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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Linkee-poo on the streets where once was pity, Mister blue sky is living here today, hey hey

"At least a quarter of the carbon humans put into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels is soaked up by the ocean. It acts like a carbon sponge, but adding carbon to seawater makes it more acidic… It's harmful for animals that build shells, like oysters, and spells big trouble for the Pacific shellfish industry, worth more than $100 million."

"Scientists have figured out how to manipulate nearly unseen specks in the air and use them to create 3-D images that are more realistic and clearer than holograms, according to a study in Wednesday's journal Nature . The study's lead author, Daniel Smalley, said the new technology is 'printing something in space, just erasing it very quickly.'" Help me, Obi-Wan, you're our only hope. (Grokked from Dan)

"The instrument, called the MinION, works by pulling DNA through around 500 nanoscopic pores and reading it as it passes through by measuring an electrical signal produced by each nucleotide, or DNA letter. Oxford Nanopore Technologies, a private British company that has spent 12 years and about $200 million developing the invention, foresees its cheap DNA sequencers providing a way to study life in real time." What all the cool kids are talking about. (Grokked from a lot of people)

"Amazon, Warren Buffett and JPMorgan are forming a new company to address the health care costs of their employees, sending shares of health care companies down sharply across the entire sector despite the vague nature of the announcement." (Grokked from Dan)

"Now, Idaho has jumped in, with the insurance department saying Wednesday it will allow insurers to ignore some ACA rules on plans not sold on the marketplace. The department aims to make these state-based plans less costly. Several of the changes are viewed by the health law's supporters as hits to its core consumer protections." So will the Trump administration enforce the law? I think we can see the answer in the recent failure to impose sanctions on Russia.

"After a polyp is found, patients may have to chip in for colonoscopies." And ain't that a kick in the pants.

"Police in Canada say they are undertaking the grim task of searching backyards, flowerbeds and planters for human remains after a Toronto gardener was charged with killing at least five men and dismembering their bodies." So the butler didn't do it after all.

"Businesses pay between $4,000 and $6,000 to join Project Green Light, a program that allows police to monitor businesses’ video surveillance feeds in real time. The cost covers installation of high-definition cameras and lighting. There also is a monthly fee of up to $150 for cloud-based video storage… In exchange, participating companies are given Priority 1 status on police dispatches…" Dear Detroit Police, um, you may want to check with your legal department about prioritizing 911 dispatches. (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

"Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour says he will pay a fine after being arrested with a loaded handgun in his briefcase as he went through an airport security checkpoint." (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"As the FBI’s investigation into Russian election interference reaches a fever pitch, Facebook rolled out a new News Feed alert Monday night. The bulletin told users who followed pages created by Russian trolls that those pages have been removed. And some of the affected users did not like this." Look, Charlie, let's face it. We all know that Christmas is a big commercial racket. It's run by a big eastern syndicate, you know. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"Since the election, President Trump has made 31 specific claims about companies adding or saving American jobs thanks to his intervention. We went back to see what’s become of those announcements." (Grokked from Pat Rothfuss)

"Eight years ago, the Koch brothers' network spent millions to help boost the Tea Party wave… The topic of how to defend the conservative majority was all the buzz over the past few days as some 550 well-heeled donors gathered at the palatial Renaissance Esmeralda near Palm Springs, Calif." Remember when the Tea Party was all "we're grass roots" and got upset at being called astroturf? But also this is a warning to the democrats, the Koch brothers are looking at the long game. You need to as well.

"'As confirmed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe, a Russian [Su-27] engaged in an unsafe interaction with a U.S. EP-3 in international airspace, with the Russia pilot closing to within 5 feet and crossing directly in front of the EP-3's flight path,' State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said in a statement Monday."

"As the U.S. sends thousands more troops to Afghanistan and ratchets up airstrikes, a new report from a U.S. military auditor suggests that the war is still at a stalemate, with signs of continued decline in Afghan government control… And the amount of basic information available to the public about the war is getting smaller, making it more difficult for the U.S. taxpayer to understand how U.S.-supported forces are faring in their fight against the Taliban." Danger. Warning, Will Robinson.

"Reaction to President Trump's first State of the Union speech followed the familiar choose-your-own-partisan-narrative script that's dominated political life since the 2016 election." Next year I'm auditioning for the part of curmudgeon. "Texas Sen. Ted Cruz chastised Democrats for not sufficiently cheering on Trump's speech." Shorter Ted Cruz, "I didn't get a 'harrumph' outa that guy."

"One of the most striking facts about immigration to the U.S., unbeknownst even to many immigration advocates, is the superior education of Africans coming to this country. If we consider adults age 25 or older, born in Africa and living in the U.S., 41.7 of them have a bachelor’s degree or more, according to 2009 data. For contrast, the native-born population has a bachelor’s degree or more at the much lower rate of only 28.1 percent in these estimates, and foreign-born adults as a whole have a college degree at the rate of 26.8 percent, both well below the African rate." Those supposed $#!@hole countries are sending us their best. Unlike our other immigrant populations. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Tweet of my heart: @waltshaub "There is a country whose leader is being investigated by an agency that's being investigated secretly by a legislator who was on the leader's transition team, which that agency is investigating for colluding with a nation that's subject to sanctions the leader refuses to enforce." (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Linkee-poo, go go Godzilla

So apparently we'll get to read David Nunes' spy thriller fan fiction.

"Here's your chance to download and read these Oscar-nominated scripts for free." (Grokked from Gabriel Novo)

"After lengthy discussions between team owner Paul Dolan and MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, the Indians are shelving the big-toothed, smiling, red-faced caricature, which has been used in used in various expressions by the team since 1947." Start the wailing and garment rending in 3… 2… 1…

"The reverse merger, whereby VMware would actually buy the larger Dell, would then allow Dell to be traded publicly without going through a formal listing. It would also likely be the biggest deal in tech industry history, giving investors who backed Dell's move to go private in 2013 a way to monetize their deal, while helping Dell pay down some of its approximately $50 billion debt." Well I'm glad it's all about the money.

"The president was silent for a moment and then turned on McCabe, suggesting he ask his wife how it feels to be a loser — an apparent reference to a failed campaign for state office in Virginia that McCabe’s wife made in 2015." There's more of that stable genius for you. Apparently the president felt that since he fired Comey long distance (Comey was in LA) that this would abandon Comey in LA. So when he used a government plane for his return trip to DC, Trump was furious. That's the kind of asshole the president is, he'd intentionally fire people while they are traveling on official business and expect that they would have to stay there. (Grokked from John)

"FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was expected to retire in the coming months, is stepping down, according to multiple reports." Well, there's a head for Nunes' wall.

"Mike Pompeo told the BBC there had been no significant diminishing of Russian attempts at subversion in Europe and the US." Again, the story ends just after the plot resolves. Russia's goals haven't been (fully) meet, the plot has not resolved. (Waves to all my Russian friends) But then Director Pompeo was asked about North Korea. "'Our task is to have provided the intelligence to the president of the United States that will deliver to him a set of options that continue to take down that risk by non-diplomatic means.'" I, uh… seriously?! Considering he's also discussed "unfettering the CIA" I certainly hope he's not insinuating what I think he is. Because those actions have never turned out well for the US. Which is why the CIA has fetters.

"One day before President Trump’s first State of the Union address on 30 January 2018, images appeared on social media of invitations to the event issued by the House of Representatives in which the word 'Union' was misspelled 'Uniom.'" True fact, a lot of type setting applications don't have automatic spellcheck.

