Friday, November 30, 2018

Atlas Shook

Along with Alaska, there was a whole lot of shaking going on:
Mayotte’s coast has been the center of a series of earthquakes since May 10 but the prolonged tremor on Nov. 11 was recorded by scientists around the entire world despite being too faint to be felt by anyone on the island itself, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported Thursday. The tremor’s duration and consistency are only complicated by a period during the event when high-frequency chimes interrupted the Earth’s groaning every minute like a “ticking clock,” according to Gizmodo.

Geologists from Kenya to the Honolulu have taken their hypotheses and hot takes to the public forum of Twitter, suggesting explanations ranging from collapsing subterranean magma chambers to ancient sea monsters.

There is no clear scientific consensus on the cause of the event yet. The cause was not a tectonic earthquake on the seafloor because there were no local shifts in water level, according to ABC. Many scientists have come to the conclusion that something big happened so deep underground that all seismographs could detect was the low-frequency end of the vibrations it caused, Gizmodo reported.
Maybe it's the Old Ones...

The Bird Is No Longer The Word

Censorship has consequences:
According to the Street, Twitter’s stock “ended off 4.3% on Thursday, after earlier losing nearly 9%.”

The Street also reported that “Timothy Collins, an analyst with Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts Plus portfolio, speculated that the drop may be tied to an apparent boycott of Twitter by Fox News,” however the report ignored the recent controversy over Twitter’s ban of prominent conservative commentators Jesse Kelly and Laura Loomer.

Kelly, a conservative commentator, radio host, and Iraq War veteran, was banned from Twitter last week, before his account was eventually reinstated following complaints.

In the same week, Loomer was also banned for criticizing Congresswoman-Elect Ilhan Omar (D-MN). Unlike Kelly, Loomer has not had her account reinstated.

On Thursday, Loomer chained herself to Twitter’s company offices in New York City in protest.

A number of prominent conservatives and libertarians are currently banned from Twitter, including Gavin McInnes, Roger Stone, Alex Jones, and Tommy Robinson, and this year, Vice News admitted in a report that Twitter had also been shadow-banning conservatives.
Free speech is apparently bad for business...

Life Behind Bars

Even prisoners have the right to self-entertainment?
While debating the bill in the Iowa Senate prior to its passage, former Iowa State Penitentiary employee Sen. Rich Taylor (D) argued that the legislation ignores the reality that male prisoners have a sexual drive.

“That is just a fact and you have to have some way to relieve that,” Taylor said. “This gives the inmates no release point except another offender, and don’t think that it doesn’t happen. This will make it worse. They will have no other alternatives for their relief. I think that this is a bad idea.”

But the Iowa prison system’s general counsel, Michael Savala, urged lawmakers to pass the ban on porn.

“The department really feels that inmates having access to that kind of material does not lend itself to pro-social thinking and behavior and as far as our responsibilities to change the mindset of the offender as they transition back into the community,” Savala said.

Savala told the Register prison officials are confident that the porn ban would withstand the inmates’ court challenge, saying that the new law mirrors a policy used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
No fun for you...

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Special Delivery

Your drugs are in the mail:
Authorities launched an undercover investigation after federal agents discovered in 2015 that drug traffickers were bribing postal workers to deliver drugs during the course of their regular routes. The drug dealers assumed that postal workers would be less likely to get caught by law enforcement, because of the official nature of their federal jobs.

Using a “confidential source” posing as a drug trafficker, the FBI was able to record the defendants all choosing to deliver cocaine rather than marijuana (because they could charge more), negotiating the price of the bribes they would accept, and offering to intercept packages on multiple occasions over a period of time.

The workers — who range in age from 26 to 64 — accepted bribes for as low as $250 to make the deliveries.
With no extra charge?

An Audience Of None

Sitting room only?

Trump Card

Michael Cohen flips:
The plea includes evidence, for the first time, that could show how Trump was compromised by Russia while Russian President Vladimir Putin was waging a direct attack on the 2016 election. The formal agreement also incentivizes Cohen, the former executive vice president of the Trump Organization and Trump’s right-hand man for over a decade, to tell Mueller everything he knows—and sets Cohen up as a more credible witness should Mueller ask him to testify in the future. Significantly, the guilty plea was finalized after Trump submitted his written answers to Mueller, who reportedly asked Trump specifically about the Moscow deal. (Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said on Thursday that Trump’s written answers matched the story that Cohen had told Mueller.)

Cohen, moreover, has indicated that he has no loyalty to the president and does not want or expect a presidential pardon. He has also not been sharing information with the president’s legal team throughout the course of his cooperation with Mueller, as Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been. Whereas Manafort has kept one foot in the door of Trumpworld, Cohen severed his ties to the president months ago. “The real wild card for Trump is Cohen,” said a veteran Washington lawyer who requested anonymity because he represents a client involved in the Russia probe. “It’s obvious that Cohen knows more about Trump’s business activities over the last decade than just about anyone.”
Cohen goes down, but does he go down alone?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

She's Back

So much for the rebellion:
The nomination marks a win for Pelosi in the first major step in her bid to reclaim the leadership position when Democrats take back control of the House in January 2019. She needed only half of the Democratic Caucus to vote on her behalf in order to secure the nomination.

Pelosi served as the speaker from 2007 until 2011 — the only woman to ever hold that position. Her return to the speakership position would make her only the seventh individual to do so on non-consecutive terms.

Despite ultimately running unopposed, Pelosi faced a challenge from a small, but vocal fraction of Democratic congressmen and congressmen-elect who opposed her ascension to the leadership position.

A cohort of House Democrats began circulating a letter in mid-November in an effort to block the California congresswoman from winning the position — the letter was eventually signed by 16 Democratic representatives, citing the need for a new direction within the Democratic Party. In order to obtain the speakership, Pelosi could only afford to lose 15 votes. However, the dissenters were not able to find an adequate challenger, and various signatories of the letter began reversing their opposition and backed Pelosi.
Better the devil they know?

