What if Kurzweil doesn't make it?
What if all the switches get stuck on destroy?
When the shuttle goes, we won't take it
When the final counter-measures are deployed
All we'll have is all this time

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Linkee-poo those that the beast is looking for listen in awe and you'll hear him

Dear news media, yesterday's indictments were not "Shock and Awe." You don't understand that concept. Please stop using it. Shock and Awe would have been members of the cabinet and current staff. IMHO Mueller did go after "the low level" people to get their cooperation. That's how "bad" this is, a former campaign manager is "low fruit" in this investigation. Rumors are there are 6 other indictments still sealed.

Okay everybody, let's just settle down. An indictment is not a conviction. And even if Mueller is able to find the president's fingerprints on all this, he himself cannot impeach the president. And even if the president is implicated, and even charged with "high crimes and misdemeanors", it doesn't put a "null/void" stamp on any of his court appointments, any laws he's signed, any actions he's put into motion.

It would not halt the rise of the American Nazis/White Supremacists. It won't save Obamacare or stop the tax cuts that will ruin our economy. It won't mean Hillary is president.

It would, however, vindicate all of us who have fought him.

My foreign audience is exploding. Hi everyone so totally not in Russia. Although South Korea is also on the list, and I was pretty sure they had some tight security on their internet (not to mention cheap and very fast internet). So, who knows, maybe I'm very popular in France, Belgium, Italy, the Philippines, and Kuwait.

Bury my heart at Wounded Knee. Dennis Banks has passed. And so it goes.

A NYT interview with Mark Hamill on the advent of "The Last Jedi". (Grokked from John)

"FDA experts say black licorice contains the compound glycyrrhizin, which is the sweetening compound derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause potassium levels in the body to fall. When that happens, some people experience abnormal heart rhythms, as well as high blood pressure, edema (swelling), lethargy, and congestive heart failure." Wait, I thought things that weren't drugs didn't have an effect on you (citing previous century of discounting anecdotal evidence of people feeling "better" or "worse" depending on the quality of their diet and/or nutritional supplements)? "No matter what your age, don’t eat large amounts of black licorice at one time." Well, yeah.

2009 Chevy Malibu vs 1959 Bel Air crash test… "The first inclination is, 'Oh, those old cars were built like tanks!' but its quickly apparent that the myriad safety features found on newer cars are literally lifesaving." Just a general note, the auto industry fought every single one of those safety features. (Grokked from Dan)

"The truly rare find could redefine paleontologists' understanding of how the creatures spread throughout ancient oceans, as the skeleton is the first from the Jurassic era to be found in India."

Remember the link about the mountain North Korea was using for its nuclear tests was "exhausted"? "About 200 people are feared dead in North Korea after underground tunnels at a nuclear test site that was feared to be unstable reportedly collapsed, crushing 100 people in the initial cave-in and 100 others when the tunnels again gave way on top of rescuers."

"Study: Climate Change Is Damaging the Health of Millions of People." Wait, you're saying it just doesn't mean that Ohio gets Florida's weather? Well fuck. "Perhaps most troubling, what we’re experiencing today is just the beginning." We're boned. "It’s a dire diagnosis, but the good news is that we know the cure. We simply must stop burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, transitioning to clean, renewable energy resources." Wow, that's optimistic. Look, we can stop, 100% stop, burning fossil fuels this very minute, and atmospheric CO2 levels (and methane) will continue to rise for another decade. So no, that last statement is Pure Pollyanna at this point. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but at this point the best we can do is avoid the most severe consequences of climate change.

The argument over a new Authorization to Use Military Force.

"It’s sign-up season for the Affordable Care Act, but the Trump administration isn’t making it easy — cutting the enrollment period in half, slashing advertising and dialing back on counselors who help consumers get through the process… Many people already faced fewer choices and higher premiums. But President Donald Trump’s decision to cancel a subsidy to insurers that lowers consumer costs compounded the turmoil, pushing premiums even higher."

"But these days, statements of all stripes are bombarding us via broadcast and social media. The trick is classifying them correctly before we swallow them ourselves, much less before we hit 'Like,' 'Share' or 'Retweet.'" Yep. Teaching college students how to spot fake news.

"Twitter may be the public square of our times, but some citizens say their elected officials don't want to hear from them. It has become increasingly common for politicians at all levels of government to block followers, whether for uncivil behavior or merely for expressing a different point of view." A somewhat light take on a serious matter. As a former elected official, I get it. But, just as I had to have a phone listed in my name, and be open to meeting anyone from the village (or who did business in the village, or who affected the residents of the village), you can't just block constituents (non-constituents are on their own). Twitter is a way to hear from the people you serve. And courtesy goes both ways. But, my elected officials look at twitter the same way Utah State Senator Weiler does, like it's a game.

"John Kelly calls Robert E. Lee an 'honorable man' and says 'lack of compromise' caused the Civil War." And this is the supposed "adult" or "smart guy" in the White House. Gen. Kelly is showing his ass. So not only does he not fully understand his own personal history and the world he has lived in (see earlier comments about "honoring women" etc), he has no clue as to actual history. How the hell did this guy make general? "While some contend that the Civil War was fought over states' rights, scholars generally agree that slavery was the primary driver of the conflict." Well, to be fully truthful, you don't learn about a lot of these things in public school (at least when I was growing up). But at this point, you need to be intentionally ignoring the world to hold these views.

Ta-Nehisi Coates on how ignorant you have to be to come up with John Kelly's statement. And some other historians weight in, "During the interview, he outlined a view of the history of the Civil War that historians described as 'strange,' 'highly provocative,' 'dangerous' and 'kind of depressing.'" Since I speak academian, allow me to translate. They're trying to say Gen. Kelly is fucked in the head. "'It’s the Jim Crow version of the causes of the Civil War. I mean, it tracks all of the major talking points of this pro-Confederate view of the Civil War.'"

"The intensity of Trump’s frenzy underscores the peril in which the president now finds himself… Trump does not know what special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has uncovered; which witnesses are flippable; what financial documents have revealed about the Trump business empire… For someone who insists on holding all the cards and intimidating others, Trump finds himself in a uniquely powerless position." A Washington Post opinion piece about Trump's tweeting, and the brouhaha over the Clinton-Uranium-Russian non-scandal.

"Watch @JoyAnnReid produce, shred, & confetti the receipts when Ex GOP Spokeswoman Jen Kerns starts with the Hillary Uranium One conspiracy." This is exactly what journalists used to do. This is why it is important for at least journalists to be well informed and not just phone it in. (Grokked from a lot of people)

"A U.S. district judge in Washington, D.C., decided on Monday that trans members of the military have a strong case that the president's ban would violate their Fifth Amendment rights. Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly granted a preliminary injunction to keep the policy from going into effect while the court case moves forward." On one hand I'm happy about this injunction (although it doesn't go far enough to cover all medical services transgender service people might require). On the other hand, as Commander in Chief the president has some authority here (no matter how heinous we believe the current resident of the White House is). However it's actually Congress that should stipulate the regulation. So there's a lot of Constitutional toe smashing going on here.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Linkee-poo nails his to the door one day early

I was going to do a joke tomorrow about having 95 links, but there's a lot today.

"Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his business associate, Rick Gates, have been indicted… (on) 12 counts, including conspiracy to launder money, failing to register as a foreign agent, false statements, and multiple counts of failing to file reports for foreign bank accounts." Conspiracy against the US, that's going to leave a mark. Boom, there it is.

"Science runs on talent. For young talented people who want to develop the next round of life-saving drugs or the next billion-dollar technology, the message censorship sends is quite clear: Go somewhere else, somewhere that takes research seriously; go do your work there." An opinion piece on what is happening with the political censorship of science.

