Friday, May 19, 2017

Oscar Winning Movies & Biggest Box Office Hits From Your Birthday Year

Thrillist lists Oscar Winning Movies & Biggest Box Office Hits From Your Birthday Year. I've seen almost all the movies mentioned and while I can quibble a little bit, this is a list of very good movies. It's often hard to decide between the most fun or best movie, whatever that may mean. This list gets past that pretty well by listing the biggest box office, the best picture winner and someone's idea of best movie for each year.

My birth year was 1966, not a great year for movies. The Bible was the biggest hit and ... we'll... meh. I love A Man for All Seasons which won 6 the Oscars. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf is filled with virtuoso performance and two hours of yelling and won only 5 Oscars with 13 nominations. I'll add that I think the most fun movie of that year was The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

history of the entire world, i guess

Entertaining 20 min video of the history of the world. It starts a little slow (with the beginning of space and time) but once it gets to society it's really fun tracking all the civilizations of the world. Saying I learned a lot is going a bit far, but I watched as he described a fair number of things I didn't know. I think this would be fun for kids except for the swearing.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising.

Vox wrote A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising.

A few years ago, he set out to pull together the careful coverage of solutions that had so long been lacking. With the help of a little funding, he and a team of several dozen research fellows set out to ‘map, measure, and model’ the 100 most substantive solutions to climate change, using only peer-reviewed research. The result, released last month, is called Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming.

It is fascinating, a powerful reminder of how narrow a set of solutions dominates the public’s attention. Alternatives range from farmland irrigation to heat pumps to ride-sharing. The number one solution, in terms of potential impact? A combination of educating girls and family planning, which together could reduce 120 gigatons of CO2-equivalent by 2050 — more than on- and offshore wind power combined (99 GT).

They follow with an interesting interview.

See the list here.

Donald Trump: Inside the White House With the President

Time has a profile Donald Trump: Inside the White House With the President. IMHO he comes off as deranged.

To cope with this new reality, the President says he is trying a mindfulness trick: he has tried to tune out the bad news about himself. “I’ve been able to do something that I never thought I had the ability to do. I’ve been able not to watch or read things that aren’t pleasant,” he will say later in the night, listing off the networks he tries to tune out and the newspapers he struggles to skim. Of course, as his public outbursts indicate, he does not always succeed, but he says he no longer feels a need to know everything said about him. “In terms of your own self, it’s a very, very good thing,” he says. “The equilibrium is much better.”

I'm also saddened that Trump and I have something in common, a love of TiVo.

Trump says he used his own money to pay for the enormous crystal chandelier that now hangs from the ceiling. “I made a contribution to the White House,” he jokes. But the thing he wants to show is on the opposite wall, above the fireplace, a new 60-plus-inch flat-screen television that he has cued up with clips from the day’s Senate hearing on Russia. Since at least as far back as Richard Nixon, Presidents have kept televisions in this room, usually small ones, no larger than a bread box, tucked away on a sideboard shelf. That’s not the Trump way.

A clutch of aides follow him, including McMaster, Pence and press secretary Sean Spicer. The President raises a remote and flicks on the screen, sorting through old recordings of cable news shows, until he comes to what he is after: a clip from the Senate hearing earlier in the day, as broadcast on Fox News. The first clip he shows is of South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham speaking to former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Graham asks if Clapper stands by his statement that he knows of no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Trump waits quietly, until Clapper admits that nothing has changed. Trump pantomimes a sort of victory.

“Yes. He was choking on that,” the President chortles. “Is there any record at all of collusion? He was the head of the whole thing. He said no. That’s a big statement.” Trump leaves unmentioned the fact that there is an ongoing FBI counter intelligence investigation into possible collusion, which has not yet reached any conclusions. Nor does he note that Clapper, out of government for nearly four months, could not possibly know everything the FBI has learned, and likely would have not known all even when he was in office. Trump also leaves unmentioned that he had a meeting that day with his new Deputy Attorney General about firing Comey, the director of that investigation.

But for now, Trump is focused on his TV. He watches the screen like a coach going over game tape, studying the opposition, plotting next week’s plays. “This is one of the great inventions of all time—TiVo,” he says as he fast-forwards through the hearing.

