Links 11/21/18

Don’t be a turkey: Keep grease out of sinks, wipes out of sewer pipes Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (Chuck L)

These animals eat absurd amounts of food National Geographic (David L)

Garfield the tomcat has a lucky escape The Nation Thailand (furzy). This is the sort of thing that would normally be a story only in a very small town..

The microscopic structure of a cat’s tongue helps keep its fur clean Economist (David L)

Spider silk is five times stronger than steel—now, scientists know why Science (David L)

Huge waterspout hits Italy’s south-western city BBC (David L)

The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI Wired (UserFriendly)

U.S. judge selects first case in federal Monsanto weed-killer litigation Reuters (David L)

Widely used reference for the human genome is missing 300 million bits of DNA MedicalXpress (Robert M)

Insulin shortage could affect 40 million people with type 2 diabetes Guardian (Kevin W)

Young People Are Having Less Sex Atlantic (UserFriendly)

World’s first full-body medical scanner generates astonishing 3D images New Atlas (David L)

A Molecular Mechanism for Alcoholism? Science Magazine

Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat, CDC warns U.S. consumers Washington Post (J-LS) Says a lot about the US that they can’t isolate this even a bit.

Anti-vaccination stronghold in N.C. hit with state’s worst chickenpox outbreak in 2 decades Washington Post (Kevin W)


Why Stimulus Isn’t Working in China Bloomberg (furzy). From earlier in the week, still germane.

U.S. Accuses China of Continuing IP Theft Amid Trade War Bloomberg

Expect Trump to double down on the trade war with China Asia Times

U.S. Busts APEC Summit With Tariff Demands – New York Times Blames China Moon of Alabama (Kevin W)

How ‘The New York Times’ Deceived the Public on North Korea Nation (resilc). From last week, still germane.

From Politico’s morning newsletter yesterday:

FRESH EURO NUMBERS: Three out of four Europeans see the euro as a good thing for the EU as a whole, according to an annual Eurobarometer survey previewed by Playbook. That, for the second year running, is the highest proportion since people started using the EU’s cash. The highest “good” mentions for the euro overall come from Ireland, Luxembourg, Slovenia and Spain — all above or equal 80 percent. The least convinced are the citizens of Cyprus, Italy, Belgium and France — but there’s still a majority in favor of the common currency in all 19 countries.

Good for my country? The survey polled 17,000 or so people in eurozone countries. Sixty-four percent of them said the common currency is good for their nation. The biggest surprise and biggest change from 2017? Fifty-seven percent of Italians think the euro is a good thing for Italy — up a substantive 12 percentage points. Here’s the most telling chart from the survey

Italy Orders Seizure of Migrant Rescue Ship New York Times (Kevin W)


Spain threatens to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal over Gibraltar Independent (Kevin W). Here this was supposed to have been settled. Oopsie.

Diarmaid Ferriter: North was always treated differently to rest of UK Irish Times (PlutoniumKun)

New Cold War

Russia, West clash over chemical arms watchdog’s new powers AFP. Kevin W: “This is going to cause some serious trouble.”


Syria – Back In The Arab Fold Moon of Alabama

Saudi official hints at Qatar-canal announcement The National. UserFriendly: “lol this is what it looks like when a spoiled brat throws a temper tantrum while he just so happens to be crown prince.”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Gift Guide: Black Friday tech deals that are actually pretty good TechCrunch. EM:

‘Our advice? Stay inside and shop online where you can, be aware that most of the best deals are stocked in hilariously low quantities and don’t be stubborn and buy some no-name Android tablet just because the sign says it’s 80 percent off and, well, they’re out of the TV you wanted anyway.’ My advice? Stay away from the boatload of spyware gadgetry featured in this TechCrunch piece. An actual TV deal would have been a refreshing outlier here. If I didn’t – cough – know better, I’d surmise that TechCrunch is getting paid by the likes of Amazon to push the latter’s line of spyware products.

Microsoft’s Office 365 outage is a big backwards step for security Wired (David L)

Trump Transition

The Hitlergate Hearings Consent Factory, Inc. UserFriendly: “ROFL”

California’s expensive race for schools chief is over as Tony Thurmond defeats Marshall Tuck Los Angeles Times Los Angeles Times (EM). From a few days back but still important.

California Burning

Wildfires Lead To Redder Sunsets And Cooler Temperatures In California Forbes (David L)

California’s Wildfires Could Mean a Generation of Lung Problems FiveThiryEight

U.S. Coast Guard orders energy company to clean up massive 14-year-long oil spill in Gulf of Mexico or face $40,000-a-day fine Washington Post (David L)


Where to avoid if you don’t want to be shot in America Guardian (Dr. Kevin)

Fake News

Facebook gives £4.5m to fund 80 local newspaper jobs in UK Guardian

Declassified 1949 CIA manual gives warning to disinformation on social media The Hill (UserFriendly)

Mr. Market Has a Sad

Worst Day of an Awful Year Leaves No Corner of Market Unscathed Bloomberg

Global markets retreat as tech rout spreads Financial Times

Oil Prices Tank As Supply Glut Fears Return Oil Price

Subprime Rises: Credit Card Delinquencies Blow Through Financial-Crisis Peak at the 4,705 Smaller US Banks Wolf Street. EM:

‘In other words, the overall banking system is not at risk, the megabanks are not at risk, and no bailouts are needed. But the most vulnerable consumers – we’ll get to why they may end up at smaller banks – are falling apart … The real problem with credit cards isn’t the banks – credit card debt is not big enough to topple the US banking system. It’s the consumers, and what it says about the health of consumers.’ The analysis of Wells Fargo’s cost of funding was interesting – average cost of funding $1.73 trillion in loans was a mere 0.87%.

New York City subway and bus services have entered ‘death spiral’, experts say Guardian. So depressing.

Airlines face crack down on use of ‘exploitative’ algorithm that splits up families on flights Independent

Apple Co-Founder Claims Self-driving Isn’t Realistic, Sick of Lies The Truth About Cars (Randy K)

Principles for Dummies American Affairs (Scott). Ray Dalio takedown.

SEC sends a message: ICOs are securities offerings Yahoo (EM)

Class Warfare

High score, low pay: why the gig economy loves gamification Business Guardian. JTM: “’I can pay half the working class to kill the other half.’ Not much has changed.”

Sackler family members face mass litigation, criminal investigations over opioids crisis Guardian (resilc). About time.

Bernie Sanders to huddle with progressive leaders in Burlington Politico (UserFriendly)

Damages Done: The Longitudinal Impacts of Natural Hazards on Wealth Inequality in the United States Social Problems Oxford Academic (resilc)

“I Hereby Confess Judgment” Bloomberg

Antidote du jour. Stephanie: “This is my cat Leo, I caught him in the middle of his bath!!! And he was REALLY enjoying his bath!!!”

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Tom

    I am a Subway aficianada. I know the metros of most major European cities and quite a few around the world. The New York subway is by far the best planned and potentially the fastest of the lot. It´s basic layout symbolises for me the generocity and greatness of a USA long ago. Reading this I marvel at the sheer stupidity and meanness of the modern US. One billion Dollar is chump change for a city the size of New York. Every other big city in the world would be thrilled to have the unique express lines the New York metro has. What a gift of former generations and how all of that is being wasted away.

    1. makedoanmend

      “What a gift of former generations…”

      Their motives may not have always been of the purest etc. … but, yeah, their legacy and ability to adapt the resources to some greater common good do speak to something about their sensibilities and aspirations.

