There's battle lines being drawn.
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong.
Young people speaking their minds
getting so much resistance from behind

Friday, December 29, 2017

Scenes from a Commute

Well, technically from my daily walk today.

Linkee-poo tunes up the New Year Bell

One year down, 3 more to go. You can do this.

There's a lot of commentary about the editorial notes of Milo Yiannopoulos' supposed "biography" that Simon & Shuster both paid him an advance and then killed. Yes they are pretty good fodder. But as some have pointed out, these were (for the most part) notes that were supposed to help Milo write a more palatable book. They were notes to help him mainstream his ideas. Unfortunately for S&S (and fortunately for us) Milo has no real incentive or desire to do that and in fact shows a willful motivation to not be that person (or to improve himself or his messaging skills). He already has all the attention he wants and his business model isn't based on actual content or desire to lead, but instead is based on being as much of an asshole as possible to get people to react against him in a way that he can sue them for more money (which is his business model, lawsuits). Be thankful for idiot criminals. Milo is a prime example about how some privileged, very smart people (and while his POV is idiotic, he himself doesn't appear to be) are at their base lazy because they've never had to push hard to make their way in life. If he had to really fight for anything early in life he would be much more dangerous. (Grokked from Dan)

Update to lottery story, "Memo to the next big lottery winner: Hold off on claiming your winnings until January to bag an extra $4 million to $9 million, courtesy of the GOP and President Donald Trump." Also, just as an economy bullet point, "For perspective, a family making the U.S. median income would need to work for 54 years -- longer than a typical working lifetime -- to earn even $4 million." But most people haven't done that math.

"One reason this country never adopted the metric system can be blamed on pirates." Damn pirates.

"In other words, sitting could really be killing us because it distorts the body's own picture of how much it weighs, screwing with the systems that regulate body fat." Evolution screws with us again. "Dementia doesn’t happen all at once. And it's not well understood what, if anything, can be done to reverse it. But doctors now have more ideas about what can slow down its progression and new research suggests that exercise may play a big role." Affects an annoyed teenager voice, "That's what they always say."

IANA investment counselor… blah blah blah, but check your 4012(k). "To keep fees low, look at expense ratios and load charges before you invest — never assume an investment is inexpensive, even if it is offered within a retirement account. Often the lowest-cost options are index funds, exchange-traded funds or open-end mutual funds, which are bought directly from the mutual fund company." A little on fund classes and what fees are and do to your investment.

Space is hard. Even for the Russians.

"Russia’s space experts say they have managed to regain control of Angola’s first satellite launched earlier this week." "But his detractors — engaged in a dispute that rages up and down America’s West Coast, as the region struggles to cope with a rising tide of homelessness — say Aly and other do-gooders are doing more harm than good. However well-meaning, critics say, those who provide the homeless with tents and tarps, showers and toilets, hot meals and pet food, are enabling them to remain unsheltered." Bullshit. Or as I've told people who have expressed opinions about how the homeless or people living in Section 8 housing have it so good, if it's so great you're a fool for not doing it yourself. Look, this isn't the first time we have a chronic homeless "problem." The solution is never looking at the homeless and telling them about pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps. If they had bootstraps they already would have done that.

The recreational marijuana market looks to cannibalize the medical marijuana market. And water is wet, by the way. This is exactly why some medications facing the end of patent protection go to over the counter instead of allowing generics to cut into their market space (Prilosec I'm looking at you).

"After living in Washington for nearly a year, President Donald Trump has yet to enjoy a single non-working meal at a restaurant that doesn’t pay him rent. He hasn’t taken in a performance at the Kennedy Center; hasn’t been to a sporting event; hasn’t toured most of the sights." He doesn't have time to after visiting his properties and golfing. And (leans in to whisper) our president doesn't have much culture or class.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Linkee-poo is ducking all these birds

Buongiorno to all my readers in Italy. Not sure why you all show up at the same time, but you do you. Did you all get a group rate or something?

"A legal memo from the Department of the Interior posted Friday declares that the Migratory Bird Treaty Act applies only to purposeful actions that kill migratory birds, and not to energy companies and other businesses that kill birds incidentally." Because fuck birds, that's why. Oh, you thought the Trump administration was going to roll back all those stupid regulations that don't have a real impact instead of rolling back regulations that make corporations behave in moral and responsible manners?

"Contaminated food is taking too long to be removed from store shelves, according to a report issued by the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services." Funny, that sort of statement is usually followed by how soon the IG is retiring. I mean, who needs government regulations? "Every year about 130,000 people in the U.S. are hospitalized with a food-borne illness, and 3,000 people die." Hey, I've got an idea. I bet we could cut government spending and lessen the deficit by continuing to reduce the number of government inspectors and labs positions.

"Harley-Davidson is placing a renewed emphasis on teaching people to ride as part of its efforts to attract more customers." Dear HD, it also doesn't help that your current lineup of 700cc bikes are north of $10k (although there are some stripped down models that are price competitive with the competition, the H-D Street line). Not to mention that thought that you still need to do a "tune up" just out of the gate to get the full performance of the engine (if that's still true or not doesn't matter as long as people think they have to spend and extra grand to get a good bike). Also remember, this was your marketing strategy.

"A federal judge on Wednesday blocked the state of Arizona from enforcing a controversial law banning ethnic studies courses, bringing near a close a seven-year battle over teaching about Mexican Americans in Tucson public schools." And now you know why conservatives have a hard-on for stacking the federal courts with specifically groomed conservative idealists who have no real legal education or experience. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Excitement and joy turned to anger and frustration Wednesday as dozens of people expecting to collect lottery winnings instead left the South Carolina Education Lottery offices empty handed." Apparently a computer "error" lead to too many winning tickets being sold. Now if it comes up as intentional tampering (which probably was not done by the "winners") the state has a case to refuse to pay. If it comes up as an existing "error" in the code (or probably just a statistical anomaly) then the state should cough up the cash. They won't, though. Most lotteries have language which allow the lottery system to adjust payouts in the case of such anomalies. But also noted here for an example of "you can't beat the house." Lotteries are statistically rigged to bring in more money that they payout. Not like that's going to stop me from buying tickets for the big lotto jackpots. As I've stated before, if you go in accepting that they are ultra-high risk, ultra-high (potential) payout investments it works out better.

Risks are all around us. Here's an NPR story on the making of ice wine. It's a very risky prospect. We have our own local wine community in NE Ohio (yeah for micro-climates) and they try to produce ice wine. Some years they make it, other years not. Ice wine is very sweet (without additional sugar, as with the Rieslings they make on the Lake Erie islands) and really not to my tastes.

"With demand for ambulances decreased by available Uber drivers, emergency personnel have been able reach critical patients faster while also applying necessary treatment on the way to the hospital, according to a new economic study from the University of Kansas…" (Grokked from Dan)

"In its last-minute court battle to stop state officials from certifying Jones as the winner, the Moore campaign said certification should be delayed until a 'thorough investigation of potential election fraud,' according to a press release." The Alabama Secretary of State calls bullshit. Also in his complaint disgraced judge Roy Moore states he took a polygraph test after the election that found he didn't molest young girls. I can't help but thinking 1) why is this in his complaint about election irregularities and 2) probably didn't go much farther than placing his hand on a Bible and swearing and was found to not have burst into flames (as far as observers could tell).

