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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

Monday, July 24, 2017

Something new has been added



And here you thought they ran on hay and oats. Ha!

It gets earlier every year



Today at the local grocery store.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Linkee-poo starts another week

Yeah, the titles haven't been good lately. Sorry.

Elizabeth Bear on not falling for the extra credit stuff in writing.

Kameron Hurley on taking criticism and responding with resilience. "A lot of writers, even professional writers at ad agencies and, of course, novelists, are not good at taking criticism. Hence the circular roundabout I sometimes run into when getting feedback on pieces. It’s meant to soften the blow, but it often just means stuff takes more time, and because we aren’t communicating honestly, projects drag, and then no one is happy." I often tell people I've been through art school where we were critiqued on every part of the process and every. single. day. My skin is fairly thick, and as long as the critique is professional (that is, it's about the work) I'm good with it. Yes, it can hurt. But this is a "no pain, no gain" business. The trick is coming back for more.

Living in the future, time-lapse video of Phobos orbiting Mars as captured by Hubble. Really wish I could find a clean video of this without all the stupid text of "here's the history, and ZOMG!"

"New research by scientists at Michigan State University suggests that laptops do not enhance classroom learning, and in fact students would be better off leaving their laptops in the dorm during class. Although computer use during class may create the illusion of enhanced engagement with course content, it more often reflects engagement with social media, YouTube videos, instant messaging, and other nonacademic content." Whodathunkit. Although I see a few holes in their logic. Sure, students may only be spending 5 minutes on actual class materials, if you're downloading a powerpoint of the lecture slides, you'll be reading that the entire class, but it may only take a minute of server time. But, yes, much of the "technology in the classroom enhances learning" hype is bullshit. So are the sales pitches about how to increase student "learning" with online tools.

"Most Americans met Wednesday night’s news that Arizona Senator John McCain was facing a dire diagnosis of brain cancer with shows of respect for the elder statesman and former prisoner of war. But to some on the extreme right, the longtime Republican is a traitor worthy of scorn, presumably because of his willingness to work with Democrats, as well as his criticism of President Donald Trump." These are also the same people who talk about how terrible the discourse of the left is. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

A couple of lawyers on the rumors of president Trump going after Robert Mueller. Short answer, "Good luck with that," (eye roll).

"Third party candidate Jill Stein was a surprising addition this week to investigators casting an increasingly wide net in the congressional probe into Russian interference in the election." Unfortunately it's the Senate investigation, and not the independent council. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, says eliminating a tax break that helps some people will help lawmakers lower tax rates for everyone." And that it screws over mostly blue leaning states that voted for Clinton, so much the better. Who said the GOP was against raising taxes. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Friday, July 21, 2017

Linkee-poo stumbles into the weekend

"Algebra is one of the biggest hurdles to getting a high school or college degree — particularly for students of color and first-generation undergrads… It is also the single most failed course in community colleges across the country. So if you're not a STEM major (science, technology, engineering, math), why even study algebra?" Hi, I'm a professional graphic designer. Artists are notoriously bad at math (ask me for stories). However, without algebra, I would find it hard to do my work. Most professions would find it hard. I've even used algebra to work on finance problems at home. If I remembered more trigonometry it would make my woodworking projects go easier (I still have my trig book, BTW). I know numerous business majors who hated Western Civ classes. And after all, it has nothing to do with their major. That I found them boring as shit in the grass to talk with I'm sure has nothing to do with their less than attentiveness to culture and life.

"And just feeling less fit in comparison to others might trim away years of life, says Zahrt, a Ph.D. candidate in health psychology at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business." Well, doesn't that just beat all.

"Given the fact that 'New of Kopi Jantan Tradisional Natural Herbs Coffee' has been marketed as a 'male enhancement' product, it might be fair to assume consumers who plucked the instant coffee off store shelves had a clear idea of its intended effects… But according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, they probably weren't aware of some of its key, undisclosed ingredients… which the FDA says is structurally similar to the active ingredient in Viagra, a prescription medication for erectile dysfunction." That's a stiff cup of joe. And if that isn't a part of the ad campaign for the next coffee product like this (no, this isn't the first) I'm going to be sorely disappointed. Also note, they're talking about "undisclosed ingredients" on product labels like "this happens all the time."

"Childbirth is one of the most common reasons women go into hospitals, and yet the American health care system handles complicated pregnancies with a stunning lack of preparation and precision. Put simply, women who give birth in the US have a greater risk of dying relative to other rich countries — and the problem has been growing worse at a time when America’s peers have continued to make pregnancy safer." But California had enough and decided to do something about it. With some explanations of how the GOP healthcare "plans" would increase maternal morbidity. So when we say "people will die," understand that we are not being hyperbolic. (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

Sean Spicer takes a knee. Not exactly unexpected, and he's probably glad he has a good excuse, but this mostly shows Steve Bannon gaining the upper hand over Reince Priebus. Kremlinology? Sure.

"A former head policy adviser at the Interior Department is accusing the Trump Administration of reassigning him to a lesser position for speaking out about the dangers of climate change." A major problem (other than the ethics of screwing us all over for just a little more profit) is that they're so damn ham-fisted about this whole thing.

