged ACA" Not all, but yes, that.

Note to Self podcast on the rise of our Bot Overlords. "Bot armies are taking over Twitter. But they’re not necessarily trying to advance a point of view, according to Phil Howard, a bot researcher. They’re aiming to sow chaos and make dialogue impossible. At the extreme, the goal is to destabilize our very sense of reality." Sowing chaos and making dialog impossible is a good shorthand and distinguishing marker for the Russian propaganda campaigns.

The FBI Director, having outlived his usefulness, is now out. Who is really surprised? I am. I figured this would have been in February. March at the latest.

"In his recent testimony about his decision to send the notorious October 2016 letter to Clinton Congress, FBI Director James Comey painted a dramatic picture of the facts of the case and Huma Abedin’s actions. Altogether it was meant to demonstrate that Comey had little choice but to take action and ultimately send his public letter to Congress… But it turns out what Comey said wasn’t true and the FBI knows it."

"Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year's election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey." I'm sure it's just a coinkydink. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

The Washington Post on why Trump won't be impeached any time soon. Wildly unpopular with the general public, he's still pretty popular within the GOP. A large survey result article with lots of data on the divide in America.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Linkee-poo on a Sunday

Lafayette, we are here.

Like reading? Hate fascists? Have at least $20 a month burning a hole in your pocket? Well, here's the Fireside Fiction Antifascist Fiction Club just for you. And they have cool pin. (Grokked from DongWon Song)

John Scalzi talks about the Brain Eater. You think he may be getting a little too whimsical here, but he isn't. I've met that Brain Eater, and it's a tempting offer. It's never your fault, it's everybody else's fault. That's a seductive place to get into. And I've seen my peers all get farther along (in the writing career). Well, friends, it's a harder road to suck it up and tell the Brain Eater to get lost. My friends are my friends, and I'm stoked they're doing well. They're a bunch of great people. And, yes, it's my own fault. I spend too much time here (what little time I have available these days) or trying to mentally recover. I've been working on this writer thing for far too long to not have many successes. But I'm still working at it when I can. Life doesn't get any easier. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.

A large online collection of public domain comics. (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

Ah, those peaceful times of our dawn of man ancestors. "An ancient pit filled with severed human arms, hands and fingers has been unearthed in France." Nope, still pretty brutal and violent. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

"Researchers at the University of Oxford may now have overcome this latter challenge (of the effectiveness of analgesic dosages in infants), however. They report May 3 in Science Translational Medicine having identified a pain-related brain wave signal that responds to analgesics, and could be used to measure the drugs’ efficacy." I did a paper for school using fMRI to find the same thing. If it can be done with a simple EEG, that would be amazing. No more, "on this scale, rate your pain" guessing and game playing.

Stands and salutes. You, sir, are the wind beneath my wings. (Grokked from Cheri Priest)

Stephen Blackmore's twitter rant on just what hospital ERs are required to do. Working in a hospital, yep. Look, you come in and we're going to do our best for you. Come in with shit that could be handled outpatient, and you're getting a low-priority slot. If you have insurance you're about to pay about 20x what you would have if you had gone to a GP… and we'll still say you have to go see your GP to get the actual treatment you need. Come in with stupid shit, and I'm sorry, but yes we are judging you. Because we had to come x-ray your sprained ankle which took time away from the person in STEMI two doors down. We are happy to x-ray your ankle in the department on an outpatient basis… which will also cost you a hellalot less. And we can prioritize you lower than the person with their heart attack. And I hate saying this because then there's the other people who are all, "Gee, I really don't want to bother you with this" who have an "OMFG, we got get this person to surgery NOW!" And yes, some of them don't realize it. And sometimes you could say, "Oh, I'm just having a bad day" when it's actually something Very Serious™. (Grokked from Kelly Swails‏)

"High-risk pools are not new -- they existed in 35 states prior to the ACA. History shows they represent an incredibly flawed approach to providing coverage for the most vulnerable because they are chronically underfunded, outrageously expensive, and they provide insufficient access to care." Including Ohio. To say it was a cluster-fuck it being generous. For some people it was cheaper to go private pay, and then declare bankruptcy.

