There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream 'oppression!'
And the oaks, just shake their heads

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Linkee-poo is surrounded by ladies dancing

Clearing out some items so they don't roll over to the New Year as I probably won't have time to post before then. Happy New Year everybody. Hopefully next New Year will find us in a better place than this one. But since they're talking about how Democrats need to announce their 2020 campaign by May if they want to be able to content, I doubt it. We can always hope, though.

"You'd think Instagram would know by now that even the smallest changes can send users into a paranoid frenzy. That still didn't stop the company from unintentionally pushing out a major update that screwed up users' feeds…" They've gone plaid.

"It has been warming for decades now. But 2018 brought several major new and markedly more precise reports from scientists about what climate change is doing to the weather and how dire they expect the consequences to be." We're boned.

"NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is set to explore more distant worlds than ever before when it flies past 2014 MU69 in the early hours of New Year's Day."

"All the Incredible Stuff Happening in Space in 2019."

We have the best healthcare system in the world! "Setting up a GoFundMe page has also become a go-to way for people in need of help to pay their doctors and other health providers. Medical fundraisers now account for 1 in 3 of the website's campaigns, and they bring in more money than any other GoFundMe category, says GoFundMe CEO Rob Solomon."

If they only came the legal way. "But more than any wall, new barriers to legal immigration are likely to have more bearing on people trying to enter the United States. The United States is rejecting more legal immigrants than ever before."

"When he ran for governor of Georgia this year, Michael Williams made headlines by promising to put undocumented immigrants on his 'deportation bus' and send them back to Mexico… Williams… turned himself in Wednesday on one count each of insurance fraud, filling a false crime report and making a false statement. He was indicted last week." Karma calling. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Friday, December 28, 2018

Linkee-poo calling birds ring up a hellalotta long distance charges

Alligators ate my homework.

Neil Gaiman on BBC4 With Great Pleasure. A Christmas show, but with excellent readings (not holiday related) of the things Neil likes to read (note clip starts with a news wrap up). One of the lesser quoted axioms of writing is read original sources and if you want to write like a certain writer you need to read what they read. Listen worldwide for a few more weeks. As an extra, listen to these 5 minutes with Peter Capaldi reading "The Magic Wood" by Henry Treece. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman, naturally)

On Beautiful Words, by Pablo Defendini. Form follows function. This is often taken to mean that things should be put into boxes (forms), which is exactly the wrong interpretation of "function." This is also the thing missing from much of modern design which is usually more concerned with quickness of execution and driving the bottom line than it used to be. Which is odd given the greater freedom allowed by digital presentation. Pablo uses the example of the story ‘STET’ by Sarah Gailey. I have to admit the online version threw me (as to me it read as nested footnotes), but the photo of the print version intrigues me to no end. IMHO that is the form the story needs.

"David Miscavige leads the Church of Scientology, the cultlike sci-fi religion notorious for its hostility to members, apostates and critics alike. His wife, Shelly, hasn't been seen in public in many years, and few trust the LAPD's proforma assurances that she is safe, let alone those of the church. Jezebel posted a long story about her alleged captivity, and Scientology is asking them to remove the post." Well that went all Streisand Effect. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Post-holiday travelers were finding driving difficult as a winter storm dumped heavy snow and whipped up gusty winds across parts of the Dakotas and Minnesota on Thursday." Yet here in Ohio its supposed to get in the upper 50s. It's almost like the country doesn't have the same weather across all zones. Like theres a climate instead of weather.

"He drew his school mascot — and ICE labeled him a gang member." ICE must go. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A Con Edison spokesman, Bob McGee, said early this morning: 'What people were seeing was an electric arc flash. The electrical arc of that magnitude is similar to a thunder and lightning event.' The sound people heard was 'the arc striking the ground.'"

"Just days after claiming that 'many' furloughed government workers told him they're fine with not getting paid as long as he secures additional funding for a border wall, President Donald Trump tweeted Thursday morning that 'most of the people not getting paid are Democrats.'" Because then that makes it okay because fuck those people. AmIrite?

"The U.S. Office of Personnel Management has offered federal workers affected by the partial government shutdown a guide for negotiating with creditors, landlords and mortgage companies while their income is cut off… Among the suggested strategies: A furloughed employee might offer to trade maintenance services such as painting or carpentry work in exchange for a reduction in rent." Yeah, that'll work. Maybe they can pay their bills in exposure.

"More Americans blame President Donald Trump than congressional Democrats for the partial U.S. government shutdown, a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday found, as lawmakers returned to Washington with no quick end to the shutdown in sight." Just wait until we find out a lot of the costs (to the economy and for the IRS to finish up reprograming and training for the new tax bill). "… 33 percent blame Democrats in Congress…" There's that number again.

"Following backlash, NBC News revises story about Trump’s 'Christmastime' visit to Iraq."

"During a holiday visit to troops stationed in Iraq, President Donald Trump bragged that he had secured them not only their first pay raise in over a decade, but 'one of the biggest' ever… This is inaccurate and not the first time Trump has made false claims about annual military raises." Try to contain your shock.

"Alarmed by a U.S. decision to leave Syria, Kurdish leaders who run much of the north are urging Russia and its ally Damascus to send forces to shield the border from the threat of a Turkish offensive." Empowering Russia from the actions of the US president? Wow, didn't see that coming. "The SDF has been Washington’s main Syrian partner in the fight with Islamic State, but Turkey views the YPG fighters that form its backbone as a threat and has vowed to crush them." And by "crush" they mean in the Biblical sense.

Remember when Michael Cohen denied going to Prague to meet with Russians according to the Steele Dossier? How he said he was never in Prague at the time and how his passport (one of several) didn't show an entry or exit visa? "A mobile phone traced to President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and 'fixer' Michael Cohen briefly sent signals ricocheting off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, at the height of the presidential campaign, leaving an electronic record to support claims that Cohen met secretly there with Russian officials, four people with knowledge of the matter say." For anyone who knows, customs and passport control are for poor people. The very wealthy and well connected (especially when traveling by private jet) are rarely bothered by such trivialities. While such a signal can't determine if Cohen was in a meeting, and while the source is being vague, more than likely they have a fairly precise location for where he was at. Given that he denies even being in the country, this doesn't look good. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"But whenever there is a rush of new details about one slice or another of this controversy… it’s important for all of us (and the media) to keep the spotlight on a central element that has already been established beyond any doubt: Trump betrayed his fellow Americans." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Linkee-poo specifically asked for French hens

"… NBC News reported that the HealthPlus Surgery Center in Saddle Brook, New Jersey sent letters to more than 3,700 patients… According to the letter… an investigation by the New Jersey Department found that HealthPlus staff often failed to properly sterilize surgical tools between uses or otherwise neglected infection control procedures, raising the risk that patients could have gotten bloodborne infections." JFC peoples. There are safeguards for this kind of thing. This is just sloppy work (or an attempt to keep costs down to maximize profits).

"(Mike Pompeo), America's chief diplomat, said 'We will continue to fight these battles, it is a never ending struggle... until the Rapture.' Holy shit." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Why is asking a citizenship question on the census a bad idea? "'The most important single source of information prior to the evacuation was the 1940 Census of Population,' wrote U.S. Army Lt. Gen. John DeWitt, who advocated for and directed the mass removal of Japanese-Americans from the West Coast, in a 1943 report for the War Department." I worked for the 2010 Census and I can tell you this this reverberates through the organization. They took great pains to say they will never share unanonymized or unaggregated information ever again. This is a wound that is still bleeding. One way to make sure it doesn't happen again is to not collect information that could be used against the people being surveyed.

