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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Linkee-poo and it's one more beer and I don't hear you anymore

So many Alligators they're spilling out into the streets.

"But no matter your feelings about WotF, I believe most people in the genre agree helping new writers is a good thing. And that there should be more than one path for new writers to take to gain experience, training, and initial success… Along those lines it is exciting to hear about the new Dream Foundry, whose mission is 'to bolster and sustain the nascent careers of professionals working in the field of speculative literature.'" Jason Sanford on a possible new non-profit who is also holding an fundraiser to generate startup money.

"Humanity has wiped out 60% of mammals, birds, fish and reptiles since 1970, leading the world’s foremost experts to warn that the annihilation of wildlife is now an emergency that threatens civilisation." It's the 6th Mass Extinction, folks. What are we gonna eat? But sure, we don't need the EPA. Or FDA. Hope you like fried insects. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"IBM is shrinking… and its stock is down a whopping 35% since its current CEO took over at the beginning of 2012… So what better time to make the biggest acquisition in its history? That's what IBM's October 29 deal is to pay $33 billion… to acquire open source software maker Red Hat, according to CNBC." What could go wrong? (Grokked from John)

"Greyhound abandons 400 remote communities in Canada." Because profitability. And the death of small communities continues unabated. (Grokked form Xeni Jardin)

"Simply stated, (Section) 1201 (of the DMCA) makes it illegal to 'circumvent' locks put on products by the manufacturer without permission. It shifts control of our products from us, the owners, to the original makers of the equipment. This law has been a significant contributor to the steady erosion of ownership rights." The little guy finally wins (a little bit). (Grokked from John)

"Convicted mobster James 'Whitey' Bulger, who rose to power as a secret informant to the FBI and counted on FBI agents to help him get away with murder and extortion, was found dead in prison Tuesday. He was 89."

"The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its ongoing probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation, according to two individuals familiar with the matter." Okay, I'mma gonna need a ruling here, just what was "drain the swamp" code for? (Grokked from Joshua Parker)

Jeff Sessions is driving ministers to protest him (video). And Jeff calls it an "attack" while others boo the minister. In the Book off Revelations there's only one test for those who are on the right hand or left hand during Judgement.

"Vice President Mike Pence was roundly criticized on Monday for appearing at a campaign rally in Michigan at which a 'Messianic rabbi' invoked Jesus in mourning the deaths of 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh… Messianic Judaism, which believes that Jesus is the messiah and considers the New Testament to be authentic, is not recognized as Jewish by any mainstream Jewish movement in the United States, or by the Chief Rabbinate, the supreme spiritual authority for Judaism in Israel." That's because they're Christian evangelicals who think they can hoodwink Jews into becoming Christians. The good "rabbi" also prayed for conservatives up for election, by name, but failed to name any of the Jews killed in the synagogue. The Vice President choose this man. Our VP is a horrible person and a Christian In Name Only (CINO). Also note, XINO is the conservative Christian name for liberal Christians (and yet they don't like to use Xmas, funny that).

"Loren Jacobs, who was invited onstage by Vice President Mike Pence to speak at a rally in Michigan for a GOP congressional candidate, was defrocked 15 years ago, according to a spokeswoman for the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations." So apparently even the fake Jews didn't want him either. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Video shared to KTSM from MVS Noticias El Paso/Juarez show law enforcement officers practicing formations on the Santa Fe bridge… There does not appear to be any vehicles or pedestrians on the bridge at the time, however, CBP said in a statement that the training only cause delays and did not shut down the bridge… However, the CBP bridge wait time website still has 'Lanes Closed' for the Stanton bridge's Pedestrian and standard passenger vehicle lanes." Yeah, I don't know how America will survive an invasion of a few thousand footsore women and children. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Kathryn Cramer)

"Late last week, about 60 percent of the conversation was driven by likely bots. Over the weekend, even as the conversation about the caravan was overshadowed by more recent tragedies, bots were still driving nearly 40 percent of the caravan conversation on Twitter. That's according to an assessment by Robhat Labs, a startup founded by two UC Berkeley students that builds tools to detect bots online. The team's first product, a Chrome extension called BotCheck.me, allows users to see which accounts in their Twitter timelines are most likely bots. Now it's launching a new tool aimed at news organizations called FactCheck.me, which allows journalists to see how much bot activity there is across an entire topic or hashtag." It's officially an arms race. Unfortunately at this time, FactCheck.me isn't a live tool (like botcheck.me). Instead they get requests, run the numbers "manually" and then return a report in 24-hours. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

What happens when you try to fake a sexual assault scandal. "At least two conservative media personalities appeared linked to an apparent hoax that may have been designed to ensnare Washington reporters, if not also cause political damage to Mueller… That person, according to the account, asks her to establish contact over an encrypted messaging application and then, in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars, to make false but potentially politically damaging misconduct claims against Mueller." These kinds of things never work, despite the fervent victimization dreams of the right. Mueller has referred the matter (including his investigation of it) to the FBI. Seriously, dudes, you should have kept Mueller in your good graces. You've now made it personal (which might also have been an part of this attempt at mud slinging).

What it looks like to actually drain the swamp. "Voters in more than a dozen states will vote on ballot questions next Tuesday to enact stringent laws on campaign finance and other government ethics issues affecting state and local lawmakers… The surge in ballot questions comes as national Democrats are embracing ethics reform issues. House Democrats have legislation ready to launch, with more than 100 Democratic congressional candidates signing a letter this month calling for reforms to be "the very first item Congress addresses" in January. And 120 Democratic nonincumbents on next week's ballots have pledged to reject contributions from corporate PACs."

Happy Halloween

So you may think that I only decorate my yard for the holidays. Well, here's my office's meeting table.


The viel thins. Winter winds are gathering their strength. The storm bruised clouds gather on the horizon for a frontal assault on the gates of Summer. Light the fires, pray to your ancestors, and lift the mead horns. Grim faced we trudge to Winter. My blood sings the colors of the trees and calls to the brother crows.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Alligators still DefCon1.

"Evermore: a LARP themepark, elaborately themed and filled with costumed actors." You are likely eaten by a Grue. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A student was shot during a fight at a North Carolina high school Monday morning and eventually died, police said. The police department in Matthews, about 12 miles southeast of Charlotte, said another student was taken into custody after the shooting at Butler High School… Classes would be held for students remaining on campus, the district said." Just another day in America. (Grokked in a roundabout way from Kelly Link)

"President Trump condemned the gunman who opened fire at a Pittsburgh synagogue on Saturday, killing eight people, calling the shooter a 'wacko' and saying he should get the death penalty… 'Anyone who does a thing like this to innocent people … they should really pay the ultimate price,' Trump told reporters before departing for a rally in Illinois." Note the president also took out a full page ad condemning the Central Park 5 and said we should hasten to the death penalty for them… all five of whom were innocent. Also note the president believes that the media is also responsible for these actions. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"In a briefing with reporters on Monday, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended Trump’s continued heightened rhetoric. (Trump once again called the media the “enemy of the people” Monday morning.) She said he 'wants to find ways to bring our country together' in moments of crisis but wasn’t stop his attacks on his opponents." Those two things are in conflict with each other, but frankly I don't think they're either smart enough or care enough to realize it. But what is worse is the president's supporters don't see the non-logic of the statement.

Think I'm not giving people the credit they deserve? Okay. "Despite facing an uncertain future brought on by Trump's tariffs, many of the remaining workers at Mid Continent Nail who voted for him in 2016 still support him. NPR sat down with several of the plant workers to talk about their faith in the president." They can get thrown out of work and trampled on, yet as long as that "other" (read: brown or black) person has it worse, they're good. Think I'm wrong? Okay, notice how they say that Trump is bringing jobs and work back to the US, and that's what they want, and almost in the same breath they say they need the exemption from the tariffs. No, Trump's promise was you're going to buy American steel. So buy American steel. And if you can't than you need to look at just WTF you think needs to happen? Of course the answer is everybody else needs to buy American, but they get to buy their steel from Mexico. Also the myth of Trump as the business man.

"Trump's vow to end the right to citizenship for the children of non-citizens and unauthorized immigrants born on US soil came in an interview with Axios released Tuesday. Such a step would be regarded as an affront to the US Constitution, which was amended 150 years ago to include the words: 'All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'" Our president is a racist moron who is a threat to the Constitution. But then, along with the troops to the border and his talk of a 10% tax cut for the middle-class, the president is throwing shit at the wall to see what will stick in an attempt to hold the House.