You know, you try to get away from the Nazi allusions, and they keep pulling you back in. "Jack Posobiec, a prominent alt-right activist and promoter of right-wing conspiracy theories, on Thursday posted a video at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial in response to a list the Anti-Defamation League compiled associating him with the so-called 'alt-right' movement."

So after the president said, basically, he appointed Jeff Session as Attorney General to quash the Russia investigation, Jeff has no plans to leave the office. You know, until the president fires him. It would be a small gain of honor for someone who has traded a lot of it away.

"The political right has persistently used Obamacare as political fodder in elections. In the 2014 midterm elections, for example, Republicans used ACA messaging in 84 percent of their political ad spots, compared to just 15 percent of ads run by Democrats, according to an analysis by Kantar Media. That year, more than 1.3 million health insurance and political ads aired, half of them referencing the ACA." The political action groups on the right are up in arms over the Senate crumbling on the Obamacare repeal. Just in case you're wondering why they'll be bringing it up for a vote even though it looks to not have enough votes to pass. Keep calling.

"A conservative political consultant was on the payroll of the Trump 2020 re-election campaign this spring, while also defending the president in political commentary on the Fox Business Network." And it's not Lewandowski (but then he was two timing at CNN). It's almost like there was a media strategy or something. Second line, no no no, Fox. You have to wait until they're discredited before hiring them on.

"Contrary to the official White House line, Donald Trump engaged in a policy discussion with a U.S. adversary with no official witnesses or record." And just who is the source of this? Why that would be the president himself. (Grokked form Jim Wright)

Evidence #1328 that the president is clueless. "Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you’re 21 years old, you start working and you’re paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you’re 70, you get a nice plan. Here’s something where you walk up and say, 'I want my insurance.' It’s a very tough deal, but it is something that we’re doing a good job of." He might have been talking about life insurance, but he wasn't. (Grokked from George Takei)

As reported elsewhere, president Trump is looking to see if he can pardon himself and his family and staff. Because that won't look bad at all (and it wouldn't really stop the investigation).

"In the days leading up to the election, the top federal cyber-security officials realized that, for the efforts they had taken throughout the election, our voting system was still vulnerable, not to interference with the actual vote count, but to undermining the credibility of the vote, the integrity of the vote, which is, of course, the purpose of voting to begin with, to reach a consensus that the democratic will of the people has been expressed." With some interesting data on what happened and when it happened.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Linkee-poo, welcome my friend to the show that never ends

In defense of Prog Rock.

The Acorn Archimedes, state of the art computing 30 years ago. In case you want to see how far we've come. (Grokked from Dan)

"Swiss police say they've formally identified two bodies found on an Alpine glacier as those of a couple missing for nearly 75 years… Valais canton (state) police said Wednesday that forensic experts using DNA analysis identified the two as Marcelin Dumoulin and his wife, Francine. They were 40 and 37, respectively, when they disappeared on Aug. 15, 1942." Their children, now in their late 70s and 80s, will finally be able to bury them. But then there was this, "Regional police have a list going back to 1925 of missing people. They note that, because of climate change, bodies of people missing for decades regularly emerge from receding glaciers." So, that makes this a benefit of climate change?

The LA ground speed-check story told by the pilot. Uno Ab Alto. (Grokked from Dan)

"The box of prescription drugs had been forgotten in a back closet of a retail pharmacy for so long that some of the pills predated the 1969 moon landing. Most were 30 to 40 years past their expiration dates – possibly toxic, probably worthless… But to Lee Cantrell, who helps run the California Poison Control System, the cache was an opportunity to answer an enduring question about the actual shelf life of drugs: Could these drugs from the bell-bottom era still be potent?" Turns out, yeah, mostly. Also note that drugs in pharmacies and hospitals are stored properly in temperature (and sometimes humidity) controlled settings. Unlike the drugs in your medicine cabinet exposed to your half-an-hour hot showers… or a I may be speaking about myself here. So, yes, expanding "expiration dates" could save money in healthcare, but the pharma industry has no incentive (and a lot of legal reasons to not) get extra testing to expand those dates.

As anyone who works in the medical field knows, you can't trust what you read on the internet. Even in those Google quick topic boxes.

"On May 12, the 1,000-foot-wide (305 meters) Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico detected 'some very peculiar signals' apparently emanating from Ross 128, a red dwarf star that lies just 11 light-years from Earth." Say, when did Tobias Buckell visit Arecibo? (Dun dun duuuuun). Now, they're the first to say it's most likely not aliens because it hasn't been repeated and there's no other evidence (like laser light emissions) from Ross 128 which has held the attention of SETI researchers before this. "'The signals consisted of broadband quasi-periodic nonpolarized pulses with very strong dispersion-like features,' Abel Mendez, director of the Planetary Habitability Laboratory at the University of Puerto Rico, wrote…." Say, what would our SETI signature look like in the early twentieth century as we discovered and experimented with wireless transmissions of increasing power?

Take trip and never leave the farm. "With OpenSpace, you can fly over Martian mountaintops and swoop through the deep canyons of Valles Marineris with the highest-resolution views from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), creating sort of a Google Earth for Mars. And that's just the beginning; the makers of OpenSpace said they aim to ultimately map the entire known universe with dynamic and interactive visualizations created from real scientific data."