The next clip starts to play, this time showing Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley asking Clapper and former acting Attorney General Sally Yates if they ever requested that the names of Trump, his associates or members of Congress be identified by name, or unmasked, in a legal intelligence intercept. “Watch them start to choke like dogs,” Trump says, having fun. “Watch what happens. They are desperate for breath.”

Clapper, on the screen, pauses several beats to search his memory. “Ah, he’s choking. Ah, look,” the President says. After a delay, Clapper finally answers, admitting that he had requested an unmasking, which would have been a routine occurrence in his former job. The running Trump commentary continues. “See the people in the back, people are gasping,” he says, though it’s unclear who he is referring to on the screen. He also mentions the sound of photographers’ cameras clicking on the television.

Moments later, the President watches as both Clapper and Yates testify that they had reviewed intercepts containing the unmasked identities of Trump, his associates and members of Congress. This, to Trump, is yet another victory, the lead-lined proof of his still unproven claim that Obama surveilled him before he was sworn in. “So they surveilled me,” he says. “You guys don’t write that—wiretapped in quotes. They surveilled me.”

UPDATE: Matthew Yglesias has a good take on this interview (and the Economist's), The latest Trump interview once again reveals appalling ignorance and dishonesty

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Sci-Fi Book Humble Bundle: Super Nebula Author Showcase

FYI, the Humble Book Bundle: Super Nebula Author Showcase presented by SFWA has a nice collection of science fiction for dirt cheap (no DRM, multi-format).

Latest Craziness is Crazy

It's completely absurd what's happened in the last 24-48 hours:

Inception Interpretation

I don't know how I've never come across this theory about Inception before. Hal Phillips, back in 2010 postulated that "It’s all a dream.  Ariadne (Ellen Page) is leading an inception on Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio).  The entire film is that inception, and we never see reality." He goes into good detail and I'll have to watch it again (I haven't seen it yet this year).

Rodney King Who?

Professor Ed wrote at Gin and Tacos All Right, All Right, All Right about how kids today don't know who Rodney King was.

"So he was OK?"

"He was beaten up pretty badly, but, ultimately he was. He died a few years ago from unrelated causes (note: in 2012)."

"It's kind of weird that everybody rioted over that. I mean, there's way worse videos." General murmurs of agreement.

This is a generation of kids so numb to seeing videos of police beating, tasering, shooting, and otherwise applying the power of the state to unarmed and almost inevitably black or Hispanic men that they legitimately could not understand why a video of cops beating up a black guy (who didn't even die for pete's sake!) was shocking enough to cause a widespread breakdown of public order. Now we get a new video every week – sometimes every few days – to the point that the name of the person on the receiving end is forgotten almost immediately.

Rare Clips from Hitchcock’s Unmade Found-Footage Project KALEIDOSCOPE

Witney Seibold writes in Blumhouse about a lost Hitchock project I didn't know about Rare Clips from Hitchcock’s Unmade Found-Footage Project KALEIDOSCOPE

KALEIDOSCOPE was, to put it in modern language, meant to be perhaps the very first ‘found footage’ or ‘mockumentary’ film. With photographer Arthur Schatz, Hitchcock staged some nudity-laced, crime-scene-like photos of the film’s potential victims — which, having seen them, may have indeed been too edgy for modern American audiences. Additionally, they shot some handheld motion picture scenes, wherein women were stalked.

It was even proposed that there was to be no sound in the film; the actors were to be unknowns, and the performers seen in the test footage are still unknowns to this day.

KALEIDOSCOPE was meant to be one of the darker, edgiest horror films ever made — it was, essentially, made to have the same sort of raw, fleshy terror as something like THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE, but with a classier and more experienced art director at the helm. It was meant to look like it was discovered after the fact, having been filmed by an unnamed voyeur who somehow had access to the dark sexual murders depicted."

There are short video clips embedded in the article.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hardware Wars

Wow, I don't think I've seen this since 1978 in the Jr High School cafeteria:

Supply-Side, Trickle-Down Nonsense on the New York Times Op-Ed Page

Last week the NY Times published an op-ed by the tax cutting foursome, Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur B. Laffer and Stephen Moore, Why Are Republicans Making Tax Reform So Hard?

