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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Linkee-poo dumps on a Friday

"Researchers find 600 accounts linked to Russian influence operations pushing both sides of the debate, The New York Times reports." I think all of them have replied to Jim Wright's tweets at some point in the last year. Somedays I think my Russian friends are interested in me (after all, I'm scintillating), but mostly I think it's collateral from Jim. Either way, I wonder how complete my dossier is. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"During the height of the 2016 campaign, Twitter users shared more 'misinformation, polarizing and conspiratorial content,' than actual news stories, an Oxford University study released Thursday says." I think they should have put "users" in quotes like I did. For those of us on twitter, yeah, we know. And despite constant calls for Twitter to do something about it, they give us 280 characters instead. But only for a few. Some are more equal than others. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

The military just decommissioned a satellite and opened it for use by the public. I'll be in my bunk. (Grokked from Dan)

A NY Times article from 1992 describing what would become the smart phone. Just for some historical perspective (also for the gratuitous "it'll never happen" predictions). In the novel I had finished, because of circumstances Silicon Valley wasn't the center of the digital US, upstate NY was. That was the home of Motorola, and the smartphone revolution happened much sooner (although the integration of technologies was a bit different, but akin to where I see the smartphone going). I'll also note that in 1992 we were also discussing devices that merged the computer, your TV, your cable, and this new thing called the Internet (well, the world wide web, the Internet was a little old at that time). While that vision isn't fully realized, your Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV and a host of other devices were close to what was being thought of. (Grokked from Dan)

"Chief White House economic adviser Gary Cohn on Thursday said he 'can't guarantee' taxes won't go up for some middle-class families, even though he said the White House's new tax proposal is 'purely aimed at middle-class families.'" And there it is.

"The Supreme Court is set to deal a sharp blow to the unions that represent millions of teachers and other public employees, announcing Thursday it will consider striking down the mandatory fees that support collective bargaining." And just as an FYI, "The union fees case presents the question of whether to overturn a 40-year-old ruling. In that case, Abood vs. Detroit, the Supreme Court said it was reasonable to require all employees, not just union members, to pay to support the cost of bargaining because all of them benefited. By law, the unions are required to represent all employees, including by handling their grievances." So yeah, my guess is they won't change the law mandating that the unions handle the grievances and include non-union pay and benefits in their contracts. This will then set up a counter suit that Unions are being forced to engage in speech without compensation (the case is based on if someone can be compelled to pay for speech they don't support, a dubious twisting of "free speech" which opens a whole can o' worms).

Nursing homes that rely the most on Medicaid tend to provide the worst care for their residents — not just the people covered by the program but also those who pay privately or have Medicare coverage." "'When Medicaid nursing homes are poor and perform poorly, their hospitalization rate increases, and Medicare pays for those hospitalizations,' (Vincent Mor, a professor of health services, policy and practice at the Brown University School of Public Health) says. 'If I'm a nursing home and I can barely afford my patients, I'm going to send my patients to the hospital.'" And boy do we see them.

In case you thought I was being cynical when I mentioned how deficits don't matter when Republicans are in charge… "'It’s a great talking point when you have an administration that’s Democrat-led,' said Representative Mark Walker, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, a group of about 150 conservative House members. 'It’s a little different now that Republicans have both houses and the administration.'" And here is something else not cynical, they know it won't create jobs. They know it won't increase growth. They know that it'll hardly effect the middle and poor class (in fact, it'll probably raise their taxes). We know this (because we've seen what happens with prior tax cuts and with the experiment in Kansas). But they think their base is dumb enough and "desperate" enough to swallow it. All they need to do is say they're increasing taxes on the poor/inner cities/democratic strongholds (or decreasing the earned income benefit) and their base will eat it up and ask for seconds. As long as they screw over minorities more than they screw their base over. (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

But here's the thing Republicans forget. When income inequality grows to great, and those at the top forget to be humble, the rest of us will eat them. Literally and figuratively.

"President Donald Trump, the only president in modern history to not release his tax returns (see our fact-check), said he would not personally benefit from his proposed changes to tax law." Uh, yeah, Bob.

"The Department of Justice has obtained search warrants that could disclose information about thousands of people who liked a resistance Facebook page." One of the word's you're looking for here is "petty."

"(Speaker Ryan) also acknowledged that House Republicans have just about run out of patience with the Senate after the collapse of health care reform this week." The House doesn't trust the Senate… wow it's like that whole bicameral solution actually works.

"Racial slurs were written on the dormitory message boards of five black cadet candidates at the Air Force Academy Preparatory School earlier this week." I love how conservatives are all, "oh no, Trump's victory wasn't a victory for racism." Well here's the thing, the racists think it was. I also love the response from the command of the Academy (I wish they were as forceful with the evangelical push on campus).

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Linkee-poo, you read me for the articles

So, Hugh Hefner made it to 91. For the younger kids, I don't think they can fully appreciate how Hugh changed American mores. Their generations always knew The Pill and these days you can access pornography (and we could have a discussion about what qualifies) any time you want with a device you carry with you all the time. Hugh started a revolution that really caught fire when The Pill became widely available (and was somewhat stunted with the advent of HIV). And if you don't think he changed the world, you can still see the vestigial Puritanical thought in our culture. Today even with hook-up culture most Americans have a difficult time accepting that "good girls also like sex" (from what I understand "desire" and "personal connection" are two concepts that are avoided). Our difficulties around sex, from what happens between consenting adults to which bathrooms we use, still are with us, although to a slightly lesser degree. For many Americans sex is still "dirty". Is Hefner's legacy trouble-free? Hell no. But American culture is significantly different (and for the most part "better") than it would have been without him. We could have a discussion of objectification, "smut", swinging and all that, but here I want to say that Hefner published SF/F when it was still considered "childish and trash", and he paid top dollar for it (in fact, his rates from the 70s and 80s are still higher than some "professional" magazines today, before adjusting for inflation).

"The presidential election is long past, but online attacks aimed at shaping the U.S. information environment have kept right on coming." Again, the story ends when goals are achieved (or shortly after). The goal was not getting Trump elected, he was just the most expedient way to destabilize and weaken the West. Waves to all my Russian friends (which, hey, IIRC, today is your guy's day).

"When (the Singularity) comes, Anthony Levandowski will be firmly on the side of the machines. In September 2015, the multi-millionaire engineer… founded a religious organization called Way of the Future. Its purpose, according to previously unreported state filings, is nothing less than to 'develop and promote the realization of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence.'" So. Many. Jokes. Unfortunately the article is mostly about Anthony Levandowski's career and his involvement in lawsuits around self-driving cars. (Grokked from Dan)

So, just who is a college teacher and how should colleges work? In an age with new business models, that's a big question.

"Police said the two young children shot by a toddler who found a gun at an in-home day care in Dearborn are in serious but stable condition Thursday morning." You know, I think we need to stop births until we can figure out what is going on here. Because God forbid we do anything about either the prevalence of guns in society or the lack of quality, affordable day care in this country. "We don't know how…" Yeah. Bullshit. Guns are designed that way. They are designed to be "easy."

Regulation enforcement who needs it? amIright! Why have all those silly rules if you're not willing or really can't enforce them in any meaningful way.

"The Trump administration is restricting lawmakers in both parties from visiting storm-ravaged Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard military aircraft this weekend in order to keep focused on recovery missions there, according to multiple congressional aides." Ah, I didn't see that Trump had ordered a West Berlin Airbridge operation to bring supplies back into Puerto Rico. I'm sure we're doing round-the-clock bumper-to-bumper air flights to bring in tent cities, generators, food, potable water and medical supplies. Gee, with all that you think he could have lifted the Jones Act as well. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"A new DHS policy that will go into effect on Oct 18 will force everyone who's ever been naturalized as a US citizen or who is currently residing in the USA on a Green Card… to hand over 'social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results' for permanent scrutiny in our government files." :: makes popcorn :: This is going to be an interesting lawsuit. So, apparently conservatives actually do like regulation, as long as it's meant to keep minorities down. Just a note, a "naturalized" citizen is equal to a native-born citizen in the eyes of the law. So, yes Virginia, the government does want to spy on you.