He look, our president finally visited troops in a combat zone. Well, good for him. I mean the worst thing that can happen are jokes about his bone spurs (which was a recent NYTs article, which might have spurred the trip… intentional). :: puts finger to ear :: Oh FFS. "President Donald Trump and the White House communications team revealed that a U.S. Navy SEAL team was deployed to Iraq after the president secretly traveled to the region to meet with American forces serving in a combat zone for the first time since being elected to office." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Matthew Whitaker, the acting attorney general, incorrectly claimed on his resume and on government documents that he was named an Academic All-American… Kowal told the newspaper that Whitaker was actually a '1992 GTE District VII Academic All-District selection.' She added that the organization was less organized in the 1990s and that 'people over time use terms interchangeably and innocently.'" Ah yeah, nope. (Grokked from Michele)

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Linkee-poo is wondering what to do with two turtle doves

The alligators were busy while I was away.

"'If you are having trouble eating or drinking, where your cough is so severe, we can't sleep, we can't eat, we can't drink, that would be the time you want to give your pediatrician a call, or your adult provider a call,' (Doctor Mark) Lockett said." As has been said elsewhere, "What did people do before vaccines? A lot of them died." There's no vaccine for RSV, and almost everyone gets it. It's not a major concern for most people, but there are some people for whom RSV, or really any virus that causes flu like symptoms, can be a major threat to some.

"With the preliminary detection of chronic wasting disease in white-tailed deer in western Tennessee, the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission reminds deer hunters of a new rule that prohibits the importation of whole deer carcasses and restricts the importation of specific carcass parts from anywhere outside North Carolina."

"Nobody knows why scientists from (Russia and China) joined forces to perform those tests. There is speculation that the experiments, which involved heating the ionosphere… had something to do with the military, but the real reason remains unknown. Their results were recently published in Earth and Planetary Physics." (Grokked from Dan)

"Japan said Wednesday it is withdrawing from the International Whaling Commission and will resume commercial whaling next year, sparking criticism from activists and anti-whaling countries including Australia." Okay, well at least they're stopping the bullshit of killing whales for "scientific research."

"After a second child died in its custody this week, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Tuesday night it would review its procedures for how it performs medical checks children."

"However, Trump asked her, 'Because at 7, it’s marginal, right?' Though she did not understand what the word “marginal” meant, according to the reports, the child responded, 'Yes, sir.'" Our president, ending American childhoods.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Visions of Sugar Plums - Linkee-poo edition

An apt metaphor for our country this Xmas. "The partial government shutdown will ensure the National Christmas Tree stays dark this holiday… The tree, which is located on the Ellipse just south of the White House, sustained some damage on Friday when a man climbed it… U.S. Park Police… believed he was in emotional distress."

Back

So back from vacation. Did I miss anything?

Holy fucking shit. I feel like Jon Stewart retiring just before Donal Trump won the nomination. Seriously, government shut down, resignations, Syrian pullout, stock market performance… What the total fuck?!

Our president is giving the Russians everything they ever wanted (including rolling back individual sanctions). And the whole way down the Republican Party is cheering and shouting for more.

I don't think I'll be able to catch up with it any time soon.

But on the positive side I had a good vacation. It was our first time to Disney and we did it fairly well. Plus my wife and I still can get along (it's sometimes hard to know when you work like she and I do). Did we do everything? Nope. That's okay. Was it incident free? Nope. But if you accept that life is messy and you can't always get what you want, things go better.

Tomorrow is Xmas, and I'll be back at work (at the hospital). I've seen several mentions on my social networks about giving thanks for all those who work on the holidays. It's out pleasure to be there when you need us. Do not feel guilty about needing help from these services on the holiday. It helps us realize how much it's worth it.

Also, while everyone pretends to be happy with family, just know that most people aren't. Or they spend it with their family of choice. Or they spend it alone. It's okay to not feel the "joy" everyone else seems to have. There is nothing wrong with you. I've been trying to help a coworker who lost his Dad suddenly right after Thanksgiving. This is my story to him. What you're feeling is perfectly acceptable and right. If you're sad, that's the right emotion. If you find yourself laughing at an experience or memory, that's the right emotion. The holidays are rough enough without forcing yourself to be something you're not.

So happy Yule, you all. May the New Year find us all in a better place by its end.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Linkee-poo Weekend

"Only about one-fifth of the data recorded during Parker’s initial flyby will reach scientists before the sun gets between Earth and the spacecraft again. The rest of the data will be downlinked next year, between March and May. Scientists hope to start publishing results soon after."

"Executives at Johnson & Johnson (J&J) knew for decades that the talcum in its baby powder contained asbestos and failed to tell federal regulators, according to a Reuters report." Well, if that wasn't a big "fuck you" to their customers. Now if the market worked exactly as people tell us it would work in a free market world, J&J would be out of business by next year. Even though there's nothing to prevent it in our current market, I wouldn't bet that way. (Grokked from Ann Leckie)

"The Department of Housing and Urban Development hasn’t announced a formal policy denying FHA loans for DACA recipients, but lenders tell BuzzFeed News that’s the guidance they’re getting from officials." Yes, they are just that petty. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie gave inaccurate answers to senators during his confirmation process about pro-Confederate speeches he delivered in 2009." That's a nice way of saying he lied.

"Citing government records and 'interviews with individuals familiar with the matter,' Vox reported that the former Trump campaign chairman was providing this advice while both he and the White House knew Manafort was personally under FBI investigation. Contact between the two parties continued through this year, according to court filings from special counsel Robert Mueller." Why it's almost like they knew something bad was coming down the road. Like they were guilty of something. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Fuck Cancer

But this time with a comma. As in, "Fuck, Cancer." As in "Fuck I have cancer, again."

Over the past year I've has some problems with my skin. Several we had frozen off last February. At that time the dermatologist said we should go to a 9 month interval between scans, but I should call if I notice any other problems. Which I did last April, but before I could call my life when to hell. And then I scraped my head in the garage and that left a scab over the same area. When that scab fell off, the dry spot was gone. So, yeah for self-surgery.

But there were others. Again, life was hell this past Summer.

Then in August I felt a few more spots. By October one was bleeding and crusting over. For future reference, this is not a good thing. I knew that, but life was still kinda hell and my 9 month appointment was coming up anyway.

At the end of November I saw the dermatologist again. Each time the nurse practitioner or the doctor came back into the exam room I kept remembering other facts (like I actually took a picture when the one spot was bleeding). At that time the doctor took two biopsies (both on the back of my head, within about 5" from the previous surgery site. We also froze off four spots that she wasn't too worried about.

And then we entered the time of Schrödinger's Cancer. This is what it's like when the biopsy sample has been taken, but you don't know the answer. So there's the box, but you don't know if you do have cancer or don't have cancer. And you're not the one who has to open the box.

Well, last Wednesday I got a call from the doctor's office. Cell phone reception at the day thing is horrible, so it went to voice mail. Work was crazy this past week so I didn't get an opportunity to call back until the next day. And then we played phone tag until Friday afternoon. At the start of the day thing's Holiday Lunch (sorry guys, like I said, I had to take that call).

The good news is the one biopsy was an inflamed cuticle. But the other one (the one closest to the previous incision site) was Basal Cell Carcinoma. It's also the site that hasn't healed well from the biopsy.

So I have cancer again. And now I have to figure out when I can have Moh's Surgery again. Right now it's not looking good until the end of January (have I mentioned life is kinda crazy at the moment).

It's still sinking in, and I keep coming up with new questions. As cancers go, if you get the choice, Basal Cell Carcinoma is the way to go. It's slow growing, doesn't typically metastasize, and isn't going to cause organ failure or any other major issues. But it will grow and left untreated can become a major problem.

However it's not good that I have had two in the past 3 years.

So fuck cancer. Fuck, cancer.

Weekend

Two photos:

:: in a French accent :: Is good to be the King.

The 16th century was so genteel.

"We now present for your edification and entertainment, Hannibal Crossing the Alps, with elephant, shooting balls of fire, and people fighting for your pleasure."

