It's four o'clock in the morning
Damn it listen to me good
I'm sleeping with myself tonight
Saved in time, thank God my music's still alive

Friday, January 18, 2019

Linkee-poo ConFriday

Not much as I try to get into the con swing. Conventions for me are either big hits where I get energized and psyched up, or they suck the life out of me and make me wonder just WTF I'm doing (although I've wondered if it's because being at a Con I get out of my routine and sometimes forget to take all my pills, I haven't wanted to test that theory, though). Confusion has done both for me, although it is 80% the first one. I'm not sure how I'm feeling about this one yet. But being at the con, I don't have much time to read the news and write. So expect mostly a quiet time until Monday (now watch the world blow up during Friday's news cycle and/or me posting like crazy).

John Bogle, and so it goes. "When Mr. Bogle, the Vanguard founder who popularized the low-cost index mutual fund and helped put billions more dollars in the pockets of millions of people, died on Wednesday at the age of 89, he inspired an outpouring of memories." Bogle is why when asked (I am not a financial analyst or a finance adviser, please consult one of them for your investment options) about 401(k) (or it's siblings) investments I will reply that you should pick the broadest index fund with the lowest fees in the group of funds you have available (and if they ever make a Dow Jones Industrials Index fund, I'll put my money there too). In the long run few funds do better than the market, and if you pay high fees (more than 1%) you're spending a hellalotta money to someone who isn't taking the same risks. Actually, those fees add up quickly and subtract a lot from your compound interest earnings. Unfortunately for my one job I don't have access to funds with lower than 1%, but the funds I am in are the broadest index fund and it has the lowest fee rate of them all (1.2% IIRC). At the night job it's a Vanguard fund with a 0.03% fee.

Mary Robinette Kowal is running to be president of SFWA. When I started writing seriously, joining SFWA was one of those goals that I looked forward to. Then there were a few years that saw that star dim a little and I wasn't so sure that SFWA was relevant and that membership would be nice, but wasn't really a goal. I am writing a little these days, not nearly as often or as much as I would like to (probably more about that later in the year), and while SFWA is no longer that milestone in my head, the organization has enjoyed such good leadership the past 8 years that joining would again be a matter of pride. And I think Mary would make the organization even better. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Why are there "sanctuary cities"? Because ICE is often wrong. "But instead of releasing him, the Kent County jail turned him over to the custody of ICE. The county did that based on a request from ICE, which claimed Ramos-Gomez was in the country illegally." Time to end ICE.

"The report is the first official U.S. government acknowledgment that the Trump administration was using family separation as a measure to deter illegal immigration nearly a year before it became official DHS policy. NPR and other media were reporting the increase of family separations at the border in early 2018." And how did that "deterrent" work out for us? Not so well it appears.

"'Go back to Puerto Rico!' the Missouri congressman shouted, punctuating a stream of Republican whooping and hollering at the Democratic majority for initially rejecting their request to redo a vote on a continuing resolution to reopen shuttered agencies through Feb. 28." But it totally wasn't racist. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

"Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to U.S. Congress about their plan to develop a Trump Tower Moscow, Buzzfeed News reports tonight citing two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter." Rhut rho. As my old pinned tweet used to say, "How many coincidences and unforced errors lead to a constitutional crisis. Asking for a worried country." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Linkee-poo early Thursday

So we're off to Detroit for Confusion. Last week I was thinking we might escape having this convention on the coldest weekend of the year. But now we're going right into the teeth of the biggest storm yet and the temps are predicted to be in the teens. Fantastic. Pray for us. I'm also moderating two panels for which I have done zero prep work (which I don't like going in unprepared) because of the alligators. This should be fun.

"New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told CNN on Wednesday that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner has already shoved aside acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and is essentially running the White House." Palace intrigue. I'll make more popcorn. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"More than half of the workforce of the Internal Revenue Service, or about 46,000 employees, will be recalled to work for the tax filing season despite the partial government shutdown, according to a Treasury Department announcement… The recalled employees will not be paid during the shutdown, now in its fourth week, although all federal workers have been promised back pay when funding is approved." But but, how are they supposed to paint and do light construction work for their landlords or hold those garage sales if they have to be at the office? "'I'm worried whether these employees will have the money to put gas in their car to get to work,' (NTEU National President Tony Reardon) added." So basically the Trump administrations argument is "this work has to get done now or people will hate us", that's not "essential work." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A bipartisan attempt to condemn the Trump administration for relaxing Russia sanctions stalled in the Senate Wednesday after Republicans banded together to block the effort." Well, many of them are also compromised (Sen. Lyndsay Graham for instance). (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

"Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he never denied President Donald Trump's campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, only that the President himself was not involved in collusion." Uh, yeah. So, the cat is up on the roof, we haven't been able to get it down, and it hasn't eaten for days. (Grokked from George Takei)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday

"Last year was the hottest for the planet's oceans since global records began in 1958, according to an international team of scientists who track the data. Their findings were published Wednesday in the scientific journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences." We're boned.

"Big Pacific storms are set to dump up to seven feet (2.1 meters) of snow in California's Sierra Nevada mountains and several inches of rain elsewhere in the state, forcing evacuations in areas at risk to mudslides."

"An asteroid discovered decades ago may have become a comet in recent months, according to telescope observations that spotted a tail accompanying the space rock." Sorry I couldn't find a better article. This is what happens when you hire stupid people. Asteroids aren't comets and the tail isn't ejecta blown off by the solar wind. More than likely this is from a collision between (6478) Gault and another asteroid.

"How the Idea of Hell Has Shaped the Way We Think." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"These findings are important because they suggest that impaired functioning in the prefrontal cortex—whether from brain trauma, a psychological disorder, a drug or alcohol addiction, or simply a particular genetic profile—can make an individual susceptible to religious fundamentalism. And perhaps in other cases, extreme religious indoctrination harms the development or proper functioning of the prefrontal regions in a way that hinders cognitive flexibility and openness." It's a very small sampling, though. (Grokked from John)

See one, do one, teach one. How the medical industry runs from the inside. Radiology technologists work this way as well. Sometimes we don't even get to "see one" first before we have to do one. And yes, it is dehumanizing for all of us. And some of us fight back. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"Sears Holdings Corp Chairman Eddie Lampert prevailed in a bankruptcy auction for the U.S. department store chain with an improved takeover bid of roughly $5.2 billion, allowing the 126-year-old retailer to keep its doors open, people familiar with the matter said Wednesday."

