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

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Linkee-poo is long on the shortest day of the year

Apparently my European friends (wink) only like me every other day now. Sigh. I was going to make expresso.

XKCD on virtual assistants. (Grokked from Dan)

"SpaceX releases first pictures of Falcon Heavy rocket." Squee. Okay, I wanna see that sucker launch.

"An international team of astronomers has concluded that when it comes to theories about colliding neutron stars, Einstein got it right. Everybody else, not so much." Living in the future.

"As a way to bolster software offerings on Mac, Apple is reportedly planning to blur the lines between its macOS and iOS platforms, allowing iPhone and iPad apps from the hugely successful iOS App Store to run on a Mac." When I was a young man learning programming, there was a professor who said at some point in the future it wouldn't matter what OS ("commercial" OSs being a relatively new concept) someone had, you would be able to run any software on any system. I'm not sure he saw how complex software would become, but processors are now fast enough to run emulation software and acceptable speeds (except for games which have their own weird architecture). So at least at this point the Mac OS and iOS are similar enough that the Mac OS will run code compiled for the iOS (when the release the update).

"Between September 2015 and November 2016, Abbey Inn had a policy in place that allowed them to charge customers $350 for negative reviews, according to the lawsuit. The state alleges the hotel violated Indiana's Deceptive Consumer Sales Act by enforcing a customer review policy that is 'unfair, abusive, and deceptive.'"

Why are super-grid-level-batteries a really good idea? Instant on recovery in case of power drops. You know, besides storing extra energy from renewable sources. (Grokked from Dan)

"Nowhere is that more evident than in Newtok, which sits on a river not far from the Bering Sea. The later freeze-up has allowed the river to eat away at the village's thawing permafrost. During a storm, blocks of tundra the size of a minivan slump into the water and disappear." We're boned.

"This trend crops up several times in human history. People's ability to create new tools helps them survive when their environment changes quickly." Will technology save us? I wouldn't put money on it. It's a little breathlessly written, but there are big differences between pre-historic humans (or animals) and us. Namely population. We have a whole lot more people and we have strict ownership laws (and land usage) which prevent our fluid movement in response to climate change.

"Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden words at a meeting Thursday with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing. The forbidden words are 'vulnerable,' 'entitlement,' 'diversity,' 'transgender,' 'fetus,' 'evidence-based' and 'science-based.'" Because they make conservative snowflakes feel uncomfortable when they shout about PC culture shutting them down. (Grokked from a lotta people)

"New York University microbiology professor Philip Tierno told TIME last year that there’s little scientific research on the health risks related to tampon use. A spokesperson for the Food and Drug Administration told the Post that it advises companies to conduct microbiology testing and requires all tampons to receive FDA clearance before going on the market." Still. Toxic Shock Syndrome was first brought into the public sphere in the 80s.

"Another North Korean soldier has crossed the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that separates North and South in a dramatic escape, the second such defection in just over a month, South Korea's Defense Ministry says." Things aren't going well in the Hermit Kingdom.

"Now, that door is open, and the world is going to find out just how much the oil industry really wants to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Will anyone actually want to.

My vote doesn't matter. "Control of the Virginia House of Delegates is still up for grabs as Republicans appear to have lost a 16-seat majority in the one of the most agonizing ways possible — with a single-vote defeat in a dramatic election recount." The fuck it doesn't.

You know that story about the Virginia legislature being 50-50 because of 1 vote? Yeah, not so fast as a Republican election judge reverses their decision about an over-count ballot (where someone marked more than one candidate). "In other words, it appears likely that control of Virginia's House of Delegates will come down to a game of chance." Sometimes it's victory at all costs for at least one party.

"The sharply conflicting Palestinian and Israeli interpretations of the widely viewed video clip highlight the deep rift between the two societies, at a time of heightened tension over the status of contested Jerusalem, the centerpiece of the long-running conflict." This will not end well.

"On the orders of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Justice Department prosecutors have begun asking FBI agents to explain the evidence they found in a now dormant criminal investigation into a controversial uranium deal that critics have linked to Bill and Hillary Clinton, multiple law enforcement officials told NBC News… At issue is a 2010 transaction in which the Obama Administration allowed the sale of U.S. uranium mining facilities to Russia's state atomic energy company. Hillary Clinton was secretary of state at the time, and the State Department was one of nine agencies that agreed to approve the deal after finding no threat to U.S. national security."

"President Trump on Wednesday commuted the prison sentence of Sholom Rubashkin, whose Iowa meatpacking plant was the target of a huge immigration raid in 2008, and whose 27-year prison sentence angered many Orthodox Jews… Mr. Rubashkin made national headlines nine years ago after federal agents arrived by helicopter at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, and detained nearly 400 undocumented immigrants, including several children, who were working there. Mr. Rubashkin was the company’s chief executive, and the plant had been the largest kosher meatpacking operation in the country. He was later convicted of bank fraud in federal court." Unfortunately the Trump administration doesn't show any inclination to change their other stances on immigration issues.

"US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warns the US will be 'taking names' of the countries that vote in favor of a resolution that condemns the Trump administration's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." Ambassador Haley, let me help you. Take a list of all the countries in the UN, scratch off the US and Israel. There's your list of those who will vote against us. In the future you may wish to forego the school-yard taunts.

"Through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Obama administration undertook a number of programs that sought to help families move from low- to high-opportunity neighborhoods. Part of the idea was that doing so would actually get people off government assistance, Julián Castro, the secretary of HUD during the final years of the Obama administration, told me. If they move to better neighborhoods, families can access better educational opportunities and jobs, make more money, and stop needing public help. 'You need to help empower families by ensuring that they have the tools they need to succeed,' he said." Well the party of "pull yourselves up by your own bootstraps" can't allow that, now can they. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"(The IRS) will have to figure out how to interpret and implement the hundreds of pages of changes to the tax code that were just passed, at a time when it is already struggling with budget cuts and staff reductions… In 1986, the last time a major tax overhaul was approved, Congress actually appropriated more money for the IRS to hire additional personnel. This time, the president and House and Senate leaders have all proposed deeper cuts in the agency's budget."

"Celebrations aside, President Trump may wait until next year to sign the tax bill into law, delaying $120 billion in automatic cuts to popular programs such as Medicare and sparing Republicans from having to explain them in an election year… Here's why: If Trump signs the tax bill this month, it could trigger steep automatic spending cuts early next year to a raft of programs. But if Trump waits until January to sign the bill, the spending cuts would be delayed until 2019 — after next year's congressional elections — giving lawmakers a full year to prevent them." Cough. pocket veto. Shh, don't tell anyone. Cough. "The Constitution grants the president 10 days to review a measure passed by the Congress. If the president has not signed the bill after 10 days, it becomes law without his signature. However, if Congress adjourns during the 10-day period, the bill does not become law." The bill was approved December 20th. That means even without the President's signature it becomes law on Dec 30th, unless Congress adjourns. Would someone please warm up the lawyers.

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