"Concentrations of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere surged to a record high in 2016, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)." We're boned.

"Across the United States, the year’s first freeze has been arriving further and further into the calendar, according to more than a century of measurements from weather stations nationwide." It's almost like the climate is warming or something. Hey, here's an idea. Christmas means snow, these late starting winters are just More War on Christmas. That should get the social conservatives in an uproar. Hell, I had to mow the lawn last weekend (around the Halloween decorations, so it kinda looks funky).

"A group of octopuses were seen walking along a Ceredigion beach on Friday night, surprising experienced sea-goers." Cthulhu?

Phase-change memory as analog computer. "But the new IBM work relies on the possibility of creating mixed states, where partial heating turns some of the phase change material crystalline while leaving other parts in an insulating state. As they spend some time in their paper demonstrating, this effect is additive: repeated short bursts of heating, each individually too small to flip a bit, can add up and push the bit to be more conductive. That is the basis for performing calculations." Okay, that's interesting. Besides turning "static" memory into ersatz processing power, this is how neurons work (on the receiving side), in that they take multiple small inputs until they fire their own axion sending signals to other neurons. So that's a progress that might lead to a potential computer "brain" (for AI and storage of thought engrams). (Grokked from John)

"'Some of the most exciting things that we’ve seen from looking at gene expression in space is that we really see an explosion, like fireworks taking off, as soon as the human body gets into space,' Twins Study Principal Investigator Chris Mason, Ph.D., of Weill Cornell Medicine, said. 'With this study, we’ve seen thousands and thousands of genes change how they are turned on and turned off. This happens as soon as an astronaut gets into space, and some of the activity persists temporarily upon return to Earth.'"

"In today's issue of Science, a Bay Area startup called Vicarious AI describes an algorithm it created that is able to take minimal training and easily handle CAPTCHAs. It also managed general text recognition." (Grokked from John)

"Danish police say that inventor Peter Madsen has admitted to dismembering Swedish journalist Kim Wall, who was researching a story in August on board a submarine he built. He denies killing her and maintains that her death was an accident, authorities say." I didn't kill her, I just dismembered her body… uh, yeah. That's convincing.

"On Sunday the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority cancelled the highly disputed $300 million contract awarded to Whitefish Energy, a tiny American company tasked with restoring power to the still storm-ravaged island. PREPA spokesperson Carlos Monroig confirmed the news to NPR."

"An excellent ESPN.com summary of the things that transpired at last week’s NFL ownership meetings included a report that Texans owner Bob McNair had said during a session involving mostly owners that “[w]e can’t have the inmates running the prison.” Now that the comment been made public, more than a week after the words were uttered, McNair has issued a public apology." The non-apology apology. Note he only apologized when it because public. He basically said he didn't mean it that way, but didn't step away from the sentiment. And I disagree with the reporter's explanation of how it wasn't meant to be taken literally. No, it was a Freudian Slip changing "asylum" to "prison." That's how he thinks. As for the "whom is going to have leverage on whom" again misses the whole reason why these players are taking a knee.

"When Donald Trump took office, American tech companies worried that getting international employees work visas in the U.S. would get a lot harder. But Tippett had a solution to offer them: move to Vancouver."

""We have a system in Cook County where one serves one time a year on the jury, and that time has arrived for President Barack Obama," county Chief Judge Tim Evans told NPR on Saturday in a phone interview. Evans wasn't willing to disclose the exact date or location of Obama's service, but he did confirm that the former president will be serving in Cook County in November." Yeah, I have a feeling as a former Constitutional Scholar and Lecturer that Mr. Obama will be dismissed quickly.

"A spokesman for Whitefish Energy, the small Montana utility company that won a $300 million no-bid contract to help restore power to Puerto Rico, on Friday morning insisted that the company obtained the contract fairly." The "no-bid" contract. Given to a small company in the hometown of the Interior Secretary. "The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is looking into how a contract between Puerto Rico and a tiny power company — whose CEO and partner are friendly with the Trump administration — was procured, according to a statement." And then there's this, "Just two years old, Whitefish only had two full-time employees before being awarded the contract, ABC News reported."

"Former White House aide and self-proclaimed counterterrorism expert Sebastian Gorka on Thursday said that that Hillary Clinton’s role in approving the sale of a uranium mining firm to Russia was 'equivalent' to the actions of convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg." No, not even close. As Jim Wright often comments, that's some prime grade-A authoritarian bullshit right there. Sen Gorka, you are an example of the pustulant worthlessness of a social conservative mindset. That you were able to convince anyone you had any intelligence is just a reflection on those people's lack of human dignity and their own educational levels. "Gorka, who left the White House in late August, has since been hired as a strategist for the pro-Trump group MAGA Coalition." Only certain people will hire this asshole.

"As fire fighters in California's wine country worked frantically to contain and put out devastating wildfires that killed at least 42 people in recent weeks, and while his officers were still evacuating residents and searching through the burned ruins of homes for missing persons, Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano had another problem to address…Giordano explained that a couple of days earlier, his officers had arrested a homeless man for starting a small fire to keep warm in a local park where he was known to sleep… 'There's a story out there that he's the arsonist for these fires,' Giordano said. 'That is not the case. There's no indication he is related to these fires at all.'" Brietbart News, the progenitor of Fake News. But somehow I don't see the president calling them out on it. "To some degree, this is what the creators and disseminators of false content intend. They use automated systems to search for and push out misleading articles and misinformation reinforcing certain points of view, and then place them into people's social media feeds who read and share similar items." And while there is a little on the "Left", a lot of this is on the "Right." Decades of Limbaugh and Fox News and the like have softened up that demographic so that they're willing to believe almost anything.

"Asked how (former Speaker of the House, John Boehner) thinks historians will remember his term as speaker, he replied: 'They’ll be talking about the end of the two-party system.'"

And it's not just the Republican Party. "According to Mansfield — who has written about the faith of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — Trump spoke evangelicals' language on many issues… And many prominent faith leaders… didn't just endorse Trump, they gave him their most full-throated blessing and defense… But that fervent support from evangelicals may have come at a cost, Mansfield argues, as they overlooked actions that could be taken as antithetical to their faith, including comments about women and race." When you dance with the devil…

"David Greene traveled to Shelbyville, Tenn., to see how the White Lives Matter rally was experienced by two very different people in the small town." There's no transcript up yet, but Greene interviews a hispanic shop owner and one of the rally participants.

"White nationalists groups that rallied Saturday in Shelbyville, Tennessee, were met by a large police presence and dozens of shouting counterprotesters. Hours later, a second rally planned in nearby Murfreesboro was canceled."

"Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his government is firing the Catalonia’s regional government, dissolving its parliament and calling for a new regional election on Dec. 21… He also says it is firing the head of Catalan regional police, shutting down Catalonia’s foreign affairs department and dismissing its delegates in Brussels and Madrid." This won't end well.

"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is advancing the idea that President Donald Trump might not want to serve a second term." Lightweight. Well, yeah, Trump never really understood what it meant to be responsible and I'm sure it's not working well for him. But, he already has a re-election campaign (raising money and doing rallies). Not that he doesn't have a problem with plan followthrough as well.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Linkee-poo waddles to the weekend

It's been a long damn week.

"A visitor from interstellar space has likely been spotted in our solar system for the first time ever." Calm down everyone, it's just a asteroid. Although I believe that's what people initially thought the space-arc was in Rendezvous With Rama.

Ever walk into a Wilson's store and think, "Wow, this is how I'd like to be buried." Well, there are leather coffins. (Grokked from John)

"McGee writes that the voodoo we see in the movies was lightly inspired by religion but is primarily the brainchild of Hollywood producers and long ago travel writers. And it has a very specific purpose…" And that would be racial coding.

