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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Linkee-poo stood unwound beneath the skies and clouds unbound by laws

Charlie Jane Anders Wiscon GoH speech. (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"Two Russian cosmonauts stepped outside the International Space Station Wednesday, sent birthday greetings to former cosmonaut Alexey Leonov, the first man to walk in space, and then carried out a full slate of maintenance work." Waves to my Russian friends.

Before we welcome our robot overlords, you might want to read this by Annalee Newitz. "None of this should be surprising to anyone who has met a human and discovered our propensity for prejudice. AIs aren’t autonomous creatures with agendas of their own. They are learning from our data. Think of AI as prostheses – extensions of humanity, with slightly different strengths and weaknesses." The future will be dumber and more cruel than we think. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"As NPR reported in November, the pharmaceutical giant Merck & Co. Inc. announced it was ending a long-term agreement to supply its rotavirus vaccine, Rotateq, at a reduced price to families in four West African countries. At the same time, the company begun selling the vaccine in China, for more than 12 times the price." Fortunately some other companies have stepped up to the plate, but that doesn't mean Merk should get a free pass.

"In the hope of finding a new way to fight malaria, scientists have used a spider gene to genetically engineer a fungus to produce a venom that can quickly kill mosquitoes… The modified fungus was a highly effective mosquito killer in the first tests mimicking conditions in sub-Saharan Africa, where malaria remains a major public health problem, researchers reported Thursday in the journal Science."

"California regulators on Thursday approved allowing utilities to cut off electricity to possibly hundreds of thousands of customers to avoid catastrophic wildfires like the one sparked by power lines last year that killed 85 people and largely destroyed the city of Paradise."

From last year, but just in case someone tries to tell you how the market will fix itself and capitalism is the best economic system ever. "The Intercept has obtained evidence that chemical conglomerate 3M knew about the health dangers of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) since the 1970s. These components were in thousands of everyday products, from water-repelling clothes to Teflon-coated non-stick pans, and they accumulate in your blood causing cancer, damaging your immune system, injuring your liver, spleen, bone marrow, and increasing cholesterol and triglycerides levels putting you at risk of heart attacks." (Grokked from Ferrett Steinmetz)

"As planet-warming gases reach levels not previously seen in human history, the Trump administration’s bid to restrict how federal scientists conduct the next National Climate Assessment risks delaying urgent action required to curb emissions and climate change… But the administration effort could also backfire, becoming yet another loss for a president whose deregulatory efforts struggle to meet basic legal standards while hardening the resolve of career government researchers trying to uphold the scientific method." They're trying to limit the forward view to 2040, because a lot of the bad stuff happens around 2045. They also really want to do this because they know they can't fight or bend the science, and the last report will be used to stop their roll-back of regulations (because climate change will affect the GDP). We're boned. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"It may seem, to anyone who has driven long stretches of highway across the West, that there is plenty — maybe even more than enough — sagebrush. Sagebrush once covered 250 million acres of western North America, but today that ecosystem is half the size it once was, and it's burning more frequently." Now it's seas of cheatgrass, which burns more often.

"The Trump administration is committed to making fossil fuels cleaner rather than imposing 'draconian' regulations on oil, gas and coal, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday." The industry has had two decades of shouting "clean coal" and it's still just a phrase. There is no such thing as cleaner fossil fuels. The technology is not scalable.

How go the Trade Wars? "Retailers have seen their shares seesaw this week as they express concern over tariffs squeezing their businesses. The latest is PVH Corp., owner of the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, which said late Wednesday that it was cutting its full-year adjusted earnings forecast partly because of the U.S.-China trade dispute."

"China hopes Canada understands the consequences of siding with the United States and doing its bidding, China’s foreign ministry said on Friday, after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence called for the release of two Canadians detained in China."

"Costco became the latest retailer to say that the trade war between China and the U.S. will likely lead to higher prices, but the warehouse giant says it is taking steps to withstand the battle."

"The U.S. economy grew at a solid 3.1% rate in the first three months of the year, but much of that gain was based on temporary factors that will likely fade, leaving growth much slower in the current quarter."

That won't last. "President Donald Trump moved to use his broad executive authority in a new and unprecedented way this week, threatening to slap Mexico with punitive tariffs unless it slows the passage of migrants from Central America to the US." Trump is addressing this problem like our "War on Drugs" and it's bound to fail just as badly.

"US stock futures and global stock markets, including shares of Asian and European automakers, tumbled Friday after President Donald Trump said the United States will impose a 5% tariff on all Mexican imports." Ooo, we're close to breaking 25,000 on the dow… going the other way.

"Chinese buyers of U.S. state grain have stopped ordering and don’t expect to resume the purchases due to the disagreement over trade between the world’s two largest economies, a Bloomberg News report said, citing people familiar with the matter." That's okay, with all the flooding farmers haven't been able to get their seed in the ground. Expect to hear how your tax money will be used to bail them out.

"Initial sections of fencing for a privately funded border wall were installed last weekend in Sunland Park, N.M., as the result of a crowdfunding effort that went live in December." I wonder if they have enough money for liability insurance on that wall? Or even maintenance.

"Last fall the landlord, Nelson Management, mailed residents a letter announcing plans to install a facial-recognition-technology system at the entrance of the (rent controlled) buildings. The letter asked tenants for their permission, but that request seemed less than genuine, for several reasons." Welcome to the panopticon in the US, privately funded naturally. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has suffered psychological torture from a defamation campaign and should not be extradited to the United States where he would face a 'politicized show trial', a U.N. human rights investigator said on Friday." Oddly I'm not all that concerned.

"The biggest effect of the Trump tax cuts is obvious: People who own businesses and other sources of concentrated wealth will have a lot more money, and the federal budget will have less. But the advocates of the tax cuts insisted it… was about incentivizing business to repatriate funds and ramp up its investments, thereby increasing growth and wages… The Congressional Research Service… finds that none of those secondary effects have materialized. Growth has not increased above the pre-tax-cut trend. Neither have wages. After a brief and much smaller than expected bump, repatriated corporate cash from abroad has leveled off." The "projected growth that would pay for this tax cut" amounted to 5%. The rest we're making up by adding to the debt. This is my shocked face. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Well look here, there's smoke coming out of this gun barrel. "Files on those drives showed that (Thomas B. Hofeller) wrote a study in 2015 concluding that adding a citizenship question to the census would allow Republicans to draft even more extreme gerrymandered maps to stymie Democrats. And months after urging President Trump’s transition team to tack the question onto the census, he wrote the key portion of a draft Justice Department letter claiming the question was needed to enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act — the rationale the administration later used to justify its decision." Redmap 2020. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"A new lawsuit by three African American residents of Mississippi seeks to block what it calls the state’s racist method of electing the governor and other statewide officials… The federal lawsuit being filed Thursday takes aim at Mississippi’s unique requirement that candidates for statewide office must win both a majority of the popular vote and at least 62 of the 122 state House of Representatives districts."

"Three U.S. officials confirmed to The Associated Press that the White House told the Navy to keep the warship named for McCain out of Trump’s sight during Trump’s visit Tuesday to a base outside of Tokyo." Not only are they habitual (and bad) liars, they're just so fucking petty.

"Democratic candidates are increasingly advocating 'court packing,' that is, upping the number of Supreme Court justices to balance the bench -- or ensure a liberal majority. The idea is unlikely to succeed for historical and practical reasons but its resonance on the campaign trail reflects Democrats' new emphasis on the judiciary during the Trump era." So first, there is no specified number of judges on SCOTUS (IIRC). Second, the conservatives bad behavior, Mitch McConnell's specifically, are driving liberals to this action. And thirdly, if this action is taken, it shouldn't be limited to SCOTUS.

"Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and GOP Sen. Ted Cruz came together Thursday on Twitter in a professed effort to ban former lawmakers from taking paid lobbying positions." Strange bedfellows indeed.

Foreign diplomacy is a high-stakes game. "North Korea executed its special nuclear envoy to the United States as part of a purge of senior officials over the failed summit between leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper claimed Friday… Kim Hyok Chol was executed by firing squad in March along with four other foreign ministry officials, the paper reported, citing an unidentified North Korean source." Someone tell president small-hands that if this is true, because of his petulance this is partially on him.

"Donald Trump complained 'the Jews always flip' after a number of former Jewish associates agreed to cooperate with the Mueller probe, according to an explosive new book by journalist Michael Wolff." There's a lot in this book that has been disputed, so I take this with a grain of salt, but man does it hit on my confirmation bias. (Grokked from Ellen Kushner)

"President Donald Trump assailed special counsel Robert Mueller as a 'never Trumper' and a rejected, conflicted job-seeker on Thursday, a day after Mueller bluntly rebuffed Trump’s repeated claims that the Russia investigation had cleared him of committing a federal crime of obstruction of justice." Please, sir, continue attacking Mueller until he realizes he must testify in public to Congress.

"One day after special counsel Robert Mueller publicly refused to exonerate President Donald Trump and hinted at potential impeachment, the President responded Thursday with an avalanche of widely debunked lies about the investigation and its findings." Fact checking the president has become a full time job and a career.

"'I don't see how... I can't imagine the courts allowing it,' Trump said. 'To me, it's a dirty word, the word "impeach." It's a dirty, filthy, disgusting word,' he said." He doesn't even know how an impeachment would work. JFC this is the dumbest timeline ever. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"(Sen. Roy) Blunt’s response had nothing to do with the merit of the (election security) bills but was instead a reflection of the fact that Senate leadership would not allow them to receive votes. In a statement that stunned many, Blunt all but threw Majority Leader Mitch McConnell under the bus, saying: 'I don’t see any likelihood that those bills would get to the floor if we marked them up. I think the majority leader is of the view this debate reaches no conclusion.'" People are just lining up to be the first against the wall. And it is coming down to the choice between country and party. So far the vast majority of conservatives are throwing their lot behind "party."

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Linkee-poo do you wanna be a primadonna like me tonight

On the Media… "For media professionals, hurricanes offer the very best kind of bad news, because the story arc is predictable, and invariably compelling. In our Breaking News Consumer’s Handbooks, we examine the myths, misleading language, and tired media narratives that clog up news coverage at a time when clarity can be a matter of life and death."

"The future of cars is always exciting and always just around the corner. Things like self-driving cars have been five years away for, oh, about 40 years now. But there are times when pure imagination is exactly what’s needed, when vehicles have to be as out there as possible. Nearly incredible cars are a big part of science fiction TV shows and movies. They’re often characters themselves, and someone has to make them."

"Taking a black hole’s temperature is a seemingly impossible task. But now, physicists report the next best thing. They’ve measured the temperature of a lab-made sonic black hole, which traps sound instead of light." Wait. What?

"Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a compound that is increasingly becoming popular because of the alleged health benefits users report, ranging from better sleep, reduced anxiety and pain relief. Yet clinical studies are lacking for most claims."

"In fact, the idea of walking at least 10,000 steps a day for health goes back decades to a marketing campaign launched in Japan to promote a pedometer. And, in subsequent years, it was adopted in the U.S. as a goal to promote good health. It's often the default setting on fitness trackers, but what's it really based on?" No you don't have to walk 10,000 steps a day for good health. But note that while the "long-term health benefits" don't really increase after a certain point, walking more can help with metabolism rates and weight loss.

"Parents who have surrendered custody of their children to youth services are telling (Ohio State) Senators about their heart-wrenching decisions. Because of limited resources and lack of insurance coverage, these families can no longer afford treatment for a range of mental health and developmental issues."

"Environmental advocates say this creates an unfair process for wind energy (community veto) compared to other energy sources. As Trish Demeter, Ohio Environmental Council’s Action Fund, notes municipalities do not have the opportunity to hold a referendum on other facets such as transmission lines, fracking wastewater injection wells, or oil and gas drilling."

Remember when they said this $2.50 a month Ohioans would have to pay would be for "Clean Energy" development, as well as bailing out First Energy's nuclear plants? "Under the changes neither wind nor solar power can qualify for the so-called 'Clean Air Credits,' according to House Energy and Natural Resources committee chair Nino Vitale (R-Urbana)." It was always a nuclear power plant bail-out. Plants we have paid for several times over by now.

Let's arm everyone. What could possibly go wrong? "A white campground manager in Mississippi has been fired after pulling a gun out on a black couple. The confrontation between the unidentified manager and the couple was captured on video and has gone viral on social media."

"A 44-year-old Elk River man is among the latest Minnesotans to join a nationwide flood of plaintiffs suing Monsanto Co., claiming the company’s blockbuster Roundup weedkiller caused their cancers."

"The Louisiana House approved a strict new abortion law barring the procedure once a heartbeat is detectable, a point before many women may realize they are pregnant… By a vote of 79-23, the lawmakers banned abortions as early as six weeks of pregnancy. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement that he 'ran for governor as a pro-life candidate,' and intended to sign the abortion ban." So with these bills, I'm now wondering about loop-holes. Such as, if there is no "detectable" fetal heartbeat, is abortion then okay? What about deaf sonographers? Is this only applicable for "surgical" abortion?

How go the Trade Wars? "'We advise the U.S. side not to underestimate the Chinese side’s ability to safeguard its development rights and interests. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!' the People’s Daily said in a commentary titled 'United States, don’t underestimate China’s ability to strike back.'" Such nice people.

"China accused the Trump administration of committing 'economic terrorism' on Thursday, escalating its war of words with the United States amid rising trade tensions between the two countries."

"Stocks fell on Wednesday as bond yields declined again, triggering concerns about the economic outlook. Increasing trade tensions in the China-U.S. trade fight also weighed on markets… The 10-year Treasury note yield fell to its lowest level since September 2017 before rebounding to about 2.26%. A portion of the yield curve further inverted as 3-month Treasury bills last yielded 2.36%, well above the 10-year rate. A yield curve inversion is seen by traders as a potential sign that a recession is in the horizon."

"The man who set himself on fire outside the White House on Wednesday has died, police have said… Video posted to social media platforms from the scene showed the man engulfed in flames as cars drove past."

"Energy officials within the Trump administration referred to natural gas exported by U.S. energy companies as 'freedom gas' and 'molecules of U.S. freedom' in official statements." Oh FFS. Hey buddy, I got yur Molecules of US Freedom right here, pull my finger. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Jared Kushner is traveling in the Middle East this week to drum up support for President Donald Trump's long-awaited Israel-Palestinian peace plan." And there's the "Hail Mary" plan. Guys, if you really want to do this you shouldn't have teamed up with Netanyahu as he faced indictment (and an inability to form a new coalition government) or pissed off the Palestinians (take anything from moving the embassy to Jerusalem, closing the Palestinian outreach office, cutting funding, etc, ad nauseam).

"Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition government despite weeks of trying and the country will head to the ballot box again on Sept. 17."

"Is Iran doomed to be an Iraq redux? This is just one of the questions raised by a crisis that has eerie parallels to the missteps that led to the Iraq War in 2003, where the buildup to conflict was precipitated by faulty intelligence and confrontational foreign policymakers such as John Bolton in President George W. Bush's administration."

