Wednesday, August 16, 2017

But What About Her Emails

Almost exactly a year ago Hillary warned us about the “radical fringe” that Trump was enabling. It’s 30 mins long and I just listened it to again. It was a good speech. The speaker sounded sane and rational which was refreshing. Also prescient which was scary. I think it’s worth the time to hear it.

Here’s the transcript, annotated at the time by the Washington Post.

The New York Times said Hillary Clinton Denounces the ‘Alt-Right,’ and the Alt-Right Is Thrilled. They liked the publicity, much like Trump likes when anyone talks about him in the news, for good or bad. This week I heard someone blame the rise of the alt-right on this speech more than what Trump has done. That the Democrats always play “the racist card”.

Ed Kilgore called it a calculated risk. Republican advisor and pundit Pratik Chougule said it will backfire. Grace Wyler in Vice gave what I found to be the most balanced crtique, How Hillary Clinton’s Attack on the Alt-Right Went Wrong. Here are three excerpts:

What made Clinton’s speech so remarkable—and so effective—was that everything she said was simply true. In fact, her remarks were surprisingly lacking in hyperbole, both in terms of what she said and the even-keeled, almost grandmotherly way in which she said it. Almost none of the material was new—bloggers and pundits have been cataloguing the deranged controversies she mentioned or months. In aggregate, though, it was a cogent reminder that the Republican Party has nominated a lunatic as its presidential candidate. It was also further confirmation of just how depressing and gross the presidential race has become.

The jubilation of “racialists” and white identarians aside, Clinton’s focus on the alt-right also misses, or ignores, the broader economic and social anxieties—specifically, financial angst and resentments over globalization and immigration—that have, to varying extents, fueled Trump’s rise and that of similar political movements in other parts of the world. And while the question of whether Trump’s support is better explained by racial fears or economic ones has been the subject of heated debate this election cycle, a new report from the McKinsey Global Institute suggests that there’s a strong link.

Of course, there is still time for Clinton to start such a conversation. However, her speech Thursday suggests that the campaign remains focused on casting Trump as unhinged, and creating racist bogeymen that will drive Democrats to the polls in November. Considering that Clinton is more than 10 points ahead of Trump in the most recent national poll, that strategy may work. But calling Trump a racist won’t change the economic and political climate that allowed him and his friends on the alt-right to thrive. In fact, it might just make it worse.

At the time Trump said:

“It’s the oldest play in the Democratic playbook,” Trump said. “When Democratic policies fail, they are left with only this one tired argument: ‘You’re racist, you’re racist, you’re racist.’ … Hillary Clinton isn’t just attacking me. She is attacking all of the decent people of all backgrounds who support this incredible, once-in-a-lifetime movement.”

And Kellyanne Conway said:

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said Thursday’s speech “proved to the American public what we have known all along – Hillary Clinton has no hope, no vision and no ideas for the future of our country. Clinton lied about her emails, she lied about Colin Powell, and today she lied about Donald Trump. Donald Trump is talking about issues; Hillary Clinton is talking about Donald Trump. Today, as she took a break from her Hillary-in-Hiding Tour, she missed another opportunity to talk about education, infrastructure, terrorism, healthcare, the economy and energy. We’re living in her head rent-free, and that must terrify the political insiders who want to keep things exactly the way they are.”

So that worked. Hillary had a ton of detailed policy positions on her website and she told people to check them out. Hillary spoke about her positions often, but the press rarely covered those parts of her speeches. In the debates she told people to check out her policy details at her website, no one did. At the time Trump had virtually no plans, at one point he had a six pager on his immigration plan. It’s since been proven what many of us thought at the time, that he had no healthcare plan, no secret plan to defeat ISIS in 30 days, no plan to pay for his wall, no plan for the economy other than “it will be great”. Instead the news covered his latest outrageous statements and her emails and that’s all anyone thought about for the election. Plenty of people still think she would have been just as bad or couldn’t get over her emails. Look what that got us.

Lawrence Lessig says that money in politics isn’t the most important issue but it is the first issue because nothing can be fixed until we fix that one. I and others fear that the Republican party has lost the ability to be rational on policy. They deny climate change. They irrationally rail against healthcare reform with no plan of their own. Their economic plan is to give tax breaks to the rich while telling poor people it will trickle down to them while that’s been disproven and the result is the poor will lose their safety net which is Paul Ryan’s goal. Instead I think the first problem we need to fix is that we as a nation have lost the ability to rationally hold elections.

