No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Linkee-poo somebody going to emergency, somebody's going to jail

"British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty on Wednesday of facilitating the abuse of underage girls at the hands of wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein… A federal jury deliberated for five full days before finding Maxwell guilty on five of the six counts she faced, including the sex trafficking of a minor. The 60-year-old was acquitted of enticing a minor to travel with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity. Epstein, a convicted sex offender, died in 2019 while in a Manhattan correctional facility."

In exercise… "Everything counts when it comes to movement."

"These are some mighty bold claims for a small industrial plant in a tiny, peripheral country. Climeworks’ facility is capable of pulling down only about 4,000 tons of carbon per year—an eye-dropper’s worth of the 40 billion tons the world emits annually. The plant uses a technique known as direct air capture, in which enormous fans suck in vast amounts of air from our despoiled atmosphere and run it over chemical-laden filters. It’s similar in principle to the tech that factories and refineries use to scrub CO2 from their exhaust streams. But what’s potentially much better about direct air capture is that it can be deployed anywhere, and it removes carbon already in the atmosphere, whether it was belched out 10 years ago by a cement factory in Alabama or last week by a pickup truck in Zanzibar." Except that it's isn't troposphere CO2 that's the problem, it's the older CO2 that has made it's way into the higher levels of our atmosphere. So while this is a Good Thing™ for current emissions, unless you can build these factories in the stratosphere and mesosphere it's not going to do much for our historical output.

"A team of scientists wants Pluto classified as a planet again — along with dozens of similar bodies in the solar system and any found around distant stars." Here we go again.

Ah, something(s) new has been added. "Six new dinosaurs, an Indian beetle named after Larry the cat, and dozens of crustaceans critical to the planet’s carbon cycle were among 552 new species identified by scientists at the Natural History Museum this year… In 2021, researchers described previously unknown species across the tree of life, from a pair of giant carnivorous dinosaurs known as spinosaurs – nicknamed the 'riverbank hunter' and 'hell heron' – to five new snakes that include the Joseph’s racer, which was identified with the help of a 185-year-old painting."

"The omicron variant is spreading rapidly all over the country, but hospitalization and death rates remain relatively low… The seven-day average of COVID-19 cases topped 280,000 this week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University's tracker. It's a record number of new cases in the country; the last time the number of cases hit a peak close to that was January." Jazz hands.

"Rapid Covid home tests are more likely to give a false negative with the heavily-mutated Omicron variant compared to earlier strains, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Tuesday." Ta-da! All SARS-CoV2 tests are weighted to false negatives instead of false positives (which could then be confirmed or disproven by a second test).

"Two new studies of a Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine booster showed promise against the omicron variant at a time when public health officials are urgently recommending booster shots against the fast-spreading variant."

"Initial filings for unemployment insurance dipped last week and remained close to their lowest level in more than 50 years, the Labor Department reported Thursday… Jobless claims for the week ended Dec. 25 totaled 198,000, less than the 205,000 Dow Jones forecast and a dip of 8,000 from the previous period."

"We’re today learning more about what prompted the Foxconn iPhone plant shutdown in southern India – and it makes for truly gruesome reading… We learned yesterday that Apple ordered Foxconn to suspend production at the plant, and placed the company on probation, until it resolved problems with living conditions in the company dormitories. It’s only today, however, that we’re getting the full picture of just how appalling those conditions were…" Waves to Wisconsin.

"Meanwhile, the latest pandemic-muddled holiday has left a lot of Americans seriously bummed. Air travel is a mess. College football bowl games have been scrubbed. The ball drop celebration will go forward in New York's Times Square, but with a much smaller crowd and strict mask rules." Wow, it's almost like people are still dying because the idiots won't stay home, mask up, or get vaccinated. But I'm sure it'll be Biden's fault by Monday.

"The Myanmar military had stormed Done Taw at 11 a.m. on Dec. 7, he told the AP, with about 50 soldiers hunting people on foot. The farmhand and other villagers fled to the forest and fields, but 10 were captured and killed, including five teenagers, with one only 14, he said. A photo taken by his friend shows the charred remains of a victim lying face down, holding his head up, suggesting he was burned alive."

"President Biden is expected to speak by phone to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday — at the Kremlin's request — weeks after the White House said Biden made it clear to Putin that if Russia decided to invade Ukraine, the United States and its European allies stand ready to respond with economic sanctions and military support."

"A 16-year-old girl whom police said was mistaken for an intruder early Wednesday morning was fatally shot by her father… Police said they received a call around 4:30 a.m. saying that someone inside the home had shot at what he believed to be someone breaking in after the house's security system was activated."

"By the time of their final visit last May at Randele’s house in suburban Boston, the cancer in his lungs had taken away his voice. So they all left without knowing that their friend they’d spent countless hours swapping stories with never told them his biggest secret of all… For the past 50 years, he was a fugitive wanted in one of the largest bank robberies in Cleveland’s history, living in Boston under a new name he created six months after the heist in the summer of 1969."

"Hunger in the Military has been a problem for decades. Often low-ranking service members have too little food and limited options. Twenty percent of active-duty respondents to a survey this year say they experienced food insecurity and more than 10 percent experienced hunger." And yet we're spending even more on the Pentagon budget this year.

"The state of Michigan paid up to $8.5 billion in fraudulent unemployment assistance claims during the pandemic, a new audit has found… The report prepared by Deloitte & Touche LLP uncovered that Michigan's Unemployment Insurance Agency paid an estimated $8.4 billion to $8.51 billion in potentially fraudulent claims from March 1, 2020 until Sept. 30, 2021… But the report also found the losses could have been much worse, as the state avoided paying an estimated $43.7 billion in fraudulent claims in that same time period."

"A heavily armed California man was arrested in Iowa after he told law enforcement officers that he would 'do whatever it takes' to kill government leaders on his 'hit list,' including President Joe Biden and his chief medical adviser, Dr. Anthony Fauci, authorities said in court papers."

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Linkee-poo late Wednesday Dec 29

Harry Reid and John Madden, and so it goes.

"Write a great book and you're a genius. Turn a book into a great film and you're a visionary. Turn a great film into a book...that's another story… Novelizations of films are regular best-sellers with cult followings -- some are even more beloved than the films that spawned them -- but respected they are not." On the Media podcast about tie-ins. Also, Disney Must Pay.

"Winter storms sweeping parts of the Western U.S. and the Pacific Northwest have brought heavy snow and record low temperatures in some areas — and there's more to come… A winter storm warning continues into Wednesday for parts of the border area of Northern California and Nevada." I'm waiting for the "the drought is over" stories. Hint, no it's not.

"The James Webb Space Telescope, on a long and winding journey to its job site a million miles from Earth, has begun the key task of unfurling a giant umbrella-like shield to protect its delicate instruments from the intense radiation of the sun." "New federal guidance shortening the recommended isolation periods for many infected Americans will provide relief to companies struggling with staffing shortages, businesses said Tuesday, but labor representatives warned that the move could push some employees back to work too soon." Ya think?!

Also, there's this… "What Delta's CEO wanted… Nelson's position is at odds with some airlines leaders. The CDC's decision comes days after Delta Airline's CEO sent Walensky a letter advocating for a shorter isolation period… In the letter, CEO Ed Bastian — along with the airline's medical adviser and chief health officer — asks Walensky to consider shortening the isolation period to five days for those who experience a breakthrough infection." Which is leading to claims that the shortening of the isolation period was more business based than science based.

