Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Investigation: Secret Service tried to discredit US lawmaker

Investigation: Secret Service tried to discredit US lawmaker

"Scores of U.S. Secret Service employees improperly accessed the decade-old, unsuccessful job application of a congressman who was investigating scandals inside the agency, a new government report said Wednesday. An assistant director suggested leaking embarrassing information to retaliate against Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House oversight committee.

The actions by the employees could represent criminal violations under the U.S. Privacy Act, said the report by the Homeland Security Department's inspector general, John Roth. 'It doesn't take a lawyer explaining the nuances of the Privacy Act to know that the conduct that occurred here — by dozens of agents in every part of the agency — was wrong,' the report said."

South Miami Mayor on Climate Change

I'm surprised I haven't seen anything about this today. Last night Chris Hayes interviewed South Miami mayor Philip Stoddard and it was amazing. "Chris Hayes talks to the mayor of South Miami, Philip Stoddard, who is also a biology professor, about what it's like when most of your senior politicians are climate change deniers."

Hayes pointed out that two prominent presidential candidates, Bush and Rubio are from Florida and while they don't deny climate change is happening, they don't think we can or should do anything about it. He asked Stoddard about the effects they're seeing in Miami and what he would say to these candidates. Here are my favorite quotes:

Well, my first reaction is disappointment. We expect our elected leaders to be the adults int he room, take responsibility to look after everybody's best actions. They're not doing it, frankly. It's a puzzle coming from Jeb Bush because he has such strong connections to the real estate community. They're the ones with the most to lose. So why isn't he engaging this issue like all the big banks are and the big financial houses and now like the underwriters. I mean that's a mystery.

Thomas Edison was the one that predicted that the industrial revolution was going to put enough carbon in the atmosphere to affect the climate. This is not a new idea.

We've seen our summer season extending by a month over the past few decades. We see salt water coming up out of the storm drains when it didn't used to...So particularly along the coastal regions the tides come in, especially when there's a full moon, the all the drains become the suppliers of salt water into the streets and that's what we call sunny day flooding. You can have a beautiful sunny day and the streets fill up with water and people wonder where is the water coming from. You stick your finger down there and you taste it and you go that's salt water. That's not rain water.

The sea level has risen 5 inches in the last 5 years. An inch a year. That's not global sea level rise, that's local sea level rise.

I'd say your [Bush and Rubio's] arguments are complete bullshit. The idea that you don't want to harm the economy by engaging the problems with sea level rise... What do you think sea level rise is going to do to our economy? It's going to destroy it! We're gonna be underwater for heavens sake. How can you give these specious arguments about wanting to protect the economy when the biggest threat to the economy we've ever seen is coming on us like a truck.

Watch the whole interview here:

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The (Real) Unemployment Rate

Wonkblog says Donald Trump is more than right: Most Americans don’t work. (But …).

"Whatever chart that was, Trump was reading it wrong. And he’s been called on his error repeatedly. My colleague Glenn Kessler wrote a thorough takedown at the time, pointing out that Trump was lumping together retirees, students, stay-at-home moms, and all kinds of people who aren’t figured into the unemployment rate because they aren’t available to work. It doesn’t seem that Trump was paying attention, so we’re going to try again — with charts."



The Daily Show with Trevor Noah Debut

I watched Trevor Noah's debut last night on The Daily Show and I mostly agree with Vox, 5 Thoughts On The New Host. The format was the same, he was pretty good in the segments and the correspondents joking on his newness was good. The interview wasn't good, but I'll give him time. I enjoyed Stewarts interviews with comedians least of all so I don't fault him for that.

I was wondering where they were pulling video from. Was it Reuters? Because it didn't look like Fox or CNN or MSNBC.

Apple's Approach to Privacy

Apple published their Approach to Privacy.

CultOfMac summarizes the high points, Apple reveals just how seriously it takes your privacy.

A lot of it is pointing out that they don't use or want your personal information. They make their money selling hardware and services. This is in contrast to Google and Facebook who offer free services and get their money from advertisers by using your personal information.

2015 MacArthur Genius Awards

The MacArthur Foundation announced the winners of the 2015 MacArthur Fellows Program, aka the genius grants. I'm very happy for Ta-Nehisi Coates, the only winner I'd heard of.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Reminder: don't set fire to spiders while you pump gas

Reminder: don't set fire to spiders while you pump gas / Boing Boing "A foolish motorist was lucky to escape unharmed after trying to kill a spider in Center Line, Michigan, with fire. At a gas pump. While pumping gas."

Kind of surprised this wasn't done by a Florida Man.

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Since my first iPhone I've used an astronomy program called Starmap. There are several popular such programs but this has been my favorite and I've always been surprised it hasn't gotten more attention. They've just released a big upgrade, known as Starmap 2. It's a universal app available for free in the app store with basic features that will be sufficient for most users. It basically does everything, show the map, knows where you are and which direction you're pointing, show info about the stars, planets, etc. With additional purchases it can control telescopes, show more catalogs, show a view flying through the solar system, track satellites, speak stories explaining astronomy while pointing you at things to look at.

