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

Friday, August 31, 2018

Linkee-poo for a Friday

Now dealing with the alligators I had to put on hold to deal with the other alligators demanding immediate service. So, progress?

"Doctors currently advise men and women with no family history of colon cancer or other risk factors to start undergoing screening at age 50, and sooner for those deemed more at risk. But this sweeping guideline does not account for individual genetic and lifestyle differences. To calculate the ideal age for the first screening, researchers at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and their colleagues analyzed patient data… The results suggest that 15 percent of men with no family history of the disease should start getting scoped before age 45, whereas half of women with no family history could wait until they are at least 56—and 10 percent of those could start as late as 64." Fuck cancer (and yes, I should schedule one soon).

"A hospital in Texas has cut ties with a nurse who apparently posted about a young patient with the measles in a Facebook group dedicated to 'anti-vaxxers,' people who reject the scientific evidence of the safety and effectiveness of vaccines." HIPAA is a bitch. I have several posts that I'm waiting a sufficient amount of time before releasing them so that you won't know which patient I'm talking about (the others I've posted I've been able to change enough that you couldn't tie them to a single patient). Sometimes it's also easier to "anonymize" information after you let it sit for a while. But here's the real secret, HIPAA is often just a convenient excuse to remove troublesome employees. I have a feeling it was more about the shock of 1) having a medical employee as an anti-vaxxer and 2) the "swabbing the mouth" comment would send any infection control expert through the roof. Also, get the damn vaccinations.

"In 2010, David French and his wife traveled to Ethiopia to pick up their baby girl. He writes that he was full of hope at that time about expanding his family in this way - adopting a child from a different country, of a different race." And then reality hit. Well, the reality of America's racism hit.

"A pair of recent, high-profile news stories are highlighting the way workplace lawsuits and culture increasingly are influenced by surreptitious recordings." And here I will tell you the advice I gave my fellow councilmen back in 2005, always consider that someone is recording you at all times (we had an issue with our local cable company not being prompt to turn on our broadcast, or they may turn on the microphones 10 minutes before the broadcast, sending out our conversations before the meeting starts. Some people were embarrassed.

Ah, the debates about thinning forests and management of timberlands is coming back up because of the record fires. Didn't we do this before? "'The biggest enemy of good forest management, especially fire management, is budget cuts,' says forest management consultant Rich Armstrong." Yep.

"Pennsylvania ordered a lockdown Wednesday of its entire state prison system after a number of staff became ill from suspected exposure to tainted synthetic drugs, an incident that comes as five inmates have died from overdoses in Arkansas and dozens were sickened in Ohio under similar circumstances."

"Once the impact of inflation is included, ordinary Americans’ hourly earnings are lower than they were a year ago." This is my shocked face. But you know what, the Trumpers still having figured out they've been had and possibly never will. Even without the tax cuts, at "full-employment" wages should be rising at a good clip and if you listen to enough economy programs you'll hear how economists are so perplexed because of it and (without doing actual research) give various excuses. The reason is America is being fleeced.

"After decades of research and debate, the EPA was on the cusp of banning all use of chlorpyrifos, a poison that attacks the nervous system. But in 2017, then-EPA administrator Scott Pruitt delayed a decision by five years. Science correspondent Miles O'Brien reports that fight is part of a larger battle over the use of scientific studies and industry pressure." Yes, we're being killed by out "better living through chemistry" industry. It's just killing mostly poor people, and the rich and powerful haven't seen it affect their lives yet.

"In recent months, Bank of America has been accused of freezing or threatening to freeze customers’ accounts after asking about their legal status in the U.S.. In July, the Washington Post reported that multiple customers had been locked out of their accounts after Bank of America questioned whether the account holders were U.S. citizens or dual citizens." You do not need to be a citizen to open a bank account in America. The deprivations and crimes of the Nazis were enabled with the willing participation of millions and the quiet assent of millions more. Many of whom found their own ways to harass and injure Jews and the minorities without any direction from above. (Grokked from Seanan McGuire)

"The Postal Service apologized on Thursday for 'inappropriately' releasing a cache of sensitive personal and background information about a congressional candidate." Personnel files are not subject to FOIA requests. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Some Americans of Mexican heritage are finding that their passports being denied as the government questions their birth certificates." It was never about "illegal immigrants." So we're passed the "When they came for…" stage. They will come for everybody, eventually. Their politics require a scapegoat and a continuing process of "Us vs Them". So you may be on the inside at first, but eventually they'll get to you.

"President Trump appears to be blaming China for derailing a U.S.-North Korea rapprochement, implying that it's placing 'tremendous pressure' on Pyongyang as a result of ongoing trade disputes between Washington and Beijing." Other countries have their own agendas? Shocked, shocked I am…

"White House counsel Don McGahn is resigning this autumn after a tumultuous stretch as President Trump's in-house lawyer." Rumor is he was planning on resigning, but was surprised by the president's tweet.

"With vacancies abounding in the White House and more departures on the horizon, there is growing concern among Trump allies that the brain drain at the center of the administration could hardly come at a more perilous time. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s swirling probe of Russian election interference and potential obstruction of justice by Trump has reached ever closer to the Oval Office, and the upcoming midterm elections could grant his political adversaries the power of subpoena or, more worryingly, the votes to attempt impeachment." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

You know those alligators.

How goes Brexit? "French and British duel over scallop fishing rights in the English Channel." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Atlantic reporter Rosie Gray obtained emails that show a former Homeland Security employee was involved in planning social events with white supremacists, self-described racists, and 'white advocates'. The DHS response: 'This type of radical ideology runs counter to the Department’s mission of keeping America safe.'" (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is formulating new policies regarding how universities handle sexual assault and harassment cases… The new rules would increase protections for students accused of sexual misconduct, reduce liability for colleges and universities and encourage schools to broaden their support networks for victims, according to The New York Times." Well of course it does.

"It took just 12 hours and one word for the nation’s newly minted marquee governor’s race to devolve into accusations of racism and socialism." You make it sound like it's the Democrat's fault. Both the racism and the socialism call came from the other party.

"North Korea's 'belligerent' letter to President Donald Trump and the abrupt cancellation of secretary of state Mike Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang was all it took to throw cold water on the peaceful overtures following the Singapore summit in June." I believe you proceed from a false assumption that there was any progress made in Singapore.

"President Trump attacked CNN on Wednesday, writing on Twitter that the network had been 'caught in a major lie' in connection to an article it published in July about claims made by the president’s former personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen." Well, no. Cohen's lawyer, one of the sources cited by CNN, is walking back his statements. It also seems telling that the president and his son are specifically attacking Carl Bernstein. You may remember Mr. Bernstein as one of the pair that exposed Nixon's involvement and coverup in Watergate.

"In a pair of early-morning tweets, President Donald Trump took aim at Google’s system of search results, saying it was biased against outlets that are friendly to him." His claim of "96% are from national left-wing media" is rated as false by Politifact.

"Lawyers for Paul Manafort suggested President Donald Trump is making it harder for his ex-campaign boss to get a fair trial as they asked a judge to move his next case on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller out of a Washington, D.C., federal court." That's the problem with highly vocal, unindicted co-conspirators. See Rudy Giuliani.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Linkee-poo makes it up on a Wednesday

Still alligators, still up to my eyeballs, but they're coming a little slower.



I say ye, Craig Wood. Craig was a friend of mine. I only got to attend a few of his famous Halloween Parties (because they were the Saturday before, and that's the Village's trick-or-treat nite). Fuck cancer.

Janiece is doing her annual fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

"Sources tell Variety that 'The Crown' star Matt Smith is joining 'Star Wars: Episode IX,' which is currently in production in the U.K. It’s unknown at this time whether the 'Doctor Who' alum will be on the side of the rebels or the evil empire." Besides making me all, "ooo, Dr Who crossover!", he's British, of course he'll be on the side of the Empire. Do these people not go to the movies at all?