      There are plenty good people around today with the same abilities and aspirations. Yet everybody seems so systemically hamstrung these days.

      I reminded of a film where a protagonist says that if you try to force people to build a road, they will defy you and eventually undermine the project or just wander away. However, tell them you are building a hospital at the end of the road which will take care of them and their community and the road gets built quickly and efficiently. Material benefits that are more than the material from which they are made.

      Not really a subway aficionada/o but I do like my trains.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The thing that I don’t understand is that if New York City’s subway and bus service are going down, then how does the city of New York expect their workforce to get into the city? You would think that this would have an accumulative impact on both business and government over time and force both sectors to kick in and upgrade the system. But it doesn’t seem to be happening. Who would ever have believed that starving a critical system of funds would ever not backfire? And for any subway aficionados, here is how it used to be done-

      1. jsn

        It works till it doesn’t. NY is approaching that threshold. With the market for politics being what it is here, it will only be after a major systemic breakdown forcing the creation of a non market politics that repair and reinvestment will become possible.

        Just another legacy of Obama’s propping up an unsustainable status quo, and the longer it takes to get to the next system fail, the worse and more intractable that fail will be. It will require good luck to not find the NY equivalent of getting burned to death in your car trying to evacuate a CA fire.

        1. Procopius

          I don’t know what Obama’s got to do with it, but as I understand it there are two tunnels for trains to go between New Jersey and New York City. Both were damaged by sea water in one of the hurricanes a few years ago, and they have been deteriorating since. If they are not taken out of service for something like a year each, they are going to fail and it will probably take several years to reopen them. Nobody seems to be concerned that this would break the land route to Washington, D.C. Nobody seems concerned that most of the food coming to New York City comes through New Jersey. Nobody seems concerned that there is only enough food in the city for at most three days. I’m so old I may very well die before the collapse comes, and that’s probably a good thing. It’s not going to be pretty. I find it very strange, like I’m from a different planet.

          1. jsn

            Obama was elected to reverse the neoliberal tide that had just washed out its own foundations.

            Rather than reversing course and repairing the nations tattered infrastructure, like the tunnels you mention, instead he used the power of seigniorage and a perverse derigisme to reflate all the neoliberal financial bubbles.

            This metonymy, focusing on money, an empty signifier, instead of real resources and living conditions did a great deal to pave the way for Trump, backing in the fragility you mention .

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ozymandias. Prophets not being recognized in their own land. It’s always the same.

        I do think nepotism in politics is a root cause. The oldest Gore, the long time Senator, is everywhere in the 1960’s and 70’s. The legislation he was involved with became bipartisan, but it didn’t start out that way. With the VP Gore, I see a person who had the mountain come to him, and he tended to look for conciliatory policies or actions as a mean so an end because he experienced the glow of his father’s accomplishments not the blood and sweat behind it. It boils down to the man who made the country a better place had to get out and hustle. The other one who reinvented government and moved so many federal employees to the beltway had power delivered to him. Although the subway’s importance is obvious, a fight for funding isn’t in Andy Cuomo’s makeup. In a state such as NY, it’s a pretty damping Andy is considered at all for any elected role.

        Being around to our long causes this problem too. Safe districts and such. I think the difference between Jeb and W was 43’s black sheep status. W had to hustle to win. He didn’t ask people to clap.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Gore pere wins for his wonderful quote, a backhanded “compliment” he gave to a colleague/rival in the Senate:

          “You have all of the qualities of a dog, except loyalty”

      3. SD

        Some fundamental reasons for the the decline of the NYC subway:

        Wimpynomics: The last “rescue” of the subway system in the late ’80’s was funded with huge debt piles and now it is Tuesday, and payment for the hamburger is due.

        Looking to stick somebody else with the bill: Politicians and bureaucrats use the dysfunction as a ploy to demand new “revenue streams” IE taxes on people in the boonies of upstate NY who never ride the subway or folks who drive, while in 35 years the price of a movie ticket in NYC is up 6X, the NYT costs nearly 12X more, and yet subway fare increased less than 3X.

        Bureaucratic incompetence/ inertia: Despite the desperate need for more capacity, the MTA is still slowly changing the timing of the signal system to REDUCE the allowed speed of trains throughout the entire system because of a single accident caused by an intoxicated motorman(Casey Jones Syndrome) circa 1990.

        Misplaced priorities: Fortunes have been spent on “bells and whistles” such as countdown clocks, electronic signage and pricey “artwork” in revamped stations, which remain completely non-compliant with the ADA laws, glittery new trains, and “token booths” staffed 24/7 with well paid union members in every single station who have virtually nothing to do(there have been no tokens for over 20 years and all transactions are done by machine, so still calling them token booths must be a reference to the amount of work done in them), while the system remains completely dependent on a signal system from the 1930’s. that uses essentially 19th century technology, literally patented by Westinghouse the man.
        Just think about the absurdity of the last point: What home or private workplace uses an electronic device essential for their daily functioning that has not been updated in 90 years?

          1. sd

            Which supports the obvious that the answer for the Subway problems is to re-privatize it (never forget that the IND lines were a government scheme specifically designed to bankrupt the private BMT) and let investors subsidize it too!

          2. Altandmain

            In the long run, the Ubers of this world are going to go under. They are without a profitable business model. It might take time for the business model to fail if they are able to raise more funds, but it will happen, barring a massive public bailout anyways.

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        I do not know the intricacies of which competing power centers interfere with eachother over who gets to control what regarding the New York City subway system. I do vaguely recall reading here back int the past that the New Yori State Governor, in this case Cuomo, is some kind of head of the MTA ( Metropolitan Transit Authority) and has the power to obstruct and vandalize and undermine and sabotage any, every and all efforts to fix and repair the NYC subway system. And I gather that Cuomo has been excercising his active negative powers of destruction to the absolute legal maximum against the NYC subway system.

        Have I misunderstood things I read? Have I “read” things that were never actually written?

    3. ambrit

      My Dad told the story once or twice about the time in the early sixties when he had a short term job in the New York metro area. One Saturday he got on the subway, where he couldn’t remember, and rode it for as long as the system would let him. Then he bought a “return” ticket and took the ‘other way’ back to his starting point. He remarked about how helpful the workers were once he mentioned not being “from around here.” He even had a polaroid of him sitting up in the engine-mans cubicle with the driver. He said that if we ever got to New York, to ride the subway car at the very front. The view was the best. He also swore that the New York subway was amazing. (This from a man who grew up in London and knew the Underground well.)
      A major international City without a functioning mass transit system? Not major any more.
      On a cynical note; restricting personal mobility is one of the methods used to control populations.

    4. apberusdisvet

      My girlfriend and I used to ride the subway for hours; from Harlem to the Battery; from MSG to far out Queens. The cost was 2 15 cent tokens. Isn’t inflation great!!! /s

    5. Lee

      I’ve spent some time in NYC both above and below the surface. For all city’s soaring magnificent above ground, I was think I was more impressed with the subways. Particularly since that which is above seems utterly impossible without what lies below.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I rode the metro in Moscow years ago, when it cost something like 5 kopeks..

        It was really, really deep and nice (I heard it had since been renovated).