On Saturday John McCain posted to Facebook his comments about Charlottesville that I thought were quite good. The Facebook comments to his post disturbed me as much as anything I’ve seen on the Internet in a long time. There was typical Internet bile: The violence was a false flag operation paid for by George Soros or “The leftist are to blame for this period. This was a Bernie supporter who used his car to kill the far left.” But there were plenty that struck me as just misinformed: It was just people protesting the removal of a statue and they were attacked by antifa. They got a permit. “Why are the whites being called Nazis when they did the right things?”.

Their news told them this. And what I didn’t see too much of from pundits yesterday evening was the fact that Trump Cribbed His Charlottesville Press Conference Straight From Fox News. This is what conservative media is passing to their listeners. Vox talked to 13 Alabama conservatives on Charlottesville and the comments are astounding. It’s Obama’s fault. “I suspect that leftist groups bused in a bunch of thugs so the leftist media could beat this narrative about evil.” “ I think that news media, Hollywood, and Democratic politicians are the top three entities that can gain from something like that.” I don’t think is a common view but this was my favorite comment: “ I don’t think Gen. Lee would be disappointed in them moving the statue because I think he would want to preserve the union.”

What has me so disheartened is I don’t know how we come together unless people stop listening to it or it becomes rational, and I don’t know how either of those things happen. I know there are rational Republican officials that are hesitant to speak out against it because their media will turn on them. But I think they need to read Profiles in Courage and find strength in numbers. I hope there’s a good sized block of rational conservatives that will support them.

Update: How apropos, now I see this:

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University today released a comprehensive analysis of online media and social media coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign. The report, “Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” documents how highly partisan right-wing sources helped shape mainstream press coverage and seize the public’s attention in the 18-month period leading up to the election.

Time to get reading…

Update: Media Matters has a video showing Trump’s statements compared to those on Fox News

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA

Wired reports Biohackers Encoded Malware in a Strand of DNA “In new research they plan to present at the USENIX Security conference on Thursday, a group of researchers from the University of Washington has shown for the first time that it’s possible to encode malicious software into physical strands of DNA, so that when a gene sequencer analyzes it the resulting data becomes a program that corrupts gene-sequencing software and takes control of the underlying computer. While that attack is far from practical for any real spy or criminal, it’s one the researchers argue could become more likely over time, as DNA sequencing becomes more commonplace, powerful, and performed by third-party services on sensitive computer systems. And, perhaps more to the point for the cybersecurity community, it also represents an impressive, sci-fi feat of sheer hacker ingenuity.”

Friday, July 14, 2017

One of the Greatest Science Fiction Magazines Is Now Available For Free Online

The Verge reports One of the greatest science fiction magazines is now available for free online “If you like classic science fiction, one of the genre’s best magazines can now be found online for free. Archive.org is now home to a collection of Galaxy Science Fiction, which published some of the genre’s best works, such as an early version of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Alfred Bester’s The Demolished Man.”

Here it is: Galaxy Magazine at archive.org.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Top 10 Movie Crimes of All Time

Another CineFix Top 10 list, this time, the Top 10 Movie Crimes of All Time. I think I’ve seen all but two movies mentioned in this. I love crime movies.

Ok, here’s every film mentioned. I’ve seen all but those emphasized and one of those I’m gonna watch tonight.