"GOP Rep. Steve King (Iowa) on Saturday defended his association with a Nazi-linked group in Austria, telling The Washington Post that the group is 'far right'… 'If they were in America pushing the platform that they push, they would be Republicans,' King, who is known for his inflammatory statements about immigration, told the Post." Funny how the Nazis in this country also are Republicans. Like Steve King is. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"'You guys have a huge responsibility to play in the divisive nature of this country, when 90 percent of the coverage of everything this president does is negative despite the fact that the country is going extremely well, despite the fact that this president is delivering on exactly what he said he was going to do if elected. And he was elected by the overwhelming majority of 63 million Americans who came out and supported him and wanted to see his policies enacted,' (Sarah) Sanders said, incorrectly." No questions. Hey Sarah, from the other side of the field we can tell you that the media hasn't been so negative. It's just the majority of Americans (who, btw, voted for Hillary) are seeing through the president's (and your) lies. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

Because of an online conversation about the military disobeying orders, I decided to see what the Oath Keepers were up to. You might remember Oath Keepers were started so that if President Obama gave orders to shoot civilians (because mumble mumble conspiracy theory Jade Helm). So they were formed to not shoot American civilians. What are they doing today? "Appearing on Infowars with host Owen Shroyer on Monday, Rhodes explained that Oath Keepers is organizing 'Spartan Training Groups' in every state with the aim of bolstering efforts to combat 'antifa and the far left.' He spun the effort as part of a larger vision of becoming a national militia that could be called into action by President Trump." Yep, they're training up to shoot civilians in case President Trump gives the order. What a bunch of hypocritical, paranoid, frightened, traitorous, self-deluded boy scout wannabes.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Linkee-poo nearly had me roped and tied, altar-bound, hypnotized, sweet freedom whispered in my ear, you're a butterfly and butterflies are free to fly

Alligator DefCon1. "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it doesn’t know what’s causing a sudden rise in cases of a frightening, polio-like condition that leaves children paralyzed or with weakened limbs… However, doctors who have been studying children affected by acute flaccid myelitis say they have gathered a growing body of evidence that EV-D68 is the main cause, and that the virus may have changed in recent years in ways that make the paralyzing side-effects more likely." On evolution, infectious diseases, and how science in medicine is truly practiced.

The unmaking of the American Dream. It wasn't by accident. "In this persuasive and richly detailed history, Hyman traces a decades-long campaign to eliminate salaried positions and replace them with contract work. Between the emergence of the first temp agencies in the 1940s and the growing power of management consultants in the ’70s, American business adopted a new set of principles and began to squeeze not just blue-collar workers but also middle managers and top executives. The unmaking of the good job, Hyman argues, followed not from technological advances but from an organizational breakthrough, as executives at companies like Manpower Inc. and McKinsey & Co. convinced businesses to add and shed staff at a moment’s notice, with little regard for their employees’ well-being or the effects on society." What's worse is the pervasive belief that worker want it this way. I've met very few who want it this way. I've met more who are just happy to have work (temporary or not). But given the option of stable, secure, steady employment over uncertainty I think I can state categorically that over 80% of the work force would want that. Note, there are those who want just part-time, and while it's difficult for me to grokked that, I can accept that as a life choice (usually they're the second income in the family). Hells, I work PRN at the hospital (because I like working at the hospital, it keeps the investment I made in my education up to date, and somehow I now make more at the day things which wasn't true when I started). I wish the hospital paid better and had better health insurance (most people are incredulous at this, but those who work in healthcare typically have crappy health insurance that pays almost nothing and has high deductibles). (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"U.S. consumer spending rose for a seventh straight month in September, but income recorded its smallest gain in more than a year amid moderate wage growth, suggesting the current pace of spending was unlikely to be sustained."

"Germany's Angela Merkel has said she will step down as chancellor in 2021, following recent election setbacks." And freedom takes another body blow.

People say, "I you take away their guns, crazy people will just use something else." Well, this is what happens when they use something else. "A knife-wielding woman stabbed 14 children at a kindergarten in the Chinese city of Chongqing on Friday, according to police statements… CGTN reports that the suspect, a 39-year-old woman with the surname Liu, was taken into custody after she was restrained by the kindergarten's teachers and security guard." No child was killed.

"The suspect in Saturday’s mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue is a 46-year-old local man named Robert Bowers who posted virulent anti-Semitic messages on social media filled with slurs and conspiracy theories." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In the wake of the mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue and a series of mail bombings addressed to prominent Democrats and CNN, President Donald Trump said Monday the 'great anger in our Country' is 'caused in part' by the 'Fake News Media.'" I remember someone emailing me about their support for the Tea Party back in 2010. The gist of the email was, "look at our videos, can you tell we're angry." Yes. Yes I could, and it's that anger that we're seeing today. Right-wing extremist anger and hate.

"McCallum asked (Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen) if agents would 'shoot back' if migrants were to shoot at them first… 'I will make it clear that we absolutely will not tolerate violence against Border Patrol in this situation,' she said. 'I will not tolerate Mexicans or anybody else acting in a violent way towards our men and women on the border.'" This is what's known as "pre-seeding" a story. If border patrol shoot at the caravan (or anyone attempting to cross the border, and note the last caravan came to the border control point and surrendered) obviously they were just protecting themselves. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Some voters in Texas are reporting that some voting machines are erroneously changing straight-party selections on their ballots to include a candidate from the opposite party of their selection or not selecting a candidate at all on a section for the state's U.S. Senate race." And then there's this part, "A spokesman for the Texas secretary of state told ABC 13 that the problem is caused by 'user error,' and indicated that the election machine vendor could upgrade systems to fix the problem while stating that Texas has not directed the vendor to do so." Um, if the vendor can update to fix the problem, that's not a "user error." "'We've heard from voters over a number of elections about this,' Oldham told the news station. Yeah, then maybe you ought to call that vendor and upgrade the goddamn system. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Linkee-poo Friday

"Authorities have arrested one person in connection with the wave of suspicious packages sent this week to political enemies of President Trump, the Justice Department said on Friday."

"Authorities found two more suspicious packages on Friday addressed to U.S. Senator Cory Booker and James Clapper, the former U.S. director of national intelligence amid a manhunt for the person who sent bombs to prominent Democrats and critics of U.S. President Donald Trump."

"Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again… Content warnings: rape, trauma, sexism, gaslighting, harassment, intimidation, stalking, and general asshattery of a group of people in general and one rapist in particular." (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

"How to make your own distraction-free digital typewriter." Or, you know, you could get an alpha or other dedicated word processor. (Grokked from Dan)

"Three days after Nelson launched the WeRateDogs Twitter account (@Dog__Rates), he was receiving too many dog photo submissions to keep track. He enlisted four friends to come by his dorm room and help him sort through Twitter messages to find the best furry prospects." And he makes good money from his idea. And it's a fantastic idea and an excellent study on brands and branding (note, his products don't actually include "We Rate Dogs", but are all very on brand). (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Only 37 percent of Americans got vaccinated against flu last season, just as one of the deadliest flu season in decades hit, health officials reported Thursday." And that's why we had more deaths last year. Get your flu shots, peoples (if you can).

"The cradle of vertebrate evolution was limited to a zone of shallow coastal waters, no more than 60 meters deep… In those waters, fish — the first vertebrates — appeared roughly 480 million years ago, a study finds. For nearly 100 million years, those creatures rarely strayed from that habitat, where they diversified into a dizzying array of new forms, scientists report in the Oct. 26 Science. The study resolves a long-standing mystery about where our earliest backboned ancestors arose."

How go the Trade Wars? "Tariffs are dominating earnings calls with more than a third of companies discussing the fallout." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The economy expanded at a 3.5 percent annual rate in the third quarter, the Commerce Department said Friday. That's slower than the second quarter's blockbuster 4.2 percent, but it puts the economy on pace for the fastest annual growth in 13 years." But not all is sunny in the report. Of course they mostly blame the hurricanes, but like to skip over the part where the housing market is slowing. On the positive side there's still some of the lingering "pre-order before tariffs strike" in there boosting the numbers.