"Five years after Superstorm Sandy was supposed to have taught the U.S. a lesson about the dangers of living along the coast, disaster planning experts say there is no place in America truly prepared for climate change and the tempests it could bring." That's because we have a political party wedded to fossil fuel money who deny the climate is changing (and even more so that humans are responsible for it).

"Days after activists filed a lawsuit over the security of Georgia's election systems, the university housing the servers at the center of the case wiped them of all data." Yep. Well, the state has decided to use a different vendor and there is the possibility of the FBI having copies of the data, but that's a major violation. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"But even as (President Trump) vowed to alleviate the scourge of drug addiction and abuse that has swept the country… Mr. Trump fell short of fulfilling his promise in August to declare 'a national emergency' on opioids, which would have prompted the rapid allocation of federal funding to address the issue… His directive does not on its own release any additional funds… and the president did not request any, although his aides said he would soon do so." Given the pace on this, "soon" will mean sometime in January. Maybe. If his feet are still held to the fire. But he's also going to fight the opioid epidemic with "really tough, really big, really great advertising". Cause that worked so well in the Reagan era. So basically he still believes this is a failure of moral character, not a socio-economic reaction to circumstances, and then a health issue once the user is addicted. Just say no, kids. Keep in school.

"On the same day President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a public health emergency, the co-founder of a prominent opioid medication manufacturer has been arrested on fraud and racketeering charges." Okay, well that's interesting. And while the article doesn't state it, it would be my guess the investigation started before last year's election.

"Amid the Trump administration's efforts to arrest people living in the country illegally, the Department of Homeland Security is looking at locations for five new detention centers around the country that could hold thousands of detainees." Good news if you're in the private prison business.

"President Trump took to Twitter on Friday to deride political mega-donor Tom Steyer as 'wacky & totally unhinged,' firing back at a California billionaire who is funding and starring in a television ad campaign calling for Trump’s impeachment."

Remember how Trump said he was going to release all the documents relating to the assassination of JFK? "President Donald Trump has blocked the release of hundreds of records on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, bending to CIA and FBI appeals, while the National Archives came out Thursday night with a hefty cache of others." Yeah, he didn't.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Linkee-poo, sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble

Apparently this week I'm big in France. ¿Bonjour, comment allez-vous? Okay, just a warning. While I love me some Jerry Lewis, I'm also a big fan of Pepé Le Pew (and his send up of Maurice Chevalier).

"Twitter has made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned by Russia Today (RT) and Sputnik, effective immediately. This decision was based on the retrospective work we've been doing around the 2016 U.S. election and the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that both RT and Sputnik attempted to interfere with the election on behalf of the Russian government." (Grokked from Dan)

"Amazon will now allow deliveries inside your home when no one's there." Um, I don't think it was Amazon that had the objection before this. Now I can see the advantage for allowing services into the house while you're not at home, but I don't want to give up my freedom from being watched (having cameras in the home) for that functionality.

"The National Park Service proposes more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvements." The National Parks are some of our greatest treasures and there really shouldn't be a fee to enter (fees are a recent adjustment to offset the budgetary cuts from Congress). So, yes, things need fixed and updated. I'd rather my taxes go to that than pay for an alternative engine for the F-35.

But, those fees may make some people a little more cognizant about their trips to parks. "A lot more Americans are getting out to hike and camp. State and national parks are booming. But there's a big downside. More people are showing up in wild lands unprepared, without the right equipment or skills. They're getting lost or hurt and that's putting new pressure on first responders."

Monsanto, dicamba, and the market of genetically engineered seeds. "It's an approach that Monsanto pioneered with crops that were genetically modified to tolerate… Roundup. After two decades of heavy exposure to glyphosate, however, devastating weeds like Palmer amaranth, or pigweed, evolved resistance to it. Farmers are looking for new weedkilling tools… Dicamba, however, has a well-known defect. It's volatile; it tends to evaporate from the soil or vegetation where it's been sprayed, creating a cloud of plant-killing vapor that can spread in unpredictable directions."

"Magnets have long posed health problems for kids. A 2013 study in the Annals of Emergency Medicine found that between 2002 and 2011, there were over 22,500 magnet-related injuries in those under 21. Most were from swallowing them, but 21 percent were nose-related." Yep.

"A 17-year-old undocumented immigrant to the U.S. underwent an abortion procedure on Wednesday morning, after a weeks-long legal fight with the Trump administration, which had sought to block her from leaving the detention facility where she's being held in Texas. A federal appeals court ruled in her favor on Tuesday." Resolution.

"'This current administration wants to send a clear message to all undocumented immigrants — that if you want to go to [a] hospital, you better think twice about it because you might be deported,' (a lawyer for the undocumented 10-year-old girl) told the magazine." And it's not the first time ICE has detained a family traveling to this children's hospital. This is exactly the wrong message you want to be sending.

"But in the middle of the drawing (on a Corn Pops cereal box), (Saladin) Ahmed spotted a lone non-yellow corn pop. The character looked as if he had brown skin. It also happened to be the only corn pop in all blue, and appeared to be waxing or scrubbing the mall’s floors." And Kellogg's did the right thing, they looked at it, saw he had a point, apologized and is fixing the art. Would have been better to not have let this slip through in the first place, but this is the response you'd expect from a company that walks the walk. As a designer (and illustrator) you have to be aware of these things. You have to look at the photos, illustrations, and design and recognize these messages. Or you end up publishing a photo of a guy with his dick hanging out of his pants (example from a previous job, it wasn't my design, but I had to update it and found that in the photo that had already been published).

"If we cut taxes," they say, "the economy will grow like wild fire." Yeah, tried it. Didn't work. "In 2012, the Republican governor pushed reforms through the state Legislature that dramatically cut income taxes across the board. Brownback boasted the plan would deliver a 'shot of adrenaline' to the Kansas economy… But the opposite happened… Revenues shrank, and the economy grew more slowly than in neighboring states and the country as a whole. Kansas' bond rating plummeted, and the state cut funding to education and infrastructure." Gee, just like what happened to Reagan when he cut taxes. And when GW cut taxes. It's almost like this "tax cuts to boost economy" wasn't true at all.

"'People don't understand, I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student,' Trump told reporters Wednesday. 'I did very well. I'm a very intelligent person.'" I'm glad all those people who were very anxious about the economy didn't elect an East-coast Elitist. Also, and I'm not saying that Trump is an abusive personality, but abusive personalities tend to say such things. "Well I can't be horrible, I sit on the church board…" Stuff like that.

"It's unusual for a White House adviser to appear at a news conference about an enforcement matter. And for Trump administration critics in Congress and out, it's yet another example of how the administration is refusing to respect the independence of the Justice Department."

"Some in the field, like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, say it's been frustrating to wait for the administration to respond to a crisis Trump first acknowledged on the campaign trail when he was running for president."

"Still, the president and his supporters have seized on the new details about the DNC-Clinton role to push their view that the various Russia investigations — from Capitol Hill to Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller — are based on a fraudulent, politically inspired hit job." Note to everybody, the Steele Dossier came to light after the investigations were begun. Also, many items in that dossier have been shown to be true (although not the most salacious, at least not yet). But the end result isn't what launched the investigation, but what it's found so far and can prove.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Linkee-poo, the wind in the willow played Love's sweet melody, but all of those vows you made were never to be

"The truth was that after writing 1,000 pages of fake facts, I was tired of it. And frankly everyone's doing it now. So I needed to forge a new path. And what I was left with was the mere awful truth of my life, which is that I am a strange, white, male monster with bad facial hair staring down what I hope is the second half of my life, much of which takes place in the painful beaches of coastal Maine and New England." John Hodgman on his new book, Vacationland.