  • 1931 M
  • 1941 The Maltese Falcon
  • 1944 Double Indemnity
  • 1946 The Postman Always Rings Twice White Heat
  • 1949 The Third Man
  • 1949 White Heat
  • 1950 Rashomon
  • 1950 The Asphalt Jungle
  • 1951 Strangers on a Train
  • 1954 Dial M for Murder
  • 1955 Rififi
  • 1956 The Killing
  • 1957 12 Angry Men
  • 1958 Vertigo
  • 1960 Breathless
  • 1960 Ocean’s 11
  • 1964 Topkapi
  • 1967 Bonnie and Clyde
  • 1967 Cool Hand Luke
  • 1967 Le Samourai
  • 1968 The Thomas Crown Affair
  • 1969 The Italian Job
  • 1970 Le Cercle Rouge
  • 1973 The Sting
  • 1974 Chinatown
  • 1974 Murder on the Orient Express
  • 1975 Dog Day Afternoon
  • 1976 Taxi Driver
  • 1981 Thief
  • 1983 Scarface
  • 1987 My Best Friends Birthday
  • 1987 Raising Arizona
  • 1988 Die Hard
  • 1990 Miller’s Crossing
  • 1991 Cape Fear
  • 1991 Point Break
  • 1991 Silence of the Lambs
  • 1992 Reservoir Dog
  • 1993 True Romance
  • 1994 Léon The Professional
  • 1994 Natural Born Killers
  • 1995 Heat
  • 1995 Se7en
  • 1995 The Usual Suspects
  • 1996 Fargo
  • 1996 From Dusk Til Dawn
  • 1998 Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
  • 1998 Ronin
  • 1999 Boondock Saints
  • 1999 Office Space
  • 2000 Chopper
  • 2000 Memento
  • 2000 O Brother, Where Art Thou?
  • 2000 Sexy Beast
  • 2000 Snatch
  • 2001 Heist
  • 2001 Ichi the Killer
  • 2001 Ocean’s Eleven
  • 2001 The Score
  • 2002 25th Hour
  • 2002 Catch Me If You Can
  • 2003 Oldboy
  • 2004 Collateral
  • 2004 With Blood on My Hands: Pusher II
  • 2005 Brick
  • 2006 Inside Man
  • 2006 Lucky Number Sleven
  • 2006 The Departed
  • 2007 Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead
  • 2007 Mr. Brooks
  • 2007 No Country For Old Men
  • 2007 Zodiac
  • 2008 Bronson
  • 2008 Taken
  • 2008 The Brothers Bloom
  • 2009 A Prophet
  • 2010 I Saw the Devil
  • 2010 Inception
  • 2011 Drive
  • 2011 We Need to Talk About Kevin
  • 2013 Blue Ruin
  • 2013 The Wolf of Wall Street
  • 2014 Gone Girl
  • 2016 Hell or High Water

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Complete Guide to the Religions of Game of Thrones

As I've only watched the HBO series and haven't read the books, I found this Complete Guide to the Religions of Game of Thrones to be very informative.

We Have a New Delaware Sized Iceberg

Project MIDAS reports that that Delaware-sized Antartica iceberg they've been watching finally broke free, Larsen C calves trillion ton iceberg. > A one trillion tonne iceberg – one of the biggest ever recorded - has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica. The calving occurred sometime between Monday 10th July and Wednesday 12th July 2017, when a 5,800 square km section of Larsen C finally broke away. The iceberg, which is likely to be named A68, weighs more than a trillion tonnes. Its volume is twice that of Lake Erie, one of the Great Lakes. > The iceberg weighs more than a trillion tonnes (1,000,000,000,000 metric tonnes), but it was already floating before it calved away so has no immediate impact on sea level. The calving of this iceberg leaves the Larsen C Ice Shelf reduced in area by more than 12%, and the landscape of the Antarctic Peninsula changed forever. > Although the remaining ice shelf will continue naturally to regrow, Swansea researchers have previously shown that the new configuration is potentially less stable than it was prior to the rift. There is a risk that Larsen C may eventually follow the example of its neighbour, Larsen B, which disintegrated in 2002 following a similar rift-induced calving event in 1995. > The Larsen C Ice Shelf, which has a thickness of between 200 and 600 metres, floats on the ocean at the edge of The Antarctic Peninsula, holding back the flow of glaciers that feed into it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Kansas, Sam Brownback, and the Trickle-Down Implosion

Justin Miller wrote about Kansas, Sam Brownback, and the Trickle-Down Implosion. "The Kansas governor’s attempt to create supply-side nirvana in Middle America not only failed to grow the economy—it created a crippling crisis of government that led to a statewide rejection of his politics." Martin Longman says Democrats Need to Educate People About Kansas. > There’s a lot of value in what Brownback did to Kansas because it gives us a chance to compare what the Republicans say will happen for education, employment, economic growth, and budgeting health if they get to implement their policies and what will actually happen. > In short, things got so bad that the Republican-dominated legislature overrode Brownback’s veto and passed a budget that, among other things, rolled back his tax cuts and provided more funding for schools. > The Democrats should not ignore these results. They should study them and they should figure out a way to highlight them relentlessly so that as many people as possible internalize the lessons. > In the end, it was Republican lawmakers who had seen enough and voted to override their governor’s veto. But they had to learn the hard way, and Republicans from other states and in Congress show no signs that they’re going to alter their ideology as a result of seeing it fail so spectacularly when given a real chance to succeed.