The Cult Of No Names

What happens when a feminist runs afoul of other feminists:
“The statement that ‘Men aren’t women’ would have been seen as banal—indeed, tautological—just a few years ago. Today, it’s considered heresy—akin to terrorist speech that seeks to ‘deny the humanity’ of trans-identified people who very much wish they could change sex, but cannot,” declared Murphy in an article for Quillette, Wednesday. “These heretics are smeared as ‘TERF’—a term of abuse that stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist—and blacklisted. On many Twitter threads, the term is more or less synonymous with ‘Nazi.'”

In her article, Murphy also described transgender identity as a “religious faith,” making it impossible to argue with.

“I was angry to have lost a Twitter account with tens of thousands of followers. I was angry to have lost a book deal. But I will recover,” she proclaimed. “I have countless supporters, and my career is far from over. Certainly, I don’t plan on shutting up.”

“But this isn’t just about me. It’s about a cultish movement that is flexing its muscle on campuses, in civic organizations, at public events, and in the back offices of social-media companies, to strike down anyone who dares point out that the gender emperor wears no clothes,” Murphy concluded. “It is about our ability to debate important issues and speak the truth in the public realm. It’s time for all of us—not just women and feminists, who are now taking the worst of it—to put their collective foot down and demand a return to sanity.”
Even heretics have rights...

Pucker Up

Their hockey pucks are lethal weapons:
According to the Detroit News, Oakland University (OU) police chief Mark Gordon indicated the idea of using pucks to ward off mass shooters “emerged during a training session he was giving earlier this year on surviving an active shooter situation.”

Guns for self-defense are banned on the OU campus, but Gordon suggests a hockey puck can do considerable damage in lieu of firearms. He talked to students about being hit in the head with a puck, saying, “[It] caused a fair amount of damage to me.”

OU’s journalism director, Garry Gilbert, said the idea of using a puck to stop an armed attacker “sounded silly” at first, but now, it makes sense to him. Gilbert said, “If we have to do that (fight), Chief Gordon has shown us you can surprise or disarm an assailant with an object. Grab anything you’ve got … a stapler or book … anything you’ve got and be prepared and charge him.”

ClickonDetroit reported that OU’s faculty union, American Association of University Professors, has gotten behind the idea. The union has distributed pucks to union members and is working to get pucks to students.
If you take away the hockey pucks, only criminals will have them...

Dead Man Playing

He was just resting:
According to Raidió Teilifís Éireann, a public broadcasting service in Ireland, Ballybrack FC falsely told officials with the Leinster Senior Football League that one of its players had died in a "traffic accident" on Thursday night. The league subsequently postponed Ballybrack's game on Saturday and held a moment of silence for the player at all of its other games over the weekend.

Then the league discovered that the player, Fernando LaFuente, was in fact alive.

LaFuente told RTE that his full-time employer, a software company, had simply relocated him from Dublin to Galway.

"I was aware there was going to be some story on me but I thought it was going to be me breaking a leg or something like that," LaFuente told RTE. "I was home yesterday after my work finished. I was playing some video games. ... (My colleagues) started sending me all these news articles and mass media. And that's how I found out I was dead."
Just because you're dead, doesn't mean they still can't use you...

We Smart, You Dumb

Liberals talk down to the masses:
Yale and Princeton researchers found that both white Democratic presidential candidates and self-identified liberals played down their competence when speaking to minorities, using fewer words that conveyed accomplishment and more words that expressed warmth.

On the other hand, there were no significant differences in how white conservatives, including Republican presidential candidates, spoke to white versus minority audiences.

“White liberals self-present less competence to minorities than to other Whites—that is, they patronize minorities stereotyped as lower status and less competent,” according to the study’s abstract.
The real incompetents are the ones who want their votes...

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The Watchman

Who watches the watchmakers?

Majority Report

Big Brother is predicting you?
According to a report by New Scientist, the system is called the National Data Analytics Solution (NDAS) and works by using a "combination of AI and statistics" to assess the risk of someone becoming a victim of gun or knife crime, as well as them becoming a victim of modern slavery.

However, the measures that are taken once this system has identified an individual are "a matter of discussion" says Ian Donnelley, the lead on the project. The intention, apparently, is not to arrest but rather to provide support from health or social workers in the area. One of the examples given is counselling individuals with a history of mental health issues, or potential victims being contacted by social services.

The team has gathered more than a terabyte of data from local and national police databases - which included stop and search records and logs of crimes committed. The software then crunched the numbers, finding 1400 indicators that could help predict crime, 30 of which were "particularly powerful." These included the number of crimes someone committed with assistance, and the number of crimes that had been committed by people "in that individual's social group".

West Midlands Police is leading the project, with London's Metropolitan Police, Greater Manchester Police, and six other branches also involved. The intention for this system to be used by every force in the UK.

If this is sounding a little dystopian, your concerns are matched by the Alan Turing Institute. According to New Scientist, a report from the institute said there were "serious ethical issues" about whether such technology is in the public good. While the intentions are good overall, the report says, it fails to recognise important issues in full, such as inaccurate predictions.
This time, the error won't be a human one...

No Means No, Human

How do you treat a sexbot?
Unicron has no startup capital, although she’s in talks with private investors about funding the project. And aside from her day job—where she writes content for Abyss Creations, one of a handful of companies selling sex robots in the US—she doesn’t have a lot of experience in the mechanics of techno-sex. But she does have a unique marketing approach.

“It’s important that diversity exists within tech and this is no different,” she says. “Eve’s Robot Dreams will provide a fresh experience and it will set the precedent for how we interact with robots. We have the opportunity to be at the international forefront of robot ethics.”

