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

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Linkee-poo is late

"Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) is terminating its contracts with Garrison Keillor and his private media companies after recently learning of allegations of his inappropriate behavior with an individual who worked with him." I'm going to miss the Writers Almanac. I can't say I'm entirely surprised having read several of his books, shorter works, and having felt uncomfortable with some of the sketches near the end of his run on Prairie Home Companion.

More on those "origami" inspired soft robots. "The delicate art of paper folding is playing a crucial role in designing robotic artificial muscles that are startlingly strong. In fact, the researchers say they can lift objects 1,000 times their own weight." So when the robopocclypse comes you can take reassurance that the heavy hand of oppression will be softer than once thought. Also, oddly, this mimics how your muscles actually work (by hooking fibrous strands my making lots of connections, which amplifies the force from the molecular level to the macro level).

Speaking of the robopocclypse, "As many as 800 million workers worldwide may lose their jobs to robots and automation by 2030, equivalent to more than a fifth of today’s global labor force." This is from Bloomberg so of course they have the statement, "The good news for those displaced is that there will be jobs for them to transition into, although in many cases they’re going to have to learn new skills to do the work." How's that working out in coal country (and in the rust belt, and the garment industry…)?

"A glitch in American Airlines' pilot scheduling system means that thousands of flights during the holiday season currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them." Only because I'm not flying can I find this hilarious. Having been on the opposite side of HR systems that are fairly punishing to the employees, seeing it cut the other way brings a little joy to myself.

"New regulations on the international movements of rosewood have hit hard in parts of the music industry, which has long relied on rosewood as a 'tonewood' used in many kinds of instruments, including guitars, cellos and clarinets." And rosewood does make a difference in the sound of instruments. But you know what, there is a reason being a luthier is an art. There are varnishes and varnishing techniques that could help. It might be time to rethink some instrument structures. Because China is going to continue to pillage the world (rosewood is only the latest commodity to catch on in China where the over-importation has caused problems). Will those alterations exactly recreate the rosewood richness? Nope. But it could create a newer tonality that replaces it. Considering the organization that would need to adjust the import/export restrictions doesn't even meet until 2019, you've got to do something in the mean time. Also, rosewood isn't the first issue with supply the music industry has faced. About a decade ago it was ebony wood and brazilwood.

"A 19th century painting by Polish artist Robert Sliwinski that was stolen by the Nazis during World War II was returned to its home country and presented to the public on Wednesday." Justice is slow, but an ongoing process.

"After Mr. Jacobs left Uber, his lawyer sent the 37-page letter to Ms. Padilla as part of settlement negotiations in May. Ms. Padilla said the company had not shared this letter with the legal team handling the Waymo case because Uber hadn’t wanted to compromise an internal investigation into its claims… Judge Alsup said to Ms. Padilla that 'on the surface, it looks like you covered this up' and tried to keep the letter out of the hands of Waymo’s lawyers." Legal discovery is a serious process (having been involved in a few of these myself in previous employment). Withholding because of an "internal investigation" is a bs excuse.

"It was a triumphant moment for the students: For the first time, every graduate had applied and been accepted to college. The school is located in one of Washington, D.C.'s poorest neighborhoods and has struggled academically for years with a low graduation rate… But all the excitement and accomplishment couldn't shake one question from (history teacher Brian) Butcher's mind:… How did all these students graduate from high school?" I have lots of thinky thoughts here. Mostly the revolve around the exposure of "privilege" when it's applies to minority students balanced with grade inflation in general and the fact that being wealthy removes a lot of the hurdles these kids had to cross to get to the same place. Also how this screws the students more than anything else. Also note the pressure of teacher evaluations while we're discussing replacing tenure protections with a heavy reliance on those evaluations (and how the administration has total control of them without a balancing force of a teachers' union).

New migraine therapies that can help some people. Reports on the cost, however, may cause other headaches.

"Patients aren't true health care consumers because they typically can't shop by price and they often don't have control over the care they receive, Saini said. The medical evidence may support multiple paths for providing care, but patients are unable to tell what is or is not discretionary, he said. Time pressure adds urgency, which makes it difficult to discuss or research various options." Yep. Might be something that a single-payer system could solve. From the inside, almost every shift there is at least one order that we question the doctors for justification. There are other times where we call the doctor to explain that the patient just had a similar test, the doctor just didn't bother to look in the record before ordering the test. "Here are seven steps patients can take to protect themselves…" Basically it's a lot of work.

"Most glitters are in essence teeny tiny bits of shiny plastic, called microplastics. They are a well-known environmental hazard for the world's oceans, and they're currently a hot topic in the United Kingdom." Could this spell the end of the glitter bomb?

"Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, responding to criticism from Silicon Valley of his proposed rollback of open-internet regulations, criticized Twitter Inc. and other companies, calling them a greater threat to web freedom than the broadband providers the rules were designed to restrict." Obviously our fight against the fake news spread by the president are getting them a little upset.

Apparently Slobodan Praljak wasn't fibbing. He's dead now. And here Steve will show his colder side… well, at least that saves us the money of incarcerating his ass until he died of other causes. But it denies some semblance of justice to the victims of his genocide. He joins a list of others who did similar things. In a way it makes you wonder if, while proclaiming their innocence, they understood what justice would mean and either made a decision to re-injure those they killed, or knew how horribly they treated others and fully expected to be treated the same.

"'I analyze this very differently than most,' (Marco) Rubio told the crowd. 'Many argue that you can’t cut taxes because it will drive up the deficit. But we have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future,' the senator said." Just a note here, Social Security and Medicare do not add to the deficit. In fact when there are surpluses, they buy government bonds which finance the debt. You pay separate taxes to support both of these programs, they have nothing to do with income taxes (although they are indexed to income, but just how much you pay, and on what earnings you stop paying). Also my retirement age is already 70. (Grokked from Seanan McGuire)

"Republicans lawmakers are considering a federal budget 'trigger' that would raise taxes if proposed tax cuts don't deliver the economic growth they have promised… But the proposal is generating a lot of pushback from critics, especially conservatives." You might think that since they're so confident the tax cuts will grow the economy this would be an easy sell. But they know it won't. All their after is huge tax cuts for the rich. If this actually were a tax cut for the middle class, those cuts would be permanent and the corporate taxes would expire. There's already reports about how with these tax cuts, they'll have to make changes to Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid (even those programs, the "mandatory spending" are supported by separate taxes). It's the fleecing of America.

"The Obama White House hosted the press for a 'holiday reception' each December. Under Trump, the event is billed as both a 'Holiday Reception' and a 'Christmas Reception.'" And while the article explains that the Obamas said "Merry Christmas" while in the White House, they also talk about how the Trump's have referred to the "holiday season." Bet you won't hear that last one touted as a part of the War on Christmas.

I'm not sure that things were just so chaotic in the Trump campaign that we had to ask Russia for help is an actual defense for treason. And let's say Kushner was just so busy he missed that the meeting in Trump tower was with Russians, I think it would have been pretty obvious as the meeting started what was going on and you'd both leave at that point and report the contact and not stay for the whole meeting.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Linkee-poo is waiting for winter

The "ghost ships" of North Korea. If that ain't a story bone I don't know what is.

"FDA has received about 68 reports of pet illnesses related to "bone treats,” which differ from uncooked butcher-type bones because they are processed and packaged for sale as dog treats."

"He remembers gathering with his family in his grandmother's fields in the nearby countryside for the potato harvest. There, they would build a small oven to cook the fresh potatoes and eat them, dipping the potatoes in a sauce made of clay, water and salt."