"The White House hopes to boost President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings by using the economy as a centerpiece of its political message in 2018, according to three White House officials, even if many of the president’s successes so far are squarely built on the legacy of former President Barack Obama." Apparently the media hasn't got the message that "truthfulness" and "Trump Administration" don't go together. With this presidency it's all about the spin, baby. "But hard economic data on growth, job creation and wages look very similar to the last several years under Obama. The pace of job growth actually slowed slightly to 174,000 per month in 2017 through November, compared with 187,000 per month in Obama’s final year… In the first 11 months of Obama’s presidency, the Standard & Poor’s 500 rose 37 percent. It rose 18 percent under Trump. The Dow rose 30 percent in Obama’s first 11 months to Trump’s 24 percent."

"The richest people on earth became $1 trillion richer in 2017, more than four times last year’s gain, as stock markets shrugged off economic, social and political divisions to reach record highs."

Also to reiterate, I'm seeing a recession in the coming calendar year (although it may now be the last quarter where we have the first negative growth continuing into the 2019 calendar year, but my money is it starting in the second quarter). The hype around the stock market, bitcoin, home sales all bear the same hallmarks of 2006 (2000, 1990, etc). I'm already seeing the stories of, "Will it all last? Of course it will! We're in a new economic reality!" Heard it before. Wasn't true then either. We also have the combined issue of reduced health care spending and insurance rates (health care was one of the fastest growing employment and market sectors after Obamacare was passed).

Some discussion on Trump (potentially) issuing pardons in the Russia probe.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Linkee-poo doesn't know exactly what to do with three French Hens

"A survey of most of the major public health bodies around the world actually do agree on a few things about cellphone radiation: namely, that no research has ever confirmed that low levels of radiation can harm people." Not all radiation is the same. However I'll just note here at at the professional level we never say, "It has no effect." Because you can never be sure. For MRI exposure (which includes magnetic manipulation and radio waves) we always say that there is no credible research that shows any negative effects on health (you know, as long as there's no counter-indications like foreign body ferrous metals in the subject). Note that physics is on our side here, but also note that we also didn't take Radium and X-Rays very seriously until faced with incontrovertible facts that they are hazardous. Plus it's not like there aren't other toxic materials used in cell phone manufacturing. Or to put it another way, cell phone use might pose a health risk, but not from the transmitter radiation (cell tower, bluetooth, wifi, the short range radios used in payment technologies).

"Seniors are wasting their time and money taking calcium and vitamin D supplements to ward off the brittle bones of old age, a new review concludes… Not all experts agreed with this conclusion, however. Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Smith says the study makes a 'bold leap' by arguing that these supplements do no good at all." Disclaimers… IANA doctor, you should see your own physician, not all medical advice is the same for everyone… That said, take calcium and Vitamin D (D helps "fix" calcium) early on (most of these studies are on people older than 50, which is important) and do weight bearing exercises. This is general advice for good bone health. Bone density once lost can not be regained (this is a systemic issue, not say from a fracture where you have to be non-weight bearing and lose bone mass in your legs, or if exposed to prolonged weightlessness). As we age, our osteoclasts (those cells which tear down bone matrix) don't weaken as fast as out osteoblasts (those cells which build up bone matrix). So after 50 we are on a decline (actually somewhere in our 20s but it becomes more pronounced after 50). Calcium and Vitamin D along with stress exercise increase bone density (note this is in the same vein as "eat less and exercise more"… you have to do both to see any benefit). You want to build up as much as you can before you start losing the battle. Also, what the doctors say about a hip fracture is true. Avoid hip fractures at all costs. For elderly patients (those over 70, especially those over 80) a hip fracture can be a sign of imminent decline and death. Hip fractures take a heavy toll on the body, as does the surgery to repair them.

"Everyone in Israel knew that layoffs and plant closings were coming, but what was expected was something akin to painful trims. Instead, on Dec. 14, Teva announced what amounted to an amputation."

"Slowly but steadily, an enormous mass of warm rock is rising beneath part of New England, although a major volcanic eruption isn’t likely for millions of years, a Rutgers University-led study suggests. The research is groundbreaking in its scope and challenges textbook concepts of geology." When the stars are right…

"A storm that blew into northern Erie County on Christmas Eve had dumped 60 inches of snow by late Tuesday afternoon, according to the National Weather Service in Cleveland, slowing traffic on local interstates, plugging up residential streets and forcing numerous businesses to close, including the Millcreek Mall on what was expected to be a busy post-holiday shopping day." Winter is here.

"Among the big changes contained in the tax overhaul signed by President Trump last week is a little-remarked-upon provision changing the way inflation is calculated… The new method, using the so-called 'chained' consumer price index to determine when to adjust tax brackets and eligibility for deductions, is expected to push more Americans into higher tax brackets more quickly." Whispers, but only if your pay increases at the same as the rate of inflation. Note that conservatives have tried to tie Social Security increases to "chained CPI" as well. This might be the first salvo of that attack. It also may be a way to justify lower pay increases in the private sector, or to help "push" people out of poverty, or as an early move when w update minimum pay and tie it to inflation (as it should have been last time, Ohio's minimum is tied to inflation).

Some Ohio news.

So, how's the Charter School experiment in Ohio going? "A new study shows the graduation rates of Ohio’s traditional public schools are much better than those of charter schools… The study shows even when excluding dropout-recovery schools, the four-year graduation rate of charter schools in Ohio is just under 45%, faring worse than public schools in Ohio’s six largest cities." But let's give them tax breaks and focus on shifting more people/funds from public schools to charters because that seems like a winning solution.

Why do we really need to address the opioid crisis? "On the same day that the federal government released stats showing Ohio has the second-highest opioid death rate in the nation, the state’s children services’ agencies are saying their system is straining under the pressure of the deadly crisis." Because it's costing us a fortune. "Sausser said even if the state doubled what it spends on children services – which now is around 10 percent of overall costs - it would still be last in the nation for funding these agencies." Hey, ho, way to go Ohio.

"New data from the Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures rank Ohio in the top three states for manufacturing employment, behind California and Texas." Yeah! I think.

Good news. "Ohio is expanding Medicaid coverage for acupuncture." Bad news is our state legislature is still trying to cut Medicaid Expansion and limit new enrollees (that was the story I was really looking for when I saw the other Ohio news items).

We're going to cut this one up and rearrange the text a little. "On Christmas Day, The Salt Lake Tribune…" declared Sen. Orin Hatch as "Utahn of the Year… Hatch, in response, told the paper he was 'grateful for this great Christmas honor.'" Only by the paper made clear that being declare Utahn of the Year, like Time's "Man of the Year" isn't always an honorific. In this case, while naming him Utahn of the Year the paper "denounced Sen. Orrin Hatch's 'utter lack of integrity' and called for him to end his 42-year career in the Senate."

"U.S. consumer confidence declined in December from a 17-year high as Americans became less upbeat about the outlook for the economy and job prospects, according to figures Wednesday from the New York-based Conference Board."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Linkee-poo the running of the deer

Included this edit to the previous post, set here in case you missed it. "Trump signs GOP tax plan and short-term government funding bill on his way out of town." Which means the GOP realizes they're going to lose bigly in November. While that might be great for the end of the year, but 2018 is going to suck more than 2017 (which sucked more than 2016 which we all didn't think was possible). But then, "The emergency funding legislation also contained what's called a 'pay-go waiver,' a provision that suspends the rules governing how Congress has to pay for certain programs. Without the waiver, Trump would have had to wait until the New Year to sign the expensive tax cuts into law, or risk triggering draconian automatic spending cuts." Point of fact, the GOP championed an demanded enforcement of PayGo every time the Democrats have been in charge of Congress since the 90s (when it was initiated during the Republican Revolution). Basically this exercise has been a lesson on "The Rules Don't Apply to Conservatives".

"But internal FCC documents obtained by Motherboard using a Freedom of Information Act request show that the independent, nonpartisan FCC Office of Inspector General—acting on orders from Congressional Republicans—investigated the claim that Obama interfered with the FCC’s net neutrality process and found it was nonsense." Gee, it turned out like everything else Congressional Republicans demanded to be investigated? Shocked, shocked I am… Look, it should have to be stated openly at this point, but Republicans in general are racist, paranoid, conspiracy believing lunatics. They should be institutionalized. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Elderly couple stopped in Nebraska with 60 pounds of weed 'for Christmas presents'." Best grandparents EVAR.

"The US ambassador to the Netherlands faced an excruciating moment on television when he denied ever saying that there were no-go zones in the Netherlands, calling the suggestion 'fake news'." Let's go to the tape. "Challenged about having called this 'fake news', (the US ambassador) then went on to deny to (the reporter) that he had in fact used the phrase 'fake news'." Our post-fact world everyone.

"In real life, William Edward Atchison—people called him Bill—lived in a little yellow house with his parents, about a mile away from the Giant gas station where he worked and from Aztec High School, where he shot and killed two students and then himself last Thursday… And yet online, the 21-year-old New Mexico resident lived a prolific life as a white supremacist, pro-Trump meme peddler who was most known for his obsession with school shooters. For a half-decade, Atchison spent most of his days online, repeatedly posting threats of violence and cries for help." The alt-right offers no help, only scapegoats and power-trip fantasies. That's their modus operandi. The Far Right isn't much better, neither is the Moderate Right. (Grokked from Vince O'Conner)

"Trump's upcoming visit to Mar-A-Lago will mark the 106th day Trump has visited one of his properties as President…" Not that anyone is counting.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Linkee-poo comes a wassailing among the leaves so free

A little more on the bill passing process (PDF). "The 10-day period begins on midnight of the day the President receives the measure, and Sundays are not counted." The bill has yet to be enrolled, which must happen before it's sent to the President. So Trump does have until after the New Year to sign it. Unless they want to get the job done before leaving for Xmas and send it to the President and then adjourn (which is then a pocket veto). But my guess is it won't be enrolled until they return from their break. I wonder what the parliamentarian will rule on not enrolling the bill until a new session of Congress starts?

EDIT to include this (12-22-17 12:50pm) "Trump signs GOP tax plan and short-term government funding bill on his way out of town." Which means the GOP realizes they're going to lose bigly in November. While that might be great for the end of the year, but 2018 is going to suck more than 2017 (which sucked more than 2016 which we all didn't think was possible). But then, "The emergency funding legislation also contained what's called a 'pay-go waiver,' a provision that suspends the rules governing how Congress has to pay for certain programs. Without the waiver, Trump would have had to wait until the New Year to sign the expensive tax cuts into law, or risk triggering draconian automatic spending cuts." Point of fact, the GOP championed an demanded enforcement of PayGo every time the Democrats have been in charge of Congress since the 90s (when it was initiated during the Republican Revolution). Basically this exercise has been a lesson on "The Rules Don't Apply to Conservatives". "In the mid-19th century, women wearing the style of the day would burst into flames if their dress caught fire — and I do mean burst." Dying for fashion is different than dying because of fashion. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

And this morning was the breathless TV talkshow anchors discussing Meghan Markle wearing sheers for her engagement photos. Seriously folks. This is complete bullshit. They were not offensive, like Paris Hilton wearing her "Stop Being Poor" t-shirt. They were racy like some Fredericks of Hollywood outfits. Not to mention she's a grown woman and can wear whatever the fuck she likes.

The Planet Money podcast, sub podcast The Indicator, on Net Neutrality. "On today's show, how the broadband market got the way it is, and what it means for the debate over net neutrality."

"Ancient, preserved microbes that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, dating to billions of years ago, may represent the oldest known evidence of life on Earth, according to a new study." And with more study it appears that early life was widely diversified which leads to the renewed interest in the panspermia theory of life.

"For 50 years, Cabela's has sold fishing rods, guns and ammo and other sporting gear across the U.S., and in the process put the little town of Sidney on the map. Not many small towns could boast they were home to the headquarters of a $4 billion enterprise. But now Cabela's has been sold to its rival Bass Pro Shops in Missouri, and the folks in Sidney are afraid they could become another struggling small town." Donald Trump to Nebraska, stat! It's sad when that happens. What tickles me, though is that the town (of course) is thoroughly conservative. "Eighty-five percent of the county voted for Donald Trump. (Sidney's Mayor) says when Cabela's went public it became beholden to Wall Street investors, not Sidney. But he thinks his town is owed something." Nope, that's not how capitalism works. Look, small town America, you've been sold a bill of goods by the GOP. The world doesn't function the way you want it to. What you thought was it wouldn't happen to you because you were the "good people", you were "right", and it was "those other people" who were going to get the shaft. We're all getting the shaft.

"U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro found that prosecutors had failed to turn over documents that could be used to support the defense's case… Navarro also noted 'that the government had erroneously claimed several things, including that there weren't snipers surveying the Bundy ranch when there were.'"

"The Huffington Post reported Thursday that the Miss America Organization’s CEO, Sam Haskell, exchanged emails with a writer for the televised pageant and others that included harsh and sometimes defamatory comments about past winners." Blatant misogyny at the Miss America pageant with the exchange of lewd and degrading emails? Shocked…

"The sexual harassment scandals over the past couple of months are causing some workers to rethink some of their office behaviors… Navigating those distinctions isn't always clear." Puh-lease. Mostly it's because the line can be different for different people. It first starts with being professional, which doesn't mean "put on a suit." And the same behavior can be fine or a harassment, which I think throws some people. Take a hug for example. If someone is not a hugger, forcing a hug on them can be harassment (and shouldn't be done). Sometimes, however, a hug is appropriate (last time I hugged someone at work was to comfort them as they had a breakdown because of personal issues). Now here is where it gets troublesome for some people. Let's say someone is a hugger and they aren't doing it because of anything untoward, they just feel hugging is something you do with people you care about. But lets say someone in the office doesn't feel comfortable with coworkers touching them (for any number of reasons). If they feel pressured to allow that coworker to hug them, that can he a hostile work environment for them. So consent is very important and acknowledging diversity is more than race/sex. Everyone is an individual ("I'm not," shouts the person in back of the crowd, yes, thank you, sit down). Flirting is acceptable if they other person accepts it. There are levels of gray you can start with and see if the other person responds. If they don't, drop it. If they do, great. Then you can advance to the next level of grey (more than likely the other person will first) until you reach a level that one of you may be uncomfortable (if it's just flirting that might not actually happen because it won't advance too far). But know that how you relate with one person is not how you relate to everyone else and if you flirt with one person while another person who doesn't like to flirt is nearby that can also be harassment. It's all situational ethics. If you can understand why, it's best if you avoid anything more than cordiality.

"As the founder (of Papa Johns), Schnatter has been one of the biggest names in fast food. But he recently ran into controversy when he blamed NFL players' mass move to drop to one knee during the playing of the national anthem as affecting his company's sales." Not to mention his dickiness during the ACA debate.

"'We will remember it when we are called upon to once again make the world's largest contribution to the United Nations. And we will remember it when so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.'" Somebody is playing the snowflake. And today it's Ambassador Haley. Dear Ambassador, we don't help other countries because of innate altruism. We help other countries to keep their problems from hitting our shores. If you want to diminish the US on the world stage and enhance Russian and Chinese influence on the world, continue to follow this line of petulance. It will only hurt us in the short and long run. "'To its shame the United Nations has long been a hostile place for the state of Israel,' Haley told the General Assembly on Thursday." Um, Ambassador, you're embarrassing yourself. You might want to actually read up on history. Without the UN, it would still be Palestine.

