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

Friday, March 29, 2019

Linkee-poo is high but I'm grounded, I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed

The Neil Gaiman interview by Tim Ferriss. "You can not fix the pristine whiteness of the page.(Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"Weighing in at no more than 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), the helicopter is a technology demonstration project currently going through the rigorous verification process certifying it for Mars." (Grokked from Dan)

"Two people have died at the Grand Canyon in separate incidents this week that included one man stumbling over the edge of the rim while trying to take pictures, officials said." Selfies kill.

"Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing Thursday about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death." Oh sweet Jesus.

"Every Republican on the House Intelligence Committee is calling on Chairman Adam Schiff to resign Thursday, accusing the California Democrat of weaving a 'demonstrably false' narrative of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and 'undermining' the credibility of the panel." Once we get an apology and repayment from Devin Nunes and Trey Gowdy, sure. "The minority leader also said he would not consider removing Committee Ranking Member Devin Nunes, who was widely criticized by Democrats during his time as chairman and had to step away from the committee Russia investigation, in return for Schiff's resignation." So, GOP, please take your pearl-clutching and fuck off.

"President Donald Trump repeated a claim that powering the U.S. with wind would not work because it 'only blows sometimes' during an interview with Fox News yesterday." (Grokked for Joshua Parker)

So there was this line from the president about how we were almost at war with North Korea until he came along and how now we have fantastic relations. He sorta blamed Obama, Bush and Clinton for attempting to start a hot war. "President Trump discussed using the 'nuclear football,' a briefcase that can be used to authorize a nuclear attack, on North Korea during a 2017 visit to Puerto Rico, CNN reported Thursday." Turns out it was his own crazy ass. Our stable genius president, everybody. With all the delicacy and sophistication of a 3-year old hyped up on sugar.

"The Mueller report is more than 300 pages long. We've seen 101 words." Reading the tea leaves.

"At his Thursday night rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., President Trump and his supporters were in a celebratory mood." Don't get cocky. Actually he's attempting to continue to poison the well before the actual report is released. But then, his supporters are not the kind to listen to actual evidence and reasonable debate.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursday

Alligators, what can you do?

"The questions came a day after Vice President Mike Pence put the SLS rocket program on notice in regard to his desire to send humans to the lunar surface by 2024. 'If our current contractors can't meet this objective, then we'll find ones that will,' Pence said. During the House appropriations hearing, legislators from SLS states wanted to make sure NASA still plans to use the rocket for the agency's heavy-lift needs." Jobs, jobs, jobs.

"Terrestrial organisms stuck on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) have survived 533 days in the vacuum, intense ultraviolet radiation, and extreme temperature variations of space."

"A new study by University of Chicago scientists catalogued these rivers to conclude that significant river runoff persisted on Mars later into its history than previously thought. According to the study, published March 27 in Science Advances, the runoff was intense -- rivers on Mars were wider than those on Earth today -- and occurred at hundreds of locations on the red planet."

"'The FDA is proposing specific language that would explain how breast density can influence the accuracy of mammography and would recommend patients with dense breasts talk to their health care provider about high breast density and how it relates to breast cancer risk and their individual situation.'"

"Facebook announced Wednesday that it intends to ban content that glorifies white nationalism and separatism, a major policy shift that will begin next week." We'll see how that goes.

"By highlighting flaws in the college admissions process, these stories illustrate the deep inequities in access to the United States' elite universities. And the debate is surfacing some out-of-the-box ideas about what an alternative might look like. For example: What about a lottery?" I refer you to your first sentence and I believe you've missed the point of what "elite" and "selective process" actually mean.

"After Colorado voted to legalize marijuana in 2012, doctors in Denver noticed a surprising trend. Most people who visited the emergency room for cannabis-related complaints had smoked the drug. But those who ingested the drug were more likely to suffer more severe effects, including psychiatric symptoms and heart problems." It's beginning to sound like either a real issue, or a concerted effort at resurrecting Refer Madness. One of the problems of edibles is the effect of marijuana takes longer, so people are more likely to re-dose. Also marijuana sold now is much more potent than the varieties available just a decade ago (and about 10X more potent than varieties available in the 80s). Also, dosing is not exactly controlled.

"The ruling Wednesday by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg blocks Kentucky from implementing the work requirements and Arkansas from continuing its program. More than 18,000 Arkansas enrollees have lost Medicaid coverage since the state began the mandate last summer."

"A 19-year-old Washington state woman will spend two days in jail after pleading guilty to pushing her friend off a bridge."

How go the Trade Wars? "China has made unprecedented proposals in talks with the United States on a range of issues including forced technology transfer as the two sides work to overcome remaining obstacles to a deal to end their protracted trade war, U.S. officials told Reuters."

"U.S. economic growth slowed sharply in the fourth quarter last year to an annual rate of just 2.2 percent… The increase in the gross domestic product (note how that was phrased)… was revised down from an initial estimate of 2.6 percent growth in the fourth quarter, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. The change reflected weakness in a number of areas. Consumer spending, business investment, government spending and housing all came in lower than first thought… Economists believe growth has slowed further in the current January-March quarter to around a 1.5 percent rate." But it's not a recession.

"LifeWay Christian Stores plans to close all of its locations by end of the year and move all of the company's retailing online. Its bricks-and-mortar division has been losing money since 2013, and the company says it's tried just about everything to keep the business going, including overhauling several stores last summer and experimenting with features like coffee bars."

How goes Brexit? "MPs hoped Wednesday's unprecedented series of "indicative votes" would help break the parliamentary deadlock over Brexit… The failure to identify a clear way forward led to angry exchanges in the Commons with critics of the process saying it had been 'an abject failure'."

"European newspapers say UK Prime Minister Theresa May's promise to quit if MPs back her Brexit deal - and the failure of Parliament to agree on any of the eight proposed alternatives - have plunged Britain deeper into paralysis."

"British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday that she will resign if Parliament will pass her Brexit deal, which has already been defeated twice."

"Icelandic budget airline WOW Air ceased operations on Thursday, stranding passengers across two continents. In a statement on its website the airline, which had earlier suspended all its flights, told passengers there would be no further flights and advised them to check flights with other airlines for ways to reach their destinations." Iceland's other airline, Icelandair, is also suffering from the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max8.

"Democrats are putting the Green New Deal in the rearview mirror, but they’re not abandoning climate change legislation… Supporters of the progressive measure are shifting their sights away from passing a comprehensive plan to create green jobs and pursue 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. They are instead looking at multiple bills in hopes of advancing elements of the broader initiative." The problem is climate change will kill us no matter what we want to call it.

"President Trump's pick for a powerful post on the Federal Reserve Board is drawing mounting criticism from economists of all stripes… Trump said on Friday that he plans to nominate Stephen Moore, a campaign adviser and conservative pundit, to serve on the Fed's Board of Governors." Appointing Wrong Way Feldmann to navigator position is not a good strategy.

A black man not being prosecuted? Well, we can't have that. "President Donald Trump says the FBI and Department of Justice will review the case of “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett in Chicago."