So, one of the reasons the conservative ran so fast to pass the updated TrumpCare was they were afraid to go back to their districts and face the ire of their constituents who expected them to do something. So how'd that work out? "Reed, whose district in upstate New York includes the cities of Ithaca and Corning, held three town hall meetings where the overwhelming majority of attendees had questions about health care. The congressman was met with boos and jeers throughout the forums, with people repeatedly chanting 'Shame!' and 'Vote him out!'" Hell of a job, Brownies. But here is the less we're all about to relearn, as long as their financial supporters are with them, representatives don't really care about your objections. As long as their fundraising is still coming in, that's their measure of "popularity."

"The email from '[White Oak] Digital Display' sent on Wednesday, May 3, was sent to inform the researchers of the 'reason for the change from CNN to Fox.' White Oak is the name of the FDA's campus… The email goes on to inform employees that the decision came from the Trump administration… 'The reason for the change is that a decision from the current administration administrative officials has requested that all monitors, under our control, on the White Oak Campus, display FOX news,' the email reads." And then there's the inevitable denial. The first victims of propaganda are the government employees. If this is actually the case, I recommend any of the "universal 'off' remotes" available. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Linkee-poo pushes it out late Friday night

Heinous fuckery most foul.

McMansion Hell. (Grokked from Joshua Parker‏)

"A conservative group that wants to see the US government address climate change is trying to reach the president through his favorite medium: TV." Well, it ain't perfect, but it's a start. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"Why Some People Are Born to Worry… How do early-life traumas get under our skin? A researcher details his quest for the stress-causing mechanism." As I've said before, I come from small, worried-people stock.

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told an audience of Wall Street managers that they could thank him for financial deregulation." Tell me again about Clinton's speeches. Jesus, all these people need are top-hats and monocles. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Hey, remember the UK Embassy that posted a blog entry on Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort? Yeah, wasn't a mistake. "Government-funded news agency Voice Of America has posted a story about first daughter Ivanka Trump's new book… The agency also tweeted a link to the story, written by The Associated Press, from its official Twitter account." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

So when they tell you that Obamacare is broken and driving people into debt, know they are lying. "As legislators and the executive branch renew their efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act this week, they might want to keep in mind a little-known financial consequence of the ACA: Since its adoption, far fewer Americans have taken the extreme step of filing for personal bankruptcy… Filings have dropped about 50 percent…" For honesty's sake, "The many experts we interviewed also pointed to two other contributing factors: an improving economy and changes to bankruptcy laws in 2005 that made it more difficult and costly to file. However, they almost all agreed that expanded health coverage played a major role in the marked, recent decline." (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"A Code Pink activist who was arrested during Jeff Sessions’ confirmation hearing after laughing during introductory comments is now being prosecuted by a Justice Department run by Jeff Sessions." Conservatives, they put the special in the snowflake. Also, you may have noticed my frequent references to deploying the most devastating of political retorts… laughing. They're deathly afraid of being laughed at. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

And speaking of prosecutions for laughing, "Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert’s controversial joke about President Trump drew the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. The agency received 'a number' of complaints about Colbert’s commentary earlier in the week, according to the FCC’s chief." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"How to: avenge yourself on the Republicans who voted to nuke your healthcare." The bastards. And why did it pass? Because they new it would never survive the Senate, but they needed something to go home with. Now, I wouldn't get complacent about the Senate either sinking or majorly altering the bill, but that's where I'd put my money (mostly on the "sinking" part). It goes to the earlier psychology of "let's pass a repeal… of which we're safe of the consequences because Obama will veto it." But then Mitch McConnell is a grade A asshole, so I wouldn't put down the pitchforks just yet. Now, as to conservatives loosing the House in 2018, let me show you a map of the gerrymandered districts the GOP Majority control. Sure, they're going to lose a handful. Maybe 20 seats. Currently the House is divided 238 to 193. The Democrats would need to pick up all of those, plus 3 more, and not lose any.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Linkee-poo weekend

The Fyre Festival all the kids are talking about.

