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, January 16, 2020

Linkee-poo is going where the water tastes like wine, we can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time

So, you may be wondering just where you can get your geek on, try FansCon.com. I haven't totally vetted it, but it looks like an okay resource to find gatherings of like minded peoples. (Grokked from Confusion SF, where I will be this weekend)

And with that, I'm going "to confer, converse, and otherwise hob-nob with my brother (sister, and other) wizards" this weekend, so I wouldn't expect a Friday or over the weekend post.

"As officials investigate the incident, aviation experts said Wednesday that they are puzzled by the 'unusual decision' to dump fuel and that the maneuver, rare in populated areas, could have been avoided." Uh, yeah.

On the Media Podcast with "But to read or watch or listen to the conservative press in Australia is to get an altogether different story: that it's arson, not climate change, that's mainly responsible for the deaths of nearly 30 humans and an estimated one billion animals. Damien Cave is the New York Times bureau chief in Sydney, and he recently wrote about 'How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia's Bushfire Debate.' He spoke to Bob about the media landscape of denial and deflection, and why critics say it's making it harder to hold the government accountable." That's right, Murdock and his family aren't just fucking over the US with Fox News (and the UK), he's also shitting his own nest.

"Last year was the second hottest on record globally, according to the latest climate data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA… It's the latest confirmation that the Earth is steadily getting hotter — the planet has already warmed about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (or almost 1 degree Celsius) compared with in the mid-20th century — and that robust greenhouse gas emissions are causing global warming to continue unabated."

"As many as one million seabirds died at sea in less than 12 months in one of the largest mass die-offs in recorded history -- and researchers say warm ocean waters are to blame." We're boned.

"Infusing building materials with living microorganisms has already lent inanimate objects new powers. Self-healing concrete, for example, uses bacteria or fungi to fix its own cracks. Now researchers have developed a living substance that can transform from a gooey sand mixture into a solid brick—and then help build more copies of itself. Proponents say it could be used to make a building material that requires relatively few resources and absorbs greenhouse gases instead of releasing them."

"The second all-female spacewalk in history continued the work of the first, as the same two NASA astronauts upgraded batteries outside the International Space Station."

"For Microsoft, it was the realization that its project to create its own web rendering engine was an uphill climb that wasn’t worth the investment. Too many websites rendered oddly in Edge, often because they were coded specifically for Chrome or Safari’s Webkit instead of following more generic standards. The deep irony is that long ago, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer nearly broke the web because it demanded custom code from web developers." Oh browser wars, we did not miss you.

How goes the Trade Wars? "U.S. stock indexes closed higher Wednesday afternoon, though the major benchmarks ended the day well off session highs, after President Donald Trump signed the first phase of a trade pact with China, marking a truce in the dispute over import tariffs which has unsettled markets world-wide and slowed economic growth." Here we go again.

"The chief justice asked Martinez to suppose that in a weeks-long hiring process a younger hiring official says,'OK, boomer' once to an applicant. Is that enough to be age discrimination?… Martinez replied that one stray comment is not enough, if it was in fact just 'a stray comment.'" I'm not sure that people who have a job for life can adequately rule on a case about age discrimination.

"President Trump will use the power of his office to empower students who want to pray in their schools — and remind public schools they risk losing federal funds if they violate their students' rights to religious expression." I'm sure this will go well.

"A federal judge in Maryland has blocked the Trump administration's executive order allowing state and local governments to turn away refugees from resettling in their communities."

"The detainee's case is detailed in a previously confidential report on the Adelanto facility obtained by NPR. Despite the report's findings — and repeated, scathing criticism of the facility from the federal government's own internal watchdogs — ICE decided at the end of 2019 to renew and expand a contract to keep the Adelanto facility open." Cruelty is the program.

"In response to what he described as 'credible intelligence' of threats of violence at an upcoming gun rights rally in Richmond, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has declared a state of emergency and will temporarily ban individuals from carrying firearms on Capitol grounds… The governor said at a press conference Wednesday that authorities believe 'armed militia groups plan to storm the Capitol' during the January 20 rally." Totally normal. (Grokked from Wesley Chu)

"The State Department abruptly canceled a classified congressional briefing Wednesday that was supposed to focus on embassy security, a House aide said, infuriating Capitol Hill staffers seeking answers on alleged Iranian threats to U.S. missions overseas… The cancellation also coincides with documents suggesting that associates of President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani put the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine under surveillance." Kinda hard to give a briefing for which they have no actual data. (Grokked from Kathryn Cramer)

"The Trump administration is releasing its hold on billions of dollars of aid to Puerto Rico after a months-long delay. But it is still unclear exactly when those funds will reach the hurricane-ravaged island." Months late. Still no word on when the aid will actually be released.