Friday, December 14, 2018

Linkee-poo closes out another week

"French authorities say the man suspected of launching a shooting attack on the Strasbourg Christmas market that killed three people and wounded 13 others was slain by police Thursday, ending an extensive two-day manhunt."

"Quindar Tones" for your world building exercises. (Grokked from Dan)

"But this year brings a skywatching bonus: the Geminids peak comes Thursday and Friday night, just as the brightest comet of the year, 46P/Wirtanen, is set to come historically close just a few nights later on Dec. 16."

"During a test flight Thursday morning in Mojave, Calif., a pair of pilots flying the company's SpaceShipTwo spacecraft hit an altitude of 51.4 miles. That height clears the 50-mile threshold that is sometimes considered the boundary of space."

"SpaceX has completed what might be its most important Falcon 9 reuse yet after successfully launching and recovering booster B1046 for the third time in just six months. Prior to this launch, the company had never before flown a reused Falcon 9 booster more than once." There's a lot of "rah rah team" going on in the article, but still interesting. (Grokked from Dan)

"Organizers of a Christmas event have apologized to outraged parents after a fire alarm reportedly prompted Santa Claus to burst out of his grotto, rip off his beard and scream at children to 'get the f**k out.'" (Grokked from Anne Wheaton)

"The Arctic has experienced the 'most unprecedented transition in history' in terms of warming temperatures and melting ice, and those changes may be the cause of extreme weather around the globe, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2018 Arctic Report Card." We're boned. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"House Republicans on Thursday worked to build a case for the Trump administration to stop federal funding of research on tissue from aborted fetuses while Democrats brandished a scientist's letter that undercut the GOP claims." This argument is not about facts or even religion, it's about keeping power in conservative hands. And fuck everybody else.

"Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses, according to a new government report. The latest numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics say that the rate of drug overdoses involving the synthetic opioid skyrocketed by about 113 percent each year from 2013 through 2016."

"About twenty people were in line at 11:00 am today for the start of a free Narcan distribution at the Blasco Library… The 120 kits were gone in two hours." America's drug problem is bigger than anyone wants to admit.

The Takeaway podcast with "A new survey from Bankrate.com suggests that six in ten Americans did not see a pay raise in the past year."

"Over the past two years, the Geauga County Sheriff's Office tells News 5 there have been nearly 80 crashes involving Amish buggies with many of them involving some kind of injury. Those injuries appear to be happening at a faster rate than data provided by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) , which said from 2010 - 2014, there were 83 crashes and a few fatalities." I drive some of those roads with "buggy lanes." Yeah, they're not as helpful as you might think. But I do agree that the rural infrastructure has been ignored. If you think roads are bad in your suburb (or city neighborhood), just take a step off the main highways in the rural US.

"'Sandy Hook Promise,' a non-profit anti-gun violence group formed after the attack, is training students around the nation to spot warning signs in other would–be shooters, and to anonymously report concerns through a mobile app. The Say Something Anonymous Reporting System soft launched earlier this year, and is now rolling out in earnest; SHP says the total number of school districts using it will jump from about 150 to more than 600 next month." I think it's an interesting idea, but I think it's solely based on reverse thinking. "This person did this and they were the shooter ergo all shooters do this…" While ignoring that not all shooters do that, and many people do those things and they will never be shooters. But I am glad it's catching kids who are headed to suicide.

"A criminal complaint filed this week in federal court details what agents found when they entered and searched a Willow Run Drive home in South Toledo — an AK-47, a shotgun, multiple handguns, ammunition, and a shopping bag full of end caps, a component often used to build pipe bombs." (Grokked from Michele)

"By Thursday night, more than 25,000 people had signed a petition for Judge Ralph Strother of McLennan County, Texas, to either resign or be removed from the bench after he accepted on Monday a deal that allowed Jacob Anderson to plea down to unlawful restraint, with deferred probation, counseling and a fine but no requirement he register as a sex offender." Good, but it won't do anything.

"Dozens of institutions across the country, including locations in Cleveland and Geauga and Stark counties, have received emailed bomb threats that appear to be hoaxes… The email appears to have originated from outside the United States, according to Stark County authorities." I guess the Nigerian princes are getting restless.

"A 7-year-old girl from Guatemala died of dehydration and shock after she was taken into Border Patrol custody last week for crossing from Mexico into the United States illegally with her father and a large group of migrants along a remote span of New Mexico desert, U.S. Customs and Border Protection said Thursday." When you take someone into custody you have a legal and moral obligation to see to their health and wellbeing. CBP, and the US, failed in this regard.

And then there were two. "China has detained a second Canadian citizen this week, a Chinese government news site has confirmed. China's state security bureau is holding Michael Spavor on suspicion of jeopardizing China's national security. As NPR's Rob Schmitz reports, the detentions appear to be retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou."

Brexit? "EU refuses to help British PM over Brexit, says 'it is not open for renegotiation'". Dear Britains, since your country voted to leave you have never been in the driver's seat, and the only reason you thought you would be were dreams of Empire Past.

"The United States and South Korea have failed to agree on a bigger South Korean share of the cost of maintaining U.S. troops, an official said on Friday, as the U.S. military warned Korean workers they might be put on leave if no deal is reached." Yeah, this won't end well either.

"Rep.-elect Mark Green (R-TN), a physician, is walking back his statement about vaccinations possibly causing autism after sharp backlash, according to a Wednesday night Washington Post report." The guy is a doctor, but he's going to find the actual reports to prove vaccines cause autism once he's in office. Proving once again, just because you have a fancy degree does not mean you're intelligent.

"Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen warned party leaders that what she sees as the GOP's focus on conservative, white, male voters harms its electoral prospects. In an interview with Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, Ros-Lehtinen said Republicans would 'lose this whole generation' if it did not 'aggressively pursue' young voters." I love conservatives who talk about how all the stuff the GOP supports and the direction it's going isn't "their" Republican Party. No, it is. You have to wake up to the fact that it's always been this party (at least since mid-last century). Until conservatives realize they need to dump social conservatives (reverse the Reagan Compromise) they went full in on the path codified by Nixon's Southern Strategy and born from the embrace of what was once called the lunatic right-wing fringe (Birchers).

"From televised blow-up to relative silence: spending negotiations remain frozen as the days tick away toward a partial government shutdown. The next big question now is what House GOP leaders, in their final days in the majority, will do to kick the legislative process into gear. As of Wednesday night, decisions hadn't been finalized -- and there were clear strategic disputes inside the conference about the next steps."

"The House and Senate left town Thursday with no strategy to avert a partial government shutdown next week, putting Congress on the brink of an intractable conflict that could drag out through New Year’s Day — furloughing hundreds of thousands of workers and costing taxpayers millions." There is no plan. That pretty much defines GOP control of the House for the last 8 years.

"Federal prosecutors are examining whether foreigners illegally funneled donations to President Trump’s inaugural committee and a pro-Trump super PAC in hopes of buying influence over American policy, according to people familiar with the inquiry." There are also questions as to where all the money went.

"Admitted Russian spy Maria Butina’s Republican operative boyfriend wrote in private communications that he was involved in setting up a 'very private line of communication' between Russia and the Trump campaign using the National Rifle Association as a 'conduit.'" So my first thought is that this is interesting. I wonder how much of the NRA membership will like that? And my second thought is have we now entered a new phase of this operation where some of these big shoes will begin to drop (which will further erode confidence in out institutions and add more chaos to the situation)? (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"Parkland, Fla., school shooting survivor David Hogg offered 'thoughts and prayers' to the public relations team at the National Rifle Association (NRA) on Thursday after a Russian woman with ties to the group pleaded guilty in federal court to acting as an unregistered foreign agent." Aw, that's nice of him.

"The President did not dispute directing Cohen to make payments to women who accused him of having an affair in order to keep them quiet, but said he did not direct Cohen to break the law while doing so." Ah, we've arrived at the "sure, okay, it was illegal, but I never said to do it" stage. That's not how the world works. Ignorance of the law is no excuse.

