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

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Linkee-poo mega-Wednesdays

"'How Many Psychologists Does It Take ... to Explain a Joke?'… Many, it turns out. As psychologist Christian Jarrett noted in a 2013 article featuring that riddle as its title, scientists still struggle to explain exactly what makes people laugh." That's because it's not one thing, and humor is not universal. But the article descends into the mistaken notion about laughter. Laughter is a biological trait and form of communication. While associated with humor, it is not a stand-in for humor. And look, if you have to explain a joke, you kill it. Because humor is a liminal characteristic. It is the dead and alive Schrödinger's cat that will claw your eyes out.

"On June 22nd at 21:25 UT, a small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and exploded in broad daylight south of Puerto Rico. Airwaves recorded by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization's infrasound station in Bermuda pegged the blast energy between 3 and 5 kilotons of TNT--a fraction of a WW II atomic bomb."

"This version of a solar sail will have a total area of 32 square meters, and mission planners will deploy the sail about two weeks after launch if all goes well. (More details about what will happen can be found here). Using a momentum wheel to adjust the orientation of its sail, the spacecraft will essentially attempt to demonstrate that it can "tack" into the stream of photons emanating from the Sun. Success will come as the spacecraft manages to raise its orbit over the course of a month." (Grokked from Dan)

"By testing monarchs bought from a commercial supplier, Ayse Tenger-Trolander from the University of Chicago showed that they make terrible migrators. While their wild counterparts have a strong tendency to head south, the mail-order insects flew in random directions. Tenger-Trolander also found that wild monarchs became similarly inept if she raised them indoors, even if she tried her best to mimic natural conditions."

We're having a heat wave. "Western Europe is expecting a potentially devastating heat wave that could reach temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. In France, this heat wave is being compared to one it experienced almost 16 years ago when thousands died."

"Some 84% of people surveyed said Americans are angrier today compared with a generation ago, according to the latest NPR-IBM Watson Health poll." Well fuck yeah.

How go the Trade Wars? "U.S. property sales to Chinese buyers saw a 4% drop from 2017 to 2018, according to Chinese foreign property sales site"

"Eight of the world's biggest technology service providers were hacked by Chinese cyber spies in an elaborate and years-long invasion, Reuters found. The invasion exploited weaknesses in those companies, their customers, and the Western system of technological defense." The Cloud is just someone else's hard drive.

"Nike is said to have axed a new line of China-only sneakers earlier this month after the designer promoted a photo in support of the Hong Kong protests."

"A key measure of the American economy slipped this month after three consecutive months of increases as consumers saw the trade war with China as an increased risk… The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index declined to 121.5 in June, the business research group said on Tuesday. The drop was more than the decline to 131.1 that economists surveyed by Reuters expected."

"The friend who was driving eventually turned around and headed back toward the gathering. As they went to park the car, Menagh and the driver noticed Echartea headed toward them. When he got to the car, Echartea fired three rounds into the driver’s window, one hitting Fayth in the head." If you've followed me for a while, you know that in general I'm against the death penalty. But not in this case (although I don't believe this crime will qualify for death penalty consideration).

"Three people, including the suspected gunman, died at a Ford dealership in Northern California on Tuesday night, police said… Authorities responded to the Morgan Hill Ford Dealership just after 6 p.m. and found two employees with gunshot wounds, according to a statement from the Morgan Hill Police Department." I guess it's still to early to talk about gun control. Again.

In related news, "The National Rifle Association is shutting down production of its online streaming network, NRATV, according to a spokesman for the gun lobby… Andrew Arulanandam confirmed to CNN on Wednesday that the organization will stop producing new content for its 24-hour live online channel. The decision was first reported by the New York Times." The NRA also dumped Ackerman McQueen Inc., their advertising/marketing firm since forever. No honor among thieves. Don't worry, though, I'm sure they'll show up somewhere.

"Sometimes with a cellphone video you'll see cops behave bizarrely, abruptly shouting things like 'stop resisting!' or 'gun!' when it's obvious the suspect is not resisting and is either unarmed or not reaching for a weapon. The point of it is to establish, on less revealing recording devices such as bodycams and dashcams, that the officer has a reasonable fear for their lives." (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"'Every time we see a Supreme Court nominee come on board, or even in a presidential election, we hear calls for strict reading of the Constitution, judges that aren't going to color outside the lines. And the point — one of the many takeaways from the book — is that the Constitution is rarely black and white.'" It's more like guidelines, actually.

"The protesters in Hong Kong have two characteristics that really boost their chances (of success): non-violence and more than 3.5% of the population have gotten involved." Leave the violence to the professionals.

"Federal Reserve officials on Tuesday pushed back on market expectations and presidential pressure for the central bank to deliver a significant U.S. interest rate cut of half a percentage point as soon as its next meeting." Nice Dow Jones you've got there. Shame if anything happened to it.

"San Francisco's Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ban the sale and distribution of e-cigarettes in the city. The city is the corporate home of Juul Labs, the biggest producer of e-cigarettes in the United States." The only thing different about e-cigs from regular cigs is there is less chance of accidentally setting a fire. e-Cigs don't include the chemical treatments given to regular cigarettes, but they also contain other chemicals to help the "vaping action" of nicotine. And while nicotine wasn't the only carcinogen found in regular cigs, it still is a carcinogen, and a highly addictive one at that.

In our name. "These are children. They have done nothing wrong. How they got here shouldn’t matter. Whose fault it is that they’re here shouldn’t matter. They are here, and one of the wealthiest and most powerful countries in the world is failing to care for them in even the most marginally humane way."

"Acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner John Sanders is resigning, he said in a message sent to agency employees Tuesday, amid the dramatic increase in the number of undocumented migrants crossing the border and a fight over how to address it."

"John Kelly joins board of company operating largest shelter for unaccompanied migrant children." It's a growth business, which Kelly helped initiate and feed. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

Trigger warning for photo: "A father and daughter lie face down in murky waters littered with reeds and discarded beer bottles. Their heads are wrapped in a black T-shirt -- her tiny right arm draped over his shoulders."

"Rep. Terry Canales… sent a letter to local Border Patrol officials asking what items members of the public could donate… Canales says the response he received baffled him. 'We don't accept donations,' the email from a Border Patrol representative said, according to Canales." You don't accept donations of things you never intend to use.

"Congress on Tuesday passed a $4.5 billion border funding bill in a win for Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It includes provisions for the treatment of migrant children in U.S. custody. It sets up a showdown with the GOP-controlled Senate, and President Trump has threatened to veto the bill even if it does pass the Senate." But the president, who told Congress to do something or he'll order mass deportations (that will be managed by departments who are running out of money) says he'll veto it. The delay is nothing, it's meant to be a tool he can use to say, "Look, I was reasonable" when he never had any intention of being so.

"Sean Lawler, a State Department official whose title is chief of protocol, is departing amid a possible inspector general’s probe into accusations of intimidating staff and carrying a whip in the office, according to one of the people." You just couldn't make this shit up. (Grokked from Dan)

"Justice Department prosecutors alleged on Monday that Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) used campaign contributions to have multiple extramarital affairs, including a $1,000 ski vacation with a female lobbyist." (Grokked for Kathryn Cramer)

"A Catholic high school in Indianapolis says it has decided to fire a gay teacher to remain in the local archdiocese… The school's president and chairman of the board wrote that if the unnamed teacher remained employed, the 100-year-old school would lose its nonprofit status and would no longer be able to perform Catholic sacraments." Win some, lose some. It also helps that the Jesuits who run the other school will still keep their positions in the church even if their school is no longer affiliated with the church.

"NATO said Russia must destroy its short-range nuclear-ready cruise missile system, or the alliance will be forced to respond… The U.S. has previously said it will quit a decades-old missile treaty with Russia if the latter fails to destroy the missile, labeled the SSC-8 by NATO." To my Russian friends, we've already played this game. There is no such thing as a "winnable" nuclear war. If you think this short-range missile gives you an advantage, understand what the response would be to its use. It would mean the end of humans on this planet. We understood this in the 70s and 80s. There is no "limited" when it comes to these weapons. The only "smart" move, if you determine to launch nuclear weapons, is to launch everything at the same time. The lucky ones will be within Zone 1 (instant death from the explosion), the unlucky will finish dying within a few months.

"The Trump administration made an unusual last-minute plea to the Supreme Court Tuesday, telling the justices that actions by lower courts make it urgent to act quickly to resolve the legality of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census." You mean like new and more evidence that the question was added to suppress responses (which will increase the cost, BTW) which may lead to an undercount of minorities and may disrupt their lawful representation in government?

"Robert Mueller will testify before Congress on July 17 after House Democrats issued a subpoena for his appearance, a move that paves the way for a reluctant special counsel to answer questions publicly for the first time about his 22-month investigation into President Donald Trump." How bad could this get? Well, Fox News is freaking the fuck out. "Key Democrat lawmakers who triumphantly announced that Robert Mueller will testify under subpoena next month about his report on alleged Russian collusion may have played right into Republican hands, several legal and political experts told Fox News." Who are those who are saying this? Why people like Lindsey Graham and other Fox News commentators. Including Alan Dershowitz who says, "When former Special Counsel Robert Mueller testifies July 17 before two Democratic-controlled House committees about his investigation of Russian interference in our 2016 presidential election and possible obstruction of justice by President Trump, Mueller should refuse to say anything about the investigation of Trump and his campaign beyond what is already in his report." You hear that, Mueller, you better keep your trap shut, because if not it may backfire against Democrats… or something like that.

"Three senators, four current or former representatives, a mayor, a governor and a former cabinet secretary all walk onto a stage ... followed the next night by a former vice president, four senators, a congressman, a former governor, a mayor and a pair of entrepreneurs." Sounds like the beginning of a joke, and it is. It's the first Democratic Party presidential debate.

"Interviews with nearly 20 Democratic elected officials, party chiefs, labor leaders and operatives the past week revealed an air of foreboding verging on alarm that the debates will degenerate into a two-night, bare-knuckle brawl. With the divisive 2016 Democratic primary fresh in their minds and the current presidential candidates starting to take swipes at one another, the fear is that voters will be left with the impression of a bickering, small-minded opposition party." Look, except for the diehards, nobody is going to be watching this except for the entertainment value. Hell, I'm not sure I'm going to watch it. But you know what, last time the GOP was all about who could perform the best hand-job on the planks of the conservative movement. This will be more of a substantive difference in policy and priorities. The GOP is about who can wrap themselves in the flag the tightest (and went to the guy who dry humped flags on stage). The Democrats are about who is going to help who the most.

"Decades as an advice columnist have taught Carroll something about American psychology; she might understand, better than most, that many of Trump’s devotees seem to find sexual harassment and assault more titillating than objectionable. They might actually kind of like the idea of his having done what he is on record as saying he does. Seen through this looking glass, it’s evidence of red-blooded American manhood. Of power." The president is a serial sexual assaulter. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

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