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

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Linkee-poo does the Mash

The Throughline podcast on Zombies. "Zombies have become a global phenomenon — there have been at least ten zombie movies so far this year. Which made us wonder, where did this fascination for the undead come from? This week, how one of our favorite monsters is a window into Haiti's history and the horrors of slavery." From colonialism and racism through George Romero and social commentary. Also a good overview of how horror works as a literary/creative tradition. Although missed in here is the rise of HIV and how that helped kickstart the zombie movie in the 80s.

"A fire has destroyed all the main structures of Shuri Castle, a Unesco World Heritage site on Japan's southern island of Okinawa." Oh fuck.

"Engineers at Penn State University have pioneered a new method that swiftly charges a lithium ion electric vehicle battery, adding roughly 200 miles of driving range in just ten minutes. Crucially, the method does not produce damaging side effects that limit the battery's lifespan." Closer and closer. (Grokked form Tobias Buckell)

"In June, the Food and Drug Administration announced that one patient had died and another was sickened from a fecal transplant, spurring the agency to set new safety guidelines for the procedure. But the announcement, which offered little information on the two cases, left doctors clamoring for more details… A report published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine fills in the gaps."

"Electrical activity from the brains of a pair of human subjects was transmitted to the brain of a third individual in the form of magnetic signals, which conveyed an instruction to perform a task in a particular manner." For your nightmare material.

In the writing world, there has been a lot of discussion about our troubled past and how some of the founding authors (and many current ones) exhibited profound racism and misogyny. How can we love the Cthulhu Mythos world when Lovecraft was a flaming asshole? Writing wasn't the first I struggled with these issues. The Troughline podcast… "50 years ago the world watched as man first landed on the moon, an incredible accomplishment by the engineers and scientists of NASA. But what if some of those same engineers and scientists had a secret history that the U.S. government tried to hide? This week, the story of how the U.S. space program was made possible by former Nazis." Von Braun was a willing and enthusiastic Nazi. And if you think that's bad, it'll blow you mind when you delve into the history of modern medicine and some of the advanced surgical procedures.

In case you forgot just how fucking insane the Cold War and Detante was, here's a short tweet storm, "OTD (yesterday) in 1961, the Soviet Union tested the largest-ever thermonuclear bomb—a 50-Mt RDS-220 (originally designed for 100 Mt). The device, later dubbed 'Tsar Bomba' in the West, was dropped by a Tu-95 Bear bomber and exploded ~13,123 feet above Novaya Zemlya inside the Arctic Circle." These design of thermonuclear devices continued, mostly to make them smaller and lighter, although this was the largest explosion test. For comparison, the Minuteman III, the workhorse of America's ICBM flight, carried 3 independently-targeted reentry vehicles each of which could deliver a 170 Kt device to within 1.5 miles of it's programmed target (or half a mega-tonnage of explosive). We currently have about 400 deployed (we made over 1000). That's 200 Mt (or 4 Tsar Bombas), and that's just one type of missile. The Tsar Bomba's explosion, a political stunt meant to shake the West, dissipated mostly in the atmosphere. The Minuteman III MIRVs would detonate closer to the ground. There is no such thing as a winnable nuclear exchange. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"At least 70 people have died after a gas canister exploded in a train in Pakistan, authorities said."

How go the Trade Wars? "Leaders from the United States and China encountered a new obstacle in their struggle to end a damaging trade war on Wednesday, when the summit where they were supposed to meet was canceled because of violent protests."

"The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates for the third time since July, but Chairman Jerome Powell signaled that it is done reducing borrowing costs for now. That’s bad news for President Donald Trump, who has loudly called for rates to drop to zero — or even lower — to boost the economy as he heads into his reelection campaign." A Fed Chair makes ambitious remarks? That's so strange.

"North Korea fired two 'unidentified projectiles' into the waters between South Korea and Japan on Thursday afternoon, the South Korean government said in a statement." I'm so glad we've brought North Korea into the world community and our president has such a good relationship with Kim Jong Un.

"The Pentagon released newly declassified video and images Wednesday of the daring, two hour raid targeting ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi that shows US forces taking small arms fire from multiple locations as their helicopters approached the compound." And president Trump finally thanks the troops the way he should have.

"Speaking Tuesday at an Obama Foundation summit in Chicago, Obama said that he worries that some in the Democratic Party's left flank are too worried about ideological 'purity' among their fellow Democrats."

"The impeachment inquiry enters a new open phase with a House vote on a resolution formalizing the impeachment inquiry. The measure drafted by House Democrats lays out the ground rules for public hearings, provides procedures for the president and his counsel to respond to evidence and sets out the process for considering articles of impeachment in the Judiciary Committee and the full House." But of course the Republicans are still claiming it's all a sham, even mocking having a vote. That's because they know exactly what will happen and what positions they'll need to defend when it comes to the Senate and they'll do everything they can to avoid it.

"Sitting inside the White House, Mitch McConnell gave Donald Trump some straightforward advice: Stop attacking senators — including Mitt Romney — who likely will soon judge your fate in an impeachment trial." They really need to keep this "Republicans don't see anything wrong with how the president is behaving" thing going. It's a risky gambit, and one that if the Democrats play it right, could taint the GOP for a generation.

"President Donald Trump's refusal to sign an August memo releasing funds for Ukraine offers the latest evidence that the money was paused not as part of a security review -- as administration officials previously claimed -- but instead solely at the discretion of the President." Wow, there's a whole lotta smoke around this gun.

"Earlier this year, GOP senators pledged to quickly quash any articles of impeachment passed by the House. But as the Democrats compile more evidence that Trump withheld military assistance from Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, they are adopting a more sober tone." Democrats need to tie this albatross around the GOP's neck if the conservatives decide loyalty to party trumps loyalty to the country and the Constitution. They need to call the bluff of the "concerned Senator is concerned." The Democrats need to make the crimes so clear, and explain how these crimes erode the very concept of democracy, that any "no" vote will be evidence of culpability and conspiracy in crime.

Little Song

It's not Halloweenie, but I love this song and it came through the rotation last night, and now I'm sharing it with you. I hope you like it too.


My soul writes me
My soul plays me
My soul sings me
So I'll sing this little song for you


I love her song writing. So many jewels sprinkled throughout.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Linkee-poo pre Halloween

"NASA reveals 'galaxy of horrors' exoplanet posters in time for Halloween."

"Having a teal pumpkin on the doorstep (teal being the color of food allergy awareness) is a way to signal to people with food allergies that this is a safe home for trick-or-treating, says Jennifer Norris, president of the Food Allergy Community of East Tennessee (FACET), which started the project." There was some chatter on twitter about this, but I didn't quite grok it all. I might need to include this next year.

"But this year, a month into the fall hunt in Utqiaġvik, the bowheads still haven't shown up." Have we mentioned fish migrations in climate change scenarios?

"If you often hit that midafternoon slump and feel drowsy at your desk, you're not alone. The number of working Americans who get less than seven hours of sleep a night is on the rise." Raises hand. Sometimes I think it's just because I'm older and heavier that I have to work so hard just to keep up. And then I look at my fitbit statistics.

"The trial, called TrialNet, is run by an international consortium of researchers who aim to understand how Type 1 diabetes develops over time and to find ways to halt its progression. One arm of the trial, Pathway to Prevention, includes participants like Liam, who have blood samples drawn annually and are screened for five proteins that help predict whether their immune system has begun to recognize the pancreas as foreign."