"Those quotes come from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, a free online resource featuring more than 17,500 entries explaining all things sci-fi, whether new or old, mainstream or obscure." I'll just note all the pull quotes are from white, male authors (except for the sideways mention of Margaret Atwood). SO just because it's extensive doesn't mean it's complete. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Six years after its discovery, the Higgs boson has at last been observed decaying to fundamental particles known as bottom quarks. The finding, presented today at CERN1 by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is consistent with the hypothesis that the all-pervading quantum field behind the Higgs boson also gives mass to the bottom quark. Both teams have submitted their results for publication today."

"Scientists have discovered what they say is an 'unbelievable' 85-mile stretch of coral reef off the eastern coast of the United States." Note that deep corals are very different than the coral reefs most of us picture.

"Divers discover giant squid washed up on a New Zealand beach." But at 13 feet, it's a smallish one. However it looks fairly complete (most we've discovered or hauled in are pretty torn up).

"… (N)ew images from NASA show in dramatic fashion how invisible particulates — such as smoke, dust and sea salt — spread across the globe."

"Venus is getting some rare attention, thanks to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe. It will swing by the planet on its way to study the sun’s atmosphere." Venus braking. And it hasn't been ignored. If Mars is hard, Venus is nearly impossible (even though it's closer). "[It’s] 850 to 900 degrees on the planet, and there’s three ways to die on Venus real quick: One is you’re going to melt. Two, you’re going to be crushed by the atmosphere that’s pushing down on you — 92 times the atmosphere of Earth right there — and then three, if it starts raining, it doesn’t rain water. It rains sulfuric acid."

So, how's that whole, "we should only teach abstinence for high school sex ed" concept going? "The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released new numbers on STDs in America… New cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis were up about 10 percent in 2017. In this year, some 2.29 million new cases of these three common (and treatable) sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed." Who could have foreseen it? Narrator's voice, "practically everybody with a brain." (Grokked from Xeni Jarin)

"A new study suggests that ketamine, an increasingly popular treatment for depression, has something in common with drugs like fentanyl and oxycodone." Uh, yeah. Didn't we know this before? It seems like we knew this before.

"The Korean peninsular and Southeast Asia may be next to report outbreaks of African swine fever after the rapid onset of the deadly pig disease in China, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization." Here we go.

Also, "The Chinese government has withheld samples of a virulent strain of avian flu from American researchers for over a year, the New York Times reports. And this strain of flu prevalent in birds, called H7N9, is particularly fatal, killing 40% of people who contract it. However, so far, it hasn’t spread readily from fowl to humans, affecting largely only people who work with live poultry, and even then just a small percentage relative to the number of infected birds. Human-to-human spread if this bird flu has also been extremely small, but Americans have essentially no immunity to the strain and seasonal vaccines would have no effect." Gee, the last time we had major flu scares like this was :: checks notes :: under a different Republican president.

"A consumer advocacy organization is asking federal health officials Tuesday to halt a large medical study being conducted at major universities nationwide… Public Citizen says that the study, involving treatment for sepsis, puts patients at risk and will at best produce confusing results." No control group? Okay, well one could say the rest of the world is a control group, but still.

"An international team has identified a kind of brain cell that exists in people but not mice, the team reported Monday in the journal Nature Neuroscience." Something new has been added. "It's compact, bushy, and responsible for telling other neurons to shush. Beyond that, nobody is entirely sure what a newly discovered variety of brain cell called a rosehip neuron does." (Whispers, so you know all those "computer simulations of neuron activity" that made the news last year, yeah, completely undone)

"The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has released new draft recommendations saying that physicians should screen pregnant women and new moms to identify those who are at risk of becoming depressed, so they can be treated before they show symptoms and a diagnosis of depression can be averted."

"A 9-year-old boy in Colorado killed himself on Thursday after his mother said he was bullied for coming out as gay." While it does get better, it's not getting any better.

"Murfreesboro was, at the time, one of the lowest-rated VA medical centers in the country. It's part of a triangle of three VA centers — in Nashville, Memphis and Murfreesboro — that all had one star out of a possible five in the department's internal rating system." They're getting better, but it took a suicide and a lawsuit to help kick the change into motion.

Who needs regulation or pesky EPA rules? "(Kansas) allowed hundreds of residents in two Wichita-area neighborhoods to drink contaminated water for years without telling them, despite warning signs of contamination close to water wells used for drinking, washing and bathing." And they keep finding more contamination sites. (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Roy Oliver, a former police officer in Balch Springs, Texas, has been found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of unarmed 15-year-old Jordan Edwards after police broke up a house party last year." I believe that makes two.

"California will become the first state in the nation to abolish (cash) bail for suspects awaiting trial under a sweeping reform bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Tuesday."

"Democrat Andrew Gillum rode a surge of liberal support from young people and African Americans to a stunning primary victory Tuesday and the historic opportunity to be the first black governor in Florida’s history."

"Agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) arm arrested more than 150 people Tuesday based on allegations of immigration violations at a trailer manufacturer in North Texas, authorities said." So many raids and so many new records, and yet no businesses closed or their owners jailed for their crimes. As someone said on twitter, "This isn't illegal immigrants taking your jobs, this is the business owners screwing over illegal immigrants so they don't have to pay you a reasonable wage."

"However, in May, a federal judge said Trump’s blocks were unconstitutional as his Twitter feed was a public forum which 'has been used in the course of the appointment of officers (including cabinet secretaries), the removal of officers and the conduct of foreign policy.'" Live by the twitter, die by the twitter.

"How many times per year does a gun go off in an American school?… We should know. But we don't… This spring the U.S. Education Department reported that in the 2015-2016 school year, 'nearly 240 schools… reported at least 1 incident involving a school-related shooting…" But NPR reached out to every one of those schools repeatedly over the course of three months and found that more than two-thirds of these reported incidents never happened." The sad unstated part of this story is that they overcomunted, but still aren't doing anything real about the problem.

"Four in 10 Americans are struggling to pay for their basic needs such as groceries or housing, a problem even middle-class households confront, according to a new study from the Urban Institute." This is my shocked face. (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"Independent researchers from George Washington University have estimated that Hurricane Maria caused 2,975 deaths in Puerto Rico in the six months following the storm." So much winning.

"Russia plans to hold massive war games involving 300,000 personnel next month - its biggest military manoeuvres since a Cold War drill in 1981." (Waves to my Russian friends.)

"In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders Monday night, President Donald Trump repeated his debunked claim that he had gotten 'rid of' a law forbidding churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates, according to recorded excerpts reviewed by NBC News… In fact, the law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Congress last year failed." Dear Evangelicals, who is it that's the "Father of Lies." Because he hosted you the other night and lied right to your faces. And while I have your ear, happy fucking holidays you duplicitous pieces of shit. As I've said elsewhere, if there is a God and a final judgement, I will willingly swan dive into the Lake of Fire, but only if I get to see Her deal with you all first.

What they say about us behind closed doors. "US President Donald Trump has warned that his policies will be 'violently' overturned if the Democrats win November's mid-term elections… He told Evangelical leaders that the vote was a 'referendum' on freedom of speech and religion, and that these were threatened by 'violent people'." Okay, can we quit with the Nixon parallels? Seriously, Mr. President, stop trudging the same path he did. Also, if you want "violent" protests, we can give you that. You haven't seen that yet. But the president is exposing his worst fears while giving his supporters (and could there be any clearer indication that Reagan's Compromise has perverted the GOP?) permission to be violent. After all, they'd just be defending themselves from those future threats. So (JFC I can't believe he's pushed me this far) please go fuck yourself, Mr. President.