"Federal agents apprehended more than 4,000 migrants crossing the border on each of two days this week — the highest daily total recorded in 15 years, according to a senior official with Customs and Border Protection… 'The breaking point has arrived,' said CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan in a news conference Wednesday in El Paso, Texas… 'CBP is facing an unprecedented humanitarian and border security crisis all along our Southwest border — and nowhere has that crisis manifested more acutely than here in El Paso,' McAleenan said." Please note the crisis he's talking about is that he can no longer enforce the Zero Tolerance policy of the Trump administration. So they're having to release immigrants with only their promise to show up at their court dates, like we've done since the 80s. This is an entirely manufactured crisis brought upon the US because of the intentional policies of the Trump administration (closing immigration offices in Central America, zeroing out assistance payments to those countries, exporting gangs like MS13 (which, okay, happened during GW Bush), inability to reduce the drug culture in the US, and our failure to address climate change). What we are seeing here are the fruits of those policies. And as the climate continues to warm, these streams of human migration out of tropical zones into temperate zones will increase.

"More than 100 migrants are in custody after they allegedly commandeered a Turkish cargo ship that rescued them off the coast of Libya."

"The U.S. Air Force says it needs $4.9 billion in new funding over the next two and a half years to cover the costs of rebuilding two air bases hit by natural disasters." I'm sorry, we gotta build a wall instead.

"Parscale delivered a talk on Thursday at the Romanian Academy with the title 'Let’s Make Political Marketing Great Again' in the presence of numerous personalities of Romania’s political and academic elite… he shared fascinating details about the Trump campaign’s plans to use 1.6 million volunteers in a data-driven, large-scale ground game operation to win the next Presidential election . During his three-day stay in Bucharest, Parscale also gave an extended public interview in prime time on a popular TV news station and met with various local business and political leaders." Social media scorched-earth campaigning. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Federal prosecutors are close to bringing charges against Greg Craig, a prominent Democratic lawyer and former White House counsel in the Obama administration, in a case that originated with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter."

"President Trump says he will release the full and unredacted Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants and related documents used by the FBI in its probe of his campaign, now that special counsel Robert Mueller has concluded his investigation. 'At the right time, we will be absolutely releasing' them, Mr. Trump told Fox News' Sean Hannity Wednesday night." I'm sure his lawyers will find a reason to not release them. Like they did last time. I've got a better idea, though, release the Mueller Report.

"Former FBI Director James Comey, in his first television interview since special counsel Robert Mueller concluded his investigation, said the principal findings of the probe show President Donald Trump's blistering criticism of the FBI were lies and his attempt to destroy the agency had failed."

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday

Alligators overboard!

"This is what modern fantasy writers are up against. In my local B&N, most authors are lucky to find a copy of their book, super lucky if it’s face out. There are 3.5 shelves for Tolkien. 1.5 for Jordan. Here’s who we compete against for shelf space: not each other, but dead guys." A tweet by Fonda Lee, for which she received a shitstorm, for which Jim Hines calls out said shitstorm for what it really is. I do like Tolkein (although I find him slightly unreadable the older I get), and Jordan's first couple of Wheel of Time books (and Conan) were good and both series of books are considered classics (what, no Donaldson? But he's still alive, right?). It reminds me of the story about why barns are painted red (they're painted red because red is a cheap paint, why is it cheap, because they make a ton of it because people buy it to paint their barns with). But seriously, I know people's shopping habits have changed in this age of the Internet (ie. web). But web shops are great to buy the product you already know you want. Shopping on the web is still horrible to find things you didn't know you needed. There is no really comparable "browsing" function (at best you can see a bunch of options for things you were looking for). BTW, Jim is great guy and one of the reasons I like him (besides writing kick-ass books) is that he is willing to call out bullshit when he sees it (salutes). (Grokked from Jason Sanford because I really needed one more layer of abstraction to make this all work)

Ah, the unexpected third-act plot twist. "Attorneys for 'Empire' actor Jussie Smollett said Tuesday that charges alleging he lied to police about a racist and homophobic attack have been dropped." (Grokked from Bo Bolander)

"FDA finds breast implants cause rare form of cancer… The panel said it was too soon to pull the implants from the market, but says it will make a recommendation Tuesday." These are the textured implants. And while I appreciate the issues surrounding implants (especially for reconstruction after mastectomy), I'm not sure a delay is what's needed here.

"The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved siponimod (Mayzent, Novartis) to treat adults with relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), including clinically isolated syndrome, relapsing-remitting disease, and active secondary progressive (SP) disease, the agency announced." But it doesn't really sound all that fantastic and there are sever potential side-effects.

"Despite Trump's tweet Tuesday that the GOP will become 'the Party of Healthcare!' and his pledge to take care of people with pre-existing conditions, it is increasingly, glaringly, alarmingly clear that the White House has no plan for what comes next if courts ultimately agree that the Affordable Care Act is now unconstitutional."

"Unlike commercial plans that cap members' out-of-pocket drug spending annually, Medicare has no limit for prescription medications in Part D, its drug benefit. With the cost of specialty drugs increasing, some Medicare beneficiaries could owe thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket drug costs every year for a single drug."

"India announced Wednesday that it successfully fired an anti-satellite weapon and intercepted an unidentified Indian satellite at an altitude of 300km. This test, named 'Mission Shakti,' gives India the prestige of becoming only the fourth nation to shoot down a satellite, but it raises serious questions about orbital debris and the on-going militarization of space." "Shot-down" is a misnomer. It destroyed the satellite creating a debris cloud that threatens other satellites. (Grokked from John)

"A U.S. federal court struck down North Carolina’s decades-old ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, saying any 'week- or event-specific' abortion ban is unconstitutional." And now to the Supreme Court.

"How to sell a massacre: NRA's playbook revealed." Ooo, more fun fallout from AlJazeera's penetration of Australia's One Nation organization. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"The Mueller report, or what is known of it so far, removes the worst-case scenarios that had been hanging over President Donald Trump’s head. But it does not fully exonerate him. Nor does it answer many of the questions Americans still have about the conduct of their president and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election." While they say they have 5 lingering questions, it's essentially one question. If the president isn't colluding with Russia, or a Russian agent, why does he and everyone around him act like they are? And that's a fair question.

"U.S. Attorney General William Barr plans to issue a public version of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election within 'weeks, not months,' a Justice Department official said on Tuesday." Here's the thing, the Group of 7 should be able to read the report right now, as it stands (one copy, in a secured room, no notes as per previous disclosures). Why isn't the report shared with them right now? Mostly it's because the report doesn't say what Barr claims it says, and his decision to not prosecute for obstruction is based on his belief that for a president to be found in obstruction he also must be guilty of the crime he is obstructing investigation of. In this case, conspiracy with the Russians. Note here, the president is an unindicted coconspirator in at least 2 other felonies that the president's aids/employees have already pleaded guilty to. Barr is not considering that maybe the president was obstructing those cases as well. Because he doesn't want to.

"The release of special counsel Robert Mueller's report may provide Americans with the best playbook yet on how to defend democracy in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election." But you'll note the president hasn't done a damn thing to make Russia's job harder. Almost like he was an asset. Because he thinks Russia wants to help him. What nobody has effetely explained to the president is that he's a useful idiot to the Russians, and as soon as burning him will advance their goals (of chaos and weakening the West) they will light him up like Burning Man.

Tweet of my heart: @BarbMcQuade Mueller did not establish conspiracy. That’s different from saying he found no collusion. Sometimes my father-in-law can’t find his car in the parking lot. That doesn’t mean his car is not there. We need to see the full report to understand the facts so we can safeguard elections (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Linkee-poo can't get ahead on Tuesdays

Own your stigma pin series kickstarter. Pins for the real you. (Grokked from Julie from Seanan McGuire)

"When I went to the Viable Paradise writer’s workshop back in the distant dim year of 2013, the inestimable Elizabeth Bear, along with various other people who are cleverer than me, explained to me about the tricks a writer gets for free in their box. The writing-skill cards you drew in your first poker hand." Play to your strengths.

