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

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Linkee-poo looks out on the Feast of Stephen

Why are dystopias so popular in YA literature? "Teenagers are cynical, adds Aaron Yost, 16. And they should be: 'To be fair, they were born into a world that their parents kind of really messed up.'"

"Whether it's hanging lights, baking dozens of cookie variations or just enjoying the plants, holidays are full of traditions. But like with any tradition, sometimes you've been doing it so long that you don't know why." Jelly donuts and mistletoe, why we do what we do. Sort of like why Buddhists ring bells to remember to breathe. Why do we breathe when we hear a bell? It's reminder to us to breathe. Why do we ring bells? To remind us to breathe. Get into the spirit; eat a jelly donut, drink some eggnog, and kiss someone under the mistletoe because it's the season to do those things. In a world where I can still buy watermelon and grapes at my grocery in the middle of December and can keep myself warm by turning a nob these things don't make sense (like why oranges were also considered Xmas gifts). But just like our appendix, it's a vestigial reminder of life (that really isn't vestigial and plays an important role in our lives). I mean, it's not like our parents have been lying to us about what is traditional.

Ah, I see the UFO thing is back in the news.

"If you look at the percent of the federal budget currently being invested in NASA, you'll find that you have to go all the way back to 1959, the first full year of NASA's existence, to encounter a time where we invested less in the agency than we do today." Yes, Virginia, the Moon will be safe from our presence for a few more years.

In a "bad date" (or a date you didn't know was a date)? Yeah, there's an app for that.

"Facebook news feeds can get pretty cluttered, especially with clickbait posts fishing for as many likes, shares, and comments as possible. But it appears that enough users have complained to Facebook about these posts that the social media platform will start cracking down on what it is calling 'engagement bait.'" These are the social media equivalents of the "forward this email to get good luck" schemes that were big in the 90s. They're an electronic virus that requires wetware hacking to propagate.

"Older brains may forget more because they lose their rhythm at night." White people can't dance. But this doesn't really explain why I have to answer "Why am I here?" questions from my patients sixteen times in a row.

In the category of things that shouldn't happen, "So we thought we would ask teachers how much of their own money they spend each year… The answer: more than $250." Most professions require some outlay of cash for item (the night job soaks up a lot of this with certifications - CPR as well as radiological - CEUs, licensing fees, tests, immunizations, scrubs, etc), but teachers really shouldn't need to be buying classroom consumables. That's the job of the school system. But teachers know (as so do many of us) that the administration will never approve of the expenses, so they have gotten into the habit of just doing it themselves. Bravo on them, but this shouldn't be the way we do business. Teachers shouldn't have to buy kids food and clothes (they do). Teachers should have to buy chalk and crayons and books. This is a business model born of necessity, but has become relied upon instead of changing the system to address reality.

"President Donald Trump is privately striking a less agitated tone on the Russia investigation, sources say, even insisting he'll soon be cleared in writing. But his new approach has some allies worried he's not taking the threat of the probe seriously enough." Because the president doesn't understand how these things actually work. Every time he talks about a "letter" I'm reminded of his campaign "health report" letter from his wacky doctor. So now begins the phase of "whistling past the graveyard." We're nearing the end.

"So it surprises some to see how readily many committed church people flock to his standard. But the explanation is both simple and neat. It is not that evangelicals think Trump is one of them, but rather that they believe he is being used by God." So even the (conservative) evangelicals think of Trump as a tool.

Fighting the opioid epidemic with needle exchanges. Really it shouldn't be this hard. It's not like we haven't been here, in this exact same place, before. But some people don't want to deal with the base causes (economic, psychological, and sociological) and think it's better for people to die than to help them.

"The Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday rejected President Trump's nominee to lead the Export-Import Bank." Huhn. Gee, nominating someone who though the bank should have been disbanded was a Bad Idea™? Too bad the Senate didn't feel that way about State, EPA, Energy, HHS…

"The average household would get a tax cut of $1,610 in 2018… However, extremes make averages, and the benefits would be much larger for richer households. A household earning $1 million or more would get an average cut of $69,660, an income bump of 3.3 percent. Compare that to the average household earning $50,000 to $75,000, which would get a tax cut of $870, or 1.6 percent." As to the comments about how far up the stock market has gone in anticipation of these cuts, it hasn't gone up that much because of jobs. The stock market has gone up because the investor class has realized that all this money that will flow to companies from both the reduced taxes (and the much reduced tax to repatriate foreign funds) will be funneled to increased dividends and stock buy-backs, both of which won't benefit you unless you own the stocks. There is no trickle-down, and a rising tide floods the low-lying areas and drown those people who can't afford boats. "The numbers look bleaker a decade out for most American households. To help ensure their bill met the budget limits Republicans had set for themselves, lawmakers set many individual income tax changes to sunset after 2025 (they made cuts to corporate tax rates permanent, meanwhile)." This is the Republican cause made clear.

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