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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Linkee-poo same trailer, different park

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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