        1. Olga

          Yes, it is amazing. The sections built in 1930s were done in an opulent style – Stalin said he wanted the plain folk to experience the beauty czars enjoyed for centuries – and many still have the original Art Deco light fixtures. It did not stop working even during the war. Recently, it has been renovated and a major expansion is in the works. I think the cost is about 80c per ride. (It occurred to me that it’d make a great war shelter, as it is very deep.)

    6. Rajesh K

      ROFL at NY City’s subway being the best. That’s a really good joke.

      Tokyo is still the standard. Anyone saying otherwise needs to seriously reexamine their thinking and facts . Tokyo is also 3 times the size of New York and Shinjuku station handles 3.64 million people A DAY (busiest in the world) without batting an eye. Sure not all 3 million plus are subway passengers since Shinjuku is such a major hub. Any subway station in New York will crash given the volume and yes I would include the various Times Square stop or Grand Central, or what have you. There’s never been an occasion where I would take the metro in New York and think, I wish we have this in San Francisco. Mind you, San Francisco Metro is pretty terrible as well, but SF is a small town. I live in the western part of town and I’ve sometimes walked to work (east part) and it only takes 1 and a half hours.

      Tokyo Metro Trivia: “If the train is even one minute late, a staff member will come on the loudspeaker and apologize profusely for any inconvenience caused.”

      Speaking about being a subway aficianada, I am probably a bigger one. I’ve ridden subways in all the major cities in the US (the El in Chicago, New York subway, Atlanta’s MARTA, LA Metro, you name it), major cities in Europe (Barcelona, Rome, Paris, London, etc), and East Asian countries and cities, and here’s my absolute ranking.

      1. Tokyo. Untouchable. Clean, great on time percentage. Aboard train announcements of delays, blockages, etc.
      2. Hong Kong. They have a board in the Central station showing their real time statistics in terms of late trains, etc. 99.x% in punctuality. Yes, the typhoon this year brought the system down somewhat, but that’s poor planning from the government as well. Hong Kong MTR is so well regarded, they run subway systems throughout the world, London, Stockholm, Beijing, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Melbourne, and Sydney. I believe they used to run Beijing Line 1 (the numero uno line that goes through all the major tourist attractions like Forbidden City), but now operation has been turned over to their partner, complains have risen.
      3. Taipei.
      4. Seoul.
      The thing 1-4 have in common is they all have clean trains and very punctual. Tokyo stands out just because of the scale. Did I say it’s 3 times the size of NY city?

      7. Singapore. Not a typo. Probably some other cities in Japan can take spots no 5 and 6, but I haven’t ridden them enough. Singapore’s MRT used to be great but the new lines have been problematic at best.

      Western subways are no 10 and below. Barcelona’s was pretty good. The one in Rome is too limited unless you count the one running above the ground. Paris (HAHAHA). London, slightly better perhaps. I mean they are ok, but I feel that Bangkok metro is better than both those later cities.

      The fact that the Tokyo metro is PRIVATE will probably not sit well with the audience here.

      US cities need to pop their own bubble. SF Muni likes to say “we are top 8 in the country”. Well, sure, but that’s because the country as a whole doesn’t have very good metros.

      Just by the state of the metro system, I would say we are very nicely going down the 3rd world country tube.

      1. Olga

        A quick internet search shows that about 6.6 million people ride the Moscow metro daily (M. has between 20-25 million people). It is clean, trains come about every 2 mins (at least in the centre), and a calm voice in the carriages reminds all to be kind, polite, and give space to the elderly. And there are no folks in white gloves pushing the crows in – as is done in Tokyo. I’ve ridden all metros you mention, except Taipei, and Moscow has no equal.

        1. Todde

          I friend of mine went to moscow and came back with pic after poc of the subway.


          Same with tsar peter palace in st petersburg. Lovely pictures.

      2. Procopius

        I agree the Bangkok Underground (I can never remember the initials, because it’s different from the Skytrain) is pretty nice. Especially during the many hours of the day when surface transport is at a standstill. Both systems are being extended.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Microsoft’s Office 365 outage is a big backwards step for security”

    I ask you. Is there anyone here that is at all surprised at this development? The BOFH would know better that to depend on the cloud and needing its connectivity to work. I wonder if all their documents were in the cloud as well or if they had any on their local computers to work on? Silicon Valley is pushing people down this cul de sac which for them is easy as they do not have to pay for any of the consequences when it all falls apart but this is an idea by its very nature contains a critical flaw. Well not this little black duck.

    1. drexciya

      At the Register they called it Office 364 (it’s out for at least one day/year) already, and after this thing Office 362. Furthermore, when I talk to my students, whom are systems administrators, we’ve come to the following conclusions concerning Office 365:
      – It’s significantly slower compared to working on-premise or with a local Office version.
      – It’s way more work to manage it from a systems administrators’ point of view.
      – There’s lots of extra tools/apps popping up and changing all the time in Office 365. Think of things like Teams. This is a nightmare for support people, because it’s very difficult to keep up with changes and new applications.

      1. Skip Intro

        Microsoft has transformed customers of their products into captives in their revenue stream. Do you think anyone will be able to back out of this trap now that it has closed around them?

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          Some old sysadmin cronies of mine (Puget Sound area) had semi-retired but still do freelance consulting for small/midsize non-tech-related businesses in the area that still have ‘legacy’ onsite servers — you know the kind, 4 or 5 physical servers in a back closet running older OS’es that keep crawling along because the big boss hasn’t fallen for the cloud, Cloud, CLOUD!!! sales pitch yet.

          While that revenue stream was set to dry up a coupla years ago, they have mentioned over IPAs at the local brew pub recently that they are getting word-of-mouth business in a few cases now doing things in a new (and very old) way: Either adding onsite MSFT-based servers to take back certain tasks from the cloud, and/or replacing Win10-based laptops with Linux desktop OSes such as Mint or Ubuntu.

          Amusingly, the curmudgeonly/tightwad bosses (who also neglect things like decent internet pipes or other networking infrastructure thus leading to internal network outages above and beyond any ISP or O365/Cloud-related outages) …seem to be the most interested in this.

          The places that are grandiose enough to have things like CTO’s however….seem to double down on Cloud. Not that cloud doesn’t make great and good economic and technological sense where appropriate…but I feel like the ‘4th amendment free zone’ and ‘all of our eggs in one basket’ approach now, is very similar to the mainframe/timeshare world of dumb terminals and centralized server room ethos I first saw when I was getting in to computers back in the late 70’s.

          And back then all the smart guys in the room were running away from it to get to the localized PC world. What goes around comes around… :)

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Clouds should be for last-resort backup, not integrated into critical workflows. But money/greed. If it’s not local, you’ll regret it at some point.

        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          This was always the case (I worked there for 10 years). They had revolving 3-year enterprise agreements with their corporate customers, the agreements included licenses to as many products as the salesperson could stuff in, whether or not the customer would/could ever deploy those products. Contract renewal time was always a very one-sided affair

  3. Steve H.

    The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI Wired (UserFriendly)

    Thank you, UserFriendly, keep ’em coming.

    A couple of interesting not-saids. ‘Surprise’ is exactly what Claude Shannon referred to as ‘entropy,’ but entropy is only mentioned once and not in context.

    Souza sufficiently linked Bayes to the Matching Law, which is basically a Black-Scholes/Kelly relation, substituting r, the reward/reinforcement rate, for p.

    Free energy is the height of the wall under the chemin de ronde. That height correlates with the level of deprivation, how much hunger for that particular reinforcer at that time. There are switching costs, and Mae-Won Ho claimed there was selection for coupled relations with near-zero entropy. Which fits with the claims from the Wired article.