The ‘i Before e, Except After c’ Rule Is a Giant Lie

Wonkblog explains The ‘i before e, except after c’ rule is a giant lie "'This addendum to the rule completely useless,’ Cunningham writes. ‘You still have roughly three to one odds that the ‘i’ goes first.’"

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Seat 14C: Online Time Travel Sci-Fi Anthology

Ars Technica writes Read some seriously strange time travel stories from sci-fi’s modern masters: > A flight from Tokyo to San Francisco jumps though time and lands 20 years in the future. That's the short version of a writing prompt taken up by 22 of today's most exciting science fiction writers, each of whom contributed stories about the flight's temporally dislocated passengers to an anthology called Seat 14C. Now you can read the book for free online, and I guarantee you'll be engrossed. > You'll find original stories by Hugh Howey, Nancy Kress, Chen Qiufan, Bruce Sterling, Charles Yu, Charlie Jane Anders, Margaret Atwood, Madeline Ashby, Gregory Benford, Daniel Wilson, Eileen Gunn, and more. Each author interpreted the prompt in his or her own way, resulting in a fascinating selection of very different kinds of stories. Twenty-two incredible artists illustrated the stories, and we have a selection of their work in the gallery above. Some of these tales are about weird new technologies, some are about social changes, and others are about the tragedy of being marooned in an unknown future. I haven't read the stories yet but I don't love the site design. I had some trouble with scrolling on the iPad though it seems to work fine on my mac.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trump Is What Happens When a Political Party Abandons Ideas