"Pharmacists are warning of patchy supplies of rapid Covid tests following changes to self-isolation rules… They said demand for lateral flow tests increased after changes allowed people with Covid in England to end isolation after seven days if they test negative… The Association Of Independent Multiple Pharmacies said staff and customers were stressed over the lack of supply." Here too.

"Alarms that the hyper-contagious omicron variant accounted for the vast majority of new COVID-19 infections over the past couple of weeks were significantly overestimated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention… New data released on Tuesday shows that while omicron remains the dominant variant, delta — which is the more severe strain — is still a worrisome driving force behind the current surge." Release the "they don't know what they're talking about" denialists!

"Next year, 26 U.S. states and Washington will raise their minimum wages, but only California and parts of New York will mandate hourly pay of at least $15, according to a report from payroll experts at Wolters Kluwer Legal & Regulatory U.S… However, many workers will see more substantial pay increases because their employers chose to raise their pay floor on their own." Let me cal BS here. The Federal Minimum wage is just that, the minimum. Employers should be paying more. The only reason why we have to fight for the minimum is because employers will find every excuse to not pay their employees, and when they do, to pay the least they can get away with. You have to go pretty far down to find that employers are still paying less than $15/hr. And if the minimum wage wasn't $7.25, that pay would be much lower. The only reason they're paying more is because workers are fighting for more, and at the moment, there's more jobs than workers.

"Ohio’s minimum wage is going up on Jan. 1, 2022… The minimum wage will be $9.30. That’s a 50-cent increase from $8.80 for nontipped employees… Employees with tips will get a wage increase of 25-cents to $4.65." Here in Orwell, the local fast food franchises (Dairy Queen, Chicago Subs, etc) pay their counter workers the "tipped" wages (last I had talked with them). How many of you tip your McD's cashier?

"The contractor the worker said he worked under, JC Longoria Castro, was one of two dozen defendants indicted on federal conspiracy charges in October, based on findings from a multi-year investigation into a massive human smuggling and labor trafficking operation based in southern Georgia that extended to Florida and Texas."

Don't believe it can't happen to you? Here's the news room for the US Dept of Labor Wage and Hour Division which investigates wage theft cases.

Can't remember if I posted this before… "Amid the so-called Great Resignation, nearly 39 million Americans have left their jobs. On this week’s On The Media, hear why this trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing."

"Returning unwanted gifts this holiday season is becoming so expensive for retailers that they just might let customers keep the products — and issue refunds anyway."

"Historic conservation experts in Virginia have pulled numerous pamphlets, newspapers, coins, bullets and other memorabilia from a copper box found at the site of where a Robert E. Lee statue stood in Richmond… The unboxing on Tuesday came after workers found the time capsule that had eluded them for months — until Monday, when Virginia's governor announced that crews had found 'the time capsule everyone was looking for.' It was placed in the statue's pedestal in 1887."

"Israel’s defense minister approved a raft of measures aimed at improving relations with the Palestinians on Wednesday following a rare meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Israel… Defense Minister Benny Gantz met with Abbas at his private residence in a Tel Aviv suburb late Tuesday night. It was the first time Abbas met an Israeli official inside Israel since 2010. The two discussed security coordination between Israel and Abbas’ Palestinian Authority, which administers pockets of the occupied West Bank." It's a start, but I'm not hopeful yet.

"US and Russian officials have agreed to sit down for security talks on January 10, a spokesman for the US National Security Council confirmed Tuesday, amid tensions over Ukraine… Russia had amassed troops near the Ukraine border over the last few months, which US intelligence has assessed as preparation for a full-scale invasion in early 2022. The Russian Ministry of Defense said in a statement Saturday that 10,000 troops had return to their permanent bases after completing training near the Ukrainian border." How's the Ruble doing these days?

"Demonstrators outside police headquarters in Boynton Beach, Florida, Tuesday night called for the firing of the officer involved in the death of a 13-year old boy on a dirt bike during an attempted traffic stop Sunday, CBS West Palm Beach affiliate WPEC-TV reports. They also pressed for transparency from the department about what happened during the incident."

"A North Carolina police officer shot his 15-year-old son in the head Monday afternoon in an incident that appears to be an accident, officials said." As my friend Jim Wright says, "There are no accidents with firearms."

"Los Angeles Police Department officers urged a colleague who shot and killed a suspect and a teen bystander inside a Burlington Coat Factory to 'slow down' multiple times, body-camera footage released by the department on Monday showed."

"Valentina Orellana-Peralta was with her mother in a clothes shop on 23 December when an officer opened fire on a suspect."

"A gunman who killed five people and injured two others in a series of shootings in Denver is believed to have targeted the victims based on previous personal and business dealings and was investigated by police twice in the last two years… Denver police said that Lyndon James McLeod, 47, who was also killed in the deadly rampage on Monday night, knew most of the victims and was 'on the radar of law enforcement'."

"Text messages obtained by the January 6 commission revealed the panic of Fox News hosts — even as they downplayed the insurrection on camera. On this week’s On the Media, how to hold the news station accountable. Plus, an investigation of the celebrity profile – from the biting to the banal."

"The House select committee investigating January 6 has stood down on its requests for some documents from the Trump White House, after the Biden administration convinced the panel to scale back its pursuits… As a result, the committee won't be getting hundreds of pages of National Security Council records. But the documents may not have been all that helpful, anyway." Note the word "some." They're still getting most of their requests.

"A federal judge refused to dismiss an indictment charging four alleged leaders of the far-right Proud Boys with conspiring to attack the U.S. Capitol to stop Congress from certifying President Joe Biden's electoral victory." Insurrection is not a free speech right.

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Linkee-poo goes to that place where you can't remember and you can't forget

"Weather events, linked to a changing climate, brought misery to millions around the world in 2021 according to a new report… The study, from the charity Christian Aid, identified 10 extreme events that each caused more than $1.5bn of damage… The biggest financial impacts were from Hurricane Ida which hit the US in August and flooding in Europe in July… In many poorer regions, floods and storms caused mass displacements of people and severe suffering."

"Necklaces and accessories claiming to 'protect' people from 5G mobile networks have been found to be radioactive… The Dutch authority for nuclear safety and radiation protection (ANVS) issued a warning about ten products it found gave off harmful ionising radiation." (Grokked from Dan, I think)

"Egyptian scientists have unwrapped a 3,500-year-old royal mummy without peeling away a single layer of embalming linen… Instead, they used advanced X-ray technology and computerized tomography (CT) scanning to catch a glimpse of King Amenhotep I's mummified body and the secrets it has harbored for millennia." While they say this is the same as a scan you might get, that's not true. Even if they used a standard medical scanner (most of these don't and utilize specialized machines designed to do these explorations), the scans done to create this dataset would most likely kill you. The scans used to create this would take hours to complete (and include several angled scans to reduce artifacts from the amulets, all then composited into one dataset), whereas the diagnostic scans we do on live patients take a few minutes at most. And if they only did the scans like we would scan a patient, shame on them.

"The researchers described the study as the 'most comprehensive analysis to date' of the virus’s persistence throughout the body and brain. They performed autopsies on 44 patients who died either from or with COVID-19 to map and quantify virus distribution across the body… Daniel Chertow, principal investigator in the NIH’s emerging pathogens section, said along with his colleagues that RNA from the virus was found in patients up to 230 days after symptom onset." This is a bullshit study that has wonderful medicinal value (as basic research) but zero clinical value. Note how quickly they go from "mRNA found" to "the virus" was found. No, it wasn't. Your body recycles proteins. If you want something with clinical value you need to check organ damage, active infection (actual viral particles), not just RNA. This is like the early studies about how "the virus" lingers on hard surfaces for 2 weeks. No, it doesn't. However RNA from the virus can, but what's left can't infect you or hurt you.

