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

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Linkee-poo on a Tuesday

Chuck Wendigs's awkward author photo contest has their winners.

"The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women+… This year, our list, selected by a panel of more than 70 women and non-binary writers, tackles history in the making, celebrating artists whose work is changing this century's sense of what popular music can be. The songs are by artists whose major musical contributions came on or after Jan. 1, 2000, and have shifted attitudes, defied categories and pushed sound in new directions since then."

"The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), which is designed to hunt for alien worlds around stars not too far from the sun, began gathering science data Wednesday (July 25), members of the instrument team announced yesterday (July 27)."

"Since the Sun is older than the Earth, it's hard to find physical objects that were around in the Sun's earliest days—materials that bear chemical records of the early Sun. But in a new study in Nature Astronomy, ancient blue crystals trapped in meteorites reveal what the early Sun was like. And apparently, it had a pretty rowdy start." Hibonite crystals, never heard about those in Star Trek.

"This summer, NASA's Parker Solar Probe will embark on a mission to 'touch the sun.'"

"But a new study of which Rasgon is a senior author finds evidence of a possible biomarker for major depressive disorder, which could lead to better treatments for this sometimes crippling disease." All the caveats with this one, it's an early and small study.

"A 2013 measles outbreak rooted in a vaccine-refusing community in Brooklyn, New York cost the city’s health department an estimated $394,448, requiring 87 employees to collectively spend more than 10,000 hours on outbreak response and control, according to an analysis published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics." So the question is, should we bill them for that. (Grokked from John)

So we have hangry and low-sugar rage, what do we call this? "A growing body of evidence finds that being just a little dehydrated is tied to a range of subtle effects — from mood changes to muddled thinking." Dry-brain? Stay hydrated.

"Texas authorities found a shark on Monday that was stolen from the San Antonio Aquarium by three suspects who concealed the animal in a stroller."

"The Harley-Davidson electric motorcycle has been a long time coming. First announced as Project LiveWire back in 2014, the bike has gone through some design changes as well as becoming only one of the electric bikes the company plans to release over the next few years. Finally, though, it looks as if the LiveWire will be available next year." While there are several electronic motorcycles available on the market, they're all pretty damn expensive (compared to gas models with the same performance). The LiveWire is reported to sound like a jet turbine, so there maybe a new sound for HD to trademark.

The border crossing tweet thread by Jeff Sharlet all the cool kids are reading: "What do you tell your kids about borders?" (Grokked from nearly everybody)

"Every time you log in to any website, you’re assigned a unique identification number. It should be random, because if hackers can predict the number, they’ll impersonate you. Computers, relying as they do on human-coded patterns, can’t generate true randomness—but nobody can predict the goopy mesmeric swirlings of oil, water, and wax." A wall of lava lamps as an ersatz random number generator.

It always feels like somebody is watching me. "Some Americans have been trailed and closely monitored by undercover air marshals as they traveled on U.S. flights, as part of a previously undisclosed Transportation Security Administration program called Quiet Skies."

How go the Trade Wars? "President Donald Trump's metal tariffs have sent steel prices surging and sparked blockbuster profits for steel manufacturers." So what did those poor, beleaguered steel tycoons do right after the tariffs were imposed? They raised their prices. You know, the tariffs that were put in place because American Steel couldn't compete fairly.

"U.S. stock-index futures pointed to a mostly lower open on Monday, with the S&P 500 on course for a third losing session in a row, a sign the market is still absorbing the recent bruising from some disappointing earnings."

How goes the Brexit? "British Brexit negotiators have issued a stern warning to their EU counterparts over the damage that could be done if the EU takes an overly punitive approach to the City of London." Ah, we're at the issuing threats part.

"Think about the timing of a potential shutdown — one would come right as the election season is in full swing, as funding for the government expires Sept. 30. How about that for an October surprise?" Expect a CR sometime in September (to last until mid-December)

"The Koch Network should be celebrating. The Republican Party, whose ideas and candidates the network has spent hundreds of millions of dollars promoting, is in total power at the federal level and in control of a majority of the nation’s states." Here's the thing about right-wing politics, nothing is ever enough (the same holds true for the far-left, however at this time, the moderate right has been shut out and dismissed, so that only leaves the far-right).

"President Donald Trump said Monday that he would be willing to meet “anytime” with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions, despite his previous reneging on an international nuclear deal and tweeting threats in all-caps to Iran’s leadership… It seems, however, that neither Iran nor Trump’s own administration is keen on the idea."

"The Washington Post, which first reported the development, said Monday that U.S. intelligence agencies are seeing signs that Pyongyang is building the missiles in the same research facility that manufactured the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that are capable of reaching the U.S. mainland." Ah, the art of the deal in full force.

"President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on Monday dismissed the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying that collusion is 'not a crime.'" My gadtree, he's right! Collusion is not a crime. Conspiracy is. Fraud is. Campaign finance hijinkery is. And ordering such, or coordinating such, or approving of such is all racketeering, which is a crime. In this story we're approaching the "cat is dead" part. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"According to a statement from the Times, the July 20 meeting was off the record at the request of White House aides. But when the president disclosed the meeting via Twitter, Sulzberger said the off-the-record deal was no longer in effect." Rhut rho.

"Donald Trump is giving Americans a glimpse of the fury raging inside him as a pivotal moment nears for special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, and different strands of political and legal vulnerability swirling around the President become ever more threatening." Our "very stable genius" president, everybody.

"In an interview with The Daily Beast on Monday night, Giuliani appeared to blame the maelstrom he kicked up on inquisitive New York Times reporters who he suggested had compelled him to proactively spin a potentially damaging story that may or may not actually be real. Several veterans of the Trump campaign, like much of the viewing public, were left befuddled." Oh the wicked webs we weave when we seek to deceive. So now there was possibly a pre-meeting to the Trump Tower meeting with the Russians, where the president also, totally, wasn't at.

"Prosecutors preparing witnesses for the upcoming trial of President Donald Trump’s one-time campaign chairman Paul J. Manafort are advising them to avoid mentioning Trump’s name, ABC News has learned." Queue up the Fawlty Towers "The Germans" episode, "Don't mention the war."

Monday, July 30, 2018

Story bone

Who died and made you the asshole?

I've been thinking about that line all day. It's gotta go somewhere.

Linkee-poo phones it in on a Monday

Not much for today. The morning was spent correcting files for a brilliant job. It was more brilliant than the designer was (actually they are pretty good so part of the time was spent wondering what exactly they meant to do while fighting off the thoughts of "this is exactly how they wanted it").

Lies, damnable lies, and statistics. Or in this case how to lie with maps. You may have seen the 2016 election electoral maps and it's wide swaths of red. It's the one the president has hanging in the White House to show how great his victory is. But maps can also lie. In the link a cartographer takes the same data, but generates several kinds of maps which show differing "truths." The 3D map is very interesting. (Grokked from Dan)

"Republican Rep. Jason Lewis has repeatedly demeaned recipients of welfare and government assistance, calling them 'parasites" and "scoundrels,' and said the black community had 'traded one plantation for another.'" Nice people, eh? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Sunday, July 29, 2018

LInkee-poo for a weekend

Apparently the president reiterated his threat to shut down the government unless Democrats vote to fund his wall. You do that, Sparky. Right before the midterms. That's a great strategy.

