No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Monday, September 10, 2018

Linkee-poo on a wet Monday

Alligators, we have some.

"From the state with 84% of the United States' fresh water but none for its residents to drink, I am Miss Michigan Emily Sioma."

"Election Day 2018 is quickly approaching, and NPR wants to hear from you… In the coming weeks, NPR's Morning Edition is traveling across the country to speak with voters like you. We want to learn more about what issues are driving you to the polls."

"Antarctica has become the best-mapped continent on Earth with a new high-resolution terrain map showing the ice-covered landmass in unprecedented detail. The Reference Elevation Model of Antarctica (REMA) map has a resolution more than 100 times sharper than previous representations." Because SCIENCE!

"Millions of people covered under the Affordable Care Act will see only modest premium increases next year, and some will get price cuts." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"So, this takes us back to a key question. Since we tend to hear more about foodborne illness outbreaks, there's a perception that the risk has gone up. But, is our food supply any more or less safe than it used to be? All the experts I spoke with had similar answers."

"Dr. Leslie Norins is willing to hand over $1 million of his own money to anyone who can clarify something: Is Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia worldwide, caused by a germ?" Okay, that's interesting. "Norins is quick to cite sources and studies supporting his claim, among them a 2010 study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery showing that neurosurgeons die from Alzheimer's at a seven-fold higher rate than they do from other disorders." For a comparison, one of the ways we learned about the dangers of radiation was because of the high death toll among Radiologists (when fluoroscopy was observing the light-emitting screen directly in the path of the x-rays, exposing the radiologist to center-beam x-rays), and specifically one radiologist who documented his career.

"Williams was looking to win her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would have tied her with Australia's Margaret Court for the all-time record. Williams lost after receiving multiple penalties from Chair Umpire Carlos Ramos — including a point penalty for breaking her racket, and then a game penalty for arguing with Ramos and calling him a 'thief.'" Having grown up and watching John McEnroe having his meltdowns, of which his penalties were less severe, yeah I'm willing to call this both misogynist and sexist.

So, after jailing whole communities of Uighurs and threatening relatives living abroad, "Beijing city authorities have banned one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated "illegal promotional materials", amid a deepening crackdown on China's 'underground' churches." Get ready for a whole new wave of "Christianity Under Attack" evangelical screaming.

"As a result, if Republicans hold Congress in November, they will indeed repeal Obamacare. That’s not a guess: It’s an explicit promise, made by Vice President Mike Pence last week."

"Adware Doctor is a top app in Apple's Mac App Store, sitting at number five in the list of top paid apps and leading the list of top utilities apps, as of writing. It says it's meant to prevent 'malware and malicious files from infecting your Mac' and claims to be one of the best apps to do so, but unbeknownst to its users, it's also stealing their browser history and downloading it to servers in China."

"Southwest Airlines says passengers on four flights between Dallas, Houston and Harlingen may have been exposed to the measles… The airline says it has contacted travelers with help from the CDC who shared a plane two weeks ago with a passenger later diagnosed with the highly contagious virus." Oopsie.

"The researchers asked volunteers to finish a course of broad-spectrum antibiotics and looked at their intestines after they’d also taken probiotics. The probiotics did effectively 'colonize' their gastrointestinal tracts, but they did so at the expense of the normal gut microbiome, delaying the return to its normal, pre-antibiotic state by several months… It’s not proof of harm, but it is known that lower microbial diversity after antibiotics can lead to increased susceptibility to a myriad of chronic and infectious diseases. Thus, the low level of diversity permitted by probiotic colonization and the ensuing delay they cause in returning a person’s gut microbiome to the pre-antibiotic state suggests that probiotics may not be harmless, as most seem to think." Hang on, Jasper. That just means the probiotics aren't seeding the "correct" biome. But that imbalance, and lack of the normal biome also leads to opportunistic growth of pathogenic bacteria (which are also part of the "normal biome") which can cause illness. This is how most people "get" c-diff. Most people already have c-diff in their colon, but it's kept in check by the other bacteria. When you take antibiotics the c-diff that survive begin rapid colonization because the lack of other microbes give them a head start. If they're able to grow fast enough, they're able to alter the pH of your gut to be favorable to more c-diff growth and is harmful to the other benign and helpful bacteria (this is how "stool transplants" help c-diff patients, the bacteria introduced with the correct pH balanced material can quickly overtake the c-diff infection). So maybe instead of saying probiotics might harm, lets say that probiotics needs to move out of the fringe and get better with biome selection.

"By studying herds that had been introduced to new areas at different points over the past century, the researchers figured out that it takes about 40 years for reintroduced bighorn sheep to develop a robust migration. Moose took about 90 years."