"'For decades, other countries have rigged the system so that American patients are charged much more,' President Trump said Thursday in a speech at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which administers Medicare. 'American patients pay more, so other countries can pay less.'" Um, no Mr. President. Americans pay more because we don't have price controls like other countries. Prices aren't higher in the US because other countries demand it, it's higher because you've gotta pay those pharma executives' high salaries somehow. Mostly this affects Medicare Part B. Want to really affect drug prices, allow Medicare Part D to negotiate prices. Or do what other countries do (Socialism!) and set price controls.

"Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is expected to sign an order as early as Thursday sending 800 or more troops to the southern border to support the Border Patrol… There already are about 2,000 National Guard troops assisting at the border under a previous Pentagon arrangement." When is it de facto martial law without declaring martial law? Asking for a worried country. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

How's the civility coming along? "Speaking at an Axios event in Washington Thursday, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said that Trump's attacks on the media as 'the enemy of the people' don't help improve the American political divide, but that he thinks 'they've earned it.'" Right on track. I'm sure he said that politely and with only the minimum amount of spittel flection necessary. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"An NYPD spokesperson said that no charges had been filed against the driver (who ran a red light, struck another car and then hit two people), and declined to elaborate further. 'With everything going on with packages and bombs, we're not going further into this because no one was likely to die or seriously injured,' the spokesperson added." Hey New Yorkers, thinking of a smash and grab at Tiffany's (or one of the other great jewelers)? Now's the time, what with "everything going on." Maybe hijack a car or two while you're at it. (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

"In 2014 Google investigated a claim that Andy Rubin, the creator of Android, coerced a Google colleague to perform oral sex on him. Google found the claim to be credible. Instead of unceremoniously booting Rubin out of the company, it eased him out with lavish praise and $90 million. This New York Times investigative report reveals a sleazy underside of the company." (Grokked from Xeni)

"The man accused of killing two people at a busy grocery store was seen on surveillance video trying to get into a predominantly black church a short time before he unleashed his attack." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A white man was arrested for brandishing what turned out to be a BB gun and yelling racial slurs at a black campaign volunteer outside a North Carolina polling station, authorities said Thursday." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released on Tuesday found that 35 percent of the country is more inclined to support Democrats in the midterms because of their opposition to Kavanaugh. Twenty-seven percent prefer Republican candidates who voted to confirm Kavanaugh." (Grokked from George Takei)

Still think I'm crazy talking about how conservatives are stacking the courts as their last ditch effort to entrench their ideology? "Only two senators were present for the testimony of two Ninth Circuit nominees at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Oct. 24… Republicans are racing to get nominees confirmed in the unlikely chance they lose control of the Senate after midterm elections. If that happens, Democrats would likely grind Trump’s fast pace of judicial confirmations to a halt." One, the Senate is in recess for the elections, and two I believe that violates quorum rules. One of the nominees has been "blue slipped" by both Senators from their home state. That would usually end the nomination process, but rules and protocol be damned. IIRC, at least 4 or 5 nominees were blue slipped, but still voted onto the courts. (Grokked from Fran Wilde)

"Unsurprisingly, after Trump sullenly read a scripted condemnation of the bombing at the White House earlier Wednesday, he landed on a strategy that both minimizes the seriousness of the situation and encourages the bomber: Blaming the victims." Because of course he did. One, it's never his fault. And two, the conservative mantra of "fine for me, sin for thee." "Clearly, 'civility' is just code for 'Liberals and journalists: Shut up.'" Ain't gonna happen. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"'A very big part of the Anger we see today in our society is caused by the purposely false and inaccurate reporting of the Mainstream Media that I refer to as Fake News,' Trump tweeted. 'It has gotten so bad and hateful that it is beyond description… Mainstream Media must clean up its act, FAST!' he continued." The president threatens the "Mainstream Media" at 7:18am via tweet.

"The Trump administration is drafting an executive action that would make it exceedingly difficult for Central Americans seeking asylum to gain entry at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to three sources familiar with the proposed measures." Considering the travel ban also affect many countries who citizens are seeking asylum, this would essentially mean America is closed for asylum seekers worldwide.

Tweet of my heart: @MariaHaskins Reading about various forms of voter suppression & thinking about how corrosive it must be for a political party (and a political system) when politicians pin a lot of their hopes NOT on attracting more votes, but on suppressing enough of the vote that they can win anyway. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Linkee-poo tired Thursdays

"Another suspected bomb was found in New York City on Thursday morning as a manhunt was underway for a serial bomber targeting high-profile Democrats and CNN, less than two weeks ahead of elections that could alter the U.S. political landscape."

"Residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands were bracing for months without electricity or running water in the aftermath of the strongest storm to hit any part of the U.S. this year. Super Typhoon Yutu crossed over the U.S. territory early Thursday local time." That's an estimate from the recovery time when Typhoon Soudelor hit in 2015.

"High-altitude balloon flights conducted by Spaceweather.com and Earth to Sky Calculus show that atmospheric radiation is intensifying from coast to coast over the USA–an ironic result of low solar activity."

"SpaceX has since flown a handful of Block 5 rockets twice, but it has not taken the step of flying one of these rockets for the third time. However, that may happen quite soon, according to Lars Hoffman, senior director of government sales for the California-based rocket company."

"New photos of a surprisingly rectangular iceberg are offering the full picture of this now-famous Antarctic structure—and it remains weird as hell… Tabular icebergs are the products of calving ice shelves—when large chunks of ice suddenly break loose—and they’re known for their highly angular lines and smooth tops." And despite all the hype, it's not that rare (in fact on the one photo of it, you can see another iceberg with rectilinear lines). And most of the news is missing the most important piece in that second sentence, this is what happens when ice shelves break apart.

"Archaeologists have discovered two previously unknown forms of spearpoint technology at a site in Texas. The triangular blades appear to be older than the projectile points produced by the Paleoamerican Clovis culture, an observation that’s complicating our understanding of how the Americas were colonized—and by whom."

"Another year, another predicted new-car reliability ranking from non-profit consumer products researchers at Consumer Reports. And this year, the domestic automakers aren’t looking so good, taking up 11 of the bottom 12 spots. Here’s a look at reliability rankings for all the brands."

"Ask economists and policy makers to what extent we should be worried about 20 and 30-somethings’ historically high levels of student debt and you’ll get a broad spectrum of answers… But ask many borrowers in this generation whether they worry about how the loans will affect their future and you’ll get a slew of bleak replies: It’s stopped them from getting their car fixed, switching jobs, buying a home and having children. Even a tax credit aimed at helping working low- and moderate-income Americans can be seized to repay defaulted student loans." As someone who graduated in the 90s with a fairly large amount of debt (mostly from my SO), same as it ever was. But my starting salary paid for a lot more than today's starting salary (which has decreased without adjusting for inflation). Why did I choose Radiology as my second degree? If you don't think I did a search on salaries and make sure what benefits I had that could help pay for classes before making that decision you are grossly under informed. If I had followed the full program I wanted I would also have sonography certificates (it's a really strange profession with credentialing). But there were some major headwinds for a boy going into that profession (so I got CT instead and may, if needed, add MRI). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"U.S. stock index futures rose ahead of Thursday's open, pointing to a rebound after the previous day's tumble wiped out the Dow's gains for the year and pushed the Nasdaq Composite into correction territory."

The Planet Money podcast with "What causes what? The human brain is programmed to answer this question constantly, and using a very basic method. This is how we survive. What made that noise? A bear made that noise. What caused my hand to hurt? Fire caused my hand to hurt." But sometimes it gets messed up between causation and correlation.

"Today on ABC's The View, Senator Jeff Flake admits that he doesn't know if Brett Kavanaugh, accused by three women of sexual assault, was telling the truth or not during his hearing before being confirmed to the Supreme Court." So Sen. Flake voted to put him on SCOTUS while not knowing if he had 1) lied to Congress under oath and 2) was a serial sexual predator? JFC, Jeff, that's an abrogation of your fucking oath of office. They say you may be leaving to launch a presidential bid, well fuck you buddy. This should be shown before every single event you ever want to hold. This is worse than if you had said you believed his denial and the FBI report confirms it. But you know you can't say that with a straight face. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"In the closing stretch of the 2018 campaign, the question is no longer the size of the Democratic wave. It's whether there will be a wave at all." Ehn, I'm not so sure. There's a lot of polling that looks bad, but when you dig into the numbers it still looks favorable for Democrats to win the House and it's still possible for the Senate (I'd rate it a tossup right now). And the House is more important. What's even more important is winning the state legislatures for the 2020 re-engineering of the electoral map. Given the GOP support of "fair" mapping rules since 2010, they know it might not be pretty for them. Go out and vote.