"Trump erupted in anger while traveling to Davos after learning that Associate Attorney General Stephen Boyd warned that it would be 'extraordinarily reckless' to release a classified memo written by House Republican staffers. The memo outlines alleged misdeeds at the FBI and Justice Department related to the Russia investigation." (Grokked from Michele)

"But given the political heat being cranked up by Trump, GOP aides on Capitol Hill and in the pro-Trump media, it would not surprise anyone if special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is next to go… Though such a step would trigger political mayhem and a potential constitutional showdown that could imperil Trump's presidency, such steps, if they happened, could be seen as the logical outcome of a pressure campaign that has raised concerns about Trump's tendency to rage against legal norms constraining his office."

"Those hoping the special counsel will prosecute the president are engaging in fantasy… So, every time you read about the threat to fire Mueller, remember this—the critical actor in most future scenarios is not Mueller, but Rosenstein." Well, yes. Frankly I think many of these reports coming out about Trump's behavior and actions are leaks from the Mueller investigation. THey're in a position to know, and Mueller is a much better politician than most on the hill. He knows how to leak information and not get fingered as the leak. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Monday, January 29, 2018

Linkee-poo hitched a ride with a vending machine repair man

Hallo to all my new friends in the Netherlands.

Tobias Buckell talk about his writing tools. Note, since he wrote this Scrivener has moved to version 3.

"A 2.2 micron animation of the stellar orbits in the central 0.5 arcsec. Images taken from the years 1995 through 2016 are used to track specific stars orbiting the proposed black hole at the center of the Galaxy. These orbits, and a simple application of Kepler's Laws, provide the best evidence yet for a supermassive black hole, which has a mass of 4 million times the mass of the Sun." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Not my Dr Pepper? Okay, if they promise to bring real sugar Dr Pepper back to supermarkets, I'll support it (Yes I know about Dublin's Dr Pepper, but shipping is a killer and frankly I don't drink that much pop anymore).

"Officials in Cape Town on Monday tried to allay international concerns about the water crisis in the South African city, saying tourists and investors are welcome despite fears that most taps could be turned off in April because of drought."

"The U.S. tax bill signed into law in December will have a limited effect on the U.S. economy, as companies are unlikely to spend their tax savings on growth initiatives while the tax cut for the wealthy will not trickle down… That’s according to Moody’s Investors Service in a FAQ on the credit impact of the tax bill published Thursday, which warns of a number of negative consequences for federal debt, local governments, utilities and homeowners." Wow, you're saying water actually is wet. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"This year’s flu season is now more intense than any since the 2009 swine flu pandemic and still getting worse, federal health officials said Friday." It's bigly.

The Environmental Protection Agency said in a surprise announcement Friday that it was suspending its effort to withdraw proposed protections for a southwest Alaska watershed to make room for a new mine." I guess the check didn't clear.

"Online fitness tracker Strava has published a 'heatmap' showing the paths its users log as they run or cycle… It appears to show the structure of foreign military bases in countries including Syria and Afghanistan as soldiers move around them." Oops.

"The American Legal Democracy Fund, a group with ties to liberal Super PAC American Bridge and headed by former DNC spokesman Brad Woodhouse, filed this complaint in response to reporting by McClatchy earlier this month. The report indicated the FBI is investigating whether a Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the NRA in order to aid President Donald Trump's campaign."? Ooo, a super-liberal PAC. Or something.

"Top national security officials within the Trump administration are reportedly weighing whether to build a nationalized mobile wireless network within the U.S., an effort aimed at protecting the country's wireless systems from China and other outside actors." What could possibly go wrong? (Grokked from Dan)

"Members of President Trump's team have voiced their disapproval of a Grammy Awards sketch featuring a cameo by Hillary Clinton." Aw, I think somebody got their feelings hurt. The word I'm looking for here is "petulance."

"Posing as American activists, Russian government-linked trolls created 129 Facebook events between 2015 and 2017… On multiple occasions, the events prompted real Americans to take to the streets… In one case, the troll group organized and promoted two opposing events on the same day at the same location in Houston, Texas." Russians are doing what they always do, finding a way to get their enemies to weaken themselves by exploiting divides. (Grokked from Katheryn Cramer)

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Linkee-poo before the Sunday morning talking heads

"According to a recent US Department of Agriculture report, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly called food stamps) 'increasingly serves the working poor.' Indeed, among working-age SNAP recipients, 57 percent either work or are seeking employment, and 22 percent are disabled… Even so, USDA chief Sonny Perdue has a message for people who rely on the program: Get a job." Dear Sonny Perdue (and conservatives in general), get a brain and a social conscience. You're woefully ignorant of life. Your (parent's) money has kept you that way. "But the SNAP program already contains work requirements for what it calls Able-Bodied Adults Without Dependents (ABAWDs). According to the USDA website, ABAWDs can only get SNAP benefits for three months of any three-year period, unless they 'work at least 80 hours per month, participate in qualifying education and training activities at least 80 hours per month, or comply with a workfare program.'" It's already a part of the fucking program you moron. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

Why is our response to the opioid problem so disjointed? "A 24-year-old former Trump campaign worker who rose rapidly to a senior post in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy will step down by the end of the month because of controversy surrounding his appointment… Taylor Weyeneth, who graduated from college in May 2016, was named a White House liaison to the drug office in March and then promoted to deputy chief of staff in July, at age 23. His only professional experience after college and before becoming a political appointee was working on the Trump presidential campaign… The announcement follows Washington Post stories that detailed Weyeneth's rapid rise at ONDCP… and inconsistencies and inaccuracies on three résumés he submitted to the government." Only the Best People™. (Grokked from Michele)

"A 'spooked' Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, won’t agree to a staff interview with the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chairman Chuck Grassley said." If only the Senate has subpoena powers to compel someone to appear before the committee. Oh, wait… However, here is the real problem, Republicans were lying about the Simpson/Fusion GPS testimony and spinning conspiracy theories which prompted Sen. Feinstein to release the transcript. Notice how all those people went silent and we're not hearing those conspiracy theories anymore. Now triangulate that experience with the Nunes memo. Notice a pattern? (Grokked from Christopher Moore)

"You're going to want to think about this." Jim Wright on the Nunes Memo. Jim is "…a retired US Navy intelligence officer." So he knows what he's talking about.

"The HR consulting firm asked 333 employers with at least 1,000 employees what they have done or plan to do as a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Only 4 percent of companies said they had 'increased wages for all employees'; an additional 3 percent said they planned to do so in the next year. While an further 13 percent said they’re 'considering taking action this year or next,' a full 80 percent of companies aren’t considering giving raises at all." And then there's this, "The bonus and wage increases provided to employees have, so far, been a fraction of the savings companies are seeing from the tax bill." This is my shocked face.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Linkee-poo blows it out before the weekend

The writer as wizard from Ursula K Le Guin's "Where Do You Het Your Ideas From?", a talk for the Portland Arts & Lectures series.

The Burger King Net Neutrality commercial.

"Archaeologists in Israel have discovered the oldest fossil of a modern human outside Africa. The fossil suggests that humans first migrated out of the continent much earlier than previously believed."

"The Trump administration is preparing to end support for the International Space Station program by 2025, according to a draft budget proposal reviewed by The Verge. Without the ISS, American astronauts could be grounded on Earth for years with no destination in space until NASA develops new vehicles for its deep space travel plans." I've already lived through a times when the US had no real manned space program. I cheered when Shuttle Columbia first lifted off. I cried when Challenger exploded. And I cried when Discovery returned us to space (after begging my employer to watch it live, the whole office stopped to watch).