Mueller's statement in full. "Let me begin where the appointment order begins: and that is interference in the 2016 presidential election… As alleged by the grand jury in an indictment, Russian intelligence officers who were part of the Russian military launched a concerted attack on our political system… As set forth in our report, after that investigation, if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that… I will close by reiterating the central allegation of our indictments—that there were multiple, systematic efforts to interfere in our election… That allegation deserves the attention of every American." (Waves to my Russian friends)

"Look at that. He's gone from saying the Russians had nothing to do with his win to saying 'It's not my fault!' Progress, I guess…" That's the problem with liars, eventually they lose the track of their lies. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Linkee-poo hello, daddy, hello, mom, I'm your ch-ch-ch-cherry bomb

"At least 12 people were injured in a massive rain-wrapped tornado that touched down to the west of Kansas City, Kan., on Tuesday."

"Dangerous floods leave Plains, Midwest 'at the mercy of Mother Nature'… 'This is a very catastrophic, not-yet-over scenario that we're dealing with,' a lawmaker says as historic floods threaten to worsen." It's also planting season.

Your vision is not what your eyes are seeing. "One of my favorite optical illusionists is Akiyoshi Kitaoki. He has created hundreds, maybe thousands, of guaranteed brain-melting illusions that will make you swear that what you're seeing is real when it really, really isn't. He has ones that appear to move, that warp your sense of shape and size, destroy your notion of color, and will make you seriously question whether your eyes and brain are talking to each other in any sort of coherent way." (Grokked from Dan)

"Archeologists in Rome have stumbled on a large marble head of Dionysus, also known as Bacchus, the ancient Roman god of wine, dance and fertility." Now Rome will be a more boring city since they removed the fetish. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Atmospheric researchers… have now developed a climate model that can accurately depict the frequently observed winding course of the jet stream… The breakthrough came when the scientists combined their global climate model with a new machine learning algorithm on ozone chemistry. Using their new combo-model, they can now show that the jet stream's wavelike course in winter and subsequent extreme weather conditions cold air outbreaks in Central Europe and North America are the direct result of climate change. Their findings were released in the Nature online portal Scientific Reports on 28 May 2019." We're boned.

You make igloos out of snow and ice. "The plan is to use a laser system that weighs less than 6.6 pounds to melt the dust, soil, and loose rock covering the lunar surface, transforming it into a material astronauts could then use as the “ink” in a 3D printer to build the components of a lunar outpost."

"Last Thursday, the leader of Russia's state space corporation, Dmitry Rogozin, gave a wide-ranging talk at Moscow University. The speech sought to describe activities happening now at Roscosmos and what may happen in the future, including a potential lunar landing… Rogozin addressed his comments largely to students at the university, and he sought to paint a picture of a vibrant national space enterprise. This is presumably to boost the desirability of a career in space, as young people have been pursuing aerospace careers in smaller numbers. Reports of low salaries, low morale, and a lack of funding to even remove trash from Roscosmos facilities has not helped this trend."

"When your computer crashes or phone freezes, don't be so quick to blame the manufacturer. Cosmic rays -- or rather the electrically charged particles they generate -- may be your real foe. While harmless to living organisms, a small number of these particles have enough energy to interfere with the operation of the microelectronic circuitry in our personal devices... particles alter an individual bit of data stored in a chip's memory. Consequences can be as trivial as altering a single pixel in a photograph or as serious as bringing down a passenger jet." Narrator voice, cosmic rays do harm living organisms, but it has the potential to harm us all equally, so we can't study the effects (it's a part of the "background" radiation we live with). When the channels in processors are measured by the atom, affecting the ionization of a single atom can alter the valency of the charge. (Grokked from Tobias Buckell)

"Energy drinks may promise a boost, but experts are increasingly concerned that their cocktails of ingredients could have unintended health risks… A study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that caffeinated energy drinks altered the heart's electrical activity and raised blood pressure." It's called "caffeine" (and guarana).

"FairWarning has identified 133 cases of young children being injured by backovers of riding mowers since 2004, based on court records, news reports and interviews. Eight of the children died, and others suffered amputations of fingers, toes, hands, feet and limbs, as well as mangled internal organs." As a user of power tools, the first thing to be sacrificed in the chase of profit is safety. Always.

"U.S. home prices rose at the slowest pace in more than six years in March, a sign weaker sales are keeping a lid on price increases." It would help if developers focused on the lower end of the market for first time borrowers.

How goes Brexit? "Boris Johnson, the favorite to replace Theresa May as British prime minister, must appear in court over allegations he lied to the public about Brexit, a judge ruled Wednesday… The former foreign secretary and ex-London mayor was ordered to answer a private summons alleging he committed three offences of misconduct in a public office."

How go the Trade Wars? "But the Department of Homeland Security is warning that drones manufactured by Chinese companies could pose security risks, including that the data they gather could be stolen."

I love how some people are focused on Juilian Assange's case about "going after journalists" (note: he's not a journalist), but are completely silent about this case. "The San Francisco police chief said Tuesday that he respects the news media, but a freelance journalist whose home and office were raided by officers had 'crossed the line' by joining a conspiracy to steal a confidential report."

Going old school. "New satellite photos obtained on Tuesday show significant damage to Syrian villages and surrounding farmland as a result of a government offensive on the last rebel stronghold in the country."

"The halt on China’s imports of wastepaper and plastic that has disrupted U.S. recycling programs has also spurred investment in American plants that process recyclables." And yet we still can't recycle glass, which is the most recyclable material we have. But notice how many of these US jobs/companies are expanding with either Chinese money or Chinese customers.

The Hidden Brain podcast on… "Genes aren't the only driver behind our political views, though. Hibbing says environment and upbringing play a large role as well. But he has found that, on average, about 30 or 40 percent of our political attitudes come from genetics. And he thinks the idea that our politics may come, at least in part, from our biology may help us to have more empathy for people who disagree with us." I think this ignores how political party membership has changed over the decades. It misses how in the past 2 decades our 2 part system has seen a sea change in how people self-sort into those parties.

"The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld an Indiana law that requires abortion providers to dispose of aborted fetuses in the same way as human remains, a sign that the conservative court is more open to abortion restrictions… But the justices rejected the state’s appeal of a lower court ruling blocking a separate provision that would prevent a woman in Indiana from having an abortion based on gender, race or disability."

"Missouri’s only abortion clinic could be closed by the end of the week because the state is threatening to not renew its license, Planned Parenthood officials said Tuesday."

"US National Security Adviser John Bolton has said 'naval mines almost certainly from Iran' were to blame for the damage to oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman earlier this month… Mr Bolton provided no evidence to support the allegation, which Iran said was 'laughable'." Wagging the dog.

"At a chamber luncheon in Paducah, Kentucky, on Tuesday, McConnell was asked by a member of the audience, 'Should a Supreme Court justice die next year, what will your position be on filling that spot?'… 'I would fill it,' he responded, smirking, which drew loud laughter." Dear Senate Majority Leader, your situational ethics makes you lower than dog shit. The fact you're allowed in polite company is an embarrassment to functioning adults. And it's this attitude for which you should be run out of town on a rail. This is the blatant hypocrisy and politics Republicans claim Democrats engage in. But this is also intentionally ignoring your oath of office and any modicum of ethical behavior to steal control of a branch of government. This was (and is) a Constitutional abrogation of the sort that should lead to jail time (IMHO).

"Unlike the first and second rounds of debates, when candidates must cross either a donor or polling threshold to qualify, candidates will need to surpass both bars to make the stage for the third and fourth debates. For the September event, candidates will have to hit 2 percent in four qualifying polls, versus 1 percent in three polls for the first debates, and they will need 130,000 individual donors, up from 65,000."

"Ultimately, Mueller did not charge any Americans with a crime connected to his initial mandate — 'collusion,' as it became known — but he did establish many previously unknown ties between Trump's camp and Russia, even as Trump was denying any communication or business links."