Reagan advisor Bruce Bartlett says "[Trump is what happens when a political party abandons ideas](http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/24/intellectual-conservatives-lost-republican-trump-215259), demonizes intellectuals, degrades politics and simply pursues power for the sake of power." > Trump has turned out to be far, far worse than I imagined. He has instituted policies so right wing they make Ronald Reagan, for whom I worked, look like a liberal Democrat. He has appointed staff people far to the right of the Republican mainstream in many positions, and they are instituting policies that are frighteningly extreme. Environmental Protection Administration Administrator Scott Pruitt proudly denies the existence of climate change, and is doing his best to implement every item Big Oil has had on its wish list since the agency was established by Richard Nixon. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is actively hostile to the very concept of public education and is doing her best to abolish it. Every day, Attorney General Jeff Sessions institutes some new policy to take incarceration and law enforcement back to the Dark Ages. Trump’s proposed budget would eviscerate the social safety net for the sole purpose of giving huge tax cuts to the ultrawealthy. > And if those policies weren’t enough, conservatives—who, after all, believe in liberty and a system of checks and balances to restrain the government to its proper role—have plenty of reason to be upset by those actions Trump has taken that transcend our traditional right-left ideological divide. He’s voiced not only skepticism of NATO, but outright hostility to it. He’s pulled America back from its role as an international advocate for human rights. He’s attacked the notion of an independent judiciary. He personally intervened to request the FBI to ease up on its investigation of a former adviser of his, then fired FBI Director James Comey and freely admitted he did so to alleviate the pressure he felt from Comey’s investigation. For those conservatives who were tempted to embrace a “wait-and-see” approach to Trump, what they’ve seen, time and again, is almost unimaginable. He describes the history of the GOP after Goldwater as becoming more inclusive, intellectual and policy minded in the late 70s and under Reagan and Bush Sr. Then... > Republicans took control of Congress in 1994 after nationalizing the election into broad themes and catchphrases. Newt Gingrich, the marshal of these efforts, even released a list of words Republican candidates should use to glorify themselves (common sense, prosperity, empower) and hammer their opponents (liberal, pathetic, traitors); soon, every Republican in Congress spoke the same language, using words carefully run through focus groups by Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Budgets for House committees were cut, bleeding away policy experts, and GOP committee chairs were selected based on loyalty to the party and how much money they could raise. Gone were the days when members were incentivized to speak with nuance, or hone a policy expertise (especially as committee chairs could now serve for only six years). In power, Republicans decided they didn’t need any more research or analysis; they had their agenda, and just needed to get it enacted. Only a Democratic president stood in their way, and so 100 percent of Republicans’ efforts went into attempting to oust or weaken Bill Clinton and, when that failed, elect a Republican president who would do nothing but sign into law bills passed by the GOP Congress. > President George W. Bush didn’t realize he was supposed to just be a passive bill-signing machine; he kept insisting that Republicans enact his priorities, which, often, were not very conservative—No Child Left Behind Act, steel tariffs, a tax cut with few supply-side elements. His worst transgression, for me, was the budget-busting Medicare Part D legislation, which massively expanded the welfare state and the national debt, yet was enthusiastically supported by a great many House conservatives, including Congressman Paul Ryan, who had claimed to hold office for the purpose of abolishing entitlement programs. Republican hypocrisy on the issue caused me to become estranged from my party. > In the 14 years since then, I have watched from the sidelines as Republican policy analysis and research have virtually disappeared altogether, replaced with sound bites and talking points. The Heritage Foundation morphed into Heritage Action for America, ceasing to do any real research and losing all its best policy experts as it transformed from an august center whose focus was the study and development of public policy into one devoted mainly to amplifying political campaign slogans. Talk radio and Fox News, where no idea too complicated for a mind with a sixth-grade education is ever heard, became the tail wagging the conservative dog. Conservative magazines like National Review, which once boasted world-class intellectuals such as James Burnham and Russell Kirk among its columnists, jumped on the bandwagon, dumbing itself down to appeal to the common man, who is deemed to be the font of all wisdom. (For example, the magazine abandoned the ecumenical approach to immigration of Reagan, who granted amnesty to undocumentedimmigrants in 1986, to a rigid anti-immigrant policy largely indistinguishable from the one Trump ran on.) > One real-world result of the lobotomizing of conservative intellectualism is that when forced to produce a replacement for Obamacare—something Republican leaders had sworn they had in their pocket for eight years—there was nothing. Not just no legislation—no workable concept that adhered to the many promises Republicans had made, like coverage for pre-existing conditions and the assurance that nobody would lose their coverage. You’d think that House Speaker Ryan could have found a staff slot for one person to be working on an actual Obamacare replacement all these years, just in case. He sees a future path > Conservatives are starting to accept that Trump is not the leader they had hoped for and is more of a liability for their agenda than an asset. They are also starting to recognize that their intellectual infrastructure is badly damaged, in need of repair, and that the GOP and intellectual conservatism are not interchangeable. The Heritage Foundation recently fired its president, former Senator Jim DeMint, in part because he had allowed its research capabilities to deteriorate. The journal National Affairs aspires to be the serious, conservative policy-oriented journal that The Public Interest was. And some leaders, like Bill Kristol, have courageously stood up against the GOP’s pervasive Trumpism (“I look forward to the day when American conservatism regains its moral health and political sanity, and the David Horowitz center is back on the fringe, where I’m afraid it belongs,” Kristol recently told the Washington Post). > These are small steps, and promising—you have to start somewhere, after all—but what conservative intellectuals really need for a full-blown revival is a crushing Republican defeat—Goldwater plus Watergate rolled into one. A defeat so massive there can be no doubt about the message it sends that Trumpian populism and anti-intellectualism are no path to conservative policy success. In the meantime, there are hopeful signs that the long-dormant moderate wing of the GOP is coming alive again. In Kansas, Trumpian Governor Sam Brownback was recently rebuked when a Republican-controlled Legislature overrode his veto to raise taxes after the cuts previously enacted by Brownback proved disastrous to the state’s finances. And although their efforts have been modest thus far, moderate Republicans in Congress have helped soften Republican initiatives on health, the budget and gays.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The tragedy of FireWire: Collaborative tech torpedoed by corporations

Ars Technica tells the story of the betamax of cables: The tragedy of FireWire: Collaborative tech torpedoed by corporations. Today Apple seems happy to keep it's lightening connectors to itself. I'm not sure about Thunderbolt 3. I confuse it with USB-C (which is just the connector and different from USB 3.1 which is the interface and more comparable). My 2012 iMac has 2 Thunderbolt 1 connectors and I've never used them because the USB 3.0 versions of hard drives have always been much cheaper.