    It is also quite savory to reflect on this while considering Steve Keen’s recent paper on exergy.

    1. Lee

      …the only person who truly understands Karl Friston’s free energy principle may be Karl Friston himself.,,,

      Is this a daunting but temporarily limiting factor or an insurmountable problem? I do admire his commitment to helping the mentally ill; his general theory of everything strikes me as desiccated reductionism from which could spawn a variety of dubious applications. But then admittedly, I don’t understand it.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If we only extract intelligence from Man, and leave out his soul and heart, what do we get?

        Shouldn’t we also give the robots Artificial Love*, as well as Artificial Intelligence?

        Admittedly, Man is not the most loving organism, so, we have to program AL (Artificial Love) from other animals and plants.

        Genuine Intelligence without Genuine Love, and Artificial Intelligence without Artificial Love, can both be dangerous.

        *Artificial Love is to be distinguished from Superficial Love.

    2. In the Land of Farmers

      To be alive, he says, is to act in ways that reduce the gulf between your expectations and your sensory inputs.

      Oh the energy I wasted not accepting the world as it is! But now, in full acceptance, I have the energy of a child again! Sense objects pass through me as mere illusions and yet I am free to pick which ones I fancy!

      Free of plans, free of cares; the key to a long, happy life!

      I will disagree Friston’s theory on one account:

      Invisible cloaks around everyone, and underneath each one a different living system that minimizes its own free energy.

      Ha! There is no blanket or boundary that separates cells, and organs, and me, and you! It is purely symbolic, as symbolic as the line that separates Yin from Yang! The moment we say “brain” we create “not brain”. Both life and non-life depend on each other. Life is a concept that the human mind creates to give us the conflict to create the heat that is needed to make us do the stupid things we do!

      How does something come out of nothing Friston wonders? Ha! How do angel’s sh*t?!

    3. Kurt Sperry

      This was a great read. Bayesian theory has never got its due as a philiosopical principle rather than a just a statistical tool or problem solver. If life has a necessary quantum component, as is my hunch, this could tie in neatly (or messily, or probablistically).

  4. John Beech

    Purchased a new television this year. An LG 55″ replacing a 6-y/o TCL, which I moved to the machine shop so I could watch college football while assembling servos. Anyway, on installation and setup we realized it came equipped with an RJ-45 connector meant for a network cable. Decided I didn’t want anybody knowing my television viewing habits. Note, this is inevitable because we use satellite television provider AT&T. However, this is soon coming to a stop as our two year commitment ends in January and because we have continued mostly watching over the air television via an antenna anyway. Note, years ago I installed one within the attic (get the one that offers the most range ‘and’ will fit whilst aimed in the correct direction for best reception). we’re just north of Orlando and receive tons of channels.

    Furthermore, while we may be listened to against our will, I put a small adhesive sticker-dot over the camera on the laptop – although it’s extremely unlikely anybody would give a damn what we’re up to. And I never take the iPhone into the bedroom, Kindle books be damned (add to it, I’m something of a Luddite preferring a paperback).

    Privacy these days can be augmented but it takes a modicum of effort and common sense – although judging by how many of my friends and family have purchased an Alexa, I have doubts regarding how common good sense actually is. Me? I’m astonished anybody would invite a spy into their living space but there you have it because they did this to themselves with these digital snoops. Sigh.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I inadvertently made my house…and especially my bedroom…into a faraday cage.
      sheet metal(like we use for roofs, out here) was a cheaper waterproof siding for the bottom 4 1/2 feet of outside walls. And when it came time to enclose the bedroom, that’s what I had on hand.
      so my iphone(which was all but forced upon me by the fone co) can’t connect to wifi unless I stand up, and hold it in line of site out that window to the router in the birdhouse.
      (only wife’s phone has 5-g)
      the laptop, similarly, won’t connect without it’s 50′ cable and the dongle at the end.
      so it is still possible to have spots in the home that are outside of Big Brother’s watchful eye, while still enjoying such modern contraptions.
      I don’t know what a HOA or city code enforcer would have to say about all this.
      and I don’t understand either the willingness of so many folks to invite the spy into every aspect of their lives.

      1. Carolinian

        By FCC rule you must be allowed to place reasonably sized antennas outside your house to receive over the air tv or satellite. HOAs cannot override this although some may try.

        The reasoning undoubtedly stems from the fact that television is an emergency notification device as well as an entertainment device. HOAs can’t interfere with this government function.

        I dumped cable tv years ago–fed up with the moral insult of being forced to pay for CNN with their inane announcers and incessant commercials.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yep. but we can’t pick up any tv out here any way…and texas, years ago, mandated digitalisation of the broadcast signal…so you need a special box, or something(grandma had one, but I never had occasion to mess with it)
          My only experience with HOA’s was drinking coffee on my dad’s front porch one early morning, watching a grumpy, unpleasant woman with a kindergarten ruler invade his yard to measure the grass.
          You couldn’t pay me to live in such a place.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I think all TV converted to digital years ago. We have one of those boxes, and an indoor antenna; while before we got 3 or 4 channels, we now get one. It was a massive cheat, to benefit the cable companies, which we want nothing to do with.

            Fortunately, the one is Oregon Public Broadcasting, so I can satisfy my Antiques Roadshow craving (perhaps I shouldn’t confess this).

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              lol. not to worry. antiques are cool…this whole county is an antique, and I am the family antiquarian/curator.
              I did without tv for most of my life, and only finally relented after I became unable to work, and had to spend so much time sitting there, doing nothing(about six years, until i finally got the hip, and began rehabilitating.)
              The necessary down-time now is spent with netflix or the like. wife unilaterally obtained directtv last week, but i refused to have it in the bedroom,lol.
              “this far and no farther”
              head as hard as a goat’s.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Antiques are cool. That Antiques Roadshow does show some interesting gear and personally I do not mind wondering around an antique furniture store to see what previous generations lived with. It was so well built out of such good materials that it is still with us to this day. Sadly, the antiques furniture stores in the future will have very little, if any, furniture from our era as it is made to disintegrate over time and is mostly made out of cheap materials.

                1. Earl Erland

                  Ha. Instead of landing in an antique market they enter the food chain. We are what we eat and what we extract and manufacture.

      2. Procopius

        I think back to the days when everybody (not really everybody, just people who were fascinated by these programmable machines) was using personal computers (IBM hadn’t gotten into the business yet) to write programs to balance their check books. I wrote about five checks a month. Address book? A small notebook, or a box of 3×5 index cards. Do you really have hundreds of people that you need to contact? What is Alexa actually useful for, much less needed for? “Computer power to the people!”

  5. Summer

    Re: Where to Avoid If You Don’t Want to Get Shot In America (Gaurdian)

    The place that was omited and has more shootings and killings, just not the highest body count from a single incident: the workplace.

    Glaring omission that makes the article worse than weak.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Of course if you do not want to get shot, a good place to go would be in either a monastery or a nunnery. You don’t hear of too many mass shootings in either of those places.

      1. ambrit

        Watch Ken Russel’s cult masterpiece, “The Devils.” With Oliver Reed and Vanessa Redgrave no less! It shows “When Nuns Go Wild.” (The ‘campfire’ scene at the end…. This ain’t “My Private Idaho.”) From the book by Aldous Huxley, which I also endorse the perusal thereof.
        Some Zen monasteries were (in)famous for their fighting monks.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That would the masters from the 36 chambers of Shaolin Temple.

