I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
And so the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They're quite aware of what they're goin' through

Monday, September 26, 2022

Linkee-poo three little birds pitch by my doorstep, singin' sweet songs of melodies pure and true

"Canadian troops are being sent to assist the recovery from the devastation of storm Fiona, which swept away houses, stripped off roofs and knocked out power across the country's Atlantic provinces."

"Ian strengthened into a hurricane on Monday as Florida began ordering evacuations and prepared for possible floods this week… Tornadoes are also possible late Monday night and into Tuesday across the Florida Keys and the southern and central Florida Peninsula, according to the National Hurricane Center."

On the media podcast with… "The federal court is hearing a case that could change the publishing industry as we know it. On this week’s show, hear what readers will lose if conglomerates further monopolize the market. Plus, print sales far exceed expectations — it turns out readers do not want to curl up with a good ebook."

"The book follows the shape of Wilkins’s relationship with Pratchett. After hearing Jilly Cooper talk about her invaluable PA, Pratchett was filled with staff envy and hired Wilkins as an assistant. Over the years, the role grew into that of amanuensis and “keeper of the anecdotes”. The first half of this book is Wilkins curating these stories. Such as the time that, while working as press officer at the Central Electricity Generating Board, Pratchett had to deal with the story of a worker who took home a radioactive paintbrush from a nuclear facility and used it to touch up the paintwork in his house; an incident that led to a kind of pebble-dash apocalypse." Full disclosure, I'm rereading Pratchett's oeuvre (and in many cases reading them for the first time). At times I need to take a break and read other authors because, well, one I need to and two he breaks me. At other times my mind rebels against reading others and demands me to read the next Pratchett.

"The wave of attempted book banning and restrictions continues to intensify, the American Library Association reported Friday. Numbers for 2022 already approach last year’s totals, which were the highest in decades."

On the Media podcast with… "Today, when we encounter the medieval world it’s mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the 'Dark Ages,' and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze."

"The ancient city of Great Zimbabwe was an engineering wonder. But archaeologists credited it to Phoenicians, Babylonians, Arabians – anyone but the Africans who actually built it." The lasting legacy of colonialism and slavery.

"That's the feeling Nina Kollars got when she ordered some coffee pods on eBay and got WAY more than she asked for… On today's episode (of the Planet Money Podcast), Nina's quest for answers, and what it can teach us about online shopping, and a new generation of fraud."

"The British pound fell to all-time low against the U.S. dollar early Monday after Treasury chief Kwasi Kwarteng pledged a sweeping package of tax cuts, fueling concerns about the government’s economic policy as the United Kingdom teeters toward recession."

"The Bank of England on Monday said it is monitoring financial market developments “very closely” after a dramatic morning of turmoil saw the British pound fall to an all-time low against the U.S. dollar."

"President Joe Biden on Monday is expected to announce a new proposed rule that would require airlines and travel sites to be more transparent about additional fees that customers could be charged, including for baggage, flight changes or cancellations, a White House official tells CNN."

"Germany is taking control of three Russian-owned refineries in the country to ensure energy security before an embargo on oil from Russia takes effect next year, officials said Friday."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin's order to mobilize more troops to bolster his struggling military campaign in Ukraine has been rippling across Russia, as the military swiftly drafts new recruits and signs of discontent appear to spread."

"A volunteer Ukrainian medic held captive three months by Russian forces in Ukraine’s besieged port city of Mariupol told U.S. lawmakers Thursday of cradling and comforting fellow prisoners as they died of torture and inadequately treated wounds."

"A gunman killed 13 people, including seven children, and wounded 21 other people in a school in central Russia on Monday, authorities said… According to the Investigative Committee, the gunman wore a black t-shirt with 'Nazi symbols.' No other details about the shooter or his motives have been released." Killing kids again, Vlad? Well, I guess it did work for you last time.

"Before Indiana's abortion ban took effect, Case would use her days off to provide reproductive health services, including abortion care, via telemedicine through a clinic that serves patients in New Mexico. Many of them travel from neighboring Texas, where abortion is banned."

"Italians have elected their country's most right-wing government since the end of World War II. That's no small matter in a country that has had 69 governments since 1946."

"The White House switchboard dialled (SIC) a phone associated with a January 6 rioter after it was clear the deadly Capitol attack had failed to prevent the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, according to a new book."

"After winking at QAnon for years, Donald Trump is overtly embracing the baseless conspiracy theory, even as the number of frightening real-world events linked to it grows."

"Former President Donald Trump has asked several of his donors to refrain from boosting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis — who has emerged as one of the former president's most formidable potential rivals in a GOP presidential primary matchup — according to The Washington Post." In fascism, there is only room for one leader.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Busy

Busy, busy, busy.

The world continues to crash because of the disinformation campaign of Putin's Russia. The UK continues to tank, the US continues its internal struggle over fascism, the world continues their own battles or is manically eating popcorn waiting for what is next. And the debate about putting a former president in jail rages on despite several of the world's democracies putting former presidents in jail and surviving just fine.

Yes, I know it's terrible. Yes, I would like to share salient articles with you. But there's been a ton of work stacking up since 2016 and I'm trying to clear a lot of it while also moving myself forward and preparing for the future (ie. my t-shirt/merch business). As well as catching up with a normal amount of sleeping for the first time in 12 years.

Soon, hopefully. Right now I need to finish decorating the yard for Halloween while dodging the rain drops because there's not much other time available.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Linkee-poo Friday Sept 23

Sorry, still very busy, and getting busier…

"Two Chinese astronauts went on a spacewalk Saturday from a new space station that is due to be completed later this year."

"Much of Puerto Rico is still without power after Hurricane Fiona battered the island on Sept. 19. The storm laid bare how vulnerable the territory's power system still is five years after Hurricane Maria plunged it into an 11-month blackout — the longest in American history — and led to the deaths of almost 3,000 people."

"A pristine tallgrass prairie in northern Missouri is home to hundreds of wildflower species and birds… Herds of cattle help keep these 3,000 acres a sanctuary for diverse plants and wildlife — just by wandering around and munching on a tallgrass buffet. The cows eat invasive cool season grasses, while their hoof traffic pounds seeds into the ground." Yes, we already knew prairie land needs ungulates to keep the habitat in balance. But our western prairie developed to use buffalo, not beef and dairy cattle (cattle destroy the river banks, but buffalo hooves don't).

"A 63-year-old worker died in the public bathroom of a South Carolina department store, but her body was not discovered for four days, authorities said."

"A leader of a small polygamous group on the Arizona-Utah line pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges of tampering with evidence, weeks after being stopped on a highway with young girls in an enclosed trailer."

"The cheating controversy gripping the world of elite chess was already enigmatic — but it deepened even more this week, when world champion Magnus Carlsen abruptly resigned after making a single move in his highly anticipated rematch with Hans Niemann."

"The Federal Reserve ordered another super-sized jump in interest rates (Wednesday), and signaled that additional rate hikes are likely in the coming months, as it tries to put the brakes on runaway prices."

"The castle, to the critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, is emblematic of the corruption, nepotism and largesse of which the populist leader and his government have been accused for years — the kinds of behavior which now threaten to cost Hungary billions in European Union funding." This is the guy whom the conservatives hailed at their recent CPAC.

"Poland’s top leaders celebrated the opening Saturday of a new — albeit unfinished — canal that they say will mean ships no longer must secure Russia’s permission to sail from the Baltic Sea to the ports of the Vistula Lagoon."

"Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a "partial mobilization" of Russia's armed forces on Wednesday morning — signing a decree that will send Russians who have gone through military training to join the fight in Ukraine while stopping short of an all-out draft."

"Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s administration has rewritten Virginia’s model policies for the treatment of transgender students, issuing guidance for school divisions that would roll back some accommodations and tighten parental notification requirements."

"Yeshiva University has abruptly suspended student club activity in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this week that ordered the school to recognize — for now — an LGBTQ student group."

"Konnech, which makes scheduling software for poll workers, joined a growing number of election officials and companies that have used defamation law to try to fight back against election-related conspiracies."

"Allow me to summarize a federal appeals court decision gutting a series of pro-Trump orders with a single scene from the 1995 failson comedy Billy Madison: As the appeals court decision makes clear, everyone who read Judge Aileen Cannon’s decisions benefiting Trump is now less intelligent for having done so." Judge Cannon still has a lifetime appointment to the bench.