"But don't get too excited if you're a believer, because DNA tests of bone, skin, scat and hair purported to be from the Yeti show the samples actually come from a few Asian bear species, and one dog."

"At issue is whether police have to get a search warrant in order to obtain cellphone location information that is routinely collected and stored by wireless providers."

"Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University have developed a variety of origami-inspired artificial muscles that can lift up to a thousand times their own weight — and yet be dexterous enough to grip and raise a delicate flower."

"Scientists appear to be self-censoring by omitting the term 'climate change' in public grant summaries." This is my shocked face. Note that the research is the same and is looking at the effects of global warming, it's just they don't use the words "climate change" or "global warming" (sort of like how "climate change" replaced "global warming"). This reminds me of the theory I heard about how PC culture is actually a conservative initiative being foisted off on the liberals.

"A Japanese maker of materials used in airplanes and car parts has admitted that one of its subsidiaries falsified quality-assurance data, the latest in a string of Japanese industrial giants to mislead customers." Oh look, after decades of driving the quality standard of business, Japanese companies are discovering the joys of cutting corners.

"'On Monday night, we received a detailed complaint from a colleague about inappropriate sexual behaviour in the workplace by Matt Lauer… As a result, we've decided to terminate his employment.'" Nooo, not Matt Lauer. That was sarcasm in case it wasn't clear. Again, I'm still amazed this "movement" is still unfolding. I'm also surprised that companies are finally following their stated HR policies of zero tolerance for sexual harassment. The cynical part of me all believes that it doesn't hurt that Matt Lauer was the highest paid employee in the NBC news division (and companies love to cut their overhead).

"The luxury high-rise is surrounded by some of downtown Reno's most popular casinos, and the gunfire brought eerie echoes of the Las Vegas shooting two months earlier that killed dozens." Gee, I wonder if that was part of the motivation?

"Some experts believe that if North Korea aimed the rocket at a lower angle, as it would in an attack scenario, this range could be stretched to some 8,100 miles — theoretically putting the entire East Coast in range." Good thing we have that missile defense system that works so well or people would be freaking the fuck out. Notice people freaking the fuck out and that they're the same people who supported the missile defense system and told us how well it worked.

"'I just drank poison,' Slobodan Praljak announced to the court moments after the U.N. appeals judges upheld his 20-year sentence." You know, in medical care we try to help everybody. But sometimes you're not as motivated.

"Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, leader of the House Democrats, announced they would no longer take part after Trump tweeted he doesn't 'see a deal' between Democrats and the White House over funding the government past Dec. 8, when current funding is set to expire." How's twitter working out for you, Mr. President?

"President Trump retweeted several videos on Wednesday purporting (and unverified) physical attacks carried out by Muslims, originally posted by the deputy leader of Britain First, a far-right political party that opposes immigration." It's amazing how the president keeps finding all these fascist and neo-Nazi twitter accounts to retweet.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Linkee-poo don't know where I'm a gonna go when the volcano blow

"If you're losing sleep over the blue light coming from your phone, there's an app for that… But how well do these apps work?"

"The FBI was flooded Friday with more than 200,000 background check requests for gun purchases, setting a new single day record, the bureau reported Saturday." Good to know that now Obama is out of office the paranoid people of the country are still buying guns. For some reason.

"On Monday, Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, brought in doughnuts. Around the same time, Leandra English, the agency’s other acting director, sent an all-staff email thanking employees for their service… Awkward." But did he bring donuts for everybody and were they they crappy "what was left behind after the morning rush sampler" set? And say, doesn't Mick have another government job? Why yes.

And in other news, dictionaries continue to troll the president "Dictionary.com has selected 'complicit' as its word of the year for 2017, citing the term's renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics — and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been 'a grounding force of 2017.'"

"This week on Hidden Brain, we explore an "open secret": that from the time Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World until the year 1900, there were as many as five million Native people enslaved in America. We'll talk about this history, and the psychological reasons it was left unexamined for so long." Our history.

"'Man wearing Roy Moore sticker physically attacked a cameraman attempting to film Moore's arrival outside campaign rally a few minutes ago here in Henagar, Alabama. Another man w/ Moore sticker verbally assaulted a second cameraman,' Sheets wrote." Hey, remember when some other asshole conservative knocked over a reporter, but still got elected? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"A woman who falsely claimed to The Washington Post that Roy Moore, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Alabama, impregnated her as a teenager appears to work with (Project Veritas) an organization that uses deceptive tactics to secretly record conversations in an effort to embarrass its targets." What happens when a fake reporter takes on people who actually are reporters. "James O’Keefe, the founder of Project Veritas who was convicted of a misdemeanor in 2010 for using a fake identity to enter a federal building during a previous sting, declined to answer questions about the woman outside the Project Veritas office, a storefront in Mamaroneck, N.Y., on Monday morning shortly after the woman walked inside." Asshole. Oh, and by the way, great way to verify the earlier Post reporting on Roy Moore.

"But then Trump continued with a reference to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. — 'Although we have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her "Pocahontas."'" Oh fuckstockings.

"Nearly 80 interviews with Americans targeted by Fancy Bear, a Russian government-aligned cyberespionage group, turned up only two cases in which the FBI had provided a heads-up. Even senior policymakers discovered they were targets only when the AP told them, a situation some described as bizarre and dispiriting." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Monday, November 27, 2017

Linkee-poo, of all trees that are in the wood the holly bears the crown

Made the right amount of turkey. Which means we're already out of leftovers. Worked my ass off this weekend and the president didn't, so a little light today.

"'Mad' Mike Hughes, limousine driver and self-proclaimed flat-Earther, announced that he had to delay his plan to launch himself 1,800 feet high in a rocket of his own making. The launch, which he has billed as a crucial first step toward ultimately photographing our disc-world from space, had been scheduled for Saturday — before the Bureau of Land Management got wind of the plan and barred him from using public land in Amboy, Calif." Of course it's the guberment's fault.

"The hospital's chief of addiction medicine, Dr. Terry Horton, worked to make questions about opioid use standard protocol because emergency room doctors at Christiana Care see about 300 patients a month go through withdrawals. It's called Project Engage." Of the drug addicts I've help treat, the ones who don't want to stop are a minority. Getting them into therapy, however, is like pulling hen's teeth.

"'If you had real surgery, like a knee replacement, you wouldn't think it was so many,' he said. He told me the electronic prescribing system sets the default at 90. So when he types in a prescription for Percocet, that is the quantity the system orders." While the reporter thinks this is a problem, it can be something else. Many doctors make "errors" on their prescriptions for opioids. They know pharmacies can't fill the total amount ordered (or honor refills, which are also listed on your prescription). But they make these "errors" to let the pharmacist know that the prescription was genuine. See, faked prescriptions are also a problem. Some fakes are easy to see (or look up the registry of stolen Rx pad numbers), but some are very sophisticated. Many addicts using fake scripts try to make them look as legit as possible, so they don't make "errors." But yes, in general most doctors over prescribe, conversely they also under prescribe for some patients.

"In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says his plan to remove net neutrality rules is a way of bringing the Internet back to how it was in the 1990s." Bullshit, there is no going back. This is a money grab by the wealthy. It's sort of how banks got you used to using an ATM, and then started charging fees to use them. In most markets your cable company is your ISP. Imaging what they think of you cutting the cable and just streaming any content. Also, I live in one of those rural markets. As a councilman I tried luring other ISPs (and cable TV suppliers) into the village. We had two hits, none of which proceeded after they talked with our local telecom (who lied about their contract with the village and was going to charge them exorbitant fees for access). Your internet is about to get crappier and more expensive.