"The questions are part of an approach to care aimed at giving people with memory loss and other cognitive problems a greater sense of control and independence. At its core is the idea that an individual with dementia should be treated as a whole person and not 'just' a patient." That sense of control and independence is very important. They may not have much, but even having a little is life affirming.

"State legislatures and city halls are battling over who gets to set the minimum wage, and increasingly, the states are winning." Unfortunately it's the cities who have been raising the wages and the states wanting to roll them back. And the battle of home-rule continues unabated or resolved.

"And the story kept growing stranger." Except there's not much difference between those who hold violence ideologies except for the excuses they give themselves to justify their violence. "It's important to note no one in these cases has been charged with terrorism." Guess at the complexion of the suspects. Oh, it isn't any fun unless you guess.

"President Donald Trump said Monday that he doesn’t like 'Pinocchios,' referring to the Washington Post’s metric for pointing out politicians’ lies in fact-checking columns. Minutes later, he delivered a whopper of an untruth." I think I see the problem. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"House Republican leaders have whistled past questions about the practicality of the spending levels (in the budget) they are proposing and instead have made the case to rank-and-file House members that passing the budget resolution — because of the reconciliation instructions — represents the only way to ensure a successful tax bill." Or, we'll fix it in rewrite. Although, technically (IIRC), this isn't a "budget" bill (which is typically passed in the Spring, I could be wrong, it's been a very distracting year), this is the appropriations bill (which is needed for the government to actually spend any money). The media tends to call each the "budget", which can make it confusing. So this is the real deal. Although they talk about "future spending", which isn't usually a part of appropriations (which is a "from Oct 1 of this year to the end of September next year, you can spend this much on these things" bill).

On the "Repeal and Do Our Term Paper the Night Before" healthcare plan now rising like a zombie to ravage the Senate. Yeah. They're going to kill us all.

And what this failure means for the Republican brand. Note, it's not Trump's fault. It's never Trump's fault. That's why he's known as the deal maker and successful businessman because none of his fuckups are his own fault. It's always someone else's fault. Because he doesn't understand that when you're in charge, when you're the leader, every fuckup is yours and yours alone (especially in politics). Victory has a thousand parents, failure is a solitary business. Except Trump sees that in reverse.

"According to Tuesday reports, in their second conversation, Trump spoke with (Putin) for roughly an hour, joined only by Putin's translator. The meeting had previously gone without mention by the administration." You know, you try and dismiss these collusion rumors, and then they pull something like this. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Monday, July 17, 2017

Linkee-poo slogs into the week

"Actress Jodie Whittaker will portray Doctor Who in the next season of the beloved BBC series, becoming the first woman to play the role." And the fake fanboys lose their minds. Look, when the Doctor regenerates, most often the character has talked about it being a good thing of being bipedal, having two arms and hands, and a face (although the character mentioned it didn't like its nose the one time). So if you happen to think that regenerating as a female humanoid is totally against the grain of the show, natural history, whatever, let me just point to you and say you're a fake fan who hasn't been paying attention. As stated by somebody on twitter, for every wounded male who vows to not watch the show five women are willing to give it another chance.

An interview with Keegan-Michael Key including a section on growing up in the Mid-West and never believing you deserve success.

Quantum unmeasurement. Um, sure. (Grokked from Dan)

"In Sonoma Valley about an hour north of San Francisco, there are many reminders of the immigrants who built California's wine industry: tasting rooms that look like Italian villas or signs bearing French names. But you won't see any vestiges of the group that made up an estimated 80 percent of the workforce that first put Sonoma vineyards on the map: the Chinese." The lingering effects of institutionalized racism.

(Breaking in and) Visiting the Buran (the Russian space shuttle) factory. (Grokked from Dan)

"Certain hormones at times tell our bodies whether or not to create fat cells, and hormone disrupting chemicals can confuse those messages. Such chemicals are found in chemicals such as pesticides, flame retardants, and plastics. They also turn up in house dust, and new research from Duke University found that typical amounts of household dust spurred the growth of mouse fat cells in a lab dish." Son of a…

"After looking at two types of scientific research, the authors conclude that there is no solid evidence that sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose help people manage their weight. And observational data suggest that the people who regularly consume these sweeteners are also more likely to develop future health problems – though those studies can't say those problems are caused by the sweeteners." While they talk about many reasons why artificial sweeteners really don't help with weight loss, they miss one important (probable) fact - those "non-calorie" sweeteners may not actually be "non-calorie" after all (and what we count as a calorie may not be the whole picture).

The hidden costs of industry. "People who live in and around Clairton, about 15 miles south of Pittsburgh, are suing US Steel, claiming air pollution from its Clairton Coke Works has lowered property values. The Allegheny Front’s Julie Grant visited Clairton to understand how this source of good jobs could also be the cause of health and environmental problems." This would be the only way to make industry pay for the environmental and health damage it causes. Or, you know, we could tax them and regulate them, to either recover the costs of that healthcare (although then we get into discussions of just what a human life is worth - which has already been calculated) or push them to change. See, polluting (and paying the fines) is cheaper than being responsible. Unless you make that business pay for all the costs of that decision.