These days it's almost a mantra of me repeating, "The Constitution stands, the process will work, the rule of law prevails." I think I've told the story here of one of my first managers saying, "I love my job," as she rounded the fry station. She said if there was ever a day that came where she couldn't at least say it, it was time to do something else. Some days I say that with the same feeling. One of the things that continues to stop me form going over to the dark side is the sure knowledge that this is exactly something our Russian friends want. Have no worry, my Russian friends, you are all part of the plans as well. If you think Russia will escape no worse for the wear, you lack imagination.

"A burglar broke into a Manhattan penthouse early Tuesday and made off with a briefcase and an iPad belonging to a banker who once did work for President Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, the police said… Mr. Fallarino told investigators he found a crowbar on his private terrace and discovered that the briefcase, the iPad and a pair of sneakers were missing from the living room, the police said. There were no signs of forced entry; Mr. Fallarino said he had left the terrace door open, the police said." There was also a wine case that was opened, but they left an unopened bottle on the floor and didn't take anything else. It's sort of like someone was attempting to make it look like a random robbery and that someone riffled through someone's belongings, but really didn't know how thieves work. Because I'm sure the only things of value to a thief in a banker's apartment that could be easily grabbed would be the suitcase, an iPad, and a pair of sneakers. But I'm sure it's completely a legit crime (even though there's been no reported break-ins in the apartment complex for 3 years according to another report).

"Kushner Cos. has been hit with $210,000 in fines by New York City regulators for filing false real estate paperwork over several years." But the spokesperson say there is no fines, and if there are fines they totally aren't responsible, and they'll fight it until they don't have to pay a fine. When you're that corrupt, you just can't help it.

"Donald Trump has accused Google of rigging its search results to make him look bad… Mr Trump even suggested that the search giant could be prosecuted for not showing enough positive stories." That's straight-up, banana republic bullshittery right there. Dear Gen. Kelly, you need to sit your boy down for a talk. And if he doesn't listen, take away his goddamn phone.

"The key elements (of the US-Mexico trade deal) certainly look dramatic: lifting rules-of-origin requirements to 75 percent to avoid import tariffs, and a separate rule that 40 percent to 45 percent of content come from factories paying more than $16 an hour. The wage rule in particular is about twice what Mexican assembly-line workers make, and four times the average at parts companies there… When you take a look under the hood, though, there’s a lot less than meets the eye." Not much there there. Shocked, shocked I am…

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Linkee-poo Tuesdays alligators abate

a little.

Weird Al gets his Hollywood star. "'It's just an honor knowing that my name is going to be walked on, spit on and let's face it, urinated on, for generations to come,' he said." And then he went on to say, "'Please, please don’t pickax my star… I know it’s all the rage these days, but that’s not cool… Unless at some point in the future, I do something unfathomably monstrous and evil in which case, sure, fine, okay, go ahead. But anything short of that, please limit yourself to spitting and urinating, OK? Have some class, people.'"

"Spellbound… Explore the history of magic over eight centuries in this immersive and thought-provoking exhibition. The intriguing objects on display show how our ancestors used magical thinking to cope with the unpredictable world around them." At the Ashmolean at the University of Oxford. Ooo, I would so want to see that. And unfortunately Amazon says the catalog won't be available until Dec 31. I'll have to see how horrendous the shipping is from the museum. (Grokked from S.A. Chakraborty)

"Using more energy on a daily basis increases the chances of a species becoming extinct, with those that are more sluggish and use less energy being more likely to survive, a new study suggests." Survival of the fittest is not some Arnold Schwarzenegger type "alpha-male" dream. It's more correct to say "survival of the sexiest" in terms of preferential mating and those who can reproduce effectively. It also does not affect individual survival, just species survival. This is what's known as "even most 'science' reporters don't know shit about the science they're reporting on."

"The annual outbreak of algae called a brown tide has begun off the coast of western Florida and scientists are hoping it doesn’t meet up with the red tide that they’re already facing." Red tide is already as bad as it's ever been seen.

"Despite the surprise, Calver asked from his hospital bed whether his health insurance would cover all of this, a financial worry that accompanies nearly every American hospital stay. He was concerned because St. David's is out-of-network on his school district health plan. The hospital told him not to worry and that they would accept his insurance, Calver said." Single payer.

"How to tell if a comatose patient is actually conscious." I always assume they are if we have to take an x-ray. I know some of my fellow techs don't, but I always talk to them, introduce myself, and tell them what is happening. Sometimes I get responses, even if it's just their body relaxing as I move them. I've had an "unconscious" patient resist us positioning them and then have them relax when I explain what we are doing (some fake unconsciousness, but not all these patients were faking it).

"A shooting at a video game competition in Florida has left two people dead along with the suspect and prompted calls from gamers for more security at esports tournaments." So is it now time that we can talk about the Las Vegas shootings, since I'm sure it's too early for this one, right?

Who needs regulation? "On average worldwide, air pollution shaves a year off of human life expectancy, scientists report August 22 in Environmental Science & Technology Letters. In more polluted regions of Asia and Africa, lives are shortened by 1.5 to two years on average." During coverage of the Trump's administration rolling back clean air regulations and turning regulatory control back to the states I saw someone with a sign that I never thought I would see again. It was a sign warning about Acid Rain. See, way back in the younger days the state EPAs did have more power. But then we started seeing how pollution doesn't stay in one place, especially air pollution. And because the sources of the pollution weren't suffering the consequences of that pollution (at least not within their state boundaries), their EPAs couldn't do anything (and had no motivation to do anything). And that led to the East Coast suffering from Acid Rain, which killed fisheries, harmed forests, and began dissolving statues and buildings. It was only when Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky started seeing the same problem in their states (initiated by coal plants even farther West) that anything was really done. Because fuck those people in NY (until you decide to vacation there and realize the forests are dying and there are no fish to go fishing for). So that's why the federal EPA became stronger and why we passed clean air and clean water legislation. Because we were literally dying. But hey, that was the 70s and 80s. Nobody remembers that long ago (at least in the US).

Why was the Pope's visit in Ireland a little frosty? Well, it could have to do with the current child abuse scandal, but it could also be that Ireland has already gone through what we in the US haven't processed yet. "But for all these revelations — including this month’s Pennsylvania grand jury report on how the church hid the crimes of hundreds of priests — a darker history… remains all but unknown. It is the history of unrelenting physical and psychological abuse of captive children. Across thousands of miles, across decades, the abuse took eerily similar forms: People who grew up in orphanages said they were made to kneel or stand for hours, sometimes with their arms straight out, sometimes holding their boots or some other item. They were forced to eat their own vomit. They were dangled upside down out windows, over wells, or in laundry chutes. Children were locked in cabinets, in closets, in attics, sometimes for days, sometimes so long they were forgotten. They were told their relatives didn’t want them, or they were permanently separated from their siblings. They were sexually abused. They were mutilated… Darkest of all, it is a history of children who entered orphanages but did not leave them alive." Ireland had similar orphanages and Ireland had the Magdalene Laundries. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Monday urged the remaining signatories to its 2015 nuclear agreement to act to save the pact, though France’s leader called again for broader talks on Tehran’s missile program and its role in the Middle East region." If the other signatories of the pact go along, it will effectively isolate the US and deal a huge blow to our diplomatic standing. Note, Russia is another of the signatories. Also Iran is saying they can control the Straits of Hormuz and the US should leave. This is not our first rodeo here.

"North Korean officials have warned in a letter to the United States that denuclearization talks were 'again at stake and may fall apart', CNN reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter." Well, I've got news for you, it's not like the talks really began in the first place.

How go the Trade Wars? "Tariffs on goods from China imported into the United States will cost American consumers roughly $6 billion a year, according to a study commissioned by the National Retail Federation (NRF)… And, no matter what happens with the tariffs, actions already taken by manufacturers will lead to higher prices, according to Gold. He added that 'even if the administration decides not to impose the tariffs, higher prices are already on the horizon for American families.'" Remember all those Walmart Price Rollbacks? Ah, the good old days.