"A five-fold increase in pediatric admissions in New York City this month. Close to double the numbers admitted in Washington, DC. And nationwide, on average, pediatric hospitalizations are up 35% in just the past week… The highly transmissible Omicron variant is teaming up with the busy holiday season to infect more children across the United States than ever before, and children's hospitals are bracing for it to get even worse."

"As COVID-19 case numbers continue to surge in Northeast Ohio, members of the Ohio National Guard have been deployed to area medical facilities to help support staff that are being stretched to the limits… On Monday, the first Guard members began arriving at University Hospitals Parma Medical Center, much to the appreciation of the staff at that location." Happy glory days, but nobody has the time to get them up to speed on how to work in and with our systems. Now they'll just be in the way. It's hard to explain to someone not in medicine, but you can't just slot people into positions, even highly experienced people. Some of our nursing directors have been in the ER lately. Mostly they run errands and perform tasks at the direction of the actual ER nurses (who sometimes have to watch them). For them to really be of help, they should have arrived by Dec 1st. We'll take them. We can find plenty of things for them to do, but they won't be fully utilized.

"Often, these health care heroes are treating people who are abusive and combative toward hospital staff, having refused to take the simple preventive step of getting vaccinated. Some of these patients spend their final breaths denouncing the science behind the vaccine -- or regretfully wishing they had gotten one."

"Thousands of flights have been canceled over the past several days as Covid cases surge across the globe… On Tuesday, another 2,500 flights have been canceled, with more than 800 of them within, into or out of the United States, according to tracking website FlightAware. More than 5,100 flights have been delayed."

"As of Dec. 6, about 226,000 people had shared in the nearly $1.5 billion that FEMA has spent on funeral costs that occurred after Jan. 20, 2020, the date of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the U.S. With the nation's coronavirus death toll topping 800,000, it's clear that many families who are eligible for reimbursement have yet to take advantage of the funeral benefit."

"The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday shortened the recommended times that people should isolate when they've tested positive for Covid-19 from 10 days to five days if they don't have symptoms -- and if they wear a mask around others for at least five more days… The CDC also shortened the recommended time for people to quarantine if they are exposed to the virus to a similar five days if they are vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated and boosted may not need to quarantine at all, the CDC said." Back ta work, ya filthy animals!

Daily Beast, but… "A member of the far-right Boogaloo Boys had admitted he traveled from Texas to Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death and purported to be a Black Lives Matter supporter while wreaking havoc on the city. Ivan Harrison Hunter, 24, pleaded guilty Thursday to a single count of rioting. He admitted to firing 13 rounds from an AK-47-style rifle into the 3rd Precinct police station as rioters set the building alight in May 2020. He was then filmed yelling 'Justice for Floyd!' Hunter wore a distinctive skull mask during the riot that investigators later matched to a video on his Facebook page." Why do conservative believe that Jan 6th was a red flag operation? Because they've been doing those for years now. Yes, the cavalcade of accusations the right has made against the left regarding dirty tactics and heinous actions continue to prove to be projections of their own real actions. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"The increased scrutiny helped prompt a review of all 2,500 markers by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, a process that has focused on factual errors, inadequate historical context, and racist or otherwise inappropriate references… So far, the state has removed two markers, revised two and ordered new text for two others."

"The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city home price index, out Tuesday, climbed 18.4% in October from a year earlier. The gain marked a slight deceleration from a 19.1% year-over-year increase in September but was about in line with what economists had been expecting." The bigger the bubble, the louder the pop.

How goes Brexit? "The business owners I spoke to have pretty much the same reflection on different aspects of the reality of one year of trading outside the Single Market and Customs Union. It's clearly been challenging: 'Frustrating. Scary. Huge drop in sales. Rendered uncompetitive in Europe"… When I put to them what ministers have suggested privately - that some sections of British business need to be as prepared as the best-prepared bigger businesses, it got a little testy."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin said Sunday he would ponder a slew of options if the West fails to meet his push for security guarantees over neighboring Ukraine… Earlier this month, Moscow submitted draft security documents demanding that NATO deny membership to Ukraine and other former Soviet countries and roll back its military deployments in Central and Eastern Europe." So Putin admits he was lying and yes, he is planning on invading the Ukraine. Hey Vlad, they're independent states. That can do whatever they want. Grow up and learn to live in the new world. It's pretty good. The donuts are nice.

"Russia's Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the closure of Memorial International, one of the country's most respected human rights organizations, wiping out three decades of work to expose the abuses and atrocities of the Stalinist era." Stay safe, my Russian friends. They're removing your safe guards.

"A senior United Nations official said he was horrified by the reported killing of at least 35 civilians in Myanmar and called on authorities to investigate the incident that opposition activists blamed on government soldiers… The ruling military has not commented on the incident near Mo So village in Kayah State on Friday and junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun could not be reached for comment."

"Former President Donald Trump’s false claims of a stolen election fueled anger among Republicans who flocked to local-level GOP chapters in hope of playing a greater role in future elections… Now, some leaders of those grassroots outfits say they and their members have turned the page — even as Trump himself has made it clear that he wants the issue front and center in coming contests."

"Committee to request contents of the call seeking to stop Biden’s certification and may subpoena Rudy Giuliani… Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, has said the panel will open an inquiry into Donald Trump’s phone call seeking to stop Joe Biden’s certification from taking place on 6 January hours before the insurrection."

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Linkee-poo, you can park wherever you please

Desmond Tutu, and so it goes.

"Scientists stumbled upon the fossilized remains of an ancient millipede the length of a small car dating from before the time of the dinosaurs. The animal is believed to have broken the record for the largest-known arthropod, a phylum of segmented invertebrates that includes insects, lobsters and spiders."

"An illustration shows a small animal in a tight tuck, legs pulled up, back curved and beaked head bent toward its tail. This is Baby Yingliang, a nickname given to a remarkable fossilized dinosaur embryo found inside an ancient egg and tucked into a position much like that of a modern bird just before it hatches."

"NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope launched at 7:20 a.m. EST Saturday on an Ariane 5 rocket from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, South America." It'll take 29 more days to reach L2 and fully assemble. And every time I hear about where it will finally station (L2) I think of a William Gibson short story (whose title escapes me) where the L2 is a wormhole location where spacecraft keep disappearing.

"It's not the first time astronomers have discovered so-called "rogue planets" — free-floating planets that wander aimlessly through space without a host star to orbit. But they thought it was a somewhat rare phenomenon, until now… According to new research published in the journal Nature Astronomy, scientists have recently discovered an impressive number of these elusive exoplanets: 70 or more. It marks the largest such group ever spotted roaming the Milky Way — and it may be a crucial step in understanding the origins of the 'mysterious galactic nomads,' scientists say."

"Now, researchers have exposed tardigrades to the coldest temperatures and highest pressures that moss piglets have ever survived — not just to test the critters' biological limits, but also to see whether a frozen tardigrade could be incorporated into two quantum entangled electric circuits, then later revived to its normal active state." That's not been fully peer reviewed yet.