"Special counsel Robert Mueller, speaking publicly for the first time since the beginning of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, says he is resigning… 'We are formally closing the special counsel's office,' Mueller told reporters at the Justice Department on Wednesday morning." Some of the case he launched will still go on (like the Roger Stone trial, but note many of the redactions in his report were made to protect ongoing investigations handed off to other US Attorneys). Stick a fork in him, he's done. Whispers, "ain't gonna be that easy, Bobby."

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Linkee-poo will give a little bit of my life for you, so give a little bit of your time to me

"On Memorial Day, 51 tornadoes were reported across eight states -- Idaho, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio -- and severe weather is forecast to continue Tuesday and Wednesday."

"Laptop with some of world’s most dangerous malware sells for $1.35 million." It's art, of a sort.

"Those aren't an intelligent extra-terrestrial army moving in to take over planet Earth -- they're just SpaceX's Starlink satellites, designed to provide broadband services across the globe… However, as the unusual display in the night sky quickly gathered steam across social media, some astronomers began to point out the potential problems the satellite system may pose for radio astronomy. At present, only 60 satellites are moving into their orbit, but eventually that number will reach 12,000 and a megaconstellation will encircle the Earth. That would nearly triple the current amount of satellites currently orbiting the Earth."

Here is a longer video of the Starlink satellites. (Grokked from Dan)

"The ROSETTA-Ice project, a three-year, multi-institutional data collection survey of Antarctic ice, has assembled an unprecedented view of the Ross Ice Shelf, its structure and how it has been changing over time. In a study published today in Nature Geoscience, the ROSETTA-Ice team members detail how they discovered an ancient geologic structure that restricts where ocean water flows. The discovery suggests that local ocean currents may play a critical role in the ice shelf's future retreat."

"A team of scientists from Arizona State University has taken a significant step closer to unlocking the secrets of photosynthesis, by determining the structure of a very large photosynthetic supercomplex." Mmm, swirly and squiggly protein folding.

"American soil… Those are two words that are commonly used to stir up patriotic feelings. They are also words that can't be be taken for granted, because today nearly 30 million acres of U.S. farmland are held by foreign investors. That number has doubled in the past two decades, which is raising alarm bells in farming communities." Exporting our water to the world. Also, foreign companies see the dearth of renewable development and sense a market begging to be filled.

"It's a feeling of extreme work stress that's long been embedded in the cultural lexicon, and now it might be codified in your medical records as well… Burnout is now a legitimate medical diagnosis, according to the International Classification of Diseases, or the ICD-11, the World Health Organization's handbook that guides medical providers in diagnosing diseases." To bad the US is only on ICD-10. And welcome to my world.

"But that help list that Beaudis was able to get on is emblematic of a bigger problem in the way we respond to natural disasters: Disaster strikes, emergency help is deployed, checks are cut, communities are rebuilt — even in high-risk places. Many say that reactive response has to change."

"At least two victims are dead, including an 11-year-old girl, and about 17 others were injured in a mass stabbing attack near Tokyo, Tuesday morning."

How goes Brexit? "Tory leadership candidate Jeremy Hunt has warned that his party will be committing "political suicide" if it tries to push through a no-deal Brexit… He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the move to no-deal would result in a general election, which could see Labour take power." Sure, all you have to do is change the deal May struck with the EU. But how and what would you change, and would the EU go along with it. Those are the actual questions.

"Europe's traditional centrist coalition lost its majority in the European Union's parliamentary elections Sunday, with far-right populist parties and liberal, pro-European Union parties both gaining ground. The results suggest a complicated future for the EU, as voters look for new ways forward." Divided politics, the US export of the century.

How go the Trade Wars? "China’s middle class, particularly better-educated white collar workers, are growing increasingly confused and anxious over how the trade war with the United States will affect the lives of ordinary citizens, in contrast to official press and social media which have been dominated by messages urging the country to stand strong in face of the adversity."

"The Trump administration's ban on goods produced by a Chinese tech giant would seem to have little to do with rural America. But rural cell service providers across the U.S. are almost entirely dependent on the company, Huawei, which produces inexpensive wireless communications equipment." Can confirm that rural comms use cheap as shit equipment and can barely keep it running. Also, while we're all talking about 5G, there are many places were we don't even have 4G yet.

"The Chinese government has slammed Washington for engaging with Taipei and ordered the Trump administration to cease diplomatic engagements with the island, after a highly unusual public meeting between top officials from the US and Taiwan."

"The U.S. Army issued a tweet ahead of Memorial Day weekend with a question for service members and veterans: 'How has serving impacted you?'" I don't see how this could possibly go wrong.

"Trump said he passed a private-sector health care program, Veterans Choice, after failed attempts by past presidents for the last '45 years.' That's not true. The Choice program, which allows veterans to see doctors outside the government-run VA system at taxpayer expense, was first passed in 2014 under President Barack Obama." Next up, Trump takes credit for the sun rising in the East.

"President Donald Trump often gripes about his bad press -- but as his state visit to Japan shows, sometimes he's his own worst enemy." Our stable genius president, everybody.

"'I have to wish you all a very happy Memorial Day,' Trump said. 'On this Memorial Day evening in the United States, Americans are concluding a sacred day of remembrance, reflection and prayer.'… Before appearing on the USS Wasp, Trump and first lady Melania Trump visited a Japanese destroyer, the J.S. Kaga, docked nearby. Standing alongside Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump delivered the same 'happy Memorial Day' message to the Japanese forces." Any functioning adult, 2020.

"'You know, they were saying — one of the folks said, "No, the electric works faster. But, sir, we can only get the plane there every couple of minutes,"' Trump said aboard the USS Wasp, according to a White House transcript, adding: 'So, really, what they did was wrong.'" Positively anyone who doesn't make me facepalm every 5 minutes in 2020. I'm begging you. (Grokked from Jim Wright who likes to remind us, "USS Wasp is an LHD. Not a CV. It doesn't have even HAVE catapults.")

"Democrats’ frustrations centered on claims first raised by Whitley and Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) in January that 98,000 noncitizens had potentially registered to vote, and that tens of thousands had illegally cast ballots since 1996. Critics quickly found, however, that many of those names were listed in error and thousands of people were actually naturalized U.S. citizens who were eligible to vote." Funny how that turned out.

"Done sparring with Robert Mueller, Donald Trump’s personal attorney is now training his attacks on the president’s reelection rivals. Giuliani plans to meet with the president and his campaign in the coming weeks to discuss pivoting to this new role, which he expects will also include making policy and political connections for the 2020 effort." Oh sweet Jesus, do we have to? Well, I guess when you're so far down in the opinion polls finding a guy who polls even lower might me an ego boost for the candidate.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Linkee-poo Memorial Day

Jim Wright with an important service announcement for today.

Go out and thank a veteran (which, btw, this is not the fucking holiday for) by taking your 10% off on all the sales. I'll just note that a certain segment laments the "commercialization" of a certain holiday, but is all for the long weekend of sales this holiday.

As I was saying, "The study confirms what we've been hearing for years: Cooking from scratch and eating 'real food' is better and healthier. The problem is that knowing this doesn't make it any more doable for the average family." Eating "healthy" is more expensive, both in material cost, equipment, and labor. Not everybody can meet those costs. However it is possible to produce less processed foods inexpensively. But in this business environment (coughMBAcough) it'll never happen.

"Americans generally do not have enough saved for retirement and Congress is considering a number of measures to address that… There are a few retirement-related bills of note making their way through Congress."

"Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill on Friday that criminalizes abortions in the state after eight weeks of pregnancy, the latest in a series of sweeping restrictions passed by Republican-controlled legislatures that now threaten nearly 50 years of federal protections for abortion… The final version of the legislation does not have exceptions for victims of rape or incest. It does have a carve-out for cases of medical emergencies." For those polite Missourians who just "want to get as close to the line as possible", allow me to offer this kinder, gentler, fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

How go the Trade Wars? "A report by two trade groups showed U.S. beer-industry jobs dropped 40,000 since 2016 as metal tariffs boosted aluminum-can costs, leading to a drop in investment. The biennial study by the Beer Institute and National Beer Wholesalers Association said direct, indirect and induced jobs fell to 2.19 million in 2018 from 2.23 million in 2016." (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Orders to U.S. factories for large manufactured goods fell sharply last month, pulled down by lower demand for commercial aircraft and cars, while businesses also pulled back on investment spending."

"Did you get a 7% raise last year? Congratulations, yours was in line with what CEOs at the biggest companies got. But for chief executives, that 7% was roughly $800,000." When some people look at the chasms that divide, they don't think of bridges, they wonder why they can't make it wider.

"He knows he is looking for one thing from the country’s political system: a president who will save the plant (Lordstown) that has meant everything to his family… 'I really don’t care if it’s a Democrat, Republican, male, female, black, white, I don’t care,' he said." Actually he does care. And he can't wrap his head around that he (and most of Trumbull County) got suckered by Trump. He (and others) can't just figure out why life got crappy for them after Trump was elected. Because "he repealed NAFTA" (nope, it's still what we're operating under, and Trump hasn't even submitted the new USMCA or whatever the fuck it's called, and even that is only a slight modernization of NAFTA) and he talked a good game about him being a business man (note the article's focus is only now realizing just how much the CEO of GM was making and how that might be a problem). And he can't accept (even though he knows this) that the black, liberal president did better for him than anyone else. This is why Trump was elected. And this is why there's a good chance he'll be re-elected. Because the electorate is more like Marsh than being an educated, well informed, and thinking electorate. Notice how the major through line of this article is, "He tried democrats and felt disappointed, and then he tried Trump and got screwed over, and now he doesn't know what to do." I got a clue bat for ya, Marsh, maybe support the people who aren't actively fucking you over.

"Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office for Civil Rights, said the proposed rule, released Friday, would revise protections put into place in 2016 as part of the Affordable Care Act that defined discrimination 'on the basis of sex' to include gender identity." Making social regressiveness seem like an advancement.

"Florida state Rep. Mike Hill said the abortion bill he introduced to the state legislature this year was sent to him by God." We used to lock away people who talked like this, now we elect them to office. (Grokked from Michele)

"Senate Republicans and their establishment allies are vowing to blackball any political consulting firm that works to defeat GOP incumbents, a dramatic step likely to further inflame intraparty tensions over 2020 primaries." (Grokked from Brandie Tarvin)

"President Trump has disturbed military leaders and officials in the Department of Homeland Security in recent months for repeatedly requesting that a contract for border wall construction be awarded to a company owned by a Republican donor and frequent Fox News guest, The Washington Post reported." Having worked on government contracts, this is "hellafuckingnope" territory. Not that it doesn't get done in some cases, and knowing people in the purchasing chain is always helpful, but this brazen cronyism is totally out of bounds. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"President Donald Trump didn’t know that Nepal and Bhutan were countries until an adviser told him, according to a new report from Politico." Our stable genius president, everybody. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The German bank loaned a cumulative total of around $2.5 billion to Trump projects over the past two decades, and the bank continued writing him nine-figure checks even after he defaulted on a $640 million obligation and sued the bank, blaming it for his failure to pay back the debt." And the question is why did they keep loaning him money? (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Friday, May 24, 2019

Linkee-poo hits the end of the week

"A preliminary review by the National Weather Service found that the powerful tornado that ravaged Missouri's capital Wednesday night rated at least an EF-3 on the Enhanced Fujita scale, indicating maximum wind speeds of 160 mph."

Something new has been added. "As LiveScience reports, researchers from France recently discovered the brand new feature of the ocean floor near Mayotte, and it’s absolutely massive. The volcano, which now stretches some 800 meters off the seafloor, didn’t even exist six months prior, and reports from island residents paint a clear picture of when it was created."

They're discovering new forms of wood. "But now, a large team of US researchers has found a single solution that appears to manage everything using a sustainable material that both reflects sunlight and radiates away excess heat. The miracle material? Wood. Or a form of wood that has been treated to remove one of its two main components." (Grokked from John)

"NASA has chosen its first commercial partner for a proposed space station, known as the Lunar Gateway, to be built near the Moon. On Thursday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Maxar Technologies would build the first component of the Gateway—the power and propulsion element. Like the name suggests, it will provide electricity to the Gateway and help move it around."

"'Low whole-grain consumption was associated with the largest cancer burden in the US, followed by low dairy intake, high processed-meat intake, low vegetable and fruit intake, high red-meat intake and high intake of sugar-sweetened beverages,' Zhang said." Good thing we're all not smoking like chimneys anymore, amiright? "The researchers found that colon and rectal cancers had the highest number and proportion of diet-related cases, at 38.3%." Fiber. Eat more fiber, peoples. And remember how studies showed "organic" or "whole foods" really don't help you? "People who frequently eat organic foods lowered their overall risk of developing cancer, according to a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Specifically, those who primarily ate organic foods were more likely to ward off non-Hodgkin lymphoma and postmenopausal breast cancer than those who rarely or never ate organic foods." Again, ultra-processed foods were developed to counter the rising cost of food to provide cheap calories as income disparity started taking off.

Remember the concept of moving our food sources to the ocean as the surface soils continue to be degraded? You know like eating seafood and seaweed? "Already, 29% of edible fish and seafood species have declined by 90% -- a drop that means the collapse of these fisheries… But the issue isn't just having seafood on our plates. Ocean species filter toxins from the water. They protect shorelines. And they reduce the risks of algae blooms such as the red tide." Gone by 2048. Also as a reminder, when I was a kid, "Orange Roughy", Chilean Sea Bass, cat fish, tilapia, and a number of other fish we consider "premium" these days weren't even considered good dog food. And now, most of what is sold as "grouper" and other premium fish (especially in restaurants) aren't those fishes but other "junk" fish. We're boned. (Grokked from Karl Schroeder)

Fish farms you say? "A sudden surge in algae has killed at least eight million salmon in one week across Norwegian fish farms, the state-owned Norwegian Seafood Council has said." Expect to pay more for "wild caught" salmon this year. Even if Norwegian salmon is mostly sold to Japan. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"On Capitol Hill Thursday, NOAA’s acting chief, Neil Jacobs, said that interference from 5G wireless phones could reduce the accuracy of forecasts by 30 percent. That’s equivalent, he said, to the quality of weather predictions four decades ago." The problems of expanding the spectrum we use for communications, sometimes that space is already used for something else. (Grokked from Mary Lou Klecha)

"Plastic bags are not biodegradable and can do great harms to wildlife. Cities and states across the country are banning plastic bags, but those bans may be having unintended consequences." So, here's an example of what is bad about "whataboutism" reporting. Note that plastic bags are only better when it comes to "climate change", and then only when you reuse them several times. And yes, making paper is more environmentally worse with other pollution issues… but there's no mention of just where those plastics come from (and if I had to guess the study doesn't check the full life of the materials, ie. the oil production to make the plastic). Soooo, oooo they're all "contrarian" and I'm feeling all abashed. Nope. Paper bags can be made more environmentally friendly (so can plastic bags, btw). And I remember Chief Iron Eyes crying and exactly what he was crying over, plastic bag pollution in the environment is worse. It also contributes to the problems of micro plastics in our water. So no, plastic bags are not better. My guess is when you include the carbon footprint for the oil extraction to make the plastic beads that are made into plastic bags you will see a much more even climate change effect. Paper breaks down faster. Paper is also digestible. And that's the point. So yes, banning plastic bags does increase other plastics use (garbage bags which are heavier plastic… but they don't have to be made that way), but that also assumes we are only going to do one thing, and not address the myriad problems of pollution and climate change. You know, like recycling, reuse of containers for garbage processing, reduction of materials we just throw away, etc.