Marketplace answers the trade war question with www.areweinatradewar.com. Short answer: yes.

"The U.S. attorney’s case against (Rep. Duncan) Hunter and his wife, Margaret, alleges the couple used $250,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses and claimed some of them as charitable donations… In one example, the combat veteran-turned-congressman is accused of spending more than $200 at Dick’s Sporting Goods on personal items such as running shoes and marked the expense as a donation to an unspecified wounded warriors’ organization."

Yes, this administration does want to fuck you over and steal all the moneys. "The government’s top official overseeing the $1.5 trillion student loan market resigned in protest on Monday, citing what he says is the White House’s open hostility toward protecting the nation’s millions of student loan borrowers." The generation lost to this White House will devastate our government for the next 20 years. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Federal judges on Monday affirmed their earlier decision striking down North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship… Acting under an order of the U.S. Supreme Court to re-examine the case, the three-judge panel ruled again in favor of election advocacy groups and Democrats who had sued to challenge the boundaries drawn in 2016."

"A little-noticed court case stemming from the apparent murder of a Columbia University professor six decades ago could keep special counsel Robert Mueller from publishing any information about the Trump campaign and Russia that he obtains through a Washington grand jury." IANAL, but IIRC the law guiding the special counsel requires them to provide all the information that gather along with their recommendations to the DoJ. If the DoJ fails to act on any recommendations, then by law the report is submitted to Congress. While working out two competing laws is the scope of the courts, I think Mueller's report will see the light of day in any case. To try and suppress it would be political suicide.

Tweet of my heart: @cocksailor centrists are conservatives who expect a thank you card (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

Monday, August 27, 2018

Linkee-poo it's Monday again

The alligators. Why are they alligators.

I say ye, Neil Simon. I think it was Mr. Simon's plays that first tickled that part in my brain that inserts the comedic in everyday life and my love for witty banter. That you could be funny without being mean and the exquisite pleasure of word play. And so it goes.

I say ye, John McCain. I wrote about Senator McCain recently when his family stated they were stopping treatment, so I don't think more need be said. Fuck cancer. And so it goes.

"The crimes of Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen are notable not just for how blatant they were but also for their lack of sophistication. The two men did little to hide their lying to banks and the Internal Revenue Service. One can almost sympathize with them: If it wasn’t for their decision to attach themselves to the most unlikely president in modern history, there’s every reason to think they might be still working their frauds today." White-collar crimes are the least likely to be prosecuted (see 2007-2009 Great Recession). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Okay, so you might not believe me. But would you believe someone who was actually involved in information warfare? "An educated population trained from early age in critical thinking, whose worldview is based on fact, validated evidence, and science, is the single strongest defense – the only true defense -- against this form of assault… But, we don’t live in that world… We can’t put the genie back in the bottle. And we lack that defense, deliberately so. Because just as our own enemies benefit from an population incapable of critical thought, so do those who seek political power within our own nation." A well educated and skeptical populace is what's needed to fight this war, unfortunately one party (of our two party system) has been investing for over two decades in making an ill-informed populace, and they can't stop now. Strangely (not strangely) that party has promoted and supported the people who are the best targets of misinformation during the last election cycle.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Linkee-poo, how'd ya like to stay up late, like the islanders do

It looks like Lane is just going to dissipate over Hawaii.

Not for children. "The Happytime Murders is packed with violence, foul language and graphic felt-on-felt sex. There's also a scene with an octopus that is — well, you need to see it for yourself."

"Parts of Hawaii's Big Island have already reported receiving more than 2 feet of rain as Hurricane Lane lurches northward at about 6 mph." The president has already signed the disaster declaration. Last prediction I saw, the eye will not make land, but skirt to the South and West of the big island. It's also expected to weaken to a Cat 1 storm over the weekend. Note that for a hurricane to weaken, that energy must go somewhere.

"More than 100 dead seals have washed onto Maine beaches this month. That has kicked up response efforts from marine mammal rescuers into overdrive as they try to determine the cause."

"The salmon industry in Alaska is delicately intertwined with its ecosystem. By state law, fishing of wild salmon has to be sustainable, and as a result, fishermen essentially get what they get, harvesting the excess of fish that won’t disrupt future spawns. According to a recent New York Times piece, this year, those fishermen haven’t gotten much at all." We're boned.

"A lengthy drought in Europe has exposed carved boulders, known as 'hunger stones,' that have been used for centuries to commemorate historic droughts — and warn of their consequences."

"Firefighters struggled Friday to tame a wildfire southwest of Berlin but had to maneuver carefully as the blaze set off old World War II ammunition that is still buried in the forests around the German capital." Well that makes it exciting.

"A large new global study published in the Lancet has confirmed previous research which has shown that there is no safe level of alcohol consumption." Sorry, Virginia, the "red-wine miracle" just never panned out.

"Cook was given a restricted stock award when he took over for Steve Jobs in 2011. On Friday, he… earn(ed) 560,000 shares of Apple (AAPL). It's not clear whether he plans to cash out those shares." I'm always interested in which CEO's we hear about (and those we don't).

"Eight dead bodies have been discovered throughout Cancun, Mexico -- a popular resort destination -- each killed in grisly fashion, local prosecutors told The Associated Press."

"The two men convicted of maliciously wounding a black man after last year's white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., have been sentenced to prison time. Jacob Scott Goodwin has been sentenced to serve eight years in prison for his role in the beating, while Alex Michael Ramos has been sentenced to six."? Good.

"Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will no longer continue to receive medical treatment for brain cancer, his family announced on Friday. The 2008 Republican candidate for president, now 81, was diagnosed with brain cancer last July." John McCain was the last republican I considered voting for. This was in 2000. If he had kept to his guns in 2008 I might have considered him them, but he went full on the Reagan Compromise in 2008 so he wasn't even close to being considered. Before that it was GHW Bush in 1988, but not in 1992 and for similar reasons. Fuck cancer.

"The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department on Thursday moved to block efforts by lawmakers in California and other Democratic-controlled states to help their residents avoid a new limit on state and local tax deductions." Please note that while these states are "Democratic-controlled", Democrats are in no way the only residents. Also, these states tend to have the richest individuals (ie. the "Donor Class" for this conversation) as residents. So these additional taxes on over $10,000 state and local tax money will hit the GOP's biggest donors as well (yes, not all, but enough). Great plan, guys.

"Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick blamed Democrats and the news media on Thursday for the murder of Iowa college student Mollie Tibbetts while arguing that lax immigration policy led to her death." One, the murder was here legally. Two, she is by far not the only woman killed in this time (mostly by spouses, relatives, or those intimately involved with them). And three, the GOP sees this as their best chance to mitigate losses this mid-term election. Finally, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, you can fuck off and die anytime you want.

"The arrest of a Mexican farmworker in the death of an Iowa college student renewed calls to change immigration laws, but it also focused attention on the immigrant workers whose labor is essential to the state’s agricultural industry."

"The year was 1965. On Cinco de Mayo, newspapers across the country reported that Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz wanted to recruit 20,000 high schoolers to replace the hundreds of thousands of Mexican agricultural workers who had labored in the United States under the so-called Bracero Program. Started in World War II, the program was an agreement between the American and Mexican governments that brought Mexican men to pick harvests across the U.S. It ended in 1964, after years of accusations by civil rights activists like Cesar Chavez that migrants suffered wage theft and terrible working and living conditions." Hint, it didn't go well.

"Election officials in a majority black Georgia county voted Friday to scrap a widely condemned proposal to eliminate most of their polling places." Oh look, people are watching, better not do this now. Although, hey, maybe we should look into this election consultant's business (in other news reports, supposed the "consultant" used the name of the Secretary of State to imply he had that person's approval and that the Secretary of State approved his report).

