And they come with no warning,
nature loves her little surprises.
Continual crisis!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Linkee-poo is very, very late

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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