"Following a three-year investigation, New York's Democratic Attorney General Letitia James filed a civil lawsuit on Wednesday against former President Donald Trump… 'The complaint demonstrates that Donald Trump falsely inflated his net worth by billions of dollars to unjustly enrich himself, to cheat the system,' James said at a press conference."

Friday, September 16, 2022

Linkee-poo Friday Sept 16

"The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II left Buckingham Palace for the last time Wednesday, borne on a horse-drawn carriage and saluted by cannons and the tolling of Big Ben, in a solemn procession through the flag-draped, crowd-lined streets of London to Westminster Hall. There, Britain's longest-serving monarch will lie in state for the world to mourn."

"Following the teaser trailer for the live-action version of Disney's The Little Mermaid, parents of young Black girls are posting videos across social media of their children's reactions to seeing Halle Bailey as Ariel." And now racists are arguing that a black mermaid is historically inaccurate. I don't think I could make that up.

"Discoveries involving a lab accident, venomous snails and a scientific instrument made from paper are some of the obscure, quirky or convoluted advances honored Wednesday with awards that celebrate research that ultimately had a big, if unexpected, impact on society."

"Now health plans and self-insured employers — those that pay workers' and dependents' medical costs themselves — may consider imposing cost sharing for preventive services on their members and workers. That's because of a federal judge's Sept. 7 ruling in a Texas lawsuit filed by conservative groups claiming that the ACA's mandate that health plans pay the full cost of preventive services is unconstitutional."

"We've known for some time that Ford was looking to shake up the way people buy its EVs in the US, moving all its EVs into a new business unit called Model e, with another called Ford Blue that will be responsible for internal combustion vehicles and hybrids. In June, CEO Jim Farley said: 'We've got to go non-negotiated price. We've got to go 100 percent online. There's no inventory, it all goes directly to the customer. And 100 percent remote pickup and delivery,' during a presentation to investors."

"The United States may be hurtling toward a freight rail strike, one that could spill over into passenger service in much of the country. Railroads are cutting shipments; Amtrak has stopped some passenger routes. The sticking point isn't pay. It's the tough lifestyle that railroading imposes on people who drive trains — long shifts, lots of nights away, and the need to be on-call, able to get to work in two hours or less, for weeks on end."

"As a major rail strike looms, rail executives have been reluctant to meet workers’ demands for better pay, benefits, and time off. At the same time, the CEOs of five of the largest railroad conglomerates have been paid more than $200 million in the last three years, and company shareholders have been boosted by nearly $200 billion in stock buybacks and dividends over the last dozen years… The rail industry has defended the gap between worker pay, executive payouts by arguing that workers haven’t contributed to their skyrocketing profits." Again, unions are not formed or go on strike as a result of pay, but as a matter of disrespect by the executives and owners.

"A tentative agreement announced Thursday looks likely to head off a strike that would have brought freight trains across the U.S. to a screeching halt. But the concern generated by the possibility of such a disruption highlights how fragile the nation's supply chains remain 2 1/2 years after they were first upended by the COVID-19 pandemic."

"AT&T has admitted it will not upgrade 'older' phones and tablets—some released as recently as June—as it rolls out its newly acquired midband 5G frequencies, going back on public statements it made as recently as late August."

"The billionaire founder of Patagonia has given his company away to help fight the climate crisis, according to a Wednesday announcement… Chouinard and his family have transferred their ownership in the company, worth about $3 billion. Patagonia's new owners are environmental nonprofit the Holdfast Collective and the Patagonia Purpose Trust, created by Patagonia 'to protect the company's values.'" This was led originally by stories saying "Billionaire no more" which is bullshit. This guy is still a billionaire, at 85 years old, he's giving up his future profits and transferring control to a trust.

"Lyudmyla Vorona says her hometown of Balakliia, in northeastern Ukraine's Kharkiv region, was not prepared when the Russians took control in early March… So, when Ukrainian troops took back Balakliia late last week — the first of a string of towns they swiftly liberated as part of their recently launched counteroffensive in the east — residents were thrilled."

"Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the northeastern city of Izium has become the latest location where the Russians have left behind mass graves… Zelenskyy said Thursday that Ukrainian authorities have found a mass burial site near Izium in the recently recaptured Kharkiv region."

"Joe Biden has slammed Ron DeSantis for 'playing politics with people’s lives' for flying Venezuelan migrants to the wealthy liberal island community of Martha’s Vineyard without warning, while the legality of the Florida governor’s move is also under scrutiny… In what immigration activists and Democratic politicians have decried as a 'political stunt', Republican governor DeSantis, who is expected to run for his party’s presidential nomination in 2024, arranged for two charter planes of about 50 migrant adults and children to fly from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard on Wednesday." Just to be clear, the Florida governor used Florida tax-payer funds to lure migrants (with false promises) in Texas to board a chartered airplane to Massachusetts.

"Federal officials are examining whether the employee who reported an explosion at Northeastern University may have lied to investigators and staged the incident, law enforcement officials said Wednesday… Investigators identified inconsistencies in the employee's statement and became skeptical because his injuries did not match wounds typically consistent with an explosion, said one official."

"The FBI says it has made an arrest in connection with a hoax bomb threat against Boston Children's Hospital… U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins identified the person arrested as Catherine Leavy of Westfield, Massachusetts. She is charged with one count of making a false telephonic bomb threat in connection with a threat made to the hospital on Aug. 30."

"With abortion now illegal or severely restricted in a growing number of states, groups that help patients travel for the procedure as well as those who oppose abortion and offer assistance with unintended pregnancies, are reporting more calls for help." The question really wasn't "will they offer services" but can they offer enough.

"While the current obsession with Satan was boosted in part by the QAnon community, partisan media and conservative politicians have been instrumental in spreading newfound fears over the so-called ritualistic abuse of children that the devil supposedly inspires, sometimes weaving the allegations together with other culture war issues such as LGBTQ rights. Those fears are powering fresh accusations of ritual abuse online, which are amplified on social media and by partisan media, and can mobilize mobs to seek vigilante justice."

"Attorneys for an FBI agent and families of victims killed in the shooting continue to dig at that question Friday… For the third day in a row, Brittany Paz, a corporate representative for Infowars’ parent company, Free Speech Systems, is on the stand testifying about Infowars – with questioning focusing on the website’s traffic, content, and revenue."

"Supporters of a legal challenge to completely upend our electoral system are citing a fraudulent document in their brief to the Supreme Court. It’s an embarrassing error — and it underscores how flimsy their case really is."

"The Justice Department is appealing part of a judge's order that would give a special master authority to review documents the FBI collected at Mar-a-Lago last month… Prosecutors say they have serious concerns about handing government secrets to a third party."

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Linkee-poo late night Sept 14

Sorry again. Busy Steve is very busy. Some links, mostly NPR.

"Yesterday, I discovered that @amazon… has been selling pirated version of my book -- and encouraging people to purchase them. They've stopped now. (Thank you!)… But the scam on their site is sophisticated. Here's a bit of a detective story -- and cautionary tale for authors." A tweet thread.

"NASA says it hopes to attempt another launch of the unmanned Artemis I moon mission later this month… During a press conference on Thursday, space agency officials said they were eyeing Sept. 23 or Sept. 27 as possible dates."

"La Niña is back for the third year in a row… The meteorological system over the Pacific Ocean that can influence weather patterns worldwide is projected to continue through the end of the year… It's the first time this century that La Niña has returned for three consecutive years, according to the World Meteorological Organization, a U.N. agency."

"Eric Balken is keen to get going while the waters are still quiet, the marina still sleepy. We have a long journey ahead and Eric is a man on a mission. He’s taking his old friend Professor Jack Schmidt deep within Lake Powell to show him that amid the doom and gloom of America’s worst drought in more than a thousand years, there’s beauty and magic, too."

"A new generation of hard hats is promising better protection against on-the-job concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injuries… These hard hats incorporate technology that not only protects the head from a direct impact, but also from a glancing blow that causes the head to rotate suddenly – a major cause of concussions."

"A growing number of Republican politicians are moving to penalize Wall Street investors who consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when they decide where to put clients' money." Nothing says free market like telling people how to spend their money.

