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

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Linkee-poo, and man and beast and bird and tree, each one in its own place

"The law will require any signed item sold for over $5 to be accompanied by a detailed certificate of authenticity, which must, among other things, include the name and address of any third party to own the item (read: anyone who sold a signed book to a used bookstore) along with a seller-generated identifying serial number; these records must be retained by the seller for seven years." (parenthetical original to story) That's going to put a crimp in both used and new book sales. I see why it's there, and why it would also specifically apply to books (even though they're trying to carve out an exemption). Collectables are a major segment of the secondary sales business and provenance is important (and a major part of the valuation). Fakes are easy to produce and pass off onto unsuspecting collectors (many are mostly amateurs who buy the objects because of internal values, unlike professionals who are looking to resell). So "chain of custody" is very important in these cases. Hell, auction houses have whole departments devoted to provenance. I'm just not sure this is the correct way of cleaning up the market. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Evernote, "(t)he note-taking app quietly announced earlier this week its intentions to update its privacy policy, which will let some of its employees access and read user content as part of the company's effort to improve the service… Unsurprisingly, that hasn't gone down so well with the community." Yep. Time to stop using Evernote (I was actually just getting better at using it too). (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

"Earth’s innards are cooling off surprisingly fast… The thickness of new volcanic crust forming on the seafloor has gotten thinner over the last 170 million years. That suggests that the underlying mantle is cooling about twice as fast as previously thought, researchers reported December 13 at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting." Oh great, cue the global climate deniers latching on to this to shout about how "it'll all be okay as the core cools and the atmosphere gets hotter, it'll equal out." One, doesn't work that way. Two, my brain just snapped as I started to think of the process of plate tectonics is a slow motion version of the convection vortices of the atmosphere (how the atmosphere evens out temperature differentials, creates wind and storms) so how not only is the atmosphere is an ocean, but how it's all fractal just with different viscosities and states of matter. And three, say, if the core is cooling doesn't that mean the supposed "iron core" will slow, weakening the Van Allen belts? (insert dramatic music here)

The Ipsos Mori Perils of Perception in 2016 survey referenced in the Guardian article from yesterday, including a slide deck that shows a lot more of the data and expanse of questions that weren't covered in the Guardian article. (Grokked from John)

We don't need no stinkin' regulations. "City officials in Corpus Christi, Texas, are warning residents not to use their tap water — at all — after possible contamination by an unknown chemical… The city suspects an 'oil-based petroleum chemical,' city spokeswoman Kim Womack told the Caller-Times." And that's why many municipalities have regulations regarding back-flow preventers. Which, I can tell you, most businesses despise.

"Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack… announced new regulations that are intended to protect small farmers from mistreatment at the hands of meat packers, swine dealers, and poultry companies. Advocates for small farmers… praised it as an important step toward ending abuses of power by the handful of companies that dominate the meat industry. The National Pork Producers Council, on the other hand, was furious, calling Vilsack's move 'an apparent attack on rural America for its role in helping elect Donald Trump as president.'" Since these rules won't take effect until after inauguration, I expect they will be set aside. You know, to show rural America just how much Trump loves them.

It's a long standing part of elections that conservatives promise to roll back regulations, which gets a lot of applause because "fuck those, we don't need them." However candidates are often reluctant to talk about which regulations they would do away with. Well, the Freedom Caucus has actually posted a list of those regulations they would like overturned. The short read is anything that makes the citizens' lives safer, more prosperous, more inclusive and saves you money, time, and from being taken advantage of in the marketplace has to go. (Grokked from Michele)

"The federally funded Voice of America… is intended to provide reliable news reports in multiple languages to countries that lack a viable independent media and to promote democratic values abroad… (A) new law strips away the presidentially appointed bipartisan Broadcasting Board of Governors. The broadcasters instead would answer to a chief executive nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate." While I agree with having an executive that is available to manage daily operations, I'm not so sure about this.