"Gross domestic product increased at a 3.1 percent annual rate in the April-June period, the Commerce Department said in its third estimate on Thursday. The upward revision from the 3.0 percent rate of growth reported last month reflected a slightly faster pace of inventory investment." Note, 2nd QTR is always higher than the rest of the year, so it's most likely the rate will average around 2% (like it has for the past several decades). Also note the "inventory investment." That means the GDP was up because manufacturers were stocking the shelves, not that they had the orders. That shelf stocking will negatively impact future quarters (unless orders increase dramatically). So I expect the Trump administration to tout how these numbers are up in anticipation of the tax reform. Understand that's a load of bullshit.

Whelp, I didn't think our Trump's first trade war would be over Bombardier jets or with Canada (although there's that whole lumber thing still going on).

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Linkee-poo later in the day

"In 2016, Americans were infected with more than 2 million new cases of gonorrhea, syphilis and chlamydia, the highest number of these sexually transmitted diseases ever reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday… 'Several factors are fueling the STD epidemic,' Harvey said. 'Funding cutbacks for prevention, education and healthcare programs, an on-going debate about sex education for young people, with cutbacks in that arena, particularly from this administration, and a rise in social media dating apps have all contributed to the rise.'"

It's 2017, where's my jetpack? "A group of aviation companies and advocacy groups, backed by aerospace behemoth Boeing, have announced a $2 million competition to develop a safe and easy-to-use personal flying vehicle in the next two years." Lewis Black has a joke about he knows the exact day that flying cars will be available to the general public. It's the day after he dies. "My obituary will read… Memorial service will be held at 2. Parking for flying cars available."

Noted without comment. "A leading purveyor of fake news in the 2016 presidential election has died outside Phoenix at the age of 38… Horner had a history of prescription drug abuse and that 'evidence at the scene suggested this could be an accidental overdose.'"

An ironic tweet storm about NASCAR and the American flag. Stands and salutes. (Grokked from John)

Well hell, Atari just may be making a box that makes me experiment with Linux. But then, the Atari of old (not exactly the same company) used to promise big and delivery small. I have lots of friends who are into retro computing and have boxes of almost all the machines we used to us. For me, I tend to cycle all of them out for the new ones. Except I still have my Atari 800xl in a box in the closet. I just can't bear to part with it. (Grokked from Dan)

We shouldn't let the government get between you and your doctor. "Tightening the screws on pricey imaging exams, health insurer Anthem will no longer allow many patients to get MRI or CT scans at hospital-owned outpatient facilities, requiring them to use independent imaging centers instead. The insurer began phasing in these changes in July and expects to finish by March." Health insurance companies already occupy that space. It's called "pre-cert(ification)" and it's a pain in the ass. Especially when the tech needs to deliver the bad news that your insurance isn't going to cover the scan you came in for and have been starving yourself for 18 hours (yea, I've done it). And then there's this, "A study published last year in The Spine Journal, for example, found that when a 'secret shopper' patient with low back pain received MRI at 10 imaging centers over a period of three weeks, each center reported different findings. Some missed a problem they should have found, while others detected nonexistent problems." And then there's the pain in the ass that while we're all on electronic reporting system now, and all imaging equipment produces DICOM formatted data, it's unusual for one system to talk to another. That requires the patient to ask for a disk (first should be free, but not always) to take to their doctor. And then it may need to be re-read by another radiologist, who might 1) disagree with the results and 2) request re-imaging on better, or more familiar, equipment. This doesn't mean that all hospital equipment (and techs, and radiologists) are the best, but it's a good bet.

"Before Jeff Mateer became President Trump’s nominee for federal judgeship in Texas, he fought a local ordinance extending equal protections to members of the LGBT community and said the separation of church and state does not exist in the Constitution… But likely his most controversial statements were made in two 2015 speeches, in which he said transgender children are proof that 'Satan’s plan is working' and same-sex marriage is a harbinger for 'disgusting' practices such as polygamy and bestiality. He also appeared to advocate for gay conversion therapy…." These are the people conservatives are stacking the courts with. Because after slow-walking President Obama's nominees, they're now crying about how many federal judgeship seats are open and that they need to appoint people as soon as possible. These are the people they were holding the seats open for. (Grokked from John)

"Farmers from Georgia to California say they have a problem: not enough workers to harvest their crops… It's estimated anywhere from half to three-quarters of farm workers are in this country illegally, and some growers say that President Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric has made a chronic worker shortage even worse." If I had the free time and money, the next politician that would say something like, "they're taking our jobs", or "there's plenty of work if you want to do it" I would take out into the field and see which one of us lasts the day.

"'If we do this, we will create millions of new jobs for our people, and bring many, many businesses back to our shores,' Trump said Tuesday, on the eve of the rollout. He described the proposed overhaul as 'massive tax cuts that our country desperately needs to thrive, to grow, to prosper.'" Well, one, nobody is holding off hiring people because of taxes. And nobody is going to hire more people because they have lower taxes. You hire people because you have a business need, and you don't hire any more than that need. Two, with lower corporate taxes, these companies aren't going to pay their working people more. The executives might make more (because profits are up), but I really don't see the average Jane on the floor making any more an hour (although wages are increasing because of the lack of skilled labor). Thirdly, most of the tax breaks go to the wealthy and the corporations (or the 1%). And then "While closing tax loopholes would offset some of the lost revenue from lowering rates, the proposed tax plan could still balloon the federal deficit." Remember kiddies, the deficit only matters when there a Democrat in the White House or in control of the legislature. While doubling the standard deduction might be nice, the major tax "break" for the middle comes from the increase dependent deduction. That's what they did with the GW Bush taxes. I don't have kids. Since 2002 until the last two years I had to pay more to the IRS than they took from my paycheck (I claim 1 deduction - the minimum - selected "married but withhold at higher single rate", and I kick in about $20 extra per pay and have done that since 2004). I bought my house in 2000 so those years were also with taking the mortgage interest deduction. And the last two years has really been a wash between getting a little back from the Feds and my higher rates for State and Local. Before 2002 I consistently had a good refund.

"'Chad is totally puzzled and baffled by President Trump's decision to slap this ban on Chadian nationals,' NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton tells Morning Edition. 'Chad is not happy, because it feels that it has done its utmost in the fight against terrorism.'" To paraphrase an old quote, it's a fool who looks for logic the in the Trump Administration's xenophobic heart.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Linkee-poo rode a tank, held a general's rank when the blitzkrieg raged and the bodies stank

"Clayton and Brittany Cook were posing for wedding photos on a park bridge in Cambridge, Ontario, when the groom noticed a boy in distress in the river… With no thought for his suit, Mr Cook jumped into the water and pulled the young boy on to the shore."

"Four assistant basketball coaches from Arizona, Auburn, Oklahoma State and Southern California were among those arrested on federal corruption charges Tuesday after they were caught taking thousands of dollars in bribes to steer NBA-destined college stars toward certain sports agents and financial advisers, authorities said." It's almost like it was a real business that was focused more on money than on scholarship.

"In a series of tweets Monday night, President Trump said the U.S. territory's old electrical grid was 'devastated.' He also appeared critical of the island's financial problems, tweeting they owed 'billions of dollars to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with.'" If only there were someone, say, like a president, who wouldn't care about how much they owed and instead was more focused on delivering relief. Also, it's not like PR hasn't been asking for help with their debt.