"In Trump's universe, Mexico is already paying for the wall. And the crimes for which Michael Cohen is going to jail aren't crimes after all; they were added to his rap sheet by prosecutors as a dig at Trump." The weather is just fine in Trump's head.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Linkee-poo Thursday

Alligators, what can you do. For big project at work I am literally 1 screw short. It's a metaphor, and the truth.

NPR's "Code Switch's 2018 Book Guide."

You may have heard that PM May survived her no-confidence vote. Why? Because as the other ministers harrumph and bluster, they all know that they would then have to come up with someone else to pilot Brexit… and that's exactly how May got the job in the first place. All the Brexit leaders headed for the exists once it became real. That's because they know exiting the EU is a shit sandwich with a side-order of diarrhea (c-diff diarrhea, the worst kind). What I think is hilarious is I keep hearing about how the UK will still need to follow the EU customs and regulatory scheme with the new Brexit. I got news for ya, England, if you want to sell product to the EU, you'll have to follow all their regulations anyway (no, really, at my last job we made product for the UK and the EU, we had to be certified to sell there). The only thing Brexit gets you is passport control and you no longer need to send tax dollars to the EU parliament. If you want to sell product there, you still have to follow their regulations and controls. Oh, and you have the added costs of customs control.

"Donald Trump's longtime 'fixer' and personal attorney has been sentenced to to 36 months (3 years) in federal prison, plus an additional 3 years of supervised release, in a case in the Southern District of New York." Plus fines and restitution. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had a warning for his colleagues: You may have to work between Christmas and the New Year to accomplish all of our goals." One of those goals is confirming justices. Which seems odd because even with the new Democratic majority in the House, the Senate is still the body that confirms justices, the House plays no part. In fact, they could now lose 3 GOP Senators' votes and still be able to confirm a justice (with the help of the VP, as happened this past week). Although (I'd have to check the rules) because of seating a new Congress, all the existing nominations would have to be renominated… but so what? And even if the House would pass Articles of Impeachment, and the unlikely event the Senate would hold a trial and remove Trump from office, a president Pence wouldn't nominate any differently (heck, they might even be more despicable, just so long as they'll vote to roll back Roe v Wade and other conservative bugaboos). The only way it makes sense is if McConnell expects to be forced to hold trials of both Trump and Pence (and sees little chance of winning, basically if McConnell is forced to hold the trials by circumstance, public sentiment and his own leadership would pretty much demand a removal of both, leaving : ta-da /jazz hands : president Pelosi).

"But amid all the detail and alleged corruption in the indictment, one name is conspicuously absent: Andrew Gillum, who was Tallahassee’s mayor at the time and who was accused repeatedly on the gubernatorial campaign trail this year by Republican opponent Ron DeSantis — and even President Donald Trump — of being tied to the suspected wrongdoing the FBI was investigating." Funny that.

"The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War." What an asshole. No, seriously, these people were fleeing the fucked-up hellhole we helped create, including those who by the fact they they helped the US had the threat of sudden death if they stayed or returned to their homeland. (Grokked from Chang Terhune)

"The publisher, American Media Inc., will avoid prosecution by stipulating that it worked with Trump's campaign to buy the silence of women — who have identified themselves as adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — ahead of the vote two years ago, prosecutors said." Payment was made "in concert" with a presidential campaign. Oh look, a new rabbit hole. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Linkee-poo Wednesday

Alligators to orbit, expect patchy updates going forward.

"A gunman opened fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, France, killing at least four people and wounding nearly a dozen others, according to preliminary reports… French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said a suspect, who is still at large, has a criminal record and is known to authorities."

"French authorities detained five people as they hunted Wednesday for a suspected Islamic extremist who sprayed gunfire at one of Europe's most famous Christmas markets in the eastern city of Strasbourg. The attack left at least two people dead and 12 wounded, including seven who were in serious condition."

"NASA's InSight lander isn't camera-shy. The spacecraft used a camera on its robotic arm to take its first selfie—a mosaic made up of 11 images. This is the same imaging process used by NASA's Curiosity rover mission, in which many overlapping pictures are taken and later stitched together. Visible in the selfie are the lander's solar panel and its entire deck, including its science instruments."

"After launching in 1977, NASA’s trailblazing spacecraft Voyager 2 has finally escaped the heliosphere, the Sun’s protective bubble of charged particles. It follows in the path of its sibling, Voyager 1, which crossed into interstellar space in 2012."

"The (Shingrix) shortage is a nationwide problem, though anecdotal accounts suggest more of an ever-shifting patchwork of supply. And the cause, according to the drug's manufacturer, GlaxoSmithKline, is simple: 'Unprecedented demand.'" Or, you know, artificial scarcity to increase prices.

"Dr. Jonathan Sevransky was intrigued when he heard that a well-known physician in Virginia had reported remarkable results from a simple treatment for sepsis. Could the leading cause of death in hospitals really be treated with intravenous vitamin C, the vitamin thiamine and doses of steroids?" A cheap, effective treatment for sepsis. Oh hells yes.

"Antibiotic resistance poses a threat to global health and food security. And McDonald's — one of the globe's largest purchasers of beef — gets it: The more that antibiotics are given to livestock, the more quickly bacteria could adapt and become resistant to them. Ultimately, experts say this could render the drugs ineffective for people." If only they hadn't been a major contributor to the start of their use.

"The United Nations climate change conference underway here in Poland could play a critical role in the fight to stem greenhouse gas emissions and keep temperatures from rising to unsafe levels… The Trump Administration showed up to pitch fossil fuels. In a closely watched event Monday on the sidelines of official negotiations, U.S. officials touted natural gas and argued in support of coal’s place in the electricity mix." The word you're reaching for is "clueless." "… Trump’s approach to climate change is met largely with ridicule on the world stage." We're boned.

Oh hey, look who's back. "The many efforts of government officials and scientists has made acid rain less of a threat in the Adirondacks than it had been, but some worry that the federal administration's proposed rollbacks on pollution regulations could ruin that progress." Acid rain, the dipshittery of this administration knows no bounds. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"A 'hi-tech robot' shown on Russian state television has turned out to be a man in a suit." (Waves to our Russian friends). (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The New Haven Police Department simply doesn't have enough cops. It's a nationwide problem, as agencies that slowed or froze hiring during the recession are now struggling to build their ranks up again in the middle of a hot job market. Officers are retiring faster than they can be replaced." This has actually been a long developing problem. While there are problems with some officers, being a police officer, for the most part, is a shit job that pays shittly, and the one huge benefit (excellent retirement) is being eroded as state's destroy their public employee retirement systems. For our little village we barely paid above minimum wage and had some pretty shady officers. I helped increase pay (still not where it should be), but then I could reward the good cops and get rid of the bad while hiring in a better class of officers. It completely changed the makeup of our little force (for the good). But then we couldn't have a lot of police (and when I left office, there were 4 hours a week we had no one patrolling or in the office). And now a lot of the veterans are approaching full retirement (nationwide) and believe me they're going to take it before state legislatures roll back retirement benefits again.

"A judge has accepted a plea agreement under which the former president of a Baylor University fraternity, accused of raping a female student, will serve no jail time and won't have to register as a sex offender." Tell me again how our justice system doesn't need an overhaul.

"A jury in Charlottesville said Tuesday that James Alex Fields Jr. should be sentenced to life plus 419 years in prison and $480,000 in fines, for killing Heather Heyer and seriously injuring 35 others." I expect the judge will say that's excessive, but hopefully even reduced it'll mean he spends his life in jail.