"Wells Fargo & Co.’s move to raise its minimum pay to $15 an hour was part of a long-term plan and not related to the passage of the Republican tax overhaul as the company implied, said a bank spokesman, who later backtracked and stated the hikes were a result of the bill’s approval." Shocked, shocked I am… Oh, and all the others talking about their year end bonuses, the tax cuts are neither law nor in effect yet. This is all PR bullshit. If companies are giving bonuses this year, it's money they've already earned. Because businesses have been making money hand over fist for the past 8 years. (Grokked from Michelle)

"The backstage talks provide a window into how those closest to Trump are bracing for a possible bloodbath in the 2018 midterms, which could obliterate the Republican congressional majorities and paralyze the president’s legislative agenda. The potential for a Democratic wave has grown after Republican losses this fall in Virginia, New Jersey and Alabama, and as the president’s approval ratings have plummeted to the 30s."when did While I think the Dems will pick up seats, and I would be happy with them taking solid control of both houses, I'll believe it when I see it. Democrats are old hands and snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

In the dark time of the year

A joyous Winter Solstice to you all.

Linkee-poo is long on the shortest day of the year

Apparently my European friends (wink) only like me every other day now. Sigh. I was going to make expresso.

XKCD on virtual assistants. (Grokked from Dan)

"SpaceX releases first pictures of Falcon Heavy rocket." Squee. Okay, I wanna see that sucker launch.

"An international team of astronomers has concluded that when it comes to theories about colliding neutron stars, Einstein got it right. Everybody else, not so much." Living in the future.

"As a way to bolster software offerings on Mac, Apple is reportedly planning to blur the lines between its macOS and iOS platforms, allowing iPhone and iPad apps from the hugely successful iOS App Store to run on a Mac." When I was a young man learning programming, there was a professor who said at some point in the future it wouldn't matter what OS ("commercial" OSs being a relatively new concept) someone had, you would be able to run any software on any system. I'm not sure he saw how complex software would become, but processors are now fast enough to run emulation software and acceptable speeds (except for games which have their own weird architecture). So at least at this point the Mac OS and iOS are similar enough that the Mac OS will run code compiled for the iOS (when the release the update).

"Between September 2015 and November 2016, Abbey Inn had a policy in place that allowed them to charge customers $350 for negative reviews, according to the lawsuit. The state alleges the hotel violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by enforcing a customer review policy that is 'unfair, abusive, and deceptive.'"

Why are super-grid-level-batteries a really good idea? Instant on recovery in case of power drops. You know, besides storing extra energy from renewable sources. (Grokked from Dan)

"Nowhere is that more evident than in Newtok, which sits on a river not far from the Bering Sea. The later freeze-up has allowed the river to eat away at the village's thawing permafrost. During a storm, blocks of tundra the size of a minivan slump into the water and disappear." We're boned.

"This trend crops up several times in human history. People's ability to create new tools helps them survive when their environment changes quickly." Will technology save us? I wouldn't put money on it. It's a little breathlessly written, but there are big differences between pre-historic humans (or animals) and us. Namely population. We have a whole lot more people and we have strict ownership laws (and land usage) which prevent our fluid movement in response to climate change.

"Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are 'vulnerable,' 'entitlement,' 'diversity,' 'transgender,' 'fetus,' 'evidence-based' and 'science-based.'" Because they make conservative snowflakes feel uncomfortable when they shout about PC culture shutting them down. (Grokked from a lotta people)

"New York University microbiology professor Philip Tierno told TIME last year that there’s little scientific research on the health risks related to tampon use. A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration told the Post that it advises companies to conduct microbiology testing and requires all tampons to receive FDA clearance before going on the market." Still. Toxic Shock Syndrome was first brought into the public sphere in the 80s.

"Another North Korean soldier has crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South in a dramatic escape, the second such defection in just over a month, South Korea's Defense Ministry says." Things aren't going well in the Hermit Kingdom.

"Now, that door is open, and the world is going to find out just how much the oil industry really wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Will anyone actually want to.

My vote doesn't matter. "Control of the Virginia House of Delegates is still up for grabs as Republicans appear to have lost a 16-seat majority in the one of the most agonizing ways possible — with a single-vote defeat in a dramatic election recount." The fuck it doesn't.

You know that story about the Virginia legislature being 50-50 because of 1 vote? Yeah, not so fast as a Republican election judge reverses their decision about an over-count ballot (where someone marked more than one candidate). "In other words, it appears likely that control of Virginia's House of Delegates will come down to a game of chance." Sometimes it's victory at all costs for at least one party.

"The sharply conflicting Palestinian and Israeli interpretations of the widely viewed video clip highlight the deep rift between the two societies, at a time of heightened tension over the status of contested Jerusalem, the centerpiece of the long-running conflict." This will not end well.

"On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News… At issue is a 2010 transaction in which the Obama Administration allowed the sale of U.S. uranium mining facilities to Russia's state atomic energy company. Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time, and the State Department was one of nine agencies that agreed to approve the deal after finding no threat to U.S. national security."

"President Trump on Wednesday commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, whose Iowa meatpacking plant was the target of a huge immigration raid in 2008, and whose 27-year prison sentence angered many Orthodox Jews… Mr. Rubashkin made national headlines nine years ago after federal agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, who were working there. Mr. Rubashkin was the company’s chief executive, and the plant had been the largest kosher meatpacking operation in the country. He was later convicted of bank fraud in federal court." Unfortunately the Trump administration doesn't show any inclination to change their other stances on immigration issues.

"US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warns the US will be 'taking names' of the countries that vote in favor of a resolution that condemns the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." Ambassador Haley, let me help you. Take a list of all the countries in the UN, scratch off the US and Israel. There's your list of those who will vote against us. In the future you may wish to forego the school-yard taunts.

"Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Obama administration undertook a number of programs that sought to help families move from low- to high-opportunity neighborhoods. Part of the idea was that doing so would actually get people off government assistance, Julián Castro, the secretary of HUD during the final years of the Obama administration, told me. If they move to better neighborhoods, families can access better educational opportunities and jobs, make more money, and stop needing public help. 'You need to help empower families by ensuring that they have the tools they need to succeed,' he said." Well the party of "pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps" can't allow that, now can they. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"(The IRS) will have to figure out how to interpret and implement the hundreds of pages of changes to the tax code that were just passed, at a time when it is already struggling with budget cuts and staff reductions… In 1986, the last time a major tax overhaul was approved, Congress actually appropriated more money for the IRS to hire additional personnel. This time, the president and House and Senate leaders have all proposed deeper cuts in the agency's budget."

"Celebrations aside, President Trump may wait until next year to sign the tax bill into law, delaying $120 billion in automatic cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and sparing Republicans from having to explain them in an election year… Here's why: If Trump signs the tax bill this month, it could trigger steep automatic spending cuts early next year to a raft of programs. But if Trump waits until January to sign the bill, the spending cuts would be delayed until 2019 — after next year's congressional elections — giving lawmakers a full year to prevent them." Cough. pocket veto. Shh, don't tell anyone. Cough. "The Constitution grants the president 10 days to review a measure passed by the Congress. If the president has not signed the bill after 10 days, it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the 10-day period, the bill does not become law." The bill was approved December 20th. That means even without the President's signature it becomes law on Dec 30th, unless Congress adjourns. Would someone please warm up the lawyers.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Linkee-poo, the restroom door said "Gentlemen"

"Scientists have recorded the thunderous sound of 1.5 million fish mating in Mexico. One of the loudest noises produced by any underwater animal, the Gulf corvina’s machine-gun mating call can deafen dolphins and sealions." Because SCIENCE! The article, while it has a video, the video isn't about the sound. Because apparently nobody would actually want to hear the sound, or I'm assuming that's the logic in the Newsweek editors meetings.