"The United Arab Emirates orchestrated the hacking of Qatari government news and social media sites in order to post incendiary false quotes attributed to Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani, in late May that sparked the ongoing upheaval between Qatar and its neighbors, according to U.S. intelligence officials." The other fake news. So why would Qatar's neighbors hack to leave evidence that gave cover for those countries to isolate Qatar? Qatar is the little brother of the Arab monarchies, with a long history of coming in last because there is little oil in Qatar. But Qatar developed the technology to liquify natural gas, which they do have a lot of (their main gas field is also shared by Iran). Qatar also supports (and launched) al Jazeera, which tends to annoy the other monarchies by telling the truth.

And speaking of natural gas, have you heard of FERC? That's our federal supposed regulatory commission that oversees natural gas pipeline (among other things) production.

Facebook fights for the right to tell users when there's a warrant for their social media information. (Grokked from Charles Oberndorf)

Scrambling to find the votes to even just open debate. Keep calling. Also, you have a little more time to make that call.

"There was a break-in over the weekend at the Las Vegas office of Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), a Republican senator who could be a critical swing vote on the GOP health-care bill." Not cool, people. It's repugnant when the right does this shit, it's doubly so when the left does it.

"Ohio Gov. John Kasich's (R) office has flatly rejected Vice President Pence's claim that nearly 60,000 disabled Ohioans are on waiting lists for Medicaid’s home and community-based services." Is there a waiting time as you apply? Yes. But that's because of the paperwork needed to complete the application and not enough workers to process, and it's not 60,000. The cure for that isn't taking people's Medicaid/Medicare away. It takes about 2 to 3 months after the initial application to get an determination if you're going to be covered or not. And yes, if you ever want to see red tape and bureaucracy in action, just apply for Medicaid/Medicare. And all of it is driven by laws, mostly sponsored by conservatives, to "cut out waste and fraud", which don't do that at all but help deny people benefits and and attempt to make the programs worthless.

So how's that "best healthcare system in the world going? We're number 1 (in mothers mortality rates during or just after child birth). You'd think right to life would be all over this and (checks again) nothing. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

Lining up the dots in preparation to connect them. A timeline of last Summer, the Trump campaign, Russian interference, meetings and tweets. Well, when you put it that way, it all starts to make sense.

The plot thickens. "A former Soviet counter-intelligence officer, now working as a Russian-American lobbyist, was also in the room last June during a controversial meeting between Donald Trump, Jr. and a Russian lawyer that was purportedly aimed at getting dirt on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, NBC News reported Friday."

So who is the "Russian Lawyer" Jr met with? "In fact, (Natalia) Veselnitskaya was already a key figure for the defense in one of the most notorious money-laundering scandals in recent memory, encompassing $230 million in public funds allegedly stolen from the Russians by a network of corrupt bureaucrats and routed into real estate sales, including some in Manhattan, through ironclad Swiss bank accounts. And she was accused of lobbying U.S. officials for a Russian NGO that sought to overturn the Russian ban on U.S. adoptions, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. Justice Department and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)." Oh, and did we mention, "The United States settled its case against Prevezon and its associated companies in May for $6 million, a fraction of the judgment a guilty verdict would likely have brought." That case was settled after Jeff Sessions became the Attorney General. I'm sure it's just a coincidence. Have I mentioned the other ties Trump's administration has to Russian money-laundering and a certain Cyprian bank?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Linkee-poo is back on the train, oh, back on the chain gang

NPR's list of 100 favorite comics and graphic novels. I'm glad to say, I actually have read some of these, know of many more (although I have to admit here that the manga visual style has always left me cold), and recently a friend sent me a copy of one (hat tip to Sheila).

About that photo showing Emilia Earhart after her disappearance. Yeah, not so much.

The LarsenC Ice Shelf iceberg has calved. Often not mentioned in the news about this, LarsenA and LarsenB have already collapsed. LarsenC has been holding back some fast flowing glaciers from the interior. Will what's left of the shelf be able to hold them back now is the question.

"The new treatment is known as CAR-T cell immunotherapy. It works by removing key immune system cells known as T cells from the patient so scientists can genetically modify them to seek out and attack only cancer cells. That's why some scientists refer to this as a 'living drug.'" And it just passed the FDA Advisory Committee and is now up for full approval. Right now it's just up for treating B cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, but if approved I'm sure there will be other cancers treated (off-label use). However, it costs about $0.5 million per treatment, so don't expect your insurance company to pre-approve it anytime soon (right now they're talking about using it when the standard treatments don't work). Fuck cancer.

"Some health plans are beginning to offer free maintenance care for people with chronic health problems, hoping that spending a little more early on will save a lot money in the long run… That may seem like common sense, but health plans have been running hard in the opposite direction. Consumers are on the hook for a rapidly increasing amount of their health costs — in large part to try to curb health costs." Single-payor. Now, it's not going to help with everybody because humans are stubborn and we have built-in psychological reflexes to ignore health problems. I see it all the time at the hospital ("So, why are you here?" "I have some chest pain." "How long have you been having chest pain." "About a month." - ugh). I'm sure you've all known someone with tooth pain who try to just "rough it out." But maybe, just maybe, if people learn that getting help when you need it won't actually cost you anything extra, in a generation or two we might be able to change those behaviors. Also I'll say this from experience, managing your diabetes (Type I or Type II) is a hellalot easier than having your foot amputated. I've seen too much of that as well. Gangrene and necrotic tissue are the worst smells ever. And once they start taking parts of you off, chances are they'll have to do it again and again.