"SpaceX's new megarocket, the Falcon Heavy, briefly roared to life today (Jan. 24) during a much-anticipated engine test at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida that sets the stage for the booster's maiden flight in upcoming weeks."

"Scientists have found a new way to hunt for alien life on distant exoplanets. Clashing gas signatures could mark a planet as habitable from millions of miles away." Well, it's not really new idea, it's just we're finally the tools we need to make that detection are about to go online.

"In fact, it's your unique mixture of odors that determines how many mosquito bites you get, Riffell says — although scientists don't know exactly which combination is most alluring. Some people's perfume is just irresistible to skeeters." I'm one of those who draw mosquitoes. I say it's my Sweet New Jersey Blood they home in on. Also, I swat at the mosquitoes and it doesn't seem to do much for me. I don't have the patients to teach every damn mosquito every damn day.

"Raines believes the charred remains of the shipwreck he discovered are likely those of the Clotilda, the last American vessel to illegally bring African slaves to the U.S. nearly 160 years ago."

"Citing negative effects on tourism in the state, Maine Gov. Paul R. LePage has issued a moratorium on the issuance of new wind project permits." Now they're just throwing shit at the wall to see what'll stick. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

The coming robot apocalypse. "Asked if a robot could do his job, Beatty (a "picker" for a warehouse job) responds with a long pause. 'That's a tough one,' he says eventually, 'but I don't think a robot could do this.'" Right now robots are still pretty expensive (especially the ones with dexterity). And I think we'll see a lot of issues with the robotization of the workforce, jobs really aren't as easy as most managers and engineers believe (and given their current business model doesn't include learning from the people who their work impacts), the first major rollouts will be failures. There will also be a Neo-Art Nouveau movement (which was a response to increased industrialization of the "crafts"). But just like Nouveau didn't stop industrialization, it'll be hard to stop the eventual robotization.

"Earlier this month, the BBC's China editor, Carrie Gracie, a 30-year veteran of the network, abruptly resigned her job in the Beijing bureau, accusing the network of promulgating a gender pay gap… On Friday, the network announced that four of the BBC's leading male hosts have agreed to pay cuts." This is like the upset over the reshoots for All the Money in the World. And I think it's okay (not much more than that) that the top male talent agreed to pay cuts (and the actors said they would donate their pay for the reshoots). But I have a much better idea. Why not fucking pay the women the same as the men. So, again, corporations take the opportunity to cut pay for some instead of increasing pay to match the higher salaries. Much of the problems in the world would be solved if they just paid everybody the same high salaries (instead of the lowest salaries).

"A federal regulator has launched an investigation into a Baltimore hospital after a passerby shot a video earlier this month of a confused patient wearing just a hospital gown discharged at a bus stop on a cold night." Someone's got some 'splainin to do. We sometimes have some patients leave AMA (against medical advice). In some cases, we send the sheriffs after them to bring them back. But this is just boggling that the hospital let this happen (and that the security guards didn't question what they were being asked to do).

"US President Donald Trump said Friday he would apologize for retweeting a series of posts by a UK far-right group, saying he didn't know who they were at the time." Note he didn't apologize at the time. Our president seems to have a problem remembering who the racists are, even when he knows who they are. David Duke anyone? Our president, for not being racists, seems to retweet a lot of racists. I'm sure just like the porn that kinda stuff "just appears" in his twitter timeline. And for not being racists, there sure are a lot of racists around him and who support him.

"As journalists, we're constantly trying to balance the different uses of the term (racist) in a way that will make sense to all of our listeners and readers. But in the era of proposed border walls and Muslim bans and 'shithole countries' and 'hell in the inner cities,' it's getting harder and harder, as one of our listeners put it, not to 'call a racist spade a racist spade.'"

The Planet Money podcast on Douglas Bruce. "In 1992, Douglas Bruce proposed a measure called the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights… TABOR was effectively a tax-limitation measure that said, whenever a government wanted more money… it had to put the question on the ballot. Increased taxes for roads? The voters would get to decide. Better schools? Put it on the ballot. But put the price there first." Yeah, only he's not a patriot, he's an anarchist. His goal, as is Grover Norquist's, is to destroy democratic government. These are people who want to tear it all down and they don't care who they hurt along the way. The only difference between them and the people in hoods breaking windows is they don't have the courage to go out into the streets.

"But it turns out that Walker and his cronies were just getting started on a project that in recent weeks has seen embattled Wisconsin Republicans upend new commissions that were supposed to promote fair elections and responsible governance, while the governor has refused to call elections to fill legislative vacancies in districts that might be won by Democrats." For people who say they love this country, conservatives have a big problem with democracy. Here we witness the unabashed dismantling of our democratic institutions. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"With a combination of gerrymandering, voter-ID laws and dark money, Republicans have tipped the political scales in their favor. Will it be enough to keep Democrats from claiming victory in 2018?" (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"The Dutch intelligence agency AIVD spied on the Russian group believed to be behind the hack of the Democratic Party ahead of U.S. elections, local media reported on Thursday… Agents with the AIVD gained access to the group’s headquarters and between 2014 and 2017 passed along information to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency, the report said." Let's see who is scrambling for the exits now this is out.

"President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last summer — but McGahn refused and threatened to quit himself if the president went ahead, according to an explosive report in The New York Times." The Saturday Night Massacre that we were waiting for.

"During the final three months of 2017, a closely followed measure of the whole economy, called the gross domestic product, a rose at a 2.6 percent annualized rate. That's reasonably good, but less than the 3.2-percent pace in the third quarter. Most economists had been predicting about 3 percent growth." The famous Trump Bump may be over. Although, "For all of 2017, the economy grew 2.3 percent — up from 1.5 percent in 2016, the report said."

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Linkee-poo doesn't have a lyric

"Scientists in Shanghai say they've produced two cloned macaque monkeys by taking the DNA from the nuclei of fetal monkey cells and putting the genes into monkey eggs that had their own DNA removed." No way this could go wrong.

"In northern Alaska, the temperature at some permafrost sites has risen by more than 4 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1980s, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported in November. And in recent years, many spots have reached record temperatures." We're boned.

"'We found that you're six times more likely to have a heart attack during the week after being diagnosed with influenza, compared to the year before or after the infection,' says study author Dr. Jeff Kwong, an epidemiologist and family physician with the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences and Public Health Ontario in Canada." Inflammation is very bad for you.

"Ancient ice has preserved thousands of artifacts left in Norway’s highest mountain passes by hunters and travelers over the last 6,000 years. But even as rising temperatures are revealing these artifacts for the first time, the vanishing ice is putting them at risk." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Experts say, when it comes to diet advice, it's misleading to say that the blueprint is our genes." I think it would be much more relevant to test your intestinal system's biome. Although there is some relevance to your ancestry and traditional foods which isn't really discussed in the article. But if the DNA test gets you to start thinking about your diet on a more conscious level, that's good.

"Alex Azar, former president of the U.S. arm of Eli Lilly & Co., was confirmed Wednesday as the secretary of health and human services." We're fucked. "The prices of Lilly's insulin drugs Humalog and Humulin, for instance, have both risen about 225 percent since 2011, according to data from the investment research firm Bernstein."