"As mourners gathered outside a northern West Virginia funeral home on Aug. 24, two plainclothes officers with a fugitive warrant swooped in from separate vehicles, called Owens’ name and shot him dead, spattering his 18-year-old son’s shirt with blood as horrified loved ones looked." "The Miami-Dade County Public School Board voted Wednesday against making October LGBTQ History Month, reversing its decision to support the annual observance last year."

"Undergraduate students whose household income is less than $100,000 will not have to pay anything to attend Princeton University, the school announced Thursday in its new financial aid policy… More than 1,500 students – or 25% of the student body – are expected to benefit from the change."

"For months, the conservative provocateur Dinesh D'Souza teased that the book version of his widely debunked film '2,000 Mules' would provide compelling new evidence that the 2020 election was "stolen." The film has been repeatedly promoted by former President Donald Trump, who even hosted a screening at his Mar-a-Lago resort… Then, just before the book's scheduled release - and after copies had already arrived in stores - D'Souza's publisher, Regnery, abruptly pulled the book from shelves and delayed the e-book release, citing an unspecified 'publishing error.'"

"Former President Trump's social media company has another potentially big problem on its hands: It's struggling to complete a stock market listing that would allow it to raise more than $1 billion it needs to keep running."

"With two months to go until the midterms, tech companies are getting ready: rolling out fact checks, labeling misleading claims and setting up voting guides… The election playbooks being used by Facebook, Twitter, Google-owned YouTube and TikTok are largely in line with those they used in 2020, when they warned that both foreign and domestic actors were seeking to undermine confidence in the results."

"Friday, the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, acting under an order from the Michigan Supreme Court, put a question before voters this November on whether to protect abortion rights in the state constitution."

"Wyoming's likely next secretary of state, a Trump-endorsed Republican who has falsely called the 2020 election fraudulent, is drawing concerns from many of his fellow GOP lawmakers… Now those legislators are aiming to draft a bill to remove the secretary of state's ability to oversee elections."

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Linkee-poo late breaking news

Queen Elizabeth II, and so it goes.

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 8

Peter Straub, and so it goes.

"Queen Elizabeth II is under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after her doctors became worried about her health… Members of the royal family are already by the queen's bedside in Balmoral — and others are on their way — after her doctors placed her under medical supervision Thursday, the British media, including the BBC and The Guardian, reported."

"A record-setting heat wave made life miserable in much of the West on Tuesday, with California stretching into its second week of excessive heat that taxed the state's power supply and threatened power shortages that could prompt blackouts while people were desperately trying to stay cool."

"A glacier in Antarctica the size of Florida that could dramatically raise global sea levels is disintegrating faster than previously predicted, according to a study published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience." I'm sure it's fine. We're all fine.

"Lobster nets and pots have become such a threat to the survival of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales that the crustaceans have been 'red-listed' as seafood to avoid by a major fish sustainability guide… Fewer than 340 of these whales exist today, including only 80 breeding females. The population is estimated to have dwindled by 28% over the past decade."

"The 31,000-year-old skeleton of a young adult found in a cave in Indonesia that is missing its left foot and part of its left leg reveal the oldest known evidence of an amputation, according to a new study… Scientists say the amputation was performed when the person was a child — and that the "patient" went on to live for years as an amputee." No, our ancestors weren't ignorant brutes.

"AI image generation is here in a big way. A newly released open source image synthesis model called Stable Diffusion allows anyone with a PC and a decent GPU to conjure up almost any visual reality they can imagine. It can imitate virtually any visual style, and if you feed it a descriptive phrase, the results appear on your screen like magic." Computer art, it's a coming thing. I have a lot of thinky thoughts about this, including how the deep learning happens and the nature of copyright. And while AI rendering has grown by leaps and bounds this past year, there are still things it can't do.

"Julie Chin, of the NBC affiliate news station KJRH, said she first began losing vision in part of her eye, then her hand and arm went numb. Then, while she was doing a segment on NASA's delayed Artemis launch, she began having difficulty reading the teleprompter."

"Some homeowners are losing wealth as high mortgage rates weigh on home values, at least on paper, as the once red-hot housing market cools quickly… Sales have been slowing down for several months, with mortgage rates now double what they were at the start of this year." Note at this point that "loss" is mostly "unrealized gain," but some markets are seeing house price declines.

"The European Central Bank hiked interest rates by a record three-quarters of a percentage point on Thursday and promised more to come as it scrambles to contain the inflationary fallout from Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing energy crisis."

"The man who fatally fell from a New York City building on Friday was identified as Bed Bath & Beyond chief financial officer and executive vice president Gustavo Arnal, a New York Police Department spokesman confirmed to TODAY… The 52-year-old Arnal's death has been ruled a suicide, the New York City medical examiner's office confirmed to CNBC."

You may remember an article I pointed to earlier where they claimed the "average EV was $60,000" and I rightly called it bullshit? "General Motors wants to be the biggest seller of electric vehicles in the world, and the new 2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV is intended to play a major role in that effort. Built on GM’s Ultium platform, the midsize SUV will get up to 300 miles of range and will start at 'around $30,000' — an affordable price point that’s intended to drive broader EV adoption." While there's many a slip between cup and lip, that $30,000 price point is a good one. While it's not my price range (and to be fair, I have a higher price range than most), it's very damn close. Is it "for everyone"? No, but a large percentage of people could afford it. And, IIRC, Chevy offers to cover home electrical work for purchasers of their other EVs.

"A Northern California school district is testing out a novel solution to its housing shortage for teachers: asking community members to rent them rooms… The Milpitas Unified School District put out the call to families in late August in response to staff losses and sky-high housing costs that have made it difficult for educators to live near where they work." When you don't pay the people who service the community enough to live in that community. I love how the school system has explored a lot of options, except to pay their teachers a living wage for the community.

"A 19-year-old man was arrested Wednesday after livestreaming part of a shooting rampage that left four people dead and three others injured and upended life throughout Memphis as residents were urged to shelter in place, police said… The hours-long rampage -- which also led to the suspension of public bus and trolley service -- left the city's mayor enraged over the wanton violence and came less than a week after the high-profile kidnapping and killing of a school teacher who was out jogging."

"North Korea is apparently moving to sell millions of rockets and artillery shells — many of them likely from its old stock — to its Cold War ally Russia… Russia has called a U.S. intelligence report on the purchasing plan 'fake.' But U.S. officials say it shows Russia's desperation with the war in Ukraine and that Moscow could buy additional military hardware from North Korea."

"A federal judge in Texas ruled on Wednesday that a mandate requiring most health insurance companies to cover medicine that prevents HIV infection violates the religious freedom of certain businesses… The ruling from U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor partially resolves a lawsuit brought by Braidwood Management Inc., a Christian for-profit corporation owned by Republican mega-donor Steven Hotze that employs about 70 people… Hotze claimed that forcing his company to cover pre-exposure prophylaxis drugs, more commonly known as PrEP, under the Affordable Care Act would make the company 'facilitate and encourage homosexual behavior.'" What complete and utter bullshit.

"A conservative Texas-based phone company is planning a takeover of political offices in the US state, starting with public schools… Patriot Mobile, which calls itself “America’s only Christian conservative wireless provider”, has been fueling an extremist conservative movement taking over curriculum in public schools across Texas." Dominionism is on the march.

"District Court Judge Francis Mathew ruled that Couy Griffin, an Otero County commissioner, is now disqualified from holding public office because he violated Section 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment by participating in the Jan. 6 siege." He's blaming everyone but himself, saying it is a "liberal hit job." No, it's the law, the actual Constitution. That's one.

"A pregnant Black activist serving four years in prison for her behavior at racial justice protests will have her sentence reconsidered as she struggles to reach her due date behind bars… Raising questions about free speech and equal justice, Brittany Martin, 34, was found guilty this spring of breaching the peace in a high and aggravated manner over comments she made to police."

"Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles was arrested on suspicion of murder Wednesday evening in the fatal stabbing of Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German, whose investigation of the politician contributed to his primary election loss in June."