"A vaccine which could 'revolutionise' tuberculosis treatment has been unveiled by researchers… It is hoped the vaccine will provide long-term protection against the disease, which kills 1.5 million people around the world each year." That would be a Good Thing™, but again we're years from actual approvals.

"AT&T lost more than 1.3 million TV customers in Q3 2019 as its nosedive in both the traditional pay-TV and online-streaming markets continued." I guess continually playing games with rates doesn't actually lead to satisfied customers. And playing the "it's only $19.99*" and in real small print "for the first 3 months and it's whatever we say for the next 2 years, sucker" is also not a winning strategy. (Grokked from John)

How did that PG&E plan of cutting off power work out? "A tree branch crashing on to power lines ignited the wind-driven Getty Fire that forced evacuation of more than 7,000 homes, fire officials have confirmed."

Promises made… "The Trump administration has spent three years trying to help the coal industry by rolling back environmental regulations and pushing for subsidies for coal-fired power plants. Still, the long list of coal company bankruptcies has continued, and dozens more plants have announced their retirement since President Trump took office." Hey, it wasn't the regulations, or President Obama, coal has been dying since the 70s. "'When you're a private company and you're in financial failure, the first person that loses everything is the owner. And that's what will happen,' Murray tells NPR." I'm sure the millions he has in the bank will console him.

"Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and French carmaker PSA Group are exploring a combination, in a potential deal that would reshape the global auto industry and create a European powerhouse to rival Volkswagen AG, people with knowledge of the matter said." But PSA is partially owned by the Chinese government (IIRC). So that might hit a few regulatory problems.

"Can Dolly Parton heal America? That's the question posed by a new podcast from WNYC, Dolly Parton's America, hosted by Radiolab's Jad Abumrad. It's not as far-fetched as you might think."

How goes Brexit? "MPs are set to give their blessing to Boris Johnson's plan for an early general election on 12 December."

How goes the Trade Wars? "Fed policymakers on Wednesday are widely expected to cut interest rates for the third time since July. But positive headlines, largely driven by Trump’s preliminary trade deal with China, could lead the central bank to tap the brakes on any further decreases until there’s evidence that the economy really needs yet another boost."

"President Trump’s personal variable rate loans are worth much more, at least $180 million. The exact amount he stands to save from rate cuts is hard to ascertain, but estimates have put it in the millions, especially if the Fed lowers interest rates further. When the Fed lowered rates by 0.25% at the end of July, Trump tweeted that Fed Chair Powell 'let us down' and that the market wanted a 'lengthy and aggressive rate-cutting cycle'– appearing to push for much deeper cuts. Since then, Trump’s public demands for more cuts have only intensified." Self- dealing? Naughty naughty. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

How's that tax-break-boosted economy working out? "GDP — the broadest measure of economic activity — grew at an annual rate of just 1.9% during the third quarter. That's a deceleration from the lackluster second quarter, when GDP grew at a 2% pace. At this point, it would take an economic miracle to achieve the 3.2% growth rate for the full year predicted in the president's budget." It's almost like that "give rich people more money and they'll spend more creating jobs" thing was a complete lie. Of course they'll talk about "uncertainty" and other things holding it back. Yeah yeah, I've heard that before. When companies stop the skyrocketing executive salaries and shareholder payouts I'll believe they're plowing that money back into creating jobs and economic growth. Until then, they're just skimming off the top.

"Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's two main backers have agreed to work to remove him from office as protests against his government gained momentum in Baghdad and much of the Shia south only to be met with violence."

"DOJ court filing reveals FBI’s reason for withholding information on Kavanaugh background check." Because it might be embarrassing to him (and others). You know, like material that could be used for extortion might be.

"Twenty-three U.S. senators are calling on the nation's top consumer protection agency to investigate a loan servicer for its role in a troubled student loan forgiveness program. The program is designed to help public service workers like teachers and police officers." CPFB did investigate, but were rebuffed and there was no political will to support them in their effort.

"Some Democrats have begun to raise the specter that Sondland, a Republican donor who is Trump's representative to the European Union, perjured himself during his closed-door testimony to impeachment investigators earlier this month." Rhut rho. Most people forget that in Watergate a lot of people went to jail for the president. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"We hear next from some of the few Republicans who have openly challenged President Trump. Speaking in Nashville over the weekend, former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh warned that the GOP may not recover from Trump's presidency. And he called out Republicans who continue to support him." Dudes, seriously, Trump is the base of your party. This is not recoverable (and the Democrats better make damn well sure to hammer that point home). Trump is what the GOP became after integrating the Dixiecrats, the Birchers, and the social conservatives. This is the result of Reagan's compromise and 11th commandment. You sold out for power, and now the fiddlers are calling the tune.

"It sets the parameters for public hearings led by the House Intelligence Committee, which will craft a report to the Judiciary Committee. That report will form the basis for proceedings in Judiciary, where the president and his counsel will be allowed to cross examine witnesses and request testimony. The Judiciary Committee will decide whether to adopt articles of impeachment to send to the full House." Shit is getting real. While it feels slow, this is the process. And while you'll find few people who want the president gone as much as I, I'm also for a deliberate and deliberative process.

"The measure will enable public hearings and a release of the witness interviews already taken by House committees and will allow the president and his attorneys to cross-examine witnesses."

"'During my time at the NSC, I received multiple calls from lobbyist Robert Livingston, who told me that Ambassador Yovanovitch should be fired. He characterized Ambassador Yovanovitch as an 'Obama holdover' and associated with George Soros,' Croft says in her opening statement, obtained by NPR. 'It was not clear to me at the time—or now—at whose direction or at whose expense Mr. Livingston was seeking the removal of Ambassador Yovanovitch.'" (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"Christopher Anderson, a career foreign service officer in the State Department, will tell House impeachment investigators on Wednesday that President Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani stood in the way of the White House strengthening ties with Ukraine, according to a copy of Anderson's opening statement obtained by NPR."

"Democrats and Republicans got into a shouting match behind closed doors on Tuesday while interviewing a witness in the impeachment investigation, with Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to out the anonymous whistleblower who sparked the impeachment inquiry, according to five sources from both parties."

"'We have a long-standing concern that the president and his allies in Congress aren’t interested in the underlying act but are interested in risking the life of the whistleblower,' Representative Eric Swalwell told reporters." Supposedly in committee the conservatives are asking witnesses if they know who the whistleblower is. The redacted transcript of the call still shows criminal intent on the part of the president. But conservatives believe they can stop further damage if they're able to silence any other whistleblowers, which implies they know about more crimes.

"President Donald Trump once promised that coal and steel would be the beating heart of a revived U.S. economy… But a year away from Election Day, that promised renaissance is not materializing and both sectors are faltering in ways that are painfully familiar and politically significant." Dear media, it was the racism. You see the same polls I do. Now it could happen that the Democrats somehow tie the economic downturn to the increased racism, but that's unlikely. It could also happen that Trump's supporters, seeing their own prospects tank, have a change of heart. I'll also put this as unlikely. However, it has charged up a lot of people who sat out 2016, and that's what might change the 2020 calculus.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Linkee-poo on a Tueselday

Alligators. Eyeballs. You know the deal.

"A large asteroid could be reclassified as a dwarf planet -- which could make it the smallest in the solar system -- after new research revealed its shape, astronomers said on Monday." Aw it's so cute.