There are also a few in-app purchases for more features and those are on sale for Monday (but starting now, Sun evening). The Classic version, normally $5 is on sale (in the US) for just $2 and the Pro version is on sale for $7 (normal $15). Buying the feature on one device means you can use them on all of your devices, so for $7 I upgraded to Pro on both my iPhone and iPad (and Classic probably would have been fine for me).

I highly recommend downloading it and if you like it, buying some of the add-ons on Monday.

Rare Super Blood Moon Total Eclipse: How to See It

National Geographic explains Rare Super Blood Moon Total Eclipse: How to See It. They have a nice chart of tonight's viewing times.

Eclipse viewing chart by north american timezones

Friday, September 25, 2015

The Secret of the Apple’s New San Francisco Fonts

Akinori Machino describes The Secret of the Apple’s New San Francisco Fonts .

Trevor Noah’s learning curve: How “The Daily Show” host plans to turn his “clean slate” into success

Salon talks about Trevor Noah’s learning curve: How “The Daily Show” host plans to turn his “clean slate” into success. I'm now more nervous.

“The fun part is the learning, and I think sometimes transferring that learning into a TV show and giving that to the audience is fantastic, like when you have a child, they learn new things and then you get to relearn it with them,” he added.

Take covering the recent Republican debates: Noah said he and his team worked together to figure out how to stay true to the show’s brand and to his sensibilities simultaneously. “For the writers, they’ve got a history with all of these people,” he explained. “I’m watching the debate and someone says something about something one of the politicians did 10, 15 years ago, and they’re like ‘that’s like the time that happened.’ And I’m the person going ‘why is that funny? Who is that person? What is important about that?’”

“What’s great about this is I think we have an opportunity to re-learn these instances,” he added. “I come in on a clean slate with a lot of the politicians, a lot of the news media outlets.”

In this model I shouldn't be the child learning or re-learning things. I'm glad he can bring a new perspective, and I could learn from that; but I'm apparently like his writers, and I don't want to be teaching him things.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Jawdropping Images From Offworld

In Focus shows amazing Images From Offworld "Robotic probes launched by NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and others are gathering information all across the solar system. We currently have spacecraft in orbit around the Sun, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, a comet, and Saturn; two operational rovers on Mars; and a recent close flyby of Pluto and its moons. Astronauts aboard the International Space Station are still performing experiments in low Earth orbit and sending back amazing photos. With all these eyes in the sky, I’d like to take another opportunity to put together a recent photo album of our solar system—a set of family portraits, of sorts—as seen by our astronauts and mechanical emissaries. This time, we have closeups of Pluto and of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, a closer look at bright spots on dwarf planet Ceres, several eclipses, wonderful images of Saturn and its moons, and, of course, lovely images of our home, planet Earth."

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A New Universal 'New Yorker' Cartoon Caption

A New Universal 'New Yorker' Cartoon Caption has been found. There are now three captions known to work in all New Yorker cartoons. They are (in order of discovery):

  • Christ, what an asshole!
  • What a misunderstanding!
  • I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.

Federal judge rules 'Happy Birthday' song in public domain

Federal judge rules 'Happy Birthday' song in public domain

"The music publishing company that has been collecting royalties on the song 'Happy Birthday To You' for years does not hold a valid copyright on the lyrics to the tune that is one of the mostly widely sung in the world, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge George H. King determined the song's original copyright, obtained by the Clayton F. Summy Co. from the song's writers, only covered specific piano arrangements of the song and not its lyrics. The basic tune of the song, derived from another popular children's song, 'Good Morning to All,' has long been in the public domain."

The Hidden Meltdown of Greenland

NASA reports on The Hidden Meltdown of Greenland "All by itself, Greenland could bump sea levels by 7 meters (23 feet) if its ice melted completely. And … it’s melting."

Rignot’s team found that Greenland's glaciers flowing into the ocean are grounded deeper below sea level than previously measured. This means that the warm ocean currents at depth can sweep across the glacier faces and erode them.

“In polar regions, the upper layers of ocean water are cold and fresh,” he explains. “Cold water is less effective at melting ice.”

“The real ocean heat is at a depth of 350-400 meters and below. This warm, salty water is of subtropical origin and melts the ice much more rapidly.”

Rignot’s research team is providing critical information needed to document this effect and accurately predict where and how fast glaciers will give way. The team gathered and analyzed around-the-clock measurements of the depth, salinity, and temperature of channel waters and their intersection with the coastal edge of Greenland's ice sheet. They found that some of the glaciers balance on giant earthen sills that are protecting them, for now. But other glaciers are being severely undercut out of sight beneath the surface, meaning they could collapse and melt much sooner.