"Russia's prime minister and its entire government resigned Wednesday as part of sweeping constitutional changes that could see President Vladimir Putin extend his hold on power… In his annual state of the nation speech, Putin said he favored changing the constitution to hand the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, the power to choose Russia's prime minister and other key positions." To our Russian friends, welcome to your new Tsar. (Grokked from Joy Reid)

"Former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch on Tuesday called for an investigation into the 'disturbing' notion that she was under surveillance from associates of the President's personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani." Just another day in the new America. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Lev Parnas, the Soviet-born businessman whose work in Ukraine with President Donald Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani stands at the center of the impeachment inquiry, implicated the President Wednesday in an interview with CNN in which he said that their efforts were 'all about 2020' and not about working in the interest of the United States."

"The records provided by Parnas, who has been indicted in New York for alleged campaign finance violations, add to the evidence already released documenting Giuliani's efforts to get the new Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to publicly announce an investigation related to former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden, who had ties to a Ukrainian energy company."

"Sen. Rand Paul is waging a fierce campaign to prevent the Senate from hearing witnesses in Donald Trump’s impeachment trial, vowing to force tough votes on his fellow Republicans if they break with the president or back Democrats' demands for new evidence." That's blackmail, but I doubt they'll actually call him to account for that. And I think it's hilarious that conservatives want Hunter and Joe Biden to testify, like they think they'll pull off some kind of Perry Mason like stunt where they prove it was all their fault and somehow that justifies the president's abuse of office.

So, just spitballing here, what happens if the Senate actually has witnesses and they all line up their testimony to support Trump and perjure themselves?

"Like many congressional activities, the process begins with much pomp and circumstance and procedure and process. But little of substance will be achieved until the case for impeachment is presented next week."

Meanwhile, on Bullshit Mountain… "House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew criticism Wednesday for handing out commemorative pens -- with her name on them -- after signing a resolution to transmit two articles of impeachment against President Trump to the Senate for trial." You mean, what they always do when they sign important documents? And of course the outrage is all from the professional right-wing outraged class.

"National reporters have descended on the county, trying to understand the massive shift, and people there offer a few possible explanations. Some point to white, working-class union voters who bought into Trump's economic promises. Others point to the moment the local theater showed a movie that smeared Hillary Clinton… Whatever the reason, local Democrats want to make sure they can win back some voters. But they're torn on how to do that."

"In a tense and dramatic exchange in the moments after the Democratic debate Tuesday night, Elizabeth Warren accused Bernie Sanders of calling her a liar on national television." And she did it at the podiums where there were mics. Warren is not stupid, and I think Bernie realized (at the end) just what might be happening.

"For the first time in the history of Iowa’s Democratic caucuses, the party will report the raw vote count for each candidate. And because of idiosyncrasies in the caucus process, the person with the most votes at the beginning won’t necessarily be the one with the biggest delegate haul at the end." Consternation, uproar, outrage… Iowa is one state, they aren't the determinate of who becomes president.

On how we got here. "FRONTLINE begins its 2020 election year coverage with a two-part, four-hour documentary series investigating America’s increasingly bitter, divided and toxic politics… From veteran FRONTLINE filmmaker Michael Kirk and his team, America’s Great Divide: From Obama to Trump draws on revelatory new interviews with key political and cultural figures, as well as an unparalleled archive of in-depth broadcast reporting across two presidential administrations, to offer crucial context for the current moment." Yes, it is Trump's (and the conservative movement's) fault. Republicanism (as in the GOP) has been poisoned because they allowed themselves to be and thought they could ride that tiger. It's time for conservatism to purge itself of the cancer they themselves instilled into their body politic, or to be thrown into the waste can of history.

"A 19-year-old man from Virginia appeared in court on Wednesday in connection with allegations that he made fake bomb and shooting threats to draw extreme law enforcement responses on unwitting people, as a member of a swatting ring linked to a neo-Nazi group." They always get too bold and make a mistake.

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