"An endangered Hawaiian monk seal that was found dead on the island of Molokai in September was intentionally killed with a gun, federal officials said Tuesday."

"Snow and cold continue to blanket the western and northern United States, setting up hazardous post-Christmas travel conditions Sunday and into the final week of 2021."

"When people feel pain, they tend to breathe faster. When they take an opioid to ease that pain, their breathing slows. And if they overdose, respiration can stop entirely… Now scientists have discovered a brain circuit in mice that appears to explain how opioids affect both pain and breathing, a team reports in the journal Neuron… The team also found evidence that it's possible to separate these effects, potentially allowing for pain drugs that don't affect respiration."

"Holidays are never quite the same after someone we love dies. Even small aspects of a birthday or a Christmas celebration — an empty seat at the dinner table, one less gift to buy or make — can serve as jarring reminders of how our lives have been forever changed. Although these realizations are hard to face, clinical psychologist Mary-Frances O'Connor says we shouldn't avoid them or try to hide our feelings."

"School's out for the holidays, and some colleges will start the new year remote due to the threat posed by the omicron variant." Ta-da!

"Employers in the U.S. are struggling to fill roughly 11 million open jobs. The pandemic gets most of the blame, but there's a related factor that gets less attention. Fewer immigrants are coming to fill those jobs — particularly in some key industries that keep the economy moving."

"A woman who reportedly caused a scene while on board a flight to Atlanta is now in FBI custody, according to Atlanta police… Police say they were called to Hartsfield-Jackson International airport last week in reference to an unruly passenger on a Delta flight from Tampa to Atlanta."

"A Harvard University professor charged with hiding his ties to a Chinese-run recruitment program was found guilty on all counts Tuesday… Charles Lieber, 62, the former chair of Harvard's department of chemistry and chemical biology, had pleaded not guilty to two counts of filing false tax returns, two counts of making false statements, and two counts of failing to file reports for a foreign bank account in China."

"Gov. Greg Abbott granted pardons and restorations of civil rights to eight Texans recommended by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Thursday… The late George Floyd was not included on that list." Of course he didn't.

"The caller who ended a conversation with Joe Biden with the rightwing meme “Let’s go Brandon” – which means “fuck Joe Biden” – has insisted he was joking and meant no disrespect to the president." You know what, I really don't care WTF he says he intended or meant. Fuck that schmuck (his last name is Schmeck). He now says he feels like he's being attacked. Of course you are, you're a schmuck, asshole. Fuck you. And if your excuse is actually real, you're even a bigger schmuck, asshole.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Birthday Party

On the way home after a long day at the hospital, capped off by a later surgery. But this is the song my playlist delivered at midnight. One of my favorite Xmas songs.

Friday, December 24, 2021

Linkee-poo happy, jolly, merry, whatevermas

Hey all, sorry for the discombobulated end of the year. There's been lots of work stuff going on, so it makes it difficult for personal reading. There's lots of things happening, but I'm running out of time and energy to track down good stories about them. This is a usual thing, the holidays make for convenient deadline settings and the "OMG it's almost (whatever) and we need to get this printed before then!" Yes, my day job is known for performing the impossible while you wait. Miracles require 24-hour notice. Hopefully this shit will settle down come the new year.

"Researchers with the Monterey Bay Aquarium stumbled upon a 'once-in-a-lifetime' encounter with a peculiar deep-sea fish with a transparent head… During a search for 'deep sea jellies and other midwater animals' for an upcoming aquarium exhibit on the Monterey Bay canyon, a team with the aquarium and its affiliated research institute found the barreleye fish — the deep-sea creature — from afar."

"The turnaround has been so dramatic it has left experts and observers struggling to explain it. Cases dropped by more than 99% from their peak. Japan has seen less than one death a day in recent weeks, its lowest level since July 2020… After the previous four waves of infections, almost as soon as local governments lifted their states of emergency, cases quickly began to rebound. But after the most recent state of emergency was lifted, on Sept. 28, there was no sudden rebound — or at least not yet."

"At times the U.S. Army veteran donned a white robe and hood as a hit man for the Ku Klux Klan in North Florida… However, Moore wore something else during his years in the klan – a wire for the FBI… One minor mistake, one tell, he believed, meant a certain, violent death."

"Tens of thousands of heavy steel slats, once destined to become part of former President Donald Trump’s border wall, are slowly rusting in the open air throughout the southwestern borderlands. The bollards—18- or 33-foot-long hollow posts, most of them reinforced with concrete and rebar—are worth at least a quarter of a billion dollars. The Department of Defense owns most of that steel, but it’s unclear what will—or can—be done with it. For now, it remains in spider-webbed stacks sunning themselves in vast staging areas along the wall."

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Dec 22

Sorry, forgot to post these yesterdays. But good, because I'm busy busy busy today.

"Just over a year after Japan's Hayabusa2 mission returned the first subsurface sample of an asteroid to Earth, scientists have determined that the near-Earth asteroid Ryugu is a pristine remnant from the formation of our solar system."

"The Food and Drug Administration has approved the first long-acting injectable medication for use as pre-exposure prevention, or PrEP, against HIV, the agency announced Monday."

"Ten thousand years ago, just after the last Ice Age, a group of hunter-gatherers buried an infant girl in an Italian cave. They entombed her with a rich selection of their treasured beads and pendants, and an eagle-owl talon, signaling their grief, and showing that even the youngest females were recognized as full persons in their society." (Grokked from Deborah Beal, I think)

"Instead, a group of six librarians in this small Central Texas county will be conducting a 'thorough review' of every children’s book in the library, at the behest of the Llano County Commissioners Court. Their mission will be to make sure all of the reading material for younger readers includes subjects that are age-appropriate. A new 'young adults plus' section will be added to separate books written for an older teen audience from those geared toward younger readers." I remember book and record burnings when I was younger.

"The highly transmissible Omicron variant is now dominant in the United States, according to new data released by the CDC on Monday. The variant now makes up more than 73% of new infections, a nearly six-fold increase compared to the week before… Omicron makes up the highest share of new cases in the South, Central Midwest, Pacific Northwest, and the New York area." Jazz hands.

"America's hospitals are in bad shape right now — overwhelmed and understaffed — just as the omicron variant of the coronavirus takes hold across the country and Americans begin traveling and socializing for the holidays."

"The federal government next month will start mailing at-home Covid test kits for free to any U.S. household that requests one, a senior administration official said, as the omicron variant of the coronavirus contributes to a spike in new cases."

"At least 132 employees at the SpaceX rocket factory near Los Angeles have tested positive for COVID-19, making it the site of the largest recent countywide workplace outbreak tracked by local health officials." Waves to Elon Musk.

"Every morning when Christina Preston enters the West Community Opportunity Center, which serves Ohio’s Franklin County, she knows she and her staff are going to be flooded with calls and applications from people in desperate need of help… Their despair could become even more acute next month as the national public health emergency comes to an end. That could lead to millions of people’s losing access to Medicaid and other benefits."

"The company has increasingly tipped off the Justice Department and FBI to investigate Amazon’s own employees and the sellers using its platform, according to a POLITICO analysis and a dozen interviews with Amazon employees, former federal prosecutors and financial crime experts. In addition, it has hired dozens of former DOJ and FBI employees, some of whom are filling out its internal teams aimed at policing its platform."

"Rite Aid announced Tuesday it is closing another 63 stores to save about $25 million year… After years of overexpansion, Rite Aid and other giant American pharmacy chains have struggled. They've been closing hundreds of stores over the past few years, despite the pandemic that has drawn people into pharmacies."