Monday, September 21, 2015

George W. Bush Made Retroactive N.S.A. ‘Fix’ After Hospital Room Showdown

The New York Times reports George W. Bush Made Retroactive N.S.A. ‘Fix’ After Hospital Room Showdown.

"For example, Mr. Bush’s secret directives to the agency, starting in October 2001, said the N.S.A. could ‘acquire’ phone and email metadata — logs showing who contacted whom, but not what they said — if at least one end was foreign or if a specific message were linked to terrorism. But the agency was apparently gathering purely domestic metadata in bulk, too, the Justice Department found.

Mr. Bush, in response to the discrepancy identified by the Justice Department, declared that the N.S.A. was authorized to systematically collect the metadata of purely domestic communications, too, so long as analysts only looked at records linked to terrorism. He also declared that the agency had been authorized to do that all along."

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Pluto Like You've Never Seen it Before

Burst shows you Pluto Like You've Never Seen it Before "Images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft just released today show a backlit mountainous panorama of Pluto, displaying an amazing icy landscape never before seen by humans. Just 15 minutes after its closest approach to Pluto on July 14, 2015, the spacecraft looked back toward the sun and captured this near-sunset view of icy mountains reaching heights of 11,000 feet above flat ice plains extending to Pluto’s horizon."

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iOS 9 Reviews

Federico Viticci's iOS 9: The MacStories Review, Created on iPad is both a comprehensive review and kind of a QA plan for iOS 9. 23 pages long!

Rene Ritchie's review is equally long but a bit breezier, iOS 9 review.

If you want something shorter, Jason Snell does a good job pointing out new features on the iPad including, Slide Over, Split View, Picture in Picture, Keyboard shortcuts and my favorite, trackpad support in the software keyboard.

These quick articles have some useful tips:

Here's a review of the new News app, Apple’s iOS 9 News App Review: Broken News. I tried it for a few minutes and gave up. The review lists alternatives at the bottom and I'm a happy user of Reeder backed by Feedly and I use NYT Now and occasionally I look at Nuzzle

The Hardest chess problem in the world?

Hebden Bridge Chess Club describes The Hardest chess problem in the world? It’s White to play and mate in 1. Click the board for the story and answer.


Last Night's GOP Debate

I only watched the main event, not the little league. It's still so early so it's hard to figure out if anything means anything and there were so many candidates that "debate" is a misnomer, but it had it's moments. Here are a bunch of articles that I've read and agree with on it with a bunch of pull quotes.

Carly Fiorina won the GOP debate, but fact checkers will have a field day - Vox "This is the second debate Fiorina won. She dominated the JV stage in the Fox News debate, forcing CNN to change the rules to ensure she made the main stage in their event. She validated their decision tonight. She had the crispest answers, received the biggest cheers, and proved the only candidate on the stage capable of standing against Trump. She made everyone else on the stage — especially Trump — look unprepared. But she did it in part by playing fast and loose with the facts. Her barrage of specifics often obscured a curious detachment from reality."

Donald Trump lost the Republican debate, and it wasn't even close. - Vox "Marco Rubio schooled him on foreign policy, Jeb Bush said the tough-talking real-estate mogul's inexperience would be "really dangerous," and Carly Fiorina took Trump to task for mocking her looks."

The second Republican presidential debate, explained - Vox

FactChecking the CNN Republican Debate and Who Won the Fiction Sweepstakes in Last Night's Debate? | Mother Jones

The best, worst, and Trumpiest moments of last night’s debate: a comprehensive guide - Vox

Pundits thought Ben Carson lost the debate, but Twitter shows they're wrong - Vox

Ahmed Mohamed came up in the JV Republican debate. It didn't go well. - Vox "The candidates were clearly uncomfortable with the subject of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry and worked very hard to avoid it. Of the three candidates who answered, none could bring themselves even to say the boy's name, Ahmed Mohamed. All three attempted to shift the conversation to Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses."

Carly Fiorina is wrong about the Planned Parenthood tapes. I know because I watched them. - Vox "Carly Fiorina gave a harrowing description of the Planned Parenthood sting videos at Wednesday's Republican debate, challenging Barack Obama to watch 'a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.' Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of footage."

Jeb Bush says his brother "kept us safe." He's wrong. - Vox "For one thing: The vast majority of people killed on American soil by terrorists throughout the entirety of American history were killed during George W. Bush's administration. It's not even close. And this was followed up by the deaths of an even larger number of Americans during Bush's invasion of Iraq."

Rand Paul called out the racism of the drug war — and told Jeb Bush to check his privilege - Vox "He also called out Jeb Bush as a hypocrite for smoking pot in his youth but opposing legalization now. And when Bush admitted that he smoked pot 40 years ago, Paul literally accused Bush of showing his privilege: "In the current circumstances, kids who had privilege like you do don't go to jail, but the poor kids in our inner cities go to jail. I don't think that's fair. And I think we need to acknowledge it.""