"Mr. Trump’s aides have repeatedly warned him that his cellphone calls are not secure, and they have told him that Russian (and Chinese) spies are routinely eavesdropping on the calls… But aides say the voluble president, who has been pressured into using his secure White House landline more often these days, has still refused to give up his iPhones. White House officials say they can only hope he refrains from discussing classified information when he is on them." Worst president ever. The best part of this whole story, however, is this part, "(Administration officials) said they had further confidence he was not spilling secrets because he rarely digs into the details of the intelligence he is shown and is not well versed in the operational specifics of military or covert activities."

"But Trump told the Wisconsin crowd that he was trying to 'behave' and 'be nice' and none of his usual, red-meat crowd pleasers directed at Waters, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Clinton or others were part of his repertoire Wednesday night… 'We're all behaving very well, and hopefully we can keep it that way,' he insisted." That's a thing a five-year old tells you when you go out to dinner with the family.

About that civility thing. Here's something from 2013 about the "moderate" Sen. Jeff Flake. "Creating a thuggish online persona across multiple platforms -- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter -- who denigrates Jews, expresses a desire to beat up 'faggots,' calls Mexicans the 'scum of the earth,' and adopts the screen name 'n1ggerkiller' in an online video game. And then bragging that your father is a member of Congress… This is what Tanner Flake, the oldest son of Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), has done for the past year… As soon as Tanner’s ugliness came to light, his father… issued a terse, three-sentence apology to the media… But Tanner Flake’s behavior isn’t a diversion: It’s at the heart of that immigration fight. It’s at the heart of the struggle over gay rights. It’s at the heart of the conservative movement’s identity crisis. It’s part of a broader lack of civility toward minority groups… In other words, Flake… has consistently refused to take clear, unambiguous stand against prejudice and fear. Why? Because there are political penalties for doing so. Prejudice and fear still move the polls in Arizona... and elsewhere in America." Dear conservatives, you want civility? See to your own house first. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Special counsel Robert Mueller appears to be locked in a dispute with a mystery grand jury witness resisting giving up information sought in the ongoing probe into alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Linkee-poo knows I've started to think about leaving tonight although nothing seems right

I didn't win, did you?

Words have impact, "Suspicious packages sent to Time Warner Center, Clinton and Obama." I forgot that it's pipe bomb season. (Grokked from John)

Did you try turning it off and on again? "Hubble's designers prepared for gyroscope failure by equipping the observatory with a backup. Unfortunately, when one of Hubble's gyroscopes conked out in early October, the backup didn't work as expected… NASA has since been able to reduce its rotation rates and fix its issues by implementing an age-old fix for malfunctioning electronics: turning it off and on again."

More on that organic food study. "A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, states that those who eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer… They found that participants who ate mostly organic were 25 percent less likely to develop cancer." Okay, again, one this was a meta study that used another existing long-term study's data, not a study designed to specifically look at this issue (and control for lots of other variables). But two, let's discuss that statistic. Let's say you're looking at cancer instances and find in one population there are 4 cancer cases, and in the other population there are 3 cancer cases. No matter how large the sample, that's a 25% reduction. Now, if your study is on 100 people, that's a significant reduction although that's a damn small sample size. If your sample size is 34,000 in each group, that's more of a realistic study, but the difference between 3 and 4 in that large of a group could be sampling error and normal variation. In total there were 1,340 cancers reported in the study, but even that with a total study group of 68,000 means about 2% cancer rate in the total population (if those cancers reported are 1 per person). This is further complicated by the study group being broken into at least 3 categories (IIRC from the previous article), but it could mean (depending on other factors) of a difference of 90 cancers in each of the groups, with would be about a 0.4% variance in the rate of cancers (so one group would have 2%, another 2.2% and the last 1.8% cancer rates if it was just 3 groups). That would be "statistically significant" but not that much in actual differences (and again, because it wasn't controlled for just organic food consumption, could be because of other factors).

Here in my car I feel safest of all. I can lock all my doors. It's the only way to live… in cars. "On September 12th, GM's director of global digital transformation Saejin Park gave a presentation to the Association of National Advertisers in which he described how the company had secretly gathered data on the radio-listening habits of 90,000 GM owners in LA and Chicago for three months in 2017, tracking what stations they listened to and for how long, and where they were at the time; this data was covertly exfiltrated from the cars by means of their built-in wifi." (Grokked form Xeni Jardin)

"Building renewable energy resources in Indiana is cheaper than keeping existing coal plants open, according to new plans from one utility in the state." Renewables becoming cheaper to install than to maintain existing coal plants, that's the game changer. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Bloomberg News has an unusual practice of paying some of its reporters explicitly for publishing 'market-moving' stories." I'm sure that would never be a motivation to sensationalize a story. And it's a part of the yearly bonus calculation. (Grokked from John)

"The caterpillar fungus, Ophiocordyceps sinensis, is the world’s most valuable parasite… In Bhutan, one of the countries where the fungus is harvested, it accounts for a significant slice of the gross domestic product… That’s good news for the people of the Tibetan plateau, hundreds of thousands of whom harvest the fungus as their main source of income… But tough times lie ahead. By interviewing hundreds of collectors, and analyzing the local climate, Hopping has conclusively shown what others have suspected: The precious fungus is disappearing, as a result of a double whammy of overharvesting and warming weather."

"He propositioned a prospective employee, suggesting a threesome. He told one employee that she should “take one for the team” and date a donor who was attracted to her. He discussed strip clubs with his staff. And when challenged on his actions, he tried to pass it all off as a joke… These are some of the conclusions of a searing report from Arizona State University on the behavior of its star physics professor Lawrence Krauss, who on Oct. 19 agreed to retire in the face of multiple findings that he breached the school’s policies on sexual harassment." Sure it's a joke. Here's another one, you're stripped of tenure and pension. Of course that won't happen, but just like arresting business owners who hire undocumented workers (on their own or through intermediaries) should be sent to jail, stripping him of tenure of benefits would send a very clear message that this is no longer tolerated. But again it will be a "if you can make it to retirement, you're golden" message. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The facilities have come under international scrutiny, with rights activists describing them as political re-education camps holding as many as one million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslim minorities… To build new, better Chinese citizens, another document argued, the centres must first 'break their lineage, break their roots, break their connections, and break their origins'." You know, re-education camps. Like the K'mer Rouge in Cambodia and the US Indians Schools. (Grokked from Jeff VanderMeer)

Get out there and vote. "(Brian Kemp, Georgia Secretary of State and the Republican nominee for Georgia governor) then asserted that much of that Abrams effort is focused on absentee ballot requests. 'They have just an unprecedented number of that,' he said, 'which is something that continues to concern us, especially if everybody uses and exercises their right to vote — which they absolutely can — and mail those ballots in, we gotta have heavy turnout to offset that.'" Conservatives are very worried everyone is going to vote. Because they know they're in the minority and their ideas do not have wide spread support. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Voting in Dodge City, Kansas, is turning into a showdown as the advocacy group Voto Latino is trying to provide Lyft rides to residents who have no transportation available to the city's only polling site, which was moved out of town by election officials… Two weeks before the midterm elections, officials moved the Dodge City polling site outside the city limits and more than a mile from the nearest bus stop." A city of 30,000 with just one polling station, which is now outside the city limits and more than a mile from the nearest bus stop. "Sixty percent of Dodge City's population is Hispanic…" Funny that. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"US President Donald Trump has said Saudi Arabia's response to the murder of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi is 'the worst cover-up ever'." Well, Mr. President, they suckered you into it that first week. What does that say about you?