"Russia's meddling online went beyond the 2016 US presidential election and into public health, amplifying online debates about vaccines, according to a new study." Again the Russian goal is to weaken and neutralize the Western powers. If you're able to be vaccinated, please get those vaccinations (we're approach flu season again). Are there risks and do people have reactions? Yes. But the risks are minimal, and those who have reactions obviously shouldn't continue to be vaccinated (which is why it's important for those of us who can be vaccinated continue to do so).

"President Donald Trump is again complaining that social media companies are 'silencing millions of people.'" Hint, no they're not. (Waves to my Russian friends)

"Donald Trump has been warned the 'countdown' to impeachment is underway, after his former lawyer implicated the president in crimes committed during the 2016 election." I'll just note that to win an impeachment in the Senate, you need a supermajority. Which even in the Democrats pick up seats this Fall will mean at least a third of the Republicans in the Senate to vote to convict (if you get all the Democratic and Independent Senators' votes).

"Democratic leaders are wary of impeachment, even as the Democratic base appears more and more animated by the idea."

"President Donald Trump continues to receive poor marks from a majority of Americans on his overall job performance, even as he enjoys relatively good assessments of his handling of the economy." Whistling past the graveyard (for both the president's chances of making it to 2020 and for the good economy).

"President Trump snapped back at Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday with a series of Twitter posts that sarcastically took up Sessions' theme about the importance of political independence at the Justice Department." Nothing like investigating your enemies. Narrators voice: The president is full of shit. Clinton has been investigated for 8 years. Nothing has turned up.

"Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired back at President Donald Trump Thursday afternoon, after Trump said he 'never took control' of the Justice Department." I don't like Sessions, I don't like his politics, and I don't believe he's directing the DoJ to focus in the correct places. But that doesn't mean the president gets to fire him because he won't end the Mueller investigation (as is the rumors for after the election).

"South Africa’s government said Friday it had summoned the top U.S. diplomat in the country to 'convey the unhappiness of the people' over President Donald Trump’s tweet about alleged white-owned farm seizures and the 'large scale killing of farmers.'" The president repeated a white nationalist lie that S. Africa was killing white farmers and taking their land. South Africa does have a crime problem, and that's where a lot of people are being killed. Also, "Nearly a quarter-century after the end of apartheid, white South Africans, who comprise about 8 percent of the population, own more than 70 percent of the private agricultural land."

Not only was David Pecker (publisher of AMI which also publishes the National Enquirer) given immunity, but "The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents about hush-money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The Associated Press."

Oh look, a rabbit hole. "President Donald Trump’s bookkeeper for his personal and business affairs for decades has been granted immunity in the federal probe of former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, media outlets reported Friday." And down we go!

Friday, August 24, 2018

Linkee-poo born on the bayou

They just keep making alligators. Sorry for the paucity of posts as our democracy circles the drain.

"A vast majority — 70 percent — of Americans in a new poll supports 'Medicare for all,' also known as a single-payer health-care system." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A Klansman caught on video firing a gun in the middle of the 2017 white nationalist 'Unite The Right' rally in Charlottesville has been sentenced to four years in prison by a judge in Virginia." (Grokked from Vincent O'Conner)

From November 4 of 2016: "The Leadership Conference for Civil Rights surveyed 381 of the 800 counties previously covered by Section 5 (of the Voting Rights Act) where polling place information was available in 2012 or 2014 and found there are 868 fewer places to cast a ballot in 2016 in these areas." Since 2016, they've been closing polling places in majority minority districts at a record pace. The latest is getting polling places closed because of violations of the Americas with Disabilities Act. Note that almost all polling places are government buildings (churches make up the next largest group). Are the attorneys general forcing these buildings to comply with the nearly 3 decade old law? Of course not. They're just closing the polling stations. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Linkee-poo, but something stirs and something tries, starts to climb towards the light

Where did all these alligators come from, anyway?

"Hurricane Lane is now at Category 5, the National Weather Service said Tuesday, as the storm moved closer to Hawaii." Um, in the Pacific, aren't they Typhoons? Last I heard Lane should hit as a Cat 4 hurricane.

"On or around Sept. 1, Denmark-based Maersk plans to send its first container ship through the Arctic to explore whether the once inhospitable route could become feasible in the future. Many analysts see the test as a turning point for both the shipping industry and the Arctic."

"Eight restaurant chains have agreed to drop the use of agreements that prevent their workers from finding higher-paying jobs at other locations of the same chain, Washington state's attorney general said this week."

Remember Net Neutrality? "It’s not only consumers that are being impacted by Verizon’s throttling tactics, emergency services are being affected as well. Ars Technica reports that Verizon Wireless throttled the Santa Clara County Fire Department’s data, and is now facing a lawsuit." Basically, while Cal Fire was fighting fires (like they do) Verizon would throttle their "unlimited plans" when they hit so much bandwidth for the month (like Verizon does) which then hampered the emergency response effort. Supposedly Verizon suspends throttling during an emergency and claims it was a clerical error. Oops, sorry you lost your home, clerical error. From Verizon's response, "This situation has nothing to do with net neutrality or the current proceeding in court…" Funny how they would mention that. (Grokked from John)

"The U.S. Army has reinstated more than 30 recruits it had forcibly discharged from a program created to fill high-demand positions throughout the military in exchange for a fast track to citizenship, according to documents filed in federal court on Monday." Gee, that only took a major campaign to do what's right.

"'Not thrilled' may become a regular state of mind for U.S. President Donald Trump in the months ahead, as the Federal Reserve is likely to press on with interest rate rises to recalibrate policy for an economy boosted by the president’s own tax cuts."

"U.S. sanctions are having a strong effect on Iran’s economy and popular opinion, though regime change there is not part of Washington’s policy, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser said on Wednesday." Uh huh. And I've got a nice bridge I'd like to sell you.

"California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter and his wife have been indicted on charges of diverting campaign money to pay for personal and family expenses." Rep. Hunter was the second congressman to support Trump. The first has already been indicted.

"President Donald Trump suffered twin setbacks on Tuesday with two ex-advisers facing prison sentences - and one of them saying Trump told him to commit a crime - possibly hurting his Republican Party’s election prospects and widening a criminal probe that has overshadowed his presidency."

"The first juror in Paul Manafort's trial to speak out says prosecutors almost got the 18 guilty verdicts they wanted. Paula Duncan told Fox News that one juror caused a mistrial on 10 of the charges against the president's former campaign chairman… In her interview, Duncan said she voted to convict him because the evidence was 'overwhelming.' She described a taxing and emotional deliberation process and said the discussions brought some jurors to tears." It only takes one.

So how go these revelations of Trump and company's blatant criminal behavior in Trumplandia? "An Alabama pastor asked his congregation on Sunday to pray against the witchcraft that he said is attacking President Donald Trump, and the sermon is getting a lot of attention on social media." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Trump said from the White House gardens that the market would crash if he were forced out of office… 'I think everybody would be very poor,' he said, before pointing to his head. 'Because without this thinking, you would see numbers that you wouldn’t believe.'" Are you… are you threatening me, Mr. President? Well he is right about one thing. I don't believe those numbers. (Grokked from Jim Wright, I think)

And so what are they going to try and spin this as? "'It's called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,' Trump said in the interview, adding he's witnessed similar scenarios over his decades in public life. 'I know all about flipping, 30, 40 years I have been watching flippers. Everything is wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go.'" See, these other people are just trying to save their hides, so they'll say anything to get a deal. It's called perjury, Mr. President. You might want to ask your lawyers about it, because I have a feeling it's going to be very important to you very soon.