"But now, for the first time in decades, the disability rolls are shrinking. More people with disabilities are returning to work and holding on to their jobs. With unemployment at a nearly 50-year low, companies are struggling to find workers. And that means people who had trouble finding a job in the past are suddenly in demand. That includes people with disabilities." These people are still disabled, but companies are now "forced" to actually "figure it out."

"For decades, researchers have followed the participants of a 1960's preschool program. They found a range of social and economic benefits, and not just for the participants in the program." As I write this, there's no transcript, but highly recommended. The project was meant to improve grades, at which it didn't succeed, but the program's participants, and their kids, did. Preschool programs, Headstart and all the others, help improve lives, and the improvements affect generations of kids.

These assholes and their entitlement mentalities. "Huckabee built his dream house on a public beach, a spot where some of the more than 4 million spring breakers and tourists who come to Walton County each year had been parking their lawn chairs and fishing poles since time immemorial. That meant the Fox News contributor had to share much of the 115-foot-long spit of sand in front of his $6 million house with those who helped pay for it—the people who watch his TV show. And he didn’t like it one bit… So Huckabee, father of White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, lobbied local officials to cleanse it of the riffraff." You know, like Jesus did. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Thousands of women who've had abortions have taken to social media to share their experience. Many argue they would have been worse off economically, had they been forced to deliver a baby." There's a lot of "maybe that was the baby who would cure cancer" arguments going around. Okay, what if the mother who was forced to give birth, but had to give up school or a good job or even just have the time was the one who would cure cancer? These things are never good arguments. But then, the right-to-life side is doing absolutely nothing to help these new mothers.

How goes Brexit? "UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional speech on Friday, finally bowing to intense political pressure over the failure to deliver her signature policy -- Britain's withdrawal from the European Union." Just as a reminder, Theresa May only got the job because Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson (who is being named as a possible replacement) all ran away from responsibility after they won the Brexit vote. The chances of a hard Brexit just went up exponentially.

"Brexiteers, nostalgic for the days of the British Empire, feel Europe still owes them from rescuing the continent from the Nazis, and complain the European Union has humiliated their prime minister." It was 75 years ago, Europe celebrated your grandparents (who did the actual liberation). Get over yourselves and your entitlement and realize that we're all in this together.

How go the Trade Wars? "'It’s happening, it’s happening fast and I think things probably are going to happen with China fast because I cannot imagine that they can be thrilled with thousands of companies leaving their shores for other places,' Trump said during remarks at the White House, providing no evidence of such an exodus." Narrator voice; there are no current talks and there is no schedule for continuing discussions.

"Asia Pacific markets traded mixed Friday, as worries over trade tensions between the United States and China weighed on investor sentiment."

"Jason Moon with New Hampshire Public Radio reports on how advocacy groups in that state are training voters in an art known as bird-dogging." That name is used a pejorative in most elected representative circles. It brings thoughts and worries about the "gotcha" questions. It shouldn't. We should get direct answers from the people who want to represent us.

In case you haven't seen the video of the president putting his lackies on the line to agree he was totally calm when he stormed out of the room on the meeting on infrastructure. Totally like what a stable genius would do. He then went on to belittle everyone else at the meeting, and then reiterated the conspiracy of the "deep state." (Grokked from a lot of people)

"The videos alter the audio of Pelosi’s speech at a Center for American Progress event Wednesday in which she accuses President Trump of a 'cover-up,' editing the clip to make it appear as though she is slurring her words." And, "President Donald Trump on Thursday night tweeted out an edited video showing Nancy Pelosi stumbling over her words, escalating the personal attacks he has made against the Democratic House Speaker." Plus "The crudely edited video comes amid warnings from the US intelligence community that more sophisticated video manipulation may be part of future disinformation campaigns targeting the American electorate." Welcome to the 2020 disinformation campaigns. Oh, and Facebook and Twitter are saying it's "satire" and won't be taking it down.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday's alligators make up for lost time

"A devastating series of storms late Wednesday spawned multiple tornadoes that caused extensive damage to several buildings and led to three deaths in Missouri." The rivers are rising and there are more storms on the way.

There's a fungus among us. "When did the first complex multicellular life arise? Most people, being a bit self-centered, would point to the Ediacaran and Cambrian, when the first animal life appeared and then diversified. Yet studies of DNA suggest that fungi may have originated far earlier than animals." Or technically, we're among the fungi.

"Over the years, scientists have pieced together a coherent story about how the process unfolds. And now the nonprofit Allen Institute in Seattle has taken advantage of that knowledge to produce a visualization of human cell division suitable for professional scientists and curious amateurs alike."

"Scientific Reports is publishing the results of the study led by scientists at Emory University. The results show that extracts from the plants have antimicrobial activity against one or more of a trio of dangerous species of multi-drug-resistant bacteria associated with wound infections: Acinetobacter baumannii, Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumoniae." Herbal medicine was actually quite good. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Using advanced technology at UChicago-affiliated Argonne National Laboratory, the team studied a class of materials in which they observed superconductivity at temperatures of about minus 23 degrees Celsius (minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit, 250 K)—a jump of about 50 degrees compared to the previous confirmed record… The only catch was that the material needed to be placed under extremely high pressure—between 150 and 170 gigapascals, more than one and a half million times the pressure at sea level" That's a big catch. Also, it was a really small piece.

"Amazon.com Inc said shareholders rejected proposals to curb and audit its facial recognition service on Wednesday, just as members of Congress indicated there was bipartisan support to one day regulate the technology." Skynet (okay, a panopticon) is good for the bottom line.

"A Tennessee judge offered dozens of inmates about a month off their sentence if they’d undergo surgical sterilization, and many agreed to it, in what critics argued amounted to a eugenics program and a blatant violation of constitutional rights." Da fuq? (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"Merck made a 'hit list' of doctors who criticized Vioxx, according to testimony in a Vioxx class action case in Australia. The list, emailed between Merck employees, contained doctors' names with the labels 'neutralise,' 'neutralised' or 'discredit' next to them." They seem trustworthy. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"A six-year-old girl was told to return a tray of food at her school cafeteria because there was not enough money in her account." I'll tell ya who should really have to do the walk of shame, and that's the cafeteria cashier, the person who wrote that policy, and the principal. (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

How goes Brexit? "Allies of Theresa May expect her to announce her resignation as prime minister by the end of the week after losing the support of senior members of her Cabinet."

"A south Mississippi lawmaker punched his wife in the face after she didn't undress quickly enough when the lawmaker wanted to have sex, according to a police report in the case." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has secured another five-year term after winning a landslide general election victory."

Warning, this link is to The Sun. "Nigel Farage reportedly refused to get off his Brexit Party bus today because people gathered around it were carrying milkshakes." Damnit, now I'm going to start having to drink milkshakes. (Grokked from Brooke Bolander)

"More than 1,000 victims of the Holocaust were buried Wednesday in Belarus, some 70 years after they were killed in the genocide… Their bones were unearthed this winter by construction workers as they began to build luxury apartments in the southwestern city of Brest, near Poland." OF course construction continues.

"The promotion of religious freedom in America, a cause that not long ago had near unanimous support on Capitol Hill, has fallen victim to the culture wars." That's because personal religious practices, in the context of the individual, should have broad protections. When those religious beliefs hit the wider world, then they need to keep it to themselves. It wasn't that long ago this was common sense. Your rights end where my rights begin. But then we also held that there was a difference between personal and corporate identities (which have been erased by the conservative courts). There was a difference between individual and commercial speech. Corporations needed to respect the rights of the individual. Reversing that equation brings slavery.