How exactly sex with a robot can be consensual is still coming into focus. Unicron’s explanation makes it sound like a very awkward first date, where the customer and robot have a pre-coital conversation “in a public booth or a curtained booth in our cafe.” Or they can skip the perfunctory meet-and-greet by using a Realbotix app before the encounter. If you say enough “right” things to the robot over time, it “unlocks her sexual content,” Unicron says.
Can a man and a robot just be friends?

High Wire Act

Bello versus the volcano:
A location for the walk has not been determined. In collaboration with experts, Essential Media and Nock have boiled down the target list of volcanoes to a handful that have been active for up to 100 years and, based on volcanic activity, will decide on the exact location closer to the airdate.

“We have worked tirelessly for more than a year with Bello to put together the best team, including top volcanologists and engineers, to determine how and where to perform this unimaginable high-wire walk,” said Essential Media Group President Jesse Fawcett.

From 2012-2014, three live TV specials of Nik Wallenda’s wire walking over Niagara Falls, across the Colorado River Gorge and between Chicago skyscrapers did well for ABC and Discovery. A decade ago, Wallenda and Nock, who grew up together, actually teamed up together for a double version of the Wheel of Steel act, which they did in the Ringling Brothers production Bellobration. Nock is now upping the ante of dangerous high-wire stunts with Volcano Walk Live.

“It’s what every wire walker says can’t be done. That’s exactly why I am going to do it,” said Nock, who’s known for performing several stunts in New York City including rappelling off of Madison Square Garden and hanging from a helicopter over the Statue of Liberty.
Yes, but nothing was on fire underneath him at the time...

Ronald Who?

Trump out-Reagans Reagan?
In a new book out Tuesday about his “enemies,” the president said that while he feels “I blow Ronald Reagan away,” the “fake news” media is robbing him of bragging rights by ignoring his successes and focusing on his problems.

And even more frustrating, he told “Trump's Enemies” authors and supporters Corey R. Lewandowski and David N. Bossie, some established conservative columnists aren’t giving him any credit.

“The amazing thing is that you have certain people who are conservative Republicans that if my name weren’t Trump, if it were John Smith, they would say I’m the greatest president in history and I blow Ronald Reagan away,” said Trump.

“All these guys that if they looked at my agenda with a different name...and he got the biggest regulation cuts in history in less than two years, judges, environmental stuff, getting out of the Paris horror show. If you said that conservative president John Smith did that, they would say he’s the greatest president. Far greater than Ronald Reagan,” added the president.
It's true that Trump has gotten a lot done. But did Reagan do more?

Monday, November 26, 2018

My Own Prison

Take a break in a jail cell?
Kim Hong-Ji, a photographer with Reuters, visited “Prison Inside Me” recently, reporting that it has hosted more than 2,000 inmates since 2013, “many of them stressed office workers and students seeking relief from South Korea’s demanding work and academic culture.” Noh Ji-Hyang, a co-founder, was inspired by a comment from her husband, a prosecutor, who said that he’d rather spend time in solitary confinement than go back to a 100-hour workweek: “After a stay in the prison, people say, ‘This is not a prison, the real prison is where we return to.’”
Which cage do you prefer?

The Anti-Green Revolution

The Yellow Jackets are angry:
The police have used tear gas and water cannon; there have been dozens of arrests and at least two deaths. But amid the misery and mayhem, there’s one small crumb of consolation: these protestors could be ringing the death knell for the green tyranny which has held the West in its thrall for the last four decades.

Unlike the rabble of UK eco-activists who’ve been irritating Londoners over the last couple of weekends (blocking traffic; gluing themselves to the doors of government buildings; trying to get arrested), the protestors in France think environmentalism is the problem, not the solution.

For decades, the liberal establishment which runs the Western nations has used green issues – climate change, especially – as an excuse to hike taxes and regulation while adopting the guise of environmental righteousness. But the state’s ability to go on achieving this will depend a) on the public’s willingness to go on believing that the climate is a man-made problem which can be solved by government intervention and b) the public’s tolerance for higher and higher prices.

Greenies: this may be the beginning of the end for your eco-fascist religion. How typical that the revolution should have started in France...
Time for a new Age of Reason?

Out Of Gas

Whatever happened to the Chevy Volt?
The Volt and the Cruze were two of the signature achievements of the partnership between the Obama administration and General Motors following the auto-industry bailout. Although the Volt was long-planned by GM executives, it received a lot of support from the administration. Obama described the Cruze as “the car of the future.”

Both cars reflected the policies of the Obama administration but never really caught on with the car-buying public. They initially enjoyed a brief bout of enthusiasm from consumers but this was short-lived. Particularly after the price of oil fell dramatically, American consumers moved on to larger vehicles such as SUVs.

The failure of both the Volt and the Cruze is instructive. The Volt was a very high-priced car that was heavily subsidized by government policies, both federal and state, favoring electric vehicles. Many thought its high-price tag doomed it, especially since the gas-powered Cruze was a very similar car at a lower price point. But neither achieved the expected sales. These were cars Americans did not want.
These were not the cars we were looking for...

The Bird's Final Word

Is Twitter killing itself?
Kelly’s Twitter persona was intentionally bombastic and often resorted to rhetorical excess in the service of humor. I don’t know Kelly well (or at all, personally), but I grant that it’s entirely possible that Kelly might have tweeted something that clearly crossed the line of Twitter’s terms of service, or that at least might have been easily misconstrued as being much worse than it was, to people who aren’t familiar with Kelly’s schtick.

The problem, for me, is that it’s impossible to know whether to be upset at Twitter or not, because of its complete lack of transparency thus far in this (and other) cases involving prominent conservative voices. Did Kelly go too far? Is Twitter applying a double standard against Kelly versus similar left-wing provocateurs because of his ideological beliefs? It’s impossible to tell because, thus far, Twitter has said nothing.
Say nothing, do nothing, lose everything...