"The proposal the Senate is considering that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act would result in millions losing health insurance and a $133 billion reduction in the deficit by 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office's report on the Graham-Cassidy legislation… The CBO did not have enough time to estimate specifically how many people's insurance would be affected as it has done when it scored previous repeal bills."

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that he is pulling the Republican health care bill because it does not have the votes." I'll believe it when the calendar hit October 2nd. Also, this doesn't mean it's dead and buried.

"Overwhelmingly, across party lines, people feel that the current tax system is rigged in favor of the wealthy." But hey, let's give the wealthy another tax break. I'm sure this one will shake loose all those jobs they've been holding back.

"Republicans agree to raise bottom tax rate, double standard deduction." Note I'm not able to find a more "mainstream" article on this. And Willie Sutton never said he robed banks because that's where the money is. But at least Willie did know where they kept the money.

"In over 15 hours of previously unreleased taped interviews, Donald Trump reveals to radio shock jock Howard Stern exactly how he sees all women, including various celebrities, his wife, and his daughter. Proving, once again, that the president has long behaved in private life as he has in public, the newly transcribed interviews are most notable for his admissions about wife Melania and daughter Ivanka." Anyone shocked? Anyone? Bueller? "Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump apparently weren’t happy about the addition of half-sister Tiffany Trump to the family in 1993 — because of the impact it would have on their inheritance." What a wonderful family.

"In a speech to the oil industry, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke claimed that nearly a third of his staff is disloyal to President Trump, saying that workers in Washington are reluctant to relax regulations to permit increased mining for coal and drilling for natural gas and oil on public land." I'm sure it has nothing to do with turning back decades of protocol, procedures, and focus. Also, boy I hope they negotiated up to date pricing for all those mining and drilling leases they want to sign instead of the give-away prices we used to charge. We'll just ignore that the resources they want to take out are also contributing to global climate change. "'I got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag,' the news agency reported the secretary as saying." Um, dear Sec. Zinke, loyalty to the flag does not equate to loyalty to Trump. The two are not interchangeable. Plus, it's loyalty to the Constitution that's important.

Shorter Trump, "I love Africa. Some of my best friends are using your lax business and environmental regulations to exploit your people and resources to make a quick buck." Yeah. That'll go over well.

"White House press secretary Sarah Sanders suggested Monday that NFL players protesting police brutality should focus their protests on police officers on the sidelines of NFL games rather than kneeling during the national anthem." Again, for the people in the back, this is not a protest against the National Anthem or the flag, this is a protest against the racial injustice going on in our country. This is an intentional blurring of messages by the White House.

"'It was a very embarrassing part on my end,' (Alejandro Villanueva) added. 'When everyone sees an image of me standing by myself, everybody thinks the team and the Steelers are not behind me, and that is absolutely wrong. It's quite the opposite.'"

"(AG Jeff) Sessions defended Trump's controversial remarks as he criticized college speech policies during an address at the Georgetown University Law Center, saying 'freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack.'" Uh, wait a second…

Monday, September 25, 2017

Linkee-poo battle lines being drawn, nobody's right if everybody's wrong

Puerto Rico is dying, and our president and government aren't doing anything to help. Congress is in a bunch to pass the Obamacare repeal and won't be able to focus on anything else for the next week. This is the result of not doing your homework early.

"An estimated 4 percent of Americans have food allergies, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has concluded that allergies are a growing public health concern. But diagnosing allergies can be tricky, and kids can outgrow them, too." Allergies can change over your lifetime. Some people who don't have allergies as kids develop them as adults. Sometimes very late in life. Allergies aren't things you "outgrow", they are things you can either be sensitized to or de-sensitized to. It's the same as lactose intolerance. Most babies aren't, but develop the intolerance as they get older.

Bribery will get you anywhere. "According to a summary obtained by The Washington Post, Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) will propose giving Alaska and Maine more funding than initially offered. Those states are represented by Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), who have expressed concerns about the bill but have yet to say how they would vote." Just a reminder, more money up front still screws your state in the long run.

So, how did the president's "sons-of-bitches" comment work out this Sunday. Yep, drove more people to take a knee, and some of the owners on to the field in support of their players. Plus the Streisand effect. Couldn't have seen that one coming. Also, what is it with the president's obsession with "ratings." Dude, seriously, have you seen yours lately?

So, after 8 years of obstructionism from the right, now they think we just need to get together and talk and work and come to some agreement. Like how you can believe you need to build a wall, but also realize you need immigrant labor to harvest the crops you want to sell.

"Clad in a jean jacket with an American flag hoodie, Yiannopoulos was brought in through the police-guarded barricades and greeted by a crowd of about 150 people who made their way through tight security." And there's your Free Speech Rally. "'All that to say hi and leave?' he said." Milo is a narcissist, as are many of the blow-hards on the right. It's all about him.

"White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner has used both a private email account and an official email address to communicate with other government officials, his attorney says. Responding to media reports about Kushner's email habits, his lawyer said, 'All non-personal emails were forwarded to his official address.'" I'm sure all those people who howled about Sec. Clinton using a private email server, and how we couldn't trust that all "non-personal" emails were kept, will also be as adamant that criminal charges should be brought. Right? Hello? Bueller? Bueller?

The problem isn't so much that the DKRP believes our president has declared war on them through a tweet (they have believed every president has declared war on them at some point), but that they state they're within their rights to shoot down American aircraft in international airspace. That's the new wrinkle.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Linkee-poo takes the knee

So, how's the Lake Erie algal bloom (that few national news organizations have given any coverage to) going? "Health officials in Ohio are telling children, pregnant women and people with certain medical conditions not to swim in the river that flows through Toledo because of an algae outbreak." That well, huh. Well, winter is coming.

Remember people rolling their eyes about the reports of "gassy cows contributing to global warming"? "Why are we wasting money on this?" they shouted, waving their tiny, tiny fists. "Cattle pass a lot of gas… Livestock account for 14.5 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, with over half of that coming from cattle… The key is breeding less-gassy cattle, and scientists now know it's possible because of a study that won the Public Library of Science Genetics Award on Thursday." Science, bitches, it rocks. Also, you know, maybe not feeding them corn (cheap) to fatten them up ($) before butchering them might help.

"Britain is prepared to abide by European Union rules and pay into the bloc’s coffers for two years after leaving the EU in March 2019, Prime Minister Theresa May said Friday in a conciliatory speech intended to revive foundering exit talks." That doesn't sound like an actual exit.

"The former model and Manhattanite traded her stilettos for sneakers Friday to plant, harvest and wash vegetables in the White House kitchen garden with help from local children." Okay, let's stop the bashing of the first lady for both wearing spiked heels to a disaster area and for taking them off to go into the garden. No, really, that shit bothers me. The heels to touring a disaster, sure because that's just ludicrous. But that she took them off to go into the garden, that's what people do (okay, not everyone wears stilettos, but I do know a few and they wouldn't wear them to garden in). But she planted broccoli? Um, when's the first frost in DC (broccoli shouldn't be planted less than 2 and half months before a frost)?

"Pyotr Levashov, a 37-year-old known as one of the world’s most notorious hackers, was arrested earlier this year while vacationing with his family in Barcelona on a request from the U.S., where authorities want him on charges of fraud and unauthorized interception of electronic communications." One less Russian hacker.

"Many Californians’ regularly scheduled broadcasts were interrupted Thursday morning with strange emergency messages warning of extraterrestrial invasions and the beginning of Armageddon. The bizarre warnings aired on TVs in the Orange County area, affecting Cox and Spectrum cable users, according to the Orange Country Register." And the excuse of the monthly emergency test not including the end tones is laughable. Over the radio I've heard dozens of screwed up test and never once was threatened with violent times.