"The Senate has voted to get rid of a (CFPB) rule that allows consumers to bring class-action lawsuits against banks and credit card companies to resolve financial disputes." Yet I'm sure we'll hear about how this unilateral disarmament against corporate law firms is good for the little guy. Somehow. This Congress just voted to take away your rights of redress. This is why whenever someone tells me the Republicans are for individual rights and protecting citizens I laugh in their faces. "In a statement released shortly after the vote, CFPB Director Richard Cordray said it represented 'a giant setback for every consumer in this country. Wall Street won and ordinary people lost.'"

Fact checking the White House "accomplishments."

"Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped pay for political research into Donald Trump that ultimately produced a dossier of allegations about his ties to Russia, The Associated Press has learned." OMG, oh my god! The Clinton campaign paid for opposition research… just like every other fuckin' presidential campaign. Say, remember when Trump Jr went to a meeting with Russians because he thought they had dirt on the Clintons? Which is worse, paying for an intelligence report on Trump's ties to Russian oligarchs and if the Russians had kompromat on him or meeting with actual Russians to get possible kompromat on your opponent?

"House Republican leaders on Capitol Hill said they were launching two new investigations into Hillary Clinton on Tuesday, keeping alive a pair of storylines that have fueled anger with the party base." It's something that looks like action, and pleases the base, but everyone knows they don't really have to do anything. Everybody knows their roles and their talking points having rehearsed them the last few times Congress investigated this accusations. All that needs to happen is to rewrite the previous reports (and you can have staffers do that, no need to miss any fund raising calls or parties). Again.

"But for now, there isn’t enough evidence to suggest that Clinton’s actions -- ill-advised as they might have been -- were any more problematic than it seemed they were a year ago." Politifact on the Clinton Russia Uranium brouhaha. A lot of noise and light, but not much there there.

"Speaking at Riyadh's Future Investment Initiative conference on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia's crown prince said he would be prepared to 'destroy' extremist ideologies in order to put the country in unison with other nations around the world." As I've said with other things, call me when the check clears (or, "I'll believe it when I see it").

Remember how Trump said the Republican healthcare plan would be great and help all Americans and would lower costs? And then how every economic assessment of their actual plans showed the opposite? "The head of the House tax-writing panel isn’t ruling out changes to the 401(k) retirement program to raise revenue for tax cuts, despite President Donald Trump’s promise that the savings plan used by tens of millions of Americans will be untouched." It's a pattern, folks. The president believes he can lie to his supporters and they'll believe it. Well, because his core supporters believe it. Yes, Virginia, the GOP Tax Plan will screw over middle-class and poor families and overwhelmingly increase the income of the rich. Just like every other proposal they've made.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Linkee-poo does the mash, the Monster Mash

Here's one for all my Italian friends. "It would've been little surprise if Kenya's Gilbert Kipleting Chumba had won the race Sunday — or maybe it could have been his countryman David Kiprono Metto. And, in fact, both of those favorites were among the leaders roughly 16 miles into the marathon… Then, they took a wrong turn." Oopsie. Apparently they got caught thinking, "That motorcyclists seems to be going the same place I am, I'll just follow them." Haven't we all done that?

"Sure, 'spook' can refer to a ghost. It can refer to a spy. But as many of us know, it's also, sometimes, a racial slur for black people. One of our Ask Code Switch readers wrote in to ask about the etiquette of using words like spook and spooky."

"'The extinct fern was the earliest tree species that formed forests. Its multi-xylem strand structure was capable of producing trees of large size that cannot be found today,' Xu said."

"The Food and Drug Administration is reviewing 26 ingredients that food manufacturers use to bulk up the fiber content of processed foods to determine if there's a health benefit." Also, just in general, fiber by itself is not a nutrient. In fact, that's kinda the whole point. But now we need to add "processed fiber" along side "processed sugar", "processed fats", and "manufactured proteins." I guess it could be worse, they could just be adding psyllium husks (note, psyllium husks, while also fiber, are pharmaceutically active as a laxative and your body can develop a dependency on it).

Woman has genetic testing to determine her cancer risk, is told she by her doctor that she has mutations that increased her chances of breast and cervical cancer, has double mastectomy (which has complications) and hysterectomy only to read report later and find she was not diagnosed with those mutations. So now she's suing for malpractice. "Caulbe, Cooke-Moore's lawyer, said Oregon tort claim caps limit how much his client can receive for her damages." So a few lessons here, 1) always get a second opinion (based on your medical record, not a conversation "the doctor says I have this, what should I do?") before major surgery. And 2) Tort caps aren't to protect the consumer/client/patient.

Remember when climate change deniers talked about how much it would cost to change the world in an attempt to reduce the degree of change and how it wasn't worth it? And then the climate change proponents talked about how much more expensive it would be to do nothing? Guess which side of the equation we're on now? "Climate change is costing taxpayers billions of dollars in disaster relief and the tab will only increase as extreme weather events become more common, according to a new government study." I'm sure now that the Trump administration is rolling back advances under President Obama and forcing the EPA (and other government agencies) to remove articles, data, and reports discussing climate change that we'll save money. Some how.

"The poll asked a wide range of questions about where Americans experience discrimination… White Americans are among those who feel their group is discriminated against, with 55 percent saying discrimination exists against whites in the U.S. today." Noted for both that statistic as well as, "Numerous studies have shown that African-Americans are more likely to be stopped by police compared with other racial groups. In the poll, 60 percent of people told us that they or a family member have been unfairly stopped or mistreated by police because they are black… That has consequences for them personally and across society — 31 percent of poll respondents say fear of discrimination has led them to avoid calling the police when in need. And 61 percent say police are more likely to use force on a person who is African-American than on a white person in the same situation." And more well off, or affluent, African-Americans says they feel more discrimination. So that ties in nicely with the average income of the typical Trump voter.

"(Bill) O’Reilly said in a New York Times podcast Monday: 'Eric Bolling’s son is dead. He's dead because of allegations made — in my opinion and I know this to be true — against Mr. Bolling.'" In an attempt to say how terrible it is that sexual harassment charges were brought against himself (Bill O'Reilly) because it bothered his family, O'Reilly then went on to use the death of a former co-worker's son to say something about his own family's pain. Yeah, good defense there, Bill. Even if it were true (which it isn't). Again, this is your own fault, Bill O'Reilly. This is entirely a self-inflicted wound.

"With open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act… set to start in just over a week, (Iowa) announced it would no longer wait to hear if federal officials would approve its request aimed at cutting individual healthcare insurance premiums and widening coverage."

"Most of the attention has gone to a commission set up by President Trump to look into allegations of voter fraud and other electoral problems. The panel — called the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity — has been mired in controversy ever since it was formed earlier this year. Its work now appears stalled amid internal divisions and outside legal challenges." That's a shame. "But as that panel limps along, several other efforts to address threats to U.S voting are making progress."

No, Kid Rock isn't running for office. I guess someone explained the disclosure laws and how being on a more public platform and that brighter spotlight would probably destroy his homespun life narrative.

"The State Department has reportedly revoked a visa for British citizen Bill Browder, a hedge fund manager turned human rights activist responsible for the Magnitsky Act. The 2012 U.S. law is aimed at punishing Russian officials believed responsible for the death in a Moscow prison of Sergei Magnitsky, who was allegedly beaten and denied medical care." Even though Interpol has pretty much told Russia to go pound salt. And now, once Congress found out, his permission to enter the US was restored. It's almost like the administration was too eager to please Moscow and didn't think it through.