"Female dragonflies use an extreme tactic to get rid of unwanted suitors: they drop out the sky and then pretend to be dead." Yeah, I've seen that at parties.

I wrote a story (unpublished) about a congressional hearing where the person testifies with a beaker of cloudy water (microbes) talking about how we've changed the environment and by doing so irrevocably alters some of the bacteria at the base of our food change so within a few decades the entire ecosystem was going to collapse. "The question of how Trichodesmium cyanobacteria are reacting to the changing ocean makes a big difference in predicting how other marine life, from whales to mere specks of floating plankton, will react, too." Yeah, that'll do it.

So a little while ago I followed Snopes on twitter because I thought it would be a hoot. Except it's actually damn depressing realizing what stupid shit people would need to have disproved. But then there are things like this, "The former executive director for the Foundation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) is to be appointed 1 May 2017 to serve as the ombudsman for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services department. Julie Kirchner headed the controversial anti-immigration group for a decade before this appointment, ProPublica reports." Yea, not everything snoops covers turns out to be false.

On the new NYT columnist that's causing some waves. "Stephens seems to be arguing that, because a person he knows, who is a climate change activist, just had a baby, it somehow disproves climate science." Stellar logic there, Buzz. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Twenty state attorneys general and the District of Columbia this week sent a letter criticizing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for revoking federal protections for student borrowers." No level of consumer protections are too small to be ignored by this administration.

(Reposted because I apparently forgot to include the link a few days ago. Not sure it's the same article, but there you go) "'You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bullcrap," (Rep. Markwayne Mullin - R-Okla.) said at the town hall in Jay, Okla.… 'I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.'" Do you bank the check Rep. Mullin? If so, your constituents (and everyone who pays federal taxes in the US) pay your salary. Taxes aren't a bank account, and you don't get to direct where your money goes (no matter what conservatives say). That's not how they work. As a representative and business owner you are wildly ignorant of the work you're doing. I suggest you retire back to your businesses. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Well, at least he realized he actually had to sign it before going off to his weekend.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Linkee-poo three make a post

I keep hearing Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and Trump talk about getting GDP growth over 4% and how "it hasn't happened for the past 10 years." Nope, it's been much longer than that. "Since 1980, Clinton's years came the closest, but they were just shy of the 4 percent mark on average — closer to 3.8 percent, to be exact. Reagan was next at about 3.5 percent growth, followed by George H.W. Bush, who was slightly above 2 percent. Obama comes in just below 2 percent, and George W. Bush is behind him, at around 1.7 percent." That's from an article from the campaign when Jeb! was talking about getting over 4%. Basically, since we've entered the era of "trickle-down economics" and "tax cuts" we have not had sustained 4% GDP growth. Ever. Hell, I remember Reagan saying that 2% GDP was the new normal. So when they say "10 years", they're lying to you and attempting to frame the argument that Democratic economic principles are bad for the economy.

So a long time ago Congress decided that Medicare couldn't reform itself and rid the system of fraud, so they outsourced the billing processing. How are they doing? "While these improper claims now comprise 11 percent of all Part A and B claims, as recently as 10 years ago, it was only 4 percent. In short, there are more bad actors today." And they cost more. Privatization never reduces cost or increases efficiency of government. Never.