"The Securities and Exchange Commission waited until Wednesday to disclose a hack of its corporate filing system that occurred last year." Here a hack, there a hack, everywhere a hack hack.

Rand Paul is a no, and now so is McCain. Susan Collins is waffling. Also note, it was widely expected that McCain would vote for the bill last time, and he disappointed his GOP comrades. A vote isn't actual until it's cast and voting is closed.

"At least 21 million fewer Americans would have health-care coverage from 2020 to 2026 under the Senate Republicans’ latest plan to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare, according to an estimate by the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit think tank."

"Many older Americans who have Affordable Care Act insurance policies are going to miss a Sept. 30 deadline to enroll in Medicare, and they need more time to make the change, advocates say… A lifetime of late enrollment penalties typically await people who don't sign up for Medicare Part B, which covers doctor visits and other outpatient services, when they first become eligible at age 65. That includes people who mistakenly thought that because they had insurance through the ACA marketplaces, they didn't need to enroll in Medicare." Here's the thing, it's not like I don't think there needs to be revisions to these programs. It's just my ideas end stupid shit like this. Say, have we talked about Medicaid Recovery yet? It's the death tax that poor people pay, which the conservatives who were all up in arms about ending the estate tax because of it's unfairness completely ignored.

"The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is planning hours-long maintenance shutdowns of the federal ObamaCare exchange during the next open enrollment period, CNN reports." Because they need to do "maintenance." Like you do. Everybody knows Amazon has to go down for a few hours every weekend. It's only liberals who think this is a problem know when they had to do this regular maintenance during all the previous years. :: holds finger to ear :: Oh.

"In a new effort to tackle the deadly opioid addiction crisis in the US, pharmacy giant CVS announced on Friday it will limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain conditions. This restriction will apply to patients who are new to pain therapy… The new pharmacy program will also limit the daily dosage of pain pills based on their strength and will require use of immediate-release formulations before extended release opioids -- intended for severe, long-term pain treatment -- are dispensed." So, how's that conservative mantra "don't want to get between patients and their doctors" thing going? This is bad policy and penalizes too many people to try and stem a problem which already has other remedies. So let's be clear. One, doctors who prescribe opiates need to have special certification. Two, doctors can no longer call-in opiate prescriptions. Three, you have to see your doctor to get the prescription. That means every 7 days you need to see your doctor to get your prescription. Think your insurance will cover that many appointments? If you live a few hours from your doctor's office, think that might be an inconvenience? Will your job allow you to go to your doctor's every single week?

Trigger warning. "In Cambridge, Mass., a woman named Kristin sits down on a stone bench to talk about a common but rarely discussed injury that's starting to grow along with the opioid epidemic: rape."

"Tensions continue to mount at the University of California, Berkeley, where a conservative student group is planning to host an event it's calling 'Free Speech Week' starting on Sunday." There's a difference between free speech and giving a platform to intentionally incendiary personalities. And, yes, these people have the right to free speech. You don't see the government shutting them down and putting them in jail. And in an open marketplace, or a place of public accommodation, sure they have the right to express their (non-violent) opinions. So it depends on how you want to categorize Berkley (I would go with "government"), and if the organization putting this on is following all the rules (which it appears they aren't, and didn't the earlier time either). However stating that they have a right to speak doesn't negate my right to shout the fuckers down (of course then we get into Berkley's/venue's rules for acceptable behavior).

"According to new reports in Vanity Fair and Mediaite, after student organizers failed to file the proper paperwork to reserve university buildings, and after Yiannopolous apparently neglected to notify some of the scheduled speakers that the event was even happening, the affair has been reduced to a Saturday press conference in San Francisco." Yep, poor planning does them in again.

Hey, remember when I said that if SCOTUS upheld the travel ban that it was pretty certain that it would 1) be longer than 6 months and 2) be expanded? Whelp, since Trump is confident he'll win he isn't waiting to expand the restrictions.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Linkee-poo joins the news dump Friday

Just going to say it, gods I wish we could get to a place where I have more writing, social, and science links than political links.

"A ransomware attack sweeping the globe right now is launching about 8,000 different versions of the virus script at Barracuda's customers, Eugene Weiss, lead platform architect at Barracuda, told Axios, and it's hitting at a steady rate of about 2 million attacks per hour." Remember when we thought spammers were the scum of the internet? (Grokked from Dan)

"Fossilized dinosaur feces are challenging some basic assumptions about dinosaur eating habits… Hadrosaurs… are among the most common herbivores of the Cretaceous period. But new research suggests that actually, these animals also chowed down on crustaceans. The prehistoric snacking was likely intentional and linked to mating behaviors." And you thought coprolite was just one of those funny things. Also about how science changes.

"NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has observed a planet outside our solar system that looks as black as fresh asphalt because it eats light rather than reflecting it back into space. This light-eating prowess is due to the planet’s unique capability to trap at least 94 percent of the visible starlight falling into its atmosphere." Well, it doesn't "eat" light (such as a black hole does), it's just the day side of the planet is so hot there's no clouds to reflect light, and whatever the hot Jupiter is made of doesn't reflect much light. (Grokked from Dan)

"While they pondered their predicament (child in need of life saving surgery which required them to travel to another hospital, going pass a border patrol stopping point) in a Harlingen, Texas, hospital, a Border Patrol agent showed up in the waiting room — Oscar Sanchez suspects a nurse turned them in — and said he could arrange for officers to escort the parents through the checkpoint to Corpus. But the agent said when they arrived, they would be arrested and put into deportation proceedings. The couple agreed." Your child's life or safety, that was the choice. This is being done in our name all to satisfy the racist agenda of the alt-right.

"For nearly two weeks, the company’s official Twitter account has been directing users to a fake lookalike website, the sole purpose of which is to expose Equifax’s reckless response to the breach." Tell me again how these companies don't require heavy regulation and oversight (no, really, Congress was about to pass new laws exempting credit bureaus form some regulations and capping liability). These companies' business is data. And they have no clue as to how to protect it. But then, you aren't their customer, you're the product. (Grokked from Dan)

"But the U.S. Education Department has just called a halt to the enforcement collaboration between itself and CFPB. This move leaves 44 million student loan borrowers, owing $1.4 trillion in debt, with potentially less, or at least less-coordinated, oversight of their rights." Ah that Trump administration, always looking out for the little guy.

"As part of a project that looks at gun violence in Chicago, WBEZ examined who is getting fatally shot and the impact it has on the survivors."

"Police in Oklahoma City on Tuesday night fatally shot a deaf man who they say was advancing toward them with a metal pipe as witnesses yelled that the man was deaf and could not hear them… 'In those situations, very volatile situations, when you have a weapon out, you can get what they call tunnel vision or you can really lock into just the person that has the weapon that'd be the threat against you,' (Capt. Bo Mathews, the police department's public information officer) told reporters." You literally have training so that doesn't happen. Getting tunnel vision leads directly to a police officers' deaths. When you are training with a firearm for situations where you are shooting at live targets you are trained to keep your eyes and ears open.

And in other news, Flint, Michigan, still doesn't have clean water. "The fertility rate in Flint, Mich., dropped precipitously after the city decided to switch to lead-poisoned Flint River water in 2014, according to a new working paper."

"President Donald Trump’s commission to look into his claims of illegal voting in the 2016 election may have to start pretty close to home… Jeffrey Gerrish, President Donald Trump’s pick for deputy U.S. trade representative, may have voted illegally in the 2016 election, the New York Times and Washington Post reported on Wednesday." How do we know there was fraud? Because we did it!