"An American businessman has been identified as one of at least 14 people killed in the terror attack on an upmarket hotel complex in Nairobi. Jason Spindler, the director of a business development firm who was based in the Kenyan capital, was killed in Tuesday's attack according to officials in Kenya. His family and friends have also spoken about his death."

How goes Brexit? "Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn immediately triggered a vote which will allow lawmakers to say whether they have confidence in the prime minister's government. He said Parliament deserved a chance to give its verdict 'on the sheer incompetence' of those in power." Just as a reminder, the only reason this is Teresa May's problem is the leaders of the Leave Vote all fled from any appointments to power after they won the vote, because they know what a shitstorm this was going to be. Frankly, I don't think her ego is all that's keeping here there.

"A Florida city commissioner is under fire after calling Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who made history as one of the first Muslim members of Congress, a 'danger' who might 'blow up' the U.S. Capitol." But they're totally not-racist.

"Over the last few years China has made a series of ambitious military reforms and acquired new technology as it aims to improve its ability to fight regional conflicts over places like Taiwan, according to a new report from the US Defense Intelligence Agency." Modernism is highly overrated. The only real change in this situation is the Chinese feel the US is weakened.

"During the longest government shutdown in US history, President Donald Trump has been losing support among those who may be his strongest supporters -- white Americans who don't have college degrees." But not that much, and they're not going to vote for anyone else.

"On Thursday, President Trump flew down to McAllen, Texas to push his pro-wall, anti-immigrant narrative. This week, On the Media examines how the community tells a more welcoming story about the border — and a dogged presidential fact-checker joins us to pick apart the Oval Office address. Plus, how some progressives used Russian election interference tactics against a right-wing senate campaign. Also, is everything online fake?" Yes.

The subplot simmers. "Nastya Rybka, the Belarusian escort who claimed she had obtained information about Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election while riding on the yacht of oligarch Oleg Deripaska, has been sentenced in Thailand to time served and will be deported home, a judge determined on Thursday."

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Carol Channing, and so it goes.

Another example of Kurt Vonnegut's shape of stories.

"The study found that chronic lack of sleep and poor sleep quality raise the odds of fatty plaque accumulation in arteries -- a condition known as atherosclerosis, which increases the odds of heart attack and stroke."

"Antarctica ice melt has accelerated by 280% in the last 4 decades… Currently, Antarctica's sea ice is at the lowest January levels since detailed observations began in 1979, according to data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center." We're boned.

"China's Moon mission sees first seeds sprout."

"Rapid and erratic movements of Earth’s north magnetic pole have prompted an early update to a model that assists with navigation. The scheduled fix was supposed to happen on January 15, but the U.S. government shutdown has forced an unwelcome delay." Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip…

Eat less, exercise more. "For starters, I reframed what I thought of as exercise."

"For the first time in U.S. history, a leading cause of deaths, vehicle crashes, has been surpassed in likelihood by opioid overdoses, according to a new report on preventable deaths from the National Safety Council."

The unobscured podcast interview with Emerson Baker, interim dean and history professor at Salem State University and author of A Storm of Witchcraft: The Salem Trials and the American Experience. A good recap of season 1, but the scary part is how many echos there are to current socio-political issues.

"Former felons deserve a chance to prove themselves." The pendulum of the penal code swings from punishment to reformation. We're now on a reformation swing, but not everyone got the memo. (Grokked from Janiece)

"Today, critics argue that the price of insulin has far outpaced any innovations. In the past decade alone, U.S. insulin list prices have tripled, according to an analysis of data from IBM Watson Health. In 1996, when Eli Lilly debuted its Humalog brand of insulin, the list price of a 10-milliliter vial was $21. The price of the same vial is now $275. Those costs can be compounded by the multiple vials that diabetics may require to survive each month. 'It’s a very big problem,' says Robert Gabbay, chief medical officer at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. 'It’s a tragic barrier to care.'" The price of drugs is leading to deaths. Also, slightly related, there are insulin pumps which are highly sensitive to x-rays. In fact, if they're caught near the x-ray beam the units fail. How can you create a modern device without taking into consideration that someone may need an x-ray at some point (seriously, we're now required to not only ask the name, birthday, and other identifier and to ask women their menstrual status, we now also need to ask about insulin pumps, as long as making sure there's no jewelry and piercings in the target x-ray area). (Grokked from Janiece)

"An art exhibit in Israel featuring a crucified Ronald McDonald has sparked protests by the country's Arab Christian minority." Remember when the Taliban blew up the giant Buddha statues? Remember people not understanding the prohibitions against drawing the Prophet (and then organizing contests to do so)? Remember that people said how backward they were?

"Remind is a kind of chat app/social media hybrid used by teachers, parents, and students to keep up-to-date on assignments and events. It also has an app-to-phone texting function that allows educators and admin to send text messages to parents and students who don’t have the app. But Verizon is introducing a new fee on app-to-phone messages—an effort to curb robotexting—that will make it too expensive for Remind to continue offering this service for Verizon phones, the company’s CEO told Motherboard." Texting, IIRC, costs approximately 1 billionth of a cent per text in actual value (ie. what it actually "costs" the telecos to process it). This is extortion and a tax on the poor. Welcome to the new digital divide. (Grokked from Rodney)

How goes Brexit? "Prime Minister Theresa May warned on Monday that Britain’s planned exit from the EU could be derailed, a last-ditch effort to win over Brexit-supporting lawmakers who have repeatedly said they will vote down her divorce deal." So still a dumpster fire, good to know.

Rand Paul for the last decade, "Socialized medicine is horrible," and repeating stories about how Canadians were traveling to the US to get care. "Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will travel to Canada in late January to get hernia surgery, related to the attack he sustained from a neighbor in 2017, according to the Louisville Courier Journal." It's all fun and games until it's your body (and money). (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Iran launched a satellite on Tuesday that failed to reach orbit, after the US warned against the launch earlier this month." Naughty, naughty.