And then Jared Bernstein ripped it apart Supply-side, trickle-down nonsense on the NYT oped page.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Here’s Why Juicero’s Press is So Expensive

I missed this whole uproar about a $700 Internet juicer. Ben Einstein explains, Here’s Why Juicero’s Press is So Expensive

Last week Bloomberg published an article exposing how easy it is to ‘hack’ Juicero’s produce packs by squeezing them with your hands, deeming the $699 (now $399) WiFi-connected juice press completely unnecessary. Nearly overnight, Juicero has become the posterchild for Silicon Valley excess.

Juicero raised nearly $120M from well-known investors before shipping a single unit. The team spent over two years building an incredibly complex product and the ecosystem to support it. Aside from the flagship juice press, Juicero built relationships with farmers, co-packing/food-processing facilities, complex custom packaging, beautifully designed mobile/web applications, and a subscription delivery service. But they did all this work without the basic proof that this business made sense to consumers."

It's a fun and pretty breakdown of the product. For any company there's a balance of speed, price and quality. This is what happens when you ignore the second one.

A Plea for Responsible and Contextualized Reporting on User Security

Zeynep Tufekci In Response to Guardian’s Irresponsible Reporting on WhatsApp: A Plea for Responsible and Contextualized Reporting on User Security. She basically rips them a new one. It's a nice article, with the details of the issue which act as a great example of the difficulties of making something secure against a variety of adversaries vs making it usable by a wide range of users.

Signal is well-designed. Many in the security community use and consistently recommend it. However, the very thing that makes Signal a recommendation for people at high risk—that it drops messages at any sign of hiccup—prevents a large number of ordinary people from adopting it. Our community has used Signal for a long time, and have been trying to convert people to it, but its inevitable delivery failures (some by design, to keep users safer, and some due to bandwidth or other issues) mean that we often cannot convince people to use it despite spending a lot of effort trying to convince them—even people who have a lot at stake. The reason people, including journalists and activists, use WhatsApp over Signal isn’t because people are flaky, but because in the real world, reliability, usability and a large user base are key to security.

WhatsApp effectively protects people against mass surveillance. Individually targeted attacks by powerful adversaries willing to put effort into compromising a single person are a different kind of threat. If that is the threat model in mind, then merely recommending Signal is irresponsible. Your reckless, uncontextualized piece posits a mythical Snowden-type character, with a powerful, massively resourced adversary, for whom WhatsApp would not be a good choice. From that it concludes that WhatsApp is unsafe for a billion people for whom it is, at the moment, among the best options for secure communication.

To further complicate things, switching to Signal may not be advisable in some settings, because it marks you as an activist. There are many threat models under which WhatsApp is the safest option, and there are reports of people around the world being jailed merely for having installed an encryption app. It’s fine to recommend Signal and to broaden its user base. It’s not fine to fearmonger and scare people away from WhatsApp (which runs the same protocol as Signal) because of a minor and defensible difference in the kind of warnings it gives and the blocking behavior of a few undelivered messages when someone changes phones or SIM cards.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The French, Coming Apart

This article by Christopher Caldwell, The French, Coming Apart, is a fascinating look at the French political landscape, and its impossible to not draw parallels to here in the US.

In France, a real-estate expert has done something almost as improbable. Christophe Guilluy calls himself a geographer. But he has spent decades as a housing consultant in various rapidly changing neighborhoods north of Paris, studying gentrification, among other things. And he has crafted a convincing narrative tying together France’s various social problems—immigration tensions, inequality, deindustrialization, economic decline, ethnic conflict, and the rise of populist parties. Such an analysis had previously eluded the Parisian caste of philosophers, political scientists, literary journalists, government-funded researchers, and party ideologues.