Remember how one of the major critiques of the GHW Bush presidency was his slow walk on HIV/AIDS research and prevention? "A scientist who was supposed to supply mice that have been modified with human fetal tissue for an HIV study emailed researchers that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) 'has directed me to discontinue procuring fetal tissue… This effectively stops all of our research to discover a cure for HIV,' he wrote." Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. (Grokked from Lizz Winstead)

"An Indiana high school football player told investigators that he killed a 17-year-old schoolmate because he was angry that she waited so long to tell him she was pregnant with his child that it was too late to get an abortion, authorities said Monday."

"Bells of Balangiga are returned to Philippines after more than a century… In 1901, U.S. troops took them from a church following an attack by machete-wielding villagers. The Americans also reportedly killed thousands of locals."

"The FBI is helping investigate an attack by several suspected white supremacists on a black disc jockey at a tavern in Washington state over the weekend, authorities said Monday."

How go the Trade Wars? "A Canadian judge ruled Tuesday a Chinese tech executive, detained at the request of the U.S., can be free on bail while awaiting an extradition hearing… Ten days after Canadian authorities detained Meng, China reportedly detained a former Canadian diplomat — ratcheting up tensions in this diplomatic row."

On the power grabs going on in Wisconsin and Michigan… "But some legal experts say the most alarming legislation the Republicans have passed is unconstitutional and unlikely to survive outraged Democrats’ legal challenges… Among other issues, they contend many of the Republican laws blur the constitutionally mandated separation of powers among the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government." But that will delay and keep the new administrations entangled in legal arguments instead of advancing progressive agendas, which is also part of the plan.

"Google CEO Sundar Pichai made his public debut before Congress on Tuesday, spending much of his testimony countering Republicans' allegations of anti-conservative bias in the company's search results." Don't worry congresspeoples even SEO experts really don't get it either.

"The Trump administration on Tuesday made an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court to allow the enforcement of its asylum policy… The appeal comes after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday decided not to lift an injunction preventing the asylum ban from being enforced."

"Lawmakers unveiled the much-anticipated farm bill compromise Monday night… The agreement was reached after a proposal — backed by House Republicans and President Trump — to add stricter work requirements for those who receive food stamps was taken off the table."

"In a testy Oval Office exchange with the two top congressional Democrats, Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Trump made clear he would be 'proud' to shut down the government in less than two weeks if he doesn't get funding for his border wall." Yeah, stable genius my ass. Also, I'm so tired of the Democrats having to be the adults at giving into the Republicans. Fuck that shit. And here's the thing, the Republicans still control the House and Senate. It's their goddamn job to keep the government open. But even in the minority the Democrats will get the blame for not going along for a ride.

"FACT CHECK: Trump Says 'A Lot Of Wall Has Been Built' As He Demands We Build More." Unfortunately no fact check on the president claiming we captured 10 terrorists who were hiding with the caravan. And I haven't seen any reports to backup that claim.

"The audit found that as of Oct. 1, CBP had paid Accenture Federal Services approximately $13.6 million of a $297 million contract to recruit and hire 7,500 applicants, including Customs and Border Protection officers, Border Patrol agents, and Air and Marine Interdiction agents. But 10 months into the first year of a five-year contract, Accenture had processed only 'two accepted job offers,' according to the report." And part of the problem is a reiteration of what I said when Trump announced his beefed-up hiring numbers, "Border Patrol jobs with the CBP have been notoriously difficult to fill, in large part because of the polygraph exam applicants are required to undergo. The AP reported that 2 out of 3 applicants fail the exam."

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Linkee-poo Tuesday

Alligators overboard.

"House Speaker Paul Ryan’s legacy can be summed up in just one number: $343 billion… That’s the increase between the deficit for fiscal year 2015 and fiscal year 2018 — that is, the difference between the fiscal year before Ryan became speaker of the House and the fiscal year in which he retired." Republicans are not fiscally responsible, they just don't want to play fair. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Monday it would be a mistake for Democrats to launch investigations once they officially retake the majority in the House, arguing that the country has 'other problems.'" Dear Rep. McCarthy, refund the American public the cost of your 4 Benghazi investigations first. "'And if Schiff is taking this beyond — to go forward and say there’s an impeachable offense because of a campaign finance problem, there’s a lot of members in Congress who would have to leave for that.'" There's the door, bucko. Don't let it hit you in the ass. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"An eight-year campaign to slash the agency’s budget has left it understaffed, hamstrung and operating with archaic equipment. The result: billions less to fund the government. That’s good news for corporations and the wealthy." Oh Dear, the campaign to hamstring the IRS is much older than just 8 years. This was talked about in the 80s and began in earnest during the 90s after the Republican Revolution that ushered Newt Gingrich into Congressional leadership. "The story has been different for poor taxpayers. The IRS oversees one of the government’s largest anti-poverty programs, the earned income tax credit, which provides cash to the working poor. Under continued pressure from Republicans, the IRS has long made a priority of auditing people who receive that money, and as the IRS has shrunk, those audits have consumed even more resources, accounting for 36 percent of audits last year. The credit’s recipients — whose annual income is typically less than $20,000 — are now examined at rates similar to those who make $500,000 to $1 million a year." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"The bromance between Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son in law, and Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, also known as MBS, turned out not to have been that at all; rather, Kushner has been the victim of a long, involved campaign to use his stupidity against him." Sort of like how Putin is using Trump's stupidity against him. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Maria Butina, a Russian gun rights activist, is poised to plead guilty in a case involving accusations that she was working as an agent for the Kremlin in the United States, according to a new court filing." I suspect there will be heavy drinking at the NRA holiday brunch. Hope they don't bring their guns with them. Silly me, the NRA doesn't allow guns at its events. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Prosecutors said that she had used Erickson’s political connections to infiltrate the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other Republican circles on behalf of Russia. The FBI claimed that it had found a handwritten note in Butina’s possession asking, 'How to respond to FSB offer of employment?' referring to the Russian state intelligence organization." Apparently the handwriting was Ericsson's. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig in a roundabout way)

Monday, December 10, 2018

Linkee-poo is it Monday again

"What does Martian wind sound like? Now we know." There is no microphone, this is inferred sound picked up by other pressure and vibration detectors (and sped up a little). But still cool.

"NASA's Lincoln penny on Mars shows how hard the wind blows… The Curiosity rover's 1909 penny looks very different than it did at the end of a massive dust storm." (Grokked from Dan)

"The Annals of Internal Medicine this week retracted a study that said the book's recipes changed with updated editions to include more calories and bigger portions. It said a reanalysis by co-author Brian Wansink resulted in numbers that differed — 'many substantially so' — from the published versions." Highly processed food and high-fructose corn syrup in every damn thing (ie. "cheap" calories) is behind the obesity epidemic, but we're going to have to be drug to that conclusion.

"Rick Thoman is a climatologist for the Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He says Utqiaġvik is warming, along with the rest of the Arctic, about twice as fast as the rest of the globe. If you want to see some of the most dramatic change on the ground, the Utqiaġvik coastline in the fall is a good place to look." We're boned.

Tell me again about how wonderful our healthcare system is. "Last year, Lautner noticed other people with Type 1 diabetes tweeting similar stories under the hashtag #Insulin4All. She read the stories of Shane Patrick Boyle and Alec Raeshawn Smith, two men who died because they could not afford their insulin. It was an epiphany." For profit healthcare is junk. But here is how that will be solved, companies will continue to screw the low-level employees when the real problem is executive pay, too many executives (good people giving other good people jobs), and too many people with their hands in the pot (middle men who were set up to help control costs but in actual practice increase costs as they add their "needed" profits to the chain).