The Hidden Brain podcast on bullshit jobs. "In 2013, anthropologist David Graeber wrote an article in which he described these types of positions as 'bullshit jobs.' He received a flood of responses from people for whom this label struck a chord — people who felt their work was, essentially, meaningless." Anyone who has worked in a large organization has seen this. When there are more than 2 VPs, and delineated between "executive" and "junior" VPs, you know there are plenty of BS jobs (and mostly this is to higher "good people" by other "good people"). This also goes for several of the "c-level" jobs (a lot of those are just executive VP's and grade inflation combined).

"Officials in Georgia are looking for a convicted rapist serving a life sentence who was accidentally released from prison by mistake, the state department of corrections said." Oopsie.

"An estimated 1.5 million more people in California are set to lose power on Tuesday as a utility firm tries to stop damaged cables triggering wildfires." There's also some evidence (and admission) that while PG&E cut off power to customers to stop possibly setting off wildfires, they didn't actually stop charging the high-voltage lines that are the actual culprit and may have ignited some fires.

How goes Brexit? "The PM said 'nobody relished' going to the polls weeks before Christmas but this Parliament had 'run its course' and was 'incapable' of settling Brexit." There's been a surge of young people registering to vote. And an early election might disenfranchise them if it's over the holiday break.

"Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a statement Tuesday morning that he was satisfied that conditions had been met to go to the polls before Christmas." It's beginning to look a lot of like Christmas.

"But our call of the day from strategists at UBS warns a big threat is lying in wait for equities: earnings expectations." the market news pundits are starting to retreat from their "everything is fine" stance.

"The Iraqi authorities have declared a night-time curfew in the capital, Baghdad, on the fourth day of a fresh wave of anti-government protests."

About the president's description of the al-Baghdadi raid. "A few of those colorful details were wrong. Many of the rest were either highly classified or tactically sensitive, and their disclosure by the president made intelligence and military officials cringe, according to current and former U.S. officials."

"The United States will repel any attempt to take Syria's oilfields away with 'overwhelming force' whether the challenger is Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) or forces backed by Russia or Syria, the Pentagon has warned." It's beginning to look a lot like a war crime (seizing a sovereign entity's natural resources) and the next step of implementing the "New American Century" plan (one of the authors of which was John Bolton).

Next. "A White House official and decorated Army officer who listened to President Trump's now-infamous call with the Ukrainian president was so alarmed by what he heard that he reported it to a top national security lawyer, according to his prepared testimony." He's up next to testify.

"Vindman, an Army combat veteran who served in Iraq, will become the first official who listened in on Trump’s phone call with Zelensky to speak with investigators, providing a firsthand account of what House Democrats have said is a blatant abuse of power by the president. His opening statement leans heavily on his military service and a 'sense of duty' to his country." And the smear campaign has already started, including the president tweeting, "I don't know who this is."

"Derek Harvey, who works for Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee, has provided notes for House Republicans identifying the whistleblower’s name ahead of the high-profile depositions of Trump administration appointees and civil servants in the impeachment inquiry. The purpose of the notes, one source said, is to get the whistleblower’s name into the record of the proceedings, which committee chairman Adam Schiff has pledged to eventually release. In other words: it’s an attempt to out the anonymous official who helped trigger the impeachment inquiry." One asshole hires another. Plus some inside baseball on the misinformation campaign forming on the conservative side heading into public hearings.

"Even while proclaiming an undisputed intelligence and military success, Trump took a moment to needle and to complain about 'poor leadership' and time wasted by U.S. intelligence in the past." One, he's an asshole. Two, the intelligence services are probably the last bastion that he knows can bring him down.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Linkee-poo comes off the weekend

Waving high to all our new readers all across the globe, and especially to our friends in Russia and "Unknown Region", although that may be redundant.

John Conyers, and so it goes. Conyers leaves a mixed legacy and demonstrates that bad behavior is not limited to the bad guys.

"Early on Sunday, the US Air Force announced that its X-37B space plane had returned to Earth, touching down at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility in Florida. The uncrewed space plane had spent 779 days, 17 hours in space, breaking its own long-duration record." (Grokked from John)

"NASA's InSight lander has been struggling to send a heat probe beneath the planet's surface. Just when it seemed to be making progress, Mars rejected it." Space is hard.

"The German space agency (DLR)'s eROSITA telescope, which has been making observations since Oct. 13, has taken combined X-ray images of pieces of the night sky. Those include pictures of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and A3391/3395, an interacting pair of galaxy clusters located about 800 million light-years from Earth."

The long drought is nearly over. "After two grueling months for Popeyes fans, the chicken sandwich is coming back November 3."

"Located on the west side of Detroit, the Linwood neighborhood remains underdeveloped, with few retail businesses, countless empty lots and many vacant buildings. But Wright and Greene see potential here. It's why they've chosen this neighborhood to open a bodega that sells healthy food. Like other neglected neighborhoods in urban areas, fresh fruits and vegetables aren't a basic necessity here — they're a luxury."

"Slashing soft drinks from your diet is a quick way to improve your health and lose weight -- that much you probably already know… But actually giving up your soda habit isn't always an easy task. While some people can function just fine without soft drinks, others find they need their fix starting at breakfast." Soft drinks are bad for you, even the ones made with cane sugar. And gods do I miss the rush they give me.

"A North Carolina man on his way to his final chemotherapy treatment won a $200,000 scratch-off prize, according to a statement from the North Carolina Education Lottery." He plans to use "some of it" to pay off his medical bills. Fortunately he has "good insurance" so he might get to keep some.

"Police were still searching Monday for a suspect in a deadly shooting at an off-campus party in Texas, which drew a Sunday vigil that also saw more shots fired." More guns making us more safe.

How go the Trade Wars? "Florida Caribbean Distillers has begun importing truckloads of bulk wine from France and bottling the product at its plant between Tampa and Orlando. That conveniently sidesteps the 25% levy imposed last week, as part of a long-running trade battle between Airbus and Boeing."

"A Russia-linked group is believed to have utilized Iranian tools to conduct cyber attacks against dozens of countries, in an apparent effort to mask their identities, according to joint advisories by the U.S. and the U.K." Waves to our friends in Russia. (Grokked from Dan)

"Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., says she plans to resign in the face of an ethics investigation stemming from allegations that she had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a member of her congressional staff." This shows the inherent double standard for women and Democrats. But it also shows the stronger ethics committee now under control of the Democrats (it was mostly toothless under Republican rule).

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and so it goes. The fucker is dead (possibly, we've been down this road before). And while most of the media in the US is focused on his Western victims, the vast majority of the pain this asshole introduced into the world was visited on Muslims. Unfortunately, just like killing Osama bin Laden was not the end of al Qaeda, al-Baghdadi's death doesn't signal the end of ISIS/DASH, which has diversified and decentralized in the last 3 years.

"'Right now President Trump is dismantling the infrastructure that made this (Baghdadi) raid possible -- in fact made all the success we've enjoyed against ISIS since 2015,' Boot said." Max Boot, Wolfe Blitzer? Seriously, CNN, this isn't a morality play.

"The mother of Kayla Mueller, a deceased female aid worker who was captured and tortured by the Islamic State, criticized former President Barack Obama on Sunday by saying that her daughter might still be alive if he had been 'as decisive' as President Donald Trump." The grief of a mother is hard to deny, but she's wrong here.

"Argentina's center-left has swept to victory in general elections, ousting conservative President Mauricio Macri, as voters thumped the incumbent for failing to deliver on a promise to create more jobs and raise the country's standard of living." Although I'm not sure even a "moderate Peronist" is a Good Idea™.