"In this morning’s edition of Mike Allen’s not-Playbook from Axios he introduces what seems to be Ivanka Trump setting up something that sounds a lot like the Clinton Foundation, only in this case run from within the White House by a top presidential aide who is also the President’s daughter, who also runs her own large international company and who also has two brothers who are currently running the President/Father’s company and trying to rake in as much money as possible on the fame and power of the presidency. Also, let’s be honest, the Trumps are a notoriously corrupt family, especially when it comes to running foundations." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Linkee-poo is all about the Quality

Author of the seminal Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M Pirsig has died. ZAMM is one of the few books I've read several times. Each time I've gotten something different out of it. Although I've only read Lila once (and wasn't as wowed, but it's still an interesting exercise). And so it goes.

"Britain went a full day without using coal to generate power, reports the BBC. It's the first 24-hour period of inactivity there since 1882, when the world's first public coal-fired power plant was stoked at Holborn Viaduct in London." Sounds nice, but isn't the full reality. See, coal plants don't shut down except for yearly maintenance. It takes several hours (sometimes days) to get a coal plant up to temperature to efficiently generate electricity. Electricity is bought second by second. While natural gas can be turned on and off quickly (which is one of the reasons it's replaced coal plants), coal plants have to keep running to be able to generate electricity to feed the grid. So while the grid didn't buy from any coal plants, those plants were still running.

And in the US, solar power, once considered a joke, is becoming more of a problem to central generators. Point-source, wave of the future.

"'Ten times Trump asked [German chancellor Angela Merkel] if he could negotiate a trade deal with Germany. Every time she replied, "You can’t do a trade deal with Germany, only the EU,"' the official said." Slow dogs learn faster than that. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Sure Republicans aren't mean and only what what is best for people. And yet, "In comments that were first reported by Shareblue, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) told a woman at his recent town hall event that her Medicaid expansion-eligible son’s 'skills' were the reason he is at risk for losing his health care under the Republican repeal plan, and that health care is something to be earned." Republicanism, the Dickensian dystopia plan. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"In a dramatic response to a power-grab by Republicans in the North Carolina legislature, a Republican judge resigned today to circumvent efforts to strip power from the Democratic governor." Pointed to as an example that not all conservatives are rapacious dick weasels, some of them are actually concerned about the character of the nation. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Given Trump’s erratic temperament, his war-mongering comments on nuclear weapons and his interest in increasing the nuclear arsenal have alarmed experts. But there is a longer-term, quieter threat, one that was hurting Americans well before Trump came to power: the threat of environmental devastation." Teen Vogue goes there again. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"An article on a State Department website about President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort has been removed after criticism that it was an inappropriate use of taxpayer funds."

So remember when Mike Flynn was outed as having failing to register as a foreign agent and we were all "whew, it was Turkey. At least it wasn't Russia." Well, yep, it actually was Russia or near enough to not make a difference. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Linkee-poo eeks out another one

So you may be wondering how the new job is going? Well, we're a month in and I'm told that we've never been busier and I am (somewhat) keeping up to pace. The hard part, of course, is all the things that are deep tribal knowledge that everyone just accepts as "the way it's done." Well, no. Before everyone knew their parts from years of doing it and negotiating their actions. This is like the night job were we have plenty of "this is the way we do it… except in this case (note 5 different cases, some of which involve knowing the specialties of many local doctors)." Of course, none of it is spelled out in any consistent format to refer to. But, over all, the new job is going well. Unfortunately there is no time at work for recreational surfing. So as you can tell the Linkee-poos have been suffering. Add to that some personal family health issues and there's just been no time to catch up in the evenings. There has been some small progression on the secret projects, but not enough of note. Also add in that the universe has decided to throw in some expensive repair jobs on the home as well as having to be on COBRA for 3 months and it's also been a very expensive start of the year.

Story telling through the use of Rube Goldberg devices. (Grokked from John)

No, you shouldn't eat moldy bread even if you "take the mold off."