Why are they kneeling? "New research finds that prosecutors give white defendants better deals than black defendants." Yeah, that could be one of the reasons. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"But that odd press conference has exposed Kelly’s emotional, personal disdain for the citizens he served in uniform and still serves in a sensitive political post. His remarks lead me to wonder if he really understands that soldiers are the servants of democracies, not some special race apart. A MacArthur or a George Patton, disdainful or ignorant of democracy but close to the president is dangerous to the Republic and is unbecoming his distinguished service in a profession that doesn’t need anyone’s pity." Another old soldier on how career officers sometimes have difficulty living in the democracy they protected. (Grokked from Ken McDonald)

A little inside baseball on Trump's visit to Capitol Hill. With friends like these…

"'(Mueller's team are) looking for ties, they're looking for relationships, and a lot of that will come down to money trails,' said Jennifer Rodgers, the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School." A little on money laundering and why the investigators are looking into it.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Linkee-poo remembers Beruit

Apparently last week I was very popular in Italy. Almost the same numbers as my Russian friends. Maybe I'm something like Eurovision, my popularity will just bounce around the continent (or Europe-Asia as it were).

"Taoufik Moalla was driving along jamming to 'Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)' — the 90s hit by C+C Music Factory when he was pulled over by a cop for singing too loudly." Oh fuck. I guess I'm going to have to tone it down a little.

"A new NASA study shows that solar wind… creates a complex electrical environment on Phobos, which could possibly affect astronauts and any scientific equipment brought to the irregularly shaped moon in future missions." Well that's going to leave a mark.

"Prominent chefs, bakers and restaurant owners want the Supreme Court to rule against a Colorado baker who wouldn’t make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding… The food makers say that once they open their doors for business, they don’t get to choose their customers." Public accommodation means all the public.

The Florida arrests of three supporters of Richard Spencer, after they shout "Heil Hitler" and then shot at some counter protestors. After the actual protests were done and people were on their way home. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

Ah, Texas. "It was one of the hardest areas hit by Hurricane Harvey, but a clause in a grant application has many asking questions in the city of Dickinson… In section 11 of the application, applicants must agree to not boycott Israel during the agreement."

"A Cub Scout is now without a den after getting kicked out when he asked a Colorado state senator some tough questions." He asked why they thought a person who abuses their spouse should deserve to have access to a gun. More scouts should ask adults uncomfortable questions, IMHO.

A man who claimed to be a Vietnam veteran and Navy SEAL in a Fox News segment earlier this month has admitted to lying about his service and faking his awards, including two Purple Hearts." And it's just amazing the president doesn't call out Fox News as fake. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Wayne Simmons, who presented himself as a national security expert and was a part of the conservative media push for a congressional investigation of the Benghazi attack, has pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges." Ay yep. Hey, guess which news channel he regularly appeared on. Aw, it's no fun unless you guess. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"Entire industrial regions of China are being temporarily shut down, and the unusual sight of blue skies is reappearing as environmental inspectors go about their work. After decades of doing little about the pollution that has plagued much of the country, China's government may be finally getting serious about enforcing its environmental laws." I'll believe it when I see it (although apparently getting a license for a car is expensive for a gas vehicle, but relatively easy and free for an electric car). As to the shutdowns making our Xmas a little bit more hectic 1) probably not, most items for our Xmas sales were shipped weeks and months ago and 2) oh look, it's an actual war on Xmas.

"The ideological and rhetorical spine of his remarks was a paean to MAGA. The old days were good. We had real religion. Things were right with women. There was no abortion. Honor was sacred and respected. Now it’s all crap because of people like Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D), a showboater from Florida who transgressed our last sacred space." Also notice it's becoming about the character of the congresswoman, not about what Trump said.

"The Environmental Protection Agency is beefing up security measures surrounding Administrator Scott Pruitt to an unprecedented level, CNN has learned, as members of Congress are asking if the costs are a 'potential waste or abuse of taxpayer dollars.'" He's also had a "soundproof room" in his office and was thinking about adding biometric security. Not sure if I should go with the "paranoidal tendencies" or "if you have nothing to hide, these things wouldn't be necessary." It's a toss up. But mostly it's these people have no fucking clue how to serve the public (or understanding that serving the public is their job).

"'One aspect of the conflict, by the way, that I will never ever countenance is that we drafted the lowest-income level of America, and the highest-income level found a doctor that would say that they had a bone spur,' McCain said, in an apparent reference to the diagnosis that allowed Trump to be medically disqualified for service in 1968."

"A video of Rep. Frederica Wilson’s (D-FL) speech at a 2015 FBI building dedication ceremony, taken by the Sun Sentinel newspaper and resurfaced on Friday, shows that the congresswoman did not brag about securing the funding for the building as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly claimed she had." Gen. Kelly lied? Shocked, shocked I am… Really, given how much of the rest of the speech was horse shit, I'm not surprised.

"Three Texas men who turned out to support white supremacist Richard Spencer's speech at the University of Florida were identified Friday as suspects in a shooting involving protesters a short distance from campus." From a direct provocation because they were spoiling for a fight.

"The Hilton Tucson El Conquistador golf resort said it will no longer host a March 2018 'immigration conference' for VDare, a publication that routinely publishes stories bylined by white nationalists, becoming the third venue this year to back out of holding the site’s planned conference."

So, another thought here, how can I justify mandating that bakers (or other service/craftsman people) can not refuse trade, but a resort/univeristy can? And that took a little to sink in and work it's way through. But here is the difference, resorts and universities hosting an event do have the right to bar abusive, offensive, obnoxious and disruptive guests from their property. This is a safety, legal liability, and hygiene issue. If gay people (or anybody really) come into a shop and breaks things, insults the other customers, stink up the place, or makes a general nuisance of themselves they can also be ejected from that store. And that's where these venues have a legal standing to refuse custom.

"Georgia Rep. Betty Price, R-Roswell, in a study committee this week asked if the government could “quarantine” people with HIV… Price is married to Tom Price, who recently resigned as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services."

"In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton said the pardon only freed Arpaio from possible punishment. In a four-page order offering a check on the president’s executive power, Bolton wrote that a pardon could not erase the facts of the case." You're still a criminal, Joe.

Scenes from a Commute

But not from the same day.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Linkee-poo slides into the weekend

NPR was burning it up the past two days. Did you all have a meeting or something?

"Construction crews are erecting eight looming prototypes of President Trump's border wall in a remote section of the San Diego borderlands. Four are solid concrete; four are made of steel and concrete; one is topped with spikes." Theater in the middle of nowhere. "The administration has asked Congress for $1.6 billion for 74 miles of new border wall…" The total length of our border with Mexico is 1,989 miles.

"Some analysts now see signs that Mount Mantap, the 7,200-foot-high peak under which North Korea detonates its nuclear bombs, is suffering from 'tired mountain syndrome.'" There's only so many times you can break a rock.

"This winter is going to be a warm one for the majority of the United States, according to forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center." I remember when El Nino was a once every decade event.

We don't need any regulations. "For five days in December of that year, London was blanketed by a yellow toxic vapor that smothered its inhabitants. By the time this poisonous air mass moved on and death records were correctly tallied, some 12,000 people would be recognized as fatalities of what was called The Great Smog of 1952."

Also, "Increasing pollution worldwide is proving deadlier than war, natural disasters or smoking, according to a new report published in the Lancet medical journal. Based largely on 2015 data from the Global Burden of Disease, the report estimates that at least 9 million premature deaths were caused during the year by diseases from toxic exposure." We're number 8, btw.

"A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked a judge's ruling that would have allowed a detained teenager who is in the U.S. illegally to have an abortion, in the latest twist in a legal battle between the ACLU and the Trump administration." Delay, delay, delay.

Note to Texas, "Spain was preparing to impose direct rule over semi-autonomous Catalonia after the region's leader Carles Puigdemont declined to categorically renounce an independence referendum, the prime minister's office announced Thursday."