"Steve Bannon, who managed Donald Trump's successful 2016 campaign for the presidency and served his administration as a White House adviser, surrendered Thursday morning to New York state authorities on charges that he laundered money by diverting funds donated to the We Build the Wall organization." Grifters all the way down.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Linkee-poo on a Tuesday that feels like a Monday, but is Sept 6

Voting for the STEM t-shirt contest is now closed. Thank you to everyone who voted. Now we wait to see. The contest rules basically don't address how the prizes will be awarded, and it's only hinted that the voting will help determine the choices. Since this contest is sponsored by Intel, I'm assuming they'll want a voice in the choice. There is no indication if just votes will be counted, or the "score" of how people voted (1-5) will be used (also very little info on if 1 or 5 was the top choice, so there's that as well). The prize money for this contest is substantial ($10,000 to first place) whereas most of their other contests give out store credit and bragging rights. So sorry for being so spammy lately.

"When 'wokeness' comes to Middle-earth: Why some say diverse casting ruins the new 'Lord of the Rings' series." And those who think it does are ignorant, racist, or simply didn't read the source material deeply enough. First, it's fucking fiction. Second, Tolkien did describe hobbits as having darker skin (as well as other descriptors of characters). And thirdly, you can accept Valinor, the wizards being godlings, dragons, balrogs, an evil that lives forever, vikings as a horse culture, and elves that are immortal, but having any of them being non-white is too far? Let me laugh in your face.

"Flood watches were in effect in the U.S. southeast early Monday as forecasters warn of the possibility of torrential downpours on Labor Day across already saturated ground."

"For months, the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season was notable for one reason: a complete lack of hurricanes. That finally changed on Friday, when Danielle strengthened into the Atlantic's first hurricane since last October."

"America's space agency on Saturday sought to launch a rocket largely cobbled together from the space shuttle, which itself was designed and built more than four decades ago… As the space shuttle often was delayed due to technical problems, it therefore comes as scant surprise that the debut launch of NASA's Space Launch System rocket scrubbed a few hours before its launch window opened. The showstopper was an 8-inch diameter line carrying liquid hydrogen into the rocket. It sprang a persistent leak at the inlet, known as a quick-disconnect, leading on board the vehicle."

"Actor Brendan Fraser received a six-minute standing ovation Sunday night at the Venice Film Festival, after making a comeback to the profession following personal struggles."

"What if there was a way to stop chronic pain in your body before it strikes?… That's the concept behind Vinh Pham's new book, Sit Up Straight: Futureproof Your Body Against Chronic Pain with 12 Simple Movements. Pham, a physical therapist with over a decade of experience, shares a set of exercises aimed at helping to prevent bodily pain that lasts for over three months due to injury, exercise, bad posture or other factors — and relieve it, too. Practicing these movements consistently, he says, can extend your range of motion and increase your flexibility."

"Nurses in North Carolina can now be sued for following doctors’ orders when they cause harm to the patient." Whelp, that's one way to kill a profession.

"An E. coli outbreak that was first detected largely in the Midwest is growing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says… There are now reported illnesses in New York and Kentucky in addition to those previously recorded in Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania."

"The pandemic left workplaces reimagined and workers changed. The number of job openings right now outnumbers people looking for work by almost two-to-one… Last year saw a record exodus of workers, and companies say they are still struggling to hire. Millions have re-evaluated what type of work they were willing to do for what type of pay or benefits and in what type of environment." The economy maybe crazy unstable at the moment, but I am loving that I got to see a moment where the employee has some power while I was alive. And this "quiet quitting" bullshit. No, it's "I'm doing the job you hired me for and pay me for, you don't own me." Given the long time pressures to go "above and beyond" (which is another way of saying, "unpaid labor") it's about time to set boundaries. You want me to give more, than you're going to have to prove we are "family" and not just expect it to happen.

"California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday signed a nation-leading measure giving more than a half-million fast food workers more power and protections, despite the objections of restaurant owners who warned it would drive up consumers’ costs."

"The real estate market just can’t catch a break, with inventory of resale homes remaining low and rising interest rates making it harder for buyers to justify making the leap… And now we can add mortgage lender bankruptcies — and the rise (and fall) of 'non-qualified mortgages' — to the factors aggravating an already uncertain market." Here we go again.

"Rather than shell out that kind of money only to depend on the whims of an internet service provider, the 46-year-old decided to create his own fiber ISP."

"Delta Air Lines told an unaccompanied child's father that his daughter had not been picked up from the airport a week after the flight because the airline's system failed to record that she had been collected… Richard Fritz, from Detroit, Michigan, was told that his 13-year-old daughter was 'never released' from the gate when he went to check her in for a flight back home to Burlington, Vermont in the spring."

"Managing your money is obviously an important part of being a responsible adult. But how should you do that? It turns out that there's a large gulf between the advice given by the authors of popular finance books and academic economists."

"Iraq’s caretaker prime minister convened a second round of talks Monday with Iraqi leaders aimed at resolving the ongoing political crisis between rival Shiite blocs, but the representatives of an influential cleric failed once again to attend the gathering."

"The Israeli army said Monday there was a “high possibility” that a soldier killed a well-known Al Jazeera journalist in the occupied West Bank last May, as it announced the results of its investigation into the killing." Gee, ya think?

"Liz Truss will become Britain's next prime minister after winning a leadership race for the governing Conservative Party on Monday, vowing to press ahead with promised tax cuts and action to tackle a deepening energy and cost of living crisis." The conservative playbook is like that old joke about the vet book of horse medicine, except exchange "shoot the horse" for "tax cuts." Oddly, it has the same effect.

"The United Nations' human rights chief has released a long-delayed report on abuses in China's Xinjiang region, despite substantial pressure from Beijing to block the report for the better part of a year… The 48-page document concludes that 'serious' human rights violations have been committed against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the region in the name of counter-terrorism."

"Canadian police searched on Monday for two men suspected of stabbing 10 people to death in an Indigenous community and a nearby town, as the massive manhunt following one of the nation’s deadliest mass killings entered its second day."

"Chile spent the past two years writing a progressive new constitution, but the document was so soundly spurned by voters on Sunday that the result was clear less than two hours after the polls closed."

"In Pakistan, deadly flooding from an unprecedented monsoon season has destroyed lives, livelihoods and infrastructure, in what its climate minister has called 'a serious climate catastrophe.'… Some 33 million Pakistanis have been affected by the flooding since it began in June. It has killed more than 1,100 people — including hundreds of children — and the death toll is expected to rise."

"Russia imposed personal sanctions Monday on 25 Americans, including actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller, in response to U.S. sanctions against Russians stemming from the conflict in Ukraine." Sean Penn, really?

"Mansur was 13 when Russian soldiers destroyed his village of Samashki during Chechnya's first war for independence against Russia… Wielding flamethrowers, the Russians burned Mansur's neighbors alive in their homes, threw grenades into basements and executed men. Four years later, a truce disintegrated, and Mansur was back at war. He says he was never the same after."

"The U.S. ambassador to Russia, John Sullivan, ended his tenure as America’s top diplomat in Moscow on Sunday after nearly three years, spanning the Trump and Biden administrations, and will retire from a lengthy career in government service."

"Emily Daniels, who was leading a two-day workshop on burnout, encouraged the group including teachers, school counselors, occupational therapists and social workers to stand up inside a hotel conference room. Before long, the group was banging on walls and whatever else they could find. Laughter filled the air. A few started dancing."

"The subject wasn’t voter registration drives or poll worker volunteer training. Instead, they paid $25 each to listen to panelists lay out conspiracy theories about voting machines and rigged election results. In language that sometimes leaned into violent imagery, some panelists called on those attending to join what they framed as a battle between good and evil." It's a business plan now (actually it's the same old grift).

"The producer warned: Fox cannot let host Jeanine Pirro back on the air. She is pulling conspiracy theories from dark corners of the Web to justify then-President Donald Trump's lies that the election had been stolen from him. The existence of the email, confirmed by two people with direct knowledge of it, is first publicly disclosed by NPR in this story. Fox News declined comment."

"Her long record of supporting conservative causes, however, wasn’t enough to save her job after she wound up as a target of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Perez lost her school board seat in Miami-Dade last week to a former teacher who was among a slate of candidates endorsed by DeSantis." The lesson is, it doesn't matter how conservative you are, if you're not kissing the leader's ass, you aren't good enough for an endorsement.

"The Republican candidate for governor in Wisconsin endorsed by Donald Trump is calling for people to take up “pitchforks and torches” in reaction to a story that detailed his giving to anti-abortion groups, churches and others — rhetoric that Democrats say amounts to threatening violence." What was the terrible tragedy he suffered? A newspaper published his charitable giving.