Ben Carson: Progressive taxation is socialism. Donald Trump: No it isn't. - Vox ""We've had a graduated tax system for many years," Trump said. "It's not a socialistic thing." He went on to say that his own tax plan would be "a major reduction for the middle class," and that "the hedge fund guys" would pay more. "I know people making a tremendous amount of money and paying virtually no taxes," he said, "and I think it's unfair.""

Republican second debate: candidates pick women to grace $10 bill - Vox Two named non-Americans and three named their family members. No one said Elenor Roosevelt.

Republicans Got One Question About Climate Change At The Debate, And Totally Screwed It Up | ThinkProgress "Three candidates responded: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. All three argued that nothing should be done by the American government to combat the problem, and Christie even said that he “respectfully disagrees” with Reagan’s secretary of state (gasp!). But all three also backed up their argument using a factually murky claim: that government efforts to combat climate change won’t do anything to solve the problem."

To me the climate change stuff pointed out their hypocrisy. Most of these candidates say that to combat terrorism in the middle east we need to lead. If we act, we'll bring other allies in. They then go on to say that acting alone in climate change will accomplish nothing. Why not lead? And it's not like the rest of the world is doing nothing, even China is acting. We're the ones who aren't even following.

Here's an interesting way to measure the debate, how many twitter followers they got. Pundits thought Ben Carson lost the debate, but Twitter shows they're wrong - Vox

Americans Killed by Terrorism Since 9/11

One of the things that drove me crazy last night during the debates was when Jeb said his brother kept us safe, and that he did that by standing on the rubble with the fireman and showing that we were strong. As if 9/11 happening on his watch didn't count at all. Even though he ignored a national security briefing called Obama Determined to Strike in US while he was away in August on vacation (after taking more vacation than any other president in his first year. But hey, whatever.

The Council on Foreign Relations in July posted Obama’s Terrorism Mistake fact checking an Obama statement " if you look at the number of Americans killed since 9/11 by terrorism, it’s less than 100." Obama's statement was wrong. Maybe he meant to say under his term, or maybe he meant to exclude Iraq and Afghanistan. The article links to this FP article from January which delves into the complexities of counting such a thing. They do claim "of the 335 Americans who have died from terrorism since 9/11, 268, or 80 percent, died within Iraq or Afghanistan".

Anyway, I plotted their data and just assumed that the Bush-Obama transition happened Jan 1, 2009 instead of Jan 20.

Screen Shot 2015 09 17 at 2 52 48 PM

Update: Here's a fun twitter stream to read, sounds like a Monty Python skit; "Right. So Katrina, Anthrax, 9/11, those multiple wars, the economy, the bank crisis, terrorism, then safe?"

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Texas 9th-Grader Arrested After Taking Homemade Clock To School

Dallas Morning News reports Irving 9th-grader arrested after taking homemade clock to school

Ahmed Mohamed — who makes his own radios and repairs his own go-kart — hoped to impress his teachers when he brought a homemade clock to MacArthur High on Monday.

Instead, the school phoned police about Ahmed’s circuit-stuffed pencil case.

So the 14-year-old missed the student council meeting and took a trip in handcuffs to juvenile detention. His clock now sits in an evidence room. Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock.

In the meantime, Ahmed’s been suspended, his father is upset and the Council on American-Islamic Relations is once again eyeing claims of Islamophobia in Irving."

Yeah, I'd call it Islmaphobia and also giving people a reason to hate you. I mean how is there any way to read this statement differently: "Police say they may yet charge him with making a hoax bomb — though they acknowledge he told everyone who would listen that it’s a clock."

Read the whole article, the story is ridiculous. He brought it in, showed his "engineering teacher". I wish I had an engineering teacher in 9th grade. Ok, he likes it but tells him not to show any other teacher? And he doesn't tell/warn the principal? Fine, an english teacher isn't going to be able to discern what the circuit did and probably not the principal or the police, so why didn't they ask their engineering teacher to look at it? The one that I suspect Ahmed mentioned he showed it too. And why were the police questioning a 9th grader without his parents present?

Meanwhile, Ahmed is sitting home in his bedroom, tinkering with old gears and electrical converters, pronouncing words like “ethnicity” for what sounds like the first time. He’s vowed never to take an invention to school again.

That's so freaking sad, for him and for us. At least he's now getting a lot of encouragement, @IStandWithAhmed

Update: Here's the NY Times story, Texas Student Is Under Police Investigation for Building a Clock which includes the ridiculous letter the principal sent to the parents of all the school's students.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Every Single Movie That Jimmy Carter Watched at the White House

Every Single Movie That Jimmy Carter Watched at the White House. He watched good movies. If I ever see him again I'll ask him what he thought of Animal House?