"At the start of the rainy season in late spring, families in Oaxaca venture outside with pails and plastic containers. As storms roll in, flying ants known as chicatanas will flee their nests, filling the sky with swarms. Making for the ultimate foraging experience, the bugs are plentiful, free, and a short-lived seasonal delicacy." (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope document the formation of a Great Dark Spot on Neptune for the first time, report researchers in a new study." Hubble, still making science.

"NASA's Curiosity rover has been up to its wheel treads with Mars pebbles lately. The rover is rolling to a potential drill site, but it's doing some sightseeing along the way. The views include a fascinating collection of rounded pebbles."

"These immature neurons, described online March 25 in Nature Medicine, mark the latest data points in the decades-old debate over whether people’s brains churn out new nerve cells into adulthood. The process, called neurogenesis, happens in the brains of some animals, but scientists have been divided over whether adult human brains are capable of such renewal (SN Online: 12/20/18)." Whispers that astrocytes can convert to neurons. What's next, that we continue to make new nephrons in our kidneys?

"Duke University will pay $112 million to settle a whistleblower lawsuit after federal prosecutors said a research technician's fake data landed millions of dollars in federal grants, the school and the government said Monday." Oopsie.

"The fastest-shrinking glacier in Greenland has made an unexpected turn… Although it's been melting for 20 years, the Jakobshavn Glacier in West Greenland - famous for producing the iceberg that sank the Titanic - has now started growing again." Before you start celebrating, it's a temporary situation and they don't expect the glacier to come close to re-establishing as much ice as it's already lost.

"According to NASA, last week when Hague performed the first operation with astronaut Anne McClain, there was an issue with the fit of McClain's spacesuit. In what is essentially the 't-shirt' area of the Enhanced EMU suit astronauts wear on spacewalks, the Hard Upper Torso (H.U.T.) comes in three sizes: Medium, Large and XL. McClain had trained in both the medium and large sized units, but discovered that the medium size worked better for her. According to a spokesperson, there are two medium-sized units onboard, however only one can be ready in time, so Koch will go with Hague instead and history will have to be made another day."

How goes Brexit? "British lawmakers called on Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday to heed whatever alternative Brexit strategy they can settle on after they attempted to break the impasse by grabbing control of the process in parliament." The problem is that there is no clear strategy and goals for the Leave side. They just want out.

"The Pentagon has authorised the transfer of $1bn (£758m) to army engineers for new wall construction along the US-Mexico border."

"Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, said Monday the recent triggering of a recession indicator in the U.S. bond markets could signal the need for an interest rate cut and not a prolonged economic downturn." Always the optimist. Also note the "rules have changed" language which always precedes recessions. Post recession everybody agrees the rules have not changed.

Remember when conservatives were all about the "will of the people"? "Florida’s Amendment 4 restored voting rights to more than 1 million people with felony records. But GOP-sponsored proposals could limit who actually gets to vote."

"The Green New Deal, liberal Democrats' sweeping proposal to address climate change, could get its first vote on Capitol Hill Tuesday… The irony? It's Republican opponents, led by GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who are eager to bring the non-binding resolution to a vote because they believe the plan they continually lambaste will turn off voters heading to the polls next year."

"The Trump administration on Monday said the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down, in a dramatic reversal… In a filing with a federal appeals court, the Justice Department said it agreed with the ruling of a federal judge in Texas that invalidated the Obama-era health care law." So much for his pledge to protect pre-existing condition coverage.

"Donald Trump signed a proclamation today (March 25) recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel, overturning 50 years of US precedent and defying international law on sovereign borders." Yeah, that won't repeatedly bite us in the ass in the next 30 years.

Don't get cocky. "President Trump suggested on Monday that he wants new investigations into the workings of the FBI and Justice Department and his political opponents… Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he wants to know more about 'the other side of the story,' including former President Bill Clinton's infamous meeting on the airport tarmac with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch in 2016… And House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, said the chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., has lost his credibility and should step down from that post."

"Even as the specter of Robert Mueller's probe has vanished, Trump plans to turn the investigation, Democrats' constant accusations of wrongdoing and the media's coverage of it all into a new foil, half a dozen advisers and aides said. He has already signaled he'll weaponize the results, targeting those who ordered the investigation and Democrats he says waged political warfare." I don't see how that plan can possibly go wrong.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Linkee-poo had an exhausting weekend

"Special counsel Robert Mueller did not find evidence that President Trump's campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 election, according to a summary of findings submitted to Congress by Attorney General William Barr… However, Mueller's investigation did not take a position on whether Trump obstructed justice by trying to frustrate the ongoing investigation." So, at least from this letter, it's a mixed bag. So when will someone stand up and say, since it "completely exonerates the President" (which it doesn't), "why don't we release it in full?" (Note, they won't because of existing on ongoing investigations and criminal cases). And here we'll just note that in released charging documents, the president remains an indicted co-conspirator in 2 criminal cases.

A longish article fact checking the president on just last week. "President Donald Trump is misrepresenting the conclusions of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation… He describes Attorney General William Barr’s summary of principal conclusions from Mueller’s report as a 'total exoneration.'… But Barr’s summary quotes specific text from Mueller that makes clear the report does not put the president in the clear." Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along.

"All day, as I wrote sex scenes, the three cats and a dog sat in a circle at my feet and stared at me judgmentally." Someday you gotta do what you gotta do. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"The small-satellite launch company Rocket Lab called off the planned flight of an experimental satellite for the U.S. military Sunday (March 24) due to a video transmitter issue." Gotta have good video of the flight.

"If you look closely, you can also spot the fiery orange cloud left behind from the meteor super-heating the air as it passed through at a speed of 115,200 kilometres per hour (71,600 miles per hour)."

"Scandinavian smiths discovered that the bones of the dead could grant them an edge. Numerous forges scattered across Scandinavia contain the remains of animal and human bones — by incorporating the remains of the dead, their spirits could be transferred into a blade, making it stronger and more durable." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The deadly Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has surpassed 1,000 cases, according to the country's health ministry."

Better living through chemistry. "Concerns for the health risks facing residents of Deer Park were exacerbated over the weekend. A containment wall at the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) facility broke Friday, sparking another fire and sending chemical waste into waterways that lead to the Houston Ship Channel. The Coast Guard shut down a stretch of that busy shipping channel, with no timetable for when it will reopen."

"A student who survived the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, last year has died in what appears to be a suicide, police said. It is the second time in one week that a survivor of the shooting… died by suicide."

"In the aftermath of white supremacist attacks in New Zealand, there's a tension between reporting on the shooter's motivations and not amplifying his message. This week, On the Media examines how the press can navigate that persistent dilemma. Plus, the debate over whether online archives of jihadi terrorist propaganda should be open to the public."