"Travel to the U.S. has been on the decline ever since President Donald Trump took office, and new data shows the slump translates to a cost of $4.6 billion in lost spending and 40,000 jobs." Ah, making America Great one bankruptcy after another. Did we mention the dollar is also down, which means we should be seeing an uptick in tourism from abroad? (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"On Wednesday, Missouri’s Solicitor General D. John Sauer declared ultrasounds are not required to obtain an abortion in Missouri, according to a press release from the Satanic Temple… The issue arose during oral arguments in the Satanic Temple’s lawsuit, which argues the State interference with the ability for its anonymous member to terminate her pregnancy violates her rights under Missouri’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act because that interference has no medical or other compelling purpose." Maybe the first crack at dispelling all this silliness of religious freedom and anti-abortion legislation. (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

"Former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele ripped evangelicals for standing by President Trump amid reports Trump had a sexual encounter with an adult film star while he was married… 'Just shut the hell up and don't ever preach to me about anything ever again,' Steele said during an MSNBC appearance on Tuesday." Munches popcorn faster. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Republican lawmakers are pushing for the House Intelligence Committee to release a memo written by the panel's chairman, Rep. Devin Nunes, that outlines purported surveillance during the transition period against President-elect Donald Trump by former President Barack Obama's administration… And Russia-linked Twitter bots have jumped on the bandwagon… The frequency with which the accounts have been promoting the hashtag has spiked by 233,000% over the past 48 hours, according to the site. The accounts' references to the 'memo,' meanwhile, have increased by 68,000%." My money is on them never being able to release the memo, because then we'd have a full discussion about it including the fact that Nunes is not a trustworthy source of information. It's politically more advantageous to have the speculation which can't be fully rebuked without releasing the memo. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"For decades, leading figures in the GOP went out of their way to sound a compassionate note when it came to immigration policy. In recent years that rhetoric fell out of line with where the Republican base was, giving Trump the opportunity of a lifetime in 2016." Going from dog-whistling to shouting is more like it.

Davos and the Oxfam report. "'That's a huge increase. Divided between 3.7 billion people, average net wealth for the bottom 50 percent is no longer $110 per person, as we thought last year, but rather $427 per person. That's a really big difference,' (journalist Felix Salmon) wrote in Cause and Effect… 'Let's pause for a minute, then,' he concludes, 'to celebrate the fact that the poorer half of the planet turns out to be not nearly as poor as we thought it was.'" I'm sure all those poor people agree. Or would if they weren't dying in poverty. But, granted, in some parts of the word having $400/year is substantially better than $100/year. But then, not all of that is cash.

"The 'secret society' referenced in a text message between Trump-bashing FBI lovers Peter Strzok and Lisa Page allegedly involved multiple 'high-ranking FBI officials,' a top GOP lawmaker said Wednesday." Dumbledore's Army. Remember during the election the rumors of a Pro-Trump cell in the New York FBI office?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Linkee-poo needs more cowbell

I say ye, Ursula K Le Guin.

"But the name of our beautiful reward is not profit. It's name is freedom." Thank you, Professor Le Guin.

If you've been following me for a while you know that I hold the belief that what you think is "vision" and reality is in fact a holographic projection built in your head. Your vision isn't an "upside down corrected" live feed of your eyes. And here's an interesting example of this. "A video from YouTube channel The Slow Mo Guys (originally reported on by Motherboard) vividly illustrates how CRT, LCD, and OLED displays work by either zooming in very close or by recording in insane frame rates at ultra slow motion." And you may think that this is a part of scan/sampling resolution issues, and there's some truth to that. This is called Persistence of Memory. Basically you're eyes are trying to process images being displayed faster than your brain can make sense of the information it's receiving. This is why most pets never watched TV, until we had LCD screens. Our pets' brains work faster than ours (at least their visual centers do). (this is not demonstrated in the video) But, without using glasses to get stereoscopic vision from your screen, you still have the perception of depth to videos (and photos). But the screen is (virtually) a 2D surface where you're not getting distance perception from the stereoscopic effect of your eyes being a few inches apart seeing objects with different parallax. So where does the impression of depth come from? It's all in your head (this is why Forced Perspective tricks work). (Grokked from John)

"Research teams spent a decade trying to reach the moon and win the $30 million Google Lunar X Prize. But organizers are declaring an end to this leg of the space race, saying none of the teams are able to launch a lunar rover project by the March 31, 2018, deadline."

Why so many contract workers? "'Traditional workers are covered by the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex and other factors. Independent contractors are not covered by the Civil Rights Act,' (Alan Krueger, an economist at Princeton) says." That could be why the contractor work force is mostly male (and I would also bet it's mostly white).

"Sunday shows barely mentioned the 2018 Women’s March… The longest mention was a meager 20 seconds on NBC's Meet The Press. Other shows were worse." So much for the "liberal media."

"'We kind of gave him—"All right, you get a mulligan. You get a do-over here,"' Perkins told me in an interview for the latest episode of POLITICO’s Off Message podcast… Weigh a paid-off porn star against being the first president to address the March for Life, and a lot of evangelical leaders insist they can still walk away happy." As long as he appoints pro-life judges and allows evangelicals to be biggots, Trump could fuck Stormy Daniels on the Truman Balcony in broad daylight on the Fourth of July and these apostates would still lick his shoes. "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" - Mark 8:36. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Authorities arrested a Michigan man last week after he allegedly called CNN several times, threatening to kill employees at the network's Atlanta, Georgia, headquarters, according to a federal affidavit." Let's see, "Fake new", check, racist statements, check, anti-muslim, check. Gee, I wonder where he was radicalized?

"North Carolina’s Republican-led legislature has repeatedly passed controversial laws in recent years only to have them thrown out in court. Now the legislature is striking back with an effort to radically transform the makeup of the state’s courts." Conservatives realize they can't win with a fair system, so while they can they're attempting to make it unfair. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)

"A 15-year-old student opened fire Tuesday at a high school in rural Kentucky, killing two people and wounding a dozen more, authorities said." This is an early report, the stats and event descriptions may change. And again with the thoughts and prayers from elected officials.

Payday lenders charge fees and rates that make loan sharks blush. "Mick Mulvaney’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) quietly closed an investigation into a payday lender headquartered in Mulvaney’s home state Monday. The company previously donated to the former congressman’s political campaigns." I'm sure it's all above board. I mean, payday lenders only make about 400% APR while lending to the working classes. Nothing to see here, citizen, move along.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Linkee-poo ramshackles it's way into the week

Still very busy.

Now that many people are getting their DNA tested to check their "origins", unlike the commercials a lot of people are scratching their heads when their results differ from their siblings and parents. This is normal. Welcome to the function of sexual reproduction and how that contributes greatly to diversity.

"Currently, 1 in 5 workers is a contract worker, the poll shows. Within a decade, many labor economists believe freelancers will outnumber full timers." The continued rise of the gig (exploitation of workers) economy. My guess is this will be the same as the "open office plan." Something that looks to be an immediate benefit, but has long term negative consequences.

"Being on your own in the workforce often means you don't have the safety net of benefits and other forms of support that traditional workers do. And the toll isn't just financial, but physical and emotional too."

"Police are searching for a man seen running from a mall in central Florida where two explosive devices detonated Sunday evening." Why aren't you hearing about it more? "Authorities continue to search for a person of interest who witnesses described as a heavy-built, white, middle-aged man wearing a gray shirt and a gray hat." Funny how that "white" part keeps on showing up in stories where they're not sure it terrorism and not the lead story on the news.

"Oregon is in a battle royal over how to pay for expanded Medicaid."

"The first time the United States tried to protect solar industry manufacturing jobs from foreign competition, things did not go exactly as planned." I'm sure it will go much better this time. Not. But the Republicans never learn from history. Mostly because the rich will continue to be rich even as the working classes lose their jobs.

"Kimberly-Clark, the maker of Huggies diapers and Kleenex tissues, on Tuesday announced it will be slashing about 13 percent of its workforce globally, or at least 5,000 jobs, in a bid to cut costs as sales wane."