Gene Baby

Is this our brave new world?
Genetic science has marked advance after advance in recent years, with many significant breakthroughs happening in China, where some observers say there are fewer constraints. The increasing ubiquity and sophistication of genetic technologies has made controlling their use difficult, and there have been few attempts at developing international standards for regulating them.

In 2015, a separate group of Chinese researchers received much criticism after announcing that they had made the first genetic modifications to a human embryo. Two years later, U.S. scientists accomplished the same feat, and an influential advisory group formed by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Medicine gave cautious support to the modification of human embryos.

“Despite the fact that this is the most significant experiment in the history of human genetics, it is operating with a laissez-faire, let each nation decide approach,” said Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at the New York University School of Medicine.
Be on the lookout for Khan Noonien Singh...

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Let's Make A Deal

Brexit is finally a thing, but nobody's happy:
Acknowledging the vast political and economic consequences of Brexit, May promised lawmakers their say before Christmas and said that it “will be one of the most significant votes that Parliament has held for many years.”

She argued that Parliament has a duty “to deliver Brexit” as voters have demanded.

“The British people don’t want to spend any more time arguing about Brexit,” she said. “They want a good deal done that fulfills the vote and allows us to come together again as a country.”

Not all agree. Main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called the deal “the result of a miserable failure of negotiation that leaves us with the worst of all worlds,” and said his party would oppose it. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, whose Scottish National Party is the third-largest in Parliament, said lawmakers “should reject it and back a better alternative.”

Pro-Brexit former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said May should insist on new terms because the deal “has ceded too much control” to Brussels.
The glass is half full, but still looks empty...

The Last Legal Option

They might say "no" right now, but what if they don't have a choice?
We don’t know exactly what Mueller has on Trump or what he will do with it. Much of what we do know, however, is hard to credit to a careful observance of the law, from the $130,000 that Trump paid to Stormy Daniels in a convoluted scheme to buy her silence to the Trump Tower meeting between top Trump campaign personnel and Russian operatives. Meanwhile, many (but surely not all) of Trump’s efforts to obstruct the investigation into his campaign, including his firing of James Comey as FBI director, are haplessly public.

Would any observer of Trump’s slapdash history, in politics as in business, be shocked if Mueller wrote a factual “road map” every bit as detailed and damning as the one Jaworski produced on Nixon?

And if Mueller does, then what? In that case, Pelosi and her allies may have to choose between the happy work of partisanship and the more fraught demands of constitutional obligations. Given the recalcitrance of Senate Republicans, who are highly skilled at rebuffing calls to conscience, Pelosi is unlikely to want to impeach Trump only to see the effort falter. But a full accounting from Mueller could make impeachment look less like bad politics, and more like grim duty.
Time to report for impeachment duty?

Saturday, November 24, 2018

To Not Tell The Truth

Not entirely the whole truth?
Lewinsky said that Clinton had called her at 2:30 in the morning to let her know that she was on the witness list for the Paula Jones case.

"I was petrified. I was frantic about my family and this becoming public," Lewinsky tearfully recalled. "Thankfully, Bill helped me lock myself back from that and he said I could probably sign an affidavit to get out of it, and he didn't even know if a 100 percent I would be subpoenaed."

She was subpoenaed a few days later.

And though she clarified that Clinton never said the words "you're going to have to lie here," Lewinsky pointed out that he also never said "we're going to have to tell the truth."
It depended on what the meaning of "truth" is...

Big Blue Money

Welcome to the new Democratic fiefdoms:
About the best that can be said for Amazon is that it was merely surfing the trend; that is, it was doing what all the other tech (and finance) companies have been doing, namely, clustering in a few global-oriented urban nodes, all the while ignoring the rest of America.

This concentration of wealth in the biggest and most connected cities has been going on for a long while. Last year, The Wall Street Journal detailed the ongoing urban engorgement in a series of charts—one showing, for example, that per capita personal wealth in urban areas is more than triple that in rural areas.

Moreover, as we also know, the gentrification of the cities has actually made these places more liberal and more Democratic. Yes, in a complete inversion from the past pattern, the Democrats are now the party of the rich. That’s why, in 2016, nine of the ten richest states voted for Hillary Clinton, while nine of the ten poorest states voted for Donald Trump.
What about the poor states, you might ask? As wealthy liberals might say, let them eat property...

Taxes, Non

Viva le tax revolt:
The protest movement began a week ago when hundreds of thousands of protesters wearing high-visibility yellow vests blockaded roads in a largely spontaneous outpouring of anger about higher diesel taxes.

There was still potential for the enduring anger to snowball into a major stand-off between the government and opponents of Macron’s pro-business agenda who are voicing a wider range of grievances.

However this time, while there was major disruption on roads across the country, turnout was lower than a week ago and a call from protest leaders to block the capital looked to have failed.

By mid-afternoon, 81,000 protestors had been counted across France, compared with about 244,000 at the same time last week, figures from the interior ministry showed.

Around 8,000 took to the streets in Paris, with about 5,000 on the Champs-Elysees.
Monsieur Macron should be wary of how the last revolution in France turned out for the ruling class...

To The Moon

Maybe this will finally settle things?
“We have set this objective to fly and verify whether they’ve been there or not,” said Dmitry Rogozin in a video posted Saturday on Twitter.

Rogozin was responding to a question about whether or not NASA actually landed on the moon nearly 50 years ago. He appeared to be joking, as he smirked and shrugged while answering. But conspiracies surrounding NASA’s moon missions are common in Russia.

The Soviet Union abandoned its lunar program in the mid-1970s after four experimental moon rockets exploded.
I'm sure it's all part of the conspiracy...

Big Judge

You'd better behave:
The capital city will pool data from several departments to reward and punish some 22 million citizens based on their actions and reputations by the end of 2020, according to a plan posted on the Beijing municipal government’s website on Monday. Those with better so-called social credit will get “green channel” benefits while those who violate laws will find life more difficult.

