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

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

Sorry for so late. Revenge of the alligators.

"We stumble upon a huge amount of visual quotes while scrolling through our social media feeds. Some of them stand out, some of them don’t. Some people find them annoying, others – inspiring… Despite this controversy, visual quotes remain to be extremely popular and shareable in social media. For instance, it has been found that Twitter users who tweet quotes have 43% more followers than those who don’t." That's a meaningless statistic. Also I really find it annoying loading visual quotes all the time. It's one of the reasons I really dislike Facebook. Now if you're going to do this, I recommend following the rules of be relatable, and don't go overboard. The language also follows the "it's popular!" and "color sells" mantras. "Quote videos are not as widespread as images… which is definitely a major advantage! As video is one of the most engaging types of content, it makes sense to stand out among the competitors by creating an inspirational video." Wait, let me go get my flamethrower.

"Box-office giant Ticketmaster is recruiting professional scalpers who cheat its own system to expand its resale business and squeeze more money out of fans, a CBC News/Toronto Star investigation reveals." This is my shocked face. Really, I've never liked Ticketmaster and their escalating and numerous fees. Trying to buy tickets to some shows where the venues use Ticketmaster will quickly verify just how much scamming is going on. I'm only one consumer, but whenever I hit their site when trying to get tickets my likelihood of going to that show drops precipitously. Just because they're such a hassle. Also, I'm a pretty savvy shopper, and sometimes it takes me a few minutes to realize they're pushing a "scalped" ticket at me. Why would they do this? "So, for example, if Ticketmaster collects $25.75 on a $209.50 ticket on the initial sale, when the owner posts it for resale for $400 on the site, the company stands to collect an additional $76 on the same ticket." Was that really a question. So should Ticketmaster be regulated on these secondary sales? Sure. But unless those laws are "face-value" based (that is, selling a ticket for greater than the amount printed on the ticket - also note many tickets no longer print the cost on the actual ticket - is illegal and subject to arrest and fines), Live Nation will just spin off the secondary sales into it's own company… from which they'll still get their profit. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"It’s not just flattened bare peaks that have become the norm in mountaintop-mined West Virginia but also the pollution of streams and reduction in insects and animals that cannot survive under these conditions." Just more of that "clean coal" the president keeps talking about. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The Trump administration is proposing to roll back another Obama-era energy regulation, this time one that aimed to curb methane leaks from oil and gas operations on tribal and public lands." What could possibly go wrong?

"Two female mental health patients detained for medical transport drowned Tuesday night when a sheriff’s department van was swept away in rising South Carolina flood waters, according to authorities." They were handcuffed. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The attorney general of New York has reached an agreement with WeWork to eliminate or modify noncompete clauses from most of its employment contracts, which restricted workers' ability to find new jobs." Noncompete clauses are a form of economic terrorism on employees.

"Klein says the central tenet of the purity movement is to delay the age at which young people first have sex. But in practice, she says, the movement is most effective at stifling women's sexuality and creating a 'deep, long-lasting shame' among its practitioners." And it's not just for "evangelicals" (coughRightToLifecough), a lot of conservative buy into it.

"After a high-profile campaign to oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, a number of states moved to make it harder to protest oil and gas projects. Now in Louisiana, the first felony arrests of protesters could be a test case of these tougher laws as opponents vow a legal challenge." Your right to protest is slowly being eroded.

"In a letter sent to Sen. Patty Murray, D.-Wash., and obtained by Yahoo News, HHS Secretary Alex Azar outlined his plan to reallocate up to $266 million in funding for the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30, to the Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC) program in the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR)… Nearly $80 million of that money will come from other refugee support programs within ORR, which have seen their needs significantly diminished as the Trump administration makes drastic cuts to the annual refugee numbers. The rest is being taken from other programs, including $16.7 million from Head Start, $5.7 million from the Ryan White HIV/AIDS program and $13.3 million from the National Cancer Institute. Money is also being diverted from programs dedicated to mental and maternal health, women’s shelters and substance abuse." I believe this is the very definition of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. JFC, if our government gets any more short sighted it'll be bumping into walls and falling down the stairs. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

How go the Trade Wars? "The trade war between Washington and Beijing has dealt a big blow to American soybean farmers, who depend heavily on the Chinese market." It ain't never coming back.

"Hours after President Trump announced tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, China responded with its own levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. products."

