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

Friday, April 20, 2018

Linkee-poo is it Friday, yet

John Scalzi talks about accepting criticism, writing the other, and how to grow.

Happy (early) birthday Hubble. "The iconic Hubble Space Telescope is about to turn 28 years old, and a batch of gorgeous new imagery helps mark the occasion."

"Life on Earth used to look a lot more impressive. Just a little more than 100,000 years ago, there were sloths as long as a giraffe is tall, monstrous bears whose shoulders were six feet off the ground, and Bunyanesque beavers that weighed as much as an NFL linebacker. But over time, all of these creatures disappeared in a manner so rapid and so mysterious that scientists still can’t fully explain what went down." Hint, it was us.

"Two decades ago this week a pair of colleagues and I published the original 'hockey stick' graph in Nature, which happened to coincide with the Earth Day 1998 observances. The graph showed Earth’s temperature, relatively stable for 500 years, had spiked upward during the 20th century. A year later we would extend the graph back in time to A.D. 1000, demonstrating this rise was unprecedented over at least the past millennium—as far back as we could go with the data we had." And two decades on, the predictions have been pretty accurate. Also, "(i)f anything, climate model projections have proved overly conservative; they are certainly not an exaggeration." We're boned.

"A researcher was surveying seabirds off the coast of Vancouver Island when he spotted something unexpected: a huge group of common bottlenose dolphins — about 200 of them — breaching and swimming… This was a bizarre sight because this kind of dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) has never before been spotted in this area. Bottlenoses like the warmer waters farther south."

"Both Zagat and Consumer Reports surveys have found that excessive noise is the top complaint diners have, ahead of service, crowds, or even food issues. Tom Sietsema, the restaurant critic for the Washington Post, also told me noise is 'by far' his chief complaint about the restaurants he reviews." Yes, this. A thousand times this. I have an hearing problem where I can't discern individual voices if there's a lot of noise. And trust me, there's a lot of noise almost everywhere. The other weekend I had dinner with friends I hadn't seen in a long time. I could barely hear the people sitting next to me let alone friends two seats away. A lot of times I'm also reading lips. And the problem is, this is all avoidable. Right now the noise is affecting me like smoking used to. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A medicine made from the marijuana plant moved one step closer to U.S. approval Thursday after federal health advisers endorsed it for the treatment of severe seizures in children with epilepsy… If the Food and Drug Administration follows the group’s recommendation, GW Pharmaceuticals’ syrup would become the first drug derived from the cannabis plant to win federal approval in the U.S." Not happy about the price, though. But if this does win approval it will be very hard to keep cannabis on the Schedule 1 list. The definition for Schedule 1 drug is "Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." It's the "and" that's going to throw the federal government for a loop. However, changing it to "or" would move a hellalotta Schedule II and III drugs to Schedule I status.

"The Senate's top Democrat — Charles Schumer of New York— plans to endorse legislation that would decriminalize marijuana." I doubt Majority Leader McConnell will ever allow a vote on it. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"But because of dueling rules and laws that have been well-known to Medicare officials and members of Congress for years, none of that covered my elderly mother when she needed care." Medicaid and Medicare rules are extremely baroque and they are all designed to not pay (or lower payment). My wife and I are pretty smart cookies and it's daunting even for both of us (and believe me, we have help from people who work with Medicare/Medicaid every day). For an elderly patient who may not have all their faculties it would be impossible.

"Music superstar Prince died two years ago because he thought he was taking the common painkiller Vicodin when, unbeknownst to him, it was laced with deadly fentanyl, authorities said Thursday."

Who needs regulations? "Tainted, chopped romaine lettuce grown in Yuma, Ariz., is the source of an E.coli outbreak that has sickened at least 53 people in 16 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." Somebody forgot to wash their hands (actually it's more likely to have been tainted during processing).

"It's no secret that many states have badly underfunded their teacher pension plans for decades and now find themselves drowning in debt. But this pensions fight is also complicated by one, little-known fact… More than a million teachers don't have Social Security to fall back on." Ohio is one of those states and I can tell you from first hand experience, STRS is a fucking nightmare. It's fabulous if you're a full time teacher (although it's become less fabulous in the last 10 years). But if you're a part-time or "adjunct" faculty, chances are you won't see anything. But you still can't opt in for Social Security.