"Additionally, investigators are looking into whether Stone shared information that he believed was from WikiLeaks with members of Trump's presidential campaign, according to a source familiar with the probe. Investigators have been provided recordings of Stone claiming he talked to Trump regularly early in the 2016 presidential campaign, CNN has learned. Later, after various document dumps from WikiLeaks, Stone claimed in separate communications he should receive credit for coordinating with the group, the source said." Waits for the inevitable, "Roger Stone? Never heard of him" from Trump. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Linkee-poo whatever this world can give to me, it's you, you're all I see

The Good Omens trailer. One, excellent choice of music (which is an in-joke if you've read the book), and two I really hope this will be on Amazon Prime everywhere, and not Starz. American Gods was/is on Starz in the US, Amazon Prime in the rest of the world. Oh, and if you've never read the book, your really oughta. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"The 2019 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees were announced earlier this month. The prestigious list included Radiohead, Rage Against The Machine, Janet Jackson, Roxy Music, Stevie Nicks, The Cure, and Def Leppard. For the 19th year in a row, however, Ted Nugent did not make the cut, and the right wing gun-lover is royally pissed out of his mind about it." I guess it doesn't play well being a dick trying to make the most out of one song.

"Robert Plant is the voice of Led Zeppelin, the band people often compare Greta Van Fleet to — and not always favorably. In fact, many consider the Michigan band a total rip-off. Jake and Josh grew up listening to folk and blues music from their Dad's extensive record collection, and didn't discover Led Zeppelin until they were in high school." Funny, that's how Robert Plant and Jimmy Page also started (studying blues and folk). Also, no need to fix what ain't broken. I mean, why not also compare them to the Black Crows and a few hundred others. Although I think it's interesting that while knocking them for sounding like a throwback to 70's Zeppelin they also don't mention the throw back to family bands (3 of the 4 are brothers).

"BepiColombo’s lengthy journey will take it on a trajectory including 'a fly-by of Earth, two of Venus and six of Mercury itself so it can slow down before arriving at its destination in December 2025,' the Associated Press reported on Saturday." Orbital mechanics, man, it's mess you up.

"Technology continues to get closer and closer to our bodies, from the phones in our pockets to the smartwatches on our wrists. Now, for some people, it's getting under their skin… In Sweden, a country rich with technological advancement, thousands have had microchips inserted into their hands." I'm not one of the "Sign of the Beast" people, but I still don't think this is a good idea. Implanting the chip is harmless. It's the security risks entailed. There's this action movie meme where you place a dead person's hand on a biometrics scanner to unlock doors - now imagine that chip as your payment method. Also note while RFID is supposedly short range, it can be scanned at a distance. There's also the problem on the back-end. That is the way this works for a lot of systems involve interconnected databases. Europe has stronger privacy protections than the US, but we live in a global information economy.

I'mma just going to drop this here. "A study of nearly 70,000 French adults who were tracked for an average of 4.5 years found that those who ate the most organic foods were less likely to develop certain kinds of cancer than the people who ate the least… Because of the way the study was conducted, it is impossible to say that the organic foods people ate were the reason why they had fewer cases of cancer. But the results are significant enough to warrant follow-up studies, the researchers wrote." The data could have been cherry picked (as this wasn't the results the actual study was designed for) and the people who ate more organic foods also had several other habits that have been shown to lower cancer risks. And the reporting is mostly focusing in on "residual pesticide exposure" over some of the other differenced in "organic" foods.

"The Museum of the Bible says five of its Dead Sea Scrolls are fraudulent and will no longer be on display. The Washington, D.C., museum said an independent analysis found characteristics of the five scrolls were 'inconsistent with ancient origin and therefore will no longer be displayed at the museum.'" That's the risk you take when you buy your artifacts from smugglers.

There is this running gag in The Big Bang Theory where Howard "borrows" items from NASA and other research organizations. Yeah, about that… "NASA's Office of Inspector General has released a new report detailing shortcomings in how the agency manages its historical items, The Verge reports. Over the years, NASA has apparently lost a number of assets, including a lunar soil collection bag, Apollo 11 command module hand controllers and even a lunar rover vehicle prototype."

"Twitter has removed some accounts thought to be used to circumvent a ban on conspiracy-monger Alex Jones and Infowars, the company said Tuesday."

"Collectively, the DNA differences explained only 8 to 12 percent of the heritability of having same-sex partners. 'There is no gay gene,' (Andrea Ganna, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard) said, 'but rather non-heterosexuality is influenced by many tiny-effect genetic factors.'" Non-heterosexuality? Really? I would also tie this in with the administration's attempt to define gender by genitalia and genetics.

"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has shut down a self-driving school bus project in Florida, calling it 'unlawful.' It’s one of the most forceful interventions by the Department of Transportation in the early days of autonomous vehicles. The news was first reported by Jalopnik." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Over the past couple of decades, booming cities have forced people to move to smaller cities nearby. Think San Francisco and Oakland, Calif., or New York and Hoboken, N.J. That kind of boom is happening now in Boston. An hour away, New England's second-largest city, Worcester, is booming." Luck favors the prepared.

"The middle class in America has been declining for decades… According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point. That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year… (that means) a median monthly wage of just over $2,500. But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month… So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet." And the slide began in the late 60s and early 70s. Since then the GOP has controlled the White House for 30 years to Democrats 16 years. The GOP has controlled both houses of congress for 16 out of the last 22 years (and the House with a Democratic Senate for 4 more of those years). (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Women in strenuous jobs lost their pregnancies after employers denied their requests for light duty, even ignoring doctors’ notes, an investigation by The New York Times has found." Good thing our laws don't allow sweatshops in the US. Oh, wait… (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

It's "earnings season" for the stock market. "U.S. stock futures pointed to a deeply negative open Tuesday morning as corporate results from 3M and Caterpillar disappointed investors." The article also points out an interesting mind set in the investment world that because of the pain of the trade wars we're near the point where someone shouts "Uncle" and it all ends. That's a nice thought. I'm reminded that most Wall Street traders and analyst are younger than 40 and they've never exhibited much cognizance of historical trends greater than 4 quarters.

"An Arkansas county temporarily closed most of its early voting sites after the Democratic nominee for secretary of state was left off the ballot, a glitch the candidate said left her in 'sheer disbelief.'… Inman said that voters who go to the polls and find candidates missing from their ballots should not cast those ballots, but should instead take them back to election officials for correction, verification, or to determine the problem." Uh, yeah. I'm sure it's just a typo. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"President Donald Trump has warned that the US will bolster its nuclear arsenal to put pressure on Russia and China." Let's review this. The US alone has the nuclear firepower to destroy the world several times over. We can target and launch our weapons within 5 minutes (10 if we need to program new coordinates). There is no place on Earth we can hit. Burying command posts under reinforced mountains does not guarantee their survival. There is no such thing as a limited nuclear exchange. You think you need a deterrent? There isn't any more strong of a deterrent than saying "if you detonate a nuclear weapon on us or any of our allies we will burn the world down." It's called "mutual assured destruction" (or MAD, because you had to be fucking insane to start it). There is no good outcome to that arms race. Zero. Everybody loses and you spend a shit-ton of your GDP on things you hope you will never use. Let's say that we're able to field enough interceptors to stop any ballistic attack on the US (not fucking likely), the resultant fallout from the rest of the world will kill us all in 180 days even if no bombs drop here. This is an unwinnable war.

"The Supreme Court blocked a deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday in a case challenging the decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census… Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas wrote to say they would have also blocked the deposition of Gore as well as related discovery." Apparently we can't have our government officials answer questions as to intent and purpose because… I got nothing. They should. The should be demanding to do so.

"President Trump on Monday sharply intensified a Republican campaign to frame the midterm elections as a battle over immigration and race, issuing a dark and factually baseless warning that 'unknown Middle Easterners' were marching toward the American border with Mexico." It goes without saying that the president is lying his ass off. But here you have conservative politics laid bare, it's all about the fear of brown people. "But Mr. Trump has not been alone in seeking to divide the electorate along racial lines this fall: As the congressional elections have approached, a number of Republican candidates and political committees have delivered messages plainly aimed at stoking cultural anxiety among white voters and even appealing to overt racism." That and "teh Gayz" (but updated for transgender) is all they've got.