"Take Detroit, where 40 percent of the population has no access to the internet—of any kind, not only high speed—at home, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Seventy percent of school-aged children in the city are among those who have no internet access at home. Detroit has one of the most severe digital divides in the country, the FCC says." But there's a local group attempting to rectify that by building their own network. Just in case anyone tells you the telecoms are working hard to bring broadband to everybody. No, they're not. They're attempting to maximize profit on their installed system and screwing over everyone else. (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"The FCC released a statement in May, claiming it was hit with a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, meaning that thousands of comments, whether pro– or anti–net neutrality, were lost to the ether… leading one group, Fight for the Future, to claim that the FCC had faked a 'DDoS attack to cover up the fact that they lost comments from net neutrality supporters.' Two Democratic senators asked for an investigation into the matter in August, and Ars Technica is now reporting that the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will undertake that inquiry." Haven't heard a word on it. There's also rumors that many people had comments submitted in their name by the telecoms (but I've not been able to find solid reporting on it).

"Amid allegations of improper contact with foreign women and breaking curfew, three members of the White House Communications Agency have been reassigned. The Washington Post describes the personnel as Army non-commissioned officers who were on a team to ensure secure communications on President Donald Trump's November trip to Asia." Oopsie.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Linkee-poo will be watching the parade, maybe

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Even to my friends in Russia, Europe and Asia (even though you don't celebrate it). I hope you have a reasonably stressless holiday. Don't over eat. I don't want to see you in the ER. There's a lot of things scheduled for this weekend, so I doubt I'll be posting before Monday (maybe a late Sunday post, but probably not).

On celebrating Thanksgiving with a more accurate sense of history in a more culturally diverse time. Thanksgiving is more than the historical event, it's a cultural celebration that is a part of the US. Our food traditions are different, with a better knowledge of history we can move beyond the revisionist/anglicized version of the holiday (do kids still make cut-paper feather headbands in school?) and enjoy it for what it is; a harvest feast, a time to be with family, and a time to give thanks (to whomever or whatever) for another year and to prepare for the winter months. Now, if you have something to be thankful for is another question. Or as some of my patients have commented, any day above ground is better than the alternative.

And maybe while everyone is together, it might be time for some (non-political) difficult discussions. "The roast turkey and pecan pie may be the same as always, but growing numbers of families plan to add a tradition to their Thanksgiving holiday this week: a frank talk about their wishes for end-of-life care." The Fall is, after all, a time of death.

And now for my current favorite death joke, "Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly accepted my Uber request."

"The U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe says the resignation of President Robert Mugabe 'marks an historic moment' for the country and congratulates all Zimbabweans who raised their voices." Yeah it does. (Resists urge to make comparisons to January 21, 2021)

The Butcher of Bosnia is going to spend the rest of his life in jail. It's too good for him. Most times I feel enlightened, but for some people I make exceptions. I understand the motivation behind the older practice of sentencing prisoners to be hanged, drawn and quartered.

That bend toward justice is awfully slow sometimes.

"In one of the fastest and most astonishing turnarounds in the history of energy, building and running new renewable energy is now cheaper than just running existing coal and nuclear plants in many areas." Especially in developing countries. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Spirits are the most likely alcohol type to illicit feelings of aggression, while red wine most likely to make people relaxed, a new study shows." Looks at all my bottles of wine (which I hardly ever drink). Well that's good.

"Cancer. To many of us, it may seem scary, mysterious, or even inevitable. Now, a new study suggests that nearly half of the country’s cancers may be preventable through decisions we make every day." Ah, yeah, probably not, and some of these things aren't really avoidable. But it always feels good to blame people for their bad health, doesn't it (at least to a portion of the healthcare industry). There are knowable carcinogens and avoiding them is always a good idea. It's easier now for people of moderate means to avoid some factors. However if your poor you most likely can't.

"Initial results showed that a high-sugar diet increased the animals' triglyceride levels, a type of fat in the blood, through effects on the gut bacteria. In people, high triglycerides can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. The study also found that animals fed sugar had higher levels of an enzyme associated with bladder cancer in their urine… The study was halted before it was completed. Glantz says the researcher asked for more time to continue the study, but the Sugar Research Foundation pulled the plug on the project." Who needs NIH research or industry regulation? I mean, wouldn't the market have sorted this out? (/sarcasm)

And speaking of not needing regulations, "Ike Horst raises 22,000 turkeys a year on his farm in the rolling hills of south-central Pennsylvania, selling them to a processing company that was providing him with enough of a nest egg that he hoped he could sell the farm and retire… But a Trump administration decision to block proposed agriculture regulations may blow up those plans, preserving the multibillion-dollar meat industry’s power over the smaller turkey farmers whose birds will grace the tables in millions of American homes this Thanksgiving." How's that economic anxiety working out for ya? (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"More charges have been filed against the former manager of a small-town Missouri Dairy Queen accused of bullying a teenage employee so relentlessly that he killed himself." They're also looking at the culpability of the school system.

Why is it bad to ignore parts of the US simply because ignorant people don't accept that they're part of the US? "That’s when she learned that, since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, key U.S. pharmaceutical plants on the island are experiencing manufacturing delays and distribution holdups that have caused unprecedented shortages of the widely used and critical fluid. Intravenous infusions of saline solution are used to hydrate patients during treatment or to dilute drugs during infusions, and Hill said she’s worried about whether there will be enough of the fluids when she arrives for her next treatment in six weeks." Say, do you also know where a number of our critical pharmaceuticals are manufactured? Also, welcome to flu season. "'We also encourage FDA to seek out and approve new domestic suppliers of these products in locations that are not prone to natural disasters.'" That's hilarious. Really, tell me where might that be?

"When Kevin Neal went on a deadly shooting rampage last week in California, he was armed with at least two semi-automatic rifles, known as 'ghost guns,' that he didn't buy in a store or from a gun dealer, authorities say." Oh look, it's a "loop-hole" that nobody believes we should or can close. Because, you know, we just can't do anything.

There's now video of the North Korean soldier's defection.

"Ten out of the U.K.'s 12 regional water and sewer utilities confirmed to Sally Le Page that they at least occasionally use dowsing rods, also known as divining rods or "witching sticks," to locate underground water sources. Many of the companies later emphasized that dowsing is done by individuals, not as a company-wide policy, and that it does not cost any money." Sometimes the old ways are better, or not. Speaking form experience, even in modern water systems the utilities don't have maps of the system (one of the major project I spear headed as a councilman, we now have GPS coordinated maps of our systems). And the magnetometers don't work well with pavement. In general, dowsing works by allowing the subconscious brain to communicate. It's a way of "confirming" your "hunches."

"NPR's Steve Inskeep talks with Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell about sexual misconduct allegations against fellow Democratic lawmakers John Conyers and Al Franken." And a lot on the affect and effects of being sexual harassed. When I wrote this a transcript wasn't up yet, but recommended. Unfortunately the people who really need to hear this won't. And I agree with Rep. Dingell, the saddest part is hear how many young women are still experiencing harassment.

"A few days after Donald Trump was elected President, more than a hundred people packed into a church sanctuary in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to hear a presentation about refugee resettlement in their town… It didn't go well."