"Bank of America Merrill Lynch downgraded Chipotle and cut its earnings targets for 2018 and 2019, saying the struggling restaurant chain will have trouble cutting back labor costs any further than it already has." Apparently they're too good to their employees. This is what's known as "economic extortion." (Grokked from Steven Gould)

"Quebec has approved a law that would require citizens of the Canadian province to uncover their faces while giving or receiving any public service — a rule critics say is aimed at Muslim women who wear the niqab or burqa." I'm not sure Quebec knows what "Religious Neutrality" actually means. Just a continuation of men arguing over what women should or should not wear.

"By the end of November 1965, U.S. officials were well aware that mass murders were underway. At this point, roughly two months into an Indonesian military campaign that would ultimately kill at least half a million people, U.S. Embassy staff privately expressed no shock in reporting that thousands had already been summarily executed." Whatever you do, don't tell the American public. So what's going on in the Philippines and the relative American silence isn't a new story.

"'While we appreciate the work of your staff, the lack of a timely waiver approval will prevent thousands of Oklahomans from realizing the benefits of significantly lower insurance premiums in 2018,' Oklahoma Health Secretary Terry Cline wrote in a Sept. 29 letter to former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin explaining why the state was withdrawing the application." The current administration dragging its feet on helping people get lower premiums? Shocked, shocked I am… Yes, Virginia, the Trump Administration (and conservatives in general) are hell-bent on screwing over the poor.

"Now NPR has taken a closer look at the charitable-giving claims made by a Trump property, the Trump National Golf Club, Los Angeles. We have found that the golf club's charitable giving has followed the same pattern — falling far short of what the organization claimed." It's almost as if it were a pattern of behavior that flows from the top of the organization.

"The Senate took a significant step toward rewriting the tax code on Thursday night with the passage of a budget blueprint that would protect a $1.5 trillion tax cut from a Democratic filibuster." So they'll use their reconciliation token on the tax cut. Good to know they have no intention of making this fair. However, it also means they can't use that trick for repealing Obamacare until Fiscal Year 2019. But it also slashes Medicaid/Medicare spending (which, IIRC, isn't a part of the discretionary spending), defunds Planned Parenthood (helloooo lawsuit), and open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (and other places) to oil and gas exploration.

And Trump pledges to have the biggest tax cuts ever. So, welcome to the fleecing of America. The sad part is that all the people who will be hurt by this will still vote Republican because they'll hope that these will hurt minorities even more.

Dear Chief of Staff Gen. Kelly, with all due respect, sir, bite me. This story is not about the fallen and their families. This is a story about the president's lack of empathy and self awareness. It's about his lack of compassion for anyone other than himself. As you are well aware, there is a way combat soldiers talk to each other that would not be understood by their spouses (unless they're also combat soldiers). There's a way those who served talk with each other that those outside wouldn't understand (even working in a hospital, there are ways we health workers who work directly with the patients can talk with each other that we would never let someone outside hear us because they wouldn't understand). You don't talk the same way to someone who served like you do to a spouse, a parent, or someone who has never worn the uniform. The president is your charge, sir. This was an entirely self-inflicted wound by his partially non-sequitur answer to a question on why he hadn't tweeted or spoken about the deaths in Niger. He brought this attention on himself. The congress woman is a friend of the family and was on speaker phone in the car with the president's call, it's not like she surreptitiously picked up an extension line after sneaking into the house. Please take your sanctimonious self-importance and shove it. Do your fucking job, general. Get your charge under control and educate him. That literally is your fucking job. His troubles are starting to reflect on you.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Linkee-poo can dim the lights and sing you songs full of sad things

Sorry all my Russian friends, getting hammered at work so I'm a little late. I know it screws up your workday.

"'Intact lunar lava tubes offer a pristine environment to conduct scientific examination of the Moon’s composition and potentially serve as secure shelters for humans and instruments,' an abstract to a study published in Geophysical Research Letters." I think one of my early short stories used this as a plot point. Also, and here's a thought, robotic miners creating habitats under the surface of both the Moon and Mars using the surface materials as building supplies.

Does it hurt when you die? "…(S)cientists say people are aware they’re dead because their consciousness continues to work after the body has stopped showing signs of life." Apparently there's a way to find out. It's not really all that surprising given you can survive a few minutes without breathing/circulation before your cells stop working. So far as I've seen, though, the experiment on out of body experiences hasn't produced a positive yet.

"Researchers found yeast with high levels of the sugar known as glucose overstimulated the same proteins often found mutated inside human tumors, making cells grow faster. The finding, published in Nature Communications on Friday, aims to shed light on how cancer develops." Now there's a big difference between yeast and multi-cellular animals, and it depends on "high levels" (note, feed any organism high levels of one type of food and you'll get cancer). Also, your body uses glucose (especially your neurons). However if they were to find a link between processed sugars and cancer growth that could explain the rise of cancers in our society. And while it might not be a cause of cancer by itself, it could be what fuels cancers' growth outstripping your body's immune system ability to clear them out.

BTW, there's rumors that the new budget slashes the NIH research budget. The NIH is where a lot of those new, nifty, novel cancer treatments (like stimulating your immune system to fight your cancer) come from.

"The total number of flying insects in protected areas in Germany has dropped by over 75 percent in the past 27 years. Scientists noted the major decline of bees, butterflies, moths and other winged creatures across 63 key areas and said it could not be explained by changes to habitat or weather, instead speculating that widespread pesticide use may be to blame." Nothing to worry about, just our food supply.

If you want to know what is wrong with business and government in the USA, all you need to do is follow the Amazon's second headquarters search. Note to municipalities, bigger deals are almost never worth it. Even the smaller deals (which I had to oversee) aren't worth it (but they have a better chance of breaking even, if you negotiate the deal correctly). "Corporate subsidies, by one conservative estimate, top $70 billion a year. That's what cities and states give away in foregone taxes and other concessions to companies — sometimes for the prospect of new jobs and sometimes just to keep existing ones." The little guy, you and me, we foot that bill in higher taxes.

"The good news is the mess doesn't necessarily mean you missed. The bad news is that medicine you wiped off your face is wasted by design — and it's well-known to the drug companies that make the drops." That dribble down your face is costing you money and the pharmaceutical industry has had a solution for decades.

"Researchers warn that large parts of biomedical science could be invalid due to a cascading history of flawed data in a systemic failure going back decades. A new investigation reveals more than 30,000 published scientific studies could be compromised by their use of misidentified cell lines… the problem is as serious as it is simple: researchers studying lung cancer publish a new paper, only it turns out the tissue they were actually using in the lab were liver cells. Or what they thought were human cells were mice cells…" You've got your peanut butter in my chocolate.

"The FBI has recovered a three-month-old baby and a five-year-old in Denver during a nationwide child sex trafficking investigation… Some 84 minors were recovered and 120 traffickers were arrested as part of the sting."

"George Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager and a major Democratic donor, has given $18 billion to his Open Society Foundations, one of the largest transfers of wealth ever made by a private donor to a single foundation." That sound you hear is the conservative conspiracy theory machine get into a higher gear.

"President Trump, in a personal phone call to a grieving military father, offered him $25,000 and said he would direct his staff to establish an online fundraiser for the family, but neither happened, the father said." Just no fucking clue. All these self-inflicted wounds just don't seem to be getting through.

"President Trump suggested Wednesday that former FBI director James B. Comey had intended to spare Democrat Hillary Clinton from prosecution 'long before investigation was complete' into her government email practices." I know people who wait until the night before a paper is due to write it find this strange and potentially damaging. Those who have their shit together aren't surprised.