"Philip Reeker, a U.S. diplomat who oversees European affairs, told House members he had plans of defending former Ukrainian Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch in the face of a smear campaign against her, but Reeker was overruled by top State Department officials, according to a person familiar with Reeker's testimony."

"But Kupperman, who had been the top aide to then-National Security Adviser John Bolton, filed a lawsuit on Friday night describing himself as caught between two competing orders. He wants a court ruling on whether he should comply with the House subpoena to testify — or comply with a White House order to stay away because the nature of his job as adviser means he is exempt from the congressional order." Okay, this should be interesting.

"The president attended Game 5 of the World Series tonight in Washington D.C., and he was shown on the big screen after the third inning. His image was not well received." They chanted "Lock Him Up." It won't be the last time. If he was a normal candidate, or was running a "normal" presidency, I'd agree with those calling for "civility." But this president has encouraged similar behavior from his supporters, and thoroughly trashed the reputation of the presidency, and has called for the jailing of his political opponents for no other reason than they don't agree with him. Live by the sword and see what happens.

Treats for the tricksters

This past Saturday was Trick or Treat in my little town. We have roughly about 2000 residents in town, maybe double if you add the township. But on a good Trick or Treat day we get about 600 trick or treaters. Since the weather was bad we only had about 400 to 500, but we were prepared for a better year as the earlier forecast was for clear and warmish. So we now have extra candy to last until next year (at the different jobs, people love candy, and especially at the hospital, it'll go fast).

However, many people think I'm joking or exaggerating when I talk about having traffic jams on our little road, and about how the local communities bus the kids in. They also think I'm kidding when I say we easily get 600 trick or treaters.

Whelp, here's some photos of what 4pm to 6pm is like on trick or treat night.



Now it isn't always like this. There are times when the street is relatively calm. Then we get inundated with the mobs. It's sometimes hard to keep up with giving the candy out at those times. Also, and I understand this is hard for the little kids, parents it helps if you show the kids how to untangle their bags. I normally give 2 to 3 pieces each (this year was a handful each). If the kid's bag doesn't open well, not all the candy can get in. Also if the kid just puts out their hand they can't hold as much as I can (and that's somewhat annoying).

This year we had a record number of people who wanted pictures in our yard. We decorate with a lot of things. The favorite is our 6' pumpkin, but there were a good number of people who wanted pictures in our graveyard. I trotted out the joke about kids not saying "trick or treat", but the child looked horrified (she was admiring our glowing skull on a stake and I made the joke). I apologized and said it was just a bad joke. And I appreciate that some kids don't or can't say "Trick or treat". I give everyone candy, but I do like to hear "trick or treat" first. Although one little girl just walked away. I tried to call her back, told her I would give her candy anyway (I was prepared to give her two handfuls), but she kept on going.

This year we had more teenagers (like 13 to 19) than previous years. Some of the parents also had bags (yes, I give them candy too). There were no obvious Amish this year (we had a few last year). And there was one woman who was late 30s early 40s and I'm not sure she was with the group of kids she came with. But I gave her candy as well. I used to be stingier with the older kids, the parents carrying toddlers who aren't on solid food yet, or the adults. Some friends online helped me get over that. So if you come begging on the trick or treat night, I'll give you candy no matter how old or if you have a costume or not.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Linkee-poo weekend

"Lawmakers in South Carolina amended their extreme anti-abortion legislation this week—to make it even more extreme by removing exemptions for victims of rape and incest." Because of course they did. Again, no exceptions. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"White House officials, who have been treating unified Republican support for Trump as a given, have grown increasingly fearful of GOP defections in a House impeachment vote and a potential Senate trial." The mud will be slung hard and fast now.

"Investigating the investigators, the Justice Department has shifted its scrutiny of the government’s Trump-Russia review to a criminal probe, a person familiar with the matter says. It’s raising Democrats’ concerns that President Donald Trump may be using federal muscle to go after his opponents."

"A new biography of former Defense Secretary James Mattis reports President Donald Trump personally got involved in who would win a major $10 billion contract to provide cloud computing services to the Pentagon, according to the website Task & Purpose, which writes about military issues." That's a felony. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

Hey, you know that thing were we release rudimentary learning algorithms onto the webs to see how they perform and then they suddenly turn racist, misogynist, and basically reflect the dark side of humanity in their mirror and expose deep seated truths? "For example, over the course of two days this week, a PC at NPR's office in Washington was shown a campaign ad for President Trump dozens of times on RT's YouTube channels, as well as another Russian propaganda outlet, Sputnik." RT, by the way, stands for "Russia Today… is Russia's main propaganda channel in the West. It's been accused of meddling in U.S. elections and is now required by the U.S. government to be registered as a 'foreign agent.'" Funny how that happens.

"Giuliani can be heard discussing overseas dealings and lamenting the need for cash, though it's difficult to discern the full context of the conversation." Rudy Giuliani apparently butt dials a lot. But if it's intentional (attempts as disinformation, leaking, or trying to direct the news), or a mistake, is a little harder to discern. (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"The criminal division of the Justice Department in Washington has taken an interest in the former New York mayor, too, meaning an expansion of resources that indicates the politically sensitive probe into the president’s personal attorney is both broader and moving at a faster pace than previously understood." Investigations into corruption hardly ever only bring one person down. It usually breaks up a gang. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"House Democrats won an important victory in federal court on Friday when a judge ordered the Justice Department to surrender now-secret material from the Russia investigation — and, more broadly, validated the impeachment inquiry into President Trump." Well that's gotta sting.

Friday, October 25, 2019

Linkee-poo Friday

"'This is a rare opportunity to study catastrophic collisions occurring late in a planetary system's history,' Alycia Weinberger, a staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington, D.C., and the lead investigator on the project, said in a NASA statement. 'The SOFIA observations show changes in the dusty disk on a timescale of only a few years.'"

"According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes… The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA." Whistling past the graveyard. Meanwhile the president is having, "I am Ozymandias" carved into every stone. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Fentanyl remains the deadliest drug in the United States. But in some areas of the country, metamphetamine kills more people." The focus on opioids is important (and that we have the pushers and manufacturers in the country helps with prosecution), but it shouldn't over shadow that what the US has is a drug problem and that opioids are just the latest fad of drugs to use. It's sort of like is people tried to combat alcohol abuse and addiction by just looking at wine sales.

"So how much did the epidemic cost in just one year, 2018? The total number they came to was $179 billion. And those are costs borne by all of society — both by governments providing taxpayer-funded services (estimated to be about a third of the cost), and also individuals, families, employers, private insurers, and more." But not, you'll notice, by the companies that made the drugs.

"Then researchers discovered the unusual truth: Fungi in the man's digestive system was turning carbohydrates into alcohol - a rarely diagnosed condition known as 'auto-brewery syndrome.'"

"Learning to drive small cars helps rats feel less stressed, scientists found… Researchers at the University of Richmond in the US taught a group of 17 rats how to drive little plastic cars, in exchange for bits of cereal."

The Planet Money podcast on a profile of a "Liberty City." "Art Martinez de Vara had a dream: To build a whole new kind of city, one with as few taxes and regulations as possible. That city is Von Ormy—a one-exit kind of place on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas." This is not a Liberty City. This place would be dust-bowl if it weren't for San Antonio right next door. As for tripling your ticket income, there are only a few ways to do that (lowering your speed limits in ways that trap people, such as sudden large drops, or rising your fines to rapacious levels), both are exploitive. This is a parasite city. If it weren't for the residents ability to get jobs and services in next door San Antonio (for which the San Antonio residents pay for), they wouldn't still be a community.