"In 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell was a graduate student at Cambridge, working on a dissertation about strange objects in distant galaxies known as quasars." Then she discovered pulsars, but here supervisor Antony Hewish got the Nobel. Now she's won "a Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, which comes with a check for $3 million."

"The U.S. economy added 201,000 jobs in August, the Labor Department said on Friday, continuing its nearly eight-year streak of monthly gains… Wage growth — and more specifically the lack of vigorous pay raises — continued to be an issue in the report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with average hourly earnings nudging slightly upward to 2.9 percent annual growth from July's 2.7 percent." They also adjusted the previous 2 months' figures down by a total of 50,000. Not bad, but my guess is it'll also be adjusted down next month (even with all the news about companies not able to find hot bodies to fill slots).

"The leading candidate in next month's presidential election in Brazil has been stabbed at a campaign rally and is reportedly in serious but stable condition following surgery."

"White House national security adviser John Bolton on Monday will reportedly label the International Criminal Court (ICC) 'illegitimate' in an effort to push back on its plan to investigate alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan." Buckle up, this is going to get bumpy.

How go the Trade Wars? "President Donald Trump offered some business advice to Ford Motor on Sunday: because of the administration's high tariffs on car imports from China, Ford can start making its Focus Active in the United States… Ford wasted little time responding to say that wasn't going to happen." And then there was this part, "It's not just Ford. All three Detroit automakers have made it clear that they're going all-in on SUVs and trucks." I'm sure that won't come back to bite us in the ass.

"China will respond if the United States takes any new steps on trade, the foreign ministry said on Monday, after President Donald Trump warned he was ready to slap tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports into the United States." I had to check the publication date to make sure this wasn't from last month.

"Four major tech companies have sent a last minute letter to the Office of the US Trade Representative asking to be exempted from a possible new round of tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports." Oh, hey, were do we make our stuff?

"Nearly three dozen states require voters to show identification at the polls. And almost half of those states want photo IDs. But there are millions of eligible voters who don't have them. A 2012 survey estimated that 7 percent of American adults lack a government-issued photo ID… Spread The Vote has taken a different tack: It helps people without IDs get them. And people over 50 years of age have presented some of their biggest challenges." And then there's this, "If you are elderly and you were born in a rural area [or] born during Jim Crow, you may not have ever gotten a birth certificate." Funny how that works.

"Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Sunday said he considers leaving the Republican Party 'every morning when I wake up,' doubling down on his comments earlier this week that he regularly thinks about exiting the GOP to become a 'no-party' voter." First a general comment for anyone in or thinking of going into politics, never, ever, vote against your conscience just because you either want to get ahead or don't want to make waves or enemies. You can correct nearly everything else, but you can never get your dignity and self-worth back after that. I speak from experience here. Dear Sen. Sasse, if you want to reform the Republican Party, you're going to have to jettison Reagan. Trump, what the Tea Party became, our current politic is a direct result of Reagan's Compromise of bringing the social conservatives (who were not engaged in politics) into the party. They now control the party's direction and they just love an authoritarian in the White House. So, Ben, just do it. Stop equivocating and bargaining away pieces of your soul. But you won't. Because you are the symptom of the party who will bend their knee to Trump all because he will sign your bills, nominate judges and cabinet members who will enact your desired outcomes, and not cause you too much indigestion. The only cost is our republic. Your tweet is exactly the same as the NYT op-ed, and it shows the same gutlessness. You want your cake and you want to eat it too. And that personal cost is only your soul. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"'It did not start with Donald Trump. He is a symptom, not a cause,' Obama told students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 'He's just capitalizing on resentments that politicians have been fanning for years — a fear and anger that's rooted in our past, but also borne out of the enormous upheavals that have taken place in your brief lifetimes.'" Actually, it started back in the 60s, got a good tail-wind with Reagan's Compromise in the 80s, and the simmer was set to boil during President Obama's second term.

"Midterm elections are looming, he's facing new questions about his fitness for office, and he's hunting a hidden rebel within his own camp."

"Vice President Mike Pence says he’s '100 percent confident' that no one on his staff was involved with the anonymous New York Times column criticizing President Donald Trump’s leadership." Lodestar!

"Let’s make note of this moment: The No. 2 elected official in America publicly proclaimed his readiness to take a polygraph test to verify his loyalty to the president. Imagine Joe Biden strapping on a blood pressure cuff for Barack Obama, or Dick Cheney wearing velcro rings to measure his pulse for George W. Bush."

"As Siberian gun rights activist Maria Butina faces a hearing in Washington, here is a look at the unusual path that led to her arrest."

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