"President Donald Trump engaged in a public feud Wednesday with a Democratic congresswoman over her claim that he told the widow of a US serviceman killed in an ambush in Niger that 'he knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurt.'" Trump says he has proof he didn't, but the widow confirms the story. Okay, I believe that's a call, time to show your cards, Mr. President.

"The unresolved battles -- over a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, immigration, health-care subsidies, Planned Parenthood and storm relief -- are hanging over talks on must-pass spending legislation to keep the government open after Dec. 8. The spending measure is at risk of becoming so weighted with controversial items that it collapses." When brinksmanship becomes standard operating procedure. Just a note that CHIP, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, expired in September, and now it's looking like there won't be a fix until December. That's a delay that can be counted in lives lost, future income lost, and general pain and suffering.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Linkee-poo would sit alone and watch your light, my only friend through teenage nights, and everything I had to know I heard it on my radio

"It was on this day in 1954 that the first transistor radio appeared on the market." It was the iPod of it's time (and paved the way for the iPod). There's still something special, to me at least, to listening to the radio in the dark as you start to go to sleep. The hiss of FM static, the warble and whistle of AM, the joy of tuning in a far away station and listening to something new and different. It still astounds me when I get a station from Michigan or Canada because of atmospheric conditions.

"In 1940, on the eve of the United States' entrance into World War II, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Immigration and Naturalization Service wanted to promote tolerance toward immigrants." History may not repeat, but it often rhymes. However Roosevelt instructed INS to create a radio program called I'm An American which highlighted the contributions of (mostly caucasian) immigrants and gave their viewpoint. "At the time, the U.S. was seen as 'America, the melting pot' — and the only country that could defeat fascism." Strength from diversity.

Jim Wright on the existence of Judeo-Christian values. Whenever I've heard people claim "Judeo-Christian Values" (typically in the context of "being under threat") you could substitute WASP and get the same effect.

"Russian trolls were ordered to watch Neflix's House of Cards show to understand Americans and U.S. politics." No wonder they're assholes. Our lives would have been much better had it been West Wing. No really, all my Russian friends, I recommend the West Wing. You'll like it.

A NY Jets fan, wearing a team labeled "I stand for the National Anthem" spreads out a flag to sit on while watching a screen and the stadium. Well, I guess if he was a real Patriot he would have been in Boston. Get it?

Story Bone - A Twitter Fantasy

I had the drop on him. Leveled my gun for a center-mass shot. He raised his hands, keeping in his kneeling position. The 9mm felt cool and firm, like taking an old love to bed.

I grinned. "You had to wear the red shirt today, eh McGee?" I said.

He smiled back, stood straight and lowered his hands. "Well actually, wearing a gold shir…"

I couldn't hear his statistic over the barking of the gun.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Linkee-poo what are we fighting for, don't ask me I don't give a damn

Good job, all you Americans. We're back to #1. (okay, well, really the Russian numbers fell a little yesterday)

Shop on Amazon? Notice how prices change, sometimes daily? Well, here's a site that tracks the history of those price changes. I haven't done extensive testing, but it looks pretty good so far. (Grokked from Dan)

"Telescopes all over the world and in space were busy on Aug. 17, when scientists made the first-ever observations of both light and gravitational waves from a single cosmic event. Here are some of the stunning images of the event, including some from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as artists' illustrations that give insight into the complex workings of this energetic collision." That neutron star collision all the cool kids are talking about. "For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smashups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum." But there's not much that can compare to the poetry of two dead stars colliding at a third the speed of light creating 200 Earth masses of gold and about 500 Earth masses of platinum (along with more radioactive materials). And all this happened over 100 million years ago.

"In the event of a dirty bomb or a nuclear meltdown, emergency responders can safely tolerate radiation levels equivalent to thousands of chest X-rays, the Environmental Protection Agency said in new guidelines that ease off on established safety levels… 'It’s really a huge amount of radiation they are saying is safe,' said Daniel Hirsch, the retired director of the University of California, Santa Cruz’s program on environmental and nuclear policy. 'The position taken could readily unravel all radiation protection rules.'" Fuck. Me. Okay, repeat after me kiddies, there is no safe level of radiation. And thousands of chest x-rays… yeah, that's what you get from an extreme CT scan (chest-abdomen-pelvis, with and without contrast with a 5 minute delay). If a doctor says you need it to diagnose a condition, understand that the increased risk from the radiation is balanced by the need of the medical information. I don't work often at the hospital (compared to last year), but at least every week I've challenged a doctor's order for x-rays. After the Chernobyl accident, the Russian military used soldiers to toss fuel rods and radioactive graphite control rods back into the core. They were only allowed to be outside on the roof for less than 5 minutes each and were protected with rubber suits. Rubber does nothing against high-energy radiation (you may help block surface dose from less than 50kvp rays, but that's about it). Many of them died from their exposure. The level of 5 REM (actually, that should be 5 RAD, which is your absorbed dose) per year is what I'm allowed as a radiation worker. More than that and I'm retired (there's a second calculation that you can have greater, but that's based on age, and if you've over 5 REM a year something is seriously wrong where you work). That level, 5 RAD, means that our rate of cancer isn't statistically different than the general population (who receive an average of 300 mRAD, or 0.3 RAD a year). But that's sadistic statistics. Every dose is ticket on the cancer lottery. This is more than dangerous, this is lunacy. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"'We don’t know what to expect, and we don’t know what kind of crowd numbers to expect,” (Alachua County Sheriff Sadie) Darnell told the Times/Herald. “We all want this to be a non-event. We all want it to go very peacefully. But there is the potential for violence and for widespread property damage.'" So Gov. Rick Scott has declared an emergency because Richard Spencer is speaking at the university. Just as a side note, Spencer has also threatened to sue Ohio State for not allowing him to speak. As the kids say on the twitter, "This asshole."

"In 1940, on the eve of the United States' entrance into World War II, then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Immigration and Naturalization Service wanted to promote tolerance toward immigrants." History may not repeat, but it often rhymes. However Roosevelt instructed INS to create a radio program called I'm An American which highlighted the contributions of (mostly caucasian) immigrants and gave their viewpoint. "At the time, the U.S. was seen as 'America, the melting pot' — and the only country that could defeat fascism." Strength from diversity.

"Now, (Jesus Campos) that many want to honor and who can help bring clarity about the timeline of the shooting has vanished from the public eye, less than two weeks since the Oct. 1 massacre, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 others injured."

So, how's that apocalypse coming along? ISIS is hold up at the stadium in Raqqa. Now's when things get a little more dicey from the twin horns of ISIS going back to a movement (instead of holding territory) and the common enemy of the liberation forces and Assad no longer have their (main) common enemy (there's still the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda and a few other lesser players).

Trigger alert (well, it triggered me to almost throw things at the TV). "President Donald Trump falsely claimed on Monday that former President Barack Obama didn't call the families of fallen service members… 'If you look at President Obama and other presidents, most of them didn't make calls — a lot of them didn't make calls — I like to make calls when it's appropriate,' Trump said at a press conference in the Rose Garden when asked about why he had not addressed the recent deaths of American troops in Niger." When it's appropriate? Hey, why don't you sign a form letter with your own, personal, rubber stamp. Fucker. You, sir, are unfit for office and should be removed.

"Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) is withdrawing his name from consideration as the nation's drug czar, President Trump announced Tuesday." Gee, he only helped indemnify Big Pharma and hobble the DEA from dealing with their egregious practices that fueled the opioid crisis. But don't worry, he gets to remain a congressman.

"President Donald Trump blamed Senate Republicans, not himself, for the stalled GOP agenda Monday ahead of a crucial White House lunch meeting with Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on getting make-or-break tax legislation back on track." Because it's never Donald's fault. It's everyone else that fails him. I mean, he wouldn't be such a successful businessman if he failed as much as he did. Right?

