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

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

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.