"Republicans are trying to find a way to defund Planned Parenthood as part of an overall effort to limit abortion in America. But doing so had the opposite effect in Texas, according to a new study based on research from Texas A&M University… The study… shows that in the first three years after Texas Republicans slashed the family planning budget in 2011 and shut down more than 80 women’s health clinics, the abortion rate among teenagers in the state rose 3 percent over what it would have been had the clinics remained open." Again, real world studies show conservative ideology doesn't work. (Grokked from Annalee Flower Horne)

"The FDA estimates that about 1.3 million people are injured by medication errors annually in the U.S." And that's just the errors outside a doctor's office or medical facility. Pay attention. Know your medications and if you don't know what they do or how they'll affect you (more than "you have this, take this" - know how the drug works, what it's doing to you), ask the doctor or the pharmacist. Every time I get an Rx I have to sign that I don't have any questions (I typically have already asked or researched). There's a reason they make you sign (trust me, if it weren't necessary, they wouldn't bother). If you're in a doctor's office or the hospital and someone gives you something or is about to inject something into your IV and they don't tell you what it is, ask before you take it or they inject it. For home use I highly recommend those weekly pillboxes for medications you take every day. If you're on an hourly schedule for things like pain medications, I suggest a schedule with checkboxes.

Microsoft takes the first step to "listen to those forgotten Americans" Trump supposedly spoke for. They're going to "work" on completing the last miles of broadband access. Now, as someone who lives in those hinterlands (well, now at least I have DSL, as my cable TV line is too noisy to have a cable modem, but from what I hear, I'm not missing much given our dinky telecom/ISP) I fully applaud this. But it's not the first time I've heard of this plan. The problem here (and what will take this initiative down) is the cost and reluctance of local telecoms to provide the backend T1 lines. Cause while using whitespace channels (a late 90s technology IIRC) is great for download speeds (typically there's a wired upstream part of this, although some later WLAN technologies provided 2 way communications - also this is a relative term, think somewhere between ADSL and slow cable modems, see HugesNet for examples), eventually you have to have a wire on the backend. Three initiatives I tried all failed when it came to getting the local telecom to provide that connection (first tried their "monopoly rights", which they haven't any, and then charged egregious prices for a crappy 3rd tier connection - well something more like 4th or 5th, but most categories don't go down that far). Also, they aren't the first in this space. Sprint was back in 2003.

"Some small-business owners burdened with high health care costs would get a break via an obscure provision in the health bill proposed by the GOP Senate. The provision would offer less regulation, more bargaining power and better prices." Those better prices are because 1) they think they have a younger and healthier population working in small businesses (note to general public, not the case) and 2) basically they can offer shit coverage and high deductibles. So while it looks like a win, it isn't. FYI, I'm now in one of these plans offered by the Council of Smaller Enterprises in Cleveland. There isn't one of us here that will see their 30s again (okay, maybe the boss' son when he comes in to work). We work for a lot of small businesses who have similar demographics. This is just an attempt to divide and conquer.

"'We’re not seeing any evidence of a death spiral or a market collapse,' said Cynthia Cox, Kaiser’s associate director of health reform and private insurance. 'Rather, what it looks like is insurers are on track to have their best year since the [Affordable Care Act] began.'" Despite the drum the conservatives are beating, Obamacare is doing well (especially in states that expanded Medicaid). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Aramis Ayala, Florida's first and only black elected state attorney, has been no stranger to controversy since taking office as head of the 9th Judicial District, which covers Orange and Osceola counties… Now, Ayala is back in the spotlight after footage surfaced of Orlando Police pulling her over in a June 19 traffic stop. It lasts little more than a minute after two officers find out who she is, prompting some social media users to suggest racial bias was at play. Ayala and Orlando Police characterized the stop as lawful." She was driving home after teaching a law class.

"The word of the day today comes to us courtesy of Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget. The word is: MAGAnomics." Funny, rhymes with Reaganomics, and is about as sound. The two words I keep hearing from economists discussing President Trump's economic plan is "overly optimistic."

Can Jr be charged with treason? Well, no. Treason, legally, is a high bar to jump over. However, accepting something of value from a foreign power to aid a campaign is illegal, and a lot easier to prove (note, doesn't have to actually receive, his email and pretext for meeting might be considered solicitation though).