          Not to be outdone, the Taoist Tai Chi school of Wudang is just as fierce.

          Neither necessarily impresses you by shooting though. Both are said to be to deliver lethal energy through space.

          1. ambrit

            I was thinking more of the ‘Sohei’ of medieval and feudal Japan.
            Major temples became power centres in their own right.
            Then there was the backlash against Buddhism during the Meiji period.
            We in the West had something similar with our Papal States.
            Now we have ‘Political Correctness,’ which is equal opportunity and “Big Tent” in nature.

      1. Summer

        Yes, very true. I wanted to say that. But I was thinking if you have the home secured, then when you step outside of it, where would the risks be?

        And the other thing about these shooters: their ramlage often starts at home or they attack or kill the girlfriend or wife first.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Most likely yes, home. But since the article was pure anecdote and zero statistical analysis, the author never even tried to find the answer to the question in the headline.

    2. Anon

      Yes, going “postal” has its origin in the many work place deaths committed at USPS facilities.

      A woman killed six fellow workers (plus a neighbor) with a gun in 2006 at the Goleta, CA USPS distribution center. If only they would have had teachers with AR15’s at the facility… (oh, wait, wrong…).

  6. Summer

    Re: Airlines/Algorithms/Splitting Up Families

    Not really surprised that divide and conquer has been programmed into algorithms. Definately a feature and not a bug.

  7. WobblyTelomeres

    re: Principles for Dummies.

    Great smackdown.

    “Dalio nevertheless deserves credit for his obvious dedication to making himself understood despite the severe handicap imposed on him by his anti-talent for clarity and conceptual rigor.”

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      ja. I laughed all the way through it. Walther is an excellent vivisectionist.
      an arid wind blowing through Ray-Ray’s empty skull.

  8. makedoanmend

    “Bernie Sanders to Huddle with Progressive Leaders in Burlington” Politico (UserFriendly)

    If some of the speakers on this panel are what passes for progressive, count me less than impressed with progressivism.*

    And how about giving some working people a voice at these events. And how about giving a some space to other working class stiffs who aren’t progressive.

    Who knows, maybe such a gathering could make some progress on how to fix what ails us all.

    *Quite like Senator Sanders and what he is trying to accomplish against all the odds. But he ain’t perfect. Thankfully.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?”

    A very long read this with lots to chew over. Glad I’m not young and on the dating scene but then again, my salad years were back in the 70s and 80s. Anyway, been trying to make sense of all this information to answer the title and the only thing that comes to mind is a lack of passion – the thing that personally gets you fired up and committed. Too much of what I read in that article are just poor substitutes and seem to be more about keeping a form of control rather than letting things take their course without knowing where it will go.
    Oddly enough this thought came out of something that I read about back in 2016. Donna Brazile was touring Hillary Clinton’s Brooklyn headquarters and thought about the words of another campaigner who said: “Are the kids having sex? Are they having fun?” Looking around that hq, she thought that there was not much of either to be seen. I thought at the time that what they were talking about was passion and how its presence spilled over into people having both sex and fun. Just my take on a very complicated situation – which it has always been.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Besides the dreariness of society:

      -the end of the sexual revolution/liberation. We talk about the hey day of sex, but how much is the result of coming off or coming from more puritanical structures or less cosmopolitan especially in smaller towns. When I was a legislative assistant for a state legislator, I and a l.a. for an adjacent republican would get widows of dead vets who couldn’t get payments they were due. What was going on was people who always intended to get married but they came from one church towns. Marrying a Presbyterian instead of a Baptist could be a problem. I’ve always wondered what the background of the people sexual revolting was.
      -costs of surprises.
      -living at home

      -as for Brazille’s observations, ugh, can you imagine the level of soullessness a HRC campaign employee at the HQ must have? Their field people were dull and soulless enough. The pictures of their campaign hq had a few too many women to be a Republican event, but it looked like a gathering of libertarians who don’t smoke pot.

    2. cocomaan

      I’ll add that colleges are no longer fun. They try to stamp out fun at every opportunity. And the Title IX dating oversight makes it all the worse. I notice they didn’t mention Title IX at all.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Over the last dozen or so years I’ve noticed in clubs, private parties, live bands – concerts, music festivals the percentage of people across all age groups dancing has dramatically decreased.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Not surprising. Even the people who attend live music events basically stopped listening years ago.

    3. Jason Boxman

      It’s a nice affirmation that there’s not anything particularly wrong with me… American society is simply diseased.

    4. Jason Boxman

      But this quote basically sums it up:

      Unless you are exceptionally good-looking, the thing online dating may be best at is sucking up large amounts of time.

      1. jrs

        so it’s like trying to find a job on a job site, sucking up huge amounts of time into who knows what void.

    5. kurtismayfield

      Men in the workplace are so afraid of a harrassment (or even worse) suit that most will not engage in workplace relations anymore. So they don’t look for it at work

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        This is bs. There might be less inappropriate relationships, but the decline of bowling leagues and cross civic organizations is the real problem. Workplace relationships are on the rise mostly because people don’t meet anyone else.

        1. David

          Office Romance Hits 10-Year Low, According to CareerBuilder’s Annual Valentine’s Day Survey

          …office romance is at a 10-year low, with 36 percent of workers reporting dating a co-worker, down from 41 percent last year and 40 percent in 2008.

          …This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder among 809 employees ages 18 and over (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) between November 28 and December 20, 2017. Percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions. With a pure probability sample of 809, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-3.45 percentage points.

        2. Jeremy Grimm

          There is a decline in ‘activity’ outside the workplace. But theire is also a decline in ‘activity’ initiated in the workplace and as you point out it’s become the last resort.

      2. Geof

        The article supports this. It talks about how striking up a conversation in public is considered inappropriate today:

        17 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 now believe that a man inviting a woman out for a drink “always” or “usually” constitutes sexual harassment.

        I mentioned to several of the people I interviewed for this piece that I’d met my husband in an elevator, in 2001. . . . I was fascinated by the extent to which this prompted other women to sigh and say that they’d just love to meet someone that way. And yet quite a few of them suggested that if a random guy started talking to them in an elevator, they would be weirded out. “Creeper! Get away from me,” one woman imagined thinking.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          Forget about in public.. asking a coworker out at work who is not welcoming of the advance is considered a no-no today. This mixed with people’s ability to mix up social cues ( too much time not interacting face to face) would make for some awkward situations. I would not put myself out there in the workplace 15 years ago, and I would not consider it today.

        2. Cat Afficionado

          Honestly, I feel badly for young women. Wave 3.5 feminism has really done a number on them. They are told that they are the unstoppably-powerful leaders of an impending female future, while simultaneously being told that the patriarchy has such a stranglehold on them that they are incapable of giving consent to any interaction with men or the world, and that any interaction with men is a traumatic experience which will mentally cripple them for life (and if it doesn’t, they are suffering from internalized misogyny, and will receive the ire of the glorious Sisterhood-TM).

          I cannot recall who the recent interviewee was on NPR, but I believe that she was a lawyer who worked Title IX cases. The real hum-dinger line was (paraphrased), “Even if a young woman has voluntarily put a man’s ***** into her mouth, it does not mean that she has given consent per the rules colleges have in effect.” So, we are basically back to Victorian times where we tell women that they are incapable of personal agency because they are so much less than men. This is very sad. Modern feminism seems to be committing the crimes that they rightly (in the past, anyway) accuse men of.