"Russian officials have reportedly opened a criminal investigation after a bear in a circus attacked and injured its trainers during a performance this week." There was no safety equipment, because who needs costly regulations.

"Video of a police officer fatally shooting a teenager as he ran away has been released two years after the shooting occurred."

"A woman comedian was booed and two attendees kicked out after they protested the appearance of disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at an event for young performers in lower Manhattan on Wednesday night." How far we still have to go with #MeToo.

"A federal judge has ruled that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are in contempt of court for violating a federal judge's order on student loans." Also, it's not that the Federal Government is involved with student loans, it's that it outsources servicing those loans. Outsourcing vital government functions are both costly and bad for tax payers (or anyone who has to use those services).

"A senior government official appointed by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos resigned Thursday, saying the current student loan system is 'fundamentally broken' and calling for billions of dollars in debt to be forgiven." Of course the conservative thinking would be "let private companies handle it", which is how we ended up here in the first place. They'll never think, "students shouldn't be going into debt to pay for college in the first place" and help lower the individuals' cost of a college education.

Why is the travel ban a Bad Idea™? "The U.S. denied Keshavarzi's request for a visa to attend this year's Society for Neuroscience meeting, which drew more than 25,000 brain scientists from around the world to Chicago this week. She was also denied a visa for last year's meeting in San Diego… The reason: Keshavarzi holds an Iranian passport, even though she hasn't lived in that country since 2007. Iran is one of seven countries included in President Trump's travel ban, implemented through an executive order." She thought she would be the exception because she actually lives in Australia, but that's the common fault in all of this (administration policies and conservative politics in general), there are no exceptions.

"The United States will station additional forces in eastern Syria to protect oilfields in another policy shift that one former senior American official called a 'shocking ignorance' of history and geography." Anyone who thinks this is a way to run foreign policy is an idiot.

We should know who the whistleblowers are! "The office created under the Trump administration to protect whistleblowers in the Department of Veterans Affairs is doing the opposite by putting whistleblowers at risk, according to a report released on Thursday by the agency's inspector general." No, no we shouldn't as long as their claims prove out.

"An internal White House memo published today by Axios reveals that recent changes to the information operations and security organizations there have left the security team in tumult, with many members headed for the door. And the chief of the White House's computer network defense branch—who wrote the memo after submitting his resignation—warned that the White House was likely headed toward another network compromise and theft of data." Nothing to see here, citizen. Move along. (Grokked from John)

"In other words, Barr has told foreign intelligence leaders that he does not believe his own country’s intelligence officials and and gone to Italy to ask if U.S. intelligence officials are telling the truth." (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"Senate Republicans are stepping up their attacks on the House’s impeachment inquiry, as the prospect of a trial in the upper chamber grows more likely by the day and President Donald Trump has demanded that his Capitol Hill allies form a firewall of support around him." And now you know why there are partial leaks of testimony. "'The Senate is different than the House,' Graham said. 'I just don’t have the ability to call anybody I want to call, the other side gets a say. And I would be careful what you wish for.'" Because Graham knows any witness he could call would be irrelevant or they would be discredited or forced to admit to more crimes during the Democratic's time at the microphones.

"So it was another big week in House Democrats' impeachment investigation of Trump and the Ukraine affair — and for Republicans' increasingly aggressive defense of the president… Here's what you need to know." And because it's looking bad, expect distraction actions. Like the "storming of the SCIF" of which a quarter of those who "demanded to know" what was going on, could have been sitting inside the room without resorting to this action. Or attempting to change the new cycle (like announcing a criminal investigation). "The Wall Street Journal picked up McCarthy's thread on Thursday with an editorial that echoed earlier defenses of the Russia imbroglio: Even if Trump and aides wanted a certain outcome, they might have bumbled in trying to achieve it — failing to commit a crime means there was no crime and, accordingly, no case for impeachment or removal." Let me call bullshit on that. Attempting a crime is the same as the crime. The crime isn't getting the goods, the crime is the attempt to use the presidential office and duly appropriated funds to extort a personal political favor. Let's say you tell me you'll give me $1000 to kill someone. If I go immediately to the cops and tell them about this, you will still be arrested for the crime, even though nothing happened (more than likely the cops will tell me to play along but try to get the money upfront and once you pass the money they'll arrest you, this is to avoid the "I was just kidding" defense).

"It occurred when William Taylor, the lead U.S. envoy to Ukraine, described a video conference call in July with officials from the White House Office of Management and Budget. Even Republicans who were present expressed concern, the source said, because the call made a direct link between President Donald Trump and the withholding of military aid to Ukraine for political purposes." If that proves out, and the partial transcript of the call stands, there's the crime.

"The US justice department has launched a criminal investigation into the origins of the Mueller inquiry, US media report… An administrative review into the special counsel's investigation of 2016 election interference began in May." Okay, someone correct me if I'm wrong, but don't you have to allege a specific crime to open a "criminal" investigation? This is why the AG's office is meant to be separate and politically independent. This is also an abuse of office and is an example of the corruption at the heart of the Trump administration.

"And in recent weeks the President's eagerness for the Justice Department to focus on his perceived critics has caused awkward issues for Durham and the department." Also points back to story about Barr trying to get Italian Intelligence officials to contradict US intelligence.

"Once a fixture on cable channels and Sunday news shows, President Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has all but disappeared since two of his associates were arrested this month on campaign finance charges… The former New York City mayor's sudden reticence may have been spurred by a concern about his own potential legal peril as his dealings reportedly come under scrutiny by federal investigators." If your strategy is to "skate fast over the thin ice" it helps if you actually, you know, skate fast (although in reality speed doesn't help).

"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, announced in a video and email to supporters on Friday she would not seek re-election to her congressional seat and would continue running for president." Uh, sure.

Scenes from a Commute

From my two commutes from my two jobs.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Linkee-poo do do ta doot ta do

We're expecting the alligators to return any minute now.

"Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. has begun to cut power to about 179,000 customers in 17 counties in Northern California." Here we go again.

"For the first time, scientists have detected a newly born heavy element in space, forged in the aftermath of a collision between a pair of dead stars known as neutron stars."

"The second of three forms of the polio virus has been eradicated, experts have announced… There are three types of the wild polio virus, which, while scientifically different, cause the same symptoms, including paralysis or even death." Vaccines work.

"'Some people who vape definitely get lung damage, and that was not known before on a microscopic level and we have proved that in this study beyond a reasonable doubt,' Mukhopadhyay said." So much for the "rogue pods" theory.

"A skeleton recently found on California's second-highest mountain could be the remains of a Japanese-American man who disappeared from an internment camp during the waning days of World War II." The ghosts of our past.

"Google claims it has designed a machine that needs only 200 seconds to solve a problem that would take the world's fastest supercomputer 10,000 years to figure out." Or maybe not. But the real question is how soon we can expect games to be released for it (I have a pet theory that computer advancements in capabilities is really tied to the games we can play on them).

"Inspired by Marx's aphorism that 'Religion is the opium of the people,' the USSR commissioned a wealth of anti-religious artwork, much of it very clever and striking." (Grokked from Xeni Jardin)

"Twitter Inc posted worse-than-expected third quarter revenue and profit on Thursday, which the company attributed to advertising problems including product bugs and unusually low demand over the summer, sending its shares down about 15%." Cut the Nazis and trolls, Jack.

"Much of the criticism of Facebook centers on whether the company is trustworthy, given problems with privacy, hate speech, disinformation, and other threats that have grown along with the scope of its products and user base."