"The inspector general's office at the Department of Health and Human Services is reviewing requests to investigate the private jet travel of the agency's chief, Tom Price, who reportedly chartered five flights last week, drawing widespread criticism from congressional Democrats." Remember when Republicans were all up in arms over how much the previous president spent on travel? You know, like how Sec. Price did when he was in Congress.

"'You know, I could maybe give you 10 reasons why this bill shouldn’t be considered,' (Sen. Chuck) Grassley told Iowa reporters on a call, according to the Des Moines Register. 'But Republicans campaigns on this so often that you have a responsibility to carry out what you said in the campaign.'" Or, "we promised we'd fuck you over, so we're gonna fuck you over." So now you know, this is about losing face (and campaign donations). What it does to your lives and the healthcare market doesn't even come into play.

"Other Republican senators, meanwhile, fell back on political explanations for a bill that experts warn could result in millions losing their insurance. 'If we do nothing, it has a tremendous impact on the 2018 elections,' said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS). 'And whether or not Republicans still maintain control and we have the gavel.'" That's the real reason, the fear that even with their massive gerrymandered advantage that they would lose. Everything else is magical thinking (and bribery by giving the smaller states, which have the same percentage of representation in the Senate, more money). (Grokked from John)

Pork alert. "The language could mean 'potentially hundreds of millions' of extra dollars for Wisconsin, said April Grady, a health care consultant. She and other analysts said they were not aware of other states that would benefit from the provision… Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is one of the co-sponsors of the health care overhaul that Republican leaders hope to push through the Senate next week." Also note that Sen. Johnson is defending this extra money for the "the innovative reforms of Wisconsin." Say, aren't those "innovative reforms" at the state level supposed to save us money?

So, what happens when you cut government spending because you also promised the voters you would do that as well? "Cleanups at some U.S. hazardous waste sites have stopped or slowed down because the Environmental Protection Agency does not manage its Superfund staff effectively to match its workload, an internal government watchdog said Tuesday." And then there's the people you hire. "President Donald Trump’s nominee to oversee chemical safety at the Environmental Protection Agency has for years accepted payments for criticizing studies that raised concerns about the safety of his clients’ products, according to a review of financial records and his published work by The Associated Press."

"An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies." You know that feeling when your face hurts after forcing a smile for too long? That's how my shocked face feels right now. (Grokked from Dan)

"A real estate company dropped its ties to a state lawmaker Tuesday night after she shared an image on Facebook depicting protesters being hit by a vehicle under the caption, 'All Lives Splatter.'" Not just any politician, Lynne Hix-DiSanto is the majority whip in the South Dakota legislature. Guess which party is in charge of the legislature. No, go on, guess. Well it's no fun unless you guess. (Grokked from John)

"While it’s been reported that CNN and Fox News won’t hire former White House press secretary Sean Spicer as a paid contributor, NBC News confirmed Tuesday that the other three of the big five — ABC, NBC and CBS — won’t be offering Spicer a contract either… And it’s all because of a 'lack of credibility,' several network insiders told NBC." Gee, ya think? On the other hand, when has that stopped the networks from hiring other Trump wonks? So my guess is the real reason is how crappily Spicer treated the reporters and the news industry while he thought he had power and than many of the reporters told their bosses there was no way they'd work with him.

Although there's now rumors that Sean Spicer kept copious notes of meetings, directions, and daily happenings since joining the Trump campaign and then as communications director. I think I smell a subpoena.

"President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager (Corey Lewandowski) said Tuesday that he hoped any of Trump’s campaign staff who may be found to have improperly influenced the 2016 election 'go to jail for the rest of their lives.'" In my head, the camera then swings to the cop standing behind him who is twirling a pair of handcuffs around one finger.

"President Donald Trump is considering a further reduction in the number of refugees allowed into the United States as the administration works to re-shape American immigration policy, officials say." Because of course he is. This is the slow walking back scenario. If his travel ban is upheld by SCOTUS, do you really think that 1) it'll only be 3 months and 2) he won't expand it to other countries? The president is not as inscrutable as he likes to think he is. Just think, "If I were a racist, misogynist, xenophobic asshole, what would I do?" More than likely that's you're answer.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Linkee-poo, when the night has come and the land is dark and the moon is the only light we'll see

I say ye, Stanislav Petrov. A person who embodied the phrase "cooler heads at the switch." Also note, the thing that tipped him off was his system had only detected 5 missile launches. There is no such thing as a "limited exchange." All scenarios lead to the imperative to launch everything at once. That's the only way to "win". Note, "win" in this case is an esoteric concept as the world would be dead within a few months. There is no winnable nuclear war.

"The attorneys general of 41 U.S. states said Tuesday that they're banding together to investigate the makers and distributors of powerful opioid painkillers that have, over the past decade, led to a spike in opiate addictions and overdose deaths."

"But not all demographics were equally inspired to go to the polls. Turnout was up among white, Hispanic and Asian students, but down among black students." While they mostly talk about group motivation, it's almost like there is some other factor at play here.

"Rigid gender stereotypes tied to increased depression, violence and suicide in children." Look, I'm serious. This is my shocked face.

Just going to drop this here, "Certain species of ducks' penises become longer when the birds are fighting with other males to catch a female's eye."

"It turns out (Jimmy) Kimmel understands the (healthcare) bill's impact better than its authors do." We live in a world where comedian talk show hosts are better policy experts than experienced politicians.

"Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost." Because what would the truth have anything to do with conservative politics and talking points. These are people who would argue, if they saw political advantage in it, that the Sun rises in the West. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Son of a bitch, Ricky didn't lose that number. I really can't read this story of how Rick Santorum is leading the current charge to repeal Obamacare as the grand "fuck you" of his failed political career.

In depth journalism into the world of the alt-right. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Linkee-poo, willow weeping in the water waving to the river daughters, swaying in the ripples and the reeds

Listening to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick's The Vietnam War on PBS. When I was growing up one of the most often things I heard about the war (until I took it on myself to learn more about it) was how the News and Hippies lost us the war. The most often phrase I hear from the documentary is the line about how "the American people were not to know" about our expansion, our increase in troop levels, our wanton destruction. Much of that came out in the Pentagon Papers. Yeah, I think that had a big effect.

"A last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace ObamaCare is gaining steam, suggesting lawmakers could face another vote on ending the former president’s signature law later this month." Once more unto the breach, dear friends. Although I find it interesting the recurring line that the GOP only has until the end of this month to pass this under reconciliation (only needing 50 votes). IIRC, it's they can only pass a bill regarding health insurance by reconciliation until the start of the new fiscal year as they only get one concept through by reconciliation per fiscal year. I'm not a parliamentarian (although I play one on the internets), but I'm pretty sure that if they wanted to they could chose healthcare again as their one bill per fiscal year (for fiscal 2018). I believe this is being set up as a "well we tried" way of losing (why can't we keep trying? because the rules don't allow us to, quick, run and gag the parliamentarian).

"(GOP) optimism, however, seemed to spread in a closed-door meeting Thursday in which members and aides say that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made it clear that he would bring the bill to the floor if Cassidy and Graham delivered the votes to pass it. There was a recognition that the GOP didn't have any choice but to try again to finally deliver on their seven-year campaign promise."

You might have seen a Guardian article about how the Koch network of donors is holding money back from the GOP unless they pass Repeal and Replace. That article is 3 months old. Still true, but not a new wrinkle.

Looking for a bluetooth signal while pumping your gas may help you spot an inline credit card skimmer. (Grokked from Jeff Beeler)

"A study this month in the International Journal of Obesity found that a specific diet's success may come down to the bacteria mix in one's gut, as observed in stool samples." I have fat microbes.

"Around the country, facilities have been caught unprepared for far more mundane emergencies than the hurricanes that struck Florida and Houston, according to an examination of federal inspection records. And these nursing homes rarely face severe reprimands, even when inspectors identify repeated lapses."