Guilluy is none of these. Yet in a French political system that is as polarized as the American, both the outgoing Socialist president François Hollande and his Gaullist predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy sought his counsel. Marine Le Pen, whose National Front dismisses both major parties as part of a corrupt establishment, is equally enthusiastic about his work. Guilluy has published three books, as yet untranslated, since 2010, with the newest, Le crépuscule de la France d’en haut (roughly: “The Twilight of the French Elite”), arriving in bookstores last fall. The volumes focus closely on French circumstances, institutions, and laws, so they might not be translated anytime soon. But they give the best ground-level look available at the economic, residential, and democratic consequences of globalization in France. They also give an explanation for the rise of the National Front that goes beyond the usual imputation of stupidity or bigotry to its voters. Guilluy’s work thus tells us something important about British voters’ decision to withdraw from the European Union and the astonishing rise of Donald Trump—two phenomena that have drawn on similar grievances.

If anyone with more direct knowledge of French politics would comment on this, I'd love to hear it. I searched briefly and didn't find much to contradict this article.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World's Face

This Alex Parenne piece made it onto my queue, aka backlog a couple of weeks ago. Then I saw it on Chris Hayes last night. The Long, Lucrative Right-wing Grift Is Blowing Up in the World's Face. It makes a couple of points I really agree with (ah confirmation bias). The first is how right wing media broke the Republican party:

Rather rapidly, two things happened: First, Republicans realized they’d radicalized their base to a point where nothing they did in power could satisfy their most fervent constituents. Then—in a much more consequential development—a large portion of the Republican Congressional caucus became people who themselves consume garbage conservative media, and nothing else.

That, broadly, explains the dysfunction of the Obama era, post-Tea Party freakout. Congressional Republicans went from people who were able to turn their bullshit-hose on their constituents, in order to rile them up, to people who pointed it directly at themselves, mouths open.

Now, we have a president whose media diet defines his worldview, interests, and priorities. He is not one of the men, like most of those Tea Party members of Congress, whose existing worldview determined his media diet—who sealed himself off from disagreeable media sources. He is, in fact, something far more dangerous: a confused old man who believes what the TV tells him.

The second is how the two parties behave:

Here’s the real, non-ideological difference between Republicans and Democrats:

Democrats by and large are convinced that no one actually supports their agenda, and they devote a not insignificant amount of time and political capital to explaining to their own constituents why they cannot pursue goals that a majority of them support. (“I supported single payer since before you were born,” says Nancy Pelosi, who has the legislative and leadership record of someone who may support single payer but clearly doesn’t actually expect it to happen in our lifetimes.)

Conservatives, especially those who came up during the Obama era, have, more or less, the opposite problem: They’ve convinced themselves that their agenda is hugely popular and that everyone supports them.

There’s actually been some research on this: Politicians—both liberal ones and conservative ones—believe that the electorate is more conservative than it actually is. Conservative politicians believe the electorate is much more conservative than it actually is. Once you learn this, suddenly a lot of things about how elected officials act make more sense.

The most important major divide among Congressional Republicans isn’t between moderates and conservatives, or establishment and anti-establishment politicians, but between those who know that their agenda is hugely unpopular and that they have to force it through under cover of darkness, and the louder, dumber ones who believe their own bullshit. And for those loud, dumb members, egged on by a media apparatus that has trained its audience to demand the impossible and punish the sell-outs who can’t deliver, those more tactical members are cowards and RINOs.

Jonathan Chait wrote Republicans Are Going to Wish Hillary Clinton Won

Imagine what the political world would look like for Republicans had Hillary Clinton won the election. Clinton had dragged her dispirited base to the polls by promising a far more liberal domestic agenda than Barack Obama had delivered, but she would have had no means to enact it. As the first president in 28 years to take office without the benefit of a Congress in her own party’s hands, she’d have been staring at a dead-on-arrival legislative agenda, all the low-hanging executive orders having already been picked by her predecessor, and years of scandalmongering hearings already teed up. The morale of the Democratic base, which had barely tolerated the compromises of the Obama era and already fallen into mutual recriminations by 2016, would have disintegrated altogether. The 2018 midterms would be a Republican bloodbath, with a Senate map promising enormous gains to the Republican Party, which would go into the 2020 elections having learned the lessons of Trump’s defeat and staring at full control of government with, potentially, a filibuster-proof Senate majority.