"Embattled utility PG&E, facing potentially billions of dollars in liability over California's deadly wildfires last year, has replaced its CEO." And they'll likely declare bankruptcy. Not so much because they are, but because of the potential liability for failure to maintain their equipment. And before anyone talks about how in an unfettered market companies wouldn't cause problems like this, or that PG&E wouldn't endanger or inconvenience their customers let me tell you about our own little power company. When I was a councilman we had terrible issues with brown and blackouts which not only played havoc with residential customers (appliances fried, many people on oxygen units) but cost our businesses millions of dollars each each. So we worked on the electrical company to help remedy this situation. Turns out our village had been scheduled for a second supply line to shore up our grid and increase stability. That was identified in the late 80s and scheduled for mid 90s for connection. This was the mid 2000s when we finally forced them to start on that plan (and it took about 4 to 5 years to get the line installed).

"'This pattern of incessant attacks on my client and his family show what the American people have already witnessed: that Donald Trump sees Michael Cohen, and I would say justifiably, as the greatest threat to his presidency and what could be criminal and impeachable actions,' Davis said on MSNBC's 'Kasie DC.'"

A tweet thread with a timeline surrounding the public release of the Trump Tower meeting. A little post hoc ergo prompter hoc, and some convenience coincidences (such as the G20 meeting was planned long in advance of the NYTs revealing the story), but it all has an interesting ring to it. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"U.S. President Donald Trump's attorney general nominee William Barr will pledge at his confirmation hearing to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into whether Trump's 2016 election campaign coordinated with Russia, according to prepared testimony released on Monday." Sure. But the AG is one of those people who has to decide what to do with the report. Including just putting it in a file.

"But look closely, and you'll see the labels on the packages: 'Quarter Pounder.' 'Filet-O-Fish.' Chicken nugget dipping sauces sit in serving bowls off to the side. Behind the current president, Abraham Lincoln looks down, his hand on his chin, surveying the scene." This is exactly the type of stupid denigration conservatives thought would happen with President Clinton (he also had a fondness for McDs) and President Obama, yet never actually happened. But let's vote the rich guy with the gold toilet bowl in and see what happens. "'I think we're going to serve McDonald's, Wendy's and Burger King with some pizza,' Trump told reporters beforehand. 'I really mean it. It would be interesting. And I would think that's their favorite food.'" I doubt anyone really asked.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Linkee-poo hopes the Russians love their children too

There's as many alligators as Russians around these parts.

"A passenger managed to slip a gun past screeners at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and fly with it all the way to Tokyo, federal officials confirmed to CBS News. He alerted Delta Air Lines workers when the plane got to its destination, the carrier confirmed." Oopsie.

"The gunman who killed an officer in Northern California left behind a letter accusing the Davis police department of hitting him with 'ultra sonic waves.'" You know, since we keep blaming a lot of gun violence on mental health issues, considering the president wants to build a $6B wall because one undocumented immigrant killed a police officer (I'm overstating the issue here), maybe we could see a one or 2 billion dollar investment in public mental health care.

"The National Rifle Association appears to have illegally coordinated its political advertising with Republican candidates in at least three recent high-profile US Senate races, according to Federal Communications Commission records. In Senate races in Missouri and Montana in 2018 and North Carolina in 2016, the gun group’s advertising blitzes on behalf of GOP candidates Josh Hawley, Matt Rosendale, and Richard Burr were authorized by the very same media consultant that the candidates themselves used—an apparent violation of laws designed to prevent independent groups from synchronizing their efforts with political campaigns." Same firm, okay, but with caveats. Same actual person in those companies is a no-no. Also just a reminder where the NRA got a lot of those funds (waves to our Russian friends). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

After the president made statements about why he fired Jim Comey, the FBI was worried he was being controlled by Russia so they opened up an investigation. That investigation was then transferred to Mueller when he was appointed as special council. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"In the chaotic aftermath at the FBI following Director James Comey's firing, a half-dozen senior FBI officials huddled to set in motion the momentous move to open an investigation into President Donald Trump that included trying to understand why he was acting in ways that seemed to benefit Russia." After so many coincidences, eventually it becomes a problem. And as a few of us asked at the time, why are there all these Russians hanging around?

Also lot of stories about how Representative Steve King is an obvious racist. I'm not sure that's actually news, I just think he can't deny it any longer. What's hilarious is the GOP now trying to put distance between them. Hey guys, remember the 2008 post-mortem report? Remember all the recommendations about reaching out to minority communities to try and broaden your base and how nobody took that seriously? Take a look at the comparison photos on the incoming class of the House of Representatives. Notice anything striking? If not, embrace what you are and get discarded in the dustbin of history. This really is almost too late (and frankly I think it is past the point of turning that ship around to avoid the breakers).

Friday, January 11, 2019

Linkee-poo is it Friday already

Alligators overboard!

"Around the country, NIH-funded scientists have begun studies of brain scans, pupil reactions and other possible markers of pain in hopes of finally 'seeing' the ouch so they can better treat it. It’s early-stage research, and it’s not clear how soon any of the attempts might pan out." Getting accurate pain ratings is very tough because 1) everyone's pain is their own (one of my colleges uses the "On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being actively mauled by a bear…" as an index, and one person's 5 is another person's 10), 2) chronic pain is different than acute pain (chronic pain actually remaps the brain), and 3) your body compensates (endorphins as well as simply blocking pain that is too much). Also, at least here in the US, patients know they need to say "it's a 10" to really get any kind of quick relief. (Grokked from Dan)

"High-fiber diet linked to lower risk of death and chronic diseases." Screw you, Adkins! But, again, everything in moderation. As Michael Pollan says, "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

"The Coca-Cola company exerted strong influence over the way the Chinese government addressed the country's growing obesity problem, according to a study published Wednesday in the Journal of Public Health Policy and the BMJ." Hmm, why would Coca-Cola be worried about scientific investigation into obesity? Why, it's almost a puzzle.

"The world's oceans are heating up at an accelerating pace and faster than previously estimated, setting a new temperature record in 2018 as global warming threatens a diverse range of marine life, scientists have warned." We're boned.

