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

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Linkee-poo dreams of love as time runs through my hand

Strange Horizons's annual fund raiser. (Grokked from Kameron Hurley)

"Government scientists are starting to peek into the brains of people caught in the nation's opioid epidemic, to see if medicines proven to treat addiction, like methadone, do more than ease the cravings and withdrawal. Do they also heal a brain damaged by addiction? And which one works best for which patient?"

"Since the intelligence test was invented more than 100 years ago, our IQ scores have been steadily increasing. Even the average person today would have been considered a genius compared to someone born in 1919 – a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect… We may have to enjoy it while we can. The most recent evidence suggests that this trend may now be slowing. It may even be reversing, meaning that we have already passed the summit of human intellectual potential." Peak IQ? We peaked? When the fuck did that happen? Then, of course, they start discussing brain sizes (which have nothing to do with it). (Grokked from Matt Staggs)

"Plastic waste gets a lot of attention when photos of dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags hit the news. Pieces of plastic also litter cities, and tiny plastic particles are even floating in the air… Largely overlooked is how making plastic in the first place affects the environment, especially global warming. Plastic actually has a big carbon footprint, but so do many of the alternatives to plastic. And that's what makes replacing plastic a problem without a clear solution."

And another episode of everything you know is a lie. "Our reverence for breakfast is actually relatively recent. Before the late 19th century in the US, breakfast didn’t have any particular importance ascribed to it. But all that was changed by a small group of religious fanatics and lobbyists for cereal and bacon companies." (Grokked from Justine Larbalestier)

"Bedbugs don't fly or jump or come in from your garden. They crawl very quickly and are great at hiding in your luggage when you travel and hitching a ride into your home — or hotel room."

"Forecasters said Louisiana could see up to 12 inches of rain by Monday, with isolated areas receiving as much as 18 inches. And the storm's surge at the mouth of the Mississippi could also mean a river that's been running high for months will rise even higher."

"President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday directing the Department of Health and Human Services to develop policies addressing three goals: reducing the number of patients developing kidney failure, reducing how many Americans get dialysis treatment in dialysis centers, and making more kidneys available for transplant." Queue the "Live Organ Transplants" scene from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life. "'There is one law that makes this new change possible. The same law that requires people with [pre-existing] conditions get coverage. The ACA,' (Andy Slavitt, who ran the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services under President Obama) wrote. 'Without it, there is no authority to do this.'" I would say this is an oopsie, but then if they strike down Obamacare they can shrug and say, "What can you do?" and go back to doing nothing which is easier.

"'Based on careful analysis and thorough consideration, the president has decided to withdraw the rebate rule,' spokesperson Judd Deere said in a statement. 'The Trump administration is encouraged by continuing bipartisan conversations about legislation to reduce outrageous drug costs imposed on the American people, and President Trump will consider using any and all tools to ensure that prescription drug costs will continue to decline.'" Continue to decline? What drugs are these people on? Cause they gotta stop bogarting them.

"A new study has linked drinking just a small glass of a sugary drink per day -- 100 ml, about a third of a typical can of soda -- to an 18% increase in overall cancer risk and a 22% increase in risk for breast cancer." Again, correlation is not causation.

Do you heard what I hear? "In Philadelphia, 30 parks and recreation centers are outfitted with a small speaker called the Mosquito. It blares a constant, high-pitched ringing noise all night long — but one that only teenagers and young adults can hear… Anyone over age 25 is supposed to be immune because, basically, their ear cells have started to die off." Using sonic weapons domestically, I'm sure nothing bad can happen here. Like radiation bleed over (into non-park areas), or that humans are highly variable and this won't work on some teens and might work on people who aren't teens.

"In September 2008, the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers triggered a financial meltdown from which the world has yet to fully recover. The following month, someone using the name Satoshi Nakamoto introduced BitCoin, the first cryptocurrency. Before our eyes, the very architecture of money was evolving — potentially changing the world in the process. In this hour, On the Media looks at the story of money, from its uncertain origins to its digital reinvention in the form of cryptocurrency."