Bernie Sanders's $18 trillion in proposed spending is more affordable than it sounds

Matt Yglesias says Bernie Sanders's $18 trillion in proposed spending is more affordable than it sounds

There's a $15 trillion Medicare-for-all plan, and then there's everything else. Everything else tallies up to $3 trillion over 10 years. That is a lot of money. It is, however, $400 billion cheaper than Jeb Bush's tax cut plan. So the typical middle-class family will get $942 from Jeb Bush, while in Sanders-land the typical middle-class family will get free college, paid parental leave, and a bunch of new transportation infrastructure — plus Sanders averts the need to cut Social Security benefits or raise the retirement age.

So what about this $15 trillion business? Well, Sanders is proposing to have the federal government pay for everyone's doctor visits, hospital stays, and medical procedures, just the way it currently does for people over the age of 65. Obviously that's an expensive undertaking. But right now private health insurance plans are projected to spend $14 trillion over the next 10 years, and people are forecast to incur $4 trillion in out-of-pocket expenses. Turning $18 trillion of private spending into $15 trillion of government spending while also expanding access to insurance would actually be an incredibly impressive trick. If you financed it with a broad-based payroll tax (the way Social Security is financed), people with job-based insurance plans wouldn't even notice the difference — today's insurance premium line on your pay stub would become a tax line.

The reasonable question to ask about this is not whether it would be affordable, but whether it's actually true that America could pull off this kind of vast expansion of Medicare while retaining its low cost structure. It's certainly possible in theory, but when Sanders's home state of Vermont tried it, the plan collapsed in the legislature over working out the details."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The GOP's new Iran deal plan is cynical, dishonest, and politically brilliant

Max Fisher writes in Vox, The GOP's new Iran deal plan is cynical, dishonest, and politically brilliant

Republicans, in this new plan, would argue that President Obama didn't live up to his promise to fully inform Congress about the Iran nuclear deal, so therefore Congress cannot vote on whether to approve the deal.

This is not really true, but that's beside the point. The point is that Republicans don't like their current strategy because it means, after they vote on their doomed resolution, they will have conceded the Iran deal as politically legitimate.

This new strategy would allow Republicans to argue in perpetuity that the Iran nuclear deal is somehow illegitimate, without ever actually proving that. It would create a definitionally irresolvable political 'controversy' over the deal, allowing Republicans to raise money and hold hearings and go on conservative talk radio for many years to come, making conspiratorial claims about the Obama administration withholding some vital information.

It would look, in other words, a lot like Republicans' years-long political campaign over Benghazi. In that campaign, the focus was almost never on actual US mistakes in Libya — which are substantial but complex — but rather was on misleading conspiracy theories and nonsense political controversies.

Similarly, this new GOP anti-deal strategy would let them avoid the actual substance of the Iran deal, and instead focus on dark claims about self-inspections and the like. This not only lets Republicans direct the focus to talk-radio-friendly conspiracy theories, but also allows them to assert, for years to come, that Obama never followed correct procedure on getting congressional approval, and thus that the Iran deal is illegitimate.

The first such conspiracy theory they appear to be going with — the first of many, I am sure — is the alleged 'secret side deal.'"

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Apple Event

I only have time for some quick thoughts on today's Apple Event

Apple Watch seems like it's doing well. The changes cosmetic (new colors for aluminum and some new bands) rather than a true 2.0 with new sensors or other changes (which will probably come in the first half of next year). The fact that you can get a black steel model with a sport band instead of having to get the expensive bracelet is nice. The new faces are just new images. New complications and 3rd party complications could be interesting if you have a specific need.

The idea that Hermes is selling models that have custom faces (I think that's what's happening) is one I hadn't thought of. This might explain why people can write apps but not faces.

The IPad Pro is very interesting but I want to see it in person to get a sense of how large it is. I don't care about the (4) speakers as much but at this point a full 1.5 lbs like the first gen iPad sounds heavy. They made a big deal about the Smart Keyboard but I'm more interesting in whether the software keyboard is really full sized and how nice it would be to type with it on my lap. It's very expensive too. I could live with just wifi but I'd be happier with 64GB than 32GB, leaving the 128GB option at $949. The Pencil seems like a really nice and expensive stylus. Can wait to see tourists holding up a giant iPad Pro to take pictures with.

They now sell 5 models of iPad and that seems like two too many. Each comes in 3 colors, 3 storage sizes and with or without cellular for a total of almost 90 models. There should just be Mini, Air (or regular) and Pro and they should all be in 32, 64 and 128GB models. They're including older models at lower price points but I think they should work on more improvements to get people to replace them more often and beef up the used market as a result.

The medical apps they demoed seemed pretty nice, but I know it will be 5-10 years before I see them in my doctor's office (I still can't email my doctor, though I can get x-rays on a CD, now if only my iMac had a CD reader).