"Physicists have created a fluid with 'negative mass', which accelerates towards you when pushed." Well, technically, they've created a few atoms that act like that. (Grokked from John)

"It turns out that escaped pet birds, namely parrots and cockatoos, have begun teaching their wild bird counterparts a bit of the language they picked up from their time in captivity -- and, according to witnesses, that includes more than a few expletives." How we influence our environment in ways we don't understand. (Grokked from Dan)

Wag the Dog or Pysch? Oh, and whatever it was, it didn't stop them from attempting two launches.

"There is no virtue in ignorance." Jim Wright on why having an incompetent in office is a Bad Idea™. I'll also offer a story about Pres. Carter. He was pained as weak and fearful. Did you know that in 1952, Lt. Carter was part of the team at Chalk River that brought there failed nuclear reactor under control and in the rotation of the men lowered into the reactor to try and get the control rods back into the pile? And that experience directly helped formed his views of nuclear power and weapons. Yeah, I also didn't learn about that until later in life.

Stephen Colbert releases the White House visitor's log. (Grokked from Dan)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Linkee-poo is late

Yes, he killed himself once he realized he wouldn't get away. Who could have seen that coming?

John Scalzi on the performance side of writing. Ann Leckie also has some input on this subject. This is something I learned from Scalzi early on during a koffeeklatch at Confusion a long time ago as I was getting serious about being a writer. It also came up during a panel at the last Confusion were I was asked directly by the moderator if I was giving a performance. Yes is the answer. If I'm in front of a crowd (different from being in a group in the bar) I am "on." If you've come to a convention and paid money at the door, or if I ever do a book tour you've come out and possibly have purchased my book, you damn well bet I'm going to make it worth your while. You should damn well expect it. Am I lying? In a sense, yes that I'm being "false." But not in the sense that I'm going to tell you something untrue or violate my core self. John calls this his "public face." And as I said on the panel, "Writer Steve" is 97% the real me, but with different aspects emphasized. That remaining 3% are things about me I'm not going to share with a crowd (note, this percentage may increase in the future as some projects head to launch). There's also probably about 15-20% of me you won't get to know unless we're friends. I expect you're also the same with people whom you barely know (and this is where there is a difference, some people will tell lies directly to your face if they don't know you, not everyone, but you know what I'm talking about. I won't do that, those lies will always be exposed and frankly I don't have enough energy or memory space to keep track of such lies). Now, if you ask me a direct question about that 15-20%, there's a chance I might tell you. However, that 3% is mine. The people who know those things about me can be counted on my fingers with room to spare. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"'If you'd just answer my question, I'd be grateful,' (newly seated Supreme Court Judge) Gorsuch said, flashing frustration." I think I can speak for a lot of people here, Judge, but we also wished the same thing of you. (Grokked from Lisa Morton)

Hey, remember during the 2016 election (I have to specify since the current president has already formed his campaign committee and is holding campaign events for 2020) how Trump supporters, despite obvious signs and symptoms, claimed their support of Trump wasn't about being racist? "In short, our analysis indicates that Donald Trump successfully leveraged existing resentment towards African Americans in combination with emerging fears of increased racial diversity in America to reshape the presidential electorate, strongly attracting nativists towards Trump and pushing some more affluent and highly educated people with more cosmopolitan views to support Hillary Clinton. Racial identity and attitudes have further displaced class as the central battleground of American politics." Yeah, the majority of analysis is coming up racists. Racial anxiety is a soft form of racism. These are the people "who don't hate anybody", but their scared of people who don't look like them and they're also scared of losing their perceived privileged position. Add in religious people who want to roll back societal openness (sexual revolution and breakdown of class and racial barriers) and the upper class longing for "tax relief" and there you have his political coalition. But it was mostly racism (that was the most reliable predictor). (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"(Trump's) bargaining chip is the government subsidies paid to insurance companies so they can reduce deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs for low-income consumers — seven million people this year… In an interview with The Wall Street Journal this week, Mr. Trump threatened to withhold the subsidy payments as a way to induce the Democrats to bargain with him." So basically this president is taking the country hostage and saying if he doesn't get his demands, he's going to shoot us all.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Linkee-poo had a supper