"Researchers caught the bacteria Mycoplasma hyorhinis hiding out among cancer cells, thwarting chemotherapy drugs intended to treat the tumors they reside in." Son of a bitch. (Grokked from Dan)

"The biologists had an idea of what was going on: The increased light was making the algae grow faster, but they ended up containing fewer of the nutrients the zooplankton needed to thrive. By speeding up their growth, the researchers had essentially turned the algae into junk food. The zooplankton had plenty to eat, but their food was less nutritious, and so they were starving." Same thing when they're exposed to more CO2 in the atmosphere. Also, know why chicken doesn't taste like chicken anymore? Because that bird on your plate isn't even half a year old (more than likely it's less than 3 months old). (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

One word, plastics. "And lately, the shellfish biologist is making other unappetizing comments to her dinner party guests — about plastics in those shellfish." Plastic, it's what's for dinner.

It's the end of the world as we know it. Another whackaloon has surfaced saying September 23 is the beginning of the end. But this time even the evangelical world is scoffing. Which makes me wonder since it will be at a time that is hidden, the "experts" wouldn't know when it was. So maybe he's on to something?

People giving advice on if a woman should take her husband's Hispanic-sounding surname.

Racists gonna racist. "'My two currently appointed attorneys, Alexandra Yates and Sapna Mirchandani, are Jewish and Indian respectively,' (Dylann) Roof wrote in a letter filed Monday with the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 'It is therefore quite literally impossible that they and I could have the same interests relating to my case.'"

"We can neither confirm nor deny." Project Azorian, the Glomar Explorer, Howard Hughes, the CIA, and Russia.

"Russian media reported Tuesday that three people were wounded at major Russian military exercises when a helicopter accidentally fired a rocket at a crowd of invited spectators." Oopsie.

"President Donald Trump’s inaugural committee raised an unprecedented $107 million… the committee pledged to give leftover funds to charity. Nearly eight months later, the group has helped pay for redecorating at the White House and the vice president’s residence in Washington… But nothing has yet gone to charity." Yeah, my face is going to get suck in "shocked face" mode for a while. Same as it ever was. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"If there is one defining characteristic of the sinfulness of the Trump administration, it’s the daily and calamitous shredding of America’s unwritten political and institutional norms." Yep. And unfortunately, at least for me, that's beginning to feel "normal." And there is, on a daily basis, so much of it that to counteract the actions or at the very least point them all out is a frustrating and futile exercise. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Donald Trump Jr. has reportedly given up his protection from the U.S. Secret Service because of privacy concerns." You know, you had a good out with, "I don't want to burden the tax payers…" and you blew it. Plus, what privacy concerns. The Secret Service will watch their charges break the law (within limits, supposedly) and not interfere because that's not their charge (underage drinking, philandering, and obstruction of justice just to name a few we know of). (Grokked from Fran Wilde)

"A group of angry young immigrants chanting 'all of us or none of us' shut down a news conference by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi who was on her home turf in San Francisco on Monday to try to drum up support for legislation that would allow immigrants illegally brought to this country by their parents to stay in the U.S."

So, that went well. Our president's speech to the UN, where he actually went for the "believe me." Note, that's his bluffing tell.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Linkee-poo same trailer, different park

Ship of fools. Jim Wright on the current tribulations and why Democracy is hard. You've gotta want it.

"After eight months of living in isolation on a remote Hawaii volcano, six NASA-backed research subjects will emerge from their Mars-like habitat on Sunday and return to civilization." Um, there's some things that have happened… Okay, yes, they got everything, but it was delayed by 20 minutes (electronic transit time to Mars). Lucky stiffs.

So after all the news about the industrial pollution exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey (note, they were still polluting before Harvey, it's just it was worse in the aftermath), "The EPA will not renew the lease of its lab in Houston, potentially dealing a severe blow to the agency’s role in monitoring the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the area when the current lease expires in 2020." Yeah, that's a smart move. If you're an industrial polluter that doesn't want to be caught, that is. But, you know, they're going to find other lab space. Supposedly.

An NPR "talk with William Evanina, head of U.S. counterintelligence." I have many thinky thoughts about this. But from the interview, while it was meant to reassure us, it makes me worry to hear that cointel appears to be on a mostly defensive footing. That is the worst stance cointel can take. It is most effective when it's on the offensive. Case in point the response to the Facebook ad buy from Russia. Okay, got caught with our pants down, but now it sounds like he's saying, "It'll come again. We've hopefully have things in place to prevent what happened last year from happening again, but we can't prepare for what they may do next." Yes. Yes we can. That's the whole point. But it requires having adults in charge who can make the tough decisions that may make like harder for our intelligence operations and government, but by doing so would cut the knees out of any disinformation campaign no matter how it's played. So you may say, "Steve, how do you do that?" Well folks, it's simple. Have strong, robust, trusted news reporting. That means passing legislation requiring the news to tell "the truth" (most countries have these laws, and the US used to, until Reagan pushed through legislation repealing them). You build trust in "official" news organizations by making sure reporters know their jobs and do them well (and aren't cut off by the news companies, also probably not letting a lot of the mergers of the 2000's and early teens happen), you instill an aversion to conspiracy theory and make sure everyone's BS meters are working. Doing that you create an environment where such attacks, no matter how they're attempted, will fail. But then at least one political party would be put at a disadvantage. So, yeah, I don't think that'll happen.

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday acknowledged that he did initially request a government plane to travel to his honeymoon in Europe, but he said he only did so because he needed access to secure communications while abroad." Uh, yeah, Bob. Just like you needed to "see" the gold in Ft. Knox on the same day and time as the solar eclipse. And you know, as a cabinet level secretary, sure you'll probably have to see some "secret" documents. But you were going to be traveling around Ireland (IIRC). Government jets aren't like RVs that you can tow with you.

Warning, dark humor ahead. "The Dallas City Council voted… to remove the statue but was met with a series of delays, including a brief court stay obtained by a pro-Confederacy group and a collision between a semitrailer and a crane assigned to remove the statue." The crew removing the statue had a police escort and tactical officers with automatic rifles to provide security. Like you do. The driver of the truck that hit the crane originally assigned to lift the statue died. So you could say he died for "The Cause."

"The Trump administration is backing legislation that would suspend U.S. financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority until it ends what critics say is a long-standing practice of rewarding Palestinians who kill Americans and Israelis." Yeah, that won't bite us in the ass at all.

"Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has unveiled an unusual strategy to help ease the chronic food shortage faced by many of his nation's 30 million people — something he calls Plan Conejo, or 'Plan Rabbit.'" Oh don't be shocked. You do know what guinea pigs were originally bred for, right? But Venezuela has some of the same cultural precepts that we do, so it's going to be a tough sell.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Linkee-poo, didn't you love the things that they stood for? Didn't they try to find some good for you and me?

The ongoing debate about paper vs screens in education. Paper is superior. They kinda waffle on the question of retention and processing information because "they're not sure how to test for it." Let me be clear, paper is superior. Handwriting notes activates 5 areas of the brain (language centers and body memory centers) whereas typing activates only 3. The physical act of writing is fundamentally different than typing (even the same information). Studies consistently show information read on paper has 3-5x the retention and at least twice as much comprehension as the same information read on a screen (while the article waffles, again this is because how your brain processes information on paper, which has a physical presence/address in the universe whereas the screen has 1 address, the screen). This isn't a "older people don't get it" issue. This is how we are wired as humans. That may change, but it won't be one generation, it'll take at least 4 generations (this is based on basic dynamic physiology of humans, not any rigorous study), of which the second generation is just being born.

A video love letter to Cassini highlighting the mission, the discoveries, and the eventual end.