"Central American migrants who were detained in a Border Patrol holding facility in McAllen, Texas, described atrocious living conditions and widespread sickness." It won't stop them from coming.

"A lawsuit brought by the House of Representatives against President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration will have another day in court Thursday in Washington, DC." As to the argument that Congress should need to pass a law first, they did. It was the appropriations act which the president is trying to circumvent.

"Remember the planned redesign of the $20 bill that was going to include the first African American woman to appear on U.S. currency?… Well, don't expect to see Harriett Tubman on your $20 any time soon." I'm sure it's totally not a racist or misogynistic thing.

"Trump got millions in 2018 from small Florida bank whose CEO got a Federal Reserve post months later." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"A federal judge in New York City on Wednesday said Deutsche Bank and Capital One can turn over financial documents related to President Donald Trump and his businesses in response to subpoenas from two Democrat-led House committees." Welcome to the presidency, Trumps.

"The President is doing what he always does when he's in a dark political corner: fight harder than any man alive, adopting a relentless strategy of total political warfare and lashing out in a way that may ultimately be self-defeating." I love the continuing spin of the president being in a snit and venting to the press… they had a preprinted sign on the podium and they had handouts prepared. But on the other hand, it's Infrastructure Week again. It's our national Groundhog Day event. It has always been Infrastructure Week, it always will be Infrastructure Week.

"Although it's useless to speculate about what motivates this particular chief executive, it seems likely that his outburst was influenced by several recent political setbacks. The first was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying Trump engaged in a 'cover-up.' The second was an important legal decision that has clear implications for numerous legal showdowns expected between the executive branch and the legislative branch."

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesday alligators are a little tired

An oldie, "New Punctuation Marks for Grammar Nerds", but a goodie. (Grokked from John)

"Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stenciled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA's Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021." But you only have until September 30th to add your name.

"To explore those possibilities, NASA sent a trio of Astrobee robots to the International Space Station just last month, and the ISS crew is just now getting around to testing them out. In a new post on NASA’s website, the agency teases an early look at the floating bots as astronauts test them out." Astrobee robots.

"SpaceX has hurtled to the top of the launch industry over the past decade, last year bringing in more revenue than any other rocket company, according to Jefferies on Sunday."

"The study, published in Nature Sustainability on May 20, describes a potential process for converting the extremely potent greenhouse gas methane into carbon dioxide, which is a much less potent driver of global warming. The idea of intentionally releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere may seem surprising, but the authors argue that swapping methane for carbon dioxide is a significant net benefit for the climate." That depends on if it's a 1:1 conversion, or just what the ratio is. It'd be way much better to just capture the methane, though. Also, while it's great to reduce methane at ground level, the major problem is about 5 miles up.

"The little girl is catching up on some vaccines she's behind on: missing doses of the DTaP and polio vaccines. She's over two years old — both of those shots are supposed to happen at a baby's six-month check up… 'It happens a lot,' Siefman says. The Unity Health Care clinic, where Siefman practices, serves mostly low-income, mostly African-American patients. She says her patients often miss vaccinations because of struggles in their parents' lives. The reasons include: 'transportation, couldn't get off work, didn't have insurance and didn't know that they could come in without insurance.'"

"The researchers conducted two studies—one in which a prior scan was available, and one in which it wasn’t. In the former scenario, the deep learning algorithm—which was trained on computed tomography scans of people with lung cancer, without it, and with nodules turned cancerous, the New York Times reported—had a higher identification rate than six radiologists, and in the latter, the humans and machine were even." The AI manager then goes on to say how the AI got an A (by getting 94.4 right). Um, no. In radiology school a 95% is a B. You need a 96% for an A. Ask me how I know that. Also, just to point out again, lung cancer is one of a few hundred things radiologists diagnose in people's lungs. So while this would be a nice (and cheap, let me point out it's gotta be cheap) second look at scans. Also note they don't tell you what the radiologists scored, or what the radiologists specialties were.

"Cannabidiol, the non-psychoactive ingredient in hemp and marijuana, could treat opioid addiction, a new study says. Given to patients with heroin addiction, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, reduced their cravings for the illicit drug as well as their levels of anxiety."

"When LA's air got better, kids' asthma cases dropped." On why the reduction of regulations creating cleaner air and water are important.

"It's always been a chore to get to a doctor out here, and the situation is getting worse by some measures — here, and in many rural places. A new poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that one out of every four people living in rural areas said they couldn't get the health care they needed recently. And about a quarter of those said the reason was that their health care location was too far or difficult to get to." Hell, the hospital I work at is literally 20 minutes out of the major suburbs and we have trouble getting doctors to come out there because "it's too far." Even though it takes some over a half hour to drive into the major hospitals downtown.

"But, fueled by momentum from the passage of a restrictive abortion law in Alabama, a coalition of anti-abortion rights groups released a letter Wednesday asking Republican officials to 'reconsider decades-old talking points' on exceptions to such laws." This was always the plan. And it's the logical conclusion of the new concept of a fetus as a full human. There is no compromise position here. Welcome back to the War on Women.

How goes Brexit? "UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced yet another attempt to get her serially rejected Brexit plan through Parliament -- and this time she dangled the prospect of a second referendum to get it across the line… May used a speech in London to outline what she claimed was a 'new Brexit deal,' which in reality looked a lot like her old Brexit deal with some added sweeteners designed to attract the support of dubious Members of Parliament." Third time is a charm.

How go the Trade Wars? "Some of the world's biggest footwear firms are urging Donald Trump to end the US trade war with China, warning of a 'catastrophic' effect on consumers." Say, what happens in two-and-a-half months?

"The U.S. administration is considering limits to Chinese video surveillance firm Hikvision’s ability to buy U.S. technology, the New York Times reported on Tuesday, in a move that deepens worries about trade frictions between the world’s two top economies."

"But as the Trump administration has pursued hard-line moves with major trading partners, especially China, farmers have found themselves with huge surpluses — and on the receiving end of government aid." Farmers, facing the second year of sanctions, want this over. Sorry guys, not gonna happen as GHW Bush used to say.

"In 1996, internationally known televangelist Ernest Angley admitted to his assistant minister that he had had sexual relations with a man who was employed by their church, Grace Cathedral in Cuyahoga Falls." If you're not from the area or don't remember the 80s well this might not mean much to you, but boy-howdy if you do. Angley was pretty big, and Akron was a hotbed of "independent" (now "mega") churches. (Grokked from John)

"US Democratic politicians expressed scepticism and alarm after receiving closed-door briefings from key Trump administration officials on Tuesday about escalating tensions with Iran." The dog that won't be wagged.

"That gap was a hangover from the Great Recession, when workers lost negotiating power and companies found a way to reduce wages. It's also one of the pieces of the puzzle that help explain why wages stagnated for years, even as the economy came roaring back." The tiered wage system is a joke and was designed solely to tear unions apart. Instead they sank morale, productivity, and lead to production floor strife. But here you see how unions are supposed to work (by bringing everyone up). While it's not stated in the story, my guess is the long-timers either put of increasing their own pay, or reduced their ask to help bring the new workers up to their level. Then note that companies are still trying to roll out tiered systems because on the face of them they're supposed to reduce costs. They do, but at the expense of the bottom line from low productivity, turnover and general resentment.

"The U.S. Department of Justice has put the state of Alabama on notice to fix dangerous and deadly prison conditions or face a lawsuit that could result in a federal takeover of the prison system." But instead they spent a hellalotta time on their abortion bill. Way to have your priorities set, Alabama. If you actually believe life is sacred and has value, you sure aren't showing it.

"Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, a Republican, said on Tuesday he plans to step down from his position after lewd and racist text messages between him and his former chief of staff were leaked to the media." Well it's simple mathematics, the GOP gerrymandered their legislative majorities so it stands to reason more GOP politicians would need to resign over :: checks notes here :: being obnoxious dicks.

"HUD Secretary Ben Carson sent a pack of Oreos to a lawmaker after he flubbed a question about REOs during a congressional hearing." Completely unprepared administration officials.

"Yevgeny Prigozhin, the man widely referred to as 'Putin’s chef,' doesn’t actually prepare food. Instead, he cooks up international plots — like Russia’s campaign to use social media to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign and promote Donald Trump’s." From last year, but a good reminder. (Waves to my Russian friends) (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Russians who were linked to interference in the 2016 U.S. election discussed ambitious plans to stoke unrest and even violence inside the U.S. as recently as 2018, according to documents reviewed by NBC News." Not shocked. And there's Yevgeny Prigozhin again. Also, here's the plan, "One document said that President Donald Trump’s election had 'deepened conflicts in American society' and suggested that, if successful, the influence project would 'undermine the country’s territorial integrity and military and economic potential.'" Putin's plan is to weaken the West. It's the only way he can succeed. And just a reminder to my Russian friends, he's also screwing you over as well, it's just if the West cracks you won't notice it as much (think of the comparative pain equations). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

What's Steve Bannon up to these days? "Ahead of elections this week for a new European Parliament, 11 populist leaders rallied last Saturday in Milan's Piazza Duomo. They vowed to reassert their national sovereignty by wresting control from European Union bureaucrats headquartered in Brussels. Their host: Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy's far-right League party and Europe's rising populist star." Nazis gonna nazi.

"The chairman of the House intelligence committee, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., canceled what he'd called a planned 'enforcement' session because he said the Justice Department would comply with a subpoena and provide documents related to its investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election." It's all fun and games until the US Marshals come to town.

"That latter ruling, issued Monday by Judge Amit Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, found that the House Oversight Committee had a right to review Trump’s financial records. Mehta said that according 'to the Oversight Committee, it believes that the requested records will aid its consideration of strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, as well as amending the penalties for violating such laws.' Mehta also pointed out that the committee believes Trump’s financial records will allow it to ensure that the president complies with anti-bribery guidelines outlined in the Constitution."

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Linkee-poo Tuesday rider

Alligators up to the eyeballs today.

"In a post saying goodbye to the HBO show, Martin discussed his long-awaited conclusion to the written version of the series, and addressed the biggest question first: will the ending be the same? His answer is non-committal: 'Well… yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes. And no. And yes.'" Thanks, George.

Water water everywhere. "One of the big revelations from the flyby was the discovery of an ocean beneath the icy shell encapsulating Pluto. The ice shell was thin in a spot near the equator that's about the size of Texas, known as Sputnik Planitia, which helped researchers notice Pluto's odd topography and suggest the ocean's existence."

"A great white shark that was tagged last year off Nova Scotia was detected in Long Island Sound on Monday just days after being spotted off the North Carolina coast. An organization that electronically tracks ocean life announced on Twitter that it was tracking the nearly 10-foot long great white in the sound 'for the first time ever.'"

"U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres raised concerns Thursday that a concrete dome built last century to contain waste from atomic-bomb tests is leaking radioactive material into the Pacific. Speaking to students in Fiji, Guterres described the structure on Enewetak atoll in the Marshall Islands as "a kind of coffin" and said it was a legacy of Cold War-era nuclear tests in the Pacific." We're boned.

"The first named tropical storm of the 2019 Atlantic season could form late Monday or Monday night, according to a special bulletin from the National Hurricane Center. The low-pressure system is a few hundred miles southwest of Bermuda." Here we go.

"Several findings stand out: A substantial number (40%) of rural Americans struggle with routine medical bills, food and housing. And about half (49%) say they could not afford to pay an unexpected $1,000 expense of any type." Yep. But hey, let's give tax breaks to the millionaires. I'm sure that'll fix it.

"Darrell Franks, a retired tool and die maker who backs Trump, told the Times that he likes the idea of having a president who frightens the rest of the world." That is the entire appeal of authoritarianism right there. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

How go the Trade Wars? "There’s more pain ahead for the U.S. and China as their bilateral trade dispute drags on, an expert forecast on Tuesday… 'It’s going to get worse before it gets better,' said Curtis Chin, an Asia fellow at the Milken Institute, a think tank." And it's sparking rampant nationalism on both sides. Yippie!

"President Xi Jinping’s visit to a rare earths facility fueled speculation that the strategic materials could be weaponized in China’s tit-for-tat with the U.S. on trade." Guess who has been trying to tie up all that lithium and other rare earths?

"The U.S. Commerce Department announced Monday it had granted a 90-day license for mobile phone companies and internet broadband providers to work with Huawei to keep existing networks online and protect users from security risks." What's a little national security to 90 days more of business?

"Ford Motor said Monday that it is laying off about 7,000 managers and other salaried employees, about 10% of its white-collar workforce across the globe, as part of a restructuring plan designed to save the No. 2 automaker $600 million annually."

"On Saturday, the New York Times reported that President Donald Trump was considering pardons for several US military members accused -- including some who have not yet gone to trial -- or convicted of heinous and high-profile cases related to actions on the battlefield." Fuck the president. I'm not sure I can adequately share my feelings about this. People who use the cause (or fog) of war to indulge their psychopathic fantasies are not to be pardoned. It's an incredibly high bar to cross to convict them. Every one of those deserve jail (which is some cases is better than they deserve). To pardon them (and there are some people convicted in military courts who deserve pardons, but not these fucks) is a betrayal of trust and gives a green light to the worst devils of our nature and encourages the wolves who live among us. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Deutsche Bank's anti-money laundering specialists once recommended that transactions involving entities controlled by President Donald Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, be reported to a US agency that investigates financial crimes, according to a new report in the New York Times… The Times reports that Deutsche Bank employees flagged the transactions in 2016 and 2017, and that at least one of the reports involved the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is now defunct."

"'This is not true,' Times reporter David Enrich said on Twitter in response to Trump's tweets. 'I have spent a long time looking into this, and @DeutscheBank was the only bank willing to lend to @realDonaldTrump for 20 years because of his pattern of defaults and the bank’s hunger for growth in the US.'… And despite his claims that he did not 'need or want money,' the president still owes the bank $300 million, according to The Associated Press. And in 2016, the bank lent $285 million to Kushner Companies affiliates." That's a wholelotta money to not want or need.

"When a federal judge ruled Monday that the President's longtime accounting firm Mazars must hand over his financial records, he did not just deliver a win to stonewalled Democrats… He made a sweeping point about Congress' power to hold a President to account -- in an argument that will reverberate throughout Trump's attempt to fend off an oversight offensive." Stephen Collinson is getting a little ahead of himself here and mistaking the administration's object to be more than delay and harassment. The mistake the administration is making is that the eventual resolution will occur (without a major effort to delay the courts as well) right in the middle of the 2020 election.

"According to a newly-released transcript of Cohen's closed-door testimony to the House Intelligence Committee at the end of February, Cohen told lawmakers he had "quite a few … direct conversations" with Sekulow 'around the time' of several ongoing congressional and federal investigations into Trump… Cohen said he and Sekulow talked about a 'global pardon," which Sekulow allegedly discussed as part of an attempt to 'shut this whole thing down.'" The best way for Trump to spin this was, "the Dems knew this since February, why did they wait for the Mueller Report to charge me with obstruction?" But that's a dangerous gambit and is a little too subtle the president and his friends. Right now they're going the ol' "he's a liar!" route.