An Atlantic article by Adam Serwer on racism in America and how it drives our politics and how it all stems from our country's original sin. "By accepting the economic theory of (David) Duke’s success, the media were buying into the candidate’s own vision of himself as a savior of the working class. He had appealed to voters in economic terms…" History may not repeat, but it often rhymes. "The frequent postelection media expeditions to Trump country to see whether the fever has broken, or whether Trump’s most ardent supporters have changed their minds, are a direct outgrowth of this mistake. These supporters will not change their minds, because this is what they always wanted: a president who embodies the rage they feel toward those they hate and fear, while reassuring them that that rage is nothing to be ashamed of." (Grokked from a number of people)

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Linkee-poo uses Apple maps to find where to cross the river and go through the woods

Just wanted to mention that while many are bemoaning the current sexual abuse scandal (as in all of the people being outed as predators - not just a single case) I applaud those who are continuing to come out. And no, I don't care exactly whom it's against. But I also don't believe complete social ostracism is warranted in all cases. It is good, however, to have this conversation (again) and maybe the needle will tick a little further to the side of equality and justice before it all dies down. I've been debating a longer post about all this, and I'm not sure I'm (the one to, or am) going to write it. For full disclosure I'll say here that I was not always the good person most of you know and I wasn't always the best person to be around. On a sliding scale I was on the lighter grey side, but I was an ass and a jerk when I was younger (not all the time, but enough of the time). I've learned to be better. I have apologized where I could. And now I try to make the world better. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of what I did in this regard as young man. Hopefully I'm making up for it as I get older.

"According to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll, 58 percent of people celebrating the holiday are dreading having to talk politics around the dinner table. Just 31 percent said they were eager to discuss the latest news with their family and friends, while 11 percent are unsure." How much do you want to bet that a Venn diagram of that 31% is a circle within the 39% of Trump supporters. Because, yes, conservatives were more likely to say such conversations were more interesting and informative. Just from my own anecdotal experiences, conservatives are much more willing to talk about politics (note, not to change their own opinions but to express them and chide you if you don't share them) than liberals in a non-political setting. How about them Browns, eh?

"Follow-up observations (of Oumuamua)… have found that the asteroid is dark and reddish, similar to the objects in the outer Solar System. It doesn’t have any gas or dust surrounding it, like comets do, and it’s stretched long and skinny, looking a bit like an oddly shaped pen. It’s thought to be about a quarter-mile long, and about 10 times longer than it is wide. That makes it unlike any asteroids seen in our Solar System, none of which are so elongated." Rama?

"If you're eating less in preparation for huge holiday meals, don't. You're setting yourself up for an absolute disaster once those dinners, holiday parties, and other food-related gatherings finally happen." This is why the "exercise more" part is important. The exercise more statement is to keep your metabolism up. I know most people focus on the "calorie burn" part of exercise. Like, "I worked out today I can have another beer (or whatever)." While the extra calorie burn is good (seriously, most weight gain or lost is a matter of less than 300 calories a week) what you're looking for increasing you resting metabolic rate. This is where you burn the majority of calories. If you can tick that up 1 or 2 calories more per hour, you'll lose the weight.

"61-year-old DIY enthusiast and stuntman 'Mad' Mike Hughes is planning his first manned launch of a homemade, $20,000 steam-powered rocket with 'RESEARCH FLAT EARTH' written on the side on Saturday, the Associated Press reported." It's funny he has that on the side of his rocket, considering he doesn't believe in science (thinks it's like science fiction).

"Russia’s meteorological service said on Tuesday it had measured pollution of a radioactive isotope at nearly 1,000 times normal levels in the Ural mountains, the first official Russian data supporting reports that an accident had taken place." The cat is on the roof.

"The device could make hydrogen cars affordable for many more consumers because it produces hydrogen using nickel, iron and cobalt—elements that are much more abundant and less expensive than the platinum and other precious metals that are currently used to produce hydrogen fuel." It's not the first time this was done, although the capacitor is different from the battery previously used (and slightly more dangerous). You might remember a NASA prototype high flying plane which used solar power for both flight, and to electrolyze water and store the hydrogen (and oxygen) and then use fuel cells to continue flying at night. (Grokked from Dan)

"Research investigating a popular form of surgery aimed at easing chronic shoulder pain doesn't fix the problem, a careful, placebo-controlled study suggests." Rhut rho. Although not all shoulder impingement or bone spurs are created equal. Also, significant bone spurs at the acromion and distal clavicle can lead to rotator cuff injuries. So one of my questions is did they control for severity of condition?

How's that "Do No Evil" motto coming along? "Google has been collecting Android phones' locations even when location services are turned off, and even when there is no carrier SIM card installed on the device, an investigation has found." (Grokked from Dan)

"Is it OK to ask someone where to get the best food of their culture?" Well, that's a loaded question. And this article runs down some of the things one should take into consideration. For my own choices, I tend to follow the "parking-lot rule." You want to know if the ethnic food of a certain place is good, check out who is dinning at the restaurant, how popular does it seem (which is easier because you can easily count cars in the parking-lot, instead of going inside and checking out the clientele).

"A Nebraska commission approved an alternative route for the Keystone XL oil pipeline through the state on Monday, removing the last major regulatory obstacle to building the long-delayed $8 billion project." Oil spill? What oil spill? Although the vote was 3 to 2, so that's closer than I expected.

"'We’ve had a medical doctor that has said, actually based on (Ratko Mladic) diagnosed condition, any form of stress, including a trial proceeding, may increase his chance of having a stroke, a heart attack or dying,' Ivetic told The Associated Press." Aw, that's really too bad. Suck it up, buttercup. Although now I have a real desire for someone to use a boat horn behind him. Like every hour on the hour.

"Dr. Dan Lonergan says relapse is the biggest risk for patients recovering from opioid addiction. The drugs work by attaching to chemical receptors in the brain and sending signals that block pain and create pleasurable feelings. Repeated use can lead to drug tolerance, meaning increasingly high doses are needed to produce the same effect. In recovery, patients lose that tolerance so resuming the drugs can be fatal." Long-term opioid use changes the brain, but here's the kicker, when you stop, it doesn't change back. Once an addict, you're always an addict. The question is only if you're going to feed that addiction, find something else to fill it, or live with that hunger.

"Investigators believe a border patrol agent who died in West Texas after suffering extensive injuries to his head and body may have fallen down a 14-foot (4-meter) culvert, and his partner, who radioed for help, has no memory of what happened, according to a U.S. official with knowledge of the investigation." So much for the "they were attacked by hostile Mexicans" theme that was running yesterday. Of course they still could have been attacked, but I'm sure it's much less than what the president and some senators are pretending it to be.

"Last week the Washington Post reported that Congress’s Office of Compliance paid out $17 million for 264 settlements with federal employees over 20 years for various violations, including sexual harassment. The Conyers documents, however, give a glimpse into the inner workings of the office, which has for decades concealed episodes of sexual abuse by powerful political figures." Hey, I know something in the budget which we could cut, if only the idiots in charge would know how to behave as real people. "(C)ongressional employees have 180 days to report a sexual harassment incident to the Office of Compliance, which then leads to a lengthy process that involves counseling and mediation, and requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement before a complaint can go forward." I think I see a policy which also needs changing.

"The Department of Justice is suing to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, legally challenging a $85 billion deal that would give the telecom giant control of a media empire including CNN, Warner Brothers, HBO, and other major media brands." And while I don't think the merger should go forward (even if it's technically a vertical integration), my guess is one of the defense's main arguments would be interference from the president who has a vendetta against CNN.