Fantastic Words and Where Not To Find Them

I really enjoy Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. Last night she had a great segment on "Trump's bastardization of words and language". [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Bnevx7vco&w=560&h=315] On the less funny side, Trevor Noah last night had a heart felt segment on what the Philando Castil case means. Warning, this clip include the video of the shooting, you can skip to 1m30s to avoid it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Trevor Noah on Being Stopped While Black

Salon pointed me at this Trevor Noah claims he’s been stopped by cops 8 to 10 times in 6 years. Here's 5.5 minute video of what I assume his talking to the audience between segments of the The Daily Show. It's fascinating. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aufMdURbitU&w=560&h=315]

Scott Forstall breaks silence to talk about the iPhone’s creation

The Verge writes Scott Forstall breaks silence to talk about the iPhone’s creation. The video is embedded on that page and it's connected to Facebook and I can't easily embed it here, but I found it very interesting. It's two hours but Forstall's segment is just the second hour. Lots of good stories about Apple and Steve Jobs, well worth the hour to listen.

FBI Says Shooting At GOP Baseball Practice Seems To Have Been Spontaneous

So the FBI has released some information about James Hodgkinson, the man who fired at the GOP baseball practice. Here's NPR's story: Shooting At GOP Baseball Practice Seems To Have Been Spontaneous, FBI Says. Basically it looks like a guy that was going through hard times, living out of his car, talking about going back to his wife and not happy with politics. But there's no evidence that he planned anything or even knew about the baseball practice. It looks like a spontaneous decision. And if we look at gun violence in the US a lot of it works that way. Most gun deaths are suicides and most homicides are domestic violence. And if guns weren't available to the shooters there's good evidence that the violence wouldn't happen, it's not just that they'd find alternate weapons to use. The first research into gun deaths started to reveal that and gun rights activists got nervous and banned federal funding of additional research, but that's what we understand. Oh and Hodgkinson has some history of domestic violence, that's probably the strongest indicator of gun violence. Meanwhile the NY Times story on this FBI announcement has a completely indefensible headline: Gunman in Lawmaker Shooting Had Photographed Washington Landmarks, F.B.I. Says. If you lead with that, I think you're implying something. Maybe he was going to do something (like shoot) at those landmarks. Except, then you realize that if you've ever been to DC you "Photographed Washington Landmarks" too. If you read the first paragraph of their story you'll find: > The 66-year-old gunman who opened fire one week ago on members of Congress at a Northern Virginia ball field had photographed Washington landmarks including the Library of Congress, the Supreme Court and the Capitol, the F.B.I. said Wednesday, but the agency did not believe those sites were targets. So the FBI doesn't believe they were targets what's the newsworthiness of his photos? Did he also have cat photos? Certainly what's the reason to put them in the headline?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