Seems like they did well with Apple TV. A TouchPad on the remote is a nice idea and while they didn't emphasize it, it acts like a Wiimote so it's better as a game controller. Depending on how well it works, the Siri interface could be really nice. The MLB app could be killer, though they didn't mention pricing or blackout details. Can someone in Boston watch a Red Sox game live on it? I'm guessing not. I don't think I'm giving up my TiVo Roamio Pro any time soon. And by the way, it's search works across my recordings, netflix, amazon, hulu and other services too, though I have to type it, the Slide Pro Remote has made that pretty painless. I hope Siri has an easy way to tell her that she interpreted the last thing you said incorrectly.

The apps and games stuff seems nice. And apparently Apps are universal across the new Apple TV, iPhone, and iPad which is really nice.

The iPhone 6s and 6s+ seem nice too. Sure we got regular improvements in chips and cameras and a new rose gold color, but they seem to have done the 3D Touch thing well. The UI is finally using the layers that were so explicitly mentioned in Ive's iOS 7 design. It does seem like iOS is finally getting a right-click. Live Photos seems like a gimmick. I've seen tweets how they're Hogwart's paintings or that Window's phone have had them (is this true? I've not heard of them).

The new iCloud storage pricing is better and the new iPhone Upgrade program is something I'd have to work out the math for to consider (particularly with Verizon's new plans). I paid $416 in December for a 64GB iPhone 6 with AppleCare (and sales tax) I plan to keep for two years. That would instead be $36.58/month or ~$440 a year but I'd get a new phone in a year.

Elizabeth II's Record Reign

The Economist's Daily chart, Elizabeth II's record reign "September 9th 2015 is Queen Elizabeth II’s 23,226th day on the British throne, a landmark which sees her supersede Queen Victoria—her great-great grandmother—as the country's longest-serving monarch." A few interesting infographics.

Update: The Financial Times plots Queen Elizabeth vs Victoria: their reigns in numbers.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

What Mike Huckabee doesn't get about same-sex marriage and the Constitution

Vox explains What Mike Huckabee doesn't get about same-sex marriage and the Constitution

The 14th Amendment established that no group should be denied equal rights or protection under the law. So when it comes to marriage, same-sex couples can't be denied the same protections and rights guaranteed under federal and state marriage laws to other groups. This is the very foundation for the Supreme Court rulings that deemed federal and state bans on same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional. It is the statute that legalized same-sex marriages across the country.

'The authors of the 14th Amendment rejected drafts and proposals that would have limited the 14th Amendment just to racial discrimination,' Judith Schaeffer, vice president of the Constitutional Accountability Center, said in June. 'Instead, they put in language that protects any person — not just on the basis of race, but any person.'

The 14th Amendment has been used in marriage cases before: In Loving v. Virginia in 1967, the Supreme Court concluded that states' bans on interracial marriages discriminated against interracial couples and were therefore unconstitutional. Although Huckabee told Stephanopoulos that Loving v. Virginia was totally different, the legal rationale for it was the same as the decisions in the same-sex marriage cases: Just as interracial marriage bans violated interracial couples' rights under the 14th Amendment, so too did same-sex marriage bans violate same-sex couples' rights under the 14th Amendment.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Donald Trump on Citizen Kane

Kottke found Donald Trump on Citizen Kane

Many years ago, Errol Morris interviewed Donald Trump about Citizen Kane as part of a project called The Movie Movie.

Trump acquits himself pretty well on Kane and its lessons -- although I would not characterize Kane's fall as 'modest' -- and his commentary about the film is probably the first actually interesting thing I have ever heard him say. But I watched all the way to the end and he shoots himself in the foot in the most Trumpian & misogynistic way -- it's actually perfect.

You *have° to watch til the end.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Fonts Using Ligatures for Code

Just heard about this and it seems kind of interesting. Most programming languages just use plain ascii characters, particularly for operators. As a result, sequences such as ->, =>, >=, /= are commonly used. If you want better typography, apparently some fonts now use ligatures to make them display better. The nice thing about using ligatures is that nothing changes but the display, the number of characters is the same (unlike if you used Unicode characters).

  • Hasklig extends the font Source Code Pro with such ligatures.
  • FiraCode extends the font Fira Mono

I haven't tried these yet, but apparently the emacs mac port I use now has a mode that supports them.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact Opposite of Reality

Sometimes you have to appreciate Glenn Greenwald: NYT Claims U.S. Abides by Cluster Bomb Treaty: The Exact Opposite of Reality.

Now someone has to ask Obama about this, in detail, on camera.

Hillary Clinton has one of the most progressive anti-drug plans in decades

Vox wrote, Hillary Clinton has one of the most progressive anti-drug plans in decades. It made me wonder about her other stated policies so far...

Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan, explained. "Hillary Clinton is announcing her higher education plan today — a wide-ranging proposal that calls for lowering student loan interest rates, making it possible for students to avoid borrowing to pay tuition at public universities, and changing how students repay their loans."