Where do the bad police officers go? "In suburbs just outside the city of Chicago, some police officers are paid fast-food wages; they work part-time patrolling high crime areas, just so they can use their badge to get better paying security jobs." And because they pay so poorly, they can't keep the good ones and can't train new ones. This isn't an insurmountable problem, though. I helped increase officer pay in my village and I worked with the chief to get rid of the bad apples. But it takes the initiative and hard work of the elected officials and the buy in of the community. And it takes money.

"'I would say broadly speaking, it appears that the Russian operation was designed to infiltrate conservative organizations. And they targeted various conservative organizations, religious and otherwise, and they seem to have made a very concerted effort to get in with the NRA.'" That is 1) more dangerous and 2) explains a lot.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Linkee-poo clears out for the weekend.

I'm going to be offline for most of the weekend, so don't expect updates until Monday. I'll be enjoying the wilds of Detroit in the middle of January. Actually it'll be pretty fun. I'll be at Confusion. I only have 1 panel this weekend, Saturday at 6. Come and see us, come and hang in the bar.

"Less than two months after President Donald Trump tapped his budget director to run the independent federal agency tasked with protecting U.S. consumers from harmful and predatory financial practices, the agency has moved to undo a rule intended to prevent payday lenders from preying on low-income Americans. The reversal — which follows recent congressional proposals with the same objective — is a major win for the $40 billion payday lending industry, which has recently started delivering big money to Trump and to congressional critics of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)." We're getting screwed. (grokked form Michele)

So how's the tax cuts working out for increasing pay for rank-and-file employees? "So far, however, those pay increases have been few and far between. With a few exceptions, companies that have announced specific plans are offering one-time bonuses in place of permanent wage increases." Okay, to be fair there's a lot of companies that just didn't respond or say anything. But then most of those few companies that are increasing pay are only offering one time $1000 bonuses. (Grokked from Christopher Moore)

"Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) released the following letter from Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, the former Deputy Commander of US Forces Korea, outlining the operational challenges of a war with North Korea." The forces in theater are cannon fodder. They're basically there to slow N Korean advance until we can get more troops on the way. That was the thinking in the 1960s. N Korea has advanced in technology and military staffing. Most likely they won't survive until reinforcements arrive. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Linkee-poo time is not on my side

"I’ve been working on getting better at building good habits and cultivating greater discipline." Kameron Hurley on the next steps for going from Good to Great.

"If there’s one thing The Da Vinci Code’s Dan Brown and The Library of Babel’s Jorge Luis Borges have in common it is a love for obscure religious and occult books and artifacts. But why do I compare Borges—one of the most highly-regarded, but difficult, of Latin American poets and writers—to a famous American writer of entertaining paperback thrillers? One reason only… Borges would be deeply moved by Brown’s recent act of philanthropy, a donation of €300,000 to Amsterdam’s Ritman Library, also known as the Bibliotheca Philosophica Hermetica House of Living Books… The generous gift will enable the Ritman to digitize thousands of 'pre-1900 texts on alchemy, astrology, magic, and theosophy…'" Shit, I'm never going to get any more writing done. (Grokked from Warren Ellis)

"The planet's global surface temperature last year was second warmest since 1880, NASA says. NOAA calls it the third warmest year on record, due to slight variation in the ways that they analyze temperatures." We're boned.

Another problem of climate change. "Scientists knew that bacteria called Pasteurella multocida type B caused the mass death. Now, new research suggests that the bacteria was already present in the animals; it was triggered and became harmful because of a period of unusual weather."

"First observed among captive mule deer in Fort Collins in 1967, CWD has since infected wild herds in 24 states and Canada. It has also been found in South Korea and Norway. In that time, there's been no report of human illness due to CWD exposure, but a recent Canadian study has renewed concerns that the disease could make the jump." Ohio just had a reported case from a male deer that was used for breeding on a captive deer farm and then released into a hunting preserve.

"A Canadian woman has been convicted of killing her friend after police discovered the murder weapon used in a picture of the pair on social media."

"Steve Bannon’s attorney relayed questions, in real time, to the White House during a House Intelligence Committee interview of the former Trump chief strategist." Bannon refused to answer any questions, but did not claim executive privilege. Now, if Bannon answers Mueller's questions he could be held in contempt of Congress (IANAL but as I understand it the refusal to answer questions is not an on-again/off-again situation, which is why if you are investigated by the police request a lawyer first and as your answer to every question).

Oh look, it's another group of conservatives upset that have to play with everyone else, so they're going to take their little red ball and go home to their own state of New California. Well, they're also upset that they're no longer in the majority or in control of the government. (Grokked from John)

"Health care workers who want to refuse to treat patients because of religious or moral beliefs will have a new defender in the Trump Administration." Fuckers. This is just plain bigotry and discrimination bullshit.

Turns out earmarks weren't all that bad. "Like many lawmakers, Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., supports reviving earmarks, but he mused at a House Rules Committee hearing Wednesday that the debate is futile if House Speaker Paul Ryan does not." I helped secure one of the last earmarks for my village. We had been working hard to get a stop light at the intersection where our school lets out. Across the highway is our industrial center. While we haven't had a fatality yet, it's bound to happen. We worked through all the regular channels for our state, but always ran into roadblocks on the final approval. So we went to our congressional representative and got an earmark. If it's a Federal law, the State can't block it. Unfortunately that was the last budget to have earmarks and it was delayed. And delayed. Delayed again. And then the Congress decided they wouldn't allow any earmarks and they stripped the appropriations bill of all the earmarks, including ours. So we still don't have a stop light at a dangerous intersection.

And we finally have the Fake News Awards. Release the eye rolling!

"A former Department of Energy photographer has filed a federal whistleblower suit alleging he lost his job after leaking photos of a private meeting between Energy Secretary Rick Perry and a major Trump donor who heads one of the country's largest mining companies… The photographs show Perry and Murray embracing and Murray handing Perry a four-page confidential 'action plan' for reviving the country's struggling coal industry. The Associated Press and The New York Times obtained copies of the plan earlier this month and reported that it mirrors policy later pushed by the Trump administration." They're selling us out.

"Wide gender, racial and political gaps leave American voters divided on whether President Donald Trump is 'mentally stable,' as 45 percent say he is stable and 47 percent say he is not stable, according to a Quinnipiac University National Poll released today."

"Haitians will no longer be eligible for U.S. visas given to low-skilled workers, the Trump administration said."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Linkee-poo is on a merry-go-round

The Dunning-Kruger Song from the Incompetence Opera during the Ig Nobel Awards that all the cool kids are talking about. (Grokked from John Scalzi among others)

"One of the worst pandemics in human history, the Black Death, along with a string of plague outbreaks that occurred during the 14th to 19th centuries, was spread by human fleas and body lice, a new study suggests." I guess we can't blame it on the rats anymore.

"Michigan residents got a surprise Tuesday night when a suspected meteor punched through the clouds with an explosive flash and powerful enough to register on seismic instruments." Man, Confusion must have increased their promotional budget. "Follow the falling star to Detroit!" Okay, okay, I'll go. (Also, quietly wondering at the orbital trajectory of that "failed" SpaceX satellite launch, but I doubt if anything of that satellite would have made it to the ground.)

"A pair of amateur explorers in Canada have found a vast underground passage stretching hundreds of metres underneath the bustling streets of Montreal whose formation dates back more than 15,000 years ago to the Earth’s last ice age." (Grokked from Dan)

"Leaving surgical materials inside patients is surprisingly frequent." At my hospital, we count every damn thing. There are instances where we can't, and in those cases we do take x-rays to make sure nothing is left in the patient. I'm sure it still happens, but there are procedures to reduce the instances.