So what does it really matter if that's all they've got? "A white woman confronted a Spanish-speaking family last week at a Virginia restaurant and demanded that they 'show me your passports' in video that has since gone viral." That's just one of a long line of happenings around the country. Also, not for nothing, many US citizens, born in the US, speak languages other than American English. Here in Cleveland you can hear radio shows in Spanish, German, Polish, Lithuanian, and French (that last one is only if atmospheric conditions are good and we can pick up the CBC). (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Words do matter. Calling people "enemies" matters. "New York police say they have safely destroyed a suspected letter bomb found at the home of billionaire businessman George Soros in New York state."

There's that saying that when someone tells you who they are you should believe them. "'You know what I am? I’m a nationalist, OK,' (Trump) said to 'USA!' chants. 'I’m a nationalist. Use that word.'" Okay, Nazi, we'll use that word then.

"Is the hair standing up on the back of your neck yet? Because it should be." Goddamnit, Jim Wright. And yes, the warning signals from 2016 have become klaxons and flashing lights in my head.

I think I've said it many times before, in the late 70s conservatives realized they were up against a demographic nightmare. So Reagan reached out to social conservatives (who typically weren't involved in politics), and offered them the sop of excusing Liberty University its transgressions and call the IRS off in exchange for their votes. Since then the social conservatives have wrestled control of the party away from the moderates and driven it's politics to the extreme right as the GOP continues to lose it's base. The 80s also saw the rise of talk-show conservatism which has helped keep the rubes in line. "Research from Emory University political scientists… found that when Sinclair buys a local station, its local news program begin to cover more national and less local politics, the coverage becomes more conservative, and viewership actually falls… A separate study… estimates that watching Fox News translates into a significantly greater willingness to vote for Republican candidates… Specifically, by exploiting semi-random variation in Fox viewership driven by changes in the assignment of channel numbers, they find that if Fox News hadn’t existed, the Republican presidential candidate’s share of the two-party vote would have been 3.59 points lower in 2004 and 6.34 points lower in 2008. Without Fox, in other words, the GOP’s only popular vote win since the 1980s would have been reversed and the 2008 election would have been an extinction-level landslide." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Monday, October 22, 2018

Linkee-poo Monday again

"Hurricane Willa has grown rapidly into an 'extremely dangerous' near-Category 5 storm in the eastern Pacific, on a path to smash into Mexico’s western coast between Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta by Wednesday."

Hurricane Michael may have doomed Florida's young oyster farming industry.

"Similarly, in a 14-year USDA study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (Conner et al. 1998), researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses. In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators. The unexpected results in these studies can be explained by the reproductive strategy and territorial behavior of highly social predators like the coyote." Funny how that works, and how we ignore science because of long established "custom." (Grokked from Jeff VenderMeer)

"Writing in Scientific American (!), Nobel-prize-winning economist Joseph E Stiglitz… describes the US economy as an 'inherited plutocracy' that's 'rigged' to shift an ever-greater share of the national wealth to the very richest people: Stiglitz blames the rigging on Ronald Reagan's dismantling of antitrust enforcement, inheritance tax, and other progressive measures 40 years ago -- and says that the orthodox economic apologists for economists who attribute inequality to globalism or other factors are wrong and unsupported by evidence." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

How's that recession coming? "General contractors and other small businesses in the home remodeling industry can expect revenue to slow in 2019, the result of rising mortgage rates and sluggish home sales."

"Toymaker Hasbro Inc missed analysts’ estimates for quarterly revenue and profit on Monday, as the demise of major retail partner Toys ‘R’ Us hurt sales in the United States and Europe, sending its shares down 9 percent in early trading."

"Enter the U.S. Congress, which is providing a glimmer of hope for air travelers tired of those shrinking airline seats. It included a provision in the recently approved Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization act that orders the FAA to establish minimum seat widths and pitch… The problem, according to Hudson, is that the law doesn't tell regulators what that minimum standard should be." While in the news media the airline industry spokespeople are bemoaning how poor this would make carriers (or they'll raise rates), airline companies have been posting record profits.

"President Trump said the U.S. will withdraw from a decades-old treaty with Russia that eliminated a class of nuclear weapons after he accused Russia of violating the treaty." JFC! All this does is give Russia cover for developing weapon systems that violate the treaty's terms.

"The European Union is calling on the United States and Russia to stick to a 1987 nuclear weapons treaty and make sure it is 'fully and verifiably implemented.'" The EU has great cause to be concerned because in the Cold War scenarios of the use of "tactical" (or short range) nuclear weapons pretty much left the continent a waste land.

"FBI agents are probing the Manhattan district attorney’s office over its handling of high-profile cases that were dropped once lawyers for the well-connected subjects made donations, the Daily News has learned… Investigators have been quietly seeking information in recent months about decision-making by DA Cy Vance Jr. and his staff, sources with knowledge of the undertaking said." (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"The Trump administration is considering narrowly defining gender as a biological, immutable condition determined by genitalia at birth…" Uh, yeah, that'll work. "The department argued in its memo that key government agencies needed to adopt an explicit and uniform definition of gender as determined 'on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.' The agency’s proposed definition would define sex as either male or female, unchangeable, and determined by the genitals that a person is born with… Any dispute about one’s sex would have to be clarified using genetic testing." Here's the thing, by defining sex as "what genitals you're born with" or even "genetics" misses the complexity of nature. See, while it's "rare" it's not unheard of for children to be born hermaphroditic (displays both genitalia) or androgynous (displays no discernible genitalia). And that's before we get to the complexity of the 23rd chromosome (which isn't just XX or XY, but includes XXX, XXY, and XYY) or that some people born with a penis have XX as their 23rd and some people born with vaginas have XY. But then this is the real issue, "For the last year, the Department of Health and Human Services has privately argued that the term 'sex' was never meant to include gender identity or even homosexuality, and that the lack of clarity allowed the Obama administration to wrongfully extend civil rights protections to people who should not have them."

"A growing crowd of Central American migrants in southern Mexico resumed its advance toward the U.S. border on Sunday. The numbers have overwhelmed Mexican officials' attempts to stop them at the border."

"President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. would begin 'cutting off, or substantially reducing' aid to three Central American nations over a migrant caravan heading to the U.S. southern border." And by doing so he will guarantee that even more people will attempt to immigrate to the US illegally. "(the President) added: 'I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy.' White House officials could not immediately provide details… A Pentagon spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Jamie Davis, said the Pentagon has received no new orders to provide troops for border security."

"A member of the 15-man team suspected in the death of Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was captured on surveillance cameras around Istanbul on the day the journalist was killed… CNN has obtained exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage, part of the Turkish government's investigation, that appears to show the man leaving the consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses."

Just in case you wanted to know Putin's plans, "In his annual public address before the nation, Russian President Vladimir Putin proclaimed that America’s global influence has come to end — a development he attributed in large part to Trump’s presidency… 'Luckily this monopoly (of American influence on the world) is disappearing,' he added. 'It’s almost done.'" The evil mastermind always monologues his plan just before final victory. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Remember the War on Women and one GOP hopeful opining about "rape and real rape" (it may have been "rape and rape rape" IIRC)? The GOP was going to clean up, right? "Republican Rep. Jason Lewis once mocked women who were traumatized by unwanted sexual advances, including those inappropriately kissed or who had their thighs touched, a CNN KFile review of his former radio show reveals." Yeah, they just can't help themselves. "After CNN's KFile contacted Lewis' campaign for comment, a law firm representing Genesis Communications Network, the radio network that produced Lewis' show, sent a letter demanding that CNN 'cease and desist' from using the copyrighted radio show owned by the company. CNN is using the audio under the 'fair use' doctrine in order to inform the public about the congressman's former statements." (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"A computer server crucial to a lawsuit against Georgia election officials was quietly wiped clean by its custodians just after the suit was filed, The Associated Press has learned… The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe." Here's the thing, in case you haven't experienced this, when a lawsuit is filed the legal department of the company/organization/department being sued sends out an email to tell employees to retain records. At HDT we went through this numerous times. For one lawsuit I was instructed to not even move email out of my inbox (I wasn't involved directly in the suit, but there was a potential I was on some group emails about the subject of the suit). There's no way this was done accidentally. The university may have scheduled the data wipe, but the Georgia Secretary of State would then be the responsible party (as it's their office that would have sent the notices). Oddly the Georgia Sec of State is now running for governor. Odd coincidence isn't it. "The server data could have revealed whether Georgia’s most recent elections were compromised by hackers. The plaintiffs contend results of both last November’s election and a special June 20 congressional runoff— won by Kemp’s predecessor, Karen Handel — cannot be trusted." The cat is up on the roof and won't come down and it hasn't eaten for days. (Grokked from Scott Kennedy)

Friday, October 19, 2018

Linkee-poo is tired of screwing up, tired of goin' down, tired of myself, tired of this town

Terri Windling on Death personified in folklore and fairy tales.