"The political landscape, while still in flux, follows a string of President Joe Biden’s legislative victories on climate, health care and gun violence, just as Donald Trump’s hand-picked candidates in electoral battlegrounds like Arizona, Georgia, Ohio and Pennsylvania struggle to broaden their appeal. But nothing has undermined the GOP’s momentum more than the Supreme Court’s stunning decision in June to end abortion protections, which triggered a swift backlash even in the reddest of red states."

"U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon has granted former President Donald Trump's request for a special master to review documents seized by the FBI from Mar-a-Lago last month, temporarily stopping federal prosecutors from using those documents in their investigation into obstruction and mishandling of government secrets." It's bullshit.

"At first, Republicans were highly critical of the FBI search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, but as new details emerge about the more than 100 classified documents the former president haphazardly stashed at his private club Republicans have grown notably silent." Funny how that happened.

"A May 25 letter from one of his lawyers, attached as an exhibit to the search affidavit, advances a broad view of presidential power, asserting that the commander-in-chief has absolute authority to declassify whatever he wants — and also that the “primary” law governing the handling of U.S. classified information simply doesn’t apply to the president himself." Just because a lawyer says so doesn't mean it's true. That is literally one of the reasons we have courts.

Monday, September 5, 2022

The stochastic nature of mornings

Happy Labor Day, everybody in the US (for the rest of you, happy Monday). I think I owe you all an explanation for the problems recently. Back in June I was let go of the day thing (my part time graphic design job). That was a substantial loss of income. To try and make up for that, I've been hard at work to build up my t-shirt business. This has had, alas, limited success so far. But that is where my time is going. Well that and sleeping a normal amount.

So the Linkee-poo posts haven't been getting as much attention as they have before, and maybe the links aren't as high quality. I'm not sure when this situation may end, if it ever does.

But I am sorry this has become so irregular. As you know, I haven't attempted to monetized this blog other than pushing my t-shirts. I've really resisted that urge. And while I don't ever see this becoming a pay site, I might add some ads and a tip jar or two (maybe a patreon account).

I wanted to let you all know what was happening. It's been an interesting mix of good news and bad news. It also has included two stints back at the design thing to cover for vacations and time off. One of the major plusses is that I'm finally losing weight again. I haven't changed my eating habits. Cortisol can really mess you up. I'm getting more sleep so I feel more human. And I've picked up some commission work and some local custom printing (I'm still working on expanding that).

I hope you all can put up with the stochastic nature of my posting here.

Anyway, hopefully this will be a great Autumn for all of us. Hope this finds you well (even my Russian and Italian friends, I post those "watch your ass" comments only half in joking).

Sunday, September 4, 2022

Linkee-poo Sunday Sept 4

I've entered t-shirt design contests that you can vote on. You can find my submissions here… or if you want to see all the designs (for the STEM contest), here. There's only one more day left to vote.



The new Alphasmart. No price, yet. (Grokked from Gwenda Bond)

"Observers noted that the plot appears to mirror Rowling's own experience of taking heat and losing fans for expressing transphobic views in recent years. Rowling has said publicly that the book was not based on her own life, even though some of the events that take place in the story did in fact happen to her as she was writing it." Rolls eyes hard. Although, to give her some credit, this does happen to several authors where real life overtakes their fiction, and the wheels of publishing (even for the JK Rowlings of the world) grind slowly. But this controversy (of her TERF comments) has also been going on longer than a year.

"In recent years, climate scientists have warned thawing permafrost in Siberia may be a 'methane time bomb' detonating slowly. Now, a peer-reviewed study using satellite imagery and a review by an international organization are warning that warming temperatures in the far northern reaches of Russia are releasing massive measures of methane—a potent greenhouse gas with considerably more warming power than carbon dioxide."

"Severe drought is forcing some cattle ranchers to slaughter livestock early. That's producing a glut of beef in the short term, but it's also likely to lead to higher prices in the future." We've seen this movie before.

"Access to land and the ability to purchase it were rated as the top barriers to entering farming in a new survey released by the National Young Farmers Coalition and analyzed by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center. According to the survey, 59% of young farmers named finding affordable land to buy as very or extremely challenging, and 45% of young farmers named finding available land to buy as very or extremely challenging. The rates were higher — 68% — among farmers of color."

"But this hasn't been enough to solve the dual problems of food insecurity and diet-related disease. Food policy leaders say it's time to think anew and build on what we've learned. The U.S. can't 'fix' hunger by just feeding people cheap, high-calorie, processed foods – the food that's so abundant in our food supply, they say. Instead, it's got to find ways to nourish people with healthy, nutrient-dense foods." Note that this situation was a direct result of that conference in '69. Unfortunately the new thought is to use SNAP and change the limitations to drive people in a different direction when the actual solution would be to remove ALL limitations of SNAP and incentivize healthier choices (like the double bucks program). But the easier, less potentially problematic, solution will be to make rules around what food people on SNAP can buy. But also note, this isn't a problem with people on SNAP, it's a cultural problem in the US.

"Tech billionaires are buying up luxurious bunkers and hiring military security to survive a societal collapse they helped create, but like everything they do, it has unintended consequences."

"That's the concept behind Vinh Pham's new book, Sit Up Straight: Futureproof Your Body Against Chronic Pain with 12 Simple Movements. Pham, a physical therapist with over a decade of experience, shares a set of exercises aimed at helping to prevent bodily pain that lasts for over three months due to injury, exercise, bad posture or other factors — and relieve it, too. Practicing these movements consistently, he says, can extend your range of motion and increase your flexibility."

"Gen Z workers make up about 12.6% of the workforce as of 2020, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and typically earn about $32,500 annually, according to an August analysis by GoBankingRates." As a comparison, while that's slightly better than my starting wages as a "professional" (ie, post my BFA), it is less than what I was making in the later 90s.

"Amazon appears to be losing its case to unravel the union victory that formed the company's first organized warehouse in the U.S.… After workers in Staten Island, N.Y., voted to join the Amazon Labor Union this spring, the company appealed the result. A federal labor official presided over weeks of hearings on the case and is now recommending that Amazon's objections be rejected in their entirety and that the union should be certified."

"Last week, President Biden laid out a sweeping plan to cancel up to $20,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower. To get that maximum, individuals must earn less than $125,000 a year, or less than $250,000 a year for couples, and must have received a Pell Grant in college. Non-Pell borrowers who meet those income requirements qualify for $10,000 of forgiveness… Beneath this seemingly straightforward plan, though, is a mountain of uncertainty about how, exactly, it will work. Naturally, borrowers have questions. Here are the answers we know so far…"

"So while he found relief in many of the announcements coming from the White House on Aug. 24 — $10,000 in debt forgiveness, another payment pause extension through the end of the year — Short was most interested in the announcement of proposed changes to income-driven repayment plans." Like I said, while the media focused heavily on the $10-$20,000 figure, this is where the real meat is.

"A senior Russian oil executive has died after falling from the window of a Moscow hospital, months after his company criticised the Russian invasion of Ukraine… Ravil Maganov, the chair of the board of directors of Lukoil, Russia’s largest private oil company, 'fell from a window at Central clinical hospital', the Interfax news agency wrote on Thursday, citing a source. 'He died from injuries sustained.'" Be careful, my Russian friends, the "falling out a high window" virus is going around again. (Grokked from Dan)

"Foreigners must tell the Israeli defence ministry if they fall in love with a Palestinian in the occupied West Bank, according to new rules… If they marry, they will be required to leave after 27 months for a cooling-off period of at least half a year… It is part of a tightening of rules on foreigners living in, or wanting to visit, the West Bank."

"Young, armed Taliban guards protect the entrance, searching visitors before they enter the museum grounds… The last time the Taliban were in power, at the direction of then-leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, they smashed ancient statues and other objects in this museum that they deemed un-Islamic and idolatrous."

"Chileans head to the polls on Sunday to either approve or reject what has been described as the world’s most progressive constitution, which would replace the 1980 document drawn up during Gen Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship."

"Marshall lives in west Jackson, in the US state of Mississippi - a predominantly black and poor part of the city. He has no choice but to drink the tap water that Jackson residents have been told to avoid. When he turns the tap on - the water runs brown… He says it's been like this for about eight months and he has no choice but to drink it… 'Yes ma'am. I been drinking it.' He smiles when we ask whether it worries him. 'I turn 70 later this month,' he says. Marshall doesn't have a car, so he can't get to the sites where water is being handed out by the National Guard. He also doesn't have electricity or gas because of a recent fire in the house next door, which means he can't boil the water to help make it safer."