Steve King says Congress will reinvestigate Clinton unless Democrats give up this Russia thing. Isn't this what the corrupt sheriff says in the movies? This is the move of petty thugs when they're caught. Seriously, Rep. King, by all means, reopen the investigations that have already concluded that there's nothing there in the Clinton Email Scandal. Tie that albatross around the GOPs neck. I triple dog dare you. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Linkee-poo can serenade and gently play on your heart strings, be your Valentino just for you

Two articles on Medieval Urbanism for your world building needs. (Grokked from Steven Brust)

As Dr. Allen Chamberlain said in the Mummy, "You must not read from the book!" The Chicago library is seeking help to transcribe magical texts. Or as someone commented, "Haven't these people seen any horror movies?" Oh, and they put the texts online. (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"But the new study… paints perchlorates in a different light. The researchers exposed the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, a common spacecraft contaminant, to perchlorates and UV radiation at levels similar to those found at and near the Martian surface… The bacterial cells lost viability within minutes in Mars-like conditions, the researchers found. And the results were even more dramatic when (they) added iron oxides and hydrogen peroxide, two other common components of Martian regolith, to the mix…" Whelp, that throws a wrench into the terraforming works. Although then they end with, "B. subtilis is a garden-variety microbe, not an "extremophile" adapted to survive in harsh conditions, the researchers said." So, never mind.

"'This is such a tragedy that doesn’t need to happen to anyone else,' said O’Guinn. 'And we want something good to come out of this as awareness of not using your cell phone in the bathroom as it is plugged in and charging.'" Good tip. You could also help prevent this by having building codes requiring GFI protected outlets in bathrooms, kitchens, anywhere there is a sink or standing/flowing water.

Whelp, someone figured out they might die a death of a thousand cuts if Net Neutrality were removed. Why is Net Neutrality on the table again? Because some people think they can make more money without it (including politicians), and the ISPs are chaffing with having been classified under Title II. This is a battle of whose money will win. There's only one outcome that benefits the citizenry (and really our economy), but that's the position under assault here.

Hey, remember that elevated bus thing that was all the rage in China? "In China, a futuristic new kind of urban transport that its promoters claimed would beat traffic jams appears to have gone off the rails. That became clear when police arrested the people behind the project for suspected fraud last week."

"A Pew poll released Monday shows that Republicans’ views of higher education institutions have taken a dramatic turn for the worse since 2015." It's that "critical thinking" thing that's a problem. See, when conservative blowhards come to campus, those kids with critical thinking skills tend to protest. And this causes conservatives to think they're right to free speech is under attack. Which, for these people's speech to be under attack and suppressed we certainly hear a lot from them.

Of a related note: "A debate has broken out at the Pentagon and in Congress over a proposal to dismantle an eight-year-old program that gives fast track citizenship to immigrant soldiers who were recruited because they have critical skills in languages and medicine." Well, 1) that's a fine way to cut off your nose to spite your face, 2) what a nice way to say "fuck you" to people who have helped us, and 3) conservatives, you're either going to have to embrace advanced education or increasing immigration to bring in skilled people.

And on another education note: "DeBoer is among 14,000 teachers in Oklahoma being trained to instruct a K through 12 education curriculum funded by the oil and gas industry. The lesson plans, created by the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board, have been used in Kansas, and the overall model has been pitched to at least five other states." While it's not like having the Tobacco Council sponsoring and writing curriculum for high school health classes, it is like having the Beef Industry Council writing your high school nutrition (and home economics) courses. While there is a major problem with schools graduating students ready to go into industries (and that is a whole different discussion), this is one of the potential problems with having industry help develop curriculum. Note, "Representatives from the local chapter of the Sierra Club say they have met with the state's Energy and Environment Secretary to ask if the state will include lessons about climate change and renewable energy." Yeah, probably not. So, not only are we not giving the kids all the information, we're streamlining them into careers that will be mostly dead in 20 years or so (note, we still make buggy whips, no matter how much we deride them, and we'll still need coal for metallurgy and oil for plastics as well as other things, but there will be a lot fewer people working those jobs).

"Since President Trump announced his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord, hundreds of U.S. mayors have said they're committed to significantly cutting their cities' carbon emissions. More than 30 cities, including Atlanta and San Diego, have declared 100 percent renewable energy goals in the coming decades."

"'He admitted to doing the criminal act and said he regretted it,' Lt. Rocheleau said. 'He said the reason he did do it was to show support towards Trump by having the other side bash him, to show how the other side is basically crazy enough to go and write stuff on a school playground.'" Yeah, I guess we now know which side is basically crazy enough to go and write stuff on a school playground… jackass.

Whelp, I think I know where the next Trump Hotel is going in. Seriously, there is a whole fucking office staff devoted to making and coordinating the travel plans of the president. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

In case you thought one of the reasons that the GOP was trying to repeal Obamacare wasn't about taxes, you might want to think again.

"Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries." I feel so much safer now. "'We never anticipated that our critical infrastructure control systems would be facing advanced levels of malware,' (Jon Wellinghoff, the former chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) said." sneezeBULLSHITsneeze (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Hello, Mike from Montclair… The man who would have been president (or at least wanted to be).