"It's called Pando, a forest of around 47,000 genetically identical quaking aspen trees that share an estimated 80,000-year-old root system." And now it's dying.

"A new experiment captured the most detailed view of electrons to date, using lasers to reveal evidence of particles surrounding the particles, researchers reported in a new study. By lighting up molecules, the scientists were able to interpret how other subatomic particles alter the distribution of an electron's charge."

And this year's dumbest idea in science goes to: "The night skies might soon have company: Chinese scientists are planning to launch an artificial moon into orbit by 2020 to illuminate city streets after dark." (Grokked from Sarah Goslee)

"The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Thursday to put a stop to a massive environmental lawsuit, just over a week before it is scheduled to go to trial… The suit was filed in 2015 by a group of young people, ranging in age from 10 to 21, who said the federal government has failed to stop climate change by promoting the use of fossil fuels for more than 50 years. They claim that policy violated their constitutional right to 'a climate system capable of sustaining human life.'"

"Marijuana has been on fire this week: Canada legalized recreational use, the White House may look to federal cannabis reform after the midterm elections, and the industry saw a $682 million merger." But all ain't happy in them green fields.

"One aspect of Warren's defense is based on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, also known as RFRA. At root, Warren is saying that his faith compels him to offer assistance to people in dire need, including immigrants." Goes and makes popcorn. (Grokked from Hannah Bowman)

"Thousands of migrants are about to be at Mexico's doorstep. And US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is about to meet with officials in Mexico's capital… The Honduran migrants, trekking in a caravan toward Mexico's southern border, say they're headed for the United States -- fleeing violence and searching for economic opportunity." So, one, remember the Pentagon report about climate change and mass human migration (this is what it looks like). And two, the president is not a happy camper and has threatened economic repercussions if the caravan is allowed to pass. "The key questions: Will Mexico let the migrants in? And what will happen if they do?" Considering we just signed a trade deal with Mexico (and probably Canada although the last I heard it wasn't really finalized) that's a big question. And the current Mexican president only has a month and a half left in office.

So, Steve, (you may be saying) where's that recession? "China said on Friday its economic growth slowed to 6.5 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of 2018, missing expectations." Oh, it's coming. I mean it's easy to say, "recession in the future" because, well, yeah it's gonna happen. But signs are pointing to sooner than later.

"U.S. stocks slumped again Thursday as investors continued to sell shares of technology and internet companies, industrials, and companies that rely on consumer spending… Several industrial companies tumbled after releasing weak quarterly reports, and European stocks also fell as European Union leaders criticized Italy's spending plans." US consumer spending grew (so it's still growing) by an anemic amount in August and September. July wasn't much either.

"The Economist magazine's annual special section on the world economy this year focuses on the impact 'toxic politics and constrained central banks' will have on the next downturn. They find that 'the rich world in particular is ill-prepared to deal with even a mild recession. This is partly because the policy arsenal is still depleted from fighting the last downturn.' Marketplace's Sabri Ben-Achour spoke to Economist editor Henry Curr about the state of the world economy."

"…the Senate Majority Leader came close (to) admitting that changes to programs like Medicare and Social Security might be 'impossible to achieve' as long as Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. It was a quietly refreshing moment, in which McConnell effectively dropped the entire charade that Republicans are a party that prioritizes fiscal prudence—making explicit what has long been obvious to anyone who has paid the faintest bit of attention to Washington over the past decades." Actually I think it's the exact opposite that their one party control would be the only chance they'd have to make those changes. But Mitch doesn't want the GOP to take all of the blame for ending Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. Also, so much for the party of fiscal responsibility. "Any even-handed observer would have to look at all this and conclude that Republicans mostly see the deficit as a political club with which they can opportunistically beat Democrats, rather than an actual existential concern."

And here I'll say things that I've spoken of in private and whispered on twitter, your taxes will have to go up. The good thing is that since the tax cuts barely affected most of you, tax increases won't either. The corporate rate, the top tier income, and the reclassifying of capital gain as different than income will all need to be addressed. But the good news is, "Friday’s Mega Millions jackpot has reached a record $970 million, but what the winner will actually take home depends on picking the annuity or the lump sum payment—and, of course, taxes." Go out and support your schools.

"Trump’s campaign has still not returned gifts from at least three white nationalists after the Forward exclusively reported their donations on July 30. The president’s 2020 election operation still has hundreds of dollars from those individuals, FEC records show, and one of the extremists, former Aryan Nations leader Morris Gulett, gave $100 to the Republican National Committee on Aug. 1." Funny how conservatives keep on taking their money (and speaking at their events). (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"'Our candidates are able to deal with it,' McConnell said regarding a barrage of Democratic ads criticizing his party’s candidates on the (repealing Obamacare and ending its protections). 'There’s nobody in the Senate that I’m familiar with who is not in favor of coverage of pre-existing conditions.'" And yet they keep on trying to end those protections. It's almost as if they're lying to keep their jobs. Not like GOP senators have been "concerned" about a lot of legislation and nominees, but vote party line in the end. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

How's that whole swamp draining thing going? "House Democrats are asking the Trump administration for more information about the decision to keep the FBI headquarters across the street from Trump International Hotel downtown, which they criticized as $500 million more expensive than moving to the Washington suburbs." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Trump says he believes missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is dead, telling The New York Times that his judgement is based on intelligence reports 'coming from every side.'… If Saudi Arabia is responsible, the consequences will be 'very severe,' he told the Times." I'm guessing we'll still sell them the weapons and MBS will get a hand slap. Bad prince, no cookie.

Also, it's amazing to hear the president be upset about the death of a journalist (and my guess is he was handed those words and told to say them). Why? Because later last night, "President Donald Trump praised Montana Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte for assaulting a reporter during his campaign last May, saying 'any guy who can do a body slam ... he's my guy' and made a gesture mimicking a body slam." Tell me again how it's the left instigating violence, because that joke never gets old (hint: it's way passed old). "The President's comments were met with laughter and applause from the crowd in Montana."

"The closed-door 'training academy' was aimed at a select group: recent law school graduates who had secured prestigious clerkships with federal judges. It was organized by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative group that has played a leading role in moving the courts to the right, and it had some unusual requirements… 'Generous donors,' the application materials said, were making 'a significant financial investment in each and every attendee.' In exchange, the future law clerks would be required to promise to keep the program’s teaching materials secret and pledge not to use what they learned 'for any purpose contrary to the mission or interest of the Heritage Foundation.'" It's almost like some secret society hell bent on subverting the rule of law indoctrinating young lawyers and keeping them in the fold, instead of letting them learn how the law actually works. I'm sure they won't learn secret code words, how to identify other members of the elite group, or any secret handshakes. Not at all. Hail Hydra.

"President Donald Trump's critics have spent the past 17 months anticipating what some expect will be among the most thrilling events of their lives: special counsel Robert Mueller’s final report on Russian 2016 election interference." Yes, yes, Mueller's report will not be some J'accuse moment, but it will lay out facts (according to their investigation). It's then up to the DoJ or Congress to take action (or not) based on those results. "Perhaps most unsatisfying: Mueller’s findings may never even see the light of day." Uh, yeah, try that idea and see how far it takes you.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Linkee-poo went down to the demonstration to get my fair share of abuse

"Panasonic's Future Life Factory is developing wearable blinkers, designed to limit your sense of sound and sight, and help you focus on what's directly in front of you… The prototype device, called Wear Space, is designed to keep people distraction-free when working in busy spaces or open-plan offices by blocking them off from their immediate surroundings." Oo, I've got a marketing slogan, "With Wear Space, nobody can see your side-eye." I've got a better idea, corporate America, give people offices with closable doors. These things definitely wouldn't work with me. You block my vision and soundscape and I get both claustrophobic and paranoid. Shit, I have to make noise sometimes while I'm walking through work spaces just so I don't "sneak up" on people and freak them out. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"The frequency of the tune changed after storms blew through, which in itself is interesting. But what really stood out is a January 2016 warm spell when temperatures cracked freezing. The pitch of the tune dropped during that stretch, indicating that the snow and bits of ice melted, slowing down the propagation of seismic waves through the firn. More importantly, the pitch drop didn’t reverse itself after temperatures cooled back down, indicating permanent or semi-permanent changes in the firn layer." Antarctic ice is "singing", and the song it's playing is, "You're boned."