"The IRS scandal came to a pathetic, whimpering conclusion earlier this month. For half a decade the scandal had kept delinquent members of Congress occupied and served up reliable programming to Fox News and other conservative media. But when Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen walked out of his office on Nov. 9, of his own volition, on schedule, his fine reputation intact, the whole greasy production quietly expired." It was all much ado about nothing? Shocked, shocked I am… (Grokked from Katheyrn Cramer)

:: waves to my Russian friends :: "Members of a Russian 'troll army' were quoted more than 80 times across British-read media outlets before Twitter revealed their identity and banned them, a Guardian investigation has shown." That's how propaganda works. Also, that's only from the accounts Twitter has been able to identify and doesn't include twitter handles that may have just cut and pasted content from those trolls. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A group of about a dozen U.S. State Department officials have taken the unusual step of formally accusing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of violating a federal law designed to stop foreign militaries from enlisting child soldiers, according to internal government documents reviewed by Reuters." The 3 countries delisted from the official record of nations involved with recruiting children soldiers had previously received waivers from the law banning US military assistance (Iraq and Afghanistan are after all active combat zones where the US is involved), but there's a difference between "national security concerns" and just not recording that our allies are recruiting children. "Documents reviewed by Reuters also show Tillerson’s decision was at odds with a unanimous recommendation by the heads of the State Department’s regional bureaus overseeing embassies in the Middle East and Asia, the U.S. envoy on Afghanistan and Pakistan, the department’s human rights office and its own in-house lawyers." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump returns to his private Palm Beach club Tuesday for the first time since April, and several of his dues-paying members said they plan on making a beeline there in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the president or even chatting him up over the holiday weekend, including an extravagant Thanksgiving buffet." While there's some grumbling, it looks like a financial windfall for the president.

"One of President Trump’s golf courses paid back more than $158,000 to Trump’s charitable foundation this year, reimbursing the charity for money that had been used to settle a lawsuit against the club, according to a new tax filing."

"President Donald Trump's charitable foundation, which last year admitted violating federal rules on 'self-dealing,' is in the process of dissolving, according to newly filed documents reviewed by NBC News… The move fulfills a promise Trump made last December, when he said he would wind down the Donald J. Trump Foundation to avoid conflicts of interest. New York's attorney general ordered the foundation to stop soliciting contributions in October 2016." I'm sure the admitting self-dealing and being ordered to stop accepting contributions didn't really figure into the decision to shut it down. Not at all. But I'll bet that "can't shut down while under investigation" thing might slow down the unwinding. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Linkee-poo can trace my history down one generation to my home in one of our submarines

The ARA San Juan is missing. "Stormy conditions off the coast of Patagonia were hampering efforts to locate a missing Argentine submarine with 44 crew members. Doubts also surfaced over the origin of satellite signals that were initially thought to have come from the vessel."

"4,000 years ago in the northern steppes of Eurasia, in the shadow of the Ural Mountains, a tiny settlement stood on a natural terrace overlooking the Samara River… But the researchers quickly discovered this was no ordinary settlement. Unusual burials and the charred remains of almost fifty dogs suggested this place was a ritual center for at least 100 years." Lots of speculation, but interesting fodder for world building. (Grokked from Jason Sanford)

"When was the last time you were asked to sit without saying a word for five minutes before your blood pressure was measured? If your answer was 'I never remember doing that,' you're in good company." Nobody takes blood pressure properly. Given that they've just lowered the numbers for standard/normal blood pressure, this will become important going forward. Also a little on using checklists in medicine.

Clues still point to Russia to explain the ruthenium-106 release.

"Charles Manson, the cult leader of the Manson family who masterminded the Tate-LaBianca killings of 1969 and one of the most reviled and fascinating figures in American pop culture, died Sunday night, CBS Los Angeles reports. He was 83." Some people you mourn, some people you're happy about their death.

"Trump’s 41 percent job approval rating in the Harvard CAPS-Harris survey is on the high end of where other surveys find him. According to the RealClearPolitics average of polls, Trump has a 38 percent job approval rating, a historic low for a first-term president at this point in the term." It's like a limbo contest.

Reveal show "This week, we… explore how fake news starts, snowballs, and sometimes erupts into gun-fire… The conspiracy theory Pizzagate alleged that top Democrats were running a child sex trafficking ring out of Comet Ping Pong, a D.C. pizza parlor."

"Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero claimed on Friday that he had completed the world's first human head transplant between two corpses — but gave no evidence to back it up." Come on, at least do "Puttin' on the Ritz!"

"Democratic Ohio gubernatorial candidate and sitting state Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill responded to the recent sexual misconduct accusations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Friday by boasted about his own sexual history." Well that's one way to end a candidacy.

"Former state Sen. Ralph Shortey, a Republican, had been accused of offering to pay a 17-year-old boy for sexual 'stuff' earlier this year. Federal prosecutors will drop three additional child pornography charges against him in exchange for his guilty plea." Sen. Shortey was also Trump's Oklahoma campaign manager. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"In his tweet, Trump referred to the Minnesota Democrat as 'Al Frankenstien,' and suggested Franken may have done more with his hands in subsequent photos." Please, bitch. Goes and make more popcorn.

On The Media show on the current sexual harassment/assault public discussion. "As allegations of sexual misconduct continue to dominate the news, a look at how we are dealing with high-profile offenders and who is being ignored. Plus, a critical reexamination of Bill Clinton's reputation, the difficulty of processing good art made by bad people, and how to brace ourselves for the potential backlash."

Friday, November 17, 2017

Linkee-poo, we were never meant to worry the way that people do

Lore. Now an Amazon series as well as a podcast, books, newsletter and of course, a store. I've only watched one of their videos (on Amazon), but I've started listening to the podcast. Aaron Mahnke does a very good mix of William Shatner and Christopher Walken in his presentation. It takes a little getting used to. I'm beginning to think there is something about the Northern East Coast (I grew up in New Jersey) and a love of the ghost story. Other parts of the US may have their traditions of ghosts, but theres something about the home of Lovecraft, King, the witch trials, and a religious puritanism mixed with spirituality.

Terri Windling has a patreon. Lots of authors and artists I like have patreon sites, Kameron Hurley, Tobias Buckell, Mur Lafferty, and Jim Wright just to name a few, and some I've debated hard about contributing to.

"Astronomers in California are building the largest digital camera in the world. It will go on a giant telescope taking shape in Chile called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope."

"A portrait of Christ by Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci has shattered all previous records for artworks sold at auction or privately, fetching a whopping $450.3 million on Wednesday at Christie's in New York." There inflates another bubble in the art world. Sell 'em while you can, people. The cash won't keep flowing forever.

"The future of the coyotes that roam forests, cities and suburbs from Newfoundland to Virginia could hinge on the animals becoming the 'wolves' of the East Coast. And humans better get used to them." Evolution in progress.

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced today that it has lifted an Obama-era ban on importing sport-hunted trophies of elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia." Fuckers. "It's not clear exactly what convinced the Service to make the change." I don't know, maybe it's because the president's sons like to go trophy hunting? Could that be it?

"The driver of a pickup displaying an expletive-filled message to President Donald Trump and his supporters in the Houston area was arrested Thursday on an outstanding warrant (for fraud)."

"Like Ellis, some 4.2 million young people experience unaccompanied homelessness in the course of a year, according to a new study from Chapin Hall a research center at the University of Chicago."

"A thick, green scum coated western Lake Erie. And Steele, a semipro angler, was sickened by it." No, literally sickened by the poison the algae give off. And here's the fun part, the minimal funds the Great Lakes receive to fight toxic blooms have been nearly eliminated in the GOP budget.

"TransCanada Corp (TRP.TO) shut part of its Keystone oil pipeline system after a 5,000-barrel leak in South Dakota, the company said on Thursday, four days before neighboring Nebraska was set to decide on the company’s long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline." Well I'm sure Nebraska won't worry about its safety record.

"Thousands of Dreamers thought they had met the final deadline to renew their DACA status last month. But some of those applications got stuck in the mail." And then there's this, "In cases where the rejected application arrived at the post office box on time, USCIS says it will 'proactively reach out' to the applicants to let them resubmit." Resubmit? How about you just say, "Hey, we made a mistake, your application was here in time, we're processing it."