State of Climate Change

The Verge writes It’s so hot in Phoenix, planes are physically unable to fly. I have friends that live in Phoenix and they've told me previously that the airport shuts down at 120° As Natasha Geiling points out Extreme heat is one of the clearest and more defining characteristics of global warming. > But as Arizona-based meteorologist Eric Holthaus noted on Twitter, Arizona has seen a marked jump in the average number of days above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in recent years — in Tucson for instance, the number of extremely hot days has increased 55 percent in the last 30 years. > Extreme heat is one of the clearest and more defining characteristics of global warming, according to more than 20 different scientific studies that looked at the connection between climate change and extreme heat events. A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Hawaii found that nearly a third of the world’s population is currently exposed to dangerous heatwaves for 20 or more days per year because of global warming. And, the researchers warn, that number could climb even higher — to almost half of the world’s population by 2100 — if carbon emissions are not dramatically reduced. Meanwhile, Rick Perry says carbon dioxide is not a primary driver of climate change. A quick reading of that headline makes it sound worse than it is, but the GOP messaging on this topic is frightening muddled and dangerous. > In an interview with CNBC on Monday, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that carbon dioxide emissions from human activities aren't the primary driver of climate change. Instead, the former Texas governor responded that "most likely the primary control knob is the ocean waters and this environment that we live in." > It’s unclear how Perry envisions this “control knob” and how it works; a generous analysis of his answer would be that he misunderstood the question. Ocean waters absorb carbon dioxide and are changing, much like climate, because of it. And the oceans have short-term cycles that influence equally short-term temperature trends. But those cycles can't drive the ever-upward trend in temperature. > Oddly, Perry continued by affirming that climate change is happening and that we have to do something about it. The secretary told CNBC, “The fact is, this shouldn't be a debate about 'Is the climate changing? Is man having an effect on it?' Yeah, we are. The question should be just how much, and what are the policy changes that we need to make to effect that?" And shockingly, it seems Exxon, Shell, and BP support a Republican plan to do something about climate change. Again, a quick reading of this headline would make you think that Republicans want a carbon tax, but it's of course not true. > A group of major businesses, including Johnson & Johnson, General Motors, and fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil, BP, and Shell, announced Tuesday they have joined a Republican-led council that proposes to put a $40 tax on carbon emissions. > The companies, along with a list of high profile business people and two environmental groups, are part of the Climate Leadership Council, whose platform was written by former cabinet members James Baker and George Shultz. So it's a group that includes former Republican leaders who now have no effect on the party. > Representatives from the council met with the White House in February, but there have been no signs from the administration that a carbon tax is on the table. To the contrary, President Trump has moved significantly away from climate action. His EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, has rolled back a number of rules intended to limit greenhouse gas emissions, and the president himself announced that the United States would leave the historic Paris climate agreement, a 2015 pact to limit warming to less than 2°C (3.6°F).

Friday, June 16, 2017

Healthcare Now Fully Politicized

Vox asked 8 Senate Republicans to explain what their health bill is trying to do and the answers are all political. Basically they're trying to fulfill their promise to repeal and replace Obamacare but they don't have any agreement (or seemingly knowledge of) the specifics of the healthcare issues that Americans are facing and what policies might actually improve them. When I hear Trump talk on some policy it's obvious to me that he has no understanding of any details of the issue. The replies by these Senators sounds almost as ignorant. The party's goal is to pass *something*, it doesn't really matter what, they can't agree because individually their members want different things, there's little if any shared knowledge no the specifics of the problems or the possible solutions. They know premiums are high but don't understand why or what would lower them, and they know that some counties have lost all insurers though it's not clear they know just how many or what would bring insurers back. Sarah Cliff is a bit more blunt, I’ve covered Obamacare since day one. I’ve never seen lying and obstruction like this.. Now I know Democrats understand the issues more fully. They know that some young and healthy people have chosen to not buy insurance and that getting them into the pool will lower premiums on average. There are ways to do that, raise the tax fee for not having insurance (that is enforcing the individual mandate) would accomplish that. They know that insurers have found that people are sicker than expected and with the threat of repeal and Trumps cut back on signup advertising there are fewer enrollees so insurers are dropping out of the markets. Stopping the repeal talk, advertising, and enforcing the individual mandate would help stabilize the markets. A public option would ensure an insurer and provide competition to lower premiums. A reinsurance program would help insurers deal with more expensive enrollees. A big portion of the premium expense is prescription drugs which all Obamacare plans must include. There are legislative options to lower drug costs (allow Medicare and Medicaid to negotiate prices) and perhaps they could offer plans to young people that don't include drugs to lower their costs. Sadly, rather than being loud and clear and on their plans, Democrats are playing politics too. The Atlantic explains How Democrats Would Fix Obamacare. > Exactly how Democrats would change the bill they enacted seven years ago is less clear. Lawmakers have floated a range of options, from tackling the cost of prescription drugs, to setting up a reinsurance program to shore up Obamacare’s flagging exchanges, to reviving the idea of a “public option” that would compete with private carriers and drive down prices. > But party leaders have chosen not to endorse a specific set of reforms, in part because Republicans have shown little interest in considering their ideas and in part to avoid distracting from their more urgent imperative to save Obamacare from destruction. “We’re not in the majority right now, and our whole focus right now is to keep them from sending us back to a time when insurance companies could sell plans that provided nothing and people found themselves just in a terrible bind,” Senator Patty Murray of Washington state, a member of the Democratic leadership, said in an interview.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wibbly-wobbly magnetic fusion stuff: The return of the stellarator