And now the opinion over at Fox News. "But Trump-hating Democrats who pursue impeachment will be punished by the American voter – the more Middle America learns the facts of the Cohen case, the worse the president’s opponents will look." He proceeds from the false claim of attorney-client privilege while conveniently forgetting that 1) the president denied Cohen was his attorney, 2) when that was laughed at they waived attorney-client privilege, 3) when that was laughed at there was a judge who approved the raid and approved the vetting of the material, 4) the Trump team already had a say on what was covered under attorney-client privilege so 5) this has already been adjudicated. As to the Edwards case, the payment was handled much differently (again, "hush money" for a non-crime action is not illegal, it's how they made and who made the payments and their intent that is the crime). Oh, and "We now live in a country where pundits on the left explicitly hope that people working for President Trump will be prosecuted. In other words, they argue that the selective use of justice is a good thing if it is directed against conservatives or supporters of the president." No, progressives believe in the rule of law and this president and his cronies/employees/family clearly violated the law. Fuck you, Willis Krumholz. After decades of right-wing pissery around Clinton and Obama, go rot in Hell.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Linkee-poo, this is a story about Billy Joe and Bobbie Sue

Well, wasn't yesterday exciting? "Khuzami noted that Cohen was repaid by the campaign with invoices for 'services rendered.' Those 'invoices were a sham,' Khuzami said. They were 'merely reimbursement for illegal campaign contributions.'" All done at the direction of "the candidate." That's not just a shoe, that's a whole damn shoe store that dropped. And here's the thing, if Trump had cut the check himself, even if delivered by Cohen, this would not have been a crime even if it were done with the express interest of the campaign. But because Trump is incapable of behaving with integrity, this is now a crime (on the part of Cohen, the campaign, and Trump and possibly others, but not on McDougal or Daniel's part). The sad thing is I expect the president won't be able to see just how he did wrong here (even excluding the extra-marital affair).

I would say I have a plethora of alligators. All this big news, and not enough time to keep up with it. Sorry. Several big clients making several big moves. All of it last minute, of course. Why would American Business ever plan in advance.

"We are not living in the first universe. There were other universes, in other eons, before ours, a group of physicists has said. Like ours, these universes were full of black holes. And we can detect traces of those long-dead black holes in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) — the radioactive remnant of our universe's violent birth." Well then. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In the darkest and coldest parts of its polar regions, a team of scientists has directly observed definitive evidence of water ice on the Moon's surface. These ice deposits are patchily distributed and could possibly be ancient. At the southern pole, most of the ice is concentrated at lunar craters, while the northern pole's ice is more widely, but sparsely spread."

"As SpaceX gears up to launch NASA astronauts to space with its Falcon 9 rockets, the agency has been debating whether to allow the company to fuel its spacecraft after astronauts have boarded." Ah, no.

"It seems Steve isn't an aurora after all." Something wonderful.

"The sea off Greenland's northern coast has long been referred to as 'the last ice area.' The ice there is so old and thick that scientists believed the shelf would be the last to remain intact in the area in the face of climate change. Now, a new development is challenging that assumption: As The Guardian reports, the strongest sea ice in the Arctic has started to break apart for the first time in recorded history." We're boned. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A deadly mixture of cocaine and fentanyl is circulating in Trumbull County, according to the Trumbull County Combined Health District and the Trumbull County Mental Health and Recovery Board." The country's drug tastes are morphing again.

"(A study) found people who ate a moderate amount of carbohydrates lived four years longer than those who had low-carb diets."

"E-cigarettes produce chemicals that can damage a person's DNA, the first step on a path that might lead to cancer, a new study reports."

"Why settle for nine-and-a-half years when you can do an even 10 or better? That’s the thinking of a lot of investors measuring whether a historically long run in U.S. stocks still has legs." Ah, the record bull market run. What could go wrong?

"With China’s economy cooling, President Trump and his aides are emboldened on the hardline tariffs strategy that they increasingly believe is jamming President Xi Jinping, officials tell Axios." No one wins a trade war. Markets never achieve the presence they had before a trade war.

Who needs regulations? "The same herbicides are being used on soy and other crops in the U.S. Some estimates, such as this report published last month from the University of Missouri, suggest that drift this year from one of the herbicides, dicamba, has caused over a million acres of damage to vulnerable crops across the country."

"A plan to be announced Tuesday would give states broad authority to determine how to restrict carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The Environmental Protect Agency announced late Monday that acting administrator Andrew Wheeler planned to brief the news media by telephone Tuesday on what the administration is calling the 'Affordable Clean Energy' rule — greenhouse guidelines for states to set performance standards for existing coal-fired power plants." We're boned. Repeat after me, there is no such thing as Clean Coal.

"On Tuesday, America’s vast army of incarcerated men and women – at 2.3m of them they form by far the largest imprisoned population in the world – will brace itself for what has the potential to be the largest prison strike in US history."

"A possible plea deal in the fraud case of Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen plea deal may come together as soon as today, NBC reports." That would have been Tuesday.

Sure, the president isn't racist. "On Monday, President Trump delivered a speech in tribute to officers of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP — though Trump kept pronouncing the acronym 'CBC'). But Trump’s way of honoring the front-line agents enforcing his immigration agenda got a little weird when he ended up reassuring the audience that a Latino Border Patrol officer onstage with him 'speaks perfect English.'"

"Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) reportedly detained a U.S. citizen for nearly two years and tried to have him deported." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"This was the first courtroom test for Mueller’s prosecutors and they (mostly) passed, no small feat given that Mueller's lawyers at times seemed to be litigating against both the defense and an ill-tempered and perhaps biased judge. Indeed, on more than one occasion during the trial, Judge T.S. Ellis seemed to put his thumb on the evidentiary scale — to the detriment of the prosecution." And, again, I love how the media and the president are all, "this has nothing to do with the election and Russian interference and possible conspiracy/collusion." Really. Where did Mueller get the money he didn't report and do you think they also know he didn't report it (kompromat). And then theres this part, "But the fact remains that Manafort volunteered to work for free for the Trump campaign at a time when he was deep in debt and was caught red-handed… asking how he could use his campaign status to “get whole” with a Russian oligarch to whom he was financially beholden."

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Linkee-poo, we can go where we want to, a place where they will never find

Where did they get all these alligators? Tobias Buckell is is publish his own "how to write" book. Although the kickstarter hasn't officially launched, yet (it should be live now). He tweets, "Over the last 15 years, I’ve been emailing out an unedited, bunged together version of this to people who ask me to email them ‘all the secrets’ to becoming a writer. After 10 years of being like ‘I should make this a book’ tomorrow I will begin that process!" Dude, seriously, I'm standing right here.

Transrealism. Huhn, I thought that was verisimilitude and "accessible" writing in SF/F? Although I have the feeling that this is more of a splitting hairs dialectic argument. Such as, "Yes this is (insert movement) / no that is way over the line and just your standard fantasy" mixed with a little sensawonder. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"To mark the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the world renowned Eastern Tomb at Knowth, (The Royal Irish Academy is) publishing free online its six books on Excavations at Knowth via the Digital Repository of Ireland." Bucket list item. (Grokked from Sarah Goslee)

"The (David) Collection of Islamic Art is by far the largest of its kind in Scandinavia and is among the ten most important in the Western world." Many high-resolution images included in that site. (Grokked from Dr Caitlin Green)

"A British woman was rescued Sunday after falling from a cruise ship and spending 10 hours in the Adriatic Sea at night, Croatia's coast guard said. The unidentified woman was taken to a hospital in the town of Pula and is out of danger."

"With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them."

"It took a jury less than four hours of deliberation to convict a Detroit-area man of sexually assaulting a sleeping passenger onboard a Spirit Airlines flight." Oh FFS. I don't agree with how we use the death penalty, but I make an exception for sexual assault.

