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

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Linkee-poo weekend

Lots of late week things.

"Every year the National Book Foundation features a few fresh faces or unfamiliar names among the nominees for its annual literary prize. This time around, though, there's a twist. One of the actual National Book Award categories is something readers have not seen for quite some time: a prize for a work in translation."

"The little German car that started in a Nazi-era factory and later carried countless hippies to concerts, lovefests and be-ins is nearly at the end of its 80-year journey. Volkswagen announced Thursday that it will cease production of its Beetle in July 2019." True story, one of my dream cars is a Beetle convertible.

You know that cultural perception about how rich people are smarter and harder working than the rest of us schlubs? Yeah, hold my beer. "The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is recommending that customers who have been to one particular spa in Albuquerque get tested for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Anyone who received any type of injection related service, including a so-called 'vampire facial,' at the VIP Spa in Albuquerque should get tested as soon as possible, especially if they got the procedure in May or June, the health department said." Look, all that's going on is a drying process. You can get the same with a lot of other items including water. Vampire facials. JFC, just how dumb are the rich? One, the outer layers of your skin are dead cells (and they serve a vital purpose) and 2) your blood circulates and takes those same nutrients to the skin anyway. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The median annual income for a person right after they are released from prison is $6,500, so it's understandable why 70% of them receive food assistance of about $200 a month. This summer the House passed a bill that will deny food stamps to people who have served their sentences for violent crimes." When you take everything away for people you shouldn't be surprised when they act like they have nothing to lose.

"Now that agency fees are gone, a new battle is on for the hearts, minds and wallets of union members. Conservative right-to-work organizations have launched a nationwide campaign to convince public-sector employees to 'opt out' — to quit their union and stop paying union dues. Unions are fighting back to keep those members — and their money — on board… The main pitch is to workers’ pocketbooks: You can quit your union, keep your dues and still get union benefits — for free." Things are great, until the Union doesn't have enough money to stay open or actually negotiate contracts or settle disputes. I wonder when people will realize that the union could negotiate different pay scales for those in or out of the union? It isn't in their best interests to do so, but that might be an option.

"A big U.S. meatpacker has agreed to pay $1.5 million to 138 Somali-American Muslim workers who were fired from their jobs at a Colorado plant after they were refused prayer breaks, a federal anti-discrimination agency said Friday." The union is also paying a settlement because they didn't handle the the dispute for their union members and also discriminated and verbally abused the Somali-American workers. Wonder if we'll see the "Religious Freedom" folks celebrate this win. Hello? Hello? Bueller?

"Federal authorities have opened an investigation into a series of explosions that set off fires in several small towns in Massachusetts on Thursday night, killing one person and injuring several others… The National Transportation Safety Board announced Friday that it is sending a team to investigate 'what certainly appears to be multiple explosions involving a natural gas pipeline.'… 'State emergency management officials say "possible gas line over-pressurization" could be the cause of [the] explosions.'" I think that's a good guess. Say, those are computer controlled, aren't they?

How go the Trade Wars? "The American lobster industry is starting to feel the pinch of China’s tariff on U.S. seafood as exporters and dealers cope with sagging prices, new financial pressures and difficulty sending lobsters overseas… China is a major buyer of lobsters, and it imposed a heavy tariff on exports from the U.S. in early July amid trade hostilities between the two superpowers. Exporters in the U.S. said their business in China has dried up since then." While the article talks about importing Canadian lobsters, but I would think they'd actually go for Australian lobsters first. Unfortunately we aren't seeing much of a price break here in the US.

"U.S. industrial production rose by a healthy 0.4 percent in August, boosted by gains in the production of autos, oil and natural gas." I remember 2007, things were great. But I'll concede at the moment that we may not see the first quarter of recession (note, a recession is defined by 2 quarters of negative GDP growth) this year. And while I know I sound like those end of the world prophets as a I say this, but definitely next year.

"U.S. retail sales barely rose in August as consumers slowed their spending after a robust month of shopping in July." August is "back to school" season, and while the generation currently in school is a smaller one, you'd think there would have still been a larger bump.

"In a remote pocket of northern Yemen, many families with starving children have nothing to eat but the leaves of a local vine, boiled into a sour, acidic green paste. International aid agencies have been caught off guard by the extent of the suffering there as parents and children waste away." Trigger warning because of photos of malnourished children.

It's not just the confederacy. "A 19th century statue near San Francisco’s City Hall that some said is racist and demeaning to indigenous people was removed Friday and put into storage."

So if the Trump administration enacted family separations to make coming to the US more of a burden, how's that working out? "The Trump administration is expanding its shelter capacity to handle a record number of immigrant teenagers who crossed the border seeking work and asylum. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is now overseeing the care of 12,800 immigrant children under the age of 18."

"In recent weeks it’s become clear that Donald Trump wants to meet with Kim Jong Un again, and the North Korean leader has told the White House he’d like more face-to-face talks with the American president." He, he got a popularity bump the first time. Why not try the same schtick again? And I love the line about Kim Jung Un being exposed to the West. Where do you think he was educated?

"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) next week will test the Emergency Alert System, which allows the President to address Americans via text message in the event of a national emergency." Drops cell phone in the garbage. (Grokked from Maureen Johnson)

"Donald Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has concluded a plea deal that will avert a trial in Washington, D.C., on charges related to his lobbying work in Ukraine and allegations of witness tampering in the case against him… The latest superseding criminal information released on Friday by special counsel Robert Mueller distilled the charges against Manafort down to two: conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to obstruct justice." Conspiracy against the US. Hmm, well, whatcha know. I wonder whom he conspired with?

"Prosecutor Andrew Weissmann told the judge Manafort's plea agreement is a 'cooperation agreement,' and other charges will be dropped at sentencing at 'or at the agreement of successful cooperation.' The scope of the cooperation was not immediately clear." I bet it's positively chilly in the West Wing right about now.

Follow the money. "The June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower has become one of the most famous gatherings in American political history: a flashpoint for allegations of collusion… But secret documents reviewed by BuzzFeed News reveal a previously undisclosed aspect of the meeting: a complex web of financial transactions among some of the planners and participants who moved money from Russia and Switzerland to the British Virgin Islands, Bangkok, and a small office park in New Jersey." (Grokked for Kathryn Cramer, I think)

No comments: