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, August 21, 2019

Linkee-poo, come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be, as a friend, as a friend, as an known enemy

Spurious correlations. For the fun of it, and because it's getting close to a major election and this time there are many competitors in the disinformation field (sorry, my Russian friends). As they say, "figures don't lie, but liars sure can figure." (Grokked from Dan)

"The Trump administration unveiled final regulations that weaken the Endangered Species Act (ESA) on Monday, just three months after the United Nations warned of the “unprecedented” decline in biodiversity around the world." Because of course they did. (Grokked from somebody, sorry, lost the link)

This is what's called, "willful negligence." "Two of the government’s top scientists detected the first signs of the emerging opioid crisis back in 2006 and tried to warn health officials and the public of the coming catastrophe, according to a confidential document obtained by POLITICO… The effort didn’t lead to any real action, and the toll of death and addiction climbed. More than 133,000 people have died from prescription opioids since then — and hundreds of thousands more from street drugs including heroin and illicit fentanyl." And just as we've geared up to fight the opioid/heroin crisis, the taste of drug users is changing back to meth. Again, we need to fight a war against addiction, not against a specific drug. But fixing the systemic sociological and economic issues that lead a large portion of our population to use and become addicted to drugs is a huge struggle which would be exceptionally painful (mainly to the rich and privileged). So that won't happen. And we'll continue to fight the last battle and never make progress.

The Amazon is burning and it's like the world decided that vaping was safer than smoking. "Fires raging in Brazil's Amazon rainforest have hit a record high number this year, according to new data from the country's space research agency, as concerns grow over President Jair Bolsonaro's management of the environment." Management?

"When you’re looking at a search result with hundreds of options on Amazon, the 'Amazon’s Choice' label may give you a sense of relief." Don't you believe it. Yes, I've even found better pricing on the exact same products as the "choice." Amazon is not your friend. (Grokked from John)

"The number of investors with at least $1 million in their 401(k) accounts rose to 196,000 at the end of the second quarter, up from 180,000 the previous quarter and surpassing the previous record of 187,400 reached in the third quarter of 2018, according to Fidelity." Again, the recommendation is to have $2M at retirement, "The average 401(k) account balance was $106,000…". Average, which includes all those super savers. Also, as of 2016 there were 55 million 401(k) accounts, so 196K is 0.3% of all 401(k) plans. We're fucked when it comes to retirement.

So when Net Neutrality died they told us, "these companies would never mess with customers' connections?" Really? "Researchers from Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts Amherst conducted more than 650,000 tests in the U.S. and found that from early 2018 to early 2019, AT&T Inc. throttled Netflix Inc. 70% of the time and Google’s YouTube service 74% of the time. But AT&T didn’t slow down Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video at all." (Grokked from John)

"An Australian appeals court Wednesday upheld convictions against Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic to be found guilty of sexually abusing children. The decision brought cheers from scores of abuse survivors and victims' advocates demonstrating outside court."

How go the Trade Wars? "The tariffs Trump has already imposed on China are estimated to cost the average American household $600 per year, according to a report by JPMorgan Chase. That will rise to $1,000 if Trump carries through on his plan to levy tariffs on another $300 billion of US imports from China, the bank added." Are we having fun yet? And then there's this, "Last week, as recession fears spiked, the Trump administration delayed tariffs on consumer goods such as smartphones, toys and video game consoles until December 15. Trump's advisers warned him these new tariffs could effectively 'ruin Christmas,' people familiar with the matter previously told CNN." Remember all those Xmas Specials about somebody stealing/cancelling Christmas? Looks like it was Trump after all.

How goes Brexit? "Johnson will aim to persuade Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron who he’s meeting on Thursday, to try to influence the wider EU to change a crucial part of the Brexit deal." Yeah, that'll work.

"Italy’s prime minister resigned on Tuesday, throwing a twist in far-right, anti-immigrant leader Matteo Salvini’s power play to get early elections." When Berlusconi looks moderate and reasonable by comparison, there's a problem.

The stories we tell ourselves. "What are the stories that America has told about itself? Historian Greg Grandin… talks about his book, The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, and the old idea about limitless growth that influenced American policy and psychology." The On The Media podcast on our great civilization, and how our zeitgeist about our founding and our mandate are based on intentional (racist) lies. It's a two part podcast (as most of On the Media's podcasts, they report several stories around a central theme). The first part is about India's development of their own creation myth, and then they dissect America's Frontier Theory/creation myth and how the stories we tell ourselves are convenient lies to protect the powerful, even when those stories change. Highly recommended listening.

"The U.S. government will not give flu vaccines to migrant families being held in detention centers near the U.S.-Mexico border. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) announced the decision Tuesday, weeks before the flu season begins." Calculated and intentional cruelty.

"According to an affidavit from a Miami FBI agent filed in federal court, Lin was not shy about putting his violent threats in writing. Between May and August this year, Lin allegedly fired off a litany of hateful, pro-Trump, pro-Hitler, and violent Facebook messages directed toward Hispanics living in Miami. Those messages wound up in the hands of the FBI." Why, there's almost a connection here. Your choice if it's a connection between Hitler lovers and Trump supporters, or the mentally deranged and Trump supporters. I guess you could choose both. (Grokked from Xopher Halftongue)

"Israeli officials on Wednesday offered a muted response to remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump who said American Jews who vote for the Democratic Party were 'disloyal.'" Another step down into the abyss.

Collateral damage or targeted response? "Twitter announced on Monday it had removed 936 accounts it said belonged to a state-backed Chinese effort to sow discord and undermine protests in Hong Kong… That was news to Luka Ivezic, a 24-year-old student at Kings College London, whose account - @TechPoliticist - had been suspended, and appeared on the list of those said to be run by, and out of, China… Mr Ivezic, who was born in Croatia and says he has never been to China, recently completed his thesis. The subject? 'Disinformation, and how artificial intelligence can empower the tools that China and Russia have to misinform us.'"

Apparently, the president was serious about buying Greenland. Stupidest timeline ever.

"Less than two weeks before his scheduled trip to Denmark, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he has postponed his visit to Copenhagen after the Danish Prime Minister disputed his interest in buying Greenland as 'absurd.'" Somehow we have now alienated Denmark.

Speaking of Greenland… "Summer this year is hitting Greenland hard with record-shattering heat and extreme melt. By season’s end, about 440 billion tons of ice — maybe more — will have melted or calved off Greenland’s giant ice sheet, experts estimate. That’s enough to flood the entire state of Pennsylvania under water about a foot deep." The word you're looking for is "unprecedented." We're boned.

"A sudden cascade of events is challenging President Donald Trump's boasts of an unprecedented American winning streak that is a critical component of his reelection salesmanship." It's not a "sudden cascade." It's called "chickens coming home to roost."

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