I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

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.

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