"Experts agree the U.S. is not ready for a bad epidemic, or even for some other disaster that would affect hospital supplies. And funding cuts mean even a little strain has a bigger impact than in years past." Remember when were in a panic about SARS and bird flu? Yeah, still not ready. And as long as hospitals and medical care is considered a private industry function and regulated to capitalism we won't be. Capitalism isn't capable of responding to disaster.

"That's an incorrect but common belief. Medicare does cover home care services for patients who qualify but, according to advocates for seniors and the homecare industry, incentives intended to combat fraud and reward high quality care are driving some home health agencies to avoid taking on long-term patients, such as Campbell, who have debilitating conditions that won't get better. Rule changes that took effect this month could make the problem worse." This is how "entitlements" should be changed, to make things easier on the recipient. Right not, it's damn hard to navigate the systems. How some seniors do it on their own, I have no idea how they do it. Instead we continue to make it harder for people to get services, for those services to keep good employees, and basically everyone suffers for it.

Does the SR-72 already exist? (Grokked from Dan)

"A former C.I.A. officer suspected by investigators of helping China dismantle United States spying operations and identify informants has been arrested, the Justice Department said on Tuesday. The collapse of the spy network was one of the American government’s worst intelligence failures in recent years."

"Three-quarters of the members of a federally chartered board advising the National Park Service abruptly quit Monday night out of frustration that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had refused to meet with them or convene a single meeting last year." The continuing dissolution of our (barely) functioning democracy. So much winning.

"Americans are split on whether they think the Justice Department's Russia investigation is fair and are unsure of special counsel Robert Mueller, but they overwhelmingly believe he should be allowed to finish his investigation, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll." The White House and Fox News messaging is working. Also, "(t)rust in the institutions that have been the pillars of U.S. politics and capitalism is crumbling."

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Linkee-poo is sure I'm not being rude, but it's just your attitude

The Cranberries were one of those bands you would hear the more popular bands cite when asked about their musical inspiration.

"CVS Pharmacy, the retail division of CVS Health Corp., wants to end touch ups of its beauty images in its marketing campaigns by the end of 2020." Nothing about in-camera trickery, airbrushing blemishes, or any of the other photographic tricks. But I'll believe it when I see it.

"A Southern California couple are in custody after one of their daughters called 911 and led authorities to their home, where 12 of her siblings were inside, including 'several children shackled to their beds with chains and padlocks in dark and foul-smelling surroundings.'" Ah, parenting.

"There have been a number of different missions over the years with the goal of collecting this space junk and removing it from the Earth’s orbit. Now, a group of scientists in China have offered what is easily the most exciting solution that has been proposed so far. They want to blast the junk in Earth’s orbit with giant lasers, obliterating large objects so that their remnants are just tiny pieces that don’t pose any threat." I have some questions. (Grokked from Dan)

"People diagnosed with cancer understandably reach for the very best that medical science has to offer. That motivation is increasingly driving people to ask to have the DNA of their tumors sequenced. And while that's useful for some malignancies, the hype of precision medicine for cancer is getting far ahead of the facts." The term you want to keep in mind here is "neoplasticism." As you're developing in the womb the various cells of you body, through chemical signals, begin to differentiate into different types of cells. This is the "plastic" nature of plenipotentiary stem cells. For example at a certain point a form of stem cell in the fetus determines that it is a liver cell. From them on, it's only a liver cell. Until something happens (exposure to chemical, radiation, or just the error process of cell division) and the "child" of that cell is now no longer a liver cell, but it's still in your liver. Most times these cells are killed by your immune system, self-destruct, or fail to thrive. Sometimes, however, the cell's mutation also causes them to multiply in an out of control fashion and either outgrows your immune system's capability or tricks it into thinking the cells are a normal part of your body. This is cancer, or a neoplasticism. You cells have learned a new trick. The problem for patients who have responded well to targeted therapies is that life finds a way. Once your cells demonstrate this capability they are likely to do it again. Fuck cancer.

"Since enrolling last year in a program that rewards food stamp beneficiaries for buying more fresh produce, Gonzalez has regularly filled her shopping cart with the fruits and vegetables of her childhood — not only avocados and artichokes, but pomegranates, various types of squash and more." And now we'll hear from the other side wondering why tax-payers should subsidize people eating healthy foods. "Prickitt says he hopes that even after their financial incentives end, participants will retain what they have learned about healthy eating and continue buying produce." Except they won't have the money to purchase those items again.

"Britain’s Royal Air Force scrambled two fighter jets to intercept Russian bombers near U.K. airspace on Monday, in another illustration of ongoing tensions." And "The Russian military is conducting massive drills involving truck-mounted intercontinental ballistic missile launchers." With "Russia’s Defense Ministry on Thursday displayed a pair of drones that it said were captured following attacks on two Russian military bases in Syria, saying the attack required know-how indicating it was carried out with outside assistance." It's like the Cold War never ended.

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has postponed a briefing on how to plan and prepare for nuclear disaster." Well because the flu is a more imminent threat to public health. And seriously, how long does it take to say, "you're fucked either way"? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Buyer's remorse? "Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has accused the United States of destabilizing the world, airing a list of grievances over the Trump administration's foreign policy." I think I sprained my eyes from that eye roll.

"Teresa Manning, the controversial official in charge of the Title X federal family planning program, was escorted from the Department of Health and Human Services premises on Friday… A source with knowledge of Manning's dismissal said that staff members were told to leave the floor of the HHS building and to take their computers, in order to ensure that no one witnessed her being escorted out." Nothing unusual about that. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Linkee-poo weekender

Things are just going so fast that I should clear out these links before Monday. Sorry, the end of last week was exceptionally hectic.

"Some locations on Mars are known to have water ice just below the surface, but how much has remained unclear. Dundas et al. used data from two orbiting spacecraft to examine eight locations where erosion has occurred. This revealed cliffs composed mostly of water ice, which is slowly sublimating as it is exposed to the atmosphere. The ice sheets extend from just below the surface to a depth of 100 meters or more and appear to contain distinct layers, which could preserve a record of Mars' past climate. They might even be a useful source of water for future human exploration of the red planet." Water on Mars.

"Wildlife managers in Florida say they want to remove roaming monkeys from the state in light of a new study published Wednesday that finds some of the animals are excreting a virus that can be dangerous to humans."

"In case you weren't counting -- and I was -- Trump uses the exact phrase 'no collusion' seven times in that answer. He goes with the alternative 'nobody's found any collusion' once. Let's call it a soft eight."

"Joe Arpaio, the controversial former sheriff from Arizona, announced this week that he will run for the U.S. Senate to help advance President Trump's agenda… But he's breaking from the president on people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children… 'Deport them,' Arpaio told NPR's Morning Edition in an interview airing Thursday morning." Of course the xenophobes say "deport them." And frankly, if you're thinking that someone Trump doesn't also believe they should be deported, you aren't paying attention. He just thinks it's a trap to get the Democrats to the negotiating table and them blame them for any action of immigrants (no matter how they came, when they came). But for someone who just had his own pardon, you'd think he'd be a little more generous. But that isn't the conservative way.

And while we fight about other stupid shit, CHIP still doesn't have a fix. "Dr. Mahendra Patel, a pediatric cancer doctor, has begun giving away medications to some of his young patients, determined not to disrupt their treatments for serious illnesses like leukemia. He's worried Congress will fail to renew funding soon for a health program that pays for the care of millions of children across the country." Helping people keep well, especially kids, saves us money in the long run.