"Faced with criticisms from President Donald Trump that Twitter is 'shadow banning' and silencing conservative voices, chief executive Jack Dorsey admitted that those who work for the social media giant have their own biases - and that they're 'more left-leaning.'" As someone who uses twitter, let me call BS on this "left-leaning" crap. Given my (granted) unscientific viewpoint, twitter tends to suspend and band more people fighting the fascists than actual fascists and those who preach violence and intolerance. And then just recently twitter announced they were going to "break" the "ideological echo chambers" by promoting "other voices." Let me just say, if they do that I'll drop twitter as fast as I've dropped facebook (where I only log on to wish people happy birthdays, congratulate them, and keep up with people at the hospital - workers at the hospital favor facebook by a wide margin). As for twitter "shadow banning" conservatives, let me call bs on that as well. Only if you view the president as a tool of the Russian oligarchy can you see any "shadow banning" going on. Dear Jack, I do occasionally do recreational troll slaying on your platform (although in the past year I've actually seen fewer who wish to try me), but those are people who either have found me or my friends. I don't go out of my way to find them (although I've debated those actions).

"The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights." Again, the Russians do not care for our internal politics (except to know how to exploit them), but are playing their own game where they are the beneficiary. It just happens that Trump and his supporters either are compromised and working for Russia, are doing it on their own cognizance, or who promote policies that the Russians think are best choice to weaken the West. Also, when did Microsoft get the job of "Internet Protector"? (Waves to my Russian friends)

Monday, August 20, 2018

Linkee-poo

Still alligators.

"Unfortunately, our planet's changing climate is denting permafrosts around the world. And now NASA-funded research has confirmed that the expected gradual thawing of the Arctic permafrost is being dramatically sped up by a natural phenomenon known as thermokarst lakes." A lot of the tundra is actually frozen bogland, which is rich in methane, which is worse than carbon dioxide. This is what's called a "tipping point." We're boned.

"The New Horizons spacecraft has spotted an ultraviolet glow that seems to emanate from near the edge of the solar system. That glow may come from a long-sought wall of hydrogen that represents where the sun’s influence wanes, the New Horizons team reports online August 7 in Geophysical Research Letters."

Local new, boy's death ruled homicide. (Insert stream of barely recognizable curse words until I pass out from not breathing)

Sure, Brexit may sound bad, but consider the plight of Germany. "In Germany, beer consumption is up as temperatures remain unusually high. This is good and bad news for the beer industry… While the breweries have more than enough beer to go around, they're running out of bottles because customers are not returning their empties quickly enough." Also, because of marketing, everybody's bottles are different.

"That's the tale of two kinds of health care in India – for the wealthy and for the rest of the country. But the prime minister hopes to change all that." Narrator voice, ours isn't much better. Don't think so? Call for an appointment with a specialist and see how long you have to wait.

"The guidance is from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which oversees the insurance marketplaces set up by the Affordable Care Act. CMS is encouraging states to allow the sale of plans outside of those exchanges that don't incorporate a surcharge insurers started tacking on last year." So after sabotaging Obamacare they offer the solution, low-cost plans that don't cover shit.

"As one of his first acts in office in 2011, Gov. Rick Scott canceled a $2.4 billion federally funded and shovel-ready bullet train from Orlando to Tampa because it carried 'an extremely high risk of overspending taxpayer dollars with no guarantee of economic growth.'… Now, the idea has returned — revived by All Aboard Florida, a Coral Gables-based company that has heavily supported Scott — and the governor has reversed course… (Gov. Scott) and his wife last year invested at least $3 million in a credit fund for All Aboard Florida's parent company, Fortress Investment Group, according to recently disclosed financial documents." Isn't that convenient. Hey, remember how Rick Scott made his fortune before becoming governor? Yeah, I do. He stole my Mom's retirement savings as Columbia/HCA folded. Fuck Ricky Scott. (Grokked from Chang)

To to make a civics education last? "One piece of advice she hopes sticks? 'Question everything.'"

"A Salt Lake City-area lawyer named Walter J. Plumb III is trying to remove Utah's medical marijuana initiative from the ballot in November. Plumb, who owns a pharmaceutical company called Pharmics Inc., asserts that his religious right to be intolerant of sick people who use cannabis to treat their illness is guaranteed by the constitution. He has spent over $100,000 of his own money in his effort to prevent allowing Utahans from voting on the issue." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The Satanic Temple unveiled its statue Thursday of a goat-headed, winged creature called Baphomet during a First Amendment rally at the Arkansas State Capitol to protest a Ten Commandments monument already on the Capitol grounds." But they don't have a congressional sponsor, so they don't have permission to install it.

"The U.S. Department of Education is in the midst of a top-to-bottom review of a troubled federal grant program for public school teachers. The effort follows reporting by NPR that found many teachers had their grants unfairly converted to loans, leaving some with more than $20,000 in debt. In June, 19 U.S. senators signed a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, citing NPR's reporting and saying 'it is urgent that these mistakes are fixed.'… Now, documents obtained by NPR reveal that a previously unreported plan to fix the program was problematic from the start and did nothing for the vast majority of people involved."

"West Virginia's House of Delegates voted to impeach all four justices on the state's Supreme Court of Appeals on Monday." Power grab, or a just response to out of control spending? Why not both?

"After losing his Rasputian status with Trump and the Mercers, (Steve Bannon) tried to peddle his off-brand fascism with nationalist Europeans. But it turns out even these unsavory characters think the only thing Bannon is good at is making things worse." He forgot the cardinal rule, and that's the rule of exclusion. He's an American, and Europeans (especially fascistic Europeans) don't like Americans (karmic enough, a brand that Bannon helped soil in European eyes). (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

A QAnon of the left? "As it turned out, though, Smith was neither a former Delta Force soldier or a malevolent CIA operative. In fact, evidence suggests that the Twitter account beloved by Trump haters was in fact operated by Justin Hendrix, a Seattle gamer who regularly made pro-Trump comments online." I don't claim to be highly connected, but for being a "hero", I never heard of him. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The Trump administration is preparing to let conservative-led states impose additional restrictions on the nation’s health program for the poor that could push tens of thousands of people off coverage, POLITICO has learned." The harm this administration and the conservative ideals it champions will take decades to reverse. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Dramatized police dispatch calls of a DUI arrest. Allegations of sexual harassment. Court filings reviewing “failed” business investment… Those are attacks leveled against Democratic congressional candidates in a new Republican ad campaign in recent days — part of a growing effort to personalize the midterm elections and disqualify individual Democratic hopefuls early in a bid to save the Republican House majority."

"Federal prosecutors in New York are in the final stages of the investigation into President Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen… Federal authorities are investigating whether Cohen committed bank or tax fraud in connection with his financial and business dealings including loan activities… Investigators are also examining whether Cohen violated campaign finance and other laws by helping to arrange payment deals to secure the silence of women who said they had affairs with Mr. Trump."

"Truth isn't truth." Okay, well, what Giuliani was trying to say is, "He said, she said," (or in this case, "He said, he said") which isn't the same thing. But still, not a shining moment in democracy and legal scholarship. Also who should we believe; someone whose career is based on being able to distinguish reality from fiction, or somebody whose own lawyers have stated they take extra precautions when interviewing him because he can't be relied on to tell the truth?

Friday, August 17, 2018

Linkee-poo Friday

Alligators. What can you do?

"Who doesn't love a good scary story, something to send a chill across your skin in the middle of summer's heat? And this year, we're celebrating the 200th birthday of one of the most famous scary stories of all time: Frankenstein — so a few months ago, we asked you to nominate your favorite horror novels and stories, and then we assembled an expert panel of judges to take your 7000 nominations and turn them into a final, curated list of 100 spine-tingling favorites for all kinds of readers. Want to scar your children for life? We can help. Want to dig into the dark, slimy roots of horror? We've got you covered."