Instead, Republicans under Trump are on the verge of catastrophe. Yes, they are about to gain a Supreme Court justice, no small thing, a host of federal judges, and a wide array of deregulation. Yet they are saddled with not only the most unpopular president at this point in time in the history of polling, but the potential for a partywide collapse, the contours of which they have not yet imagined. The failure of the Republican health-care initiative was a sobering moment, when their early, giddy visions of the possibilities of full party control of government gave way to an ugly reality of dysfunction, splayed against the not-so-distant backdrop of a roiled Democratic voting base. They have ratcheted back their expectations. But they have not ratcheted them far enough. By the time President Trump has left the scene, what now looks like a shambolic beginning, a stumbling out of the gate, will probably feel like the good old days.

Josh Barro walked through why Tax reform doomed like healthcare reform.

The Journal's well-reported story amounts to this: President Donald Trump would like to sign a tax reform bill, but he and his aides have no vision for what the tax reform bill should say.

"Broadly, Mr. Trump wants a simpler tax code and lower business tax rates to stimulate investment and spur manufacturing," according to the WSJ.

That all sounds nice. But substantially everyone in Washington claims to be in favor of a simpler tax code that imposes lower rates on a broader tax base. Republicans and Democrats say this all the time, and yet, tax reform does not get done.

This is because, in practice, "simpler" means eliminating tax preferences that benefit various constituencies. When the specifics of "simplicity" get laid out, tax reform plans start to draw a lot of opposition.

He then expands on these four points:

  • The White House does not like Paul Ryan's plan
  • The White House does not have its own plan
  • The White House does not know what its coalition is to enact tax reform
  • All the White House knows is it wants Trump to sign a tax reform law

It's easy to extrapolate these points to every other issue. Matthew Yglesias does it, Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan is vaporware that’s never going to happen.

Donald Trump’s rambling, incoherent remarks on federal infrastructure spending during a wide-ranging interview with Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of the New York Times have set headline writers abuzz with the desire to extract some kind of meaning and news value from his comments. “Trump says infrastructure plan could top $1 trillion,” wrote Marketwatch, while Reuters reports that “Trump says he may use his $1 trillion infrastructure plan as a political incentive.” The Times reporters who conducted the interview — both New Yorkers like Trump, and veterans of the city hall beat — wrote it up as a local story: “Trump Weighs Infrastructure Bill but Keeps New York Up in the Air.”

The truest line in any of this comes from Haberman and Thrush themselves, who observe that Trump’s “knowledge of complex policy issues can sometimes be lacking.”

And to the extent that that’s news, it’s the only actual news Trump made on infrastructure. His remarks make it clear that he doesn’t know anything about the substance of the issue or about the relevant congressional procedures. He doesn’t appear to be familiar with the related provisions of his own administration’s budget, and he isn’t putting in the time to lay the political groundwork for any legislation. The trillion-dollar infrastructure plan doesn’t exist except as a line of rhetoric.

Martin Longman comments on Chiat's post saying Washington Monthly | Trump is Failing for Same Reason That Boehner Failed.

In truth, however, almost no Washington Republicans voted for Trump in the primaries. The elite conservative intelligentsia never saw Trump as fit for office, nor did they see him as an ideologically acceptable conservative. They had reconciled themselves to a Clinton presidency and were gearing up to win the battle over the autopsy of Trump’s campaign. Most of them did not want Trump to win and we’re relieved that the polls indicated that he had no chance to win.

Chait is correct that rank-and-file Republican voters largely stayed with Trump, meaning that they “brought disaster upon their country.” This led Trump to make a fatal miscalculation. He thought he won with a partisan vote so he should be able to govern with an exclusively partisan coalition. That was incorrect because his victory was a victory over both parties, and the Washington Establishment didn’t accept him irrespective of which party they represented.

Trump needed a bipartisan coalition from the moment he saw the surprising Electoral College results, and he had a major repair job to do if he was going to find any space on the left after insulting every ethnic and minority group in the country, running an explicitly racist campaign, and being exposed as a sexual predator. That was the moment when he needed to begin an aggressive pivot in both his style and rhetoric and in his legislative proposals.