The Beijing project will improve blacklist systems so that those deemed untrustworthy will be “unable to move even a single step,” according to the government’s plan. Xinhua reported on the proposal Tuesday, while the report posted on the municipal government’s website is dated July 18.

China has long experimented with systems that grade its citizens, rewarding good behavior with streamlined services while punishing bad actions with restrictions and penalties. Critics say such moves are fraught with risks and could lead to systems that reduce humans to little more than a report card.
What happens if you don't make the grade?

Friday, November 23, 2018

Cheap Imitations

Accept no substitutes:
No doubt the credit for successful policies never originates with a single administration but rather with several, and the desire to receive credit should never get in the way of simply doing the right thing. Ronald Reagan famously said, “There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don't care who gets the credit” -- perhaps because he knew that public memory was as short as the news cycle can make it.

Who now can remember, as progressives cast themselves as the defenders against the Russian menace, how recently president Obama laughed at Mitt Romney's suggestion that the Kremlin could ever be a threat? Ha ha. But it's enough perhaps that Russia is finally facing one of the biggest military buildups since the end of the Cold War, whoever ordered it -- though some will point out no doubt that the buildup may have begun in Obama's final year, when "reality finally kicked in."

Plagiarism is the sincerest form of imitation. Clinton's realization that mass immigration must be adapted to suit the actual conditions is a sign that the populist revolution, though it may be checked or superseded, has left an indelible mark. Trump may be impeached, though probably not convicted, in the coming months; certainly he will, like all mortal flesh, eventually fade away. But there's no denying time has moved the needle and there is no way back to the global world paradigm of 2016.
But who moved the needle first?

Common Collapse

The failure of Common Core:
In the study, the authors observed that since Common Core was implemented in 45 states and Washington, DC, students have demonstrated sharp drops in academic performance. Additionally, those students who were already performing poorly– many of them minority students – declined even further.

Yet, in the name of accountability, when private school choice programs receive taxpayer-funded vouchers, they are often forced to adopt the curriculum on which the state standardized test is based. In most cases, that curriculum is aligned with Common Core.

According to the study, about two thirds of the nation’s tuition grant (“voucher”) programs mandate that schools administer a single curriculum-based test, usually a Common Core-aligned test, in order to receive the public funds.
Slow educational death by Common Core...

Big Game Gone

It wasn't our fault:
In research published in the journal Science on Friday, authors analyzed records on megaherbivore communities in eastern Africa over seven million years. A megaherbivore is a mammal weighing more than 2,000 pounds. They concluded that extinctions of diverse mammal communities in Africa occurred before evidence of human hunting.

The animal decline might have instead been because of environmental factors such as declining atmospheric carbon dioxide and expansion of grasslands, researchers write.

"Low CO2 levels favor tropical grasses over trees, and as a consequence savannas became less woody and more open through time," John Rowan, a postdoctoral scientist from the University of Massachusetts Amherst who was involved in the research, said in a statement. "We know that many of the extinct megaherbivores fed on woody vegetation, so they seem to disappear alongside their food source."
Blame it on the green grass...

Lessons Learned?

Socialist elders reap what they sow:
For most students, many of whom are liberal-minded or influenced by Western ideas, Maoism and worker rights are very distant concepts, explained Li, a fourth-year Peking University student who only gave his surname.

"As a political science student, I'm not very leftist in how I view labour," he told AFP.

He criticised the activists for their lack of "objectiveness and impartiality", but said that doesn't mean they should be suppressed.

Even if the government tries to clamp down on students, the labour disputes that sparked the protests in the first place won't vanish, added Chan.

"It is the government now who has to come up and resolve the problems," she said. Otherwise, "all these grievances and discontent" will simply increase.
Where do these kids get their ideas? Oh, wait...

Thursday, November 22, 2018

There's An App For That

The app of enlightenment?
Mr. Chopra, 72, is not too bashful to broadcast his daily meditations to potentially millions of Alexa users. His new Alexa meditation program, a daily “flash” of a short message of reflective advice that launched this month, is the latest way that the best-selling author, professor and doctor is peddling his view of the future. The self-fashioned wellness guru, who has written or co-written 86 books, including “Perfect Health” (1990), “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success” (1994) and “Grow Younger, Live Longer” (2001), believes that consumer technology and artificial intelligence can play an important role in personal health care.

He dismisses critics who consider his prescriptions, which include meditation, yoga and Ayurvedic medicine, as New Age eccentricity. “What was ‘woo woo’ is now mainstream,” he says. “I have a professorship at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine after all these years.” He notes that his for-profit Chopra Center, which provides education in Mr. Chopra’s wellness principles, has published research attesting to the benefits of lifestyle changes in treating chronic diseases.

In recent years, technology and social media have comprised a greater portion of Mr. Chopra’s repertoire. Two years ago, he launched his own wellness app called Jiyo, which helps users monitor their daily habits. He broadcasts Facebook and Instagram videos and posts every morning, using a camera on his dining room table.
The path to inner peace begins with logging on?

Blogging In The Years: 1863

For a nation at war with itself, President Lincoln's Thanksgiving proclamation:

Related image

Flat Man

Logan Paul is not welcome:
Paul attended the Flat Earth Conference in Denver last week, The Daily Beast first reported. In a speech before hundreds of conference-goers, Paul announced he was “coming out of the Flat Earth closet,” although his remarks appeared to be part of a prank for a video. In an interview with The Daily Beast before the speech, the 23-year-old Paul couldn’t keep a straight face while claiming the Earth was flat. Now the stunt is reopening old rifts in the Flat Earth community.

“As of the time of publishing this statement, the Flat Earth Society has not been in contact with Logan Paul or anyone acting as his representative, and we have no intention of offering him membership or otherwise affiliating with him or his recent statements,” the society announced this past weekend. The group is one of the largest and oldest in the Flat Earth community, which has boomed in popularity in the YouTube age.