"Republican Rep. Steve King, who has a lengthy history of incendiary comments related to race, favorably compared the response of his Iowan constituents, who are majority white, to recent severe flooding to the residents of New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, who were majority black." Not only is Steve King a raving racist, he also a frothing idiot and with all the mental prowess of cow dung. Of which I'm told his smell reminds people of. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Gathered for a private meeting at a beachside Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, the oil executives were celebrating a colleague’s sudden rise. David Bernhardt, their former lawyer, had been appointed by President Donald Trump to the powerful No. 2 spot at the Department of the Interior." So much for draining the swamp. (Grokked from Chuck Wendig)

How goes Brexit? "The European Union says it has completed preparations for the potentially-chaotic scenario in which Britain leaves the bloc without a Brexit deal, but talks on how to manage the Irish border are continuing." Funny thing, I don't think the UK has made such plans.

"Asian stocks closed in the red with recessionary warnings front and center on Monday… The selloff on Friday bled into Monday trading, but seemed to stop at Asia as US futures and European stocks are broadly flat. The worries followed a yield curve inversion last Friday, which signalled the bond market's increasing concern about global growth and US recession."

"In what many see as a bad omen for the economy, yields on benchmark U.S. 10-year treasury notes fell below three-month rates on Friday for the first time since mid-2007, an inversion that has in the past signaled the risk of recession." Don't worry, it was only for a short time (strong side-eye).

"Seven people have been injured after a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house in central Israel, police say." Looks at watch, yep, just on schedule before the election. "Although the rocket triggered sirens in the Sharon and Emek Hefer regions, Israel's Iron Dome missile defence system did not appear to have been activated."

"North Korea reversed a decision to withdraw its staff from an inter-Korean liaison office by sending some back to work on Monday, South Korea said, in a turnaround that came after U.S. President Donald Trump opted not to impose extra sanctions on the North." Well, it's a good thing the North Koreans returned to an office which helps provide hard currency for North Korea.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Linkee-poo Friday's alligators

They ban books, don't they? "In other words, (in Florida) books deemed to highlight sex or sexuality outside of a pre-parental-approved sexual education course on a school campus would not be allowed and those who permit such books would be subject to a third-degree felony." If such a bill would become law, the first petition should be to remove any Bible. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

"Researchers recently conducted experiments to answer a decades-old theoretical physics question about dueling realities. This tricky thought experiment proposed that two individuals observing the same photon could arrive at different conclusions about that photon's state — and yet both of their observations would be correct." Um. (Grokked from Dan)

"Most digital personal assistants such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have the option to sound either male or female. The team behind Q aims to break through gender binary." Is it wrong that the Q voice codes as "feminine" to me?

"But, as they found out on Thursday, there is a difference between anticipating a painful future and watching that feared reality come to pass. The ax fell at the film division with brutal efficiency, wiping away much of the senior leadership at Fox’s marketing, distribution, and consumer products arms." One report has the layoffs at 4000 employees. That's gonna put a dent on March's numbers.

"All Charlottesville public schools will be closed again Friday as police investigate the credibility of the threat and the identity of the individual behind the anonymous post… The post threatened an ethnic cleansing in the form of a school shooting and told white students at CHS to stay home. The person who posted the threat claimed to be a Charlottesville student." (Grokked from Dan)

"Several Indiana school teachers were shot with projectiles 'execution-style' during a recent active shooter drill, leaving welts, drawing blood and frightening the educators, the Indiana State Teachers Association said." That is not a "drill", that's some sick fucks play-acting their fantasy. It's also battery, and the person who did it, the person who approved it, and the person who thought it up should be charged.

How goes Brexit? "Germany's main business lobby group is calling on Britain to put a swift end to the 'excruciating uncertainty' companies face and resolve its Brexit impasse… At marathon late night talks, the leaders rejected May's request to extend the Brexit deadline from March 29 — just one week away — until June 30… They agree to delay only until May 22, on the eve of EU elections, if she can persuade Britain's Parliament to endorse the Brexit deal. Failing that, May would have until April 12 to choose a new path."

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are defending the decision to detain a 9-year-old girl for more than 30 hours as they worked to verify her identification." We are the monsters. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"A judge has struck down the laws Wisconsin Republicans passed in December's lame-duck session of the Legislature, restoring powers to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, if only temporarily… A county judge ruled Thursday that all of the laws and appointments passed by legislators were unlawful because they met in what's known as an 'extraordinary session,' which isn't explicitly allowed under the state constitution." Oopsie. I expect this will be appealed all the way up.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley attempts to school Bernie Sanders on the popularity of Norway's healthcare system, receives her own schooling. Turns out, not only do Norwiegans love their healthcare, they all know English thanks to their excellent education system, and a lot of them also have the internet.

"'Could it be, that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time like this just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from an Iranian menace?' CBN News asked… 'As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,' (Sec. of State Mike) Pompeo replied… 'I am confident that the Lord is at work here,' he added." Parody just threw in the towel, it can't keep up with reality. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"In two internal memos, Marine Corps Gen. Robert Neller said the 'unplanned/unbudgeted' deployment along the border that President Trump ordered last fall, and shifts of other funds to support border security, had forced him to cancel or reduce planned military training in at least five countries, and delay urgent repairs at bases." It seems almost crazy, until you factor in that this might be part of "The Plan." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information on Thursday that he said showed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private messaging services for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws." Lock them up.

"When members of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 U.S. election arrived for work each day, they placed their mobile phones in a locker outside of their office suite before entering." Well at least someone understands op-sec.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Linkee-poo Thursday

Sorry, the hospital has been calling me in for shifts a lot this week. This second round of flu is really bad (also our department has had 3 exposures to the norovirus since February).

"Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin said Tuesday that he deliberately exposed his nine children to chickenpox in lieu of vaccinating them, actions that follow reports of an outbreak of the contagious disease at a Roman Catholic school in a northern part of the state." What a fucking asshole. Hope you and your kids don't develop Shingles.

Also along with the refer madness story yesterday, "Certain medications used to treat ADHD in teens and young adults may be more likely to cause symptoms such as paranoia, hallucinations, delusions and hearing voices, a new study suggests."

"Men are dying after opioid overdoses at nearly three times the rate of women in the United States. Overdose deaths are increasing faster among black and Latino Americans than among whites. And there's an especially steep rise in the number of young adults ages 25 to 34 whose death certificates include some version of the drug fentanyl."

"Gov. Kim Reynolds is warning Iowans what millions of Midwesterners have come to understand in recent days – the severe flooding that has swamped much of the region may be a long way from over." Surprise. Also, we've barely just begun the Spring Flood Season. And if the ground it too wet, they won't be able to get planting done in time.

"Some 15,000 people still need to be rescued from the devastation caused by Cyclone Idai, Mozambique officials say."

"In the U.S., while many young Muslims wept over the loss of life and the hate that drove the killings, they said they weren't surprised. They're a generation that has been raised on a constant barrage of anti-Muslim rhetoric since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks."

"New Zealand will ban all types of semi-automatic weapons and assault rifles following the Christchurch attacks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said… The announcement comes less than a week after 50 people were killed at two mosques, allegedly by a lone gunman."

"A massive chemical fire that filled the sky with smoke and flames for days in southeast Texas has finally been snuffed out. But its effects could still be dangerous… The city of Deer Park announced a shelter-in-place order Thursday morning due to concerns about 'levels of benzene or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) within city limits.'" Remember when there was nothing to be concerned about with breathing the air while the fire was ongoing?

"US Justice Department prosecutors have issued multiple subpoenas as part of an investigation into Boeing's Federal Aviation Administration certification and marketing of 737 Max planes, sources briefed on the matter told CNN."

"Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under threat of indictment and fighting for re-election in just three weeks against a popular former Army chief, Benny Gantz, is getting a big boost from President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, clearly seeing foreign policy as a welcome distraction from his domestic troubles." Good thing that Gaza strife is heating up as well. Almost like it's planned.

"Immigration officials say a Mexican migrant died Monday after his arrest near an urban border crossing."

Why is the SCOTUS ruling vacating the 5th and 14th Amendment guarantees of due process important? "A troubling new report by the American Civil Liberties Union suggests many U.S. citizens — potentially numbering in the hundreds — are being wrongly detained for deportation every year after Immigration and Customs Enforcement misidentifies them as undocumented immigrants." Because government can get things wrong, especially when you have an organization with all the problems of ICE and the CBP. That's the generous way of looking at this. The ungenerous way is that this is a progrom of intimidation against minorities, a way of saying that the government can lock you up at any time for any reason. And without the protections of the 5th and 14th Amendments, they can lock you away indefinitely on the pretext of one law enforcement official "thinking" you're an illegal immigrant. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"The EU’s commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, said Wednesday that Google must pay 1.49 billion euros ($1.69 billion) for stifling competition in the online advertisement sector."

"The U.S. Federal Reserve on Wednesday is expected to hold interest rates steady, shave the number of hikes projected for the rest of the year, and release long-awaited details of a plan to end the monthly reduction of its massive balance sheet." How'd that go?

"As they kept the federal funds rate steady in a range of 2.25 percent to 2.5 percent, Fed officials also cut their economic outlook. They now expect gross domestic product growth of 2.1 percent this year, down from a 2.3 percent estimate in December."

"Donald Trump, the President who refused to release his tax returns, just made an unexpected gesture towards transparency, saying he'd be happy for Americans to see Robert Mueller's final report." The president always wants to do things, right up to the point he has to do those things, and then he changes his mind. Plus, you know, release of the Mueller Report polls quite well.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday

Happy 100 to Lawrence Ferlinghetti, one of my favorite poets.

"This week on Hidden Brain, we look at the invisible qualities that all celebrities have in common, and how our interest in them builds because of cues we get from one another. Later in the episode, we look at another elite group: the yoga-loving, Whole Foods-shopping, highly-educated group that Elizabeth Currid-Halkett calls The Aspirational Class." The social marker of status, including the "inconspicuous consumption."

"Weed use is taking off as more states move to legalize it. And with all the buzz over medical marijuana, it's starting to gain an aura of healthfulness. But there are some serious health risks associated with frequent use. One of the more troubling ones is the risk of having a psychotic episode." Refer madness redux. Note the study only shows that some people diagnosed with psychosis used marijuana regularly, and then a "control" group. "Use of high potency weed almost doubled the odds of having psychosis compared to someone who had never smoked weed, explains Di Forti… And for those who used high potency pot on a daily basis, the risk of psychosis was even greater — four times greater than those who had never used." While that could be worrying, correlation does not imply causation. But yes, any drug use can have consequences and it may be that marijuana can trigger other changes that enhance the probability of psychosis.

"A San Francisco federal jury unanimously agreed on Tuesday that Roundup caused a man's cancer — a potentially massive blow to the company that produces the glyphosate-based herbicide currently facing hundreds of similar lawsuits." Good thing for them that RoundUp is nearing the end of it's effective life (especially for commercial crops). Bad thing is it's been around for decades.

"Now some states –including Montana, North Carolina and Oregon — are moving to control costs of state employee health plans. Their strategy: Use Medicare reimbursement rates to recalibrate how they pay hospitals. If the gamble pays off, more private-sector employers could start doing the same thing." Note that they're not using the Medicare reimbursements as the final payment, but as a starting point.

"Interviews with mothers who've lost children and with those who spy on anti-vaccination groups, reveal a tactic employed by anti-vaxers: When a child dies, members of the group sometimes encourage each other to go on that parent's Facebook page. The anti-vaxers then post messages telling the parents they're lying and their child never existed, or that the parent murdered them, or that vaccines killed the child, or some combination of all of those." Such nice people. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"The chemical tank fires that burned for nearly four days at the Intercontinental Terminals Co. plant in Deer Park were extinguished overnight, the company and firefighters say."

"One year after Disney announced the $71.3 billion merger (with Fox Studios), it's finally official." The Mouse grows.

"Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is joining the board of the newly slimmed-down Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News." That's all the stuff the Mouse isn't taking.

"Pranksters included some whimsical credits buried in the fine print of an annual White House economic report, making it seem that Peter Parker and Aunt May had joined the staff of the president's Council of Economic Advisers."

When one of us is not free, none of us are free. "The Supreme Court held on Tuesday that the government can detain -- without a bond hearing -- immigrants with past criminal records, even if years have passed since they were released from criminal custody." So much for due process. Say goodbye to that right. Because if the court can determine whom the Constitution applies to, they can put that bar anywhere they want for any reason they want. Goodbye Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, we hardly knew ye. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"As once marginalized voices amp up calls for change, the council continues to wrestle with the question of just what public discourse should look like after the tragedy." Charlottesville is still struggling.

How goes Brexit? "With just over a week to go until the deadline for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union, the son of President Donald Trump says that everything would be on track had British Prime Minister Theresa May taken his father's advice on Brexit… Trump Jr. did not go into detail on what his father had advised. Asked last year for details by the BBC, May said, with an amused expression: 'He told me I should sue the EU.'" Well, to be fair, that's the president's go to answer for everything. But then Jr also linked Bexit to his Dad's election because of the nationalistic/populist aspects of both. Funny, there's another connection as well (looks at my Russian friends meaningfully).

"Prime Minister Theresa May is writing to the EU to formally ask for Brexit to be postponed." And they punt the ball.

"One of the arguments Bernie Sanders' fans made during the 2016 Democratic primary was… (h)is favorable ratings with the general electorate were far higher than Hillary Clinton's. Indeed, Sanders maintained fairly high favorable ratings with all voters as late as 2018… Sanders' popularity among all voters seems to be declining considerably in the last few months, however."

"The local iteration of Trump TV (aka KOMO) recently aired an hour-long News Special attempting to offer an examination of Seattle's homeless crisis that's as sober as possible… That the manufactured hatred of the poor justifies a perverted world that criminalizes the condition of poverty. Please, give this a moment of thought. It's not as obvious as it seems." (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

When you cultivate hate, it's like an invasive weed and it will outgrow everything and spread everywhere. "Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, posted a hateful message she received from a stranger the same day President Donald Trump disparaged her late husband."

"A journalist and four immigration lawyers were stopped and questioned at the border in recent months, and at least one was asked about their political beliefs, NBC News reported Monday." This is not normal. This is how tyrants acts. This is what happens when you have no controls or checks during hiring, on boarding, and training. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office asked a court for an 11-day extension on a filing deadline Tuesday — claiming that, for the time being, key attorneys on their team were too busy with 'the press of other work.'" The plot thickens.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Linkee-poo can't stay at home, can't stay in school

Sure, let's just throw it in the ocean. What could happen? "A young whale whose carcass washed up in the Philippines died of 'dehydration and starvation' after consuming 40 kilograms (88 pounds) of plastic bags, scientists have found."

"On April 1, the twin facilities in Louisiana and Washington state that make up the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory will start doing science again after being shut down for more than a year so that workers could install hardware upgrades." Um, guys, we could have picked a better date.

