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.

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