"U.S. District Court Judge Edmund Sargus has rejected the request from Ohioans Against Corporate Bailouts, the anti-nuclear power plant bailout group, to have more time to collect signatures. The group was trying to put the controversial law, HB6, up for a vote on next year's ballot." Bend over, Ohio.

"The U.S. is enjoying a record-long economic boom, but workers' slice of the pie has barely increased. After decades of relative silence, newly emboldened workers are increasingly vocal in demanding higher pay and better working conditions." You know all those pundits who said that Trump tapped into the people who didn't feel like they had a voice, well, yeah, let me tell you that's bullshit. Here are the people who don't have a voice. And the murmurs from that crowd are getting louder.

But the counter forces are strong and well financed. "An anti-union group is setting up shop in Ohio, saying they’re focused on reaching out to around 340,000 public employees following last year’s Janus v. AFSCME decision from the U.S. Supreme Court."

"Democratic state lawmakers want to add the patient protections found in the Affordable Care Act into Ohio law to ensure coverage for pre-existing conditions and other 'essential health benefits' no matter what happens to the federal law in court." And with this I think you can see the difference between Democrats and Republicans. It'll also be interesting to see the conservatives take considering they also have been pledging to protect people against discrimination and higher costs because of pre-existing conditions. Yeah, I don't hope they'll actually support this. They'll trot out of the "high-risk" pools which didn't work and were hella costly to the tax payer.

"Two weeks after Governor Mike DeWine unveiled his so-called STRONG Ohio gun control package, groups on both sides of the issue are ramping up the rhetoric." There is no compromise to be had on gun control, but this wasn't meant to pass anyway. This is a way for Gov. DeWine to say, "hey, I tried."

"The House Committee on Ethics announced Wednesday it is opening an investigation into allegations that Democratic Rep. Katie Hill of California engaged in an improper relationship with a congressional staffer in possible violation of House rules." This is not an excuse, but power is a strong aphrodisiac. And people in power justify their behavior any way they can. Also I'll just say that conservatives publishing the photos was a dick move.

"Faced with years of war, Lebanese have coped with strife by using satire, humor and lots of dancing. This thawra or revolution, as anti-government protesters in Lebanon call it, is no different. It's accompanied by clever handwritten signs, profanity-laced chants and even 'Baby Shark' singalongs." What a "happy" revolution looks like. It remains to be seen if it will continue like this if the Lebanese don't see changes. And note, this is mostly an economic rebellion.

"Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will carry on with his progressive agenda despite the rebuke voters delivered in a national election this week that robbed his Liberal Party of its parliamentary majority." He's going to operate from a minority position which is a bold move.

"Colorado's governor mocked President Donald Trump for saying he is building the US-Mexico wall in the state, suggesting that he needs 'basic geography' lessons like a kindergartner… Trump said in a speech in Pittsburgh on Wednesday that 'We're building a wall in Colorado.'" Our stable genius president, everybody.

How's our "victory" in Syria going? "Russian military police deployed on the streets of Syria's northeast border town of Kobane on Thursday under a deal with Turkey to drive out Kurdish fighters." So much winning.

"Back in 2016, when a lot of otherwise decent people pulled the lever to elect Donald Trump president, they claimed to have done it solely for the judges. By the same token, a good number of then–'Never Trumpers' have reverted to Team Trump, again, because of the judges." It's all about installing an actual "Deep State" of conservative justices so that the concepts of "conservatism" and those they protect might last just a little longer. Even if they have to stack the courts with morons who are rated "not qualified" by the non-partisan ABA. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"US Republicans have stormed a high-security impeachment inquiry into Donald Trump, forcing a witness to delay her testimony by five hours… The Republicans chanted 'let us in' as they forced their way into the hearing, breaching US House security rules." Note that Republican members of the committee are in the room and are participating in the hearings, this was a stunt made for TV and an attempt to intimidate possible witnesses and to distract and change the news from the bombshell testimony from Bill Taylor.

"Ambassador William Taylor’s testimony to House investigators on Tuesday didn’t answer every question about the Ukraine scandal, but it answered the big one: Will President Donald Trump be impeached?… Impeachment is now effectively inevitable." Note "impeachment" is the House voting on articles of impeachment. Removal is another matter and requires 66 votes in the Senate.

"Yet an associate familiar with Sondland’s thinking argues the U.S. ambassador to the E.U. and Taylor are more closely aligned than it appears about what occurred and pushed back against Democrats, who suggested Tuesday that Sondland may need to return to Capitol Hill and clarify his remarks." But only if we ignore the 6 hour lag in the time of the texts and the very likely possibility Sondland talked with the president before replying "no quid pro quo, let's take this offline." This is damage control on Sondland's part as he risks potential perjury claims on his earlier testimony.

"It was Perry who led the U.S. delegation to Ukraine when newly elected President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was inaugurated back in May. And it was Perry who urged Trump to make that now-infamous July phone call to Zelenskiy — a phone call that's at the heart of the inquiry." How did he get involved in the impeachment inquiry? Maybe because he isn't so clean himself.

"Perry said he never heard President Donald Trump nor any administration official mention Biden during their conversations with Ukraine. Reports concerning Biden’s son, Hunter, role in sitting on the board of a Ukrainian gas company first appeared in May." That sounds like a denial, but it's a very specific denial. It doesn't cover Giuliani or his two associates, and it doesn't cover written communications or implied conversations.

"This week, the House Rules Committee was reportedly scheduled to consider a resolution disapproving Donald Trump’s receipt of 'emoluments' in the form of payments by foreign governments to his resorts, hotels, and other businesses. Consideration of the bill was canceled when Trump, on Saturday, rescinded last week’s announcement that next year’s G-7 meeting would be held at his Doral resort in Miami." The article is framed as "Democrats reverse course" instead of "lacking the blatant and flagrant violation of the foreign emoluments clause, the bill was withdrawn."

"A coalition of top Democratic strategists and donors are intensifying conversations about setting up an outside group to bolster Joe Biden's presidential candidacy, people familiar with the matter tell CNN, aiming to create a super PAC designed to fight back against a barrage of well-funded attacks from President Donald Trump's campaign."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Linkee-poo Wednesdays

So the alligators that were supposed to be here last week have now arrived.

"An Indiana mother who warned authorities that her 14-year-old son was about to shoot up a middle school is now facing six felony charges in connection with the incident." Because her son's mental health treatments weren't covered by their medical insurance, and she couldn't afford self-pay. (Grokked from Vincent O'Connor)

"Thread:… A lot of white people were shocked to learn about the bombing of Tulsa from HBO's "Watchmen" while most black people are familiar with the bombing of Black Wall Street… Even historians mention these events as isolated incidents." A twitter thread about the history of race riots, the persecution of blacks after the Civil War, and a little on how party ideology flipped in the 60s. And just a general note, for the village I live in (and I didn't know this at the time I moved there), the "official, published" history included the date and person who killed the last Native American living in the area (it no longer does after I was asked to design the chamber of commerce brochure in 2001). (Grokked from a lot of people)

"America is wonderful and we're producing so much energy and it's so cheap and wonderful and it will always be like this because America!" say many people who don't dig into the details of just how our energy is produced. "The Houston oil field services company Halliburton is bracing for a prolonged slump in demand for hydraulic fracturing services in the United States and Canada as the latest version of the shale boom loses momentum and the oil and gas industry again faces the prospects of another downturn." Shale Oil boom goes "meh." Boy, I sure hope we used all those Good Times™ to get our renewable energy ducks in a row. And now you know why Saudi Arabia and OPEC have been making sure oil prices are "low" (well, just low enough). Remind me how long it took to ramp up the shale oil production. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

More guns make us safer! "A 15-year-old Uber passenger was shot in the ankle Sunday when her Florida driver's gun fired as he moved it, police said." Ah, another coin paid in the price for freedom. Safety first, everybody.