"Mexican drug cartels are turning to bigger, more productive labs to churn out increasing quantities of synthetic drugs like meth and fentanyl, according to seizure figures issued Monday by the country's Defense Department."

"Turkey’s lira has charged back from record lows at breakneck speed, seeing wild swings after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan revealed a plan to support the battered currency and protect local deposits against market moves."

"The leader of Ethiopia's northern Tigray region announced a withdrawal of rebel forces from neighboring areas in the country on Sunday, a move that could signal the possibility of a ceasefire after 13 months of war." The game changer? Drones "lent" to Ethiopia.

"A British court on Tuesday ordered the ruler of Dubai to pay his ex-wife and their children close to 550 million pounds ($730 million), in one of the most expensive divorce settlements in British history."

"A 58-foot-long (18-meter) pedestrian bridge stolen from an Ohio city last month has been found and a man is facing charges, police said."

"Abbott has not said whether he will posthumously pardon (George) Floyd this year for a 2004 drug arrest in Houston by a former officer whose police work is no longer trusted by prosecutors. Texas' parole board — stacked with Abbott appointees — unanimously recommended a pardon for Floyd in October." Yeah, I'm gonna put my marker on "no."

"In a series of stories, The Associated Press has detailed how the U.S. military has a problem with missing and stolen guns and explosives, and how some weapons have been used in domestic crime."

"The US Secret Service is stepping up its efforts to claw back some of the billions of dollars that Covid-19-related fraud has cost the economy by tapping a senior official to work with law enforcement agencies across the country on the issue."

"It's exactly the scenario Democrats had worked for months to avoid -- but now find themselves confronting… Vulnerable members were forced to cast a tough vote in an already daunting election year. And now, they are left with nothing to show for it… With Sen. Joe Manchin effectively wielding a veto over President Joe Biden's agenda, House Democrats are now fuming at the prospects that their vote last month to pass the Build Back Better bill will be all for naught, having made scores of promises to voters only to have them all go unfulfilled."

"That has happened just as predicted, says Dr. Paul Spiegel, who returned in early December from a five-week trip to Afghanistan as part of a WHO team charged with investigating the emergency… Medical staff aren't being paid. Hospitals are running out of medicine. And many hospitals couldn't even heat patient rooms."

"The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has requested that Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania provide information about his involvement in unsuccessfully seeking to install former Department of Justice official Jeffrey Clark as acting attorney general of the United States." Things get interesting.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Linkee-poo Monday Dec 20

"At least 375 people are now known to have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines on Thursday, police say… Super Typhoon Rai - with winds of about 195km/h (120mph) - sent some 400,000 people running for safety when it hit the country's south-eastern islands."

"Glaciers in the Himalayas are melting at an "exceptional" rate because of global warming, threatening the water supply of millions of people in Asia, a study published Monday said… The study revealed that Himalayan glaciers are shrinking far more rapidly than glaciers in other parts of the world."

"If you want to be dazzled by a spectacular northern lights display, your best bet is to skywatch near the North Pole. But that wasn't the case 41,000 years ago, when a disruption of Earth's magnetic field sent auroras wandering toward the equator."

"A Biden administration rule that requires workers at companies with 100 or more employees to be vaccinated against Covid or undergo weekly testing is back on… The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals lifted a stay on the rule Friday evening. The rule was blocked on Nov. 6, just one day after it was formally issued by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration." Hello, SCOTUS.

"With Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 case numbers more than tripling in the span of a week, health experts indicate that restrictions may soon return."

"A surge in coronavirus cases in the U.S. is seriously altering previously promising holiday plans for many Americans. As many people traveled over the weekend, health officials and state leaders issued serious warnings about the coronavirus as the U.S. experienced record new infections… On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 156,754 new COVID cases. In early November, the country was averaging about 70,000 cases." Here we go again.

"Let's face it: We're all fed up with COVID. And with Omicron spreading rapidly, there's more uncertainty ahead… Like many doctors, I'm often asked how to stay safe. The answer is: the more layers of protection, the smaller the risk."

"Moderna said Monday that its Covid-19 booster does appear to provide protection against the omicron variant that is currently surging across the world… The company said it would still be working to develop an omicron-specific booster, however, with the shot expected to advance into clinical trials in early 2022."

"Since then, scientists have come to learn that omicron spreads faster than the delta variant and is the quickest-spreading variant the world has yet faced. It also has a huge ability to bypass immune protection and cause breakthrough infections… The big open-ended question right now centers on omicron's severity: Does omicron cause milder disease, compared to previous variants? Does it thereby lower the risk of severe disease and hospitalization?"

"Students in every grade are taught how thoughts, feelings and behaviors are linked and how learning how to control and reframe thoughts can lead to more positive outcomes. The program includes more intensive lessons for kids struggling with anxiety, depression or trauma, along with sessions on suicide prevention. All district employees learn about the concepts."

"The annual January get-together of world leaders, billionaires and executives in Davos, Switzerland will be postponed due to health and safety concerns over Covid-19."

"Families who come to the Christmas party today will receive a meal, and get a box full of food to take home with them. And for the kids, all sorts of fun holiday activities. Armstrong says for the first time this year, that includes a Black Santa Claus… 'To be honest with you, you know, the kids here can't relate to a white Santa because they see in their community Black and brown people,' he said. 'And so it was very important for cultural representation, that kids see that someone as magical and amazing as Santa can be Black like them.'" /begin right wing freak out in 3… 2… 1…

"Elon Musk, the world’s richest person and the chief executive of the electric car company Tesla, has said he will pay more than $11bn in tax this year – which could be a record amount of annual tax paid by a single person… Musk, who was earlier this year accused of paying zero federal taxes in 2018 despite sitting on an estimated $243bn (£184bn), said he would pay the unusually high tax bill this year after the sale of millions of Tesla shares." Enter damage control mode. Note, he was about to lose stock options, so he had to exercise them. By doing so, he now owes capital gains. He still has gone years paying minimal taxes while he used his "potential" wealth (in stock options) to leverage loans (which he could write off as a loss). So, yes, Mr. Musk, my eyes are open. You've been getting off cheap for decades, and you still are getting off cheap now (he's held the options long enough he's paying the lower rate, which is also less than income tax).

"Hong Kong's first 'patriots only' legislative election witnessed a record low turnout on Sunday, reflecting a steep decline in civic and political engagement following Beijing's overhaul of the city's electoral processes."

"A man was beaten to death in the northern Indian city of Amritsar after he allegedly attempted to commit a sacrilegious act inside the historic Golden Temple, one of Sikhs’ most revered shrines." Well that's not something you expect to read.

"A staff member at a Washington, DC, elementary school is under investigation after allegedly telling third-grade students to reenact incidents from the Holocaust, DC Public Schools (DCPS) said in a statement to CNN… The instructor was placed on leave Friday pending the investigation, a DCPS official said."

"Captured on smartphones and closed-circuit cameras, thefts involving groups of people smashing windows or individuals wheeling loaded shopping carts past security guards and out the door have been looping on social media and TV news, raising the specter that crime rings reselling boosted merchandise present a major threat to retailers… Although some retail and law enforcement lobbyists cite eye-popping figures, there is reason to doubt the problem is anywhere near as large or widespread as they say. The best estimates available put losses at around 7 cents per $100 of sales on average." The media worm has turned.