"From A-list celebrities to teachers, doctors, lawyers, and journalists — there are social norms that govern our decisions, whether we realize it or not." The Hidden Brain podcast with social clues and how those who are in remain in. Also a lot on signaling.

"There’s an old joke that there are 10 kinds of people in the world. Those who know binary, those who don’t, and those who didn’t see a base three joke coming." Building trenary computers. (Grokked from Dan)

Racism does hurt. "According to the most recent data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 1,000 live births, 4.8 white infants die in the first year of life. For black babies, that number is 11.7."

"As more and more of our lives play out online, so do crimes. This has prompted major tech companies to start growing internal crime-fighting cyber teams, often staffing them with former law enforcement agents." Go West, young man.

"The White House has said it will be shutting down its website for petitions from midnight on Tuesday until a new one is set up in late January." It's coming "real soon now."

"Three different agency employees, in different jobs, from three different cities, but each encountered a similar outcome: Federal records show that within a matter of days, requests were submitted for copies of emails written by them that mentioned either Mr. Pruitt or President Trump, or any communication with Democrats in Congress that might have been critical of the agency." The beatings will continue until moral improves.

"Republican lawmakers hoped to put the bill over the goal line a day earlier but hit a procedural hurdle after the House claimed victory on a 227-203 vote Tuesday afternoon. The Senate passed the bill with some slight tweaks in the early hours of Wednesday morning on a party-line vote, 51-48." Because the House Leadership doesn't know the rules (ie. they don't know how to actually govern), they'll have to vote on it again today. "The GOP has long sought a big overhaul of the tax code to simplify it by eliminating complex tax breaks and lowering rates, but in the end, the tax bill did not do much to actually simplify the code." Of course it didn't. This is a tax cut for companies and the rich. No need to simplify in that case.

So here I'm going to make my economic prediction. Without the tax bill chances are we will see a recession (two quarters of negative GDP growth) in 2018. With the tax bill, that recession will be deeper than it would have been. I predict a rapid growth of automation (software and robotics) sending many people to the unemployment line beginning in August or October (the tax bill actually makes this advantageous with it's one-year depreciation of capital expenditures). Congress will say to tame the deficit we need to reduce Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid even though none of those programs contribute to the deficit (and are paid for by taxes other than the income tax).

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Linkee-poo looks out on the Feast of Stephen

Why are dystopias so popular in YA literature? "Teenagers are cynical, adds Aaron Yost, 16. And they should be: 'To be fair, they were born into a world that their parents kind of really messed up.'"

"Whether it's hanging lights, baking dozens of cookie variations or just enjoying the plants, holidays are full of traditions. But like with any tradition, sometimes you've been doing it so long that you don't know why." Jelly donuts and mistletoe, why we do what we do. Sort of like why Buddhists ring bells to remember to breathe. Why do we breathe when we hear a bell? It's reminder to us to breathe. Why do we ring bells? To remind us to breathe. Get into the spirit; eat a jelly donut, drink some eggnog, and kiss someone under the mistletoe because it's the season to do those things. In a world where I can still buy watermelon and grapes at my grocery in the middle of December and can keep myself warm by turning a nob these things don't make sense (like why oranges were also considered Xmas gifts). But just like our appendix, it's a vestigial reminder of life (that really isn't vestigial and plays an important role in our lives). I mean, it's not like our parents have been lying to us about what is traditional.

Ah, I see the UFO thing is back in the news.

"If you look at the percent of the federal budget currently being invested in NASA, you'll find that you have to go all the way back to 1959, the first full year of NASA's existence, to encounter a time where we invested less in the agency than we do today." Yes, Virginia, the Moon will be safe from our presence for a few more years.

In a "bad date" (or a date you didn't know was a date)? Yeah, there's an app for that.

"Facebook news feeds can get pretty cluttered, especially with clickbait posts fishing for as many likes, shares, and comments as possible. But it appears that enough users have complained to Facebook about these posts that the social media platform will start cracking down on what it is calling 'engagement bait.'" These are the social media equivalents of the "forward this email to get good luck" schemes that were big in the 90s. They're an electronic virus that requires wetware hacking to propagate.

"Older brains may forget more because they lose their rhythm at night." White people can't dance. But this doesn't really explain why I have to answer "Why am I here?" questions from my patients sixteen times in a row.

In the category of things that shouldn't happen, "So we thought we would ask teachers how much of their own money they spend each year… The answer: more than $250." Most professions require some outlay of cash for item (the night job soaks up a lot of this with certifications - CPR as well as radiological - CEUs, licensing fees, tests, immunizations, scrubs, etc), but teachers really shouldn't need to be buying classroom consumables. That's the job of the school system. But teachers know (as so do many of us) that the administration will never approve of the expenses, so they have gotten into the habit of just doing it themselves. Bravo on them, but this shouldn't be the way we do business. Teachers shouldn't have to buy kids food and clothes (they do). Teachers should have to buy chalk and crayons and books. This is a business model born of necessity, but has become relied upon instead of changing the system to address reality.

"President Donald Trump is privately striking a less agitated tone on the Russia investigation, sources say, even insisting he'll soon be cleared in writing. But his new approach has some allies worried he's not taking the threat of the probe seriously enough." Because the president doesn't understand how these things actually work. Every time he talks about a "letter" I'm reminded of his campaign "health report" letter from his wacky doctor. So now begins the phase of "whistling past the graveyard." We're nearing the end.

"So it surprises some to see how readily many committed church people flock to his standard. But the explanation is both simple and neat. It is not that evangelicals think Trump is one of them, but rather that they believe he is being used by God." So even the (conservative) evangelicals think of Trump as a tool.

Fighting the opioid epidemic with needle exchanges. Really it shouldn't be this hard. It's not like we haven't been here, in this exact same place, before. But some people don't want to deal with the base causes (economic, psychological, and sociological) and think it's better for people to die than to help them.

"The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected President Trump's nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank." Huhn. Gee, nominating someone who though the bank should have been disbanded was a Bad Idea™? Too bad the Senate didn't feel that way about State, EPA, Energy, HHS…

"The average household would get a tax cut of $1,610 in 2018… However, extremes make averages, and the benefits would be much larger for richer households. A household earning $1 million or more would get an average cut of $69,660, an income bump of 3.3 percent. Compare that to the average household earning $50,000 to $75,000, which would get a tax cut of $870, or 1.6 percent." As to the comments about how far up the stock market has gone in anticipation of these cuts, it hasn't gone up that much because of jobs. The stock market has gone up because the investor class has realized that all this money that will flow to companies from both the reduced taxes (and the much reduced tax to repatriate foreign funds) will be funneled to increased dividends and stock buy-backs, both of which won't benefit you unless you own the stocks. There is no trickle-down, and a rising tide floods the low-lying areas and drown those people who can't afford boats. "The numbers look bleaker a decade out for most American households. To help ensure their bill met the budget limits Republicans had set for themselves, lawmakers set many individual income tax changes to sunset after 2025 (they made cuts to corporate tax rates permanent, meanwhile)." This is the Republican cause made clear.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Linkee-poo stumbles into Monday, doesn't apologize

"'The safety net? It has too many holes in it for me.'" The Guardian reports on Philip Alston's, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, trip across America. This is the anti-story to the American Dream, except this one is truth whereas the American Dream is both an aspiration and fiction for the majority. "… But what I see is the failure of society. I see a society that let that happen, that is not doing what it should. And it’s very sad.'" (Grokked from John)

"Dutch police say they have shot and arrested a man who wielded a knife at Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport." So it's true that banning guns won't deter violent crime, but it would make them less bloody.