"After four days of a strike by more than 32,000 Chicago Public Schools teachers and staff, workers are still picketing, kids are still out of class, and negotiators from the unions and the Chicago mayor's office are still at the bargaining table." The headline states the perception of unions (when will it be over). It'll be over when both sides come to an agreement about what is best for the kids; teachers overworked and underpaid, or a fully staffed school. Note the school staff is also striking as they negotiate their contract as well.

How goes Brexit? "On Tuesday, a majority of MPs (Members of Parliament) signaled their support for the agreement that Johnson reached with the other 27 EU nations last week. However, in a follow up vote just 15 minutes afterwards, they refused to rush through the necessary legislation to leave the EU in three working days… Media reports in Britain suggest that Downing Street will push for an election if Brexit is delayed until January."

"UK police have confirmed 39 people were found in a truck in an industrial estate east of London."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in the southern Russian resort city of Sochi on Tuesday with a shared agenda of shaping the endgame in Syria's eight-year civil war… The two leaders unveiled a 10-point memorandum of understanding with an unstated bottom line: The Americans do not have a place in shaping the future of Syria… The deal also implies that the Kurds have a new guarantor. After President Donald Trump effectively abandoned the Kurds, by ordering the sudden withdrawal of US forces from Syria and leaving the YPG exposed to a Turkish advance, that role now falls to the Russians."

"Russia has warned Kurdish forces to quickly withdraw from the Turkey-Syria border - after a deal between Moscow and Ankara - or be crushed by the Turkish army, adding that they United States had 'betrayed and abandoned' the Syrian fighters." It's almost like Trump's precipitous withdraw and later statements on how the US owes nothing to the Kurds plays right into Putin's hands, like it was planned or something.

"U.S. troops leaving Syria and heading to neighboring Iraq do not have permission to stay in the country, Iraq’s military said Tuesday as American forces continued to pull out of northern Syria after Turkey’s invasion of the border region." I guess someone forgot to phone ahead.

"President Donald Trump has insisted there was no 'quid pro quo' in his dealings with the Ukrainian government, and 'no pressure' on Ukraine's president to open an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son… But in his remarkable 15-page statement delivered to Congress on Tuesday, Trump's top diplomat to Ukraine painted a picture of both." And of course the president would say (and force others to say) there was no quid pro quo when that was exactly what was going on. That is, after all, the standard SCOTUS placed on political corruption cases.

"The top US diplomat in Ukraine notified House investigators that he was told that the release of military aid to Kiev would depend on a pledge to probe the 2016 election and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, who, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, leads Trump by 10 points in a hypothetical 2020 general election matchup." So far, everything seems to match up to the whistleblower's account.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Linkee-poo, does this broadcast go to Parma

Waves to all my "new" readers. Welcome, folks, pull up a chair.

"Why do places such as the Winchester Mystery House creep us out and induce feelings of disorientation and dread? These places possess combinations of features that humans have evolved to regard with caution, either because they were associated with the presence of predators or natural hazards, or because they provide limited sensory information and restrict freedom of movement in a way that could impair our ability to deal with an emergent threat." Haunted houses and why we are drawn to them. (Grokked from Deborah Beale)

"We live in a layered continuum of time, and ghost stories make this explicit. Ghosts signal memories that won’t go away; they signal the guilt of culprits or survivors; they signal an eruption of the past into our present and the dead’s future as we watch a spirit repeatedly go through the motions of a last act." What we write when we write ghost stories.

"Until now, astronomers had seen only two kinds of Saturnian storms: relatively small storms about 2,000 kilometers across that appear as bright clouds for a few days and Great White Spots that are 10 times as large and last for months (SN: 4/14/15). The newly spotted weather disturbance was a series of four midsize storms. Each was several thousand kilometers across and lasted between about 1.5 weeks and about seven months."

"A tornado tore homes and businesses apart in a densely populated area of Dallas, where only minor injuries were reported, but a person was killed by a falling tree in northwest Arkansas as a late-night series of storms caused chaos in several states."

"Brain scientists are offering a new reason to control blood sugar levels: It might help lower your risk of developing Alzheimer's disease."

"A Colorado mother who sought donations to cover medical treatments for her daughter and promoted the girl's "bucket list" of dreams to fulfill before she died has been indicted on a murder charge in the 7-year-old's death that was previously believed to be from a terminal disease."

"But for the last year, a group of McDonald's employees in the southern French city of Marseille has been fighting to save its McDonald's restaurant." McDonalds as social equity.

"Four more parents have pleaded guilty in the sweeping college admissions cheating scheme, and the former president of a Texas tennis academy has agreed to do the same, federal prosecutors said Monday."

"The group pushing for a statewide referendum to overturn Ohio’s new nuclear bailout law says it won’t turn in petitions by Monday’s deadline, instead placing their hopes in a last-ditch attempt for a federal judge to grant them more time."

How goes Brexit? "The ruling by Speaker John Bercow triggered the government’s Plan B — an attempt to pass a Brexit-implementing bill through Britain’s fractious Parliament before the country’s scheduled Oct. 31 departure date. After months and years of political gridlock, the stage was set for another week of grinding parliamentary warfare."

"Canada's Liberals appear to have won the most seats in Parliament — a result likely to hand Justin Trudeau a second term as prime minister despite a series of scandals that have rocked his government." So he didn't win an outright majority, but he'll likely be able to form a strong government nonetheless. Give the black-face scandal headwinds, that's not too bad for him. And it looks like conservatives in Canada are the same in the US, poor losers. They're also poor winners, it's just they didn't win this time.

"Israel's long-standing Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has said he cannot form a government, handing the opportunity to his political rival." You know, the guy Netanyahu had to woo to get a majority coalition. Benny Gantz will most likely ask for Netanyahu to step down from his party leadership as the price for forming a government and not forcing a third election.

"The clashes have been rooted in a deep distrust of government on the part of the protesters, who view the federal bureaucracy as unlawfully impeding people from using public land for grazing, mining and other economic purposes." Note they're allowed to do this, but they must pay fees for using the public's land for economic gain. And the supposed freedom fighters just aren't willing to pay the exceeding low fees.

"President Donald Trump spoke at length during a Cabinet meeting on Monday about his decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria -- arguing that the US never agreed to protect Syrian Kurds forever, suggesting the US may secure an oil deal for the Kurds to bolster their finances and saying he's 'the one that did the capturing' of ISIS fighters in Syria." Narcissism rears it's ugly head. Also, just a reminder, the US doesn't have a Status of Forces agreement with Syria.

"Half of Americans say President Donald Trump should be impeached and removed from office, according to a new CNN poll conducted by SSRS, a new high in CNN polling on the topic and the first time that support for impeachment and removal has significantly outpaced opposition." So after touting the polls, I now await the president to restart his, "the polls said I wouldn't win in 2016, what do polls know?" line. And, again, the breakdown and movement in the polls is not surprising, but still interesting. And while not explicitly called out, the movement in the "independent" category is what is shifting the overall numbers.

"Ambassador William Taylor, who has been serving as the interim head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Kyiv, is scheduled to talk behind closed doors with members and staff of the Intelligence, Foreign Affairs and Oversight committees."