"Leading researchers castigated a federal plan that would use artificial intelligence methods to scrutinize immigrants and visa applicants, saying it is unworkable as written and likely to be 'inaccurate and biased' if deployed." Yeah, but what if "inaccurate and biased" was the plan?

"LA radio host Leeann Tweeden said now-Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., forced himself on her and groped her while the two were on a USO tour in 2006." It's not a party thing, it's a power thing.

Because there seems to be a counter narrative developing about how liberals are all sanctimonious when it comes to sexual misconduct on the right, but doesn't deal with its own issues I offer this. "As NPR's Board of Directors meet in Washington, D.C., this week, the network finds itself confronted by a series of dispiriting developments: a CEO on medical leave; a chief news executive forced out over sexual harassment allegations; the sudden resignation of a board chairman; fresh complaints over inappropriate behavior by colleagues; and a network roiled by tensions over the treatment of its female workers." Yes, we do take it seriously. Sexual harassment is not a political ideology, it's a product of power inequity. So yes, Virginia, we do deal with our own. But here's the difference, our party doesn't claim to be the more virtuous, religious, or morally superior.

"The federal conspiracy trial against Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy is hitting right at the heart of the country's divide over information and truth."

"… (M)any Canadians find it baffling that there's anybody in the United States who can't afford a visit to the doctor… So even as Canadians throw shade at the American hodgepodge of public plans, private insurance, deductibles and copays, they hold in high esteem a little-known Affordable Care Act initiative: the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation." Of course the current administration is trying to cut its effectiveness and eventually write it out of the budget. Did you really need to ask that.

What's the problem with Trump's appointees? "The Department of Homeland Security’s head of outreach to religious and community organizations resigned on Thursday after audio recordings revealed that he had previously made incendiary remarks about African-Americans and Muslims while speaking on radio shows." The head of outreach. Attacked African-Americans and Muslims. The head of outreach. I would say I'm shocked, but I'm really not. I'm just sad. Three more years of this. Gods, will we all survive?

"The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that starting in 2021, many families earning less than $30,000 would have tax increases under the bill. By 2027, families earning up to $75,000 would face higher levies, while those earning more would get tax cuts." Also the president has gone to Capitol Hill to push passage of the tax cuts (I'm not sure we can call it tax reform anymore). Something he couldn't be bothered to do with the Obamacare repeals. So guess where his real priorities lay.

"Addressing a black-tie crowd at the National Building Museum on Thursday night, Vice President Pence hailed congressional progress toward what he said would be the 'biggest tax cut in American history.'… As he spoke, less than a mile away the Senate Finance Committee was racing to wrap up work on a tax bill that will hand large cuts to the wealthiest while raising taxes on those earning between $10,000 and $75,000 over the next decade." Well I'm glad the top-hat and monocle crowd is all on board for the tax cuts.

"Senior White House adviser and son-in-law to the president, Jared Kushner, failed to hand over to Senate investigators emails concerning contacts with WikiLeaks and a 'Russian backdoor overture,' according to a letter sent by two senior lawmakers." Oopsie. What's a few critical emails to someone who forgot a few billion dollars worth of investments off his financial disclosure form?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Linkee-poo can you tell a green field from a cold steel rail

Took NyQuil much too late last night. Still fighting off the effects.

"A demonstration of the limited edition Holographic Vinyl Soundtrack to Star Wars The Force Awakens." (Grokked from Rodney)

"As more executives accused of sexual harassment are being ousted from companies around the nation, including NPR, many are rethinking whether human resources departments are willing or able to handle the job of fielding and investigating complaints. Many have grown skeptical, after recent news stories suggesting some HR departments knew of issues, but failed to adequately respond. Many others have lost faith in HR through experiences of their own." I've worked in places where it was known that you never go to HR with a problem, and for places where HR will work for the employees. It also usually came down to what kind of issue was being brought to their attention.

Well, there's Flint and then there's the Navaho Nation. "When she was pregnant, Nez and her children drank from a spring, located on Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona, with uranium levels at least five times greater than safe drinking water standards…" Tell me again how nuclear power doesn't have environmental impact.

"Mattel unveiled its first hijab-wearing Barbie doll on Monday, modeled after fencer Ibtihaj Muhammed, who has broken ground herself as the first U.S. Olympic athlete to compete in the head scarf."

The Hidden Brain podcast Eyes Wide Open Part 2. Sleep as the "Swiss Army Knife" of health. A little on using sleep to process information as well as the connect between sleep deprivation of poor health (including the statement of how getting 1 single night's 4 hours of sleep reduces your immune system's "natural killer" cells - which fight cancer - by 70% the next day). Sleep has been linked to several instances of cancer, and the WHO considers nighttime shift work as a possible carcinogen. Sleep is the most "non-productive" time according to modern culture, except if it weren't necessary evolution would have cut it back a long time ago. I'm screwed.

"Passengers on a morning train on the Tokyo region's Tsukuba Express line might not have noticed anything was amiss Tuesday. But when their train left Minami-Nagareyama station, it did so 20 seconds ahead of schedule — and when the company noticed, it issued an apology to customers." Imagine a travel system that leaves on-time (or just a little early). Image a travel system where the people in charge apologize for any inconvenience you may experience in the timing of the trip.

"On Monday, in a medical first, Brian Madeux received an experimental in-body gene-editing treatment intended to cure him of Mucopolysaccharidoses II, known as MPS II or Hunter syndrome, a rare disorder that causes progressive damage to the body's cells." While I think this method is the first of its kind, but IIRC this isn't the first time we've tried to edit the DNA of a living human. As I remember a while back they tried to "correct" a patient's lungs which had a deadly side-effect and the patient, after showing initial signs of improvement, died of persistent pneumonias.

Once more unto the breach, my friends. Once more. "Senate Republicans now plan to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate as part of a tax overhaul bill." Also as someone who works with the ED (emergency department), you never known when you're going to be in an accident or you might feel incredibly healthy when you go in for something unrelated and get a diagnosis of Stage 4 cancer. I've seen people in the 20s get that diagnosis, you're never too young.

"A Houston-area sheriff said Wednesday he's concerned the driver of a truck displaying an expletive filled message against President Trump and those who voted for him is creating a situation that could lead to confrontations with people offended by the sign." Who's the snowflake?

"There are a lot of anxious graduate students at universities around the country right now… That's because to help pay for more than $1 trillion in tax cuts for U.S. corporations, the House Republican tax plan would raise taxes on grad students in a very big way. These students make very little money to begin with. And many would have to pay about half of their modest student stipends in taxes." This will pretty much end advance degrees for US citizens (unless you're already wealthy - hint, there's a reason this system is in place).

"Richard Cordray, the embattled director of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, announced Wednesday that he will leave the agency by the end of November." Hello Governor Cordrey. Sad he's leaving, but his term was up next year anyway.

"Magazine publisher Meredith Corp. reportedly is again in talks to acquire Time Inc., this time with financial backing from the billionaire Koch brothers." We're in the midst of another round of media "consolidation" which coincides with the Trump Administration rolling back regulations on how many media outlets into markets any one organization can own. Isn't that fantastic?

"It was initially thought that five people had died in the incident, including Neal. But Johnston said in an update on Wednesday that an additional body had been found — Neal's wife. He said that her body was found under the floor in Neal's home, and that police believe it's 'what started this whole event.'" Funny (not really) how a lot of mass kills start with domestic violence. It's almost like domestic violence was a precursor.