A photo of all the Dr. Pepper knockoffs. I know a few others they're missing. Noted because before my diagnosis, I was a staunch Dr. Pepper fan (still am, pissed they stopped making the real sugar version available at the local market, yes, I know about Texas). (Grokked from Dan)

Apparently the sculptor of the "Charging Bull"/Wall Street statue is upset with NYC for allowing "Fearless Girl" to remain. One, you argument of "artistic copyright" is bullshit. Dude, seriously, when you release your art into the wild people will respond to it (and reinterpret it) in ways you can't control or imagine. And then there's this part, "Di Modica had installed the massive bronze in front of the New York Stock Exchange after the 1987 stock market crash, without a permit, in the middle of the night — as a symbol of America's financial resilience. The city eventually responded to the public clamor for the artwork to be allowed to remain in the Financial District, steps from Wall Street." As one artist to another, fuck your protest and drop the uber-macho dream in your head. It's not helping you. (Grokked from Dan)

Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee. Next up for the political oubliette swan dive, Steve Bannon. Go for gold, buddy, go for gold. (Grokked from John)

"'You say you pay for me to do this? That’s bullcrap," (Rep. Markwayne Mullin - R-Okla.) said at the town hall in Jay, Okla.… 'I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go.'" Do you bank the check Rep. Mullin? If so, your constituents (and everyone who pays federal taxes in the US) pay your salary. Taxes aren't a bank account, and you don't get to direct where your money goes (no matter what conservatives say). That's not how they work. As a representative and business owner you are wildly ignorant of the work you're doing. I suggest you retire back to your businesses. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Trump is now threatening a first strike if North Korea continues to work toward another nuclear test. I'm sure this will turn out well.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Linkee-poo why waste your breath moaning at the crowds

So passes Don Rickles. A master of the insult form, Don showed it was possible to get laughs by punching down (although he punched up a lot). It's because people accepted it as an act, and not personal. The rumors were if Don picked on you during his show, he'd buy you dinner afterward.

A dead bat found in prepackaged salad. I don't remember that on the ingredient list. As someone who eats a lot of salad, I'm more worried about bacterial contamination. Also noted in the "sure we don't need regulations" category.

"Winkler was involved in a survey that found that people do want the government to help farmers adapt to climate change, especially when asked during record hot weather." The that cherry crop is being affected, but the farmers (as a whole) don't want to talk about it.

"Today, when the question of loyalty of immigrants has again become contentious, what happened a century ago has special relevance. World War I inspired an outbreak of nativism and xenophobia that targeted German immigrants, Americans of German descent and even the German language." During WWII my grandfather had to be careful to not be recognized as German (the Marpes were silver smiths from the Alsace-Lorraine area, so for a time we were French).

Speaking of Nazis, "… (Richard) Spencer said what happened was that Antifa (anti-facists) disallowed him to get in his 'getaway' car and the police instructed him to get in a cab. Once he was in one the cab driver (who Spencer mocked for being of Indian origin) got out of the cab, frightened of the ensuing protesters, and Spencer had to take off running." Brilliant. Okay, I'm not really okay with incitements to violence, but not being able to make a getaway because he mocked the cab driver for being foreign is just fucking hilarious. Seriously, dude, maybe tamp down the racism to save your own ass… nope, gotta make fun of the cab driver. Also, fuck nazis. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

Now that Trump has shown his unstable side by launching a cruise missile attack in Syria, (which may have not be legal and there's no word if even the Gang of 8 had been informed) every move the military makes is subjected to scrutiny for more signs of attacks. In this case, a carrier group repositioned into the Western Pacific near the Korean Peninsula. If we had our lifelong staffers in the State Department, or political appointees running some Pentagon offices, they might inform the president that playing crazy with crazy is not a good formula. Also, just because it needs saying, war (or warlike actions) don't bolster foreign policy and diplomacy. They're the fail state of such.