Get yer program. Can't tell the players without a program. "As the Ukraine saga continues, oligarch Dmitry Firtash's name keeps popping up in unexpected places. We examine his connections to the wide cast of characters in President Trump's orbit." No transcript yet, but a good listen. For there being no collusion, there sure are a lot of fucking Russians hanging about.

"Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's clash with 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton has suddenly thrust her struggling 2020 presidential campaign into the spotlight." The first I heard about Tulsi Gabbard and a connection to Russia was sometime in February, and you know what? Every time she comes back into the spotlight there's something else to connect her to Russia. She may not be an active and willing dupe, but she sure plays into their plans well.

Another's opinion, "Much has been made of Hillary Clinton's implication that Tulsi Gabbard is someone Russia has 'their eye on.' While Gabbard has responded with claims that she is the subject of a coordinated smear campaign by Clinton, she has steadfastly refused to renounce any Russian support she may be receiving. As somebody who worked against Russian intelligence, I agree with Clinton's assessment—Gabbard's campaign and messaging are at risk of being weaponized to interfere with and manipulate our election." And again, for those in the back, Russia's goal is chaos, the breakup of the West, the weakening of the US on the world stage, and our retreat to our borders. The rest is tactics and gambits.

"Donald Trump is going all-in on a trio of Southern governor’s races in November, gambling that a clean sweep will help him regain his political footing at the most perilous moment of his presidency." It also helps his personality disorder to appear in front of crowds and people who "adore" him. These races will be where the GOP rolls out and troubleshoots their tools for the 2020 election.

Speaking of personality disorder… "President Trump, trying to dig out from political holes of his own making, held forth for 71 minutes Monday during what was ostensibly a Cabinet meeting, but ended up being a familiar torrent of grievance, defensiveness and expansive statements about his view of his own powers."

"'I'm trying to get out of wars. We may have to get in wars, too. OK? We may have to get in wars,' Trump told reporters at the White House." More of the winning I'm tired of.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Linkee-poo slides into the week like…

Voting is live for the next class inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (like is to the Rock Hall website, there's a link to voting there, which is being handled by Google). You can vote once everyday.

"This year's Orionid meteor shower will be at its best and brightest tonight (October 21-22) as the celestial phenomena lights up the skies of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres."

"The City Council of New York voted 36-13 Thursday to approve a plan to close the city's notorious jail complex on Rikers Island by 2026 in favor of four smaller jails spread out across the city." Six more years.

"A retired Philadelphia businessman offered to help Cherry Hill solve its school-lunch debt problem, but the school district said it will not accept donations to wipe out thousands of dollars in unpaid meal fees." Fuckers. (Grokked from Kelly Link)

"Now, WakeMed's partner in this endeavor, UPS subsidiary UPS Flight Forward, has won federal approval to expand its drone delivery operations, allowing the company to use multiple aircraft in multiple locations to make revenue-generating deliveries over longer distances… Ginn says that will allow WakeMed to bypass the traffic congestion of area roads and fly drones with tissue and blood samples or urgent medical supplies quickly between its other health care facilities in the region." I guess the pneumatic tubes were busy or something. I wonder what they'll do when the weather isn't good for flying? But the technology is just around the corner… just like human-level AI and self-driving vehicles.

Trump spoils everything. "On Oct. 18, NASA’s Christina Koch and Jessica Meir teamed up on an historic walk, performing maintenance work on the International Space Station… As might be expected, the two were congratulated over the phone by the president of the United States. But the president, awkwardly, mischaracterized their achievement."

"Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, confirmed late Sunday that he is behind an anonymous Twitter account under the pseudonym 'Pierre Delecto' that he's used to be a 'lurker' on social media for most of the past decade." The almost Lurker-in-Chief.

"Four defendants have reached a tentative settlement in a landmark opioid trial in Ohio. News of the last-minute deal emerged just hours before the first federal trial on liability for the opioid crisis was set to begin Monday morning." It's still a paltry sum. But this shows how deferred costs are easy to mistake for lack of liability. The drug companies have been relying on the public dole to sort out the problem they helped create (and in some cases, directly created) and now they're trying to get off on the cheap. All the money spent on care, narcan, healthcare emergencies, treatment, incarceration, taking care of addicts' children and families, all of that falls on the government as costs. The drug companies shave shifted the downstream costs of their product to the public. And the few billion they've offered as compensation is significantly lower than how much of your tax money has been spent to deal with this drug crisis (it's also strange in this case to have someone you can take to court to recoup).

How goes Brexit? "The British Parliament delayed a vote on a Brexit deal by three months Saturday, another defeat for Prime Minister Boris Johnson amid what had appeared to have been a breakthrough in negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom."

"Prime Minister Boris Johnson is hoping British lawmakers on Monday will vote on and pass a Brexit withdrawal agreement he negotiated with the European Union after a weekend vote was sabotaged by opposition and rebel parliamentarians."

How go the Trade Wars? "The U.S. ambassador to China is pushing back against Beijing's criticism of a new State Department requirement that Chinese diplomats must report certain meetings they have in the U.S." Silly president. That's what you have an FBI for.

"In Canada, campaigning for Monday's election is going down to the wire with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau fighting the battle of his political life." Our sexy-northern boyfriend is in a spot of trouble.

"The United States is on track to record another year with a 'historically high' number of anti-Semitic incidents, the Anti-Defamation League said Sunday."

"US President Donald Trump reversed his decision to host the G7 resort at his private golf club after being told that Republicans objected to the idea, an administration official told The Washington Post." And then blamed the Democrats and Media, when in actually it was because Republicans told him they couldn't support the decision.

"Republican U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the most vocal critics of President Donald Trump’s decision to move U.S. troops out of northeastern Syria, said on Sunday he now believed 'historic solutions' were possible." Ah, another concerned conservative Senator finds a way to overcome his concerns and love Big Brother.

"Hundreds of trucks carrying American troops have crossed into Iraq in a long military convoy Monday, marking the largest withdrawal of US forces from Syria to date." Not created as heroes so much and they're not "coming home" as promised.

"Since Mulvaney made the stunning admission on Thursday, he has been walking the remarks back and assigning responsibility to the media, insisting that his words have been misconstrued." Dude, seriously, there's fucking video. You were getting frustrated because the press was asking (somewhat real) questions and not soft-balling it (as you expected Chris Wallace to do). And you forgot to lie. It's easy to forget one when you have to maintain a mountain of lies. Then you told us to "get over it." How's that tough-guy stance working out for you, fucker.

"Mulvaney fumbled during an interview on 'Fox News Sunday' when he cited two reasons for the delay, whereas he had listed three during his Thursday news briefing at the White House. He continued to blame reporters for any misunderstanding, a feat that can be tough to pull off when his answers were all delivered on camera and when the host, Chris Wallace, let the tape keep rolling… 'At the end of the day, he still considers himself to be in the hospitality business,' Mulvaney told Wallace about Trump’s original decision to hold the next G-7 summit at his resort in Doral, Fla. — a decision he reversed late Saturday." Micky's very bad, no-good day just continued through the weekend.

"The Justice Department now says that official, Brian Benczkowski, and other fraud prosecutors at Justice headquarters wouldn't have taken that meeting with Giuliani earlier this summer had they known about a Manhattan US attorney probe of two Giuliani associates who were indicted this month. It is striking that the Justice Department is having to distance itself from the President's own personal attorney." Giuliani? Never heard of him.