"Take a movement break every 30 minutes, say experts. No matter how much you exercise, sitting for excessively long periods of time is a risk factor for early death, a new study published Monday in Annals of Internal Medicine found." The problem is their guidelines. "'For every 30 consecutive minutes of sitting, stand up and move/walk for five minutes at brisk pace to reduce the health risks from sitting,'" Yeah, who works in an office that you can do that? I did once, although I would probably get in trouble for being absent from my desk for 1/6th of the day, and I doubt I could find excuse enough to justify it (although note, for the PRN/Hospital job I can achieve that without even paying attention to it, one of the reasons I like that job). However, the research doesn't really link the results of being sedentary to death, just that there's a relationship. "Asked if, say, a standing desk might be helpful for those who work desk jobs, Diaz said 'there is limited evidence to suggest that standing is a healthier alternative to sitting.'" Bugger (full disclosure, at the day job I have a convertible desk now, although I've been too tired of late to really utilize it).

"But climate change is threatening both pollinators and the areas where coffee can grow… The researchers projected that by 2050, climate change could reduce the amount of ground usable to grow coffee in Latin America by up to 88 percent." Well that should get some people's attention. I'm old enough to remember the coffee price shocks of the 80s (price shocks which are now laughable in the face of $5-$10 cups of coffee).

"5 dead, others evacuated at Hollywood nursing home without power after Irma." Few people remember that New Orleans didn't flood as Katrina hit the coast, but after the storm passed on up the Mississippi water shed. Everything in the Southern Midwest drains into the Mississippi. It's often the after effects of these storms that kill the most (including disease).

"Over the objections of four liberal justices, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday night that Texas does not immediately have to redraw electoral districts that a lower court found diminished the influence of minority voters." Note, they didn't rule the 2010 redistricting constitutional, they just said that Texas didn't have to redraw the districts until the case is decided. But this does mean that more than likely, even if SCOTUS finds Texas in violation, there won't be time to redraw the districts before the 2018 midterms and state wide elections. "The decision was yet another indication of the influence of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, who joined the court in April. Without a full complement of five conservative justices, the court likely would have tied 4 to 4, and Texas’s request for a stay would have failed." Yes, that.

Martin Shkreli finds out being a dick has consequences.

Florida man travels to NC. "North Carolina's State Bureau of Investigation says a man who was evacuating Florida due to Hurricane Irma was shot and killed at a hospital."

"A student at a high school in rural Washington state opened fire outside a biology classroom on Wednesday, killing another student and wounding three others before being caught." Okay, so now that we don't have a black, socialist president, can we call about sensible gun control.

"The air was heavy with the smell of gasoline and other harder-to-place odors. The neighborhood (flooded by Harvey) is ringed by industrial sites, the biggest of which is the Valero oil refinery, separated by fences from backyards and playgrounds." We don't need no stinking regulations, industry stinks enough on its own. Note it's not new to have polluted air in these areas, it's just "worse" than "normal".

"We’re all accustomed to the busywork of managing personal finances. You check your 401(k) retirement account, making sure your portfolio is carefully balanced. You scan your bank and credit card statements from time to time to verify the charges. These are things responsible people do… But there’s a good chance you’ve spent time recently on a chore you didn’t sign up for: finding out if hackers possibly stole information about you from Equifax Inc…"

"Following a rash of retirements, House Republican leaders are scrambling to get something done legislatively to convince other frustrated members not to toss in the towel in a tough political environment." I guess always threatening your members with challenges from the right isn't a winning proposition in the long term.

Donald Trump's supporters aren't racists. Uh, yeah. Yeah they are. Given the howling over a reported deal on DACA, yeah, they are. Oh, and for the asshole Steve King, apparently these kids aren't asking "properly." And then there's Trump's other thing. "President Donald Trump on Thursday said he was not interested for 'amnesty' for undocumented immigrants protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, but he wants to let them 'stay' in the United States." And he's right, it's not "amnesty", but he's wrong because his side of the aisle keeps calling it "amnesty." You can't have the cake and eat it too. But here I'll state, Trump doesn't give a shit about the DACA kids, but he knows just ordering ICE to round them up and ship them out is a losing proposition. So he'll be able to blame this on Congress. "Oh, I wanted them to stay, but Congress couldn't get their shit together so we have to follow the law and kick them out." And then he'll wink to the Nazis to let them know that was the plan all along. And now that Trump is walking back The Wall, he's lost Ann Coulter for good. You know, until he deports all those "Mexicans", and then they'll be straight.

The House gets its homework done early. So now the spending bill is off to the Senate. Where it'll be changed. They'll have to have a conference committee and then have that report/marked up legislation passed by the House and Senate, and then have the President sign it, and then it'll be an actual appropriations bill. Note, this is why the House typically has to pass their first version before the August recess (so, yeah, they're still late, they're just not as late as usual).

"An influential industry panel plans to vote Thursday on recommendations that the Federal Aviation Administration eliminate or scale back dozens of safety rules, including one on airline pilot qualifications." I don't see anything that could go wrong.

"Proposed United States budget cuts could put in jeopardy great progress in reducing global poverty and disease and lead to 5 million more deaths from AIDS alone, the philanthropist Bill Gates warned on Wednesday." The money we spend on these programs is minuscule compared to the benefit we gain. And then, "Melinda Gates is calling on world leaders to step up global aid funding, saying 'a loss of U.S. leadership' is resulting in 'confusion and chaos' in some of the most vulnerable corners of the planet."

"A fact-finding hearing by President Trump's commission looking into voter fraud exposed self-inflicted rifts among its members during the panel's second meeting Tuesday in Manchester, N.H." That's putting it mildly. Let's see, it exposed Kris Kobach, the Secretary of State in Kansas (which means he's in charge of the elections) as an ignoramus when it comes to election law. "Kobach acknowledged that the issue (of valid ID and residency laws) was 'complicated' and said more research needed to be done." Maybe you should have done the research before you published the article, Kris. Just an idea. But "(people) worry that the 12-member panel is stacked with members who believe that voter fraud is extensive and will use its conclusions to push for more restrictive voter laws… Kobach and the commission's chairman, Vice President Pence, have denied this, saying they have no preconceived ideas and will follow the facts where they lead… Still, several members of the commission — including Kobach — have argued that voter fraud is a serious problem that undermines public confidence." You might need a c-collar (used in accidents to stabilize the neck) from that whiplash.

"That makes six turnovers from Republican to Democrat in contested state House and Senate races so far in 2017 -- and 26 out of 35 races (at the state legislative and congressional level) in which the Democratic nominee has overperformed Hillary Clinton's showing last November. (Worth noting: Republicans have yet to flip a Democratic-controlled seat so far this year.)" Now if the Democratic Party can actually leverage that into lasting successes, that would be great. But wait, we're too busy trying to tell Hillary to be quiet and thinking Bernie farts rainbows.

"The meeting (with Sen. Tim Scott) comes as Trump has struggled with his relationship with African-American lawmakers on Capitol Hill and the constituents they represent. In June, the Congressional Black Caucus declined a second meeting with Trump, after concluding that the concerns it had expressed during an initial meeting with the new president 'fell on deaf ears.'"

"House Speaker Paul Ryan backed off months of promises that the Republicans’ tax plan won’t add to the nation’s ballooning deficit, declaring Wednesday in an AP Newsmaker interview that the most important goal of an overhaul is economic growth." Man, I'm going to have to develop my Shocked Resting Face, cause this is getting tiring. So get prepared to up the national debt, 'cause I've been through the previous tax overhaul and about 6 tax cuts, none of which have increased economic activity.