"Astronomers may have just witnessed the first few moments of a black hole's existence."

"President Donald Trump has repeatedly advocated for a steel slat design for his border wall, which he described as 'absolutely critical to border security' in his Oval Office address to the nation Tuesday. But Department of Homeland Security testing of a steel slat prototype proved it could be cut through with a saw, according to a report by DHS." So, yeah, that'll work. Also, shh, nobody tell them about this wild technology idea called rope and ladders. (Grokked from Dan)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Linkee-poo hits Thursday hard

John Scalzi one that Author's Guild salary survey. "But perhaps the immediate lesson one should take from this is that if you’re hoping to be an author, you should probably keep your day job as you do it." John's a smart guy who gives some great commentary and historical framing for what a lot of people are taking from that survey.

"(Canadian poet Christian) Bök has written a poem, 'The Xenotext', which he is inserting into the DNA of a particularly resilient form of bacteria, Deinococcus radiodurans. This extremophile bacterium can survive exposure to cold, dehydration, acid and vacuums, meaning it could live on in outer space should the Earth cease to exist." This was a plot line of a short story I wrote (that was never accepted) as a neophyte author (which I believe was already used in a story by someone else) about panspermia and encoding messages to the descendents in their DNA. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The FDA is warning consumers to not eat and throw away any Bauer's Candies, covered in chocolate or caramel. The report said a worker at the Lawrenceburg, Kentucky facility tested positive for hepatitis A."

"Seventy million miles (110 million kilometers) away, Earth appears as a white dot in the lower left, with the moon an even smaller dot but still clearly visible."

"The research, published on Jan. 10 in Nature, provides some tantalizing new evidence about the way a black hole evolves once it gobbles up a star. The major takeaway for the team was the the black hole's corona was shrinking."

"One of the premier cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope is no longer working and NASA shut down the camera while the issue is investigated, NASA said on Tuesday."

"Scenes From Underground." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In the medieval ages, nuns also produced the famously laborious and beautiful books. And some of these women must have been very good, if they were using pigment as precious and rare as ultramarine." And some of them were highly sought after for production. I know this from art history. How is it this is "lost" knowledge (except that it's not in the mainstream culture)? There is also the question of how this precious material made it into her mouth. While use of mortar and pestle to grind the rocks was common, so was masticating to achieve a finer grind (and to mix materials). So, yes, it could be from using her tongue, teeth, and spit to bring their brush to a fine point, it's also probably the result of known production processes of illumination materials.

"A team of scientists in Brazil and Ireland have published an opinion paper arguing exactly that point: that new gene editing techniques could make it easier to engineer spicy tomatoes. But they’re after more than just spicy tomato sauce." Well actually what they're looking at doing is using the tomato plant as a bio factory to produce capsaicin in the way we use tobacco to produce pharmaceuticals and other bio-molecules. Note the warning about CRISPR use and then notice how you don't see that caveat in other stories involving the use of CRISPR technology to edit genes.

"For the population to reproduce itself at current numbers, the “total fertility rate” needs to be 2,100 births per 1,000 women of childbearing age over their lifetime, researchers for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in their report, released early Thursday. But the latest data show a current rate of just 1,765.5 per 1,000, or 16 percent below the number needed to keep the population stable without additions through immigration." Oh noes. Unleash the misogynist xenophobes decrying about the loss of white babies (caucasians are the population seeing the greatest delays in child birth). Release the propaganda machines! Note there's no discussion about how reduction of population may actually be a good thing.

"Carmaker Ford has announced plans for a major shake-up of its operations in the UK and mainland Europe… It is expected to lead to thousands of job losses across Europe, including the UK, although cuts at its UK factories are not thought to be imminent." It totally doesn't have anything to do with Brexit.

"U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco, who is overseeing (California's PG&E) after a 2010 gas pipeline explosion, said the company should be required to "remove or trim all trees that could fall onto its power lines" and reinspect its grid."

"A federal judge in Iowa says it's no longer a crime to go undercover at factory farms, slaughterhouses and any other ag-related operations. The 2012 law was a clear violation of the First Amendment, the judge said."

"A transgender woman says she was sexually assaulted in a North Carolina bathroom last month, according to police records…Jessica Fowler, 31, and Amber Harrell, 38, have both been charged with sexual battery and second-degree kidnapping in connection with the alleged incident on Dec. 9 at a bar in downtown Raleigh."

The company you keep. "After the 2016 presidential election, teachers across the country reported they were seeing increased name-calling and bullying in their classrooms. Now, research shows that those stories — at least in one state — are confirmed by student surveys." So while the report doesn't connect the bullying to Trump becoming president, they do relate that those counties who voted for Trump also report lots of bullying and intimidation.

"Turkey will go ahead with an offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters in Syria if the United States delays the withdrawal of its troops from the war-torn country, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has said." Good thing we're respected around the world or some countries may threaten to kill our troops. Oh, wait…

"One of the very few government-owned tourist attractions that's still open is just a few blocks away, in the clock tower of the historic, 1899-vintage Old Post Office building. Three park rangers are on duty, guiding visitors up two elevators and onto an observation deck that provide dramatic views of downtown Washington… The Old Post Office is owned by the federal government, which leases the building to the Trump International Hotel, itself operated by President Trump's Trump Organization." Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along.

"It's the second death of an adult male at Buck's home in the last couple years. In July 2017 a man identified as Gemmel Moore was determined to have fatally overdosed at the same location, authorities said. Buck, 64, was present at the time of both incidents." It's a political story because Edward Buck is a prominent donor to the Democratic Party.

"On Wednesday morning, Trump complained that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) sends billions of dollars to California to fight fires that are the result of poor forest management." Note the federal government owns and manages much of the land where the fires were.

"Last year, the Davos scene was marked by grand entrances and ambitious power politics… A year later, many of the same leaders who preened in 2018 are licking their wounds in a world where the outlook seems a bit darker and economic fears are rising."

"In recent months, thousands of migrants have gathered in Tijuana, hoping for asylum in the United States. Some will be deported before ever stepping foot in the U.S. Others will be detained by U.S. immigration authorities as they wait for their hearings."