“Any claims that Logan Paul is a member of the Flat Earth Society or that he may have been considered for membership are simply untrue.”
They only take the right kind of lunatics...

Green Gravy Train

No more free ride for him:
The Guardian understands Solheim was asked to resign by the UN secretary general, António Guterres. Sources at the UN Environment Programme (Unep) said that countries unhappy with Solheim’s conduct were holding back tens of millions of dollars, threatening a financial crisis at the body.

A draft internal UN audit leaked to the Guardian in September found Solheim had spent almost $500,000 (£390,000) on air travel and hotels in just 22 months, and was away 80% of the time. The audit said this was a “reputation risk” for an organisation dedicated to fighting climate change.

A UN staff union leader called some of the revelations “mind-blowing” and a prominent climate scientist accused Solheim of “obscene CO2 hypocrisy”.

Solheim took the job in 2016 and quickly outraged colleagues with his nepotism and his profligacy. Among the charges levelled against him:

Wasting time and money by rebranding UNEP “UN Environment”
Parachuting his son into a UNEP internship, “jumping the queue of hundreds of Kenyan students”
Allegedly “taking his son on a trip to China and diverting another trip for personal reasons and not paying the money back to the UN”.
Trading the gift of free bicycles to UNEP from the boss of MoBike in return for giving his organization a “champion of the earth” award.
Spending Euros 500,000 of the UNEP budget sponsoring Volvo Ocean Races
Creating 25 positions in the UNEP executive office (from a previous 7) at an additional cost to the department of $1.1 million a year.
In other words, he was a perfect fit for the UN...

Short Attention Span Theater

Why short attention span might be a good thing:
A study conducted several years before the first iPhone was unveiled found that workers spent an average of just two minutes using a particular tool or document before switching to another. [4] Moreover, interruptions may have a silver lining. Many workers who were insulated from distraction by website-blocking software became more aware of time’s passage and were able to work for longer stretches—but also reported higher stress levels as a result of their sustained focus. [5]

For those seeking to exercise greater control over their attention span, science has some suggestions. A 2016 study found that mindfulness meditation led to short-term improvements in attention and focus, and that the benefits were disproportionately large among heavy multimedia multitaskers. [6] And research published earlier this year suggests that the long-term attentional benefits of regular mindfulness practice may be even more substantial than previously thought. [7]
Start paying more attention, the right way?

Blogging In The Years: 1869

Thomas Nast celebrates our uniquely American holiday:


They're almost the last lost tribe:
Starting in the 1960s, anthropologists succeeded in exchanging gifts and conducting field visits but abandoned their efforts some 25 years ago in the face of renewed hostility.

An Indian Coast Guard helicopter which flew over the island after the 2004 Asian Tsunami was attacked with arrows.

The authorities then declared that no further attempts would be made to contact the Sentinelese.

They do make periodic checks, albeit from a safe distance, to ensure the tribe's well-being, following a strict "eyes on, hands off" policy.

Veteran anthropologist T. N. Pandit who visited North Sentinel 50 years ago believes there should be no rush to make contact with the Sentinelese.

"Of the four Andaman tribal communities, we have seen that those in close contact with the outside world have suffered the most. They have declined demographically and culturally," he told Down To Earth magazine in a recent interview.

The Sentinelese "are a highly vulnerable population and would disappear in an epidemic," he added.

"The government's responsibility should be to keep a watch over them in the sense (that) no unauthorized people reach them and exploit them. Otherwise, just leave them alone."
Tourists, take the hint...

Machine Massage

Let the machines do your workout:
The FDA-approved EMSculpt machine sends high-­intensity, focused electromagnetic waves into the body, provoking intense muscle contractions in select areas. It can be uncomfortable, but it’s not painful—and there’s little ­soreness afterward. Unlike the similar e-stim “As Seen on TV” staples of late-night ­infomercials, according to Neinstein, after four ­visits in two weeks, his clients see results. A clinical study of 22 users showed that patients experienced an average 20 percent reduction in body fat in that time, and a 15 percent increase in muscle in their stomachs and butts.
Or you could just actually exercise...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Signs Of The Times

London's City Hall "welcomes" you:
Images passed to Breitbart London show new signs, which are claimed to have appeared this week, reading “Gender Neutral Toilets and Showers.” Some of the men’s toilets, with urinals, are still marked as for men.

The shower rooms have always been available to both men and women, but the sign on the door previously showed a man and a woman. The female toilets were previously marked as for females.

Other female toilets on the upper floor were also briefly changed to “gender neutral” before being changed back to “female,” a source said.
The plumbing might not care, but people do...

Money Pitt

The Katrina Con?
Design flaws coupled with the choice of “environmentally friendly” materials over standard building material, have resulted in “mold and collapsing structures, electrical fires and gas leaks.” Homeowners claim “the houses were built too quickly, with low-quality materials, and that the designs didn’t take into account New Orleans’ humid, rainy climate.”

Earlier this year, a class action suit was filed against the actor and Make It Right.

On Monday, according to the Blast, Pitt filed paperwork “demanding” the lawsuit against him be tossed out.

Pitt says Make It Right was founded, “with the mission of building high-performance, sustainably-designed homes to be sold at affordable prices to residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.”

The star says he had no duty personally to the homeowners and did not breach any deal with them. Translation: “I’m an actor, not a construction worker.”

Pitt points out that the plaintiffs have previously praised him for leading the charge on building the homes, and specifically mentioned “that they are extremely grateful to Mr. Pitt for his efforts in helping to rebuild the Lower Ninth Ward.”

The court docs state, “Mr. Pitt cannot simply be lumped together with other defendants and held liable for alleged conduct in which he is not even alleged to have participated.”

While Pitt is claiming he is not personally responsible, he is not saying the same about Make It Right, where he serves as director.
Making it wrong?

Don't Place Your Bets

You've got to know when to hold 'em:
The money goes on fruit machines, on bingo, in betting shops or online, which are all illegal for under-18s.