"Last year, almost $786 million worth of Scottish salmon was exported globally, with the United States as its largest market. The aquaculture industry, which already contributes $2.85 billion to the U.K. economy, has ambitious targets for growth. The Scottish Salmon Producers' Organization, the main industry group, aims to more than double production to as much as 400,000 tons by 2030… That growth, however, comes with high costs for Scotland's environment."

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week issued a warning about a disease known as acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), an illness it says it knows very little about but can cause arm or leg weakness and paralysis, particularly in children. According to a Tuesday press briefing, there have been 62 confirmed cases across 22 states in 2018."

"Rural Americans are profoundly worried about the opioid crisis and their local economies and many are hoping government can help, according to a new poll from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health." Despite all the rhetoric, not much is happening on the ground.

"Approximately 1 in 5 American adults will experience some form of mental illness in any given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). This accounts for approximately 44 million U.S. adults, or 18.6 percent of the entire U.S. adult population." Looks around. Well, yeah.

"A salmonella outbreak likely related to raw chicken has spread across the country, sickening at least five people in Illinois since the spring, officials announced Wednesday… The Illinois Department of Public Health said five cases of the bacterial infection have been reported in the state, one of 29 in which a multi-drug-resistant strain of salmonella has been found. A total of 92 people have been affected nationwide, resulting in 21 hospitalizations and no deaths, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention." It isn't so much the salmonella cases, those happen all the time (unfortunately, seriously peoples, learn how to handle raw meat). It's the strain that's worrying. Multi-drug resistant means that unless you're in the ICU getting IV fluids, you're probably not going to get any effective antibiotics to help.

"The oldest evidence of life on Earth probably isn't found in some 3.7 billion-year-old rocks found in Greenland, despite what a group of scientists claimed a couple of years ago." Oopsie.

What's the dumbest possible commercial tie-in to Halloween? "The 'Nightmare King' isn’t just a seasonal name thrown on Burger King’s latest burger… The quarter-pound beef burger topped with chicken, cheese, bacon, onions, and mayo, on a green sesame seed bun, is 'clinically proven to induce nightmares,' according to the burger chain." That's gotta be in the top 10. Ooo, food that will give me more nightmares (for various definitions of nightmares)? Let's have some more of that. Also, "clinically proven" has a defined definition in US law. I hope they covered their asses (because right now they seem to be showing).

"Pink ribbons, pink candles, pink sweaters, pink yogurt labels, pink lipstick: There’s an endless array of products sold in the name of breast cancer awareness, appealing to shoppers’ sense of advocacy and activism by offering an easy way to support a cause. Pink products — which proliferate especially during October, designated since 1985 as Breast Cancer Awareness Month — supposedly give a percentage of profit to cancer research or awareness. The idea is that the money contributed by buying these branded items helps bring the disease one step closer to eradication." It's an advertising gimmick, people. Of course hardly any money is going to actual research from these pink products.

"According to a newly public filing in an ongoing lawsuit, a group of advertisers now says that Facebook has been willfully withholding information about how much time its users spend watching paid ads—if more people spend more time watching ads, then those ads can command higher rates." Math, it's kinda hard.

"A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket launched the satellite, known as Advanced Extremely High Frequency 4 (AEHF-4), at 12:15 a.m. EDT (0415 GMT) from a pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. AEHF-4 is an advanced jam-resistant and nuclear-hardened satellite designed 'to provide survivable, global, secure, protected and jam-resistant communications for high-priority military forces,' according to a U.S. Air force mission description."

Insert clip of Basil Fawlty saying, "Don't mention the War." "OPEC has urged its members not to mention oil prices when discussing policy in a break from the past, as the oil producing group seeks to avoid the risk of U.S. legal action for manipulating the market, sources close to OPEC said."

"Amazon just raised its minimum wage to $15, but that's not enough for some progressive politicians… Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders sent a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday scolding the company for allegedly distributing a 45-minute instructional video to managers at recently-acquired grocery chain Whole Foods on how to defuse union organizing." That's CNN and not an editorial. Let's have a hand for our "liberally biased media" everybody.

"Are GOP Tax Cuts To Blame For The Jump In The Federal Deficit?" Yes.

"USMCA… says that 40 percent of a car must be made in a plant where workers make at least $16 an hour in order to avoid U.S. import tariffs. That would mean a fivefold boost to the average Mexican autoworker's wage of $3.14 an hour… But while that looks good on paper, some experts are skeptical that it will happen anytime soon."

"'We have today informed the countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador that if they allow their citizens, or others, to journey through their borders and up to the United States, with the intention of entering our country illegally, all payments made to them will STOP (END)!' Trump tweeted on Tuesday evening." How's that wall coming, big guy? Starts writing doctoral dissertation about how American cold war politics and the War Against Drugs monumentally fucked over Central and South America.

"Dozens of black senior citizens were ordered off a bus taking them to vote this week in Georgia… Jefferson County Administrator Adam Brett told the AJC that the county considered the transporting of the group to be 'political activity,' which would violate county policy, since they operate they senior center." Total bullshit. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Was Gary Hart set up?… What are we to make of the deathbed confession of the political operative Lee Atwater, newly revealed, that he staged the events that brought down the Democratic candidate in 1987?" Not all the pieces line up well, but it's certainly a possibility. And an interesting take of alternative history, what if Gary Hart had become president? A lot of dominoes don't get tipped over. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"A senior adviser for the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) was charged Wednesday with leaking suspicious financial activity reports related to President Donald Trump's former campaign advisers, Paul Manafort and Rick Gates, as well as the Russian embassy."

The Hidden Brain podcast "Voting with a middle finger: Two views on the White Working Class" and why they voted for Trump. Looks at Middle-America and the economics that haven't changed, "How'd that work out for you?"

"One of the 15 Saudis who flew to Turkey on the day journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared has been killed in a car crash, it has been claimed." First rule of assassination, kill the assassin. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

I've been saying this since the 80s, conservative evangelicals are not Christians. "Appearing on Christian television show The 700 Club, Pat Robertson, founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network, said America’s relationship with Saudi Arabia is too important to risk… 'These people are key allies,' Robertson said Monday on the show, first reported by Vox. 'I don’t think on this issue we need pull sanctions and get tough. I just think it’s a mistake.'" That the Reverend Par Robertson, former leader of the Moral Majority, on his broadcast specifically aimed at other Christians, saying that state sanctioned murder is not as important as arms deals. This is as serious as it gets when it comes down to "God or Caesar." This is literally wanting your 30 pieces of silver more than your soul. When the Devil said, "Follow me and I'll give you Asia," and Jesus replied, "Get thee behind me," Pat is over to the side saying, "Wait now, let's hear him out." So when he gets all "Right-to-Lifey" again, just remember which side he chose when the rubber hit the road. It's the side most of these people would choose. (Grokked from Tania)

"White House counsel Don McGahn has left the job effective Wednesday. But his influence will live on for years, thanks to the dozens of conservative judges that McGahn helped President Trump put on the federal bench." One of the people who have screwed us over. Also, again, if you doubt my statements about the conservatives realizing their base was shrinking and developing a plan to control the courts to keep their ideology alive, here's this from the article: "McGahn oversaw the president's judicial selection process, picking nominees who are uniformly conservative — often suggested by the Federalist Society or the Heritage Foundation — and typically young — capable of shaping the federal courts' decisions for decades to come." The Federalist Society was founded in the 80s to groom those hard-line conservative lawyers to get them ready for judgeships. The Heritage Foundation, also founded in the 80s, was designed to be the "go to" think-tank for conservative thought. "McConnell and his fellow GOP senators cleared the way for McGahn's courthouse makeover by refusing to fill judicial vacancies during the latter years of the Obama administration. That left a large number of openings on the bench for Trump to fill as soon as he came into office — most notably the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia." The same thing happened with Bill Clinton. This is a coup d'é·tat.