"We know we need to exercise for our health, but a lifelong exercise habit may also help us feel younger and stay stronger well into our senior years. In fact, people in their 70s who have been exercising regularly for decades seem to have put a brake on the aging process, maintaining the heart, lung, and muscle fitness of healthy people at least 30 years younger." This is an interesting study, not for it's findings (you'd expect for how it was set up to find these results), but because of it's glaring omissions. This study merely proved a tautology, those who exercise who survive to older age show results from that exercise. A real study would have followed a randomly selected group and control groups and watch how exercise affected the body all throughout their lives. This study misses all those who stopped exercising (for whatever reason), died before samples could be taken and if these effects are actually benefits or meaningless statistics. Hell, when I exercised on the Wii Fit I regularly was rated as in my early 30s for heath. It's meaningless except to say, "I'm still young." This is just boomers wanting to claim they're still young and not old farts. But in general exercise is important to the human body and has been shown to affect body and mind, even if it's only an hour a week of "low impact" exercise (like walking over flat surfaces).

"On display now at the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., is a special exhibit centered on a rare Bible from the 1800s that was used by British missionaries to convert and educate slaves… What's notable about this Bible is not just its rarity, but its content, or rather the lack of content. It excludes any portion of text that might inspire rebellion or liberation." Just note the Museum of the Bible is the one founded by the family that controls Hobby Lobby and has already been caught out on displaying fake Dead Sea Scrolls and for illegally looting archeological site or buying items looted from sites (including from ISIS). "'One of the points of the exhibit is that time and place really shape how people encounter the Bible,' (Anthony Schmidt, associate curator of Bible and Religion in America at the museum) says. 'What I mean by that is people don't look at the Bible or approach the Bible or read the Bible in a vacuum. They're shaped by their social and economic context.'" That a nice spin on how the Bible and the proselytization of Christianity has been used to keep people subjugated and how it is a product of human origin, not God's infallible transcription. This is not meant as a criticism of the stories behind the Bible, but how the Bible has been promoted within the culture. Also note the King James version was also selectively edited to enforce the Divine Right of Kings and consciously used outmoded linguistic forms to denote authority and respect for tradition (I could go through the history of the Bible back to the Council of Nicaea, but man is that boring stuff).

"The Education Department is releasing a plan Sunday to help these teachers who have been wrongly hit with debts, sometimes totaling tens of thousands of dollars, because of a troubled federal grant program." Unfortunately many lives have already been ruined (even if they actually get their loans converted to grants). And this story was posted late Sunday, and there were no actual details of the plan. The problem is one of outsourcing government functions and giving that company a reverse incentive to deny claims (because then they make money from administering the grant program and then from processing the loan). "But Federal Student Aid Communications Director April Jordan says the burden is still on teachers to speak up. To get their money back, 'they need to raise their hand and tell us that they want us to take a look at their certification again,' she says." Yeah, that's a crap way to do business.

Brexit? "U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is calling off a crucial vote in Parliament on whether to approve her Brexit deal, according to a person familiar with the situation."

"Major oil producers have reached a deal to cut oil production and boost the market, following two days of grueling negotiations and despite opposition from U.S. President Donald Trump." And now everyone cheats to profit from the temporary spike in price and then the price of oil sinks back to the same level.

"President Trump continues to rail against special counsel Robert Mueller and his investigation into Russian interference… Trump has, for example, used the words 'witch hunt' in tweets nearly a dozen times in the month since Election Day… The phrase appears to have stuck with his base, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll, but not with others beyond that. Seven in 10 Republicans agree with him, while a majority of independents and 4 in 5 Democrats see the investigation as 'fair.'" No, really, this is my shocked face.

"'Until recently, no party has tried to hamstring their opponents' future power to the way the Republicans are doing it now,' John Chamberlin, professor emeritus of political science and public policy at the University of Michigan, told NBC News, adding, 'They are a bad sign that state politics is being infected by the toxic national political environment.'" It's only toxic because of the actions of one party. So let us start calling it what it is. The GOP is a rogue criminal organization.

Hey, how are our friends in N Korea doing? "North Korea appears to be expanding a missile base in a remote, mountainous part of the country, according to new commercial satellite imagery studied by independent researchers." Again? (Yes, this is a different base than the one reported on in November) Why, it's almost like the Shanghai summit was a sham.

"The suit says that while Falwell Jr. and his wife were guests at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach in 2012, they developed a “friendly relationship” with the pool attendant, Giancarlo Granda; flew Granda in a private jet; and eventually backed him in a business venture, setting up a hostel that offers low-cost dorm-style nightly accommodations to visitors. The pool attendant, according to public records databases, was 21 when he met the Falwells." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"White House chief of staff John Kelly will leave 'toward the end of the year,' President Trump said Saturday. It is the latest administration shake-up as Trump makes adjustments following the recent midterm elections."

"Nick Ayers, the leading candidate to replace John Kelly as President Donald Trump's chief of staff, announced Sunday he will not be taking the job, reviving discussions about who will succeed the retired Marine general when he leaves at the end of the month." He's also leaving at the end of the year. Seems to be a pattern (yes, yes, end of second year always sees staff "moving on").

Almost lost in the whirlwind about Friday's sentencing memos, "President Trump denounced his first secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, as 'dumb as a rock' and 'lazy as hell' on Friday after Mr. Tillerson said that the president had regularly pushed him to take actions that were illegal." And as it relates to John Kelly, Rex Tillerson was also called "the adult in the room" by early analysts.

So, about that document drop on Friday. "In fact, what’s remarkable about the once-unthinkable conclusions emerging from the special counsel’s investigation thus far is how, well, normal Russia’s intelligence operation appears to have been as it targeted Trump’s campaign and the 2016 presidential election. What intelligence professionals would call the assessment and recruitment phases seems to have unfolded with almost textbook precision, with few stumbling blocks and plenty of encouragement from the Trump side." Two which everybody and anybody with a modicum of experience in this area says, "Thank you. We've been saying that for years now." I think it was Michelle Obama who is quotes as saying, "These aren't the brightest of people." They openly asked to install a secure back channel from the White House to Russia which couldn't be monitored by our security services. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Friday, December 7, 2018

Linkee-poo closes out the week

Still alligators up to the armpits.

"Damian Collins chairs the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee; it was he who ordered the Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to drag a visiting US tech executive named Ted Kramer out of his hotel to surrender his laptop to Parliament so they could see the internal Facebook documents that a US federal judge had ordered sealed." Rhut rho. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"On Wednesday, 24 Amazon employees working in a Robbinsville Township, New Jersey, warehouse were sent to five different area hospitals after a 9oz canister of bear spray was deployed… Early reports that the canister was punctured by an Amazon robot have not been confirmed by either Amazon or the Township's communication official… Robbinsville first responders only reported that an 'automated machine' was to blame, which could mean anything from a programmed robotic arm to an automated conveyor belt." Skynet strikes again. (Grokked from John)

"The study, published Thursday in the scientific journal Nature, found that Greenland's ice loss accelerated rapidly in the past two decades after remaining relatively stable since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s." We're boned.

"Extreme global warming that left ocean animals unable to breathe triggered Earth’s biggest ever mass extinction, according to new research… Around 95 per cent of marine species and 70 per cent of life on land was wiped out in the event often referred to as “The Great Dying”, which struck 252 million years ago."

"A study published last week in Global Change Biology warns that without the snowpack, maple trees are projected to grow about 40 percent slower. As climate change reduces the amount of deep snow in New England, the study says this spells trouble for the trees — and for humans — as the trees not only give us syrup, but also eat up a chunk of carbon pollution." Well fuckstockings. Also please note that the snowpack is what really recharges aquifers.

"The Trump administration took aim at two Obama-era environmental policies on Thursday to boost the oil and coal industries, proposing to open up a bird’s wildlife habitat to drilling and mining and remove hurdles to new coal-fired power plant construction."

How goes the Trade Wars? "The U.S. trade deficit rose nearly $1 billion in October, reaching the highest level in a decade as imports outpaced declining exports, according to federal data released Thursday." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Influential state media linked to China's ruling Communist Party on Friday described Washington as a 'despicable rogue' attempting to 'stifle' China's global rise by arranging for the arrest of a top executive at one of its major technology firms."