"What are believed to be the remains of some 55 U.S. servicemen killed in the Korean War have arrived in South Korea aboard a U.S. Air Force transport plane from the North in accordance with an agreement made last month between President Trump and Kim Jong Un at their summit in Singapore." I've been trying to put words to this most of the day. It's not that we believe every soldier that falls in battle is an exemplar human or hero. Many had faults great and small. Not all died facing the music, some never even had the chance to. None of that matters because they all died carrying our nation and because we asked them to go. And for that we venerate our war dead. That is the message of the pomp and circumstance. It is also a reminder that we will not leave you behind. Your rank or job classification does not matter. Even if it takes 50 or a hundred years. Even if all we have are scraps. It is our duty to do so. And I can't tell you how infuriating the "cooperation" with N. Korea on this issue has been. Returning the captured, wounded, and dead is the same as rescuing sailors on the sea. It's something all sides agree should be done.

"Pilots with billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic company climbed to 170,800 feet — about 32.3 miles — and reached 2.47 times the speed of sound Thursday in the third successful rocket-powered flight of the company's newest spacecraft."

"Appearing on Fox News pundit Sean Hannity's show Thursday, Barr claimed the backlash over a widely condemned racist tweet that led to ABC canceling her show was a huge misunderstanding." Have shovel, will dig.

"The U.S. is the most dangerous country in the developed world to give birth in according to a report… About 50,000 women are 'severely injured' during childbirth, and about 700 women die every year. Half of these deaths could have been prevented, as could the injuries, if correct safety procedures had been followed, according to an investigation by USA Today." Best healthcare system my Aunt Fanny.

"The Trump administration announced a plan Friday that would affect about 40 percent of the payments physicians receive from Medicare. Not everybody's pleased." I'm all for reduced paperwork, but I'm not sure this is the path to that end.

How go the Trade Wars? "Steve Tramell remembers when the news got out in 2006 that Kia was planning to open a plant in West Point, Ga., population 3,700… But these days, Tramell is worried. The largest employer in his town is under pressure thanks to President Trump's threat to impose tariffs on imported auto parts and cars." But you all will vote for him again, won't you.

"From San Jose to Austin to Portland to Seattle (to name just a few), house prices are slumping, inventories are ballooning, and not-a-Nobel-Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller -- famed for spotting bubbles before they burst -- says 'This could be the very beginning of a turning point.'" (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Facial recognition software sold by Amazon mistakenly identified 28 members of Congress as people who had been arrested for crimes, the American Civil Liberties Union announced on Thursday… Amazon Rekognition has been marketed as tool (to law enforcement) that provides extremely accurate facial analysis through photos and video." Of course Amazon says they forgot to realign the deflector shield and reverse the tachyon beam, so it wasn't as accurate as it would have been.

"European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker reportedly used colorful cards with simple explanations to discuss trade policies during his Wednesday meeting with President Trump." JFC. And then he went on to say they opened up the EU to American Farmers, if there's one commodity that the EU will fight to the death over is food regulations. It is the hill they will die on. Don't hold it against them unless you understand how we support domestic sugar production and price milk.

"Russian hackers trying to influence the 2018 elections made an unsuccessful attempt to breach the computer system of Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, one of this fall's most vulnerable Democrats."

"Russian trolls on Twitter are pretending to be ex-Democrats to trick people." So viewer beware. Also noted for Hamilton 68 which tracks Russian twitter activity in almost real-time. (Waves to my Russian friends) (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"Maria Butina, the Russian woman accused of acting as a Kremlin agent on U.S. soil, met with a top Russian official suspected of recruiting American spies… A source familiar with the investigation told Politico the official is Oleg Zhiganov, the director of the Russian Cultural Center in D.C., a part of the Russian Foreign Ministry that has long been under scrutiny by U.S. counterintelligence officials." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Friday, July 27, 2018

Linkee-poo pushes out a Friday

"Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) on Friday reported fewer monthly active users than analysts expected and warned that the closely-watched figure could keep falling as it deletes phony accounts, sending shares sharply lower in early trading." Wither the Social Media bubble?

"Lockheed Martin just made the largest 3D printed part they've ever ever built for space. The titanium domes used to take a couple of years to make from scratch, but this was completed in about three months." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"For the first time ever, researchers have watched a star race past the supermassive black hole at the heart of the Milky Way, verifying that its motion showed the effects of general relativity, as predicted by Albert Einstein."

"But more than just copying nature, Nocera’s technology outdoes it. While the most efficient plants can convert about 1 per cent of sunlight into energy, manmade versions could produce at least 10 times better results—though it’s early days yet… Considerable work remains to be done before the technology could produce power in a commercially useful way."

"For one, Akihito has been on the throne for almost the entirety of the information age, meaning that many systems have never had to deal with a switchover in era. For another, the official name of Naruhito's era has yet to be announced, causing concern for diary publishers, calendar printers and international standards bodies. It's why some are calling it 'Japan's Y2K problem.'" Stardates would be extremely helpful here. (Grokked from Dan)

"Home DNA test results from the 5 million customers of 23andMe will now be used by drug giant GlaxoSmithKline to design new drugs, the two companies announced Wednesday… 23andMe patrons are asked if they want to participate in scientific research. The new agreement moves this consent firmly into the field of active drug discovery research." Now we can all be Henrietta Lacks. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"Brock Turner did not intend to rape an unconscious woman because he engaged only in "sexual outercourse" with her, a lawyer for the former Stanford University student argued in an effort to overthrow Turner's sexual assault conviction." Some fuckers just need killing.

How go the Trade Wars? "Reuters reports that three major grain milling companies in Mexico that have purchased the vast majority of their wheat and other grains from the U.S. are looking at Russian suppliers and other options in Latin America." There's not even a tariff on wheat, yet. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"President Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Wednesday that they have agreed to work toward removing all trade barriers between the two sides." Well what they really did was have a talk to set up a meeting that might lead to an actual meeting where something might be done. And if the president insists on zero tariffs and zero subsidies, it's going to make that $12b hush money payment, I mean Farm Relief, looks like chump change. Fuck, we just passed the Farm Bill. And without subsidies domestic sugar production will be eliminated.

"President Trump on Thursday vowed that the government would investigate Twitter for allegations that the social media giant has suppressed content from some conservative accounts." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Alex Jones, the American conspiracy theorist who runs the InfoWars website, has been suspended from Facebook for bullying and hate speech." Well that only took for-fucking-ever. "The suspension will last for 30 days, and affects only Jones’s personal account on the social network, not the main InfoWars account. His profile will continue to be published, but he will not be not be able to post fresh content until the suspension elapses." Oh FFS. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"And this gets at something important about the (Democratic Socialists of America): while the DSA has its stated goals, there's no orthodoxy members have to follow."

"Did GDP growth top 4 percent in the second quarter — more than double the first-quarter pace — as many economists project?… Forecasts are all over the board, with estimates even among Federal Reserve economists diverging widely." Note how quickly the article delves into comparisons to 2008. But, by the time this is posted, we'll know the numbers.

And the numbers are… "The U.S. economy had a blockbuster second quarter, with growth surging to a 4.1 percent pace, the Commerce Department said Friday. That was nearly double the first quarter rate of 2.2 percent and the strongest pace in nearly four years." SO good for us. There's a lot of one time stuff baked in there, and the real fallout from the trade war has yet to hit. I'm still saying Q3 or Q4 will show negative growth (most likely Q4), although I'm leaning back (a little) from a recession (2 consecutive quarters of negative growth).

"Some 711 migrant children taken from their parents at the US-Mexico border have not yet been returned to them, despite a court-ordered deadline… The reasons given included a lack of confirmed family ties, or a parent having a criminal record or a communicable disease… In 431 cases the parents were no longer in the US, a court filing said."