"With billions of dollars for clean energy, the Build Back Better legislation has the potential to substantially and rapidly cut heat-trapping emissions in the U.S. But after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin rejected the bill on Sunday, Build Back Better is effectively dead, at a time when scientists say the world can't afford to wait on climate change."

"For months, West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin has been watering down the climate provisions in the Build Back Better legislation. Now, his final rejection of a stripped down version effectively kills President Biden's ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions deeply enough to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. But the objections Manchin described to the bill's climate measures are misleading… Here's what's really going on…" Manchin's fortune rests on dirty energy production.

"Donald Trump has sued New York state attorney general, Letitia James, seeking to halt her long-running investigation of his business practices, the New York Times reported on Monday… The paper said Trump’s suit alleges that James, a Democrat, 'is guided solely by political animus and a desire to harass, intimidate, and retaliate against a private citizen who she views as a political opponent'." Trump is left to revert to his old playbook.

"Flurry of recent revelations raises the specter that the committee is swiftly heading towards an incriminating conclusion… Donald Trump is increasingly agitated by the House select committee investigating the Capitol attack, according to sources familiar with the matter, and appears anxious he might be implicated in the sprawling inquiry into the insurrection even as he protests his innocence." We can only hope they will hold the guilty accountable.

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Linkee-poo Wednesday Dec 15

Just a short one before I run out the door for the rest of the week.

"A NASA spacecraft has officially 'touched' the sun, plunging through the unexplored solar atmosphere known as the corona."

"The Omicron coronavirus variant is spreading at a rate not seen with previous variants, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned, adding that the tendency to dismiss it as mild is concerning." I guess that answers the question, is Omicron more infectious than Delta.

"The Air Force has discharged 27 people for refusing to get the COVID-19 vaccine, making them what officials believe are the first service members to be removed for disobeying the mandate to get the shots… The Air Force gave its forces until Nov. 2 to get the vaccine, and thousands have either refused or sought an exemption. Air Force spokeswoman Ann Stefanek said Monday that these are the first airmen to be administratively discharged for reasons involving the vaccine." I'm not someone to argue about the merits of the different categories of discharge, and there are always extenuating circumstances, but I'm not sure "failure to obey the command of a superior officer" qualifies one for "Honorable Discharge." Also, the AF has over 300,000 enlisted and commissioned officers. One thousand isn't even a full percentage point.

"Americans dialed back their spending in November, new data from the Census Bureau showed Wednesday… US retail sales grew by 0.3% in November, a sharp decline from the previous month and less than economists had predicted… Even so, sales were 16.1% higher than in the same period last year." Release the Doom and Gloom reporters!

"A ransomware attack on one of the largest human resources companies may impact how many employees get paid and track their paid time off… Human resources management company Ultimate Kronos Group (known as Kronos) said it suffered a ransomware attack that may keep its systems offline for weeks." Fucking fabulous. We use Kronos at the hospital. And even when it's working it's a PIA, requires constant maintenance, and then add that to the generally onerous HR of hospitals. Also, we were slated for bonuses next week, which there was already grumbling about how late those were coming in the "season" they were meant to "help" us with.

"Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted in April on state murder charges for killing George Floyd, pleaded guilty to federal civil rights charges at a change of plea hearing Wednesday in US District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota."

"Republican Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona, one of Congress' most right-wing members, issued a press release yesterday, touting federal investment in a local airport thanks to the American Rescue Plan… The statement included a quote from the local mayor, thanking the congressman for his 'continued support.'… What the press statement neglected to mention is the inconvenient detail: Gosar opposed the American Rescue Plan. Under his preferred approach, the funding he now wants credit for wouldn't have passed, at least not when it did." Conservatives taking credit for somethign they didn't do or actively opposed? I guess that means it's Wednesday.

Oh look, actual voter fraud… "Three residents of The Villages have recently been arrested as part of an ongoing investigation into voter fraud, court records show (casting ballots in person and by mail in other states)… All three are registered as Republicans in Florida, voter registration records show." Oh, it's republicans again. Never mind. (Grokked from John Scalzi)

"A day after lawmakers shared an explosive series of text messages sent to Mark Meadows during the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, the Democratic-led U.S. House voted to hold the former Trump White House chief of staff in criminal contempt of Congress."

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Linkee-poo Tuesday Dec 14

"The omicron variant appears to cause less severe disease than previous versions of the coronavirus, and the Pfizer vaccine seems to offer less defense against infection from it but still good protection from hospitalization, according to an analysis of data from South Africa, where the new variant is driving a surge in infections… While the findings are preliminary and have not been peer-reviewed — the gold standard in scientific research — they line up with other early data about omicron’s behavior, including that it seems to be more easily transmitted."

"As we mark one year of these vaccines, the world is fighting pandemic fatigue and the threats of new variants. But hundreds of thousands of people still are getting vaccinated each day in the US… Here's a look at Covid-19 vaccines, by the numbers…"

"The U.S. Supreme Court has turned away a challenge to New York state's vaccine mandate for health care workers — a mandate that provides no exceptions for religious objectors. The vote was 6-3… This was the second time the court has refused to block such a state vaccine mandate for health care workers. As in an earlier case from Maine, New York provides only one exemption from the mandate, and that is a narrow medical exemption for those who have suffered a severe allergic reaction after a previous dose of the vaccine or a component of the COVID-19 vaccine."

"As a catastrophic tornado approached this city Friday, employees of a candle factory — which would later be destroyed — heard the warning sirens and wanted to leave the building. But at least five workers said supervisors warned employees that they would be fired if they left their shifts early."

"Russia on Monday vetoed a first-of-its-kind U.N. Security Council resolution casting climate change as a threat to international peace and security, a vote that sank a years-long effort to make global warming a more central consideration for the U.N.’s most powerful body." Tell me again how Russia makes most of its hard currency?

"US secretary of state Antony Blinken has used a visit to Indo-Pacific to urge China to cease “aggressive actions” in the region, as Washington seeks to bolster alliances against Beijing… President Joe Biden’s administration is trying to reset relations and reassert its influence in Asia after the turbulence and unpredictability of the Donald Trump era."

"A Belarusian opposition leader who rallied mass protests against disputed leader Alexander Lukashenko has been jailed for 18 years… Sergei Tikhanovsky was convicted of organising riots among other charges following a trial condemned as a sham… He planned to challenge Mr Lukashenko in the 2020 presidential election, but was detained before the vote."

"Scores of people were killed late Monday after a tanker transporting gasoline exploded in Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second largest city, according to Haiti officials… The death toll currently stands at 59, according to the city's Deputy Mayor Patrick Almonor, who also extended an appeal for blood donations and called the overall situation 'critical.'"

"During a crucial week for Joe Biden’s agenda that will likely feature a political showdown on his Build Back Better legislation in the Senate, voting rights activists are turning up the pressure in Washington… As the US president met with a key centrist Democrat who has acted as a roadblock to his plans – West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin - more than sixty demonstrators were arrested as they protested: singing songs and blocking traffic near the US Capitol."

"President Biden has moved to trim the governmental red tape that makes dealing with federal agencies and applying for benefits an often complex and frustrating experience."

"A powerful network of conservative election lawyers and groups with links to Donald Trump have spent millions of dollars promoting new and onerous voting laws that many key battleground states such as Georgia and Texas have enacted… The moves have prompted election and voting rights watchdogs in America to warn about the suppression of non-white voters aimed at providing Republicans an edge in coming elections."