"Math and reading scores for America's 9-year-olds fell dramatically during the first two years of the pandemic, according to a new federal study — offering an early glimpse of the sheer magnitude of the learning setbacks dealt to the nation's children."

"One year after Texas implemented what was then the most restrictive abortion law in the country, a majority of Texas voters are expressing strong support for abortion rights… In a new survey, six in 10 voters said they support abortion being 'available in all or most cases,' and many say abortion will be a motivating issue at the ballot box in November. Meanwhile, 11% say they favor a total ban on abortion."

"In a report released on Monday, the commission highlighted the presence of the Ku Klux Klan mounted marker at the entrance to Bartlett Hall, a science building at West Point, the U.S. Army's elite training school."

"An attorney for the far-right, anti-government group the Oath Keepers has been indicted in connection with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol… Kellye SoRelle, who was arrested in Junction, Texas, is latest person with ties to the group to face charges stemming from the insurrection. A grand jury in Washington, D.C., handed up an indictment charging her with four counts, including conspiracy, obstruction of an official proceeding and obstruction of justice."

"Kiwi Farms is an internet message board known for being an epicenter of vicious, anti-trans harassment campaigns. It has operated for nearly a decade with the backing of some tech companies that refuse to drop services for it. But now, as the site’s users launch a wave of anti-trans attacks, a trans Twitch streamer targeted by Kiwi Farms is spearheading an unprecedented campaign to take down the fringe website." Supposedly Cloudflare has pulled their support of Kiwi Farms.

"Shrink-wrapped inside the truck are the workings of a clinic that will offer abortions through all trimesters of pregnancy: an ultrasound machine, recovery room chairs, patient gowns, and boxes upon boxes of medical instruments and equipment."

"A jury of six people found Seminole County GOP Chairman Ben Paris guilty on Thursday of causing his cousin’s name to be falsely listed on independent 'ghost' candidate Jestine Iannotti’s campaign contribution forms in 2020."

"Former President Donald Trump was required to return all documents marked as classified as part of a grand jury subpoena issued in May, regardless of whether or not the former president believed he'd declassified the documents, the Department of Justice wrote in an Aug. 29 court filing made public Friday."

"The FBI recovered more than 11,000 government documents and photographs during its Aug. 8 search at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate, as well as 48 empty folders labeled as 'classified,' according to court records that were unsealed on Friday." You know how you take home empty folders to use for your own stuff and use a sharpe to cross out what was on the tab and then put your own label on top.

"The former president said: 'The FBI and the justice department have become vicious monsters, controlled by radical-left scoundrels, lawyers and the media, who tell them what to do.'… Trump nominated the FBI director, Christopher Wray, in 2017."

"President Biden on Thursday warned Americans that democracy is under attack from a faction of the Republican party led by former President Donald Trump, and called on Democrats, mainstream Republicans and independents to 'speak up, speak out, get engaged — vote, vote vote.'" And the right-wing nut-o-sphere goes full on bananas.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Linkee-poo Thursday Sept 1

I've entered t-shirt design contests that you can vote on. You can find my submissions here… or if you want to see all the designs (for the STEM contest), here. If I could ask for your votes, please.

Mikhail Gorbachev, and so it goes.

"One-third of Pakistan is inundated, as floods sweep through the country this summer. The catastrophic floods, resulting from monsoon rains that began in June, are unprecedented in scale and scope. So far, they have affected some 33 million people — about 14% of Pakistan's population — causing death, damage, displacement and loss whose effects will be felt for months and years to come."

"The worst heat wave of the year is presenting a critical test for California’s overtaxed power grid, with officials warning rolling blackouts are possible without major conservation efforts during a week of scorching temperatures… Extreme heat is expected to grip the vast majority of California for at least six days, perhaps even longer."

"City parks are crucial precisely because they are mundane. Their accessibility is what gives them their power. There are about 2 million acres of public parkland in the 100 largest cities in the United States, according to the Trust for Public Land."

In case you're wondering what I mean when I say, "We're boned", it's this… "In An Inconvenient Apocalypse, authors Wes Jackson and Robert Jensen style themselves as heralds of some very bad news: societal collapse on a global scale is inevitable, and those who manage to survive the mass death and crumbling of the world as we know it will have to live in drastically transformed circumstances. According to Jackson and Jensen, there’s no averting this collapse – electric cars aren’t going to save us, and neither are global climate accords. The current way of things is doomed, and it’s up to us to prepare as best we can to ensure as soft a landing as possible when the inevitable apocalypse arrives." Also note, this is the counter balance to "it's all going to be okay" side if climate change. Unfortunately, at least for climate change, we're trending toward the worse case scenarios. But this is also about selling books.

"Advocates who think so say a recent DNA analysis shows a strapping canine shot by a coyote hunter in upstate New York last winter was actually a wolf. They believe there are other wolves in New York and New England, saying they could be crossing the frozen St. Lawrence River while heading south from Canada. And they want the government to protect them." More than likely a coyote-wolf hybrid.

"California is about to launch an experiment to cover aqueducts with solar panels, a plan that if scaled up might save billions of gallons of otherwise evaporated water while powering millions of homes." I'm old enough to remember the 90s chemistry council ads about how some smart chemist realized that the waste product of the process they were using to create some chemical was actually a profit center as other factories had been producing that byproduct as their actual product and all they had to do was capture it instead of venting it. (Grokked from Robert J Bennett)

"The city of Jackson was already struggling with a deteriorating water system long before the latest rains cut off access to safe drinking water for more than 150,000 people in Mississippi's capital… For years, residents of the majority-Black city have endured everything from service disruptions and recurring boil-water advisories to concerns over contaminants like lead and E. coli bacteria, thanks to failures to upgrade Jackson's aging infrastructure."

"The culture war inside America's libraries is playing out in the monthly meetings of the Lafayette Library Board of Control. Conservative activists are demanding the removal of controversial books, librarians are being falsely accused of pushing porn, and free speech defenders are crying censorship."

"The Food and Drug Administation authorized reformulated versions of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines that aim to protect against the omicron variant."

"Life expectancy in the U.S. fell in 2021, for the second year in a row. It was the biggest drop in almost 100 years."

"More people in the U.S. are now smoking marijuana than cigarettes, according to a Gallup poll… Cigarette use has been trending downward during the past decades, with only 11% of Americans saying they smoke them in a poll conducted July 5 to 26, compared to 45% in the mid-1950s." It's only slightly better cigarets because, at least so far, the marijuana producers aren't spiking their product with other carcinogens. But inhaling any smoke or vapor is not a good idea.

"Since she came to California from Mexico 24 years ago, Maria Bernal has been supporting her family by often working two jobs at fast food restaurants… But she says she wound up living in a small Kia with her two youngest children, then ages 3 and 15, for six months after she lost her housing in 2019 when one of her employers began paying her minimum wage for eight hours even when she worked a 16-hour double shift." Wage theft is rampant.

"Cars are, of course, expensive, especially with the supply chain fiasco creating shortages. But it's more than that. Shopping for cars is not like shopping for most other products. Unlike, say, computers or refrigerators, cars are typically not sold for one standard price. Ten people could go into a dealership and each pay a wildly different amount to buy the same exact vehicle."

"Diesel fuel and heating oil, which comprise the distillate category, are 63% below the five-year average in New England and 58% below the same average from Maryland to New York, according to a survey by the Department of Energy. Gasoline inventories are not as bad, but are still at their lowest levels in nearly a decade along the entire East Coast, the agency said." Heating oil is always low right now as companies begin to stock up for the winter and refineries start producing more.

"Bank of America said it is now offering first-time homebuyers in a select group of cities zero down payment, zero closing cost mortgages to help grow homeownership among Black and Hispanic/Latino communities." Oh, we're doing this again. Note that this would be a good thing (and about 9 decades too late and about 3 decades after they were legally required to do this outreach) if it weren't for the heinous fuckery of rolling those things into the loan, so the homeowner still pays them, and the extra interest they accrue. And I wonder why they're doing this now?

Oh right, this… "Total mortgage application volume fell 3.7% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Volume was 63% lower than the same week one year ago… The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($647,200 or less) increased to 5.80% from 5.65%, with points rising to 0.71 from 0.68 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That rate was 3.11% one year ago."