"Trump administration stops asking drillers and miners to pay for damage to federal lands." Time to stop going to the outhouses, people. Just shit on the ground wherever you need to. Remember when SuperFund had to be set up because the companies that cause the environmental disasters either no longer existed, or declared bankruptcy just as the government asked them to clean their shit up? Remember how much that cost the American Taxpayers? Remember how the solution was to make companies prepay (or get insurance)? (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"A congressional watchdog agency found Thursday that the Department of Energy violated the law last year with a negative tweet about ObamaCare… The report from the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress, finds that the Department of Energy violated the law because its funding is not directed to be used for health care messaging." Nope like anything will happen. (Grokked from Michele)

"'Come. We are ready,' (Quds Force Major-General Qassem) Soleimani said, accusing Trump of using 'the language of night clubs and gambling halls.'" Persians, am I right?

"Warren Police were called to a home on Southern Boulevard after a neighbor allegedly came to a man's house with a shotgun after a heated argument over Trump." So much winning.

"Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said." (Insert dramatic music here). Could be real, could be an attempt to make a deal to lessen his own legal jeopardy without any real content, but it's very interesting none the less. If true, several people in the administration are guilty of perjury to Congress and it makes the first direct tie from Russia to Trump (that we know about).

"The Moscow lawyer said to have promised Donald Trump’s presidential campaign dirt on his Democratic opponent worked more closely with senior Russian government officials than she previously let on, according to documents reviewed by The Associated Press." (Grokked from Fran Wilde)

"To be clear, this was not a voting machine. The system that counts votes had software installed that allowed a person who was not on the scene to gain access to the voting results. But the strangest part of this revelation was why the machine was being audited in the first place… Pennsylvania voters complained that the ES&S machines were changing or 'flipping' votes." The cat is up on the roof, and won't come down, and hasn't eaten for several days… A lot of circumstantial evidence, but not a smoking gun (and as the author points out, most likely even if they did it wouldn't be found). (Grokked from Elizabeth Bear)

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Linkee-poo is busy on a Wednesday

I forgot to mention that WorldCon is attempting a "make good" by bringing in Mary Robinette Kowal to adjust their programming. Good on the Concom for realizing this is an issue, and good on Mary for volunteering.

"Radar observations have revealed what appears to be a buried lake on Mars, the first-ever stable reservoir of liquid water found on the Red Planet."

"And now, a thread on auditory processing disorder, coping mechanisms, loud environments, and how to be accommodating and kind to people who have these issues." It me. (Grokked from someone, sorry, twitter's lousy web application keeps fucking up my timeline).

"There are so many Star Trek jokes you could make about these officially licensed wireless earbuds that are modeled after Vulcan ears. But with that color scheme, honestly they look more like hearing aids to me than the ears of Captain Spock." (Grokked from John)

"This is something we’ve been waiting a very long time for. The Church of Scientology uses devices called E-Meters to measure Thetans in the body… In reality, the E-Meter is simply a device that costs five thousand dollars and only measures the resistance of the human body. It does this by having the subject hold two copper cylinders and a simple Wheatstone bridge. Why does the E-Meter cost five thousand dollars? As [Play With Junk] found out, it’s an exquisitely engineered piece of hardware." (Grokked from Dan)

"In a new book, 'White Fragility,' DiAngelo attempts to explicate the phenomenon of white people’s paper-thin skin. She argues that our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall to pieces at the first application of stress—such as, for instance, when someone suggests that 'flesh-toned' may not be an appropriate name for a beige crayon." (Grokked from Rae Carson)

"Voter Purges (pdf), a new report by the Brennan Center, highlights the systematic purging of voters from rolls by state and local officials around the country. These are not random, isolated cases. It is a methodical effort that disproportionately affects minority voters. Even worse, no one seems to care." (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Nationally, the authors estimate that recent ACA sabotage actions add an additional $970 to the 2019 annual benchmark premium for a 40-year-old. Because premiums increase with age and household size, sabotage of the ACA hits older people and families even harder. A typical family of four will see a premium that is $3,110 higher and a 55-year-old couple will see a premium $3,330 higher on average because of President Trump’s recent efforts to undermine the ACA. While the ACA’s tax credits protect eligible enrollees from premium increases, unsubsidized middle-class consumers are responsible for covering the entire cost of these needless premium hikes." Yes, Virginia, conservative ideology costs more and does less. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"'The View' co-host Meghan McCain exploded in fury as the studio audience cheered a list of Democratic-Socialist campaign promises, and vowed to keep those political ideas from becoming 'normalized.'" Note what this trust-fund baby was upset about, "'She went over her platform: Medicare for all, fully funded public schools and universities, paid family and sick leave, justice reform, immigration justice, infrastructure overhaul, clean campaign finance, economy of peace, housing as a human right.'" What's so funny about peace, love, and understanding. You know what frightens conservatives, programs that actually help people. And they lose their shit when it becomes apparent that a lot of people support those programs. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"First lady Melania Trump will watch 'any channel she wants,' according to her spokeswoman in an apparent rebuke to the report President Donald Trump was upset to find her Air Force One television tuned into CNN." Marriage of convenience at this point. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Jeff Mason asked, "President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that?" "But the exchange doesn’t appear in full in the White House’s live-stream or transcript of the press conference, and it’s missing entirely from the Kremlin’s transcript of the event. The White House did not immediately provide an explanation for the discrepancy." And, depending on who heard what, it changes the meaning of Putin's answer. (Grokked from Vincent O'Conner)

"A co-host on President Donald Trump’s favorite morning news program said Wednesday the attorney for former Trump 'fixer' Michael Cohen was trying to smear the president as retribution for Trump's defeating Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election." Uh, yeah, Bob. Ow. I think I've got side-eye strain.

With the Cohen tapes, what does Fox News focus on? "Michael Cohen, President Trump's former lawyer, secretly recorded a conversation with CNN's Chris Cuomo and admitted in the tape to arranging—on his own—a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported late Wednesday, citing unnamed sources." Which makes a good story until you realize that a conversation with a reporter is not under oath, and the now president (then candidate) is heard on another tape directing Cohen to make a payment (which apparently didn't go through). "Giuliani, meanwhile, said it was “outrageous that an audio conversation between Trump and Cohen was leaked to the media. He also questioned why the recording, as aired on CNN, ended at a key part in the conversation, saying the tape would have been 'exculpatory' from the point of view from the president had it not stopped." Apparently 5 seconds after the recording stopped the now president said, "Ha ha ha, this was a great joke, I'd never authorize such a payment that may violate federal election laws." Too bad that wasn't caught on tape, Giulaiani, so that part is not admissible. Oh, and they support him in the emails.

An apparently there are now over 100 recordings turned over to the prosecution.

"A group of 11 Republican lawmakers are trying to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because of concerns about his oversight of the justice department and its investigation into suspicions of collusion between the Trump 2016 campaign and Russia." Yeah, that ain't gonna happen, but it could give "cover" for the president to fire him.

"Less than a year into a lifetime appointment, a 45-year-old federal appeals court judge named James Ho may embody President Trump's most enduring legacy… Ho has shaken up the staid world of appellate law by deploying aggressive rhetoric in cases involving guns, abortion rights and campaign finance regulations." Activist judges, mostly they're conservatives. Also, here is the plan outlined at the beginning of the Federalist Society coming to fruition.

"The White House took retaliatory action against Kaitlan Collins, a White House reporter for CNN, after Collins asked President Trump questions at an Oval Office photo op on Wednesday… CNN, rival networks, and the White House Correspondents Association all spoke out against the administration's action." Here we go.

"At the time, Collins was representing five television networks as the pool reporter for the White House press corps. The scene was captured by several cameras and more than a dozen journalists with pencils, cameras and microphones poised, awaiting the president's response."