"But, as Gothamist points out, Hudson Yards seemingly claims rights to all such photos of the $200-million giant honeycomb floating above an active train yard, so long as they’re taken in and around the Vessel." This actually isn't all that unusual. Attractions have been claiming rights for a long time (mostly under trademark law, but with some success with copyright law). It looks like they're granting most uses (for personal use), but my guess is they will come down hard on anyone trying to sell photos of the structure.

"In a filing Monday, the SEC said it was 'stunning' that the billionaire business leader had continued to fire off tweets about Tesla without consulting others at the company despite having agreed to a court-ordered settlement requiring him to do so." Elon is gonna Elon, but he might not for long. The main thing here is how tied the corporations are to Elon Musk and if he's tweeting about business. But the fight he's going to have to fight on this might mean a big difference to the rest of us down the road, especially if he loses.

"Vast stretches of the Midwest remained threatened by what the National Weather Service described late Monday as 'major to historic' flooding, even as officials and residents were still grappling with a recent deluge that left three people dead in Iowa and Nebraska." All that water has got to go somewhere.

"An aerial survey of Mozambique's cyclone-hit province shows that a 50km (30 mile) stretch of land is under water, charity Save The Children says… The UN says the storm is possibly the worst weather-related disaster ever to hit the southern hemisphere, the Reuters news agency reports."

"Pegasus (hard rock mine) isn’t an isolated case. Especially in the drought-prone West, the outdated and opaque regulatory system meant to ensure money is available to restore water and land at gold, copper and other hardrock mines often falls short. Regulators with insufficient funding are tasked with cleaning up a mess left years ago by now-defunct companies. The agencies that required those firms to set aside money underestimated how much it would take, in some cases acquiescing to companies pressing for lower amounts." Guess who gets to pay. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The University of Southern California on Monday said that it had taken action that prevents students who may be associated with an alleged admissions scheme from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts." Okay, I understand stopping them from registering for classes, but I'm not so sure about sealing their transcripts. Unless they also have evidence of social grade inflation (cough*endemic*cough) or some form of bribery within the classroom, their transcript is a record of their performance in the school. Of course, if they got good grade (cough*mostlikely*cough) that could lessen the school's reputation as "academically elite" which would lower both their status as well as alumni gifts. Cause, and I'm saying this without any hard evidence (or willingness) to back it up, elite schools aren't all they're cracked up to be.

"A white suburban police officer goes on trial in Pittsburgh on Tuesday for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager last summer."

"New Zealand's prime minister declared Tuesday she would do everything in her power to deny the accused mosque gunman a platform for elevating his white supremacist views, after the man dismissed his lawyer and opted to represent himself at his trial in the killings of 50 people."

"Dutch police and prosecutors pressed on Tuesday with their investigation into the motive of a suspect who they believe shot and killed three people and injured five more in an attack on a tram in the central city of Utrecht."

"The Wall Street Journal reports that the National Enquirer’s publisher paid $200,000 to obtain intimate texts between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his mistress Lauren Sanchez. American Media, the supermarket tabloid’s publisher, reportedly paid that sum to Michael Sanchez, Lauren’s brother."

"GM responded late Sunday to a series of angry tweets from President Donald Trump demanding that the automaker reopen or sell a plant it recently closed because of shifting customer demand." Our stable genius president, everyone.

"A top Robert Mueller prosecutor who handled Michael Flynn’s guilty plea has left the special counsel’s office amid growing signs that the Russia investigation is nearing its end." I just love Kremlinology, don't you?

"The public on Tuesday will see the search warrant and other documents related to last year’s FBI raids on the home and office of Michael Cohen… What we might learn: The origin of the investigation, the timeline of events, what investigators were looking for in their search and other details into the case of President Donald Trump’s former attorney and fixer."

Is the president still tweeting unhinged rants? I haven't looked today.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Linkee-poo Monday

Please note the previous linkee-poo posted late Sunday.

"For me, stories can start in a number of ways." Cat Rambo on where story ideas come from.

"The Emilia Report compared broadsheet coverage of 10 male and female writers in the same market. It found a “marked bias” towards male writers, who received 56% of review coverage. Looking at comparable authors Neil Gaiman and Joanne Harris, who had both written new works of fantasy – Gaiman’s Norse Mythology and Harris’s A Pocket Full of Crows – researchers found that while Gaiman’s received widespread coverage, Harris’s did not receive any coverage at all." Also the content of the coverage tends to differ as well. (Grokked from Neil Gaiman)

If a meteor explodes and nobody hears it, does it make a sound? "At about noon local time on 18 December, the asteroid barrelled through the atmosphere at a speed of 32km/s, on a steep trajectory of seven degrees."

There's this joke in healthcare that when you ask us for advice the answer is "gonorrhea." It's always "gonorrhea". "Tests show that dormant herpes viruses reactivate in more than half the astronauts who travel on the Space Shuttle and International Space station, according to new NASA research - a phenomenon the space agency says could pose problems for deep space missions." So if you were writing space opera and you forgot to include STDs in your world building…

"Frequent consumption of sugary drinks such as sodas, sports drinks and juice is linked to an increased risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease and, to a lesser extent, from cancer, according to new research." Cue the bog standard beverage industry response in 3… 2… 1… Also, "Substituting one sugary beverage per day with an artificially sweetened one was found to lower the risk of premature death, but drinking four or more artificially sweetened beverages increased the risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease in women. The same effect was not seen for men, and it was not seen for the risk of dying from cancer."

"This change comes after a large clinical trial found a daily low-dose aspirin had no effect on prolonging life in healthy, elderly people, and actually suggested the pills could be linked to major hemorrhages." Truth. (Grokked from Dan)

"There is no convincing evidence that delaying the introduction of allergenic foods beyond 4 to 6 months of age works in preventing food allergies, the report says. In addition, there is strong evidence that purposeful, early introduction of peanuts as early as 4 months may prevent the development of a peanut allergy in infants at high risk, defined in this report as those with a close relative with a history of an allergic condition." Who doesn't like to see babies with anaphylactic shock symptoms. Also note that you can develop these allergies later in life as well.

"New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that her cabinet has made an in-principle decision to tighten gun ownership in the aftermath of the Christchurch mosques massacre."

"Three people have been killed following a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, the city's mayor says… Five others were injured in the incident, which police say appears to be a terrorist attack." Oh, well, good think we have a Turkish suspect so we can take our eyes away from the white nationalists attacks.

How goes Brexit? "A 'lot more work' is required to get MPs to back Theresa May's Brexit deal, Jeremy Hunt has said, amid uncertainty over whether it will be put to a vote for a third time this week." And now some Brexiters are saying a "no-deal exit" would actually be the best for Britain. Uh, yeah, Bob.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

LInkee-poo Sunday Late Edition

How goes Brexit? "British Prime Minister Theresa May warned Sunday that it would be “a potent symbol of Parliament’s collective political failure” if a Brexit delay meant that the U.K. has to take part in May’s European Parliament election — almost three years after Britons voted to leave the bloc."

"Thousands of students around the world skipped school school Friday to protest inaction on climate change. It was one of the largest turnouts so far in a months long movement that included the U.S. for the first time, in an event organizers call the 'U.S. Youth Climate Strike.'" The kids are alright. "'I do not like the symbolism of sacrificing education to make political points,' says Scott Segal, a partner at the law firm Bracewell, which represents energy companies." He also says energy companies are already doing a lot. Fuck off, you condescending old man.