Hillary Clinton is calling for a 700% increase in solar power by 2010.

Hillary Clinton wants to take on "quarterly capitalism" — here's what that means. "Things will get harder the deeper she delves into policy specifics, but as a broad campaign theme it's a tour de force. By embracing the quarterly capitalism critique, Clinton offers a more radical criticism of the status quo than we've ever heard from Barack Obama while also showing herself to be more sensitive to the concrete concerns of American executives."

Hillary Clinton's capital gains tax reform, explained. It seems to be similar to what we have in MA (which may be useful but is a pain in the ass for record keeping), "She wants to replace that with a different system, featuring a six-year sliding scale of rates to give genuinely long-term investors a leg up."

Then again, this is an interesting list and I'm not sure which way it sways me. The 5 biggest policy differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. I like most of Bernie's ideas, but Clinton's are more practical to pass. Then again, this isn't lost on me, Want to know what sets Bernie Sanders apart from Hillary Clinton? Look at their donors.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Cheney’s Iran Ideas As Sophisticated As Expected

Jonathan Chait explains in New York Magazine that Cheney’s Iran Ideas As Sophisticated As Expected

"Bush and Cheney may have rhetorically opposed the Iranian nuclear program. In reality, they allowed it to blossom. As Marc Champion explained several months ago, ‘at the start of Bush's presidency, Iran had no operational centrifuge cascades and no stocks of enriched fuel, so it had no means of making a nuclear weapon.’ Then things got bad:

By the time Bush left office in January 2009, Iran had just under 4,000 working centrifuges and an additional 1,600 installed. These had, to that point, produced 171 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Oh, and Iran had covertly built a new enrichment facility under a mountain at Qom.

Measured by results, rather than sound bites, Cheney was the greatest thing that happened to the radical regime in Iran since it took power. Michael Rubin, a former Bush administration Middle East policy adviser, has attempted to defend the administration’s disastrous Iran policy by blaming the failure on our feckless European partners, who continued to trade with Iran, undermining our sanctions. Rubin insists, ‘the problem was not too little diplomacy, but rather too much trade.’ But why were sanctions so weak under Bush, and so much stronger under Obama? Because the Obama administration used the promise of negotiations to build strong support for sanctions. Without those negotiations, the sanctions regime would be just as weak as it was under the Bush administration. The notion that simply refusing to make any concessions whatsoever could prevent Iran from advancing its nuclear program is not a novel idea. Cheney’s administration tried it. It didn’t work."

it's astounding to me that anyone still listens to Cheney. Or that in the 3 interviews I've seen of him on his book tour no one brought up that Iran started enriching Uranium under his watch. Or for that matter that during the Bush-Cheney presidency India, Pakistan and North Korea acquired nuclear weapons (usually citing aggression from the US as a motivator) and under seven years of Obama no other nation has acquired them. Just STFU already Cheney.

Did AIPAC just waste tens of millions fighting the Iran deal?

Vox wonders Did AIPAC just waste tens of millions fighting the Iran deal? Not really. Here's what it got.

"The big mystery, then, is why the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spent between $20 million and $40 million on television ads opposing the deal, which aired in at least 23 states. Anybody with a basic understanding of party politics could see deal opponents would very likely lose. Why waste so much money on a long-shot fight? Doesn't that now make AIPAC look weak, having spent all this money and lost?"

And they start playing the cynical 11th dimensional chess game for answers:

"AIPAC now operates with a $110 million annual budget, and wants to double that budget over the next five years. To do that, it needs to raise considerable money. That means giving donors a strong reason to contribute."

"If AIPAC had decided to hold its lobbying fire, by contrast, it would have left itself open to charges that it had softened, that it wasn't a true supporter of Israel. If it abandoned the hard-line position, it's quite possible that some of its biggest donors would take their money to a new organization that promises to be that hard-line voice."

"Consider that national security groups that sprang up to oppose the Iraq War saw their giving tumble once Barack Obama was elected to end the war. By contrast, the Sandy Hook shootings — and the threat of gun control that they brought — were a great gift to the National Rifle Association's revenues, which increased almost 40 percent between 2012 and 2013."

Employers added 173,000 new jobs in August

Vox on the job numbers, Employers added 173,000 new jobs in August "Since January 2011, by which point the ups and downs of the stimulus and the decennial census were behind us, the economy has been adding jobs at a remarkably consistent 'slow and steady' pace."

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Pilgrim Nuclear Plant Safety Rating Downgraded

The Boston Globe reports Pilgrim nuclear plant safety rating downgraded. It's the only nuclear power plant in Massachusetts.

Comparing the 2016 Presidential Tax Reform Proposals

The Tax Foundation is Comparing the 2016 Presidential Tax Reform Proposals "Tax policy is shaping up to be one of the major issues of the 2016 presidential campaign. Below, we’ve compiled every tax proposal that this season’s presidential candidates have offered during the campaign. This chart will be updated as candidates issue more detailed tax plans in the coming months."