          The ultimate outcome of this is going to be a rapid and nasty regression to something approximating 18th century gender roles. Eradicating all aspects of boyhood and masculinity from society will lead to the entire utility infrastructure failing. Running water, electricity (aka refrigeration) and fossil fuels (aka food transport) are what has allowed an egalitarian society to form at all. This will not be good for anyone if it comes to pass.

    6. jrs

      it might be depression also. Ok antidepressants make orgasm near impossible much of the time, but untreated depression doesn’t make it impossible, it just makes everything less appealing.

      And what is there to be depressed about? Oh, how about EVERYTHING!!! Possible human and most other species extinction in the near term future. Horrible competitive brutal starvation economy with few good jobs but ever rising costs. Lack of social bonds. Lack of time if one manages to land work because hours and commutes are brutal and time off non-existent. Etc., etc.. And these are the immediate concerns that concern young people (yes the full toll of climate change will directly affect them) it’s not veering off into worrying about more abstract political concerns.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        You need to find a better antidepressant. There’s a popular herb you might try. [I never tried it and if I did I’m certain I didn’t inhale.]

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Brown wrote a book that’s in use of college campuses, “Congress from the Inside.” Not joining the filibuster against the Bush/Obama tax cuts for the wealthy given the clear direction of the Obama Administration and Brown’s secure spot was a let down. Then not challenging HRC or endorsing Sanders hurt his image. He is known. He went full Obama when he didn’t need to and hurt his star.

      New people might find him exciting, but he’s had opportunities to be more than a good vote on losing issues. All in all, I would rather Warren or Gillenbrand (ducks) who I at least believe is committed to moving to the left of her views on the state of the electorate.

  10. ChiGal in Carolina

    Below is the Nov 20 email from Jackson Park Watch. Nothing new, but thought I would share for its announcement of an improved website for keeping up with developments. Links didn’t copy as such but I have bolded a couple of them in case folks want to DDG them.
    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
    Greetings, all.

    First of all, Happy Thanksgiving. We give thanks for family, friends, and neighbors and the many things that enrich our lives and bring us pleasure. On this Thanksgiving day we can also give special thanks for all of the natural beauty we enjoy in and around Jackson Park – the Park itself, the Wooded Island, Bobolink Meadow, Jackson Bark, the Nature Sanctuary at the South Shore Cultural Center, the mature trees on the designated Obama Presidential Center site, the Perennial Garden, the playing fields, and all the open natural spaces that we cherish. Please join in.

    Jackson Park Watch website expanded and improved
    We have just finished a major update of the Jackson Park Watch website. You can find it at . Among other things, it now includes:
    · the latest information on the federal reviews and what comes next;
    · details on the Mayor’s Obama Presidential Center Ordinance passed 10/31 and what it does and doesn’t accomplish;
    · answers to the question of what has to happen before construction of the OPC can begin including the latest on the Protect Our Park lawsuit;
    · information about the taxpayer-funded subsidies for OPC.

    We want to flag this improved website in the event that you want to review the latest information or want to share it with friends, neighbors, organizations you belong to, or anyone who has been following the OPC saga. As we all know, this saga is NOT over!

    Emanuel’s Legacy: Disregard of public parks
    Although now officially a lame duck, Mayor Emanuel is continuing to prioritize private interests over public parks. The City’s actions vis-à-vis the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park continue as current Exhibit Number One. A new example is his administration’s refusal to support community demands for significant new public parkland as a part of the massive Lincoln Yards development proposed for the North Branch of the Chicago River. The Mayor’s disregard for parks has even drawn an editorial rebuke in the Tribune. One hopes the candidates seeking to succeed him will take note.

    Also in the news
    The Obama Community Benefits Agreement Coalition continues its spirited and determined push for an agreement that will address concerns about residential displacement and jobs. Its recent protests drew wide coverage including by the Sun-Times and Hyde Park Herald.

    At a recent meeting of the 1Woodlawn community organization, reported in the Herald, Dr. Byron T. Brazier, its convener and pastor of the Apostolic Church of God, discussed plans for development in Woodlawn, stating that 1Woodlawn’s efforts will continue whether or not the OPC comes to Jackson Park. Beyond assertions of massive OPC-related economic benefits, neither the Obama Foundation nor its spin-off Emerald South have publicized specific development plans for the area to date.

    A recent Letter to the Editor in the Tribune raised the possibility of a compromise to move the Obama Presidential Center forward. As many have observed, if the Obama Foundation had picked a different site (or just limited its design to its original site), construction could be well underway. Is anyone listening?

    Another letter to the Tribune noted the irony of public funds being used to support roadwork for the OPC while the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield goes wanting.

    We previously reported on the October 31 City Council meeting where the Mayor’s ordinances authorizing land and road changes in Jackson Park for the OPC were adopted. We think you might enjoy the Reader’s coverage of that session, which captures the full flavor of the Council’s Halloween charade: “[T]he mayor announced that it was time to turn the council’s attention to the Obama Center, ‘the only presidential library with a public library inside of it’. Whereupon—like a bolt of lightning on a dark and stormy night—rules were suspended, a roll-call vote was taken, and both OPC ordinances were resoundingly passed, 48 to zero.” Read on.

    This saga is not over!
    As noted above, although the City Ordinance has now passed, the federal reviews of the proposed OPC and related road changes are far from over. Your tax-deductible financial support helps us obtain the professional expertise we need to continue to raise essential questions and ensure that the public interest is served. Checks made out to Jackson Park Watch can be sent to Jackson Park Watch, P.O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615. We thank you.
    Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
    Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch

    1. Richard

      Thanks for the OPC update!
      Our liberal master class loves to give each other awards
      and build monuments to their deaf, clueless hubris
      and they won’t ever shut up or back down
      I am struck more than ever by the endless supply of their useless words
      how much talking they do without ever touching the truth
      “You try to tell her what to do
      but all she does it stare at you
      her stare is louder than your voice
      because the truth doesn’t make any noise”
      Sorry for the tangent, and I know I really shoehorned the White Stripes lyrics in there :)

  11. Harry

    “U.S. Coast Guard orders energy company to clean up massive 14-year-long oil spill in Gulf of Mexico or face $40,000-a-day fine”

    Sounds like bargain. Lets ask BP.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      My reaction too. That’s not enough of a fine to incentivize an energy company to do (or not to do) anything at all. I’m not sure 10x that amount would. Maybe 100x. Maybe.

  12. Richard

    1949 CIA manual gives warning…
    Among the stupidest things I have read so far this morning Mr. Adam Chiarra
    I mean, yeah, we could look at a CIA manual on kneecapping democracy
    in the context of the CIA’s decades of work in subverting democracy everywhere
    including our country
    We could look at the manual in the context of that organization’s WELL ESTABLISHED HATRED OF DEMOCRACY
    In short, along with our dumbass little idea about russia, we could actually critique the source a little bit
    and provide a service our readers find useful
    But no, instead Adam Chiarra just projects
    no sense of self-awareness, no sense of actual history
    no sense of irony which would at least be a nod toward reality
    nope, no time in his tiny bit of propaganda
    just projecting like the rest of his chattering class
    russia russia

    1. pjay

      Amen. I don’t like to use the term “useful idiot” very often since (1) such people often have their hearts in the right place, and (2) I’ve been one myself more than once. But the term definitely applies to this “academic”.

