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

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Linkee-poo, there's a man with a gun over there tellin' me I ought to beware

Yeah, it's looking like the latest "ransomware" attack may actually have been a state-sponsored cyberwar tactic. Gee, who would ever want to disable/distract the Ukraine?

"Early Thursday morning, the Terrier-Improved Malemute rocket launched from Wallops Island, Va., with a payload of colorful chemicals." Because SCIENCE!

"Less than a day after a monument of the Ten Commandments was installed outside the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock, it was destroyed when a man smashed a car into the stone."

"A team of researchers with the German Archaeological Institute has found long, deliberate marks carved into ancient skulls found at the Göbekli Tepe dig site."

"The rate of new Clostridium difficile… infections climbed year after year from 2000 to 2010, researchers found. But an early look at 2011-2014 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Emerging Infections Program suggests infection rates are improving." Don't worry, there are more infections you can get in the hospital (nosocomial is the word) other than just C. diff.

As they say on Mythbusters, don't try this at home. See link yesterday where I discuss how there is a level of proficiency you reach only after hard work. Part of the "story we tell ourselves" about the "discovered star" wraps into how easy things look in front of the camera on TV/screen and in the movies. What you don't see are the hours, days, and sometimes weeks that go into preparing a shot or stunt (not to mention the years of experience of those directing the actions). The teams of people standing just outside the field of view of the camera lens that in some cases make what appears to be dangerous not all that risky. There's the myth of "getting it in one shot", when the reality is most scenes have 3-10 takes, and that's after the read-throughs, rehearsals and walk-throughs. And then there's the myth of the "one big thing" that will get you noticed. All of those stories came to a head here and the consequences are one person dead, another who has to live with what was done, a child who won't know their parent, and a family that lost someone way too soon. This is the danger of the low-information society.

Hey look, somebody did rig the lottery. And now they're going to jail.

The other climate change problem of coal and natural gas, "The air Americans breathe has been getting cleaner for decades… But air pollution is still killing thousands in the U.S. every year, even at the levels allowed by the Environmental Protection Agency, according to a study out Wednesday." Of course it affects poorer and minority communities the most (as they're often downwind of pollution sources). And it's more than just energy production, but they're a major contributor. Oh, and "Scott Segal, a Washington lawyer who works for the energy industry and has advised the Trump administration", you're a liar and sycophant. I hope the money you're earning by spreading lies and misinformation protects you from the worst of the problems your causing, but please feel free to fuck off and die.

The return of Boaty McBoatface. No, really. The Attenborough just returned from her maiden voyage, and Boaty (the long-range submersible) gathered some great data.

Without protections for pre-existing conditions, the screening tests/DNA-testing initiatives and industries will be dead. Some don't remember, but there is a database held by the health-insurance industry where all your information goes. The insurance companies used to check that database when deciding if they would pay your claim, or even if they would cover you at all. If conservatives get their way, expect that behavior to return. Whoopie!

"But when it came to one mysterious piece of evidence in the case, the two sides were bothered by the same question: Where did the bullet hole in the roof of Finicum’s truck come from?" And now an FBI agent is going to trial.

Paul Manafort registers as a foreign agent… like six years after he was supposed to. You know, like Flynn did as well. (Waits for more shoes to drop)

So, how's that 3 percent GDP growth coming along? "The Commerce Department said Thursday that gross domestic product, the broadest measure of economic health, grew at an annual rate of 1.4 percent in the first quarter — better than a previous estimate of 1.2 percent and double the initial estimate of 0.7 percent. The upgrade reflects new-found strength in consumer spending and exports." Well, at least it's "better."

"A new leader is set to temporarily take over the U.S. Census Bureau after Director John Thompson retires from the post on Friday." He'll oversee the preparation for the 2020 Census, which is already in deep planning stage. If you want to undercount the population, this is one way to do it. You could also completely underfund the Commerce Department which (wait for it) is also on the cutting block. I worked for the 2010 Census. It is an amazingly complex organizational problem. See, the Census isn't just one tally, it's a combination of about 10 initiatives. And then there are the hundreds of other studies the Census undertakes which help government agencies understand how the country is changing. Also in 2010 we had a record non-response (which means someone needs to go knocking on the door). (Grokked from John Scalzi)

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

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.