Wait, take a deep breath first. "By slashing corporate tax rates, the Trump administration said Monday, the average U.S. household will get an estimated $4,000 more a year." Hahahahahahahaha. Cause you know, we saw big raises and all those millions of jobs created by the Bush tax cuts. Didn't we? "Outside economists said the income growth projected by Hassett appears to assume that workers appear to bear more than 100 percent of the burden of U.S. corporate taxes — a mathematical impossibility."

Monday, October 16, 2017

Scenes from a Commute

From this morning. Oh, hi Autumn. What took you so long.

Linkee-poo, come and make me holy again

"It's a collection of short stories, with varied subjects: a World War II veteran on Christmas Eve in 1953, a California surfer kid who makes an unsettling discovery. There's time travel. In every story, Hanks sneaks in the machine he's so obsessed with — the typewriter."

Bank makes error, charges customer fees, admits error, doesn't refund fees. Why, it almost seems intentional. Like banks are making more money in fees than they are by making loans and investments.

"While maneuvering in Rhode Island's Newport Harbor, the tall ship SSV Oliver Hazard Perry lost power late Sunday, colliding with nearby boats before running aground." Well fuck. If I had less of a brain I'd make a parking break joke here (which is why I'm not running some high-power ad agency).

"A penguin colony in Antarctica has suffered a massive breeding failure, with only two chicks surviving the disaster." Considering the same colony suffered another mass death of chicks four years ago, this is not good.

"A drone crashed into a commercial airplane in Canada, the first time such an incident has occurred in the country, the government said Sunday." Okay, just going to mention the frozen chicken tests here and thinking that a drone probably isn't as tough as a chicken, but whatever.

Apparently public/private key encryption is hosed. "The flaw resides in the Infineon-developed RSA Library version v1.02.013, specifically within an algorithm it implements for RSA primes generation. The library allows people to generate keys with smartcards rather than with general-purpose computers, which are easier to infect with malware and hence aren't suitable for high-security uses. The library runs on hardware Infineon sells to a wide range of manufacturers using Infineon smartcard chips and TPMs. The manufacturers, in turn, sell the wares to other device makers or end users. The flaw affects only RSA encryption keys, and then only when they were generated on a smartcard or other embedded device that uses the Infineon library." So far, it looks like it's isolated to just that software and hardware, but I wouldn't be so sure (prime numbers are hard).

And also in security news, "An air of unease set into the security circles on Sunday as they prepared for the disclosure of high-severity vulnerabilities in the Wi-Fi Protected Access II protocol that make it possible for attackers to eavesdrop Wi-Fi traffic passing between computers and access points." Bye-bye open Wi-Fi. (Grokked from Dan)

In the opioid "crisis" the pharmaceutical companies are just innocently supplying the product and it's up to doctors and pharmacists to regulate… "The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act was the crowning achievement of a multifaceted campaign by the drug industry to weaken aggressive DEA enforcement efforts against drug distribution companies that were supplying corrupt doctors and pharmacists who peddled narcotics to the black market. The industry worked behind the scenes with lobbyists and key members of Congress, pouring more than a million dollars into their election campaigns." Yeah, not so much. Here's the corrupt influence of industry lobbyists who sometimes (okay, a lot of times) write the legislation themselves. This is what corporate control of civilian government looks like.

And speaking of corporate control of government, yes, the Koch brothers are still driving conservative politics.

Why are mercenaries a bad idea, and why was their a prohibition on hiring (and at one time being one) in the US? "Though Puerto Rican law prohibits ownership and bearing of most long-guns and especially semiautomatic weapons, the streets of the stricken US colony now throng with mercenaries in tactical gear bearing such arms, their faces masked. They wear no insignia or nametags and won't say who they work for, apart from vague statements in broken Spanish: 'We work with the government. It’s a humanitarian mission, we’re helping Puerto Rico.'" Dear un-identified mercenary, failure to wear insignia or identify yourselves is a violation of Geneva and UN conventions (and a violation of US Law). IANAL, but you might want to rethink that outlaw culture because the converse of the situation is you are outside the protection of the law.

About that whole, "Let the ATF regulate bump stocks" red-herring. "And while the NRA and some lawmakers are calling on the ATF to review the classification of bump stocks, former ATF officials and gun control advocates say that's a difficult hill to climb for several reasons… For one, the bureau's hands are tied by current law, said Kristen Rand, the legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, which advocates for gun control." Yes, the NRA knows this. It's their "enforce existing laws" stance (which isn't adequate) for deflecting any chance of actual gun control regulation. Also note that bump-stocks are not the only device for converting a semi-automatic to give rates of fire similar to an automatic.

"The death toll from two truck bombs in Somalia’s capital reached 300 on Monday, as the deadliest attack in the country’s decade-long war with Islamist extremists signaled that the insurgency is far from defeated, despite years of U.S. counterterrorism operations." The thing you didn't hear about over the weekend.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, "Hours after moving to reclaim control of the northern city of Kirkuk, Iraqi government forces said Monday that they had reached the outskirts of the city, seizing oil fields and other important sites from Kurdish forces that had held the territory since 2014."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Linkee-poo on a Sunday

Come on, Americans. The Russians are hitting this blog harder than you. Are you going to take that sitting down? Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? (holds for a beat) No! Who's with me!

Stroke risks are increasing across all age groups.

Why I rant about single-payer and against energy drinks. "'After a two hour drive to the hospital, I learned that my husband, the father of my child, the person I am so deeply in love with, had had a brain hemorrhage. Why? The doctors concluded (after running his tox screen and ruling out drugs) that this horrible event was due to his recent excessive energy drink consumption (a habit he had built when he started working longer hours and commuting).'" Normal guy, no warning, life altering health event and now he'll need help for the rest of his life. Not to mention having a newborn in the household.

"Magic mushrooms might help depressed patients by helping them “reset” their brains, according to a new study that uses brain scans to look at the lasting effects of psychedelics… There has been a recent wave of research into the helpful effects of psychedelics for mental health. LSD microdoses make people feel sharper, while magic mushrooms have helped cancer patients cope with depression and anxiety. But most of these brain imagining studies focus on how the brain changes when you’re on the drug, while in a study published today in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers focused on the results before and after." Note the study only include two dosages, and were in very controlled environments. But I'll also note that "magic mushrooms" are linked closely with shamanism (in most prehistoric cultures).

Trump waggles his finger at Iran. Put that away, you don't know where it's been.

"Key Republican members of Congress want to restore the ObamaCare payments, known as cost-sharing reductions (CSRs), that President Trump is ending, fearing the impact his move will have on the individual insurance market and their constituents." Well at least not all conservatives are idiots. Many of them are realizing what I said back in February, the GOP and president Trump now own healthcare. It's success or failure is their own success or failure. Right now, if I were a Democrat in the House or Senate, I'd be voting "present." You broke it, you bought it. Conservatives always want liberals to bail them out. No, GOP, the Democrats don't have to meet you half way. That ship sailed after you tried to ram Trumpcare through the second time. The unfortunate thing is as lot of people are going to be injured and die while the GOP learns the hard lesson of what it means to govern. Again, if I were in office, that would be the only reason that I might not vote "present."

"The Social Security Administration announced today that more than 65 million recipients will get a 2% cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) in 2018, after receiving a measly 0.3% boost in 2017 and no increase for inflation in 2016. That means the average benefit for a retired worker will rise by $27 a month to $1,404 in 2018 while the average benefit per retired couple will grow $46 a month to $2,340. But many recipients will find most or all of that increase eaten up by a jump in the Medicare Part B premiums deducted from their monthly Social Security checks."

Trump waggles his finger at Iran. Put that away, you don't know where it's been.