    2. Massinissa

      Maybe tomorrow this academic will write an article how newly declassified documents reveal that the sky is blue.

    3. Olga

      The point probably was to tell us that there is nothing new under the sun. But yes, the lack of self-awareness is too, too funny. He talks about the tactic of demonizing personalities – because folks apparently digest that more easily…. as he relates news bits that demonize VV Putin. The writer probably thinks readers are really stupid and gullible.

  13. JTMcPhee

    For those who think and worry about such things, like veterans and skeptical tech followers, Apple wants in on the “multi-trillion dollar medical industry:”

    The plot: to get the current VA administration to “migrate” our veterans’ medical records (including mine, of course) to the iCloud. As the shape of the camel’s nose starts to become clear… Every VA IT change has resulted in one kind of dysfunctional mess or another. As have most “government” Big IT projects. Does the F-35 count in that mashup?

    Of course I am not likely to be massively abused by such an “initiative,” given my likely remaining lifespan. Just sorrowing for all my fellow vets who are getting the water-torture drip-drip-drip of neoliberal privatization. Enough to make one want to blow it all up and tear it down, which in my contacts with other mopes is starting to assume the form of a real group wish… if only we could be sure, like Samson was assured, that bringing down the Temple would take down the Looters who have engineered and innovated and disrupted all this…

    My observation: “NOOOOOOOOOoooooo!!!!”

    1. The Rev Kev

      If I were you I would demand a hard copy of my VA medical records as well as your service records so if things fall down, you can prove that (a) you did serve in the military and (b) they know where you stand medically and can’t dispute it. As to that first bit, I have read of some service members having to prove that they were in the military with documents, medals, etc. because their records cannot be found.

    1. umamischmoomami

      seems to me interesting that industry is dumping million of pounds of glutamate on our foods…oh yeah , “the blood brain barrier” , never mind.

  14. JohnnyGL

    I listen from time to time to Thom Hartmann, he’s got some good segments and interviews, but then there’s stuff like this….

    12 minutes of moaning about the ‘5 white guys’ challenging Nancy Pelosi from the right, not a single critical word toward Pelosi herself, even going so far as to soft-peddle her opposition to Medicare for All. She’s treated as some kind of passive bystander with little agency in the process.

    It’s hard to have faith in commentators that engage in this sort of ‘sleight of hand’ stuff where they don’t even openly defend team dem leadership, but, instead, just sort of subtly let them off the hook.

    Perhaps it’s an opportunity to be thankful for NC and all that happens here?

  15. Eclair

    RE: Damages Done: The Longitudinal Impacts of Natural Hazards on Wealth Inequality in the United States.

    I skimmed this long research report and relayed its results to my spouse, who commented, wryly, ‘Now you know why the Fat Cats aren’t doing anything about climate change.”

    In sum, (and I may be missing some fine points here), the study followed individuals, from 2000 onwards, who had experienced natural disasters in the US. All were in areas receiving FEMA aid. Those experiencing increases in wealth were, tah dah, white. Where ‘white’ usually equals higher levels of initial wealth and education. Those experiencing decreases in wealth were, yes, black, hispanic, asian. I simplify here, but, shades of Naomi Klein’s “Disaster Capitalism!”

  16. Craig H.

    > Apple Co-Founder Claims Self-driving Isn’t Realistic, Sick of Lies

    Previously, Apple was said to have hundreds of employees working on an electrified, autonomous vehicle as part of Project Titan. Despite having the necessary testing permits, the company shifted toward developing software for self-driving applications in 2016. CEO Tim Cook confirmed that was the firm’s new focus in 2017 but analysts and industry insiders have continued to claim the Apple Car is still quietly in development.

    For years I heard the old Concord Naval Weapons Station was going to be the Apple robot car test track. It has finally opened. Apple ain’t there.

    Concord naval station site creates a roadmap for driverless cars 2 Aug 2018

    Honda, Uber’s Advanced Technology Group, French autonomous shuttle maker EasyMile and Chinese tech company Baidu are among the companies using the former naval station as a proving ground.

    The site is quite the odd sight in google satellite view if you are bored.

    I agree with Woz. I also am not an automotive engineer. This problem is analogous to how free market capitalism would work just fine if our society didn’t have so many thieves. The pro robots guys will admit privately all the cars have to be automated first. They seem to believe the robot programmers won’t be cheating either.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    These animals eat absurd amounts of food National Geographic (David L)

    Do we rank animals for their energy consumption per (animal) capita?

    The human animal (average for all humans on the planet) is at the top.

    Which is the second most energy consumer?

    We can similarly rank animals for their carbon emission.

    What are the top 10 carbon emitting animals?

    The next question is, should we shame them?

    Should we do something about them?

    Should we…well, ban them (except our selfish, ego-centric selves, of course)?

  18. crittermom

    As so often happens, the antidote has once again made me smile. Thanks.

    Leo is a handsome cat but appears a bit embarrassed to be captured in such an unflattering pose.
    Stephanie, perhaps a kitty treat is now in order?

    1. Stephanie

      Yes. Always treats, he and his brother are such good boys!!! Glad he made you smile! ❤️

  19. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Widely used reference for the human genome is missing 300 million bits of DNA MedicalXpress (Robert M)


    That is worse than the worse election in Florida…to miss 300 million votes (a bit of DNA is a vote for the human body).

    1. Kurtismayfield

      From the article:

      The largest section of unique DNA they found was 152,000 base pairs long, but most chunks were about 1,000-5,000 base pairs long.

      The small pieces were unlikely to be missed with the technology of the time… DNA fingerprinting was done by gels that had a resolution of about 1kbp if you were lucky. The large piece is about the size of a BAC. Someone probably mis mapped (sp?) the genome when it was being mapped out which BAC’s to sequence. How it was done was to pick BAC’s that overlapped each other. These were made in Pieter de Jong’s lab supplied by anonymous donors, and were sent to the labs who mapped and sequenced them out. You could figure out which chromosome it was on, and find out which of the main centers were working on it at the time if you want to point out who made the error.

    1. pjay

      C.J. Hopkins’ ‘Hitlergate’ essay, while it is “ROFL”, is also depressingly applicable here (and most other places in the MSM).

  20. Synoia

    “I Hereby Confess Judgment”

    There is something strange here:

    The couple had owned their agency, a Re/Max franchise, for three years and now had 50 employees, but they still weren’t turning a profit. A planned entry into the mortgage business was proving more expensive than expected.

    Entering the mortgage business is, at most, $500 expense, for NMLS licensing and some software.

    50 employees, Doing what, how many transactions? Not profitable? In this real estate market.

    The numbers stated just do not reflect reality.

    1. PKMKII

      My guess is that they weren’t acting as real estate agents directly, but had the franchise set up as a place for agents to work out of and they would take a cut of their work. It also notes in the article “He told the bank that one of the couple’s accounts held funds that didn’t belong to them because it was used to collect rent on behalf of landlords.” So there was probably some property management services being provided in addition to traditional real estate services.

    2. todde

      well ReMax and Motto Mortgage have their hands in their pockets with franchise fees and what-not.

      for Motto
      $25k initial franchise fee
      $4,800 fee per month

      Remax is
      $17.5 to 35k initial fee
      1% roylaty
      $255 a month per agent



  21. Samuel Conner

    Re: the drain clog post — some news you can use; a really useful “unplug” trick that may not be intuitively obvious

    I’m a physicist by training, but evidently a bit of a thickie (mr thick thickety thick-thing from Thicktown, Thickania) as this never occurred to me; was conveyed by a friend of a friend who is a professional plumber.