"President Donald Trump was apparently unaware that not all—in fact, the vast majority—of welfare beneficiaries are not black as recently as last March, according to a new report." I just can't keep up with this. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

Idiot who claims no-go zones and Muslims burning politicians in the Netherlands becomes ambassador to the Netherlands. Dear Trump supporters, the rest of the world's media doesn't give a shit about your feelings.

"At a roundtable with policy experts and elected officials, Trump expressed a desire to "break this vicious cycle" of inmates turning to crime when their lives outside prison prove too difficult." Future planning for family members?

So there's this belief that if Trump orders a nuclear strike that the military will countermand the order because no-one would think that we're about to enter a nuclear war. "Hawaii residents and tourists alike were shaken shortly after 8 a.m. local time Saturday when a push notification alerted those in the state to a missile threat, causing an immediate panic until officials confirmed it was a false alarm."

What did he say? Okay, just for context, we had one resident who used a garden hose running from their neighbor's house for their running water needs… for 3 years (had to write legislation to end that). I had to help write a law to prevent people from throwing garbage out their windows onto their lawn. And you really don't want to see the people picking up their beer at our all night gas station (the only one in southern Ashtabula County) at 11pm.

"Donald Trump knows a thing or two about 'shitholes' – the label he apparently bestowed on El Salvador, Haiti and various African nations during an Oval Office meeting about immigration. His own father was reportedly so ashamed of coming from Germany – widely considered to be a “shithole” by Americans fighting in two world wars – that he pretended for most of his life that he was Swedish."

Trump won't be going to London. Because apparently he thinks making the embassy more secure (and owning the land instead of leasing) is a bad deal.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Linkee-poo is very pressed for time

Sorry, not enough time to get new stuff in here, but man yesterday, eh?

Comet Panstarrs images.

"Just two weeks before Christmas, hundreds of Comcast door-to-door salespeople were called into company offices and fired from their jobs, it has emerged, just after the telecommunications giant announced it would be giving out $1,000 bonuses to staffers thanks to a major tax cut." I wonder where those $1k came from? Gee, if only Donald Trump could ride to their rescue like he did the Carrier plant employees. "Carrier has announced 215 workers will lose their jobs at its Indianapolis heating and air conditioning plant this week, the last of about 600 previously announced layoffs." Oh wait, maybe that isn't such a good idea. But at least Macy's had a good year. "Macy's also says it will close another 11 stores early this year, cut jobs and streamline non-store functions. That should produce savings of about $300 million." Oh fuckstockings. Sears? "Sears said Tuesday it's cutting 400 jobs at corporate offices as it works towards a goal of reducing costs by $1.25 billion in fiscal 2017." How about those big companies, like AT&T? "When AT&T Inc. announced it would hand out holiday bonuses to 200,000 workers thanks to Congress' recent tax overhaul, the company's statement failed to mention… (it) is eliminating thousands of jobs across the U.S., including 30 in Central Indiana, according to Communications Workers of America, the union that represents AT&T employees. The company is cutting nearly 12 percent of its technicians who install U-verse and DirectTV in the Indianapolis area, according to union figures." (Grokked from Michele)

But Walmart's good, right? "Walmart is closing 63 Sam's Club stores across the US, the company told Business Insider… The closures come on the same day that Walmart announced it was raising starting hourly wages to $11, expanding employee benefits, and offering workers bonuses of up to $1,000." (Grokked from Cherie Priest)

"South Dakota state Sen. Neal Tapio (R) created quite the scene at the capitol building in Pierre on Wednesday. After awkwardly agreeing to be photographed with an interfaith gathering, he turned on them, launching into one of his familiar rants attacking Islam and condemning the gathering as a 'political movement.'… 'I don’t like being called a racist,' he shouted at the group of religious leaders." Dear Sen. Tapio, then try not being racist. It's pretty simple. As the kids say, this asshole. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"During the coal bust in the 1990s, Mullins’ dad was laid off from Bethlehem Steel’s mines. Mullins recalls living off the green beans his family had diligently canned during the good times, and watching his parents grow desperate. Go to college, they urged him. Mining offered no future… But he, like so many of his friends, family, and neighbors, soon found that the industry that has wreaked havoc on the economy of central Appalachia—comprised of southwest Virginia, southern West Virginia, and eastern Kentucky—was also nearly impossible to escape." (Grokked from Fred Clark)

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Linkee-poo lovers Paris in the springtime

"The relentlessly unyielding (but highly profitable) personalization of the products and services we use is getting deeper and creepier than ever." The internet is watching you (and profiting by the information you give it). What I want to know is with all these psychometrics going on, why the hell can't Twitter make smarter suggestions for people who I may like to follow? (Just a note, I'm very picky on whom I follow, even more so because of the number of people I already follow and prolific they are.) The article also has tips/links on how to stop them (or at least tell them to bugger off). In case you may need some convincing, here is a site that gives you feedback letting you know exactly how deep this scrutiny of your habits are. (Grokked from John)

More evidence that highly-processed foods are bad for us. "Trehalose (mycose or tremalose), a sugar that is added to a wide range of food products, could have allowed certain strains of Clostridium difficile to become far more virulent than they were before, a new study finds." We're boned. (Grokked from Dan)

"A prototype version of a self-sustaining life-support system, intended to allow humans to live in space indefinitely, is seen in Spain's University Autònoma of Barcelona." (Grokked from Warren Ellis)

"Postal carriers say a rafter of aggressive wild turkeys have prevented them from delivering mail to more than two dozen homes in a Cleveland suburb." You may laugh, but have you ever challenged a wild turkey? I have. You don't want to. Also, wild turkeys (who can fly, I just state that because a neighbor was shocked to see them fly) roost in trees. When startled, as a defense mechanism they defecate at their attacker. I've see that (fortunately wasn't when I had to chase a turkey away). Turkeys will mostly run away when they think you're a predator (so will geese), however sometimes they will defend (especially when nesting or courting). However, if you don't know how to behave like a predator, turkey's will harass you (humans are not hard coded in turkey brains as predators like raptors are). (Grokked from Shannon Eichorn)

"Fox Business Network host Stuart Varney suggested Wednesday that he will tip restaurant servers less if the minimum wage goes up." No matter what conservatives say their argument over the minimum wage is about keeping you down. Also, so continued the long tradition of service people spitting in Stuart Varney's food. What an asshole. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

African-American women are more likely to die from complications of child birth than white women. Including famous African-American women. "The next day, while recovering in the hospital, Serena suddenly felt short of breath. Because of her history of blood clots, and because she was off her daily anticoagulant regimen due to the recent surgery, she immediately assumed she was having another pulmonary embolism… (She) told the nearest nurse, between gasps, that she needed a CT scan with contrast and IV heparin… The nurse thought her pain medicine might be making her confused. But Serena insisted, and soon enough a doctor was performing an ultrasound of her legs… The ultrasound revealed nothing, so they sent her for the CT, and sure enough, several small blood clots had settled in her lungs. Minutes later she was on the drip. 'I was like, listen to Dr. Williams!'" There is no protection from the increased stresses of racism (and it's biological effects) and unexamined racism in health care providers. "According to the CDC, black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women’s health." (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"According to an internal memo circulated in the department of homeland security, the US government could ask workers with H-1B visas to leave the country while they wait for pending green cards to come through, the Hindustan Times newspaper reported… If the proposal goes through, it could put the visa status of between 500,000 and 750,000 Indians in jeopardy, sending them back home abruptly." Green card applications can take months or even years. Abrupt deportation will disrupt the technology and healthcare sector. And while I support a revamping of the H-1B program (because it is often abused to bring in lower-pay high skill workers while American citizens who are qualified are overlooked because they've been out of work longer than 3 months, which the tech sector then considers your skills as too outdated) throwing the people already in the system out of the country is wrong, discriminatory, inhumane, and generally a dickish move. It is especially troublesome coming from the asshole who abuses the H-2B visa program for his own profit. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"(Trump) has ended a national registry designed to provide information to the public about evidence-based mental health and substance use interventions and programs… The National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, which is funded and administered by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has existed since 1997 to help people, agencies and organizations identify and implement evidence-based behavioral health programs and practices in their communities, according to the website." Hello pillaging of insurance companies by meager resorts passing themselves off as "treatment" centers without helping patients. Of course it could also be the move for insurance companies to stop paying for inpatient and outpatient treatments because they "don't know what works and what doesn't, therefore it's all experimental". (Grokked from Laura J. Mixon)