At least at the outset, he had some alternatives. He might have tried to gain support for a legislative agenda that, while distinct from his campaign promises, was consistent with it in spirit. There were coalitions of Democrats who might have helped him figure out an alternative to the Trans-Pacific Partnership or ways to renegotiate NAFTA. He could have had support for an infrastructure bill that looked a lot like what President Obama had called for for years. Repeal and replace could have been softened into something less vindictive and more constructive. He could have consulted the Democrats on appointments to key administrative and cabinet positions.

In the end, this would have probably broken the House of Representatives in ways I have been advocating that it break ever since John Boehner discovered that he had to rely on Democratic votes to pass appropriations bills, pay the government’s debts, and keep the government’s doors open. Just as with Boehner, Trump’s true House majority would always have to be bipartisan if it were to be a majority at all.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why Hollywood’s writers are on the verge of a strike — and what it could mean for the industry

Vox explains Why Hollywood’s writers are on the verge of a strike — and what it could mean for the industry. Things are always more complex than they seem but I'm on the writers' side.

Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump

Kate Imbach posted an analysis of Melania Trumps twitter photos. Fairytale Prisoner by Choice: The Photographic Eye of Melania Trump "Melania posted five photographs of Trump with their son. She took each photo from behind the two, sometimes literally from the backseat. Boys in front, girls in the back, the same arrangement we were all so appalled to see on inauguration day, is her norm. She lives in the background."

It's all random speculation and a dark read.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Thor: Ragnarok Trailer Gives Us an Excuse to Do Physics

Wired has a cute article, The Thor: Ragnarok Trailer Gives Us an Excuse to Do Physics analyzing the physics of the Thor/Hulk punch in the new trailer. They embed some simulations using two things I'd hadn't heard of before. The embedding of code seems to happen via trinket and the code is using GlowScript IDE to do the physics animation.

A simple plan to end the Supreme Court confirmation wars for good

Ian Milhiser wrote in ThinkProgress, A simple plan to end the Supreme Court confirmation wars for good. I didn't know about The Missouri Plan

When a vacancy arises on the state’s supreme court, a seven person commission consisting of ‘three lawyers elected by the lawyers of The Missouri Bar . . . three citizens selected by the governor, and the chief justice’ submits three candidates to fill that vacancy to the state’s governor. The governor then has 60 days to choose among those three names. If the governor fails to meet this deadline, the commission selects one of the three.

Finally, after a year of service, the newly appointed judge must survive a retention election, where a majority of the electorate can cast them out of office — though this only happens rarely.

This method of judicial selection, as well as variants upon it, was adopted by many states since its inception in Missouri."

It’s not a perfect system. In Iowa, which uses variant on the Missouri system, three justices were removed from office after anti-LGBT groups campaigned against them due to their votes in support of marriage equality. In Arizona, which uses a Missouri-style commission but with significantly more gubernatorial appointees, a libertarian attorney with aggressive plans to roll back laws protecting workers recently joined the state supreme court. Judicial selection commissions neither eliminate politics entirely nor shield a state entirely from ideologues.

But they are a whole lot better than the world we live in now at the federal level, where no president is ever likely to appoint a justice again unless that justice shares the ideological preferences of a majority of the Senate.

Something is breaking American politics, but it's not social media

Ezra Klein writes about a new study Something is breaking American politics, but it's not social media:

Their approach is simple. Using data from the American National Election Survey, they compare the most web-savvy voters (the young, where 80 percent used social media in 2012) and the least web-savvy voters (the old, where fewer than 20 percent used social media in 2012) on nine different tests of political polarization. The measures cover everything from feelings about political parties to ideological consistency to straight-ticket voting, and the data shows how polarization changed among these groups between 1996 and 2012. The results? On fully eight of the nine measures, ‘polarization increases more for the old than the young.’ If Facebook is the problem, then how come the problem is worst among those who don’t use Facebook?

I asked Gentzkow what he thinks might be part of the fuller picture. “I have two main hypotheses,” he replied. “One is stuff that has nothing to do with media at all but is structural, like increasing income inequality. The second is non-digital media, and cable TV and talk radio in particular.” The latter piece makes particular sense if you think about the fact that older Americans make up the base of both the cable and talk radio audiences. More than a third of talk radio listeners are over age 65, and half of Fox News’s audience is over age 68. As bad as getting your news from Facebook can be, it’s often far better than relying on Fox News or Rush Limbaugh.