Are Technica describes a new kind of fusion reactor that's coming online. Wibbly-wobbly magnetic fusion stuff: The return of the stellarator "The heliac, the stellarator, and the tokamak are all trying to achieve the same thing: confine a plasma tightly in a magnetic bottle, tightly enough to push protons in close to each other. They all use a more-or-less donut shape, but that more-or-less involves some really important differences. That difference makes the stellarator a pretty special science and engineering challenge." Here's one of the magnets built to hold the field's shape: W7x spule 1440x1920 500

Game of Thrones: 15 Things You Must Know For Season 7

Game of Thrones returns next month. CBR has a nice reminder article, Game of Thrones: 15 Things You Must Know For Season 7.

#c0ffee is the color

On the web colors are identified as 3 numbers usually written as 3 or 6 hexadecimal digits. Turns out, some words are 3 or 6 letters long and can be spelled with hex digits, particularly in 'leet' script. And someone made a page of them: #c0ffee is the color

Alexandria Shooting

Five people were shot this morning at a GOP Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria. Illinois' Belleville News-Democrat has a pretty good profile on the shooter, Belleville suspect killed in congressional shootout wanted to ‘terminate the Republican Party’. The NY Times has some more, Virginia Shooting Suspect Was Distraught Over Trump’s Election, Brother Says. I didn't know much about the GOP Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA). The NY Times has some background on him, Steve Scalise, Congressman Wounded in Shooting, Is Known as a Low-key Lover of Baseball. The shooter volunteered on Bernie Sanders' campaign. Bernie spoke on the Senate floor about finding out about this, Sanders sickened by 'despicable' shooting. > I have just been informed that the alleged shooter at the Republican baseball practice this morning is someone who apparently volunteered on my presidential campaign. I am sickened by this despicable act. Let me be as clear as I can be: Violence of any kind is unacceptable in our society and I condemn this action in the strongest possible terms. Real change can only come about through nonviolent action, and anything else runs counter to our most deeply held American values. Not to politicize this but one year ago Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) (who was at the shooting today) tweeted this: And last August after a similar comment by candidate Trump, Raw Story reminded us that Trump’s threat is nothing new — Republicans have called for ‘Second Amendment remedies’ for years. Maybe after yet another incident we can have a call for reasonableness. Meanwhile today there were also shootings in San Francisco and Brooklyn

Monday, June 12, 2017

Secrete Senate GOP Healthcare Plan

There was an episode of The West Wing where Josh was filling in for CJ and did such a horrible job that he said "the president had a secret plan to fight inflation".

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B_3kELe0M8A&w=560&h=315]

Well, now the for-real Senate has a secret plan to reform healthcare in America. Senate GOP won't release draft health care bill.

Senate Republicans are on track to finish writing their draft health care bill this evening, but have no plans to publicly release the bill, according to two senior Senate GOP aides.

"We aren't stupid," said one of the aides. One issue is that Senate Republicans plan to keep talking about it after the draft is done: "We are still in discussions about what will be in the final product so it is premature to release any draft absent further member conversations and consensus."

So the plan is to give the CBO two weeks to score it, that will be about June 26, and then vote by July 4th, and I assume their recess starts June 30 (certainly by July 3rd but I assume they'll take the weekend off). So that's a business week, where they might release their plan to the public and debate it before voting on something that affects one sixth of the US economy. Great job Republicans.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

What to Watch: The Hidden Gems of Netflix, Amazon, and Filmstruck

People often ask me what movies or tv shows to watch and then say they only have Netflix streaming and I have no idea what they have available (usually nothing I think to recommend). Film School Rejects fixes that with the following lists: What to Watch: The Hidden Gems of Netflix, Amazon, and Filmstruck.

Any list that starts with In The Loop is a good list. If you haven't seen it, fix that. It's hilarious. Fruitvale Station, The Way Back, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World are all solid picks.

The Expanse is by far the best sci-fi show currently on TV. Their description of Eye in the Sky is dead on.