"The jobless rate remained at a nearly 50-year low of 3.7 percent in November as employers added 155,000 jobs, fewer than in October and less than expected by private analysts… In October, employers added a revised 237,000 workers — down from the 250,000 originally reported. September's job growth was revised up slightly to a gain of 119,000."

How goes Brexit? "A no-deal Brexit could see charter planes used to fly in drugs to prop up the NHS and medicines given priority access through gridlocked ports, health secretary Matt Hancock has said… The minister also revealed the government was consulting on plans for chemists to ration medication so that patients can retain access to vital treatments in the event of shortages caused by the UK’s withdrawal." Can't wait to see American conservatives use this as a "see what you get with socialized medicine?" When it has more to do with conservative politics driving the Brexit. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig in a roundabout way)

"Police have given the all-clear after a phoned in bomb threat forced the evacuation of CNN’s offices in New York." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The outgoing chair of the California GOP — the nation’s largest state Republican Party — has issued a dire warning that his state represents 'the canary in the coal mine' for the party‘s national fortunes unless it confronts demographic shifts that have already turned California into a majority-minority state." Maybe not being, supporting, and running racist and misogynist assholes might help. But then you'd have to jettison the Social Conservatives and relegate your party to a 3rd party status. Looking at the 3 candidates running to replace him, there is no hope of that happening. All are embracing the "we just need to be more 'conservative'" to win. Clapping harder to bring TinkerBell back.

"A woman who has worked for years as a maid at President Trump’s New Jersey golf club is an undocumented immigrant, The New York Times reported Thursday." Because of course you had to know there was at least one. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"From Fox & Friends to the State Department, and now likely to the United Nations… President Trump is expected to announce Friday that he has chosen Heather Nauert, the State Department spokeswoman and a former Fox News host, to become the next ambassador to the U.N., a senior administration official tells NPR's Tamara Keith." What could go wrong?

"Nancy MacLean, author of an intellectual biography of James McGill Buchanan, explains how this little-known libertarian’s work is influencing modern-day politics." You may have thought I was shooting from the hip when I said conservative leaders realized they were on the way to the minority (actually, they are already) and so have been tilting the field to hold power as long as possible (including packing the judiciary). (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The double-jeopardy clause of the Constitution says a person can't be prosecuted twice for the same crime… But, in fact, for 170 years, the Supreme Court has said that separate sovereigns — state and federal governments — can do just that, because each sovereign government has separate laws and interests." And what that means for the Mueller investigation and the prospect of presidential pardons.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Linkee-poo and any fool knows a dog needs a home, a shelter from pigs on the wing

And now for something completely different, Mongolian heavy metal. The lyrics are a little nationalistic, but not out of the realm of a lot of Northern European metal bands (although several of those are recruitment fronts for neo-Nazi groups). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

A Neil Gaiman interview on the Think Again podcast. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

The Watership Down adaption on Netflix releases a trailer. (Grokked form Matt Staggs)

"On Dec. 16th, the kilometer-wide ball of dirty ice will be less than 11.5 million km away–making it one of the 10 closest-approaching comets of the Space Age." Unfortunately it will just barely be visible to the naked eye.

"NASA's Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft completed its 1.2 billion-mile (2 billion-kilometer) journey to arrive at the asteroid Bennu Monday. The spacecraft executed a maneuver that transitioned it from flying toward Bennu to operating around the asteroid."

"Researchers in Australia have developed a 10-minute test that can detect the presence of cancer cells anywhere in the human body, according to a newly published study." Before you get excited, "The 10-minute test developed in Australia is yet to be used on humans and large clinical trials are needed before it can be used on prospective patients." Fuck cancer.

"The flight is a milestone in 'ionic wind' technology and could pave the way for quieter and environmentally cleaner aircraft in the future, engineers said when they published their findings in the journal Nature on Wednesday." Okay, but scalability might be a problem (as well as the power supply).

Why is history important? "Catholic News Service, a U.S. denominational news agency, posted a tweet on Sunday that said: 'Hanukkah began at sundown. Happy Hanukkah to those who celebrate!'… An accompanying photo showed a relief from the Arch of Titus, a marble structure built in Rome in the first century that commemorates 'the victory of the Roman general, later emperor, Titus, in the Jewish War of 66-74 CE,' according to a project at Yeshiva University." You know, when the Romans sacked and destroyed The Temple.

"That’s not dangerous—noise levels become harmful to human hearing above 85 decibels—but it is certainly not quiet. Other sounds that reach 70 decibels include freeway noise, an alarm clock, and a sewing machine. But it’s still quiet for a restaurant. Others I visited in Baltimore and New York City while researching this story were even louder: 80 decibels in a dimly lit wine bar at dinnertime; 86 decibels at a high-end food court during brunch; 90 decibels at a brewpub in a rehabbed fire station during Friday happy hour." There's this myth that "louder means more money." In the short term, probably. But if your restaurant is too loud, I never will go back there unless I'm forced to. And I know I'm not the only one.

"While oil companies built seawalls and elevated their oil rigs to protect critical production infrastructure from the rising sea level, they concealed from the public the knowledge that burning fossil fuels could have catastrophic impacts on the biosphere." And now fishermen are suing oil companies because they're already feeling the effects.

"Now, a new study, published Dec. 3 in the journal Human Reproduction, supports the possibility that the chemicals in these personal-care products are advancing the onset of puberty. In the study, public health researchers tracked a group of pregnant women and their children for 13 years, periodically measuring the concentrations of three groups of chemicals in the participants' urine. Their findings indicate that the odds governing whether a girl enters puberty earlier — which can have both physical and mental health effects — could be shifted even before children are born." They can also increase risks of certain cancers. Better living through chemistry. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"In the Illinois Capitol rotunda this month, several traditions are being celebrated. There's a Nativity scene for Christmas, a menorah for Hanukkah, and then something a little different: an arm holding an apple, with a snake coiled around it."

"OPEC and its allies are working toward a deal this week to reduce oil output by at least 1.3 million barrels per day, four sources said, adding that Russia’s resistance to a major cut was so far the main stumbling block." Gee, why would Russia want to continue to destabilize the world's oil markets? Also, not mentioned in the story, but Qatar is leaving OPEC to focus on LNG exports.

How comes that recession? "Stock prices tumbled Tuesday amid investor fears about trade, wiping out the gains that followed the Trump administration's decision to delay higher tariffs on imports from China… In another worrisome sign for the economy, the interest rate on short-term U.S. Treasury securities actually rose above that of longer-term instruments." While the all important 2-10 curve didn't invert, it's still not good news.

How goes Brexit? "U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May is locked in a power struggle with the British Parliament that looks set to determine the final shape of Brexit… May lost three key votes on a day of drama in the House of Commons on Tuesday, highlighting the weakness of her position as she tries to ratify the deal she’s struck with the European Union." I wonder if these politicians realize they have to negotiate a separation with the EU, or if they just think they should get their way… because reasons. Seriously, Britain, you voted to give a big middle-finger to Europe (I know you thought it was just your politicians you were telling to screw-off). Don't be surprised if they return the favor. Also, please note that after they won the vote, all the major Brexiteers headed for the exits when it came time to actually pilot that ship out of port. It may seriously damage your pride, but the EU Supreme Court has given you an out. Hold another referendum to Stay and then realize you've lost 2 years and a hellofalotta political capital and probably a decade's worth of economic growth.

"Steve Bannon will no longer be speaking at a UM, the latest and third event to be canceled following the announcement he would be a keynote speaker at a joint conference on sex robots this month." Well, while I think his speaking engagements should be cancelled because he's a fucking Nazi, I'll take it. Plus, a conference on sex robots? (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A Turkish prosecutor has demanded that arrest warrants be issued against two Saudi nationals close to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, a Turkish source close to the investigation said Wednesday." And after CIA Director Haspel testified to Senate Committee leadership concerned senators are once again concerned (not that they'll actually do anything).