"The House select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol on Monday unanimously voted to recommend contempt charges against former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for failing to comply with its subpoena."

Monday, December 13, 2021

Linkee-poo Mon Dec 13

"Rescuers continued to search for survivors Monday after deadly tornadoes tore through Kentucky and neighboring states over the weekend, decimating entire towns and leaving dozens dead… Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday that 64 people in the state were confirmed dead. He added that 105 people were unaccounted for, and at least 70 people were likely dead."

"This is further evidence that the black hole, with a mass of 4.1 million Suns, is not a sleeping monster but periodically hiccups as stars and gas clouds fall into it. Black holes draw some material into a swirling, orbiting accretion disk where some of the infalling material is swept up into outflowing jets that are collimated by the black hole’s powerful magnetic fields. The narrow “searchlight beams” are accompanied by a flood of deadly ionizing radiation."

"If you’re vaccinated and you get COVID-19, the chance you’ll need hospital care is still very rare. In Massachusetts, the rate of all vaccinated people who have been hospitalized is 0.05%… At major hospitals around the state, anywhere from 25% to 43% of patients tested positive this week for the coronavirus, according to daily numbers provided by the hospitals… It is also worth noting that the vast majority — in some cases 75% of COVID patients — reported that they are unvaccinated." And yet they still write the headlines as "Mass. hospitals see significant number of COVID breakthrough cases."

"Seventy-five percent of people who have died of the virus in the United States — or about 600,000 of the nearly 800,000 who have perished so far — have been 65 or older. One in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. For people younger than 65, that ratio is closer to 1 in 1,400."

"Russian authorities on Monday backed away from introducing some of the restrictions for the unvaccinated that were announced a month ago and elicited public outrage all across the vast country where vaccine uptake remains low."

"There are many tips for beating the afternoon slump, such as eating healthy foods (no candy bars), drinking plenty of water, listening to music and even aromatherapy. But one of the most effective ways to stay alert and on task is to get moving. And the sooner, the better, said Tansy Rodgers, a functional nutritional therapy practitioner and founder of beU Complete coaching in Lititz, Pennsylvania."

"The White House has become increasingly concerned of migration being used as a weapon… U.S. officials have accused Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko of being the latest to take advantage of desperate migrants. They say he helped bring migrants from war-torn nations to the Belarus border in order to create a humanitarian crisis and put political pressure on his European neighbors."

"Afghanistan's new Taliban rulers are committed in principle to education and jobs for girls and women, a marked departure from their previous time in power, and seek the world's "mercy and compassion" to help millions of Afghans in desperate need, a top Taliban leader said in a rare interview." My first response, because I'm an asshole, is "No." But we should help, and in providing that help move the Taliban to do better for their people. Because the alternative is to let them die or become indebted to others who wouldn't work for human rights for all. Show them the way to be better by how we act. And in a selfish mood, the Taliban are fighting a reconstructed ISIS. The enemy of my enemy is, if not my friend, at least someone we can work with.

"U.S. Coast Guard authorities have halted the search for a woman who went overboard on a cruise ship near Ensenada, Mexico… Authorities searched more than 31 hours for the woman before pausing the search on Sunday pending additional information, Petty Officer First Class Adam Stanton said Sunday."

"'Mr. Meadows sent an email to an individual about the events on January 6 and said that the National Guard would be present to "protect pro Trump people" and that many more would be available on standby,' it said." And now you know why Mark Meadows decided to stop cooperating, he has criminal liability.

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Linkee-poo Sunday Dec 12

Anne Rice, and so it goes.

"At least 100 people were feared dead in Kentucky after a swarm of tornadoes tore a 200-mile path through the U.S. Midwest and South, demolishing homes, levelling businesses and setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble, officials said Saturday."

"A Massachusetts cannabis company is celebrating National Brownie Day on Wednesday with what it believes is the 'largest THC-infused brownie ever made.'"

"Normally giving food to wild animals is considered off limits, but the dire situation in Florida with more than 1,000 manatees dying from starvation due to manmade pollution is leading officials to consider an unprecedented feeding plan."

"Every December we have a chance to see one of our favorite meteor showers – the Geminids. The shower is currently active until December 17 and will peak on the night of December 13 into the morning of December 14, making those hours the best time for viewing the meteor shower."

"NASA’s Perseverance rover just created a breath of fresh air on Mars. An experimental device on the rover split carbon dioxide molecules into their component parts, creating about 10 minutes’ worth of breathable oxygen. It was also enough oxygen to make tiny amounts of rocket fuel." From last April, but I missed it then. (Grokked from Marie Vibbert)

"Our lives have been transformed by this beast (metastatic breast cancer). But we still have lives. We're not dying of metastatic breast cancer, we're doing our best to live with it. However, statistics tell us many of us won't survive this illness. No one knows when they're going to die, whether they have cancer or not." Fuck cancer.

"Confirmed COVID cases showed up this week at an average rate of 120,000 per day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ninety-nine percent of those new cases are from Delta variant, not Omicron."

"Dr. Kavita Patel wishes navigating the pandemic could work for her patients like it does across much of Europe, where take-home COVID-19 tests are free or virtually free, and so widely available that people can use them every day — before going to work, or a party."

"A creeping barrage of U.S. sanctions on top Central American officials has made China an attractive partner for governments resisting Washington's push to tackle corruption and democratic backsliding in the region, officials and analysts say."

"Voters in the French island territory of New Caledonia chose overwhelmingly Sunday to stay part of France, in a referendum boycotted by pro-independence forces and closely watched around the South Pacific."

"NPR has sued the U.S. Defense Department to make it release documents regarding possible civilian casualties during the October 2019 military raid in Syria that resulted in the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi."

"Demands for audits, accusations of satanism, 'kookiness' and back-stabbing: Over the last month, the country’s most prominent QAnon promoters and election fraud boosters have, perhaps inevitably, turned their rhetorical tools against each other. And it’s a big, public mess." Eventually the paranoia rats only have each other left to fall upon. (Grokked from Laura J Mixon)

"The legal future is uncertain enough that abortion providers said they would likely continue to decline services to patients who are already past six weeks of pregnancy."

"California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday pledged to empower private citizens to enforce a ban on the manufacture and sale of assault weapons in the state, citing the same authority claimed by conservative lawmakers in Texas to outlaw most abortions once a heartbeat is detected."

"First came passage of one of the nation’s most restrictive voting bills. Then came efforts to overhaul the number of elected offices in one of Georgia’s largest counties… Now, with the pending passage of a new congressional map, Republicans have taken another step toward dismantling the Atlanta-area engine that turned Georgia blue, powering President Joe Biden to victory in 2020 and flipping control of the Senate to Democrats."

"Veteran Fox News anchor Chris Wallace said Sunday that he is leaving the network after 18 years and was 'ready for a new adventure.'"

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Chiron Beta Prime

Linkee-poo Saturday Dec 11

Michael Nesmith, and so it goes.

"For years, Nichelle Nichols has been a major draw to various comic book and science-themed conventions, the most popular of them being those events sponsored by Comic-Con. Now, at the age of 88, the television pioneer and science advocate has decided to no longer make these types of appearances." Thank you, Miss Nichols. I wish you peace and grace. The world is a little dimmer without your light in it.