"Overall, the residential solar market is expected to fall 13 percent this year, according to GTM’s quarterly solar market report, released on Thursday. That compares with a 19 percent rise last year and four straight years before that of increases above 50 percent." Basically after Tesla acquired (or folded in depending on whom you believe) SolarCity they stopped aggressively marketing.

"Track Palin, the son of former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, was arrested on burglary and assault charges in Alaska on Saturday, December 16, according to multiple reports." What a wonderful family.

"Russia’s Defense Ministry has criticized the U.S. over what it claims are mixed messages about its fight against the Islamic State militant group (ISIS) in Syria." Stealing Putin's thunder.

"Some countries, such as France, Austria and Poland, prohibit removing people from their homes when it's so cold. But that's not the case in the United States. A few places, like Maryland and Washington, D.C., postpone evictions when it's below freezing and over the holidays, although those places are the exception rather than the rule."

"Democrat Andrea Ramsey has dropped out of the race to take on GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas after The Kansas City Star began questioning Ramsey about accusations made against her in a 2005 sexual harassment lawsuit." Again, sexual assault is a power thing, not a sex thing.

"President Trump, minutes before heading to speak at the FBI's National Academy, lashed out at the bureau, saying "it's a shame what's happened with the FBI" and claiming there are 'a lot of very angry people that are seeing it.'" I wonder if Kelly has even broached the subject of how Trump's unscripted moments betray his inner thoughts? Worst president ever. Of course Trump didn't mention the "deep state" he believes is running the government (another projection of what conservative really want, see behaviors of GW Bush appointees who in the last few months of that administration used their positions to be hired on in career positions).

"Facing bipartisan hostility over high drug prices in an election year, the pharmaceutical industry's biggest trade group boosted revenue by nearly a fourth in 2016 and spread the millions collected among hundreds of lobbyists, politicians and patient groups, new filings show."

"Matthew Petersen has been nominated for a judgeship on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, one of the nation's most important federal courts… But his trouble began during Wednesday's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee when, among a panel of five nominees, he alone told Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., that he had never tried a case in court… It was all downhill from there." As it was explained in other places, the questions Sen Kennedy asked could be answered by first year law students (no matter what their career focus). But of course they'll vote him in. (See earlier comment about who is instilling a "deep state", also see the Federalists Society)

"President Donald Trump said Friday that he spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to thank him for comments he made about the President's efforts to grow the American economy." For there being no collusion, there sure are a lot of Russians hanging around.

"President Donald Trump’s mining regulators are reconsidering rules meant to protect underground miners from breathing coal and rock dust -- the cause of black lung -- and diesel exhaust, which can cause cancer." How do you like him now, coal country? "… (C)oal miners are suffering from the most serious form of the deadly mining disease black lung in numbers more than 10 times what federal regulators report, an NPR investigation has found." Note that those are with the "debilitating regulations" that Trump wants to roll back.

"Opponents of special counsel Robert Mueller ramped up their attacks over the weekend with a new claim that he improperly collected thousands of emails from President Trump's transition team and is using them as an illegitimate basis for much of his investigation." How do you spell "bullshit"? If Mueller didn't obtain the documents legally, he can't use them in court and can't even use evidence discovered based on those emails in court. So do you really think one of the brightest legal minds in the US would have obtained anything illegally? What the Trump camp is very upset about is Mueller obtained the emails back in August, and started interviewing staff members in September. Which means Mueller when into those interviews fully armed with the intelligence from the emails (which is also how the Trump team worked back and figured out he had the emails to begin with). Expect more people to be charged with lying to the FBI.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Linkee-poo, do you hear what I hear

An emoji cheat sheet for a lot of social media outlets. (Grokked from Dan)

"The popular crowdfunding service Patreon has backed off plans to change its payment structure, after widespread, vocal and passionate opposition from creators and their fans."

"A cow in Philadelphia apparently wanted to be away from the manger, as it escaped twice Thursday morning from a church’s live nativity scene." Cows are wily, man.

"Ten years ago this month, you may not have noticed the cracking and crumbling under you." Ten years after the Great Recession and how things are different, but still the same.

"As avocados grow increasingly popular, more and more people are apparently cutting themselves. While there aren't any official, global figures on how many people accidentally hurt themselves this way, anecdotal reports abound." Avocado hand… because people don't understand how to prepare pitted fruit.

"The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan counted 728 alleged disappearances last year. Since 2001, the group estimates that up to 10,000 people have gone missing, with nearly 3,000 still unaccounted for. And this, says Zohra Yusuf, a commission board member, is a conservative estimate." And getting an official police report for one of those disappeared takes tenacity, perseverance, and sometimes shaming witnesses to tell the truth. While the disappearances started with grabbing al Qaeda and Taliban off the streets, as often happens the government took the opportunity to also silence critics. This is why in the fight against terrorism, you must adhere to the law and treat terrorists as outlaws. It is a goal of the terrorists to get the targeted government to break their own laws and principles.

"One of the (bank) drafts (for an inheritance), in the order of 846,650 Canadian dollars ($664,850), was destined for her brother… who hired UPS to ship it to his local store, 270 miles away from the family lawyer. The package never arrived… Ten months later, the Ontario family complained to the media that all UPS had offered by way of compensation was $32, representing the mailing costs." This is why you have insurance on shipping. Fortunately the bank became a little more reasonable (once it hit the media) and offered to reissue the draft. Two words, wire transfer.

There's a letter going around the Special Forces community talking about how the Green Berets are lowering their standards and admitting less-than-qualified soldiers. And that would be a problem if true. "The anonymous letter writer claims there's a reason the standards are being adjusted: To bring in female candidates, a view supported by one of the Green Berets contacted by NPR. The Pentagon allowed women to apply for Green Beret training two years ago. Only a handful have tried; None has passed." Nope, just your basic misogyny again saying that girls ruin everything.

"'Sorry for the interruption,' Pai said. 'We were acting on the recommendation of the Federal Protective Service. But we can now reconvene.'" Sounds more like personal paranoia. (Grokked from Rodney)

"But under current federal rules, any such tip sharing with kitchen staff must be voluntary, unlike tip pools with busboys and hostesses, which employers are allowed to mandate. As a result, the shared tips add only a few dollars to kitchen workers' pay, and Huffman often struggles to find qualified cooks and dishwashers… If the proposed Labor Department rule goes through, restaurant owners would have more control over tips and could redirect more money to kitchen workers." Or, you know, to themselves. The other option would be to increase the minimum wage, eliminate any exclusions, and end the practice of tipping altogether.

"Federal regulators voted on Thursday to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules for internet traffic — a major victory for telecommunications companies and another milestone for the Republican deregulation push under President Trump." We're back to the rule before 2015 when Comcast throttled Netflix, AT&T was throttling data for the "unlimited" plan, and other top level carriers were hitting up big sites for bribes, I mean payments for better connections to their customers. The Democratic Party really needs to set the debate here by hanging this albatross on conservatives (before the lawsuits are settled). This is the market conservatives want. So what happens now is a result of conservative ideologies.

"There's new — and shocking — evidence about the toll that health care costs are taking on the world's most vulnerable. A joint report pulished in the journal Lancet Global Health this week by the World Bank and the World Health Organization estimates that each year more than 100 million people are pushed into extreme poverty in order to pay for health services…" Remember when most individual bankruptcies in the US were about healthcare costs? Don't worry it's still here (most bankruptcies include a significant amount of healthcare debt even if it isn't the "major" cause of the bankruptcy).