The commission’s report also said:

Children are being inundated with gambling advertising, with two in three saying they have seen it on TV;
Close to a million youngsters have been exposed to gambling through ‘loot boxes’ in computer games or on smartphone apps;
More children say they have placed bets in the past week than drunk alcohol, smoked or taken drugs.
Lord Chadlington, former chairman of Action on Addiction, demanded an advertising crackdown.

‘We are on the brink of a gambling epidemic in this country,’ the peer said.

‘I am calling for a stop to gambling advertising on live sporting events on television, and these numbers reinforce the need for urgent action.

‘Italy, which has some 20 per cent fewer problem gamblers than the UK, is banning it. Why is this bombardment of gambling advertising on television continuing in the UK?’
The house still always wins, kids...

A Very PC Soul

In keeping with the politically correct spirit of the season:
“1st snowperson of the season and the 2nd snowfall in less than a week in Nashua, NH,” Seidel wrote in text accompanying the photo.

He also thanked Matt Saffer, a multimedia journalist at the Weather Channel, “for the eyes, nose, etc.”

How did folks react?
So, was Seidel joking? Was he serious? Whatever his motivations, the Twitterverse took issue — in a mostly fun-loving way — to Seidel’s politically correct characterization.
Remember, don't offend the rolled-up piles of snow...

Thanksgiving Turkeys

No drumsticks for them:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Bumming For Votes

Bum votes for sale:
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office says it is charging nine people in total with felony counts related to the offenses, which are said to have happened during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles.

“The defendants are accused of engaging in the solicitation of hundreds of false and/or forged signatures on state ballot petitions and voter registration forms by allegedly offering homeless people $1 and/or cigarettes for their participation,” a statement from the attorney’s office reads.

The charges, it added, include “circulating a petition with false names; use of false names on a petition; voter fraud, registering a fictitious person; and voter fraud, registering a nonexistent person.”

Some of the nine charged were identified as Kirkland Kauzava Washington, Harold Bennett, and Louis Thomas Wise – who are each facing eight counts. The others: Richard Howard, Rose Makeda Sweeney, Christopher Joseph Williams, Jakara Fati Mardis, Norman Hall and Nickey Demelvin Huntley, are each facing four counts. Their ages range from 28 to 62, and each could end up having to serve a maximum of around five to six years in prison if convicted.
When you run out of dead people, the homeless are always an option...

Email Call

Well, at least Hillary will be happy:
Trump is said to have sent hundreds of emails regarding government matters from a personal email address, according to the Washington Post.

Peter Mirijanian, a spokesperson for Trump’s attorney Abbe Lowell, told the Post that the White House advisor used the email address for scheduling matters regarding her family and affirmed no classified information was sent or deleted from the account. “While transitioning into government… Ms. Trump sometimes used her private account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family,” said Mirijanian.

“When concerns were raised in the press 14 months ago, Ms. Trump reviewed and verified her email use with White House Counsel and explained the issue to congressional leaders,” he added.

According to the report, “sources close” to Trump say she was unaware of the rules regarding government employees using personal email addresses to conduct official business.
The difference? Hillary was very aware of what she was doing...

This Is Not Effed Up, Right Here

Whatever happened to South Park?
Parker and Stone have always been agnostic in their satire, knowing what to mock but not necessarily what they should be advocating. But for this season in particular, they’ve made that uncertainty the entire point.

More than ever before, South Park is questioning its own place in society, abandoning its usual approach of ‘offend everyone to offend no one’ to instead become more existential. It’s not so much mocking contrasting schools of thought, but asking its audience to understand why it is so exhausting to live in such a climate. And, if it can be said about a programme that still features fart humour as a prominent comedy tool, that demonstrates just how much the show has matured.
Or found its own safe space...

Swamp Bust

More shenanigans in the Sunshine State:
Evidence reported to the Department of State suggests Democrats possibly had voters fix ballots after the state’s deadline in at least four counties, the outlet added.

The party sent voters cure forms for mail ballots, CNS said, and the return date was changed from the day before the election to two days afterward.

What are the implications?
It’s a third-degree felony under state law to “make or use any false document, knowing the same to contain any false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry” connected to the Florida Department of State, including the elections division, which produces the form in question, the News added.

What does a Democratic strategist have to say?
Democratic strategist Steve Schale told CNS it was all likely due to a mix-up.

“Some 23-year-old staffer probably got two dates mixed up,” Schale said on camera. “They put the date down for the provisional ballot cure, not the absentee ballot cure thing, and actually by doing it, all they did was make it harder … for their own voters to vote.”
In other words, they were just doing their jobs...

Monday, November 19, 2018

Blogging In The Years: 1910

The Edison studio proudly presents its version of "Frankenstein":

Smart Safety First

Kids can survive:
Sometimes children do need protection from real dangers. But teaching kids that failures, insults, and painful experiences will do lasting damage is harmful in and of itself. Human beings need physical and mental challenges and stressors, or we deteriorate.

To understand why this overprotective approach is so foolish, it helps to understand the concept of "antifragility," which New York University risk engineering professor Nassim Nicholas Taleb has explained by distinguishing between three kinds of things.

Some, like china teacups, are fragile: They break easily and cannot heal themselves, so you must handle them gently and keep them away from toddlers. Other things are resilient: They can withstand shocks without being permanently damaged. Parents usually give their toddlers plastic cups precisely because plastic can survive repeated falls to the floor (though the cups obviously do not benefit from such falls).

Taleb asks us to look beyond the overused word resilience, however, and recognize that some things are antifragile: They require stressors in order to learn, adapt, and grow. Many of the important systems in our economic and political life are like our immune systems in this way. Things that are antifragile become rigid, weak, and inefficient when nothing challenges them.
Would you rather be a teacup, or a plastic cup?