"Two weeks ago, Walmart asked the Trump administration to walk back its plan to put tariffs on Christmas lights, shampoo, dog food, luggage, mattresses, handbags, backpacks, vacuum cleaners, bicycles, cooking grills, cable cords and air conditioners." There goes Black Friday. "At Walmart, we're rolling back those rollback prices!" Say, wasn't Walmart on a "made in America" media blitz just a few weeks ago? "'Given that Walmart was such a huge source of cheap products for low income customers over the years, this really hurts the very people that Trump professes to help,' said Sucharita Kodali, a retail analyst for research firm Forrester." Anyone taking bets if this really drops him below 33% approval? "So while Walmart is already locked in for the coming holiday season, Christmas lights will probably be more expensive next year." Narrator voice, they've already ordered, and the items are probably mostly in the warehouse, there are still ships arriving with more.

"Polish President Andrzej Duda went to the White House with a big ask of President Trump: a permanent U.S. military base on Polish soil — named Fort Trump." The Poles know how to get to the president. But, IIRC, the host country doesn't get to name the base, also foreign bases aren't named "fort."

"'Is this your boat?' Mr. Trump asked the homeowner… When the man shook his head and said 'No,' the president turned with a grin and replied, 'At least you got a nice boat out of the deal.'" Our stable genius present, everybody.

"According to an annual index released Tuesday by the Center for Global Development that ranks 27 of the world's wealthiest countries, the U.S. scored dead last on foreign aid contributions and quality — despite being the largest donor in dollar amount. That's because in 2017, it allocated a mere 0.18 percent of its gross national income for development assistance. That is well short of the 0.7 percent that wealthy countries have committed to strive for since 1970. (Only seven countries met or exceeded that target in 2016.)" If only Trump were as concerned about our commitment to the world as he is with NATO countries with NATO. Not only did we score low on amount, we scored low on quality. Ouch.

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday insisted that many donations to predominantly conservative political nonprofit groups — what's often called dark money — be disclosed, seven weeks ahead of the 2018 midterm elections… The court set aside an order issued by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday. The social welfare group Crossroads GPS, a defendant in the lawsuit, had fought to stall disclosure while it prepares to appeal. It failed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and then appealed to the Supreme Court." Wow.

"Sen. Chuck Grassley has cultivated a decadeslong (sic) reputation for protecting whistleblowers and fighting for government transparency. Now he’s plunging into the harrowing task of probing a sexual assault allegation while advancing a Supreme Court nominee that could define him and the GOP for years to come." Remember the War on Women? "But his dilemma is the same as the rest of his party’s: Being as delicate as possible with an alleged sexual assault victim while keeping Kavanaugh headed toward the bench." Note that not voting Kavanaugh to SCOTUS is not an option.

"A former schoolmate of Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser wrote a Facebook post saying she recalls hearing about the alleged assault involving Kavanaugh, though she says she has no first-hand information to corroborate the accuser’s claims."

"The first thing Rick MacArthur, the president and publisher of Harper’s Magazine—which last week published a long essay from former public radio host John Hockenberry regarding allegations of sexual harassment and workplace bullying—says to defend the piece on Anna Maria Tremonti’s CBC radio show is that Hockenberry is in a wheelchair… That’s crucial to Hockenberry’s piece, titled 'Exile,' MacArthur argues. MacArthur insists—as Hockenberry did and as Katie Roiphe did earlier this year in a separate Harper’s essay—that the #MeToo movement 'lumps together' everyone from Harvey Weinstein to your creepy coworker who sends you inappropriate messages. 'There is a distinction,' he warns ominously. It seems that he really, truly believes that no one has stopped to think about this before; that no one is interested in the difference between assault and harassment." Mr. MacArthur, the corporate lawyers would like to have a word. Sounds like someone is going to have a class action lawsuit in their future. In today's mandatory sexual harassment training… (Grokked from Jeff VanderMeer)

"President Trump wrote on Tuesday that he ordered the release of classified materials about the ongoing probe into Russian election interference because 'really bad things were happening.'… The White House said Trump is taking this action out of a desire for 'transparency,' but former law enforcement and intelligence officials warned the directive threatens to expose sensitive sources and methods." Again, the "review" is window dressing to play the victim. The president can declassify the documents right this moment. But he really doesn't want to. He wants to tell you that if you could see the documents, you'd be scandalized. The documents were already reviewed for declassification when they were provided to the House and Senate committees.

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