So, it's 19 years from Columbine which shook our country awake to school mass shootings (it wasn't the first). Today is "National School Walk Out Day", a student led initiative. So, what's happening? "A student was wounded and a suspect is in custody after a shooting Friday morning at a high school in Ocala, Florida, according to the Marion County Sheriff's Office." (Grokked from Maureen Johnson)

"According to an IRS official, the problem arose at 4 a.m. EDT Tuesday, which was the day tax returns were due and the busiest day of the tax year for the IRS… According to the agency, a piece of hardware connected to the IRS's master file, the core processing system that holds all taxpayer information, went down." Master File is trigger memories of TRON. "Former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says the computer glitch was the predictable consequence of years of congressional budget cuts which, in turn, led to significant staff cutbacks." Yeah. That.

"Someone fired through the window of a north Florida restaurant Thursday afternoon, killing two deputies who were getting food, officials said… The deputies were getting food at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton when the shooter walked up to the building and fired at them through a window, Schultz said. Fellow deputies responding to the scene found the shooter dead outside the business."

"The (British) Race Relations Act was intended to protect immigrants… 'But there came the idea that white people would be crushed by the rights that black and Asian people demanded' Sanghera recalls… The tension was especially obvious in Sanghera's hometown, Wolverhampton, in England's West Midlands, which he calls 'one of the first cities in Britain to experience mass immigration.'" So then a xenophobic politician gave an infamous speech called "The Rivers of Blood" speech. Sounds oddly familiar to today. But sometimes it's easier to see these flaw in others than it is to see it in ourselves.

"A day after President Trump promised to slash the red tape involved in weapons sales, the administration announced on Thursday a new policy that could vastly expand sales of armed drones, a contentious emblem of the shift toward remotely controlled warfare." I'm sure this won't come back and bite us in the ass.

Real reporters shocked that Fox News doesn't hold their hosts to any ethical standards. Uh, yeah, Bob. Where the fuck have you all been? (Grokked from Wil Wheaton)

The kids are all right. "If you ask Wayne Christian, the biggest threat to the oil and gas industry in Texas is millennials — and a general public that's been brainwashed into thinking that fossil fuels are bad for the environment… That’s what the former Republican state representative — who now regulates the state’s oil and gas industry as one of three elected members of the Texas Railroad Commission — told his former colleagues during a legislative hearing on Wednesday where state, local and industry officials detailed the many challenges of the latest oil and gas boom in West Texas." Almost everyone who enters the oil and gas industry in drilling now will need federally subsidized jobs retraining by the time of their retirement. The rank ignorance of our elected officials continues to surprise me. At this point it's time to stop arguing logically because these troglodytes have no capacity. The money has blinded them. All they can see are dollar signs. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"Upstate NY farmer says ICE officers stormed his farm without a warrant, cuffed him, threw his phone." ICE must go. (Grokked from Xopher)

"That Mr Comey's memos are so detailed - they include information about who was sitting where in meetings, the precise times that conversations began and their durations - also add to his credibility, the New York Times reports." It's almost as is FBI agents have training on how to take detailed notes that they may need to refer to later in court.

Why did Trump pardon Scooter Libby? "President Donald Trump and his outside advisers are increasingly worried that his longtime personal attorney might be susceptible to cooperating with federal prosecutors." That's why. You know, people who are innocent don't have these worries. But here's the thing, Mueller isn't prosecuting Cohen. It's "independent." Mueller just passed on what he knew, and that lead to the raids. If Cohen decided "to flip", it's not clear how that would go for him. Mueller may not even be interested in a deal. After all, he has the information already. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)


Random Michelle said...

As a fan whose first album purchase ever was Purple Rain, My first thought when I heard of his death from pain killers was that it was because of his Jehovah's Witness religion and his belief that he couldn't get his needed hip replacements because of his understanding that he couldn't get blood transfusions.

I was always fascinated by his complicated faith, and was frustrated by his belief he could not get his hips replaced, because I imagined it kept him in a great deal of pain.

I don't actually have a thesis statement for these thoughts and feelings, other than frustration that--to me--religion causes such a myriad of problems it's remains hard for me to respect religion while I continue to love so many people of faith.

Steve Buchheit said...

It's just my opinion, but religion should be a living thing. If it's stuck in the mores and beliefs of a previous world view, it can't effectively serve the devotees. In my night job I've met too many parents who have refused basic aid for their kids, to which I want to look at them and ask, "If you don't want us to help, why did you come into the emergency room?" Tradition is one thing, but some beliefs actively injure people.