"Experts who monitor hate groups say the attacks on Friday at the mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, follow a sharp rise in violent white extremism around the globe and especially in the United States… It's a common misconception that the average white supremacist is a disaffected white guy with economic anxieties. Blee's research shows that middle-class and even upper-middle-class men from the mainstream are increasingly being drawn into this movement, which is mostly online and worldwide."

"As if the twin terror attacks in New Zealand's Christchuch weren't disturbing enough, newly-surfaced photos of one of the shooters' guns has revealed an even darker picture: the gunman painted his weapon of mass murder with names of his "idols" and references to EuroChristianity's victories against Muslims, Turks and Ottomans." Yes, they believe they're part of a movement. Because they are. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"An Australian senator had a raw egg cracked over his head and faces censure from his fellow lawmakers after sparking outrage by blaming Muslim immigration for the New Zealand mosque shootings." The kids are alright.

"Two young men were found dead inside torched cars. Three others died of apparent suicides. Another collapsed on a bus, his death ruled an overdose… Six deaths, all involving men with connections to protests in Ferguson, Missouri, drew attention on social media and speculation in the activist community that something sinister was at play."

"President Donald Trump tweeted about the 'Jexodus,' or alleged exodus of Jews from the Democratic party, Friday morning while New Zealand grappled with a devastating massacre apparently motivated by religious hate." (Grokked from Fred Clark)

"Fox News weekend host Jeanine Pirro’s show didn’t air a week after her comments questioning U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar over her wearing a Muslim head covering. No explanation was given."

"Serbia’s president pledged Sunday to defend the country’s law and order a day after opposition supporters stormed the national TV station, protesting what they called his autocratic rule and biased grip on the country’s media."

"Business owners, city employees and construction workers dug in Sunday to clean up one of the world’s most glamorous avenues, after riots by ultraviolent yellow vest protesters trashed the Champs-Elysees in Paris to express anger at French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic policies." Someone has highjacked the yellow-vests, but it's unclear whom at this point.

"'I think it’s important here to be very precise in terms of what the president actually said,' Cortes said. 'He did not in any way infer or say he was going to use the military, meaning in an official capacity or the police in any way.'" Uh, yeah, Bob. JFC. When someone shows you who they are, believe them. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"At a time when Trump and his Republican enablers are leading a crusade against immigrants and minorities, the decision to add a citizenship question to the census was viewed by many experts as a deliberate effort to manipulate the count and effectively undercount the immigrant and minority populations in America." (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Linkee-poo, got to kick at the darkness 'til it bleeds daylight

"At least 49 people were killed and 20 seriously injured in mass shootings at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch Friday, in a carefully planned and unprecedented attack that has shocked the usually peaceful nation."

Edit to add last minute "The 74-page dossier, which has been described by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison as a 'work of hate', hailed Trump as 'a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose'." I'm not saying the president is a racists and/or Nazi, I'm saying racists and Nazis claim him as one of their own.

"The concept of “white genocide”—extinction under an onslaught of genetically or culturally inferior nonwhite interlopers—may indeed seem like a fringe conspiracy theory with an alien lineage, the province of neo-Nazis and their fellow travelers. In popular memory, it’s a vestige of a racist ideology that the Greatest Generation did its best to scour from the Earth. History, though, tells a different story." And it's not just eugenics. Also note the focus on the 14th Amendment these assholes had. (Grokked from Patrick Nielsen Hayden)

Marie Vibbert on the necessity of plot. It's something I still wrestle with, even though I know intellectually her argument (or epiphany if you will). But I'm not sure I've fully internalized it.

"Fast clicking sounds can boost brainpower in mice with signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Like flickering lights, these external sounds spur a type of brain wave that seemed to sweep disease-related plaques from mice’s brains, researchers report in the March 14 Cell." So that's why my wife keeps using that dog-training clicker on me. She's just trying to keep me healthy. (I kid). The good thing is 40 hertz is above the threshold of hearing for humans. But before you start subjecting yourself to flashing lights and clicking sounds, remember this is still just a mouse study.

"A woman in California who says Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused her to develop mesothelioma was awarded $29 million by a jury Wednesday. J&J says it will appeal the judgment."

"The Trump administration's decision to alter the way it punishes nursing homes has resulted in lower fines against many facilities found to have endangered or injured residents." I can't even explain how much this pisses me off. After 8 years of work by the Obama administration nursing homes and memory care facilities were moving beyond just being someplace to warehouse the elderly, disabled, rehab patients, and others. This threatens to move us back to those days.

"Elders I spoke with say intense colonization over the past century is damaging these traditions. And, so, the community is working hard to keep the parenting approach intact… In contrast, parents who control their own anger are helping their children learn to do the same, Markham says. 'Kids learn emotional regulation from us.'." Sometimes I think even the concept of "kids learn…" about how to be an adult from other adults is a concept too far removed from modern American culture.

"Teens and young adults are in the midst of a unique mental health crisis, suggests a new study out Thursday. It found that rates of depressive episodes and serious psychological distress have dramatically risen among these age groups in recent years, while hardly budging or even declining for older age groups." Not that I blame them.

"After several hours of clawing through mountains of debris with bare hands, hammers and heavy equipment, approximately 37 people have been rescued from a building that collapsed Wednesday morning in the Nigerian city of Lagos. But many more are trapped under the rubble, including dozens of children."

"But last year the Chinese government dropped a bombshell on the world recycling business: They cut back almost all imports of trash. And now a lot of that plastic gets shipped to other countries that don't have the capacity to recycle it or dispose of it safely." Now who will buy our trash?

"But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned, according to the city’s government… It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse." Guess the majority population downwind of this incinerator by race and economic status. (Grokked from Cat Rambo)

"Climate change, a global major extinction of animals and plants, a human population soaring toward 10 billion, degraded land, polluted air, and plastics, pesticides and hormone-changing chemicals in the water are making the planet an increasing unhealthy place for people, says the scientific report issued once every few years." You know the phrase about nature protecting herself? This is how she does it. She kills the species causing a problem and rewrites the operating code of the planet. The problem of global climate change is not that we will kill the planet, it's that we (with the planet's help) will kill ourselves. One of the unrecognized memes of Science Fiction that enrages me is that humans will survive. We will be the last living things on the planet because technology handwavium and this innate sense the universe belongs to us. It doesn't. There's a good chance our species won't last another ten thousand years (note, modern humans are only 200,000 to 100,000 years old). (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Every year, an estimated of 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. Avani’s cassava-based eco bags should be considered as one of the solutions to mitigate this horrible worldwide epidemic. Avani bags are bio-based alternative that becomes the ideal replacement to petroleum-based plastic bags." A grocery bag equivalent, that is biodegradable in water. Solutions are there, if we want them. I'm sure an equivalent could be made of corn starch (note biodegradable packing peanuts). But I'm sure they cost a few cents more, and would require new factories and supply chains. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

How goes Brexit? "March Brexit almost certainly out of reach." I'm not so certain. For a hard Brexit all that is necessary is for parliament to do nothing.

"If you've ever been tempted to make a rude gesture at a police officer, you can rest assured that the U.S. Constitution protects your right to do so, a federal appeals court says." Note that there are some very specific circumstances in this case that you might not find yourself in when the urge to do this hits you.