Just gonna drop this here. "President Donald Trump announced Saturday at the G-20 summit that the U.S. has pledged $50 million to the World Bank's fund spurring women entrepreneurs, a program supported by his daughter Ivanka Trump." Now, except for the inclusion of his daughter, I would wholly support this. However, his daughter is directly involved. While she's part of a group, she still stands to benefit. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The Times on Sunday reported that the president's eldest son was promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton before meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in New York on June 9, 2016." Well, that's a pretty heavy shoe that just dropped. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Donald Trump Jr. was informed ahead of a June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer that material damaging to Hillary Clinton that he was offered was 'part of a Russian government effort to aid his father's candidacy,' the New York Times reported Monday evening." Dun dun duuuuun. "The meeting was also attended by Trump's then-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort… and Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who now serves as a White House senior adviser… Politico reported earlier Monday that Trump Jr.'s actions and statements 'put him potentially in legal cross hairs for violating federal criminal statutes prohibiting solicitation or acceptance of anything of value from a foreign national, as well as a conspiracy to defraud the United States,' and he, Manafort and Kushner 'may have also exposed themselves to future blackmail threats,' according to legal experts." And this defense of "I didn't know who was in the meeting…" OMG people. This is how lawyers make bank for their retirements.

And now, Russia official media is more than happy to toss all the Trump family under the bus. As I said it last year, the Russians are not interested in getting Trump elected. They are interested in sowing chaos and bringing America to its knees. There are rumors they're running arms to the Taliban. Why do that when they have their own problems with extremist terrorism? Because they want to give us the humiliation of losing Afghanistan exactly like we did to them in the 80s. That the Trump administration is a willing dupe and is helping them in so many ways is just gravy. It's an unexpected benefit. Their goal is to break us they way we broke the Soviet Union in the late 80s. The 80s keep coming back. Guess when Putin rose to power from a local KGB officer in Eastern Europe? The 80s.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Linkee-poo without a good title

For the 4th of July, the NPR twitter account mirrored the on radio tradition of reading out the Declaration of Independence. So, how did that go? About as well as you might expect. Look, if there's a general conversation about tyranny and oppression and you feel like your side is getting a bad rap, without your side being mentioned outright… well, you might want to rethink which side you're supporting.

Looking for new music? Here's 15 songs of summer from NPR. A wide variety of music styles with some slow-burners.

On the reproducibility of medical research (specifically on cancer drugs). Basically, we're not so good are predicting which studies would be able to reproduce the original results. But that's the thing about science, you test your assumptions to see if they're true or not. And, to be truthful, there's a lot wrong with medical studies (including how we measure and report results and the use of sadistic statistics in this).

"Police in late June found widespread drug-use and men engaged in homosexual activity during the bust at the home owned by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to Il Fatto Quotidiano, an Italian newspaper that first reported the incident. Among its duties, the congregation guides the Church's response to clerical sexual abuse cases." Okay, I'll admit that I'm not actually on top of Vatican politics, but damn that sounds like a clearing of house. While the report states that "neighbors" called in the police, it wouldn't surprise me to hear some clerical robes swishing in the background of that call.

"Federal prosecutors on Monday asked a U.S. judge for a gag order muzzling former drug company executive Martin Shkreli, on trial for securities fraud charges, arguing that his statements to media could taint the jury and disrupt the case, court papers show." But his lawyers say, "Brafman said Shkreli was in a delicate emotional state, and believed that the press focuses unfairly on some of his negative characteristics… Brafman has argued that Shkreli is a misunderstood genius who earned his wealthy investors millions of dollars." Uh, yeah, Bob. I'm sure it's not that Shkreli is a rich brat gambling on his white privilege and his monied status to behave in ways that we'd actually put children into time-out for. Also, he's using his position to harass witnesses and bully the jury.

"The legislation, which was signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) last week and went into effect Saturday, requires school boards to hire an 'unbiased hearing officer' who will handle complaints about instructional materials, such as movies, textbooks and novels, that are used in local schools. Any parent or county resident can file a complaint, regardless of whether they have a student in the school system. If the hearing officer deems the challenge justified, he or she can require schools to remove the material in question." No appeal, no actual research necessary. Complaints can be made my anyone in the community. So, basically, we're handing education over to the ignorants. No, I'm sure this won't be abused by conservatives and the religious right. Not at all. There's a twitter meme of "This is the America liberals want," well, this is the America social conservatives want. They want children to be as ignorant as they are. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

We don't need no stinkin' regulations. The market will take care of it all. "NPR's ongoing investigation of the advanced stage of the fatal lung disease that afflicts coal miners has identified an additional 1,000 cases in Appalachia." Or, you know, people just drop dead and shit.

Yes, Virginia, the rightwingnuts are waging a war against CNN. On Fox News, "CNN was facing almost universal backlash on Wednesday after running an article on the Reddit user who made an anti-CNN, wrestling-themed GIF tweeted by President Trump over the weekend – and seeming to imply the network would reveal the person’s identity if he reneged on an apology." Sure, yeah, the horribleness in this story is about CNN, a reporting organization, finding the true identity of the guy who created a threatening video that promoted violence against CNN and deciding to not publish it… as long as the guy keeps to his word. You know, not on the guy who made the video and thought he could get away with it.