"He says he is among a handful of American doctors who went north to practice in Canada's single-payer system. Now he doesn't worry about whether his patients can afford treatment. 'Everyone gets a basic level of care,' he says, which lets him focus on their medical needs instead of their finances." On the differences in healthcare between the US and Canada. And while Canadians don't have prescription coverage, their actual prescriptions cost less (note how many in the US go to Canada and the prevalence of "Canadian" pharmacies advertising their webs services in the US). But if you want to cut medical costs, one obvious way it to stop all the paperwork involved with healthcare (because of different insurance requirements/coverages, the precerts, the resubmission of forms because of "improper" coding).

"Scientists have discovered hundreds of huge craters—some over 3,000 feet wide—on the seafloor of the Arctic Ocean. The craters in the Barents Sea, north of Norway and Russia, formed through huge mounds full of methane exploding suddenly and catastrophically, thousands of years ago… Scientists say the discovery could help explain why so many craters have appeared in Siberia over recent decades, with the same processes causing these explosive events." Note, methane is 10x more effective in trapping heat in the atmosphere. We're boned. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

Sure you can trust the police. "The headline stated, 'New Jersey police chief says black people "have no value" and should all be executed.' A federal criminal complaint states that Nucera expressed those opinions; the case is pending. Because there hasn't been a final determination made by a court, we rate this claim Mostly True." You know, because there's an audio recording.

Fact checking the president's "closing arguments" for the tax cuts. Again, if this were actually a middle-class tax cut those cuts would be permanent and the corporate tax cuts would expire. Instead the conservatives are making an appeal to greed. This is the classic tactic of the con-man. Also, no business hires more people because they have more money. They only hire people because of demand and need.

"Yentel says for decades there's been this bedrock funding mechanism that's helped millions of affordable housing units get built. It's called a 'private activity bond.' And it allows banks and other companies to get a tax break if they invest in affordable housing construction… In the House version of the tax bill, these bonds lose their tax exempt status."

So according to Paul Ryan we're a bunch of slackers or we not pushing out enough babies. That's some deep mind fuckery right there. But what he's doing is preparing the ground for entitlement cuts (what he'll call "reform"). See earlier links about what Democrats need to start doing. Here is an example, Ryan is seeding and building the frame for his push to cut Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security (even though these programs are not in immediate danger, nor do they contribute to the deficit).

And then there's rumors that Paul Ryan is not long for Congress. It's a long article but with a lot of inside baseball about the machinations in the House GOP.

The Planet Money podcast about Trump SoHo and Felix Sater. Or, why Mueller is interested in the Trump finances and a part of what he may be sniffing around at.

"CNN reported in mid-July that Strzok had joined Mueller's team, but his time there was short-lived. He was removed after Mueller learned on July 27 about a stockpile of text messages exchanged between Strzok and FBI lawyer Lisa Page through November 2016 in which the pair dreaded Trump winning the election… People who worked with Strzok describe him as a seasoned agent who never allowed political opinions to influence his work. His role as a leader in the Clinton email investigation was overseen by top FBI officials, some with Republican political leanings, and the prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, who helped oversee the investigation included Republicans, according to current and former officials close to the matter." This is only an issue if you have no idea how investigations are conducted, he was removed from the investigation within a few weeks and (I'm assuming) shortly after Meuller was made aware of the texts. This is because Meuller is old school and knows that any hint of impropriety will be jumped on, like it is being jumped on now.

"The Justice Department says that it did not authorize the early release of anti-Trump text messages between two FBI officials to the media." Oopsie. Well, someone is certainly leaky these days. I wonder who it might be? "The Justice Department's inspector general came across the texts during an assessment of the FBI's handling of the Clinton investigation… The new Justice Department statement comes after it said earlier Thursday that it had invited a group of reporters to its offices to view the messages prior to Rosenstein's testimony."

"President Trump's daily intelligence updates are reportedly set up oftentimes in an effort not to displease him." As you should know by now the PDB is tailored to everyone who has sat in the Oval Office (from a full on debrief to bulleted lists).

"President Trump is traveling to Quantico, Va., on Friday to speak with an unlikely audience: the latest graduating class at the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Academy for law enforcement managers." Awkward.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Linkee-poo if you won't have a drink then you're a prude, but they'll call you a drunk as soon as you down the first one

Right now there's a lot of consternation over the annual holiday party. Well, that party has been on the wane since the late 80s (no, really, it has, this is a part of the long running tradition of me hearing, "Oh, you should have been here then…"). And if you're worried about "the drinking" bringing about behaviors that might see your company in a lawsuit, you have a much more serious problem than cancelling the shindig. Maybe hire adults, expect them to behave like adults, teach respect and create an egalitarian workspace and you won't have those issues, even if there is drinking and a party.

"During an interview on 'The View' Meghan McCain asked Biden about how he dealt with his son Beau Biden being diagnosed with glioblastoma, the same aggressive form of brain cancer that her father, the Republican Arizona lawmaker, announced he had in July." Fuck cancer.

"By measuring the size of the recent Greenland shark found, researchers suggest the animal could have been born as early as 1505, making it even older than Shakespeare. Greenland sharks — also known as the gurry sharks, or grey sharks, are large sharks of the family Somniosidae — grow at a rate of one centimeter a year, enabling scientists to determine their age by measuring their size."

"Three Florida men seen in a viral video laughing and smiling as a shark gets dragged behind a high-speed boat have been charged with animal cruelty." WTF is wrong with these people? (That's a rhetorical question)

"After combing through a decade’s worth of Pennsylvania birth records, researchers have found that pregnant women living within two-thirds of a mile of a hydraulic fracturing well were 25% more likely to give birth to a worryingly small infant than were women who lived at least 10 miles outside that zone during pregnancy." The effects get more prevalent and severe the closer to the well.

"A former Rutgers University student and two other men pleaded guilty to computer crimes related to the creation, sale and use of the Mirai botnet, a network of infected electronics equipment used to knock major websites offline in massive 2016 cyber attacks, according to court documents."

"The Walt Disney Company and Twenty-First Century Fox, Inc. (21st Century Fox) today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for Disney to acquire 21st Century Fox…" Do not fuck with The Mouse. :: Or :: One does not simply walk into Disney World, there is a Great Eye… "The Walt Disney Co. has struck a deal valued at $52.4 billion to acquire much of the Hollywood holdings of 21st Century Fox, the global television and entertainment conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family. The deal occurs against a backdrop of swift changes to the industry's finances and uncertainty about succession plans at both companies." If federal regulators capitulate and allow it to go through.

Brexit just keeps getting harder.

"The president and CEO of the trade group that lobbies for the ISPs that are trying to end net neutrality would like everyone to just chill. In an op-ed published at Recode, former FCC chairman and NCTA head Michael Powell argues that things will be just fine 'no matter what happens to net neutrality.'" Oh fuck no.

"While 90% of the weapons and ammunition studied originated in China, Russia, Eastern Europe, the report also said some of the weapons that were eventually diverted to ISIS was originally provided by the US and Saudi Arabia to Syrian opposition forces over the course of the conflict… The report concluded that 'international weapons supplies to factions in the Syrian conflict have significantly augmented the quantity and quality of weapons available to ISIS forces -- in numbers far beyond those that would have been available to the group through battlefield capture alone.'"

A short history of the rise of the AR-15.

There's conflicting reports on just how Omarosa Manigault left the White House (and if she's still on staff). "'But when I have my story to tell as the only African-American woman in this White House, as a senior staff and assistant to the president, I have seen things that have made me uncomfortable, that have upset me, that have affected me deeply and emotionally, that has affected my community and my people and when I can tell my story, it is a profound story that I know the world will want to hear,' Manigault added." One, I hope she gets a ghost writer. Two, just how binding are those non-disclosure agreements? Three, given the stories of her having been "escorted" off the campus, I'm wondering how that "will stay on until Jan. 20" thing will go.