"In the cavernous sanctuary of the National Cathedral on Wednesday, President Donald Trump will come face-to-face for the first time with his four living predecessors, an encounter occasioned only by a loss to the most exclusive club in American politics -- indeed, in the world." Thunderdome at the National Cathedral?

You might remember the story I linked to (actually it was a series of pieces) about Jeffrey Epstein's sex offender conviction and his connections. "A group of 15 Democrats urged the Justice Department's Office of the Inspector General to open up an investigation into whether Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, while serving as U.S. attorney for Miami a decade ago, cut too favorable of a deal for a wealthy serial sex offender." Here we go.

Even more about the NC 9th Congressional District shenanigans. "As North Carolina officials investigate allegations that absentee ballots were tampered with in a tight congressional race, a review of some of those ballots revealed many were signed by the same small group of people -- some of whom are connected to a longtime operative working for the Republican candidate's campaign."

"The Harris campaign confirmed to NPR Tuesday that it had received a subpoena for documents from the board this week. The campaign said it was reviewing the request."

"The man at the center of an election fraud investigation in a North Carolina congressional race turned in nearly half of the requests for absentee ballots in a single county, records released Tuesday by the state's elections board show."

"At the time, this anti-democratic maneuvering appeared exceptional to North Carolina. But in the wake of major Democratic victories in the 2018 midterm elections, it seems it was the canary in the coal mine." Conservatives are no long supportive of actual (small "d") democracy.

"But now Republicans in four key swing states—Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and North Carolina—are undertaking unprecedented efforts in lame-duck legislative sessions to strip newly elected Democratic officials of their power to oversee state voting laws and rushing to pass new laws that will make it harder to vote." (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

Michigan State Rep. Rob VerHeulen on his bill to strip the incoming Democratic governor of powers. "Well, I - my only response is to take a look at the bill itself. And I don't believe it is a power grab. And I certainly understand the optics. It's being done at lame duck or being considered in lame duck. But as the bill's sponsor, I can honestly say this is legislation that in retrospect, although it hadn't occurred to me, so - I mean, I could have introduced a year ago or two years ago or, if I were returning, two years from now because I think it's good policy. And I think it doesn't encroach on the attorney general. And I think it adds something to the judicial process by which all views are being considered, which I think results in better decision-making by the judiciary." Damnit, he broke my bullshit meter, the needle is permanently stuck on "Full of It".

"Yeah, these are moves to strip power, and there's a variety of ways in which it unfolds. There are formal mechanisms taking authority over certain laws away and giving them to different boards or commissions that would be overseen by legislators themselves. There's efforts to strip authority over lawsuits and give the governor or the attorney general less discretion in terms of what lawsuits they can pursue or appeal that would give legislators more say in the way all these rules are overseen."

"The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, the party officials said. The intrusion was detected in April by an NRCC vendor… An internal investigation was initiated and the FBI was alerted to the attack… However, senior House Republicans… were not informed of the hack until POLITICO contacted the NRCC on Monday with questions about the episode. Rank-and-file House Republicans were not told, either." Ah, I see we've reached Act 3. I suspect before the shoe drops we'll here about how this was a Democratic operation, and that's how they won the 2018 elections. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

"Special counsel Robert Mueller told a federal court Tuesday that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn has given 'substantial assistance' to the Russia investigation and should not get jail time." For some reason I want to believe all the redaction in Mueller's filling is a mind game on the administration, but I don't think he's that kind of guy.

"'Mr. Stone's invocation of his Fifth Amendment privilege must be understood by all to be the assertion of a Constitutional right by an innocent citizen who denounces secrecy,' Stone's attorney, Grant Smith, said in the letter, dated Dec. 3." Uh, yeah, Bob. Sure. Here's an interesting thing, you could also release all those documents to the public yourself, Roger.

"In a case that could shed light on the finances of the secretive Trump Organization, a federal judge has signed orders to issue 30 subpoenas on behalf of the attorneys general of Maryland and the District of Columbia in their lawsuit alleging that President Trump is profiting from foreign and state governments' spending at the Trump International Hotel in downtown Washington, D.C." Time to make the popcorn.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Linkee-poo, you house proud town mouse, ha ha, charade you are

Alligators overboard.

"Stephen Colbert honored President George H.W. Bush, who died Friday at the age of 94, with some old clips…" (and while taking a swipe at Trump).

"Olivera was in her last semester of nursing school, and she was assigned to visit a support group that had meaning for her life. She chose a support group for polio survivors, since her son's disease (AFM) and polio are similar."

"A rare polio-like disease is affecting more people around the country, in fact there are six cases in Wisconsin. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of November 2018, there are 116 confirmed cases of Acute Flaccid Myelitis (AFM) across 31 states. Studies on the disease began to ramp up in 2014 though the CDC, thus, not enough definitive information is available." Only 90% of AFM cases are children. (Note, several typos in the article.)

"Be it fate, or a stroke of good luck, Daniella Anthony and John Drennan are soon to be reunited with their precious piece of jewellery." Hint to those proposing, get the exact ring size first.

"Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges related to a corruption case involving Israel’s telecom giant, prompting immediate calls for his resignation."

"France’s prime minister on Tuesday suspended planned increases to fuel taxes for at least six months in response to weeks of sometimes violent protests, the first major U-turn by President Emmanuel Macron’s administration after 18 months in office."

Just keep this in mind when conservatives say "elections matter." "Wisconsin Republicans, just weeks away from losing control of both the governor and attorney general's offices, planned dramatic lame-duck votes Tuesday on a sweeping attempt to limit the powers of incoming Democrats, a move that opponents decried as a last-gasp power grab and attempt to invalidate the election." They don't believe it at all.

"In a letter sent to the board of elections, North Carolina's Democratic Party made claims of wrongdoing. The Washington Post reported that the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has already collected at least six sworn statements from voters in Bladen County alleging that people came to their doors and urged them to hand over their absentee ballots." Heinous fuckery most foul. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Ginger Eason told WSOCTV, a local news station in Charlotte, that Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr. paid her between $75 and $100 to pick up completed absentee ballots for North Carolina's 9th District, the results of which are being officially investigated… Dowless… has been named twice in sworn affidavits as someone who worked for Republican candidate Mark Harris's campaign against Democrat Dan McCready." Looks around for the usual suspects shouting "Voter Fraud" and alls I sees are crickets (to mix my metaphors).

"Former FBI James Comey retreated from his demand for an open hearing before the House Judiciary Committee and reached a deal to testify in private, his lawyer said Sunday."

"Special counsel Robert Mueller is set to reveal the extent of Michael Flynn's cooperation and insights into the dealings of Russians with the Trump campaign and administration… In the court filing due by midnight Tuesday, Mueller's team could also nod toward the next criminal indictments in its sights."

"An angry President Donald Trump on Monday called for his ex-personal lawyer Michael Cohen to receive a stiff prison sentence for his admitted crimes, as he accused Cohen of making up 'stories to get a GREAT & ALREADY reduced deal for himself… Trump in a Twitter tirade also accused special counsel Robert Mueller of seeking 'lies' from witnesses about Trump — and praised his longtime associate Roger Stone as having the "guts" to withstand pressure from Mueller's prosecutors to 'make up stories' about the president." Michael Cohen, if what he has said is true and can be backed up, implicates the president in campaign finance fraud (as well as corroborating the stories about Trump's deals with the Russians to build a hotel in Moscow). I'm sure there's more that "the president's fixer" knows, which is why Trump is acting frightened. It's because he is. Stone has been skirting the legal system for decades, my guess is Mueller will come after him with a sheaf full of indictments should he refuse to cooperate. And my guess is, Mueller might just throw Stone to the courts first and wait until he begs to cooperate. The circle tightens.