"Republican women who voted for President Trump in North Carolina said during a focus group Wednesday night that they are embarrassed by and exasperated with him." Thanks for coming, please take a seat in the back as the meeting is already under way. Yep, some people are finally coming to realization that Trump is all hat and no cattle. But there's also a lot of "better than the alternative" and "both sides are the same" in there. (Grokked from Dan)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Linkee-poo on a hump day

"Tiny homes have been promoted as the solution to all kinds of housing needs — shelter for the homeless, an affordable option for expensive big cities and simplicity for people who want to declutter their lives. But the same popularity that inspired at least six national TV shows about the homes often fails to translate into acceptance when developers try to build them next door." Yep. Hell, getting regular sized homes built for low-income people face unbelievable headwinds. Even in an area that's already been duplexed and includes many rentals, even when the new homes would look the same as the existing duplexes.

"If you're poor, uninsured and have a bad car wreck or fall seriously ill, there's a chance in most states to enroll for Medicaid after the fact. If you qualify for Medicaid, the program will pay your medical bills going back three months… 'retroactive eligibility' provides financial protection as patients await approval of their Medicaid applications. It protects hospitals, too, from having to absorb the costs of caring for these patients… But a growing number of states are rescinding this benefit." Fuckers. Tell me again how both sides are the same. My Mom labored for years trying to keep up with Medicare premiums when she was eligible to Medicaid the whole time. With that look-back period we were able to keep her solvent. Given the other heinous fuckery around Medicaid (like Medicaid Recovery), this is just fucking over the poor for absolutely no reason than mean people in office can. Understand just how destitute you have to be (for a significant period of time) before you qualify for Medicaid. You can't have more than $2000 to your name or you're kicked off. So, yeah, let's saddle these people with medical debt they'll never be able to repay (note this retroactive coverage is to save the medical institutions - doctors and hospitals - that have helped these people).

How do we stop drugs from coming into the US. "Build a wall," they all shouted. "The bazooka had been 'adapted' to use a compressor for launching drugs into the United States. The Mexican daily El Universal reports the device was inside a van with a sliding roof, allowing the bazooka to shoot the drugs from the cover of the vehicle."

"'I'm very sorry for the language I used. I'm not proud of it,' (former Dallas prosecutor Jody) Warner said at a press conference as she fought back tears. 'I appreciate being given the opportunity to give my side. I'm not trying to make any accusations against that driver. I don't know what's in his heart. I can tell you that not everything he said was true. I never touched him.'" I guess we believed him, Ms Warner, and not you.

The art of the "non-apology" apology. "Papa John's is apologizing for comments made by CEO John Schnatter blaming sluggish pizza sales on NFL players kneeling during the national anthem… The company tweeted a statement Tuesday night saying 'the statements made on our earnings call were describing factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive.'" Or to paraphrase that, "the racist and unfeeling statements of our asshole CEO were only meant for people with money. All the rest of you shouldn't have heard it." Still make crappy pizza, that might have something to do with your reduced sales. Oh, wait, I've got it, "Millennials are destroying Papa Johns." Yeah, that'll work.

The non-coup coup. "Zimbabwe's army said Wednesday that it has seized control in what is being described as 'a bloodless transition' that has apparently pushed aside President Robert Mugabe. The military said he and his family are 'safe and sound.'"

"Question to CEOs: If the tax reform bill goes through, do you plan to increase your company’s capital investments? [Just a couple hands are raised] Gary Cohn: 'Why aren't the other hands up?'" Because CI doesn't add to stock value like buybacks do. This reminds me of when Ohio conservatives fought tooth and nail to cap damages from medical liability suits to halt the double digit increases in medical liability insurance. After they won, medical liability insurance continued to increase in the double digits. When reporters finally asked the insurance companies why, the response was, "We never said capping damages would lead to lower rates." So, did Ohio reverse themselves and remove the caps? Hell no. It wasn't the point of them anyway. (Grokked from Vince O'Conner)

"That wire transfer is one of more than 60 now being scrutinized by the FBI and other federal agencies investigating Russian involvement in the US election. The transactions, which moved through Citibank accounts and totaled more than $380,000, each came from the Russian foreign ministry and most contained a memo line referencing the financing of the 2016 election." Somehow I get the feeling they're just trolling us now.

AG Jeff Sessions to Congress, well, you know, it was a fuckup of a campaign, we were all tired, and you cann't expect me to remember every instance of someone selling our country out to a hostile foreign power. You know, to paraphrase. Funny how the other people seem to remember it.

The Johnston, PA progressive are getting a little sick and tired of how they're portrayed by the media. "But Adams also voted for Trump, and by a bigger margin than Cambria County. The town backed Trump by a 39 point margin over Clinton (68 percent voted for Trump, 29 percent for Clinton). So why don't national publicans travel to wealthy suburbs like Adams to write stories about Trump supporters? Electorally, they provide similar support." But we've done the "rich people are republicans" stories to death. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"President Trump was slammed on social media for an apparently errant tweet about last week’s mass killing in Texas — sent on the same day a gunman went on a killing spree in California." And he signed it in his own personal rubber stamp. Our president accused of not actually giving a damn? Shocked, shocked I am… Don't worry, I'm sure there's some intern he can blame. (Grokked from Dan)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Linkee-poo, and none of you stand so tall, Pink moon gonna get ye all

"On Saturday, private spaceflight company Sierra Nevada announced that its Dream Chaser spaceplane had successfully glided and landed on a runway after being released from a helicopter. The stunt, done at Edwards Air Force Base in Southern California, is known as a free-flight test and is meant to test out the vehicle’s landing capabilities. It’s an important milestone in the Dream Chaser’s development, as Sierra Nevada readies the plane for spaceflight."

Who needs regulation or local offices for regulators? "To Juan Flores, the phrasing of EPA statements after Harvey felt like a slap in the face. He had been smelling gasoline in his neighborhood for days when the agency told residents there was nothing to worry about."

"A California judge could decide Tuesday if Gloria Single will be reunited with her husband, Bill. She's 83 years old. He's 93. The two have been married for 30 years. They lived in the same nursing home until last March, when Gloria Single was evicted without warning." On nursing home evictions and how seniors have few rights (that are enforced).

"In a Friday interview with the New York Times, McConnell acknowledged that some working families would end up paying higher taxes if their bill passed, contradicting his comments from earlier this week." Some meaning most.

"Tens of thousands of nationalists marched in a demonstration organized by far-right groups in Warsaw Saturday, as Poles celebrated their country’s Independence Day." World-wide fascists.

Britain's politicians begin to panic over Brexit. I love the talk about postponing the Brexit if the deal is only struck at the last moment in an attempt to give Parliament a chance to vote on it. That only works if the opposite side agrees to a postponement. What does the EU have to gain from that? Nothing. And if no deal is worked out, it's not like Brexit halts. Britain has already signaled it's withdraw in 2019. If nothing else happens, they're out as of that date.

"I think that there are people who are really concerned and some groups who are really big on payment reform who are really concerned that Price coming in and putting the brakes on some of these programs and canceling some completely was a sign that he was just going to be protecting doctors' incomes and not wanting to move forward with ways to save money and make them think more about the quality of care they're providing." So much for the Trump administration wanting to slow down cost creep in healthcare.

"Hate crimes rose for the second straight year in 2016, with increases in attacks motivated by bias against blacks, Jews, Muslims and LGBT people, according to FBI statistics released Monday." This is my shocked face.

Why it's important when labeling people "heroes". "Green Beret discovered SEALs’ illicit cash. Then he was killed." By those SEALs, who did a horrible coverup.