"In this post-truth era, graphs are being used to skew data and spin narrative like never before. Especially with the velocity at which some of these topics spread across social media." When I worked for management consultants they continually asked me to do stupid shit like this. There's a phrase for it. It's called, "Lying using the truth." Note these are just 5 ways that a chart can be used to mislead, this doesn't include examples of wrong (or non-existent) data, or just not doing the graphic accurately (both of which are Fox News staples). (Grokked from Random Michelle)

"Iranian ships attempted to obstruct a British-flagged commercial oil tanker as it sailed in the Persian Gulf, Britain's Defense Ministry said, a move that comes amid heightened tensions over a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers." Britain seized an Iranian tanker suspected of smuggling to Syria in the waters off Gibraltar last week. Move, counter-move, escalation.

A little perspective on the Iran conflict, "On Aug. 19, 2013, the CIA publicly admitted for the first time its involvement in the 1953 coup against Iran's elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh." NPR's Throughline podcast on how the US chose to overthrow the government of Iran all because of oil.

"For thousands of migrants, their journey to the United States has been derailed in northern Mexico border cities under a U.S. program called Migrant Protection Protocols. With shelters overflowing and work unavailable, they create a home wherever they can." So our shelters/CBP stations are over capacity, and now Mexico's shelters are over capacity. Look, these migrants are facing a high probability of crime and/or death in their homes. Nothing we can do will dissuade them from coming. The numbers are down at the border (even after constant stories about how thousands are crossing together for the past month), and they want to say it's because Mexico is stepping up enforcement (put they can't point to laws the Mexicans are enforcing). But you know what? It's damn hot this time of year.

More good news for those economically worried Trump supporters. "The retreat from agricultural lending by the nation’s biggest banks, which has not been previously reported, comes as shrinking cash flow is pushing some farmers to retire early and others to declare bankruptcy, according to farm economists, legal experts, and a review of hundreds of lawsuits filed in federal and state courts."

Why is the quality of whom sits on the courts and who appoints them important? "A constitutional challenge to President Trump's continued ownership of his businesses has been ordered dismissed by a federal appeals court… A three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit ruled unanimously that the attorneys general did not have the standing to bring the lawsuit and instructed a lower court to dismiss the lawsuit." All 3 judges were appointed by Republicans.

"The police said on Wednesday that (American scientist Suzanne) Eaton was asphyxiated. Minor stab wounds were also found on her body, but police said they were not believed to be the cause of her death. The police believe the body was dumped inside the cave, because it was found face down." Where's Hercule Poirot when you need him.

"The goal of the National African American Gun Association is to introduce black Americans to guns and also instruct them on how to use them… Membership spiked after President Trump was sworn into office, Smith says, attributing some of that growth to a political climate where people with racist views feel emboldened to talk about and act on those views." I'm sure all the people who liked to laugh about how gun ownership and purchases went up after Obama was elected are perfectly fine with this.

"Current and former diplomats say the leak of Ambassador Kim Darroch’s sensitive reports is unfortunate and alarming, particularly given the apparent political motive behind it. Yet, they believe any complications will be temporary even as they create short-term turbulence in relations." There's also more of what were in those cables back home.

"Everything changed when he heard the Access Hollywood tape. And it wasn’t just the party chairman’s own gut reaction. Over the next 36 hours, Priebus fielded scores of phone calls from the most prominent people in Republican politics: congressmen and senators, governors, donors, activists and his own RNC members. Every single person was telling him the same thing: Trump was doomed. The party needed to replace him with Mike Pence atop the ticket." Good thing Russians, I mean Wikipedia, released those emails, amIright?

"During the nearly hour-long press conference, Acosta declined several opportunities to apologize to Epstein’s alleged victims. Instead, he offered lawyerly, mild answers about his investigation, in essence arguing that while the deal the government cut with Epstein was bad, it was much better than what state prosecutors were requesting, and was better than nothing." You know there are playbooks for these situations, but this administration continually grabs the wrong one.

And the 2020 media wars are off with a bang. "The White House's social media summit is just another stunt to game the refs… The views of the summit’s guests confirm that the event is a giant excuse to push the right’s tech grievance narrative." Can't game the election if you can't drive the social media bus. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

More. "President Trump on Thursday is hosting a social media summit with some of his biggest social media supporters and some lawmakers. Facebook and Twitter have reportedly been excluded from the summit."

"If Trump moves ahead, he will be threatening a centuries-old consensus that puts Congress in charge of the Census. This legal foundation has been tested and reaffirmed repeatedly throughout American history—the last time when another Republican Party threatened by immigration considered modifying the census process to fit their political ends… Article One of the Constitution explicitly put the census in the hands of Congress, not the president." A little historical perspective.

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