Hillary Clinton Just Picked Sides With the Democrats’ Warren Wing Against the Rubin Wing

Hillary Clinton Just Picked Sides With the Democrats’ Warren Wing Against the Rubin Wing "Hillary Clinton’s decision to endorse legislation to limit the revolving door between Washington and Wall Street, and ban ‘golden parachute’ payments for financial executives who rotate into government service, has shifted the balance of power in the most critical fight inside the Democratic Party."

Santorum on Bill Maher

Salon wrote “I don’t know what ass you’re pulling that out of”: Bill Maher talks climate change with invented-stat-quoting Rick Santorum

On ‘Real Time’ Friday night, Bill Maher sat down with former Pennsylvania senator and current presidential hopeful Rick Santorum for a discussion that quickly devolved into yet another reminder of why this man will never hold the highest office in the land.

On the subject of anthropogenic climate change, for example, Santorum quoted a study in which 57 percent of 1,800 scientists allegedly claimed that human activity isn’t responsible for fundamentally altering the world’s weather patterns.

‘I don’t know what ass you’re pulling that out of,’ a bemused Maher replied. ‘But that is not — you know that is not true.’

‘I’ll send you the survery!’ Santorum replied. He then proceeded to ‘debunk’ the claim that 97 percent of scientists believe in anthropogenic climate change, saying that that number was ‘pulled out of thin air,’ and that not even 97 scientists responded to the survey from which that conclusion was drawn. Because, of course, it didn’t occur to Santorum that sequentially claiming that a statistic was invented and following it with a complaint about the sample size used to derive is a good way to win an argument.

I watched this and was kind of infuriated. Santorum's claims are hardly original or new. First off, the 97% number is from this study Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature. "We analyze the evolution of the scientific consensus on anthropogenic global warming (AGW) in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, examining 11 944 climate abstracts from 1991–2011 matching the topics 'global climate change' or 'global warming'."

"Among [the ~34% of] abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming." In a second phase of the study, "Among [the ~65% of] self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus." And "Our analysis indicates that the number of papers rejecting the consensus on AGW is a vanishingly small proportion of the published research."

James Powell did a similar search in 2012, Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility - In One Pie Chart. "I searched the Web of Science for peer-reviewed scientific articles published between 1 January 1991 and 9 November 2012 that have the keyword phrases “global warming” or “global climate change.” The search produced 13,950 articles...By my definition, 24 of the 13,950 articles, 0.17% or 1 in 581, clearly reject global warming or endorse a cause other than CO2 emissions for observed warming."

See more here, The 97% consensus on global warming. Here's a recent denier commentary published on FoxNews against this study, Climate change: Mr. Obama, 97 percent of experts is a bogus number. It's just FUD. Wikipedia has a good article on the Scientific opinion on climate change.

On Santorum's study of 1800 scientists, I couldn't find what he's talking about. The closest I came to such a study was this, Survey confirms scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. "A survey among more than 1800 climate scientists confirms that there is widespread agreement that global warming is predominantly caused by human greenhouse gases."

PolitiFact (not always my favorite) looked into Santorum's claim and concludes Santorum cites flawed climate change figure, and misquotes it.

So here's the thing, by now anyone interviewing a climate denialist (or any Republican) on the subject has to be able to cite a few key numbers and studies by heart. When you say 97% of scientists agree, you have to expect them to say that's false and you have to be able to cite the study and the supporting numbers. And then you have to ask them to do the same. And you should know the standard crap numbers they usually cite and be able to dispute them. Or you know what, have someone bring out a laptop, on the spot and google it in front of their faces and make them respond.

Of course I don't think that would do much good, other than to make an enemy and give one more reason for Republicans to not go on any show that's not on Fox. Here's another route to rationality. Ask them how they form their opinions. What sources do they look at? When they see conflicting information, how do they sort through it? This is the whole basis for the scientific method, it's the best that humanity has come with to solve this problem. In fact I agree it's probably The one scientific statement to reboot civilization.

I wonder what someone like Santorum would say? Would he bail and say he trusts the Bible? I'd ask him how that would help him understand the germ theory of disease? Would he say he looks at the sources and determines if he can trust them? I'd respond how do know if you can trust the source? If that fails I'd cite a bunch of old wives tales about how to ensure a child is a boy by using various sexual positions. At some point you have to come up with experiments and data to test hypotheses. From there you get to publishing and then what's apparently the hard part, listening to the published and repeatable data.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Google tweaked their logo. It's nice. But it's not just a logo it's a design system or something. Here's more than you ever wanted to know about it, Evolving the Google Identity.

If this fascinates you, then you might want to back this Kickstarter campaign to Reissue the 1975 NASA Graphics Standards Manual. $79 will get you a hardbound copy of the 200 page document that introduced the "worm" logo, ahem, design system.