    Rather than using your rubber plunger to try to push blockages down, use it to pull them up toward the drain. Fill the basin with enough water to cover
    the plunger head, then collapse the head slowly to avoid pushing the blockage further in. Then get a good seal on the bottom of the basin (the water in the basin helps in case the seal is not perfect) and rapidly pull the plunger up. Repeat as needed. The basin may fill with nasty things drawn up through the pipe; remove this to a working drain as needed. Eventually you should either pull the blockage into the basin or else disrupt it enough that the basin drains.

    My friend of friend plumber confided that this would save my friend a lot of money. Why did I never think of this?

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Working my way through undergraduate school, I ran some apartments.

      1) Was called to unclog a toilet. Pulled a 12″ carrot, whole, out of the thing. The young mother had no idea how it got there.

      2) Was called to unclog a sink. Pulled the entire skeleton of a Thanksgiving turkey out of the pipes. Elderly woman didn’t want to walk it down to the dumpster.

      It is a thankless job.

  22. Wat

    I note in the confession of judgment Bloomberg article, it mentions a co-founder of the vulturine cash advance firm Yellowstone by last name only for the first time in the article. His name is “Stern”, and I imagine he must be David J. Stern the foreclosure king who was disbarred for his behavior as owner of the eponymous foreclosure factory law firm in Florida that took down so many borrowers in the aught decade. He must know the Sacklers……

  23. Michael McKaskle

    Thanks for the heads up on ‘Flushable’ wipes not belonging in drains. I just finished the Thanksgiving party at my local water and sewer district (I am on the board, NC readers should populate all the local boards in their area). Just last week I recorded a news story for our local radio station about the problem. A staff member just said they remove about half a 6 gallon bucket of mostly “flushable” wipes from the rakes we installed in the worst choke point in the system every day from our system which serves about 750 connections. Once 42 gallons were removed from a major clog.
    Wipes (and dental floss) clog and fry pumps costing ratepayers money and can cause sewage backups and spills which incur fines and spread poop around the town.
    Don’t flush the wipes (or dental floss, paper towels, clothing, Barbie dolls, plastic bags, or anything solid other than feces and toilet paper).

  24. Oregoncharles

    From “People are having less sex”: ” “No one approaches anyone in public anymore,” said a teacher in Northern Virginia. “The dating landscape has changed. People are less likely to ask you out in real life now, or even talk to begin with,” said a 28-year-old woman in Los Angeles who volunteered that she had been single for three years.

    (As romance and its beginnings are segregated from the routines of daily life, there is less and less space for elevator flirtation.)
    This shift seems to be accelerating amid the national reckoning with sexual assault and harassment, and a concomitant shifting of boundaries. According to a November 2017 Economist/YouGov poll, 17 percent of Americans ages 18 to 29 now believe that a man inviting a woman out for a drink “always” or “usually” constitutes sexual harassment. (Among older groups, much smaller percentages believe this.)

    I’m not sure I can respond to that in a family blog manner. It’s horrifying. It’s exactly what I feared: our culture is becoming more and more anti-human, and the attempts to correct sexual harassment are part of the problem.

    I feel sorry for young people. What a nightmare.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Darn – the quote from the article ends with the parenthesis: …much smaller percentages believe this.)”

      The rest is me.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Second thought: This means that our mating rituals, aka “dating,” are collapsing. Which could be just as well, but you have to wonder what will replace them. Go back to arranged marriages?

    3. John k

      A group of young sitting together are all on their phones. Little interest in engaging with the one next to them.
      It’s all good, we’ve got enough people.
      Japan birth rate is the model.

      1. Oregoncharles

        It’s the escalating social alienation that worries me, as well as the personal misery.

        You do realize there’ve been 3 or 4 episodes of mass murder because of it (according to the perpetrator), don’t you?

  25. ewmayer

    o “The microscopic structure of a cat’s tongue helps keep its fur clean Economist” — Actually, as illustrated vividly by today’s hilarious cat-idote, hours of daily licking helps cats keep their fur clean. But I’m sure the little specialized raspy thingies help in that regard. :)

    o “The Genius Neuroscientist Who Might Hold the Key to True AI | Wired” — Harold Finch? I heard he left the AI world behind after seeing too many of his friends killed as a result of it and got back together with his One and Only in her place of artistic exile, Italy. [Note there’s a real-life love story between those two, in addition to the TV-series one.]

    o “World’s first full-body medical scanner generates astonishing 3D images | New Atlas” — I’m sure it generates similarly astonishing billing amounts. See, this is a case where the post-9/11 national surveillance infrastructure could actually be leveraged to do some good – next time TSA requires $billions more for new full-body scanners, just start installing a few of these med-scanners at major airports, and give passengers who go through them a free digital copy of their scan which they can bring to their doctor. If you’re gonna get virtual-cavity-searched anyway, might as well get some useful-to-yourself data out of it!

    o “Romaine lettuce is not safe to eat, CDC warns U.S. consumers | Washington Post” — Alright, but apart from the great salads, the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health, what have the Romaines ever done for us?

    o “Wildfires Lead To Redder Sunsets And Cooler Temperatures In California | Forbes (David L)” — We are finally getting some direly-needed rainfall i NorCal today and the next few days. The problem? This is the first rain since beginning of October, we’ve 7 bone-dry intervening weeks, which were frequently warm and windy, to boot.

  26. Raulb

    What a scathing evisceration of ignorant libertarian hubris by Matthew Walther. This is not a review of Ray Dialo’s book, its the kind of mockery libertarians and their fellow neoliberal travellers should be subject to daily for impoverishing the world and producing specimens like this with billions of dollars in wealth but no self awareness, learning or basic human empathy completely absorbed in social darwinism and self love.

    1. cnchal

      Walther’s book review was quite harsh on Ray. After he extracted billions from society for himself he just wants to give some of it back in the form of pearls of wisdom called principles.

      The primary principle is to have no principles, and make them up and discard them as the situation requires, on the quest to strip society’s wealth. Now that Ray’s book is on some type of best sellers list, his readers can justify their own situational principles and pirate on. If Ray can do it, I can do it too!

  27. drumlin woodchuckles

    Since there is now a “California burning” category, perhaps comments relating to the singeing and charring of social trust in the wake of these fires might also be on point.

    One sign of such trust smoldering around the edges would be whether “conspiracy theories” about the fires . . . how diddit happen? if someone diddit, who diddit? etc. . . . become popular among large numbers of people if they feel they are not getting better answers.

    And if visible anomalies and off-the-normal fire-behavior strangeness are observed to be actually factual in the documentable material real world, a conspiracy theory might fill the vacuum of a studied refusal to find better answers.

    I just recently saw on You Tube a video pasting together footage of the burned-houses and burned-cars aftermath of some of these Northern California fires compared with what the video-maker says are normal house-fires and interspersed with video about US military laser weapon research. The conclusion this video doses its very hardest to suggest without overtly SAYING it . . . is that these houses were incinerated by US military laser-fire. That is a bigger leap than even my cynical mind is prepared to make. But if the fire-damage anomalies are really as anomalous as the video claims they are, then it would be good for outdoor fire-ologists to study these fires and these fire-scene aftermaths and find out what some real reasons might be.

    Anyway, here is the video.

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