"President Donald Trump has spent weeks drawing battle lines for a trade war with Europe and courting Vladimir Putin -- causing almost universal angst in Washington. On Wednesday, he blinked on both." Well, one, Putin declined the invite (I keep trying not to make allusions to a handler and his spy, but they don't make it easy). And secondly, the president has no stomach for direct confrontation. He always buckles in person. "'The president believes that the next bilateral meeting with President Putin should take place after the Russia witch hunt is over, so we've agreed that it will be after the first of the year,' national security adviser John Bolton said in a statement released by the administration." Haha, good luck with that, Johnny.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Linkee-poo caught between the Scylla and Charybdis

"Hayabusa2 arrived at Ryugu on June 27, maintaining a standoff distance of 20 kilometers for its initial surveys of the kilometer-sized asteroid and its shape. They call the 20-kilometer standoff distance "Home position," and have established confidence in their ability to hold stably at that position." (Grokked from Dan)

"A teen regularly ate bags of snacks such as Hot Cheetos and Takis before stomach pains led to a surgery removing her gallbladder. Now her mom wants such snacks put on notice." Well, high-fat foods do put a strain on the bile system (and this is why gall stones are painful after a fatty meal). So I'm thinking it's more the fat content of the snack than the "spice" (although spice can trigger inflammation which causes other problems).

"Pepperidge Farm announced a voluntary recall of four varieties of Goldfish crackers in a press release on Monday."

"The full moon will turn blood red on July 27 as the longest total lunar eclipse of the century takes place in the skies from Australia through Africa… Friday’s lunar eclipse will be particularly special as it is the longest total lunar eclipse of the 21st century." Hope my Russian friends enjoy it, as we won't see it here.

"Soon… women… who suffer from endometriosis pain will have a new option for relief. An effective treatment was just approved by the Food and Drug Administration, and it’s expected to arrive at pharmacies as soon as August. The pill, called elagolix (brand name Orilissa) from the drugmaker AbbVie, is the first FDA-approved oral treatment in more than a decade for the moderate to severe pain that comes with endometriosis." It's an estrogen suppressant that can have serious side-effects (menopausal symptoms and bone loss). Also note how the pain index for the study only had 4 levels.

"A former Ohio State University diving club coach began pressuring a female diver for sex within weeks after meeting her when she was 16, the former diver said Tuesday in an interview."

"On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it has settled its claims against the founder of the failed Fyre Festival, Billy McFarland. The commission accused McFarland of defrauding more than 100 investors out of $27.4 million. McFarland has admitted to the SEC's charges against him."

"Crude oil prices were trading up today as tensions continued to escalate between Iran and the United States and as IMF’s prediction that Venezuela would see a million-percent inflation rate this year, making any oil production increases that Venezuela may have had its sights set on seem like a rather lofty goal as PDVSA employees struggle to make ends meet."

"Indeed, the extraction of more than 400 Syrian Civil Defense members -- known as White Helmets -- from Syria this week as the Syrian regime neared their location was a rare reminder that countries can indeed work together effectively to protect people who have worked to help and to save others. That the Syrian regime called their rescue a 'criminal operation' should surprise few and confuse even fewer."

"Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet it said had breached its airspace on Tuesday while advancing Syrian government forces retaking territory from rebels reached the Golan Heights frontier for the first time in seven years." This won't end well.

"The government announced a $12 billion plan Tuesday to assist farmers who have been hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade disputes with China and other trading partners." Okay, but I don't want to hear shit about "government handouts" or "creating money out of thin air" from those farmers.

"Sonny Perdue, secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, announced the government would use the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), established during the Great Depression nearly a century ago, to compensate farmers for an estimated $11 billion in losses due to the trade wars." Basically the CCC will borrow the money from Treasury. I'm not sure this has been entirely thought through. Like if this violates appropriations. "In 2017, the federal government spent nearly $19 billion on agriculture support programs, and that total had been expected to rise to nearly $27 billion in 2018, Office of Management and Budget data showed before Tuesday’s announcement." That'll be $40 billion now.

"Farmers said they would rather have Trump settle the trade disputes with China, Mexico, Canada and the European Union and get free trade flowing again." Yeah, but they're not going to refuse the money, or (most likely) alter their support for the president.

"House Republicans have launched an effort to expand the massive tax law they muscled through Congress last year, aiming to make permanent the individual tax cuts and small-business income deductions now set to expire in 2026." One trick pony is going to work its one trick.

"A U.S. government program designed to give the public and policymakers a clear view of how Washington uses federal dollars is riddled with errors and new Trump administration changes threaten to make the problem worse, Senate investigators said on Tuesday… The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations found that at least 55 percent of the data submitted during an April-June 2017 review period was inaccurate, incomplete or both." The Trump administration is proposing new laws, which are predicted to weaken the reporting. Of course. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Jim Wright)

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the top law enforcement officer in the country, repeated the words 'lock her up' Tuesday that were being chanted, a rallying cry from Donald Trump campaign events calling to jail Hillary Clinton, and then laughed." This administration is like children playing with matches. It makes them feel powerful, but it could burn down the house.

"Donald Trump may have put an end to his family separation policy last month, but some migrant parents may not reunite with their children for years, experts have warned, due to the many obstacles of rejoining children with their parents… A district judge in California gave the government until Thursday to reunite 2,551 children, but with 1,012 people reunited as of Tuesday, it is not expected that they will meet the deadline." What should be clear by now is that there never was a plan to reunite these children. This administration just didn't care. This is not just a shame, it's a crime.

"Ivanka Trump is shutting down her clothing company and laying off 18 employees after some stores dropped her line and she decided ethics restrictions were holding back its ability to grow." But what about all those Chinese trademarks she won?

"President Donald Trump says he’s 'very concerned' that Russia will try to meddle in November’s midterm elections to help Democrats win." Nope, while it looks like the mix of operations is changing a little, it still appears that Russia believes that electing Republicans would do more to destabilize and weaken America. (Also insert a few minutes of pointing and laughing.)

"The recording, in which the two men discussed a potential payoff tied to allegations of an affair made by a former Playboy model named Karen McDougal, was provided to CNN by Lanny Davis, the newly hired attorney for Cohen. Davis, in an interview with Cuomo following the playing of the tape, made very clear that Cohen had now broken free of his oft-pledged total loyalty to Trump and was now looking out for himself and his own interests." It's easy to pledge to take a bullet for someone else. It's an entirely different equation when you're staring at the gun that will fire that bullet.

"Americans don't think President Trump has been tough enough on Russia, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll conducted after Trump's summit in Helsinki last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin." A new poll with lots of crunchy data.

"President Trump resumed acknowledging Russian election interference on Tuesday and said he fears that this year, it will benefit Democrats." While there is more activity directed toward the Democratic side this year (there was some in 2016), our Russian friends are still heavily invested in the GOP side. I expect that to change in 2020 (dependent on the behavior of Trump and the GOP, although any kompromat disclosed would have less effect in 2024 and I still believe they will release it as a part of this action) because, again, the goal is disruption (and the president's tweet certainly helps that cause, except that it's so laughably wrong). But this is both projection and pre-seeding the media. When the blue wave hits this Fall (with hopefully flipping the House and Senate as well as state governments) Trump is framing that loss as "the Russians helped the Democrats." You may remember this as projection of his insecurity that Russia helped him win in 2016.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Linkee-poo is going down in a blaze of glory

"Type the word “dog” into Google Translate 19 times, request that the nonsensical message be flipped from Maori into English, and out pops what appears to be a garbled religious prophecy." Skynet is fucking with us. (Grokked from Dan)

"The Andromeda galaxy is our closest galactic neighbor, and it apparently has been hiding a dark past. Scientists from the University of Michigan discovered that this sinister figure cannibalized our sibling approximately two billion years ago. That's right, at one point, the Milky Way had a sister galaxy, and Andromeda ate it." Settle down, Francis.