"President Trump abruptly halted spending talks at the White House Wednesday, after congressional Democrats again rejected his demand for a $5.7 billion border wall." I don't think Republicans remember what negotiation actually means.

"President Donald Trump is set to travel to the southern border Thursday as he continues to make his case for building a barrier along the southern border amid an ongoing partial government shutdown triggered by the president's demand for a border wall."

"A Washington, D.C., law firm that has represented Russian interests and the Republican Party in a fight over Hillary Clinton's emails now is involved in an effort by a mysterious foreign-owned company to avoid complying with a subpoena believed to be related to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, a report Wednesday said."

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Linkee-poo there's got to be a morning after

"Scientists have found a biological clue that could help explain why African-Americans appear to be more vulnerable than white Americans to Alzheimer's disease."

"The Consumer Entertainment Show gave a digital sex toy an award. Then it rescinded the award because sex toys are "immoral, obscene, indecent [or] profane" and banned it from the trade show floor. Katie Notopoulos reports, however, that they've given such toys awards in the past." Ah, I see we're back to the puritanical stage of social growth. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Carbon dioxide emissions in the U.S. are on the rise again after several years of decline, and a booming economy is the cause." We're boned.

"As Sears Holdings Corp teeters on the brink of liquidation, its employees are pushing for a hardship fund they hope can replicate the success of bankrupt retailer Toys 'R' Us, whose workers collected $20 million in severance pay from its former owners." Good luck with that.

"While Americans consumed nearly 37 pounds per capita in 2017, it was not enough to reduce the country's 1.4 billion-pound cheese surplus, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The glut, which at 900,000 cubic yards is the largest in U.S. history, means that there is enough cheese sitting in cold-storage to wrap around the U.S. Capitol." Oooo, might there be government cheese handouts?

"A self-proclaimed member of the far-right Proud Boys group who also believes in the QAnon conspiracy theory allegedly… killed his brother in Seattle on Sunday night by stabbing him in the head with a four-foot long sword… Wolfe, who prosecutors say exhibited signs of mental illness…" Um, you repeat yourself. Mental illness is a serious issue and we shouldn't make light of it, and an organization shouldn't be judged by the whackaloons who adhere to its message, but seriously. This Q Anon movement is appealing to people who have mental problems and is using them for support. This is why is should be a concern, and it should be ended by publicly denouncing and exposing the manipulation and lies. So far it has been treated as a sideshow (which is really is), but it's going too far and needs to be addressed head-on. (Grokked from Chip Dawes)

"The bill would allow lynchings—bias-motivated mob killings without legal authority—to be charged as a federal hate crime for the first time… However, evangelical law firm Liberty Counsel is upset because a portion of the bill includes protections for LGBT people as well as ethnic minorities." Now their argument is more that the proposed law recognizes that LGBTQ people exist than to just exclude them from lynching laws, but just how mindfucked do you have to be to oppose a law designed to keep people from hanging other people just because you don't want LGBTQ people to have rights. Liberty Counsel you should really be doing everything you can to keep Jesus from coming back, because he's gonna be pissed with you all. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

How goes Brexit? "The UK's leading business and industry groups are set to make major public interventions on Brexit next week amid growing panic over the prospect of leaving the European Union without a deal." Ah, panic mode.

"The EU's ambassador to Washington, David O'Sullivan, had not been invited to some events last year, DW reports, and an open sign of his new status came as diplomats were called up to pay their respects to the late President George H.W. Bush in early December 2018. Prior to the change, O'Sullivan would have been among the first 20 or 30 ambassadors to be called up, in line with his fairly senior status as a diplomat serving in his post since 2014. DW reports he was called up last and that he had not been notified of the change." We downgraded the EU, but forgot to tell them (or anyone).

"As the government shutdown continues into its 18th day, some TSA screeners are quitting their jobs and calling out sick, not knowing when they will receive their next paychecks, according to a union representing the TSA. The union sued the federal government last week on behalf of its members." (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

"So what did we learn from the president's address and the rare Democratic response. Here are seven insights…" We're boned.

"Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has had no shortage of attention since she became, at 29, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, one who is unafraid to push controversial progressive policies… Sunday, she got a new surge of attention calling for a tax rate as high as 70 percent for the rich on the CBS's '60 Minutes' in an interview with Anderson Cooper." Taxes will have to go up. I'm okay with people who make more than $10,000,000 a year paying 70% starting with the ten-million and first dollar. But with the article I'm sad to see it switch quickly to an old, rich white guy and use just his perspective for over half the content.

"In November, Missouri was one of four states that voted to change how political boundaries are drawn in order to limit gerrymandering. The constitutional amendment passed in all corners of the increasingly conservative state. Now some members of both political parties want to scrap the new system before it even launches." Again, not all gerrymandering is bad, but when it's solely for the purpose of political party dominance (as REDMAP was), then it must go. When it'd done to increase representative democracy, it can be used for good.

"Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is planning to leave the Justice Department shortly after William Barr, the President's nominee for attorney general, is confirmed, according to a source familiar with his thinking." Note this isn't coming from Rosenstein and smacks of him being shown the door.

"The hidden text reveals that Mueller believes Manafort shared 'polling data' that was 'related to the 2016 presidential campaign' with Konstantin Kilimnik, a former colleague of his who Mueller has claimed is tied to Russian intelligence." Supposedly internal campaign polling data. Which is (wait for it) collusion. But seriously, for submitting redacted text, print out the material, mark over the redaction parts, then scan it back in to send (actually you may want to print the scan out, then scan that printout back in).

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Wanna be a paperback writer. "Writing has never been a lucrative career choice, but a recent study by the Authors Guild, a professional organization for book writers, shows that it may not even be a livable one anymore… According to the survey results, the median pay for full-time writers was $20,300 in 2017, and that number decreased to $6,080 when part-time writers were considered. The latter figure reflects a 42 percent drop since 2009, when the median was $10,500. These findings are the result of an expansive 2018 study of more than 5,000 published book authors, across genres and including both traditional and self-published writers." I hope you like raman.