"Seventy-one percent of Americans now approve of labor unions — up from last year's 68%. Union support is also up from 64%, before the COVID-19 pandemic, and is the highest the polling firm has recorded since 1965… Support for unions was highest in the 1950s, according to the Gallup, when 3 in 4 Americans approved of labor organizations."

"Shares of Bed Bath & Beyond lost nearly a quarter of their value Wednesday after the struggling home goods retailer announced a restructuring that includes store closures, layoffs and a possible stock offering… The company said it has obtained more than $500 million of new financing and was reducing 20% of its workforce. It plans to close about 150 namesake stores but will keep its buybuy Baby chain."

"Inflation was already causing some homeowners to delay big renovation projects as prices for building materials, fixtures and appliances jumped. More recently, higher mortgage rates have put a damper on the number of homes being sold."

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered more than 1,500 pounds of cocaine hidden in a place where you would least expect it: a shipment of baby wipes… The narcotics seizure occurred last Friday at the Laredo-Colombia Solidarity International Bridge, according to the agency in a news release. The bridge, located on the U.S.-Mexico border, connects Laredo, Texas over the Rio Grande with the Mexican state of Nuevo León."

"Police have used “Fog Reveal” to search hundreds of billions of records from 250 million mobile devices, and harnessed the data to create location analyses known among law enforcement as 'patterns of life,' according to thousands of pages of records about the company." Well hello there, Big Brother.

"Montenegro’s security agency warned Friday that hackers from Russia have launched a massive, coordinated cyberattack against the small nation’s government and its services." I wondered where you guys went.

"Inspectors for the International Atomic Energy Agency have been to some of the world's most sensitive nuclear facilities — from North Korean reactors to Iranian uranium plants. But it all seems straightforward compared to what awaits them at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station in southern Ukraine."

"Russia late Friday blocked agreement on the final document of a four-week review of the U.N. treaty considered the cornerstone of nuclear disarmament which criticized its military takeover of Europe’s largest nuclear plant soon after Russian troops invaded Ukraine, an act that has raised fears of a nuclear disaster." Gorbachev is dead, truly.

"Facebook parent Meta says it has removed a network of accounts linked to the Proud Boys, a far-right extremist group it banned in 2018… Meta said on Thursday that it recently uncovered and removed about 480 Facebook and Instagram accounts, pages and groups linked to the Proud Boys. That brought the total number of Proud Boys assets it has removed to around 750 this year, it said."

"A Black pastor in Alabama says he was wrongfully arrested and charged with a crime while he was watering his neighbor's flowers… Michael Jennings, a longtime pastor at Vision of Abundant Life Church in Sylacauga, Ala., says he was doing a neighborly deed of watering his out-of-town neighbor's flowers, per their request, when a police officer showed up."

"The signs had the right message, as required by law. One stated 'In God We Trust' over a rainbow background. Another was in Arabic. But the Carroll school district in North Texas rejected the signs, saying it already has enough for its buildings… 'Why is more God not good?' came the retort from Srivan Krishna, a local resident who sought to donate the colorful signs at a school board meeting in Southlake, a city in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, earlier this week." Because the Texas law is not about displaying the "country's motto", but about enforcing a white christianity myth.

"In the months since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Luisa García has noticed a sharp and striking trend: More Americans are seeking her clinic's services in Tijuana, Mexico." The rich and well positioned will always be able to access abortion (as they always have), it's the poor and people in the interior who will suffer. Just like in the 50s and 60s (note that abortion was not always illegal, even before Roe).

"A pregnant Texas woman who claimed she was entitled to drive in a high occupancy vehicle lane because of her unborn child received another ticket for the same offense, authorities said Tuesday."

"An NPR review of social media accounts, campaign finance records, and leaked audio suggests that CPI may be risking legal trouble as well over its tax-exempt status. Experts in tax law told NPR that the nonprofit group appears to be pushing the boundaries of charity law by closely entwining itself with explicitly Republican and pro-Trump political organizations." The law means nothing if it is not enforced.

"Democrat Mary Peltola has defeated Republican Sarah Palin in the special election for Alaska’s vacant House seat, a big upset over the former governor in the state’s first election under ranked-choice voting… Peltola, a former state legislator who will become Alaska’s first indigenous member of Congress, defeated a special election field that included Palin and another Republican, Nick Begich III. The Democrat finished first in the initial tally and then won enough second-choice votes from Begich’s supporters to see off Palin, who had former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and previously won a statewide campaign in 2006." I would like to say that's good riddance to Palin, but we all know that won't be the case.

"Illinois voters have the chance to sign up to send their ballots for November and spring elections by mail — forever… Elections officials are sending applications for permanent permission to vote by mail to each of the state’s 8 million registered voters."

"Though the GOP is largely supported by white voters, the party has recently made inroads with voters of color. In the 2020 presidential race, former President Donald Trump made gains with Black and Latino voters in part through community outreach centers opened in key areas across the country… Ahead of this year's midterm elections, Republicans have invested millions of dollars into expanding these centers into other minority communities in states like Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas." They're learning how to do it better.

"The photo, which Reuters said Friday it obtained after a request under the Freedom of Information Act, shows Mastriano in the uniform in a 2013-14 portrait for the Department of Military Strategy, Plans and Operations, where he worked until he retired in 2017. Reuters said it was told that faculty at the time were given the option of dressing as a historical figure, and while a few did so, only Mastriano is shown wearing a Confederate uniform." So, was an asshole, still is one as well. Kinda hard to believe that in 2022 asking a politician, "So what are your views of chattel slavery?" would be a legitimate course of inquiry.

"The FBI's search on August 8 uncovering scores of classified material 'cast serious doubt' on the sworn statement one of Trump's lawyers made in June attesting that all classified material had been returned and a 'diligent search' had been conducted, the Justice Department wrote."

"In a late-night filing this week, prosecutors blasted what they called 'wide ranging meritless accusations leveled against the government.' And then, in 36 pages, they proceeded to set the record straight on the unprecedented search of the home of a former president."

"Former President Donald Trump argued in a court filing Wednesday that the National Archives should have expected to find classified material among the 15 boxes Trump turned over in January from Mar-a-Lago because they were presidential records… The filing, his closing written legal argument before a critical hearing Thursday, acknowledged that classified material was found at Mar-a-Lago, but argued that it should not have been cause for alarm -- and should not have led to the search of Trump's Florida residence earlier this month." Ah, we have arrived at the "it's not actually a crime" phase of the defense.

"Former Trump lawyer John Eastman invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and cited attorney-client privilege Wednesday when he appeared before a Fulton County grand jury investigating attempts to influence the 2020 election in Georgia, his attorneys said." Funny how often Trump and his lawyers have to plead the 5th.

"The news network, now under the Warner Discovery corporate banner and led since spring by CNN Worldwide Chairman Chris Licht, is trying to inject more balance into its programming and become less radioactive to Republicans. How and whether that can be accomplished remains a mystery." They're not coming back, CNN. They're just not that into you.

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Linkee-poo Sunday August 28

"The Inkubator is Literary Cleveland’s free annual festival for writers and readers. Generate new writing, improve your craft, and advance your career." Full disclosure, I know some of the presenters and panelists.

"Book publishers just spent 3 weeks in court arguing they have no idea what they’re doing."

Mur Lafferty and Alasdair Stuart talk about the trial and some of the brouhaha surrounding it on the Ditch Diggers podcast.

"While no humans will be aboard NASA's Artemis I mission, the Orion spacecraft won't be empty. Snoopy, Girl Scout badges, LEGO minifigures and tree seeds are just some of the thousands of mementos that will be aboard when the mission launches Monday."

"Authorities in Nebraska are trying to determine who released 16 million gallons of water by opening a dam on an irrigation channel one night this month — and why."

"The rule, issued by the California Air Resources Board, will require that 100 percent of all new cars sold in the state by 2035 be free of the fossil fuel emissions chiefly responsible for warming the planet, up from 12 percent today. It sets interim targets requiring that 35 percent of new passenger vehicles sold in the state by 2026 produce zero emissions. That would climb to 68 percent by 2030." Why hasn't Arizona gone solar?