80 Years Ago SCOTUS decided NLRB v Jones & Laughlin Steel

ISCOTUS describes This Day in Supreme Court History—April 12, 1937.

In National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, ten former workers of Jones & Laughlin Steel brought a suit against the company, asserting that they were illegally fired after they attempted to unionize and join the Steel Workers Organizing Committee. The recently created National Labor Relations Board ordered Jones & Laughlin Steel to rehire the employees and compensate them for any back pay owed them.

After a string of controversial decisions striking down New Deal legislation, the Supreme Court changed course. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the bargaining provisions of the Wagner Act. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes delivered the opinion of the Court, arguing that the commerce power extended to regulations designed to prevent a potential strike at Jones & Laughlin, since a work stoppage would have an “immediate, direct, and paralyzing effect upon interstate commerce.” “Collective bargaining is often an essential condition of industrial peace,” Hughes asserted, and a “refusal to confer and negotiate has been one of the most prolific causes of strife.”

The decision was a landmark ruling on the meaning of the Commerce Clause. Its reasoning granted far more authority to Congress to regulate economic relations than the Court had previously allowed. It was also a major victory for industrial and factory workers across the country. The Wagner Act helped usher in a new era of labor relations, one in which union power, backed by the authority of the federal government, entered into negotiations with industry on far more equal footing than before.

Space Stuff

Universe explains SpaceX Just Re-Used a Rocket. Why This Changes Everything ""

Hubble Takes Advantage of Opposition To Snap Jupiter

On April, 7th, 2017, Jupiter will come into opposition with Earth. This means that Earth and Jupiter will be at points in their orbit where the Sun, Earth and Jupiter will all line up. Not only will this mean that Jupiter will be making its closest approach to Earth – reaching a distance of about 670 million km (416 million mi) – but the hemisphere that faces towards us will be fully illuminated by the Sun.

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Juno Sees Overlapping Colliding Clouds on Jupiter

The Juno mission has made some remarkable finds since it reached Jupiter in July of 2016. During the many orbits it has made around Jupiter’s poles – which occur every 53 days – some stunning imagery has resulted. Not only have these pictures revealed things about Jupiter’s atmosphere, they have also been an opportunity for the public to participate in the exploration of this giant planet.

New Up-Close Image of Jupiter's Stormy Clouds is Mind-Blowing

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The Verge on Astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly on NASA’s twin experiment and the future of space travel

Mark and Scott Kelly are the only twins that have ever traveled to space — and their experience will be invaluable if we want to get to Mars one day.

Between 2015 and 2016, Scott spent 340 days on the International Space Station, while his genetically identical twin Mark stayed on Earth to function as a control subject. Before, during, and after Scott’s trip, the brothers have been giving NASA numerous biological samples — blood, saliva, poop, you name it. By comparing Scott’s samples with Mark’s, NASA is trying to understand what long-term space travel does to our bodies.

Some preliminary findings have already come out. One study showed that Scott’s DNA changed while he was in space: his telomeres — the protective caps on the end of DNA strands — were unexpectedly longer than Mark’s. (Telomere length can affect aging and age-associated diseases.) Another study showed that there were major fluctuations in Scott’s gut bacteria while he lived in zero-g compared to his twin.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Astronomers just turned on a planet-size telescope to take a picture of a black hole

Vox has a nice piece with some good videos describing how Astronomers just turned on a planet-size telescope to take a picture of a black hole .

Because Sagittarius A is so small, and surrounded by so much occluding material, it’s going to take a huge telescope to see it. According to Nature, it would take a telescope 1,000 times more powerful than Hubble to get enough resolution to see it.

So how does the Event Horizon Telescope solve this problem? Conventional optical telescopes use bigger and bigger mirrors to see objects smaller and farther away in the universe. The Event Horizon Telescope is doing something similar: It’s creating a virtual telescope the size of the entire Earth.

The Event Horizon team is connecting radio telescopes at eight locations across the world — as far-flung as Hawaii and the South Pole — and instructing them all to look toward Sagittarius A for a few days. The network is the result of an international collaboration of 14 research institutions across the world.