"A Liberian woman who probably caught Ebola in 2014 may have infected three relatives a year after she first fell sick, doctors reported in a study published Monday." Life finds a way.

"A portion of Boeing Co.’s astronaut test capsule suffered what was described as an 'anomaly' during an engine test fire last month, which analysts said is likely to delay the Chicago aerospace giant’s first flight of astronauts from U.S. soil even further." Oopsie. But then this is why you run these tests on the ground first.

"Now, a ground-breaking new study has found a disturbing link between climate change, extreme temperatures and suicide. By comparing temperature and suicide data from thousands of US counties and Mexican municipalities over several decades, the study has revealed strong evidence that hotter weather increases suicide rates."

"American Airlines has announced that it is working with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) to install a new bag-scanning machine at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The machine uses the same technology as CT scanners, providing a 3D image of a bag’s contents, and is expected to be operational in late July." Good thing we don't use film anymore. Also let me be clear about this, CT scanners use a metric fuck-ton more ionizing radiation than an x-ray machine (actually a fluoroscopy machine). And that radiation is emitted in a lot of directions which makes scatter harder to control. Scatter radiation (or Compton radiation) is what we as x-ray technologists worry the most about, because that's the primary way we are exposed. CT scatter is fucking crazy (there are debates about the effectiveness of patient shielding, right now it's not considered effective by the hospital I work at, although we'll still attempt to shield kids). (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"The New Zealand company behind a landmark trial of a four-day working week has concluded it an unmitigated success, with 78% of employees feeling they were able to successfully manage their work-life balance, an increase of 24 percentage points." I'm all for this (note, it was four 8-hour work days, not four 10-hour work days as I've seen here in the US). But I'll also note that it works for this group and might be less successful if, say, a country would include Friday or Monday as a part of "the weekend" (that is, these employees had a full day of access to services still open, their work life balance may have been different if on that extra day they also couldn't get anything done because most offices and businesses were closed). Also note that the 5-day work week is the result of the process of demanding time off from the 7-day work week. There is nothing "special" about a 5-day work week. (Grokked from Dan)

"Kentucky’s Medicaid administration costs jumped more than 40% after implementing work requirements , a new report from Fitch Ratings shows. Those costs were incurred before a federal judge ruled against Kentucky’s Medicaid work requirements last month, dealing the effort at least a temporary blow." Your "smaller, smarter government" conservative ideals at work. They cost more,serve fewer people, increase the bureaucracy, and just piss people off. Oh, and even though the administrative costs of Medicaid are actually a small part of the budget (most money goes to pay benefits, the costs for Kentucky increased $35M), it is estimated that the new regulations won't save nearly as much as they'll cost. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Article from June 26 about the primary election in Maryland. "Causing particular outrage and suspicion was the last-minute revelation on Monday that the registration details of as many as 80,000 voters were caught up in a computer glitch at the Motor Vehicle Administration, leaving those who wanted to participate to cast provisional ballots, which will not be counted until next week. The problem mostly affected voters who tried to change their addresses or party affiliation through the MVA." This is how you steal elections. (Grokked from Seanan McGuire)

"The League of The South, an organization described by analysts as a neo-confederate hate group, has launched a Russian language page on their website to explore shared ideas on 'Southern nationalism.'" Oh you poor, misguided snowflakes. Russians aren't Europeans. At best those in the Western part identify as "white" (especially the descendants of the Rus), although much of their population are actually Asian (although a little less so since the breakup of the Soviet Union). Also, I'm not sure you'd really recognize Russian Orthodoxy from a Baptist perspective. However, if we translate their language into a pan-nationalist ideology it fits. But then, white supremacists have also formed ties with radical Islamic groups with the concept of America for Whites and the Middle East for Arabs division. Basically this is one authoritarian group that derives power from anger of minorities recognizing another. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In an interview with Noel King for NPR's Morning Edition, Dorey-Stein says 'everything changed' with the inauguration of President Trump, whose team 'didn't know that stenographers existed.' She recounts how during the transition, it took her boss multiple tries before she was even able to get past a young press wrangler to introduce herself to the incoming West Wing staff." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials told the Journal that hackers working for a state-sponsored group known as Dragonfly or Energetic Bear were able to get inside the networks of U.S. utilities to the point that they could have disrupted power service and caused blackouts." No biggie (also, not that hard). Here's the thing though, even if they only got into small distributors doesn't mean they couldn't cause massive blackouts. The grid is integrated, and in normal operation smaller grids aren't isolated. You may remember about 15 years ago when one transmission line in Ohio grew too hot, stretched and grounded against a tree. That took out most of the Northeast (except for one small grid in Connecticut which was able to isolate themselves before that happened). (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"Former Donald Trump political strategist Steve Bannon and a top associate have created a Brussels-based political organization intended to undermine, and ultimately paralyze, the European Union, Bannon and the associate told Reuters." Funny how that's exactly what Putin is also trying to do. "… Bannon said he and his organization hope that by mobilizing local anti-EU groups they can elect a large enough group of Members of the European Parliament to disrupt and even shut down the Parliament and the European Commission." Funny how that's how the Republicans have run the legislature and presidency since the mid 90s. (Grokked from Emma Audsley)

"President Donald Trump's latest gambit to choke off the flow of information for past spy chiefs who have criticized him is a disturbing move that again exposes an imperious streak out of place in American democracy." The word you're searching for is "sedition."

"Butina's group, The Right to Bear Arms, covered $6,000 of (former Milwaukee county sheriff) Clarke's meal, hotel, and transportation expenses, according to the ex-sheriff's Milwaukee County financial disclosure form." Sure are a lot of Russians around here. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Monday, July 23, 2018

Linkee-poo if I had a million dollars

This year's Worldcon hosts continue to shot themselves in the foot.

"Bayer said the safety of its Essure implant has not changed, but it will stop selling the device at the end of the year due to weak sales. Last year, Bayer stopped selling the device in Europe."

"HPV is a group of 150 related viruses that can be transmitted through any form of sexual contact, whether kissing or intercourse. In most cases, the human body will get rid of it naturally, but certain high-risk types can develop into things like genital warts and cancers, including cervical, anal and throat… But there is a vaccine, and how it works is pretty simple."

"If you're in the hospital or a doctor's office with a painful problem, you'll likely be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 0 to 10 – with 0 meaning no pain at all and 10 indicating the worst pain you can imagine. But many doctors and nurses say this rating system isn't working and they're trying a new approach." As I explained to one of my coworkers, "everyone's pain is their own." That is, we experience pain differently, and our scale of pain is variable. What to some people would be a minor annoyance to another is debilitating. The problem here, and the problem with medicine in general, is that practitioners know (for the most part) exactly what we're saying. We know the implications and long term outcomes. Patients, in general, have no clue (unless they've experienced it before). So we see patients who don't understand their own health and either minimize the serious, or blow out-of-proportion the minuscule. One of the jokes in radiology is a patient saying, "Thankfully it was only fractured and not broken." So we know when we say that a patient has congestive heart failure that the patient is on a slow boat to a not very pleasant death. But since the patient "feels" okay right now, or they know people with CHF, it's "not a big thing." Personally I thought I knew what pain was when I shattered my fibula. That pain scale got adjusted when I had a 4mm kidney stone. I've seen patients with small bumps who beg for pain meds (and I'm not talking about the addicts who self-injure to get prescriptions) and I've seen a patient with an open fracture (meaning the bone was sticking out of the skin) who refused pain meds and carried on a pleasant conversation while I x-rayed her, and I've seen patients who are fine, until you touch them to try to move them (including people begging to just be left to die). This is why the Wong-Baker scale (the faces) is a little more precise. But in the end all self-reported pain is unreliable (and highly variable).