The stories we tell ourselves. "'We have stopped prayer in our schools,' Moore said in his statement. 'We have killed over 60 million of our unborn children. We have redefined marriage and destroyed the basis of family, which is the building block of our country. Our borders are not secure. Our economy is faltering under an enormous national debt. We have a huge drug problem. We have even begun to recognize the right of a man to claim to be a woman, and vice versa. We have allowed Judges and justices to rule over our Constitution, and we have become slaves to their tyranny. Immorality sweeps over our land.'" They're marching, marching to shibboleth.

"David Greene talks with Birmingham City Councilwoman Sheila Tyson about a well-organized get-out-the-vote effort that's credited with motivating black voters in Alabama." It's well past time the Democratic Party comes to grips with reality and starts generating a new outlook and communications plan. Maybe not wait until the last minute to start speaking to the new base (black women), expecting ad hoc get out the vote actions, and not knowing how to deal with everybody. My advice is start developing the narrative that by championing the rights of POC and LGBTQ you are championing the rights of everyone. Because if the government or corporations can discriminate or hold back any one of these "minorities", they can do it to anyone. We are the party of the fair playing field, and sometimes that means giving more of a boost to those who have been historically disadvantaged to help them get on the field in the first place. (You're also going to have to start letting people know that taxes are going to go up, that's going to be a long fight, but the GOP Tax Bill is a good place to start because most people's taxes are going to go up in the next 5 years because of it.) All of this is the "hard conversation" that there are few "sound bite" moments. Start the polling and focus groups now to get the message right the first time.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Linkee-poo knows if you've been bad or good

"If it's clear outside on Wednesday night (Dec. 13) and Thursday morning (Dec. 14) before dawn, be sure to go outdoors. One of the year's top meteor showers, the Geminids, will peak, with rates as high as one or two meteors per minute at around 10 p.m. local time. However, the show will start around 7 p.m. local time, according to the magazine Sky & Telescope."

"Cryptomania has propelled two lesser-known cryptocurrencies to record highs Tuesday, forcing one exchange to halt trading." And "Bitcoin price surges as futures trading begins, despite bubble warnings – as it happened." As my friend John commented recently, "Imagine how many tulips you can buy with a single Bitcoin!" (In case you're scratching your head, here's a wiki, yes my friends crack jokes requiring knowledge of 17th century markets and the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, sometimes I need to google to get the references)

"Getting a deal during the holidays is a great American tradition. So when a sales clerk cheerfully asks, 'Would you like to save 20 percent on your purchases today by opening a card with us?' it fits right in… But the reality sounds a lot less cheery: 'Would you be interested in a low-limit card that could damage your credit standing?'" Because the way they calculate your FICO is fucked. On purpose and with intent.

The sinking of the El Faro. I wonder who lobbied to keep inspections and adherence to safety protocols light?

"'The closer you get to Jupiter, the weirder it gets,' said Heidi Becker, Juno's radiation monitoring investigation lead at JPL."

"A senior executive at the Russian nuclear processing plant suspected of being behind a spike of radioactivity over Europe this fall admitted Wednesday that the isotope recorded does emerge as part of the plant’s production cycle but said its levels are negligible." The cat is on the roof and won't come down.

"An international team of scientists have announced the discovery of a previously unknown species of prehistoric penguin… The researchers estimate that it probably weighed about 220 pounds and was around 5 feet 10 inches tall." Well it was the age of giant birds (note birds are now considered dependents from dinosaurs).

"This latest report shows that the nation's health overall is getting worse." Greatest healthcare system in the world my Aunt Fanny.

"'Some might ask why a U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights would visit a country as rich as the United States. But despite great wealth in the U.S., there also exists great poverty and inequality.' That was part of a statement issued by Philip Alston, a New York University law and human rights professor, who is leading the mission." Yes Virginia, there is extreme poverty in the US. No, the safety net doesn't reach everyone. And living in rural (or ex-urban) America, I can tell you it's getting worse.

"The temperature in Utqiaġvik had been warming so fast this year, the data was automatically flagged as unreal and removed from the climate database. It was done by algorithms that were put in place to ensure that only the best data gets included in NOAA's reports. They're handy to keep the data sets clean, but this kind of quality-control algorithm is only good in "average" situations with no outliers. The current situation in Utqiaġvik, however, is anything but average." We're boned. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Human feet have also had a tendency to wash ashore in Washington state… 'At the beginning, it seemed more strange,' Joshua Constandinou told the Times, 'but now it happens so many times.'"

"A NEW Brexit report claims the United Kingdom will be economically worse-off "under most plausible scenarios" days after Theresa May strikes deal with the European Union." Note that the Daily Express is a conservative rag. And they're reporting that Brexit is going to be a loss for the UK. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"A federal judge on Tuesday ordered tightened restrictions on former U.S. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, including barring him from possessing pornography, using sex chat lines or having any contact with minors except in the presence of an adult who is aware of his sexual abuse of boys decades ago." All routine, I'm assuming (no it's not). Maybe he and Roy Moore could hang out together?

"Dale Doughty, MDOT’s Director of Maintenance and Operation, says some workers might be attracted to higher wages at private companies." So now Maine has to hire contractors to plow their snow. Isn't that the free market way?

"Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley issued a rare rebuke Tuesday of two of President Donald Trump's most controversial judicial nominees, urging the White House to rethink the picks."

And yes, there are people this dumb in government (and not just in Alabama). And actually you don't have to swear on anything, just raise your right hand and repeat the oath. No religious text necessary. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The anti-corruption organization Transparency International says Americans are expressing greater concern this year about wrongdoing within the U.S. government, and especially within the White House." This is my shocked face. Also, this is not entirely accidental or a home grown perspective.

"Democrat Doug Jones has won the Alabama Senate special election, a victory that was a stunning upset in a deeply red state that voted overwhelmingly for President Trump. The president, who had backed Republican Roy Moore despite multiple accusations of sexual misconduct and assault, congratulated Jones on Twitter." Don't get cocky, Dems. The write-in vote was bigger than the margin of victory and if Doug Jones can't deliver concrete advantages for Alabamians in the next 2 years you'll lose the seat in 2020. Please learn the lessons of this campaign that 1) it is possible to win in "deep red states", but you've got to mobilize the base by giving them something to fight for. You need to fight for every last vote. You won't be as lucky to get a "disinterested in campaigns" pedophile in the next election.

"President Trump in an early morning tweet on Wednesday said he endorsed Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) in the Alabama Senate Republican primary because Roy Moore would not be able to win the general election." Because the Snowflake in Chief can't accept defeat.

"Ohio could soon become the latest state to restrict abortions based on a Down syndrome diagnosis. A bill that would make it a felony for doctors to perform abortions after a Down syndrome diagnosis is moving through the state legislature and could be ready for Gov. John Kasich's signature as soon as this week." This is terrible legislation that is hugely cynical in a state where we've also cut special education and healthcare for kids not to mention long term adult care support. If the legislature was that worried about Down syndrome people we wouldn't have that problem.

"It's debatable whether Trump's tweet meets the dictionary definition of 'slut shaming,' but as of this writing Warren's tweet has gotten more retweets and favorites than Trump's original. The same can be said for Gillibrand's tweeted response where she referenced 'the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office.'" I don't think it's debatable, it seemed pretty clear to me what he meant (and given his other statements, not out of character). I wonder if Press Secretary Sanders really believes the obvious lies she peddles or just how many showers she needs to take to feel clean again? If you want an example of co-dependent behavior or how women can work for men who degrade women, the Press Secretary is a prime case.