"In this photo, from 1976, almost everyone is what we would now call slim. So what has happened? A sudden loss of willpower, as some rightwing journos claim? No. An obesogenic environment created by junk food manufacturers and their advertisers." While he says sugar, I'll say "high-fructose corn syrup". Or more accurately, "cheap calories." Betcha can't just eat one Lay, and not want more and more (which, frankly, I've loved that slogan ever since I heard it). (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"'What we're doing is we are educating [the T cells] to say, "These things don't belong,"' says Dr. Nirali Shah, a pediatric oncologist at the National Cancer Institute who is running a study Reid is in. '"You need to get rid of them. Yes, I know that they started in the body. But they're not supposed to be there. You need to attack."'" Long time reader may remember this is the trial that I believe the late Jay Lake was involved with. Fuck cancer.

"More than 70 people overdosed in or around a historic Connecticut park near the Yale University campus on Wednesday after receiving what authorities believe was synthetic marijuana laced with the powerful opioid fentanyl. Although there have been no deaths, at least two people suffered life-threatening symptoms, according to authorities." Later tests don't show fentanyl.

Moving Odanah. How a town was relocated to avoid flooding, studying relocations to create plans to responds to climate changes, and the history of forced relocations of Native Americans.

How go the Trade Wars? "'He’s gonna kill us,' 81-year-old farmer Joel Samuleson told the Los Angeles Times, referring to the drop in soy prices… Farmer Doug Saathoff, meanwhile, says that he likes the fact that Trump is a 'businessman,' but he worries about the erratic nature of the president’s trade negotiations." It's hard to admit you've been had. That's how conmen get away with it. (Grokked from Sam Sykes)

"Bradley, who is 45 and lives near Columbus, Ohio, began suspecting age discrimination after someone at her union mentioned how recruiters often target online ads at younger candidates. 'I thought to myself, "Oh, that's why I wasn't seeing some of the ads that my daughter has seen on her Facebook,"' she says." How employers discriminate even when it's illegal to do so.

"President Trump's planned military parade in Washington, D.C., is reportedly estimated to cost $92 million, $80 million more than was initially thought." This is my shocked face. And now it appears the parade is off, for now. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"The decision came in a lawsuit filed by Jessica Denson, a former campaign staffer who filed a complaint last November that alleged she was subjected to “harassment and sexual discrimination” while she worked on Trump’s White House bid in 2016. Lawyers for the Trump campaign tried to force the case into private arbitration based on an agreement signed by staffers that included nondisclosure and nondisparagement provisions. In her decision, Judge Arlene Bluth of New York State Supreme Court disclosed flaws in the wording of the agreement that she said limited its scope." (Grokked form Dan)

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Linkee-poo, what you want, baby, I got it, what you need, do you know I got it

I say ye Aretha Franklin. Damn. And so it goes.

A Delilah S. Dawson tweet-storm on setting up blinders as a way to get the writing done. Yep. (Also, I miss when blogging was big)

Just in case you thought the fires in California really didn't affect you. "New images made with data acquired by the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) on NASA's Aqua satellite show the high concentrations of carbon monoxide emitted from the fires (in orange/red) between July 29 and August 8. As the time series progresses, carbon monoxide high in the atmosphere is shown drifting east -- with one branch moving southward toward Texas and the other forking to the northeast."

"The Florida public school teacher figured he needed at least 20 additional sick days to deal with more chemotherapy, days he just didn’t have. So on July 23, right there in a room at Tomsich Health and Medical Center of Palm Beach County, Goodman took a selfie, posted it on Facebook and appealed for help… Within four days he had enough sick days to cover an entire semester… Teachers, staff members, administrators and even lunchroom workers who pay into the Florida retirement system transferred 75 sick days to Goodman." We had a similar event at the union shop I worked at. There was no mechanism to transfer PTO between employees. We worked with the company to make an exception, even though it cost us. Fuck cancer.

"Here's how it works: Humans and other animals carry one copy of a 'master tumor suppressor' gene. Elephants have 20 copies. Scientists found that gene can trigger a 'zombie gene' to come back to life with a new purpose: killing cells in damaged DNA." Most cells have self-destruct mechanisms. Some change the surface membrane of the cell to signal the immune system to remove the cell. Another function is the lysosome. These are organelles inside the cell which contain proteins which will destroy the cell itself (to "lyse" something is to cut it apart). For this later function, when the copying enzymes detect an DNA error (such as "rapid reproduction") they will cause tRNA to make a new enzyme which specifically erodes the membrane around the lysosome. Part of cancer mutations that survive deactivate that self-destruct mechanism. Or in radiology, as I've explained to patients, in the rare chance we have a direct DNA strike that alters a pairing, 99% of the time your body corrects the DNA error before the cell divides. If that fails, 99% of the time the cell can no longer survive or reproduce. If it is able to survive and reproduce, 99% of the time your body will destroy the cell that has the faulty DNA. It's only when all that fails that you develop a tumor.

Who needs to fully fund the CDC? "For the first time since Kentucky declared a statewide hepatitis A outbreak last November, Northern Kentucky is now under outbreak status for the virus as well… There have been 56 cases so far. One case in particular has officials especially concerned as it involves a food worker."

"Lots of people out there have moved from normal cigarette smoking to puffing on e-cigs or vaping as it’s commonly known. The thought by many of these folks is that vaping is safer than smoking cigarettes. New research conducted by scientists at the University of Birmingham has found that e-liquid that is vaporized in an e-cigarette has a similar effect on the lungs and body as seen in normal cigarette smokers." Next up, water is wet.

"After holding out for a few weeks, Twitter joined the chorus of social media and tech giants that have punished conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for questionable content. Twitter suspended Jones from his account on Tuesday after he tweeted out a link to a video in which he calls for his supporters to get their 'battle rifles' ready for the media and others." But just for a week for inciting violence.

"A storage safe manufacturer is reportedly planning to shut down two Illinois factories and move to Mexico in response to President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese metal imports." Are we winning enough yet? Also note, this could also be like companies blaming "Obamacare" for making dickish decisions (when it had nothing to do with it). (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"A furious judge scolded the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Wednesday for publishing confidential but legally obtained information about Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz… Broward Circuit Judge Elizabeth Scherer said the newspaper flouted her order that portions of a school district report about Cruz should remain shielded from the public. In the future, she declared, she will consider listing exactly what the newspaper can and cannot print." Yeah, prior restraint, it's unconstitutional. The judge will learn that. Does she have a right to be pissed? Certainly. But she and the school board fucked up. The newspaper did its duty. And what it really appears to be is that this information wasn't actually "confidential", but instead was just embarrassing and potentially actionable. So here's the thing, this isn't new (getting around redaction). This isn't the first time. You print out the material, redact it with a fresh dark black marker (or better, ink brush), then make a copy of that redacted print, and then scan in the copy to disseminate. And at each step you make a visual inspection to make sure you can't see the redacted copy. There are other ways to do it in the original PDF, but let's not force people to be software experts. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Prosecutors urged jurors in the trial of Paul Manafort to focus on financial records and Manafort’s 'lies'— and to set aside personal feelings about a tainted star witness—as they offered their closing argument on Wednesday."

"Paul Manafort's fate -- and possibly the future of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election -- is now in the hands of 12 men and women from Northern Virginia." This is news media hype. There are other charges filed against Manafort. This won't be his only trial.

"The White House was forced to backtrack this week, after wildly misstating the level of job gains by African-Americans under President Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama." So we know they can recognize when the lie, now the question is why do they do it so often.

I see you shiver with antici… "Giuliani tweeted that the Department of Justice (DOJ) 'should require Mueller to submit his report before September 7.'" …pation. Because then they think people will have forgotten about it by the election. And here we'll just remind everyone that Giuliani is not in charge of the investigation, or the DOJ, but is just the president's lawyer. It's another example of how nervous they are about what may come out of the investigation. And if the rumors are true about Manafort trying to do a plea deal with Mueller's team, that could spell trouble for the president (and Giuliani who was a part of his election team). Also the president's team only has the leverage to fire people and appoint others (who most likely would have to privately pledge) to end the investigation. If that comes to pass, the 32% staunchest republican base would cheer, and a majority of the population would see it as an indication the president is guilty as sin.