"The best way to learn how to write a screenplay is to read great scripts. So, download it while you can (studios have the right to pull the scripts down, so don’t delay)!" Links to the scripts for Green Book and The Americans. (Grokked from Writers Digest)

If you want to be a (fiction) writer and you're not following Delilah Dawson on twitter, I don't think you're doing this right. Note for all writer advice, YMMV. Keep what works and toss the rest.

Wikipedia's "(l)ist of mythological objects." For you game or novel world building process. Although I've found I have a habit of creating non-standard items. Unfortunately no Holy Hand-Grenade is listed. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"An investigation by Kaiser Health News into thousands of recent drug recalls reveals a frightening record of medicines in the US being tainted with dangerous bacteria, mold, glass shards, rubber bits, cancer-causing chemicals, mysterious powders, and worrying metal particles. There were also cases of medications with too much or too little ingredients—or simply the wrong ingredients entirely." This is just gross negligence. (Grokked from John)

"For the study, published in Radiology, Sohn and his team fed a common type of brain scans to a machine-learning algorithm, and it learned to diagnose early-stage Alzheimer’s disease about six years before a clinical diagnosis could be made. The AI’s diagnostic skills could give doctors a much-needed headstart on treating the degenerative disease." And that may be enough of a head start to actually treat or slow the progress of the disease that robs people of their memory, dignity, and finally their selves. However it's not ready for real clinical use, and trying to get insurance to pay for the PET scans so far in advance may also be tricky. (Grokked from Janiece)

"It’s part of a statewide effort to stop several outbreaks of measles from turning into an epidemic. (New York) has had 122 cases of the highly infectious virus since September, making it the worst year for measles since the 1990s."

"Food intolerances are not the same as food allergies, but it seems a lot of people mistake one for the other." For most people, the difference isn't all that much (except for severe allergies). And people have a word for something so they apply it to their own experience.

"During WHEC-TV's Friday evening broadcast, Jeremy Kappell said "Martin Luther Coon Park," when referring to a downtown Rochester park named after slain civil rights movement leader Martin Luther King Jr… In a video viewed by CNN, Kappell says 'King' immediately after using the slur and continues with the broadcast."

"After months of pressure, Tennessee's governor granted clemency to Cyntoia Brown, who was convicted of murder at 16. She killed a man who had paid to have sex with her." "Rahaf Mohammed Alqunun, the 18-year-old Saudi woman who barricaded herself in a Bangkok hotel room as she posted pleas for asylum over the weekend, will be allowed to stay in Thailand for up to a week while U.N. refugee agency officials study her case, according to Thai authorities."

Ah, finally a profile of a rural town full of good Trump supporters. "The shutdown on top of the hurricane has caused Ms. Minton to rethink a lot of things… 'I voted for him, and he’s the one who’s doing this,' she said of Mr. Trump. 'I thought he was going to do good things. He’s not hurting the people he needs to be hurting.'" What wonderful Christian values they have. (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

"The average of polls taken since the shutdown began indicate that Americans are blaming Republicans for the shutdown. In the average, about 50% think Trump is most to blame, 35% think congressional Democrats are most to blame and about 5% think congressional Republicans are most to blame."

No transcript yet, but worth the listen. "It's Day 18 of the partial government shutdown, and it's now the third-longest on record. In the 90s, it took President Clinton and House Speaker Gingrich a record 21 days to settle an impasse." A rundown of previous shutdowns and why this one is different.

"Lawyers for Paul Manafort appear to have missed a significant court filing deadline of midnight Tuesday to respond to the special counsel's office's accusation that he lied about five topics during his post-guilty-plea cooperation sessions." Well it wasn't midnight in Moscow (oh wait, time zones don't work that way). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Monday, January 7, 2019

Linkee-poo is haggard on a Monday

"In September, a 2,000-foot-long floating barrier, shaped like a U, was dispatched to the Great Pacific garbage patch… Made of connected plastic pipes, the barrier was meant to catch and clean-up the plastic… But as Slat, now 24, recently discovered with the beta tester for his design, plastic occasionally drifts out of its U-shaped funnel. The other issue with the beta tester, called System 001, is that last week, a 60-feet-long end section broke off." All the king's horses and all the king's men…

"A recent count by the Xerces Society recorded fewer than 30,000 butterflies, which it said is an 86 percent decline since 2017." Rhut rho.

"Steel producer Nucor Corp… said on Monday it would spend about $1.35 billion to build a plate mill in the U.S. Midwest, taking advantage of federal tax cuts that has resulted in windfall gains for several companies."

"After a slow start, influenza is beginning to take hold across the U.S. The good news is that it’s unlikely to be as bad as last season, when almost 80,000 Americans died. The bad news is that there’s a long way to go." Just anecdotally here in Ohio I'm not thinking it's off to such a slow start.

"Yet among children, the nasal spray appeared to have reduced effectiveness against the flu, compared with the shot, in past flu seasons, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Monday."

"Take a look at your prescription bottles. Most say, 'Store at room temperature' or 'Keep refrigerated.'… But what happens when drugs are delivered by mail? Were those instructions followed as the medicine wended its way from the pharmacy to your doorstep?" Oo, oo, I know the answer. As to the line about consumers enjoying the convenience of mail-order, again this is just anecdotal evidence, but nobody who is near a pharmacy like mail-order pharmacies. I've had (as in "insurance mandates their use because they're owned by the insurance company") experience with 2 of the 3. Both suck.

"Zuckerberg San Francisco General… is the largest public hospital in San Francisco and the city’s only top-tier trauma center. But it doesn’t participate in the networks of any private health insurers — a surprise patients like Dang learn after assuming their coverage includes a trip to a large public ER." It's the only Level 1 Trauma Center, which means if you're in a serious enough condition, you're getting shipped there. And they don't take insurance (well, insurance will pay what they feel is "reasonable", but then you're responsible for the rest of the bill). (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"'We try to artificially give a start to these communities that should resemble the communities that were there prior to a disturbance.' Matteo Garbelotto, a plant pathologist at UC Berkeley. (SIC) The problem, he says, is that microscopic killers sometimes hitchhike on native seedlings grown in nurseries. As happened at one restoration site in the San Francisco Bay area, where restorers hoped that nursery-grown natives called toyons and sticky monkeyflowers could be reintroduced."