"The GOP's most likely path for repealing Obamacare immediately eliminates hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue that would otherwise be available to fund their replacement plan… The large tax cut, which would go disproportionately to high earners, will seriously handcuff lawmakers as they try to cobble together a replacement plan…" Again for the people in the back, there is no replacement plan. If the conservatives get their way we will just eliminate Obamacare and let us go back to what we had before (a free-market, employer based system). They might let us keep the "pre-existing conditions" part (although there will be no control over costs, which makes it useless) and extending coverage for dependent children until 26 years of age. They had six years to come up with something. There's been a lot of bluffing (such as Speaker Ryan's plan which isn't much more than expanded conservative talking points), but as you can see there is nothing close to being ready to even be discussed as legislation. That's an epic fail.

"Five weeks after a national scandal involving broken Detroit voting machines and ineffective poll workers, state Elections Director Chris Thomas said Wednesday evening that the city will get all new voting machines in time for the 2017 mayoral and City Council elections… Thomas said his staff soon will head to Detroit to get a better understanding of why the city has such problems running elections and to find ways to help." I'm sure it had nothing to do with the state knowing the problem existed, and budgeting money to fix it, but then never appropriating and distributing the money to actually make the purchase. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Not only are conservatives bad winners, they're sore losers as well. "In a surprise extra special session on Wednesday called with just hours notice, the Republican-led North Carolina state legislature introduced measures that would reduce the power of the incoming Democratic governor." This is what a "velvet" coup looks like. I would say these NC legislators should be ashamed of themselves, but that would require them to be able to see outside of their own personal world and they obviously can't do that. You might remember that at the end of the GW Bush administration many political appointees used their positions to gain civil service jobs so that the "conservative ideals" would still be relevant in the departments. This is all about power and control and nothing about what is best for the citizens.

"An adviser to President-elect Donald Trump compared the scientific consensus that human beings contribute to global warming to old scientific theories that were proven to be incorrect, including flat earth theory and geocentrism… He later added, 'I’m saying people have gotten things wrong throughout the 5,500-year history of our planet.'" Remember that "he'll surround himself with smart people to advise him" line? Yeah, this is what they were talking about.

Gee, what ever could Russia gain by gaming the US election to install a favored candidate? "Donald Trump hasn't been inaugurated yet, but members of his campaign entourage are already riding the president-elect's coattails all the way to Moscow." I have no idea. (Hint, most of the sanctions against "Russia" affect the business sides of the oligarchs.)

"RNC communications director Sean Spicer said on Wednesday that while President-elect Donald Trump, who has eschewed regular intelligence briefings, is meeting once or twice daily with retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn for an 'intel update.'" This is the same General Flynn who improperly released classified materials, twice, and has also retweeted a number of the fake news articles as truth and proof, right?

"A second former intelligence officer who spoke on background went further in pushing back against Trump’s claim that little in the brief changes from one day to the next. “There are continuing themes but never the same briefing and always something different,” the former official said. The daily briefing, this person added, is by far the best, most easily digestible product the intelligence community produces, as well as the most interactive—assuming, of course, the briefee engages with the material and the briefer on a regular basis, something Trump has made clear he has little interest in doing." (Grokked from someone, sorry, lost the link)

The ethical (and legal issues) surrounding the involvement of the "first daughter" in a Trump administration. I made a comment the other day on twitter about how I've noticed a trend of pictures of Trump with Ivanka in the background, like Walsingham to Elizabeth I. The familial relationships of the uber-rich are different than the rest of us (I speak here from experience with executives and from my own extended family, some of whom are/were very rich). But this seems a little strange, a little too close, a little too much like a child caring for an ailing parent.

To wit: "Already, no president-elect (dating back to at least Carter) has waited longer to hold a press conference. One irony of Trump's extended run without a press conference is just how critical he and his campaign were of rival Hillary Clinton's choice to go an extended period (276 days in total) without holding a press conference." And there are rumors of doing away with the daily press briefings and other access routes.

"'What is the precise moment, in the life of a country, when tyranny takes hold? It rarely happens in an instant; it arrives like twilight, and, at first, the eyes adjust.'" A post on BoingBoing which points at the NYT article (in case you're running short on the NYT free articles count). This is why you see all the posts on "this is not normal." They're trying to move the Overton Window (I might be using that wrong), don't let them.

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