So, since all outside non-partisan studies show Obamacare is working quite well, why do conservatives want to get rid of it? "One patient at the Mountain Valleys clinic in Bieber, Kay Roope, 64, knew she had Medi-Cal, and she liked it… 'It did me good,' she says… But when asked what she thinks of Obamacare overall, she says she doesn't like it… 'Because of Obama himself,' she says with a laugh. 'I rest my case.'" I'm sure racism has nothing to do with it. Also, one of the main problems with supporting Obamacare (and the same arguments that came out when it passed) is this fact. "One way clinic workers get around the stigma is to avoid calling it Medi-Cal. Instead, they promote the name of the insurer that manages the Medi-Cal contract in that region. People get a card for 'Partnership Health Plan' and may not realize they're actually covered by a government program."

On DoJ Federal Oversight actions… "'You all can hold us accountable,' (Shelby County Mayor) Luttrell said. 'You all can step in and do precisely what DOJ is doing right now. And that's what I hope to do, that's one of the reasons I made the appeal to D.C., which is: Let local people solve local problems.'" Um, no. That's exactly how we got into these problems (including the problem with education in the US) is we "let local people solve local problems." And you all fucked it up. And more than likely you fucked up the initial response to the problem. That's why the Fed is involved. But I'm sure our Attorney General Jeff Sessions will agree to let the locals do what they want which will send us right down the crapper again.

Congressman Clay Higgins proves that even in this day where "You're a Nazi" is thrown with regularity (and in some cases is the literal truth) it is still possible to Godwin yourself. Also, note to Congressman Higgins, the call for a "strong military" protecting the homeland is exactly what brought us the horror of Auschwitz-Birkenau (and the entire Holocaust). Seriously, pull your head out of your ass for once.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Link-poo can remember the fourth of July running through the backwood bare

Happy 4th, everybody (including you all not in the US). Today is a day where Liberty is celebrated. Throw off the yokes of your oppression and stand tall in the freedom of the spirit. Limited time offer, may not be available in all districts, YMMV.

And since we're discussing it, yes I do believe our liberty is at stake (in general it always is, but with this election we're driving with one tire over the cliff's edge). While the Constitution still stands, we are flirting dangerously close to the edge of tyranny (and not just because "my side" didn't win), and it's all being done in the name of "freedom." I see the dismantling of institutions that made this country a pillar of freedom throughout the world and put us in the lead among nations. I see decades of social progress being rolled back. And I see a dangerous yearning for "the strong man narrative" in the general populace (especially in those libertarians who claim to be for individual independence and instead will sacrifice their individualism to a strong man who supports their "issues"). The Fall of Rome (and Greece) is very applicable here. Caesar's and freedom are not compatible, and they hardly ever give up power willingly. In my head I often hear "Sit Down, John!" As well as the opening lines of the next song, "But no, you sent us Congress. Good God, sir, was that fair?"

There's this myth about quitting opioids cold-turkey. It is a myth. Opioids are both a psychological and physical dependency. For all the talk of the "life-saving naloxone injections", coming down that way can be just as rough. There's also this myth of "once you're through the DTs, you're cured." As they say, the craving never goes away. Hell, even quitting cigarettes is hard to do cold-turkey.

So where are we on the "Trump Administration will alter records and testimony on Climate Change" scale? "The Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of staff pressured the top scientist on the agency’s scientific review board to alter her congressional testimony and play down the dismissal of expert advisers, his emails show." Oh, that far along already?

So, climate deniers leaned heavily on satellite temperature readings because they showed less warming that ground station (and gh altitude ballon) data. So what do good scientists do? They reviewed the data. "Mears and Wentz said the corrections were necessary because earlier satellite-based estimates of temperature did not accurately account for satellites making measurements at different times of day. Satellite-based temperature records draw data from not just a single satellite but an entire constellation, which has evolved over time." So, sorry we miscalculated before. Thanks for pointing it out. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

"The Multnomah County Republican Party (MCRP) has formally decided to pair up with right-wing militia groups to run security at local events." Yeah, that'll go over well. Blackshirts hiring brownshirts has always worked out well in the past. (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

Can you tell fake news from real news? Okay, try Factitious, the game that tests your assumptions. Note, I haven't tried it yet, but I will.

"Scott Pruitt is hatching a new plan to turn his personal and unreasonable denial of the accepted science on climate change into official federal policy: He’ll employ military tactics to review climate science to assess the 'truth.' Or, as a new report in E&E News’ ClimateWire put it, Donald Trump’s EPA chief is 'leading a formal initiative to challenge mainstream climate science:'" Once that fails to determine that Climate Change is false, he'll organize paintball tournaments to "find the truth." Because having scientists reach consensus with a greater than 93% acceptance for over two decades obviously isn't as good as organizing a debate team. (Grokked from Jeff VanderMeer)

"The Pentagon is considering pulling out of a deal it made with thousands of noncitizen recruits with specialized skills: Join the military and we'll put you on the fast track to citizenship." Or shorter, "The Pentagon tells recruits, 'Psych!'". Remember when we were a nation of our word?

It's a matter of trust. And apparently, we Americans don't have much of it anymore. Which, depending on where you stand, is either a harbinger of troubled times or "mission accomplished."

Another study. "In our models, racial attitudes towards blacks and immigration are the key factors associated with support for Trump." (Grokked from Michelle)

That may give you some context for Jim Wright's post about the election fraud insanity of the right.