"Britany Jacobs, the girlfriend of the man shot and killed in a Florida parking lot last week, says her boyfriend was just coming to her defense and the gunman 'wanted someone to be angry at.' Now she wants 'justice,' she says." Provoking a fight is not "standing your ground" and this guy should be arrested. Also as I remember my concealed carry course, the laws don't prevent you from being arrested and charged, it is merely a defense position.

"The acting watchdog at the CIA, who has been accused of retaliating against whistleblowers, is resigning, the agency confirmed Friday."

"'America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars,' Rouhani said, leaving open the possibility of peace between the two countries, at odds since the 1979 Islamic Revolution."

"President Donald Trump issued a furious, all-caps challenge to the Iranian regime late Sunday night, warning that any threats to the US would be met with unspecified dire consequences." Apparently the president didn't get laid this weekend. Wag that dog, baby.

So why all the war talk? "When historians look back on the Trump presidency, they'll say that last week was the moment something changed -- the week when uncomfortable questions about Russia moved into the mainstream in a whole new way." As of me writing this, we're back to the position of the president pushing the line that Russian involvement in the 2016 was a hoax. By my count this is the fourth official flip last week. (Waves to my Russian friends)

Also, that was one hellofaspike in views from "Italy" over the weekend. You all aren't worried about something, are you?

"Worker pay in the second quarter dropped nearly one percent below its first-quarter level, according to the PayScale Index, one measure of worker pay. When accounting for inflation, the drop is even steeper. Year-over-year, rising prices have eaten up still-modest pay gains for many workers, with the result that real wages fell 1.4 percent from the prior year, according to PayScale. The drop was broad, with 80 percent of industries and two-thirds of metro areas affected."

"The Pentagon has been caught flat-footed after President Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin this week, with defense officials struggling to explain statements coming out of Moscow that the two leaders reached agreements involving military issues." Okay, here's a solution to a lot of the issues surrounding the Helsinki meeting… the Pentagon should make a statement that they don't take orders from Moscow, only from the president. That they don't believe the president would have made such an agreement. And until the president issues orders, Russia is spouting fantasies. (Grokked from Michele)

"The Trump Administration released previously classified documents Saturday related to the FBI wiretapping of one-time campaign adviser Carter Page. Republicans say the documents reveal the FBI relied on an anti-Trump source for its decision, while Democrats say the warrants underscore murky and possibly criminal connections between the Russian government and the Trump campaign." If was only the Steele Dossier, you don't need 412 pages for that.

"A person familiar with an investigation into President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer says the attorney secretly recorded Trump discussing a payment to an ex-Playboy model who said she had an affair with him." Makes more popcorn.

"His message follows a New York Times report on Friday that his longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded their discussion about payments to a former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with Trump… He often recorded his conversations without the knowledge of others, a practice that is legal according to New York's 'one-party consent' law. Some of those recordings may prove embarrassing to Cohen and people of 'significance and consequence,' CNN reported."

"Accused Russian agent Maria Butina had wider high-level contacts in Washington than previously known, taking part in 2015 meetings between a visiting Russian official and two senior officials at the U.S. Federal Reserve and Treasury Department."

Friday, July 20, 2018

Linkee-poo if you're ever gonna find a four-leaf clover you gotta get a little dirt on your hands

Apparently Worldcon is asking people to dress more formally for the Hugos. The people aren't taking it well. What a rebellious bunch we are.

"When WAMU photographer Tyrone Turner got the opportunity to travel to Antarctica, he thought he would be fascinated with the continent's wildlife."

"Although the SLS is brand new, the multi-billion-dollar 98m-tall (322 ft) launcher will begin its journey at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on a vehicle that is more than 50 years old. And, for the team charged with conveying the rocket the seven kilometres (4.3 miles) to the launchpad, the pressure is on."

They opened it. "Three weeks ago, archaeologists in Egypt found a massive black granite sarcophagus in Alexandria, untouched for 2,000 years - and fleet-footed rumour quickly got to work… it revealed three skeletons and red-brown sewage water, which gave off an unbearable stench." The skeletons were old, but the water was newer and possibly from a leaky sewer. And so far no plagues or blood rain, so I think we're good.

"A federal watchdog is calling on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen its oversight of state drinking water systems nationally in the wake of the lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. The EPA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) says in a 74-page report that the agency must take steps now to be able to react more quickly in times of public health emergencies." Unfortunately the EPA is being hamstrung and dismantled by the current administration.

"In hospitals around the country, anesthesiologists and other doctors are facing significant shortages of injectable opioids. These drugs, like morphine, Dilaudid and fentanyl are the mainstays of intravenous pain control and are regularly used in critical care settings like surgery, intensive care units and hospital emergency departments."

"So, bacteria and phages (viruses) are locked in an arms race. The bacteria use crispr to defang the phages, and the phages use anti-crisprs to subvert the bacterial defenses. The only problem is that the anti-crisprs shouldn’t work." How do you take a defended beach? You throw more people at the enemy than they can kill. (Grokked from Kelly Swails)

The Airbus BulugaXL. "The jet is capable of taking off with a total weight of 227 tons. Carrying a full load of more than 50 tons, the lumbering plane's maximum range is 4,000 kilometers (about 2,485 miles)."

"A Canadian company is the first marijuana business to complete an initial public offering on a major U.S. stock exchange, raising $153 million to expand its operations as Canada prepares to legalize the drug nationwide."

"The National Football League and the NFL Players Association have agreed to suspend enforcement of new rules requiring players to stand during the pregame rendition of the national anthem, after a report that the Miami Dolphins would fine and/or suspend players for up to four games for violating the policy." Who would have seen that coming? (Everybody raises their hands)

The stock market is not the economy. "U.S. stock index futures declined after President Donald Trump said he is ready to put tariffs on every Chinese good coming to the U.S. if necessary."

"However, when it comes to auto tariffs, the domestic-foreign division doesn’t hold. The line between domestic and foreign auto companies, between who’d benefit and who’d be hurt by tariffs, is now much murkier than in the past."

"Can the yield curve predict recession, or is it a dated model? Planet Money explains." More on the yield curve as a predictor. Note the comments about market watchers saying, "this time is different", and that they've said that before. As of writing this the article is still just audio only. Hopefully they'll have a transcript soon.

"Fears that Brexit negotiators will not manage to reach an agreement before a legal deadline are growing, with regulators, politicians and market players calling for preparations to be stepped up." It's beginning to look like a "hard" Brexit.

Who needs regulations? "One in five working coal miners in central Appalachia who have worked at least 25 years now suffer from the coal miners' disease black lung. That's the finding from the latest study tracking an epidemic of the incurable and fatal sickness."

"A report from the U.S. Department of Labor on job opportunities and labor turnover, or JOLTS, showed there were more reported job opportunities than unemployed people in May. This suggests that the economy is dealing with a labor shortage, but that raises the question of where these workers will come from when current U.S. immigration policy is reducing the amount of immigrant labor." Note how wages, even in a tight labor market, stubbornly refuse to rise (well, that employers refuse to see the necessity of paying people a fair wage).

Dark money groups get darker. We'll no longer require these groups to submit lists of their top donors to the IRS. "Until now, tax-exempt groups under Section 501(c) of the tax code have had to identify donors of $5,000 or more on their annual tax returns." Note how conservatives like to bring up Unions in these discussions, but the majority of benefactors are conservative organizations. (Grokked from Christopher Moore)

"House Republicans claimed a political victory Wednesday after the House voted 244-35 in favor of officially supporting the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, a vote intended to force Democrats to take a position amid calls from progressives to abolish the agency." Political stuntsmanship.

