Sunday, September 22, 2019

The Great Nasty North

So much for Canadians being such nice guys:
“We’re going down a bad road here and after this campaign we’re probably going to see a lot of postmortems about how did we get here,” said Rick Anderson, a long-time political strategist in Ottawa.

From the start, the Liberal plan has been to paint the Conservatives as reflexively regressive, riddled with closeted bigots and ready to pounce on women’s reproductive rights. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer, meanwhile, has gone personal, raising questions about the prime minister’s integrity and calling him a liar who would say anything to get elected.

Both parties are using increasingly sophisticated campaign war rooms -- armed with volumes of research on rival candidates and ready to attack every perceived disadvantage -- to fuel the negativity.
But it will be a very polite negativity...

Preaching To The Codes

God is my programmer?
Perhaps a non-human priest -- armed with all the holy knowledge imaginable and none of the unholy behavior -- might be the perfect way to renew the faith.

Ilia Delio, a professor of Christian Theology at Villanova University, offered Vox some fascinating thoughts about this.

Instead of trying to persuade Catholic worshippers that priests are somehow divinely consecrated, she said, perhaps the existence of robot priests would offer a new perspective on being a good person to deserve eternal life.

"We have these fixed philosophical ideas and AI challenges those ideas. It challenges Catholicism to move toward a post-human priesthood," she said.

Perhaps some would feel enchanted at being offered spiritual guidance by a robot. Perhaps they'd think this was far better than the same old stuff Father Seamus has peddled for the last 20 years.
But at least Father Seamus couldn't be hacked...

Saturday, September 21, 2019

To The Showers

When parents go bad:
The National Federation of State High School Associations said 80 percent of officials quit before they reached the third-year mark on the job.

A Fox News report stated, “One driving force behind the trend is increasingly abusive and belligerent behavior by parents, including verbal abuse, threats and even fights.”

High school baseball umpire Bob Player, who’s been on the field for 34 years in Long Island, New York, said true sportsmanship is becoming a thing of the past.

“Sportsmanship over the past several years is getting much worse on the field,” Player said. “It’s something you almost deal with in every game in one way, shape or form.”
No parents allowed?

Made In China

Where has China gone?
According to the Guardian, “No protests were authorized in China.” However, the China Youth Climate Action Network’s Zheng Xiaowen said that Chinese youth “have their own methods.”

“We also pay attention to the climate and we are also thinking deeply, interacting, taking action, and so many people are very conscientious on this issue,” she added.

Several climate change activists in D.C. decried the U.S. for its role in contributing to climate change despite the fact that the U.S. has made great strides in reducing its carbon output, seeing the “largest decline in CO2 emissions in the world for 9th time this century” in 2017. The largest increase that year came from China.
It's hard to protest against real polluters...

Friday, September 20, 2019

Microbe Brewery

Can your gut get you drunk?
Klebsiella pneumoniae is extremely common in both soils and human bodies. Though usually harmless, it’s also an opportunistic pathogen that can cause severe infections if given the chance. And while Klebsiella is not known for intoxicating its hosts, Yuan’s team found that the patient had two particular strains that can churn out alcohol. Many gut microbes do this, but at such low levels that their boozy by-products are easily removed by the liver. The Klebsiella strains in Yuan’s patient were exceptions: At one point, they produced so much of the stuff that it was as if the man had knocked back 15 shots of whiskey. “We were surprised that bacteria can produce so much alcohol,” Yuan says.

Auto-brewery syndrome is extreme, but it has similarities to other, milder and more prevalent conditions. For example, people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) build up fatty deposits in their liver in the style of heavy drinkers, despite touching little or no alcohol.
You don't have to drink to be a drunk?

Overseas Opposition Research

With a little help from his friends?
Mr. Giuliani in June and August met with top Ukrainian officials about the prospect of an investigation, he said in an interview. The Trump lawyer has suggested Mr. Biden as vice president worked to shield from investigation a Ukrainian gas company with ties to his son, Hunter Biden. A Ukrainian official earlier this year said he had no evidence of wrongdoing by Mr. Biden or his son.

After the July call between the two presidents, the Ukrainian government said Mr. Trump had congratulated the new president on his election and expressed hope that his government would push ahead with investigations and corruption probes that had stymied relations between the two countries.

The White House declined to comment. The Biden campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment. Last week, a Biden campaign spokesman said of Mr. Giuliani’s efforts to pressure Ukraine: “This is beneath us as Americans.”

Mr. Trump on Friday defended his July call with Mr. Zelensky as “totally appropriate” but declined to say whether he had asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate Mr. Biden, a former U.S. vice president. “It doesn’t matter what I discussed,” he said.
It might, now...

Big Brother Is Testing You

The price of reporting?
Most believe the regulation will soon apply to Chinese reporters across the country. Journalists from three media organisations, two of which were outside Beijing, told the Guardian their publications had also received informal notices to register on the app.

“From the top down to the bottom, I don’t think anyone will be able to escape it,” said one reporter from a broadcaster in the eastern Shandong province who said he was not authorised to speak on the topic.

The on-site, closed-book exam, to be administered by news organisations in early October, will be divided into five parts, including two on Xi Jinping’s teachings on socialism for the new era and Xi’s “important thoughts on propaganda”, according to Media Reform, a self-published news account on WeChat.
In China, government reports on you...