"A Twitter battle over the size of each 'nuclear button' possessed by President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un has triggered a surge in sales of a drug that protects against radiation poisoning." Um, no. Potassium iodide (and other iodine pills) won't protect you from radiation poisoning. A by-product of nuclear reaction is radioactive iodine and there is only one part of your body that uses iodine. Your thyroid (mostly/we think, well we know your thyroid uses iodine, but there could be other smaller uses). Basically what the purpose of giving iodine pills to someone in a fall-out zone (note, not for direct exposure to radiation, but to its fallout, and then only to one component of that fallout) is to saturate the thyroid with iodine so that it only takes up minimal radioactive iodine. This is meant to keep you from getting thyroid cancer. Note, after the Chernobyl disaster many residents had pro-active thyroidectomies (the US and Europe sent several surgeons to help). However, this only allows your kidneys to process the radioactive iodine out of the body (radiation hit to kidneys, ureters, bladder, urethra, as well as the systemic exposure while it's traveling through your body in your lungs, intestines, blood). There's plenty of other radioactive items in fallout, and you're only prevent one form of cancer (although it's pretty common from fallout).

"South Dakota is set to join a growing list of states looking to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients… 'Work is an important part of personal fulfillment,' Daugaard said during his State of the State address." Work will make you free, although it sounds better in the original German, "arbeit macht frei." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Just for comparison. "Among Medicaid adults… nearly 8 in 10 live in working families, and a majority are working themselves… Among the adult Medicaid enrollees who were not working, most report major impediments to their ability to work including illness or disability or care-giving responsibilities." This is the standard GOP bullshit about takers and is a cover (and dog whistle) to the base about getting all "those people" off "your" program. "Most Medicaid enrollees who work are working full-time for the full year, but their annual incomes are still low enough to qualify for Medicaid." That's the problem they don't want to be discussing. I suggest we bring it up at every opportunity.

"A three-judge panel ruled late Tuesday that North Carolina's congressional district map was illegally gerrymandered because of excessive partisanship that gave Republicans a solid advantage for most of the seats." And then ordered them to get a new map in place before this years election. Small victories.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Linkee-poo is working hard

"Buckle up, this is going to get weird." Possible detection of a 4th spacial direction (non-technical article). (Grokked from Dan)

"…(O)n the night of January 8, 1811, more than 500 enslaved people took up arms in one of the largest slave rebellions in U.S. history. They carried cane knives (used to harvest sugar cane), hoes, clubs and some guns as they marched toward New Orleans chanting 'Freedom or Death,' writes Leon A. Waters for the Zinn Education Project." The slave uprising that almost succeeded, but was then buried and kept from most histories. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"'Factories will be pouring into this country,' Mr. Trump told a crowd in St. Charles, Mo., in November. 'The tax cut will mean more companies moving to America, staying in America and hiring American workers right here.'… The bill that Mr. Trump signed, however, could actually make it attractive for companies to put more assembly lines on foreign soil." This is my shocked face. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"But the spacecraft apparently did not separate as it was supposed to from the upper stage of the rocket and did not reach a stable orbit, according to a U.S. administration official and two sources who were briefed on the matter. The sources would not confirm what exactly the payload was, saying it was classified." It always amazes me how many "spy satellites" never make it to their orbits. Here's the kicker to know what really happened. It didn't make a "stable" orbit (which by other accounts was a low orbit). So that means someone somewhere is going to see a really spectacular meteor. Or not. (Grokked from Dan)

"A child born in the United States has a 70 percent greater chance of dying before adulthood than kids born into other wealthy, democratic countries, a new study has found." Best healthcare system in the world, my Aunt Fanny. "Perhaps most startling, children between the ages of 15 and 19 are 82 times more likely to die from gun homicide in the United States than in peer countries." (Grokked from Christopher Moore)

"What the federal government didn’t know was that Garza negotiated an unusual contract with county commissioners that earned him 1.5 percent of every dollar the drainage district spent on the levee project — in addition to his six-figure salary. In the end, Garza’s personal yield totaled at least $3.5 million, according to county records." And the graft didn't stop there. This isn't unusual, people who write grant applications for governments often get a part of the grant money. Some grants even have a line item built into the grant. For the record, grant writing is a skill and while some smaller grants are easy for locals to win, to get the big ticket items if often takes the help of pros. And local governments often rely on "experts" for certain matters. But they also should have read their contracts ands made counter proposals. Also, hooray for County Clerks. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The Interior Department has adopted a new screening process for the discretionary grants it makes to outside groups, instructing staff to ensure those awards “promote the priorities” of the Trump administration… 'Subjugating Congress’ priorities to 10 of the Secretary’s own priorities is arrogant, impractical and, in some cases, likely illegal,' said Hayes, executive director of the New York University School of Law’s State Energy and Environmental Impact Center." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Mr. Trump’s planned appearance at an event that is synonymous with wealth and elite prestige comes as he enters the second year of a term he won on a message of economic populism… Presidents have rarely attended the forum in Davos, in part out of a concern that it would send the wrong message to be rubbing shoulders with some of the world’s richest individuals." I'm sure he wants to talk to the wealthy and well-to-do about the plight of our country's coal miners… I couldn't get through typing that joke with a straight face. Suckers!

"President Donald Trump appeared to contradict himself multiple times in a meeting on immigration with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Tuesday -- a reflection of growing frustration from Capitol Hill about the lack of direction from the White House on the issue." Man, all this winning. I can barely stand it.

"After what the Associated Press reported as a brief meeting between Zinke and Florida's Republican Gov. Rick Scott at the Tallahasee airport, Zinke said oil-drilling in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico would be 'off the table.'" Dear conservation groups, the Republicans will take care of themselves, don't wast resources on their states.

We're number 1! "President Donald Trump, who recently said he would announce the 'MOST DISHONEST & CORRUPT MEDIA AWARDS OF THE YEAR,' has been awarded the title of the world’s most oppressive leader toward press freedom by the Committee to Protect Journalists." So much winning that I'm tired of. (Grokked form Dan)

"The infamous Russia dossier was not the sole basis for the FBI's investigation into Donald Trump's ties to Russia, according to a newly public document that notched a tactical win for Democrats inside Washington, D.C." No, NPR. The testimony shows that Steele, while he was building the Trump Dossier felt that Trump may already be being blackmailed went to the FBI with his information to find the FBI was already investigating the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. As for Sen. Grassley's rending of garments over the release and how it hampers the investigation, see to your own transgressions Senator. It's your and your GOP comrades actions of leaking and posturing that forced this disclosure. Maybe running a tighter ship on your side of the aisle might actually be a better remedy.