Hillary Clinton on her new memoir.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Linkee-poo is very, very late

Jerry Pournelle was the first big name author I ever met in real life (that I can remember), years before I decided to write SF/F. He stopped by a booth I was manning at a convention. Friend I was with explained to me who he was once he left.

"Kitchen sponges are full of bacteria…" blah blah blah talk to the hand. Why, yes, Virginia, your sponge (and TV remove, and cell phone, and…) are covered with bacteria. So are you. And your sponge may have an incredibly dense population of bacteria (it is after all a moist, porous surface and typically isn't kept in sunlight). But the vast majority of bacteria aren't pathogens.

"On Sept. 15, 2017, the spacecraft will make its final approach to the giant planet Saturn. But this encounter will be like no other. This time, Cassini will dive into the planet's atmosphere, sending science data for as long as its small thrusters can keep the spacecraft's antenna pointed at Earth. Soon after, Cassini will burn up and disintegrate like a meteor."

"Sen. Ted Cruz said Tuesday that a staff member of his was responsible for 'liking' a pornographic Twitter post with the Texas lawmaker's account, chalking up the social media snafu to a 'mistake.'" Well, yes, a "mistake" is probably what it was.

"Hundreds of thousands of (Rohingya) continued to stream via land and rickety boats into Bangladesh this week, arriving exhausted, dehydrated and recounting tales of nightmarish horrors at the hands of the Burmese military, including friends and neighbors shot dead and homes torched before their eyes." Ethnic cleansing. And just an example of how religion, any religion, can be used to justify the most horrific of actions. Also an example of why you want the military to be under civilian control (which is not the case in most of the world). Suu Kyi’s hands are tied, even if she wished to intervene (of which it's not entirely clear she would).

"Mexico will no longer send the emergency aid offered to Texas after Hurricane Harvey, to focus on those affected by a deadly earthquake and Hurricane Katia that struck the eastern state of Veracruz last week, the Mexican Foreign Ministry said Monday." Not that Trump accepted the offered aid, or even recognized it's offer, or said anything about the earthquake. Note, we haven't offered to help Mexico recover from it's disaster.

"Virtually any Android, Linux, or Windows device that hasn't been recently patched and has Bluetooth turned on can be compromised by an attacking device within 32 feet. It doesn't require device users to click on any links, connect to a rogue Bluetooth device, or take any other action, short of leaving Bluetooth on. The exploit process is generally very fast, requiring no more than 10 seconds to complete, and it works even when the targeted device is already connected to another Bluetooth-enabled device." Also affects iOS devices. Bluetooth, for the most part, is just an open port on your machines. (Grokked from John)

"Readers' questions this month center around what insurance companies need to tell customers about their benefits and when. For example, does my insurer have to give advance notice if it changes my benefits?" Yeah, the health insurance industry doesn't need any regulation or an enema. Single. Payer. Now.

"Streets in San Diego will be power-washed every other week and hand-washing stations are being installed where homeless people congregate under a plan to combat a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A, according to the mayor's office." I predict little chance of success.

"Cancer drugs cost far less to develop than industry-backed research asserts, an analysis published Monday asserts. Research and development costs are a major reason that drug companies justify high prices, so this dispute has a direct bearing on the cost of medical care." Let the battle of studies begin. They say this, PHARMA says that, PHARMA doesn't share their data so there's no real way to know, except… "In an invited commentary that accompanies the JAMA Internal Medicine analysis, Merrill Goozner, editor emeritus of the magazine Modern Healthcare, notes that 'the industry consistently generates the highest profit margins among all U.S. industries.'" And it does that at all stages of the supply chain (manufacturing, wholesale, benefit managers, resellers, and your local pharmacy).

From NPR, a chapter excerpt from "Big Chicken: The Incredible Story of How Antibiotics Created Modern Agriculture and Changed the Way the World Eats" that shows how the use of antibiotics in agriculture can lead to human diseases, antibiotic resistance and increase allergic reactions. And a demonstration of how the worries about agricultural use of antibiotics started long ago.

Middle-class incomes were "up" last year. "'I’ll be middle class again if I keep my spending to bare bones,' West said." That's not how it works. Of course it depends on your definition of middle-class. Also I'll not that the small increase is no where near the increases the top 10% have seen.

Sometimes (well, many times) the enemy of my enemy is still also my enemy. Also see earlier comment about how sometimes people will abandon their kindred for power.

"Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Tuesday said that President Trump's goal of lowering the corporate tax rate to 15 percent may not be achievable." This is my shocked face. But by gum they're going to make a try at it. And if you read between the lines it's quite obvious that the general individual tax payer is going to get screwed in this deal.

"Kobach claimed that 'now there's proof' of voter fraud in last year's election, enough to have likely changed the outcome of a key Senate race. He cited a report that more than 5,000 New Hampshire voters used out-of-state drivers' licences (SIC) as identification and have yet to update those licenses, even though new residents are required to do so within 60 days of moving to the state." Kris Kobach is full of shit. "What Kobach didn't say in the Breitbart column is that there are other possible explanations for all the out-of-state voter IDs. The most likely is that many were used by out-of-state college students, who are still eligible to vote."

Oh, and for the record, Steve Bannon is also full of shit. You know, while there shouldn't be any religious test for government service, I'm coming to the conclusion that one should be able to pass a basic history and government test before being allowed to run for office (or serve at certain levels).

"Trump voters are very complex. They are conservatives who believe big government is getting out of hand. They want lower taxes for the middle class. They believe in comprehensive immigration reform. They want an economic policy that reflects the average… Nah, I’m just bullshitting. They just don’t like black people." Man, my shocked face is getting a workout these days. "The study did not include data about black Trump supporters because Omarosa and Ben Carson were kinda busy." Oh, snap! (Grokked from Ken McConnell)

Friday, September 8, 2017

Linkee-poo came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form

So, after claiming the storm was being over hyped to, I don't know, sell all the bottled water or something, Rush Limbaugh is bugging out of Florida. Not because of the storm, but something something legal issues something. So all you people who believed his rantings about the storm (and really, about almost everything) I have one word. Suckers.

Tobias Buckell is here to help those of you wanting to help with the devastation already caused by Irma.

The storms aren't only here on Earth.

"About half of medications for chronic disease aren't taken as directed, according to a review published in 2012 in Annals of Internal Medicine. The problem has been estimated to result in increased hospitalizations, more premature deaths and a tab of between $100 billion and $289 billion a year." And cost isn't the first reason. "Bender says two areas have shown some promise. One is training health care providers to engage with and talk with patients about their medications." Yes very much this. Most people don't understand medications, what theraputic blood-levels means, that many drugs aren't a "take a pill and feel sunshine" response. I know it's a pain, but take the gorram drugs, people.

"Worried you may be affected by Equifax's massive data breach? The credit bureau has set up a site, equifaxsecurity2017.com, that allows you to check whether your personal information was exposed. But regulators are becoming concerned that the site could pose risks to consumers… The website's terms of service potentially restricts your legal rights."

"Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ignited a backlash after announcing plans to revamp an Obama-era guidance for colleges and universities on how to handle sexual assaults on campuses to better protect students who are accused." Hey, I've got an idea, every report of sexual assault on campus should be immediately reported to the local police department and not by the campus police.

"Mr. Redick turned out to be a remarkably elusive character. No Melvin Redick appears in Pennsylvania records, and his photos seem to be borrowed from an unsuspecting Brazilian. But this fictional concoction has earned a small spot in history: The Redick posts that morning were among the first public signs of an unprecedented foreign intervention in American democracy." So, not only fake news, but promoted by fake people. Yes, friends, we are in the midst of information warfare.

"The Billy Bush Saturday to me is a litmus test." Steve Bannon on the leaked Access Hollywood tape and the campaigns response.

Editors note: apparently today I'm boring in Russia. Sigh. They're so fickle.