"British police examining CCTV footage have reportedly identified multiple Russian suspects believed to have carried out the March nerve-agent attack on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter."

"The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, based in Michigan, is running My Pay, My Say as a national campaign. The Freedom Foundation, with headquarters in Washington state, is targeting teachers in Oregon, Washington and California with the slogan, Opt Out Today… Other groups targeting teachers and public employees in specific states include: the Commonwealth Foundation, the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, the Center of the American Experiment, the Center for Union Facts and Americans for Prosperity… According to an analysis of tax filings by the website Conservative Transparency, the top contributors to the Mackinac Center specifically include the Dick and Betsy DeVos Family Foundation, and the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative (formerly the Richard and Helen DeVos Foundation). These are the family foundations of the U.S. education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and her husband's parents." Certainly you can trust anti-union organizations helping you make a decision to leave a union.

"For victims of crime on U.S. soil who are living here illegally, a special visa program encourages them to help solve their cases and catch criminals, and often provides their only clear path to citizenship… But as Republican President Donald Trump’s administration has taken a harder line on immigration, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to be stepping up the detention and deportation of people who have applied for the so-called 'U visa.'"

"But President Trump broke with that tradition, saying in a CNBC interview, 'I'm not thrilled' about the Fed's interest-rate hikes. 'Because we go up and every time you go up they want to raise rates again. I don't really — I am not happy about it. But at the same time I'm letting them do what they feel is best.'" No, Mr. President, you don't get a vote on their policy and that is by design.

"A small crowd that gathered Thursday outside the Los Angeles office of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, to counter an expected protest by a self-styled militia group burned an American flag taken from the back of a pickup truck. The incident happened after the far-right Oath Keepers group didn't appear at the office after saying it would rally against the congresswoman." I wonder how much longer the right will talk of "civil war" when the realize the left won't be as easy a target as they fantasize?

"As European leaders grappled with the fallout from the Donald Trump-Vladimir Putin summit Thursday, Russian authorities took the opportunity to show off some of the new weaponry Putin boasted in March would render NATO defenses 'completely useless.'" Would be scary if it wasn't mostly fantasy. But it does show that Russia is serious about weapons development.

"This is a White House that prioritizes the scoring of points over the complexities of compromise. Sanders, on behalf of the president she works for—a happy warrior in a culture war… takes for granted an assumption that would be shocking were it not so common in the American culture of the early 21st century: There are things that are more important than truth."

NPR's take on Sarah Sanders' one year anniversary. As of writing this the article is still just audio only. Hopefully they'll have a transcript soon.

"The U.S. Government Accountability Office's report says VA whistleblowers are far more likely than their colleagues to face discipline or removal after reporting misconduct." This is my shocked face.

"Robert Mueller just submitted his list of evidence for the Paul Manafort trial and look whose name is all over the first 30 items… Tad Devine… Bernie Sanders' Chief Strategist." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee have blocked a move to subpoena the American translator from the Helsinki summit to testify about the private talks between President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin’s request to U.S. President Donald Trump for a joint investigation of former U.S. officials sought by the Kremlin for 'illegal activities,' including a U.S. ambassador to Russia, is just the latest effort in a years-long campaign to undermine a U.S. law that imposes financial sanctions on Putin’s officials." And then there was this, "'We're playing with the bank's money,' Trump told CNBC. 'This is the time.'" Just a reminder, Trump's companies have declared bankruptcy six times.

"At first blush, it just looks like the bust of another Russian human trafficking operation, run by a husband-and-wife team with two kids and a pricey Miami condo… And then you look a little closer and it's a Manhattan Russian criminal enterprise run remotely from Trump Tower III in Miami." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The same Russian intelligence agency charged with hacking Democrats’ emails in 2016 has targeted at least three candidates running for election in 2018, a Microsoft executive said." (Waves to my Russian friends) (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Linkee-poo, who do you want me to be to make you sleep with me

The work just keeps coming.

"After seeing a successful Kickstarter project, Angus from Makers Muse has been experimenting with sphericons, unusual shapes that meander when they roll." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"More than 400 years after Galileo Galilei discovered the first of Jupiter's moons, astronomers have found a dozen more — including one they've dubbed 'oddball' — orbiting the planet. That brings the total number of Jovian moons to 79."

"About 540 million years ago, the oceans were an alien landscape, devoid of swimming, or nektonic, creatures. Some scientists have hypothesized, based on fossil evidence, that swimmers suddenly dominated in the oceans during the Devonian Period, between 419 million and 359 million years ago. But an in-depth study of marine fossils now suggests that this so-called Devonian Nekton Revolution never actually took place." Mostly from reclassifying what we consider "swimming".

"Around 450 light years from Earth, a young star just feasted on a planet-sized meal… At least, that's what a team of astronomers believe occurred at RW Aur A, a star just a few million years old that has been studied by astronomers since 1937."

"Le Morne Brabant on the southwest coast of Mauritius has a cool optical illusion offshore: water flowing between two reefs pulls sand out to sea, giving the appearance of an underwater waterfall." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"It's patient stories like this one that led Tapper to research liver disease in young people. According to a study published Wednesday in BMJ by Tapper and a colleague, fatal liver disease has risen, and young people have been hit the hardest… The study examined the number of deaths resulting from cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, as well as liver cancer. Data came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and covered the period from 1999 to 2016."

"When Charlotte Murphy slid into some brush while walking along a road in Vermont, she stood back up, brushed herself off and continued on her way. But her stumble came back to haunt her days later, in the form of several excruciating second-degree burns."

"Several common drugs that contain valsartan, used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, were recalled in the United States on Friday due to an 'impurity' in the drug that poses a potential cancer risk."

"Israel's parliament has passed a controversial bill defining the country as the homeland of the Jews — asserting Jerusalem as the capital, Hebrew as the official language and that the right of national self-determination is 'unique to the Jewish people.'" This will not end well.

How goes the Brexit? "The Office for National Statistics said sales fell by 0.5% last month compared with May - below forecasts of a 0.2% rise."

"Musician Ted Nugent, a vocal gun rights advocate, reportedly barred guns from being allowed into a venue he performed at in Virginia on Tuesday night… According to the news outlet, the Berglund Center said that since it is owned by the city it is not allowed to ban guns from being carried into its facility unless a performer requests it." Just more of the same hypocrisy. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"Election Systems and Software is America's leading voting machine vendor… Kim Zetter asked them, on behalf of the New York Times, if their products shipped with backdoors allowing remote parties to access and alter them over the internet, they told her unequivocally that they did not engage in this practice… But now, in a letter to Senator Ron Wyden [D-OR], they admit that they lied, and that they 'provided pcAnywhere remote connection software … to a small number of customers between 2000 and 2006.'" (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Officials within the Department of Veterans Affairs have moved to root out staffers who are believed to be disloyal to President Trump and his agenda, The Washington Post reported Wednesday." First they came for the VA… (Grokked from Jim Wright who asks "How much longer until they start purging PATIENTS who aren't Trump fans?")

"FBI Director Chris Wray suggested on Wednesday that he has previously threatened to resign — and pushed back against President Donald Trump's recent comments that cast doubt on Russian interference in the election."