"The European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (ESO’s VLT) has captured an image of a planet orbiting b Centauri, a two-star system that can be seen with the naked eye. This is the hottest and most massive planet-hosting star system found to date, and the planet was spotted orbiting it at 100 times the distance Jupiter orbits the Sun. Some astronomers believed planets could not exist around stars this massive and this hot — until now." Directly imaging exoplanets, with telescopes on Earth. It's the fucking future. (Grokked from John)

"Dozens of people in the Midwest are believed to be dead after severe weather that caused multiple tornadoes struck late Friday night and early Saturday morning, tearing through several states including Kentucky, Illinois and Arkansas." In other (so far unconfirmed) reports there might have been an F5 tornado in the outbreak. There shouldn't be enough energy in the atmosphere to drive storms like this at this time of year.

"Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent letters to more than 30 school districts threatening legal action if they don't drop their mask and quarantine policies… Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has sent letters to more than 30 school districts across the state ordering them to cease and desist enforcing public health orders." Which side is politicizing this pandemic.

"But amid the hubbub and general air of merriment, an air of dread fills the air. Business owners who run holiday stands, stores and restaurants all worry whether there will be enough people coming out to shop and dine during this holiday season, especially with the emergence of the latest omicron variant." In lots of stories like these there is this fear of "the coming surge (of COVID)". I can tell you most assuredly, the surge is already here.

"Alphabet’s Google and the nation’s second largest automaker Ford Motor Co. are among those once again delaying their return-to-office plans, while other businesses whose employees have already returned are considering adding extra precautions like requiring masks. Officials in the United Kingdom, Denmark, Norway and Sweden also have asked people in recent days to work from home if they can because of concerns about the variant." Ta-fucking-da! And expert "noted that layered protection like masks, vaccinations and ventilation are highly effective at preventing virus spread in a workplace." Good luck with that. Hell, there's barely minimally effective lighting.

"Reddit users are flooding the Kellogg Company's job portal with fake applications after the company recently announced it will replace its striking union workers with new permanent employees. The spammers say they stand in solidarity with the strikers." Full disclosure, I do design work for the local BCTGM.

"The Supreme Court on Friday left in place Texas’ ban on most abortions, offering only a glimmer of daylight for clinics in the state to challenge the nation’s most restrictive abortion law."

"Alan Swinney wrote to Chauvin following the former police officer’s murder conviction, speculating both men would be broken out of custody during a coming 'civil war.'… Alan Swinney, the far-right extremist who was found guilty of 11 charges stemming from his participation in multiple violent rallies in August 2020, was sentenced Friday morning to 10 years in prison and three years of post prison supervision… He was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon, attempted assault, pointing a firearm at another, second degree unlawful use of mace, among other charges."

"The Potter County Republican Party plans to conduct its own election during the Texas primary on March 1, independent of the county election administration. People voting in Republican races on Election Day will cast hand-marked ballots that will be hand counted, which the party believes to be more secure. Experts say the move will introduce a higher risk of fraud, confuse voters, and likely result in legal challenges." Whackaloon quotient sky-high. When you deny reality, experts, and the law, the risks you take are extreme. Also, their county party leader here understands a lot of his party are upset at elections, but he never considers that they're all upset in very different ways. He believes they will all agree with him. Good luck with that. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

Also, not sure if I posted this one from Jim… "Republicans tried to overthrow democracy because they're mad."

Friday, December 10, 2021

Linkee-poo Friday Dec 10

"In this Darwinian experiment, the scientists are trying to speed up coral's evolutionary clock to breed 'super corals' that can better withstand the impacts of global warming… For the past five years, the researchers have been conducting experiments to prove their theories would work. Now, they're getting ready to plant laboratory-raised corals in the ocean to see how they survive in Nature." Because nothing bad ever happened when we've tried to mess with evolution.

"But this week Michigan had more patients hospitalized for Covid-19 than ever before. Covid-19 hospitalizations jumped 88% in the past month, according to the Michigan Health & Hospital Association… 'We have more patients than we've ever had at any point, and we're seeing more people die at a rate we've never seen die before,' said Jim Dover, president and CEO of Sparrow Health System."

"The Senate voted Wednesday night to overturn the Biden administration's proposed rule that large private employers must require their workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or tested, or face losing their jobs… Before the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he was strongly opposed to the measure and attacked supporters of ending the requirement as anti-vaxxers, although several specifically made the point they believed in vaccines, but not mandates." This argument is making the rounds, "we really aren't anti-vax, we're just anti mandate." Oh really? Are you vaxxed and have you encouraged others to get vaccinated? No? Then you just are anti-vax. It's just the same bullshit, and they know they're losing. So they're moving the goal posts again.

"Prices for U.S. consumers jumped 6.8% in November compared with a year earlier as surging costs for food, energy, housing, autos and clothing left Americans enduring their highest annual inflation rate in 39 years."

"Senators grilled the head of Instagram on Wednesday about the app's effects on children and teens, airing frustrations and attempting to extract various commitments from the company to make the platform a safer space for its youngest users… But over two and half hours, Adam Mosseri skirted key questions from the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security. Instead, he defended Instagram and its parent company Meta — formerly Facebook — touting existing safeguards and some the company plans to roll out soon." It's going to be better Real Soon Now (that's a joke).

"The U.S. Supreme Court's conservative supermajority seemed poised Wednesday to hand school-choice advocates a major victory, and potentially a large expansion of state programs required to fund religious education… The handwriting on the wall came during a nearly two-hour argument involving a challenge brought by two Maine families to the state's unusual way of providing public education."

"Americans don't feel the direct payments or expanded child tax credits doled out earlier this year helped them much, according to the latest NPR/Marist poll, and they don't see Democrats' signature legislation as addressing their top economic concern — inflation… Additionally, they're down on the job President Biden is doing, don't give him much credit for the direct payments or tax credits, and have soured on the direction of the country."

"Wikileaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited from the UK to the US, the High Court has ruled… The US won its appeal against a January UK court ruling that he could not be extradited due to concerns over his mental health."

"Krause is one of several Texas Republicans to have recently demanded information about school library books that they deem inappropriate as the highly politicized debate over critical race theory plays out in districts across the country." The culture wars are back on the menu.

"The parents of two Oxford High School students are suing school officials, claiming last week's fatal school shootings in Michigan were 'entirely preventable,' and that the defendants 'created and increased the dangers then-existing at Oxford High School.'"

"The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered that the state's March 2022 primary be delayed until May 17 so it can settle two lawsuits challenging Republican-drawn maps for Congress and the state's legislature." So much for "the courts can't intervene in elections."

"Georgia gubernatorial candidate and former Sen. David Perdue (R) said on Wednesday that he would not have certified Georgia's 2020 presidential election results." They aren't even hiding their intentions to steal the next election. (Grokked from Jim Wright)

"Technically, the next attempt to overthrow a national election may not qualify as a coup. It will rely on subversion more than violence, although each will have its place. If the plot succeeds, the ballots cast by American voters will not decide the presidency in 2024. Thousands of votes will be thrown away, or millions, to produce the required effect. The winner will be declared the loser. The loser will be certified president-elect." A very long The Atlantic article on the subversion of Democracy happening before our eyes.

"The visitor, Trevian Kutti, gave her name but didn’t say she worked for (Kanye) West, a longtime billionaire friend of Trump. She said she was sent by a 'high-profile individual,' whom she didn’t identify, to give Freeman an urgent message: confess to Trump’s voter-fraud allegations, or people would come to her home in 48 hours, and she’d go to jail." (Grokked from Jim Wright)