"To suggest that Tucker Carlson has a tendency to hint at deeply discriminatory tropes would be cliché — but also dead-on. Just this week, thanks to newly unearthed audio released by Media Matters, the Fox News darling ditches his signature dog whistle in exchange for unmistakable and unapologetic hate speech." On the Media podcast about how Tucker Carlson was always the little shit he appears to be now. I remember when Howard Stern was the big thing in the 90s and how we were all told that it's just an act, he was just "entertaining", he really wasn't what he promoted on his show. I didn't buy it then either.

"Independents often are portrayed as political free agents with the potential to alleviate the nation’s rigid partisan divisions. Yet the reality is that most independents are not all that 'independent' politically. And the small share of Americans who are truly independent – less than 10% of the public has no partisan leaning – stand out for their low level of interest in politics." Lots of juicy data on who votes which way and why, and where people stand on several of the hot topic issues. Democrats and Democratic leaning independents make up a majority, but they vote less often than their Republican fellows. Tell me again whom the silent majority is. I may have to reread this a few times to get all the nuances in there. (Grokked from Amy Waters)

Our stable genius president, everybody. "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump – I have the tough people, but they don’t play it tough — until they go to a certain point, and then it would be very bad, very bad." Hey Oath Keepers, remember when you were all up in arms about maybe, possibly, if the far-right's paranoid delusions ever came true, President Obama may deploy you against civilians and you were all about stopping that? How do you feel now that a sitting president has actually threatened to do that? Hello? Hello? Bueller?

"'I have to do my duty over here and get questions answered,' committee Chairman Peter DeFazio told NPR. 'But I also need to pursue vigorously working with the White House to try and move an infrastructure package. And I'm willing and able to do both, and I think that the president will understand that if he really wants to do infrastructure.'" Wait, a Congressional Committee can do more than one thing at a time? What madness is this?! Oh, wait, it's just that functional grownups are back in charge.

"For many people of color in the United States, civility isn't so much social lubricant as it is a vehicle for containing them, preventing social mobility and preserving the status quo. The furious white pushback at integrating lunch counters in the 1960s wasn't about the grilled cheese sandwiches that sit-in protesters weren't going to be served — it was about their presumption that they could sit at the counter at all. As equals." Polite people rarely make history.

"North Korea is considering suspension of denuclearization talks with the United States, Deputy Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters on Friday." This is my shocked face.

"Three prominent Republican lawmakers made a last-ditch effort to hash out a plan before the Senate's vote on a resolution condemning President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration. In doing so, the group interrupted Trump as he was having dinner, according to a Politico report published Thursday." I don't blame him. McD's french fries suck when they're cold.

"In an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives called Thursday for special counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election to be made public when it is completed." It's not a law, so don't get your hopes up.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Linkee-poo was living in style when the walls fell in

"As New York’s Rockland County grapples with a large and lengthy outbreak of measles, a group of anti-vaccine parents sued officials for temporarily barring their unvaccinated children from school—and the county is not having it." (Grokked from John)

The Planet Money podcast on the cat scam. Arbitrage, price inflation, drop shipping, and why the internet isn't lowering prices, and why late-stage capitalism sucks (although the podcast doesn't frame it that way). And yes, look around for better prices, check out the manufacturer's website to see prices. Even on Amazon.

"By the larger-than-life standards of Elon Musk, the story was far from a blockbuster. On June 4, 2018, Business Insider reported that Tesla Inc. was scrapping or reworking 40 percent of the raw materials at the Gigafactory, its huge battery plant in the Nevada desert. The article cited a source who figured the inefficiency had cost Musk’s electric car company $150 million, describing giant piles of scrap materials in the factory. Tesla denied the report, and a few hours later, the world moved on… The world, that is, except Elon Musk." Maybe someone should check and see if Musk is keeping his fingernail clippings and urine in jars at his home. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"'There can be no separate college admissions system for the wealthy,' Andrew Lelling, U.S. Attorney for Massachusetts, said at Tuesday's press conference announcing charges against dozens of parents for paying bribes to get their children into some of the nation's elite universities…Some would argue there already is." Too late. College is not a meritocracy. And if you think parents sacrifice a lot to get their kids into top high schools (buying houses, or renting, way above their economic capabilities) you haven't seen anything when it comes to college. So first of all, college is not for everyone (not even all of the "smart kids"). College choice is more often made for cost than it is for educational outcomes. And people who go to "top schools" don't get a better education or are smarter than kids who go to community college. These things are all cultural brainwashing that has continued to enforce the "unspoken" class divides. Sure, occasionally a poor kids will "make it big" by doing all the things. Understand that those kids would shine anywhere they went (but now they have an Ivy League sheepskin that will open more doors for them). The education you get at these tops schools is not better, it only provides access to better networking opportunities. "Harvard is being sued by a group of Asian-American applicants who say they were shut out by this informal system of preferences, including affirmative action… In the 1980s, Asian-American groups also challenged Harvard's legacy preferences. The Education Department's Office for Civil Rights in 1990 found that these preferences were legal even if they favor white applicants over others." See, it's only possibly illegal if it helps people who don't have privileges by evening out the playing field (note, playing field still heavily tilted against them).

"Some of the most selective schools, like Harvard, can get upwards of 40,000. So how do officials know if the information in all of that paperwork is truthful?… Terry Cowdrey, a former acting dean of admissions at Vanderbilt University, says the key is in consistency." Full disclosure, I worked in my college admissions office (University of Akron, not Lakeland). Yes it was easy to spot the fakes. However I can tell you I graduated high school with a C+ average, but scored in the top 1% on the SAT and ACT. So that didn't look "consistent". And I can tell you we couldn't afford test prep, books, consultants, etc. Why? It's a long story, but a lot of it was high school didn't challenge me a lot. And while I took advanced coursework for my school, I didn't qualify for Advanced Placement classes or the Honor Society. There were opportunities to take college level coursework back then (it was a much smaller program than now), I was never given that opportunity.

"But to many students, the underlying reality that some rich kids are buying their way into school comes as no shock." The kids are alright.

Want another example? Okay, there was this viral video about kids in Orange County drinking and Nazi and white nationalist themes at the party. Notice how nobody, nobody, is bringing up the fact that these kids were underage drinking. That's still a fucking crime, including for the parents or other adults who provided the alcohol/premises. But rich kids, whatchagonnado? Betcha if those kids were in Oakland somebody would be in jail.

"A man said by federal prosecutors to have been a top leader of New York’s notorious Gambino crime family was shot and killed Wednesday on Staten Island." Shot several times and run over, on the same day members of the Bonanno family walked. And because we're talking about the mafia, the Gambinos threatened Michael Cohen, the president's former "fixer", to "keep his mouth shut" when he testified to Congress. Because, you know, the mob is so sensitive about sedition and would totally involve themselves in politics for absolutely no reason at all.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is using mass location surveillance to target immigrants. And local governments like Merced and Union City, California, are helping — feeding their residents’ personal information to ICE, even when it violates local privacy laws or sanctuary policies. Today, the ACLU is urging an immediate end to this information sharing." Welcome to the mass surveillance state. (Grokked from Steven Brust)

"Did House passage of H.R. 1 allow noncitizens to vote?" No. Because if you can't make a reasonable argument against something, you can always make people afraid of it by telling lies. Also see "Green New Deal."

"New suspicions about dangled pardons, conflicting congressional testimony, implicit pleas for clemency and fresh suggestions of inappropriate presidential behavior delivered a new twist to the drama with Washington already on edge in anticipation of special counsel Robert Mueller's final report."