"The President wrote in sharpie 'THERE WAS NO COLUSION' during a meeting with congressional members." (Grokked from Dan)

A blast from the past (2016). "A senior Donald Trump official told Bloomberg in a story published on Thursday that the campaign had 'three major voter suppression operations underway.'… The effort, according to the unidentified official, was aimed at discouraging three groups Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton needs to turn out at the polls — white liberals, millennial women, and black Americans — from voting." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Can't remember if I posted anything about this when it happened (from May, 2018). "The White House eliminated the position of cybersecurity coordinator on the National Security Council on Tuesday, doing away with a post central to developing policy to defend against increasingly sophisticated digital attacks and the use of offensive cyber weapons." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Less than 24 hours after proclaiming Tuesday his 'full faith and support for America's great intelligence agencies,' Trump at first seemed to contradicted those agencies once again." (Grokked from Christopher Moore)

Basically the shit is coming so fast and is so contradictory, it's starting to feel like a plan. A DDoS attack on our brains, if you will. Plus the president is mulling allowing Russia to interrogate a former ambassador (who has diplomatic immunity) and a British citizen living in the US (he was born in the US so he could claim citizenship)(whom Russia has executed something close to 20 arrest warrant through Interpol, which Interpol, upon investigation, have thrown out) in exchange for allowing Mueller (actually his team) to "sit in" as Russian intelligence prosecutors interrogate the 12 Russians Mueller has indicted.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Wednesday

Very busy, no time for finding links for today. Maybe I can post something tonight. But I'll leave you with this.

The President is lying.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Linkee-poo, so that went well

"That diamond on your wedding ring isn't as rare as you might think… Using sound waves, scientists uncovered a cache of diamonds distributed deep below the Earth's surface, and it amounts to over a quadrillion tonnes of the precious mineral." Well, we already new that De Beers already manipulated the market on diamonds (and is rumored to hold a lot of stock off-market to artificially raise the price). "'We can't get at them, but still, there is much more diamond there than we have ever thought before.'" Well that's the trick, ain't it.

"An advanced new radio telescope, known as MeerKAT, has begun operations—and it has already captured a spectacular image that is the clearest view of our galaxy's center to date." My God, it's full of stars.

"Health officials are warning against eating crab meat from Venezuela, as it's been tied to diarrhea, vomiting and fever." Good safety tip, Egon.

An article on the current state of electronic motorcycles.

"That's why Friday's announcement that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved TPOXX as the first treatment for smallpox is significant. Hopefully, no one will need to take TPOXX anytime soon. And, no, you probably won't be seeing any TPOXX and smallpox advertisements with dancing happy people on television in the near future. However, TPOXX does help address an important need. Most people do not routinely get the smallpox vaccine anymore, unless they are regularly handling smallpox or in the military."

"(Dr. Walter Koroshetz is) responsible for the institute's public health campaign called Mind Your Risks. Its goal is to let people know that there's a link between high blood pressure, stroke and dementia." High blood pressure (hypertension) shows links to dementia and Alzheimers. I don't think they have proven a cause and effect relationship, but there is some logic to it. As a note, one of the most common notes I see on head CTs of the elderly is "ischemic changes to white matter". This isn't something acute, and most often it's not even mentioned to the patient.

"Death rates from liver cancer increased 43% for American adults from 2000 to 2016, according to a report released Tuesday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. The increase comes even as mortality for all cancers combined has declined." Gee, I'm sure out diet (all nutrition is first processed by the liver) has anything to do with it. Nope. Sure the presence of high-fructose corn syrup (ammonia byproducts of conversion) and artificial sweeteners like aspartame (processed into formaldehyde)in our foods have no affect here. Fuck cancer.

"But dig deeper and the implications of what they're selling might give many patients pause: A future in which everything you do — the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV — may help determine how much you pay for health insurance… With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story." They already were building databases holding your medical claims, now they're going after psychometric data. It's time for single-payor. "Patient advocates warn that using unverified, error-prone "lifestyle" data to make medical assumptions could lead insurers to improperly price plans – for instance raising rates based on false information – or discriminate against anyone tagged as high cost." You say that like it's a bug and not a feature of the system. (Grokked from John)

"Eight animals have now died after a jaguar escaped from its habitat at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans."

"John Miller, 59, was arrested on Sunday morning after DNA evidence linked him to the rape and murder of April Tinsley, whose body was recovered three days after her family reported her missing in 1988, according to charging documents… Investigators said they arrested Miller after using a genealogy database to narrow down the DNA match to either him or his brother. The DNA was taken from the used condoms and evidence from the crime scenes, according to court documents."

"Iga, a small Japanese city and the birthplace of the ninja, is facing a serious problem — there aren't enough people training to be ninjas, not even for $85k a year." A podcast that treats the subject lightly (and through a Western understanding of Ninjas, garnered mostly through movies), but shows a very real problem.

"While unemployment has hit record lows, there's another number that also gets a lot of attention — underemployment. Around 33 percent of college graduates are underemployed." Another example of employers expecting to get overqualified candidates to fill positions (note, in a "full employment" situation, unless you're paying top dollar, that ain't gonna happen). Although I think the real problem here is not over expectation or mismatch between jobs and colleges, but mostly because business doesn't understand how to work properly now that we're in the age of the MBA executive.

"India has ordered its state governments to inspect childcare facilities run by the Missionaries of Charity — the Roman Catholic order founded by Mother Teresa — following arrests of a nun and a worker accused of baby trafficking." After scandals in Ireland and Australia (and rumors in Central America), they finally get to Mother Teresa.

How goes the Trade Wars? "The European Union and Japan have signed one of the world's biggest free trade deals, covering nearly a third of the world's GDP and 600 million people."

"The U.S. Treasury said on Monday that it will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities." I'm sure there's a perfectly innocent explanation for this. It isn't the real reason, but I'm sure there is one. (Grokked from Michele)

"Haiti's Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant resigned Saturday after days of riots sparked by a plan to raise prices on fuel."

"At least 273 people have died and 2,000 have been injured in the unrest that's rocked Nicaragua since April, according to the human rights arm of the Organization of American States (OAS)."

"The US government charged a Russian national heavily involved in gun rights with being a spy for the Russian government in the US and developing relationships 'with US persons and infiltrating organizations having influence in American politics.'" Interesting times. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Fran Wilde)

Sometimes we get focused on just the social media aspect of the Russian attack. "New charges against a woman who tried to build bridges between the Russian government and American political leaders via the National Rifle Association delivered a breakthrough in understanding one aspect of the attack on the 2016 election: 'infiltration.'"

"The question for the state’s politics is which side of that debate is more in touch with the state’s voters — the activists who are urgently pushing the Democrats to the left or the (Sen. Diane Feinstein), who trounced De León in the June primary, winning 44% of the overall vote compared with his 12%." Line up the circular firing squad again.

"Judge on Trump administration’s immigrant reunification efforts: 'HHS either does not understand the court’s orders or is acting in defiance of them'." Dear Judge, HHS had no intentions of ever reuniting these families.

"A federal judge in California has temporarily halted the deportation of immigrant families that have been reunited after being separated by the Trump administration."

So, how did the summit go? "US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin blew past the 90 minutes they were scheduled to spend with only interpreters at their sides on Monday, just hours after the US President blamed US policy for the dismal state of relations between the two countries."

"After face-to-face talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump contradicted US intelligence agencies and said there had been no reason for Russia to meddle in the vote."

"'I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think that we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago, a long time, frankly, before I got to office,' Mr. Trump said during a joint press conference with Putin."

I think our intelligence community, like our diplomats overseas and everybody in the national security structure, had low hopes for this meeting, and the bar was pretty low for Mr. Trump, but he still didn’t get over the bar." (Grokked from Emma Audsley)

"Sunday's demonstrations capped a weekend in which the US president drew protests no matter where he went -- whether in Finland, in London or even at his own golf resort in Turnberry, Scotland."