"The race now is for automakers to increase the production of electric vehicles, but that alone won't be enough… Analysts say the industry faces several challenges in ending sales of gas-powered cars by 2035." A really bad piece of reporting by NPR. The first problem they point to is "The average price of an electric vehicle is currently $66,000 — well beyond the means of many people." This is a industry talking point. The base model Ford Lightning comes in at $48,000 ($40,000 with the tax benefit). The base model Chevy Bolt comes in at $30,000. And the base model of the Nissan Leaf is about the same. Are these cheap? No. And this doesn't include the electrical work your house might need (if older), but that $60,000 figure is including a class of cars that are now out of the range of the average buyer. As for their other concerns, yes, those were true… five years ago. This is a press release for the gasoline car industry.

"Today, a paper is being published that appears to offer a low price combined with a big boost in several of those measures. The aluminum-sulfur batteries it describes offer low-priced raw materials, competitive size, and more capacity per weight than lithium-ion—with the big plus of fully charging cells in far less than a minute. The one obvious problem it has right now is that it needs to be at 90° C (nearly the boiling point of water) to work." (Grokked from John)

"The state of Utah is suing the Biden administration over its restoration of the original boundaries of two large national monuments — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante — after former President Trump slashed protections for them in 2017." Of course they are.

"It’s a story being played out on shorelines all around the world as once idyllic beach communities are washing away, and residents are struggling to adapt… But a partial solution being tried around the world is also being done here: establishing oyster colonies to form natural barriers that blunt the force of waves and help stabilize eroding shorelines."

"As the Colorado River shrinks, the seven states in the western United States that rely on it for water and power need to cut their use dramatically to keep the biggest reservoirs from getting critically low, according to federal analysts… But a recent deadline for a plan to conserve an unprecedented amount of water came and went without many specifics from either the states or the federal government on how to achieve the cutbacks."

"It's not often you find a bright side to drought, but in Texas, the heat and lack of rain have uncovered dinosaur tracks from 113 million years ago… The tracks were unveiled at Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, Texas — about an hour's drive from Fort Worth. The park is known for its dinosaur tracks, but these newer ones are usually covered with water from the Paluxy River and aren't visible."

"That means as billions of dollars in new federal funding becomes available to address the problem (of underground lead pipes), some places are in a better position than others to quickly apply for funds and start digging… Those that wait are at risk of being left behind." Not surprised.

"Google employees are receiving regular notifications from management of Covid-19 infections, causing some to question the company’s return-to-office mandates… The employees, who spoke with CNBC on the condition of anonymity, said since they have been asked to return to offices, infections notifications pop up in their email inboxes regularly. Employees are reacting with frustration and memes." Now do hospitals. Two weeks ago we only had 1 notification. That's a record low.

"A Colorado mother accused of plotting to kidnap her son from foster care after her teen daughter said she started associating with supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory was found guilty of conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping on Friday."

"Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Sunday slammed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for suggesting interest rates should go up to combat inflation in the US, saying he could 'tip this economy into recession.'" Well, that's exactly how the Fed controls inflation.

"Chaz Andrews has wanted to join the Army since he was 19, but he has failed the service’s academic test more than 10 times over the past decade… Now, at age 29, Andrews thinks he has a real shot to pass, thanks to a new Army program that gives lower-performing recruits up to 90 days of academic or fitness instruction to help them meet military standards."

"The Columbus school board and the district's teachers' union have reached a 'conceptual agreement' to end the strike that began Monday… The Columbus Education Association said the agreement was reached Thursday at 2:38 a.m., more than 13 hours after negotiations began on Wednesday afternoon."

"Almost a month has passed since the winning numbers were drawn in the $1.34 billion Mega Millions lottery, but the lucky person who won has yet to come forward and claim the prize… While you might think that the winner would come forward immediately, lottery officials say it's not unheard of for there to be some time between when the numbers are drawn and when the winner comes forward."

"Severe rains and flooding have killed at least 1,033 people, including 348 children, and left 1,527 more injured in Pakistan since mid-June, officials said on Sunday… The country's National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) added that 119 people had died and 71 injured in the last 24 hours alone."

"Six of the 43 college students 'disappeared' in 2014 were allegedly kept alive in a warehouse for days then turned over to the local army commander who ordered them killed, the Mexican government official leading a Truth Commission said Friday… Interior Undersecretary Alejandro Encinas made the shocking revelation directly tying the military to one of Mexico's worst human rights scandals, and it came with little fanfare as he made a lengthy defense of the commission's report released a week earlier."

"Four Iranian-backed militia members were killed in U.S. strikes in Syria on Wednesday in response to attacks by the group in recent weeks, the U.S. military said Thursday."

"The death toll from an accident when a truck drove off a dike and slammed into a community barbecue in a village south of Rotterdam rose to six Sunday and police said a further seven people are in hospital, including one in critical condition."

"Hospitals and doctors around the country are facing harassment and even death threats over the medical care they offer to transgender kids. In many cases, they have been the subject of posts by a Twitter account called Libs of TikTok, as well as stories in conservative media outlets casting gender-affirming care as child abuse and mutilation."

"All but two states have so-called 'pay-to-stay' laws that make prisoners pay for their time behind bars, though not every state actually pursues people for the money. Supporters say the collections are a legitimate way for states to recoup millions of taxpayer dollars spent on prisons and jails."

"Earlier this month, residents and business owners filed a lawsuit against the city of Phoenix. They say city leaders aren’t doing enough to address a growing encampment of people experiencing homelessness. That growth has been explosive in the past year, as the number of unsheltered people living there has more than tripled… Just a few blocks from Arizona’s Capitol building, the streets are lined with shopping carts, blankets and discarded furniture." Of the many problems with this reporting is this, "'It’s a little bit dangerous too,' (a cleaner) said. 'We’ve seen a lot of people get shot, get killed around here too. You just gotta be careful around here.'" Yet there is no check on actual statistics. Have there been more killings, or is this just the common perception of people that these places would "naturally" have more crime and this person is just expressing that belief? We don't know.

"Fox Corp CEO Lachlan Murdoch is suing the owner of a small Australian political news site for defamation over a column that held him responsible for the rhetoric on Fox News ahead of the Jan. 6 siege of the U.S. Capitol last year."

"Texas politicians and CEOs often tout the state as 'low-tax' because workers here aren't forced to pay the local government a percentage of their income, in contrast to places like California. However, recently resurfaced data shows that may only apply if you're a wealthy resident here. A popular post recently shared on Reddit's main economic forum displayed a graphic that explained how Texans actually pay more in taxes than Californians do, unless those Texans are in the top one percent of all earners." Just more of the upside down world conservatives live in.

"Many of the individuals recently charged by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' new election crimes unit told investigators they had no idea that with their felony convictions, they were unable to vote when they cast ballots in the 2020 election… Their experiences shed new light on Florida's controversial program for felons to restore their voting rights." All of these cases have already been discovered.

"New findings from university researchers and Google, however, reveal that one of the most promising responses to misinformation may also be one of the simplest… In a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances, the researchers detail how short online videos that teach basic critical thinking skills can make people better able to resist misinformation."

"Congressman Adam Kinzinger, the Illinois Republican who has been one of the most vocal critics of Donald Trump, called out his party for criticizing Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while continuing to defend the former president’s decision to take sensitive government information to his home at Mar-a-Lago."

"The Office of the Director of National Intelligence will review materials taken from former President Donald Trump's home in Florida for potential national security risks… A spokesperson for ODNI told NPR that intelligence leaders will assess what level of harm could come from releasing documents seized from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort."

"Many of the GOP’s biggest donors are among those who funneled anonymous contributions to former U.N ambassador Nikki Haley’s nonprofit as she lays the groundwork for a prospective 2024 presidential bid, according to previously unreported tax documents obtained by POLITICO."

"President Joe Biden on Wednesday named Kim Cheatle, a veteran Secret Service official, to be the agency's next director as it faces controversy over missing text messages around the time thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol."

Set up… "A judge ruled Thursday that an Arizona initiative expanding voting access and rolling back a host of restrictions enacted by the Republican-controlled Arizona Legislature and GOP Gov. Doug Ducey will be on the November ballot, barring a successful appeal to the state Supreme Court, which ordered the judge to explain his ruling."

Chaser… "A voter initiative rolling back Republican-backed election law changes and expanding voting access will not appear on the November ballot, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled Friday, issuing a final death knell after an on-again off-again series of court rulings."