"The vast majority of life on Earth depends… on photosynthesis for its energy. And photosynthesis depends on an enzyme called RuBisCO, which uses carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to build sugars… Unfortunately, RuBisCO is, well, terrible at its job. It might not be obvious based on the plant growth around us, but the enzyme is not especially efficient at catalyzing the carbon dioxide reaction. And, worse still, it often uses oxygen instead. This produces a useless byproduct that, if allowed to build up, will eventually shut down photosynthesis entirely. It's estimated that crops such as wheat and rice lose anywhere from 20 to 50 percent of their growth potential due to this byproduct." So some smarty pants scientists decided to fix it. They engineered some tobacco plants (which are easy to manipulate) and saw some pretty interesting increased growth. However I have a few questions. One, do plants need that byproduct (that we just eliminated) for some other process. And two, just how does this change the structure of the plant itself. Faster growing plants have been shown to have less nutrition and stability (from studies using increased CO2 levels). So we might have faster growing plants, but they aren't as good as the old fashion kind. Or, just because we fix one metric doesn't mean we've done a better job. (Grokked from John)

"A patient in a vegetative state at a nursing facility in Arizona gave birth on December 29, CBS News reports. Phoenix police are currently investigating the incident as a possible sexual abuse case." Possible? I appreciate news organizations putting some distance on things, like "the alleged perpetrator" before a conviction. But WTF? (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"The political situation in Gabon is "under control" following an attempted military coup, a spokesman for the government has said… All five of the rebels who tried to take charge have now been arrested by the authorities."

"Gavin Newsom sweeps into the California governor’s mansion Monday hinting that he’ll take a more confrontational posture toward Donald Trump in Washington, but his biggest challenge may be dealing with a friendly Democratic supermajority in Sacramento."

Remember when the president said he was working to keep drug prices down? "More than three dozen drugmakers ratcheted up prices on hundreds of medications on Tuesday, according to The Wall Street Journal… Price increases outpaced inflation, and the average drug price rose 6.3 percent, the outlet said, citing an analysis from Rx Savings Solutions." Maybe he was talking about heroin or pot. (Grokked from Michele)

"The Saudi national said she was fleeing her abusive family, seeking asylum in any western country that would have her. 'I'm in real danger,' she said."

"MPs will vote on Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, 15 January, government sources have confirmed."

"The U.S. trade war with China has cost farmers billions. Government bailouts have helped keep many farms solvent, but thoughts are turning to this year's planting season." Farmers are hitting deadlines for ordering seeds, getting finances in order, and applying for funds from the "bailout" (which nobody is there in the government offices to answer questions or process paperwork).

"Millions of Americans receiving food stamps could face having their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) disrupted if the government shutdown—which entered its third week on Saturday—continues into February." It's almost as if having a functioning government helps us. This will come as a shock to many people. Mostly conservatives (note, most red states have a high dependency on government programs).

An opinion piece. "Trump, in reality, was never a peerless or even a particularly skillful dealmaker and many of the most significant business transactions he engineered imploded. Instead, he made his way in the world as an indefatigable self-promoter, a marketing confection and a human billboard who frequently licensed his name to buildings and products paid for by others." Yep.

"With the partial government shutdown in its third week, White House officials and congressional leaders again failed to make progress toward a resolution during talks on Sunday." And the White House is adding to the list of things they want.

"Noel King talks to Trish Gilbert, executive vice president of the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, about the partial government shutdown effects how controllers are doing their job." There's not a transcript right now, but a very important story about what's happening with the ATC, already understaffed, with a large percentage of workers eligible for retirement.

"The president’s reelection campaign is intent on avoiding the kind of circus that unfolded on the convention floor in 2016, when Never Trump Republicans loudly protested his nomination before a national TV audience. The effort comes as party elites like Utah Sen. Mitt Romney are openly questioning Trump’s fitness for the job, and it’s meant to to ensure that delegates to next year’s convention in Charlotte, N.C., are presidential loyalists — not anti-Trump activists looking to create a stir." Ah, instead of sausage making, here we see how they slaughter the pig.

"House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said Sunday that he plans to move quickly to provide the panel's interview transcripts to special counsel Robert Mueller."

Friday, January 4, 2019

Linkee-poo hits another Friday

"China has released photos of the dark side of the moon from its successful mission to become the first country to land a spacecraft on the moon's far side." Congrats, China.

"NASA's New Horizons probe buzzed the outer solar-system object early on New Year's morning, making the first flyby of such a primitive object. Because 2014 MU69 has remained virtually untouched since the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago, it can reveal new details about that era. Already the first puzzling photos are helping to prove models of the early solar system."

How goes Brexit? "Britain is scheduled to leave the European Union at end of March but, as the country's deadline for departure creeps ever closer, what will actually happen on that day remains far from certain."

How go the Trade Wars? Remember when the president said we were working with China to negotiate a new trade deal? "China has set a date for a new round of talks with the United States aimed at ending a trade war that is spooking global markets and hurting businesses." Now, yes, there have probably been low level talks, but these negotiations are what you normally discuss, not the "deputy assistants to the Deputy Secretary" level of talks.

"The economy ended the year by adding a much-stronger-than-expected 312,000 jobs in December — the biggest gain in 10 months, the Labor Department said Friday… Meanwhile, the unemployment rate jumped to 3.9 percent — the highest rate since August — as more people felt confident enough to quit their jobs and look for new ones." Huh, I'm pretty close to the average wage of $27.48 an hour (one over, one under).

"Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. on Tuesday gave an interview to the Washington Post about the relationship between evangelical Christians and President Donald Trump — and it’s loaded with logical howlers, factual inaccuracies, and just plain gibberish." No, Junior has never read the Bible. All he's interested in is power. Just like his dad. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Hackers have released private data linked to Chancellor Angela Merkel and hundreds of other German politicians in the biggest data dump of its kind in the country… 'The perpetrators want to erode trust in our democracy and in our institutions,' German Justice Minister Katarina Barley said, according to news agency DPA. 'Criminals and their backers must not be allowed to dictate debate in our nation.'"