"Two former CIA employees are accusing the Trump administration’s choice for CIA chief watchdog of being less than candid when he told Congress he didn’t know about any active whistleblower complaints against him."

"During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump Jr. was in direct contact with WikiLeaks at the same time the muckraking website was publishing hacked emails from Democratic officials that proved damaging to the Clinton campaign, according to several major publications." You know, after the campaign and VP Pence stated there was no contact.

AG Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee today. But hey, they may appoint a special council to investigate Clinton. So Republicans may be happy. You know, until the special council discovers what all the House and Senate committees discovered is that there is no there there.

"Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore on Sunday threatened to sue the Washington Post over its report last week on allegations from several women who said Moore pursued relationships with them while they were teenagers." You do that, Roy. And let us know when you file papers, until then you're blowing it out your ass. Also, apparently more women are coming forward.

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday, 'I believe the women' and called on Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to 'step aside.'" That's gonna leave a mark.

"But according to The New Yorker, back in the eighties, as local DA in his early thirties, Roy Moore was banned from his hometown mall because of cruising the facility for teenage girls." Man, this story has a whole footlocker of shoes just waiting to fall.

If Moore is actually elected, even if the Senate expels him, we are going to be hearing about him for the next 3 years.

"Altogether, under the House bill, around 70 percent of the tax benefits would initially flow to people earning six figures or more per year (or about 23 percent of tax filers), according to an NPR analysis of figures from the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation." And then the benefits to the middle-class would phase out. So guess which side of the charts I expect to be on. And again, all the so called "benefits", even the moderate plans, are based on overly optimistic economic growth. Look, for the past two decades corporations have been squirreling money away. Many of the largest have huge war chests, and they're just sitting on that cash. If companies having more money actually equaled higher job growth we'd all have our choice of jobs and the companies would be publicly begging to increase immigration (privately many are encouraging expansion of H1b visas and other work permits).

"Fox News host Sean Hannity cheered on his fans on Sunday night as they published videos of themselves smashing their Keurig coffee makers due to the company’s boycott of Hannity’s show." Supposedly this offends us lefties. Hahahahaha. For them saying that Keurigs are crap, an awful lot of ditto heads own them. And then Sean was going to buy 500 of them to give away (I'm assuming for them to also be destroyed). Yep, that'll show Keurig. But another 500, Sean. Just to make sure you hurt them where it counts.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Linkee-poo doesn't forget this fact, you can't get it back

Okay, so I have to admit when Apple did their iPhone X rollout and introduced the animoji I did an eye roll so hard ships in the Pacific were rocked. But here's an interesting take on that tech. That basically it allows voice communication with "human" expression while protecting privacy. So, dialing in from home to that 9am video meeting with your boss and coworkers across the world and you don't want them to see your bed hair, tattered robe, the drool line on your cheek and the leftover pizza and beer bottles on your desk? No worries. Dial in as an animoji. (Grokked from John)

"I met a man who despised me." Jim Wright on Veterans Day. Stands and salutes.

"Global carbon pollution rose this year after three straight years when levels of the heat-trapping gas didn’t go up at all, scientists reported Monday." We're boned.

"The connection between Delrahim abandoning his previous legal analysis and his sudden zeal to cudgel one of his new boss’ media foes can’t be ignored. Despite the obvious First Amendment implications of the Executive Branch using an enforcement agency to bring a news outlet to heel, the formerly principled Delrahim appears to be his boss’s attack dog." The government is insisting that their okay of the AT&T and Time Warner merger is contingent on AT&T selling off CNN.

"For years, Word of Faith Fellowship has used its muscle — attorneys, money and influence — in custody, foster-care and other cases involving children, the AP found… Even if it meant lying, former members said, ministry leaders have regularly attacked parents who launched custody battles for their kids when they broke with the church, staunchly taking the side of the remaining parent." A study on political manipulation, abuse and co-dependency wrapped in a "church".

"They found that in states that didn't expand, the percentage of low-income, nonelderly adults with unpaid medical bills dropped from 47 to 40 percent within three years… 'The economy improved and maybe other components of the ACA contributed to a 7 percentage point reduction,' Sojourner says. 'Where they did expand Medicaid, it fell by almost twice as much.'" Medicaid expansion works for the people. And that's just the economic side of it, this doesn't include quality of life issues. (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

Well, the opposing argument in the opioid crisis/discussion is coming back sooner than I thought. See there are many people who need opioids to help manage chronic pain. That is, after all, what opioids were designed to do. And with all this "OMG, people are getting hooked on heroin after taking opioids we gotta limit their use." Well, no, people are getting addicted to heroin because they're using heroin 1) recreationally or 2) because they medical system has cut them off from pain medications they need. Yes there is a major industry of black market prescription opioid medications. Yes there are doctor/pill farms. An yes the pharmaceutical industry is complicit with all of that. But if it takes $40 to get the same high you can get from $5 of heroin, which do you think people will go with? People do get addicted to opioid medication and then go to heroin. So stopping that pipeline is a big concern (although if all you're doing is choking off the flow of pills, you have no chance of stopping this crisis). Addiction has many fathers as the saying goes, access to prescription opioids is just one of many. But choking off supply affects those who are living with chronic pain (and these are the people for whom the relaxed rules were meant to help back in the 90s). So what to do? Well, you address the other ways people become addicted (social and economic). But that's the hard road for politicians (especially conservative politicians).

There is some hope for new drugs. But then Vicodin was also one of those drugs when it came out. Surprise, people also got addicted to Vicodin. My guess is people will also be addicted to these new drugs, but it'll take another decade after their release until we realize that.

Also just going to mention here that chronic pain does change brain morphology. The differences can be seen on fMRI and it's possible that even a standard MRI can show signs of chronic pain. Pain is exceptionally complex and our brain is highly interconnected. So when you try to affect one part, you inevitably affect other parts of the brain.

"In a bizarre segment on Friday, Trenton Garmon, attorney and friend of Roy Moore tried to dub CNN’s Don Lemon as 'Don Easy Peasy Lemon Squeeze-e'—and was totally shut down." I know people find this behavior bizarre, especially as the president give opponent derogatory nick-names (a previous president gave people nick-names but they were mostly not derogatory), but you have to understand these people have been doing this for over a generation. It's just this new generation never knew that they shouldn't say these things outside certain circles. But they now have no compulsion to not share their contempt for others. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In a 26-minute question-and-answer session with reporters aboard Air Force One, the president managed to dismiss probes into whether his campaign colluded with Russia as an 'artificial Democratic hit job,' said he believed Putin's insistence that Russia did not attempt to meddle in the 2016 electon, and warned that the continued focus on Russian election meddling risks lives." Yeah, a Bush saw "Putin's soul". Considering how gullible this president thinks the rest of us are, I'm surprised he believes we believe he's that gullible. It's a meta gullibility. Its like the Spruce Goose of gullibility. Plus, you know, if he did collude with Russia, this is exactly what you'd expect him to say. Me thinks the lady doth protest too much. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

The rumors about Mueller's probe, they are a flying. "It appears to be limited to five individuals, but that means there’s a total of 22 criminal charges against seven different defendants. Clearly, more arrests are coming, but who is next?" I haven't found many articles that agree on the number of sealed indictments, but it's clear there are many more ready to go. Manafort was the shot over the bow. I feel a mixture of excitement and bowl reaching nausea for the future of my country. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump on Monday barged into congressional Republicans’ carefully calibrated work on revamping the nation’s tax code, calling for a steeper tax cut for wealthy Americans and pressing to add a contentious health care change to the mix." Because of course he would. Here's the thing rich people know, if you're going to ask for a little, ask for a lot instead.

Fact checking the president on the VA and the economy.