"Despite campaigning on a pledge to save the dirtiest of fossil fuels, President Donald Trump has presided over a faster rate of coal plant retirements in his first two years than President Barack Obama saw in his entire first term." (Grokked from Chip Dawes)

"House Democrats on Thursday approved a legislative package aimed at ending the partial government shutdown, while rejecting President Donald Trump's demand for additional funding for a border wall, despite a White House veto threat."

"Within hours of gaveling in the new Congress, House Democrats passed two bills aimed at reopening the government, including one that’s identical to legislation the Senate unanimously approved in December to extend funding for the Department of Homeland Security through February 8. The other measure included bipartisan, full-year appropriations bills for eight other federal departments. Both cleared the House with some bipartisan support, as a handful of Republicans broke with their leadership to vote yes." And yet the Atlantic frames this as a slow start and failure.

"With the partial government shutdown closing in on two weeks and no end in sight, Mitch McConnell says Democrats are privately urging him to help find a way out of the impasse." Yes, Majority Leader McConnell won't bring up the fund bill that passed the Senate on a unanimous voice vote last month because the Democrats control the House.

"A former kitchen employee at one of President Trump’s golf clubs in New Jersey said her superiors kept her name and those of other undocumented workers off a list of people to be vetted by the Secret Service before a Trump visit to the club in 2016." Managers who hire undocumented immigrants always know. These, "Oh, they showed me (forged documents)," or "We outsource our hiring" arguments are always bullshit. And this is the president's own business committing fraud. (Grokked from Michele)

"Seated at the head of his long board room table, Trump turned to the Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and began griping about the state of his administration's nominees, whom he complained were languishing without votes, according to an account from two people in the room… As the men… began arguing, Trump reached into his jacket pocket to retrieve a sheet of paper: the 'great letter' from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he had brandished to reporters earlier in the day… 'Read this,' he instructed Schumer, before flinging the document over the table in the senator's direction." I've seen this tactic by other idiots who have power. So how does this letter relate to their conversation? My guess is Kim was flattering, and Trump just wanted Schumer to know how well regarded he is by a dictator, or something (maybe Kim urged Trump to act more dictatorially and it was a threat). Maybe the letter said how without Trump the Koreas would have been at war (which was unlikely). But despite the conservative call for "negotiations" it doesn't sound like the president is negotiating. Also, presidential nominations can't be filibustered anymore. Schumer is the minority leader, the majority can (and has been, see earlier links about justice approvals) move forward with nominations. It's just that the people he nominates are embarrassingly incompetent and corrupt.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Linkee-poo without a snappy title

Alligators. 'nough said.

Story fodder. "Mexican experts say they have found the first temple of the Flayed Lord, a pre-Hispanic fertility god depicted as a skinned human corpse." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A machine learning agent intended to transform aerial images into street maps and back was found to be cheating by hiding information it would need later in 'a nearly imperceptible, high-frequency signal.'" Skynet was caught cribbing. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Sure you're a fan, but you're not this much of a fan. "And then there's this model-making masterpiece Adam has just revealed, a 1/2-scale build of the prop blimp used in Ridley Scott's 1982 flim, Blade Runner. Built by model maker Kayte Sabicer and Adam Savage (but mainly Kayte), the project took months to complete and an ungodly amount of fiddly labor. The results could not be more impressive." (Grokked from John)

"Dozens of Facebook friends, several apparently also physicians, expressed their shock that the CMA president could receive such poor emergency room response, and some said they were happy he was speaking out about poor quality of hospital care." From some of the messages shown in the article there is a real divide here. Nobody should get shoddy medical care. He was in a position to know better and to argue his case, most patients don't have that (either the knowledge of what care should be or the "power" to challenge, note as the patient you have rights including the right to refuse care). But over all there is a class issue being exposed here (including in the responses). "In his post, Aizuss said he was rushed by ambulance to a hospital Monday morning. 'I spent hours in the emergency room (editorial notes: welcome to triage, Doc) where I received inadequate treatment of mind boggling pain (welcome to the post-opioid pain management system, Doc), was never touched or examined by a physician (welcome to modern medical cost cutting procedures, Doc), was mixed up with another patient and almost inadvertently transferred to another hospital, (and) was scheduled for emergency surgery based on a third patient's lab work that was confused with mine,' (all three items which could be cured by both more staff and attention to standards of practice, in case you ever wondered why you're continually asked for your birthdate or other identifier, this is why) he wrote… 'Truly an eye-opening experience for the President of the California Medical Association.'" Gee, Doc, sorry you got caught up in the systems you helped build. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

The One the Media Podcast with our case of national amnesia. "After World War II, Germany and the Allied powers took pains to make sure that its citizens would never forget the country’s dark history. But in America, much of our past remains hidden or rewritten. This week, Brooke visits Montgomery, Alabama, home to The Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a new museum and memorial created by the Equal Justice Initiative that aim to bring America’s history of segregation and racial terror to the forefront."

"Devoid of rangers, the parks have seen local employees and park aficionados pitching in to donate toilet paper and pick up trash." We'll see how long that will last.

"Researchers in Sweden examined the possible steps that people can take to help tackle the climate crisis. Although a lot of resulting news coverage focused on the most effective action (having one fewer kid), the real takeaway is that individual actions still matter." Yes, individual action can add up. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Wisconsin taxpayers are funding a $850,000 legal contract to defend GOP-drawn legislative district maps, but they don’t know what it says."

Let the games begin! "Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Monday took the first major step toward launching a widely anticipated campaign for the presidency, hoping her reputation as a populist fighter can help her navigate a Democratic field that could include nearly two dozen candidates."

The situation in NC's 9th district continues to get even worse. "An attorney for Republican Mark Harris said Monday there’s no need to call witnesses to an announced Jan. 11 hearing because there’s no elections board authorized to examine evidence or take action. Attorney David Freedman of Winston-Salem said that is why he didn’t seek to compel witnesses by a Sunday deadline."

"A couple years ago, when I was writing for American Dad!, I needed an Arabic speaker for a small part. Our casting director recommended a Saudi comedian, who happened to be in LA for a couple months shooting a tv show. His name is Fahad Albutairi." A tweet thread that shows a window into Saudi Arabia. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)