Women On The Verge

Whatever happened to the Pink Hats?
The 2018 midterm elections saw those women elected into office in historic margins. But instead of a moment of celebration for the Women’s March, the group now finds itself in turmoil, as a growing number of activists, sister marches and high-profile early supporters of the march have begun to separate themselves from the main group who, they say, hasn’t done enough to denounce the hateful anti-semitic rhetoric of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

On Monday, Teresa Shook, a Hawaii-based retired lawyer and founder of Women’s March, called for the current leadership to step down in a Facebook post, just two months before the third march is set to take place in Washington D.C.

“Bob Bland, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour and Carmen Perez of Women’s March, Inc. have steered the Movement away from its true course. I have waited, hoping they would right the ship. But they have not,” she wrote. “In opposition to our Unity Principles, they have allowed anti-Semitism, anti- LBGTQIA sentiment and hateful, racist rhetoric to become a part of the platform by their refusal to separate themselves from groups that espouse these racist, hateful beliefs.”

In a joint statement, Bland, Mallory, Sarsour and Perez dismissed Shook’s contribution to the movement as at the “very beginning” and said she “irresponsibly” weighed in “to take advantage of our growing pains to try and fracture our network.”

“Our ongoing work speaks for itself,” they wrote. “That’s our focus, not armchair critiques from those who want to take credit for our labor.”
Some bigots are more equal than others...

Marchers Not Welcome

No caravan for them:
The locals gathered at the monument to Aztec ruler Cuauhtémoc where they chanted, “Out! Out!” in protest to the estimated 2,600 migrants who have caused the unrest since their arrival, The Associated Press reported.

“We don’t want them in Tijuana,” they shouted while waving Mexican flags, according to reports.

Since Thursday night, U.S. officials closed part of Friendship Park after people threw rocks from the Mexican side of the border at American officials, including San Diego Sector Chief Patrol Agent Rodney Scott, according to KSWB.

“Due to unrest in this location, the area known as Friendship Circle has been closed to visitors until further notice,” Border Patrol spokesman Ralph DeSio told the news station.

What else did residents say?
Santiago Alvarado, 29, told NBC News that the caravan was filled with MS-13 gang members and that the migrants aren’t grateful to Mexico.

“They’re not thankful for what people have done for them,” Alvarado told NBC. “This country is not yours.”
Make Tijuana Mexican again?

Blogging In The Years: 1978

The rise and fall of a lunatic:
Mr. Jones had preached a blend of fundamentalist Christianity and social activism; he had appealed powerfully to the dispossessed; 80 to 90 percent of church members were reckoned to be black, and the elderly and middle‐aged were disproportionately represented. But ex‐members told, as they began to do last year, of fake miracles, of physical and mental coercion, of members required to turn over all their wealth to the church, of sexual abuse and intimidation. It was following such reports that in August, 1977, Mr. Jones left for Guyana, taking much of his congregaMr. Jones first set up the People's Temple in Indianapolis, took it to Ukiah, Calif. in 1965, and to San Francisco in 1971. He struck some as fanatical, but none as crazy, and served in minor public offices. Local political leaders respected him because he had followers who were voters also. He collected, Guyanese authorities said, letters of commendation, in general terms, from such people as Vice President Mondale, Rosalynn Carter, Senator Henry M. Jackson. Some of the letters now appear to have been faked, but they are the sort any preacher with even minimum respectability — and a large congregation — could obtain from almost any politician. After the fact, Mr. Jones's own 19‐year‐old son described him to the press as a paranoid and a fanatic, but by that time everyone else knew the same.
The insanity always waits until the end to reveal itself...

Blogging In The Years: 1979

It's the end of the Seventies, so it must be doomsday:

This Land Is His Land

What would Bill De Blasio do?
Asked about housing inequality, the progressive Democrat de Blasio bemoaned the soaring rent and home prices in one of the world’s most expensive cities and said that ideally the city government would be able to implement tough laws around income levels and rents.

“Look, if I had my druthers, the city government would determine every single plot of land, how development would proceed," he said. "And there would be very stringent requirements around income levels and rents.”

Later in the interview, de Blasio admitted that this type of governmental control is not possible right now – saying it causes “friction” and “anger” – but said that there are many people in New York City who would like to have a government that better addresses their daily needs.
It's land grabbing for the greater good...

Free Pass

Jim Acosta is back, sort of:
“Today the White House fully restored Jim Acosta's press pass. As a result, our lawsuit is no longer necessary. We look forward to continuing to cover the White House,” CNN said in a statement.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders also implemented a series of rules that will govern White House press conferences going forward.

According to Sanders, the new rules are:

A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists.
At the discretion of the President or other White House official taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor.
Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner.
Failure to abide by any of rules may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.
“We are mindful that a more elaborate and comprehensive set of rules might need to be devised," Sanders said.
Just follow the rules this time...

To Not Tell The Truth

Because lying isn't lying, or something:

Thug Life

Trey goes away?
“[Tekashi] openly identifies as a member of the 9 Trey Bloods, frequently referencing the Bloods in his music and celebrating his gang involvement in the social media posts he broadcasts to his 14 million followers on Instagram,” the Manhattan prosecutors said in court papers.

A July 28 video posted to his Instagram account shows Tekashi 6ix9ine getting into a car in Miami, picking up what appears to be an automatic weapon and saying, “Trey Way!”

An attorney for Tekashi, 22, has previously denied his client is affiliated with any gang but could not be reached for comment on the new federal charges.

Three Tekashi associates were also arrested in the operation, including Kifano “Shotti” Jordan, who was his manager until he abruptly fired the entire team last week. Also busted was Faheem “Crippy” Walter, who was previously charged with gang assault after a confrontation at a Tekashi celebration, which left him wounded. Jensel “Ish” Butler was also charged.
Now you can call him 5to10...

Bug Space

The landfills of Brazilian termites:
Termites are well known for creating elaborate nests, with vast networks of underground tunnels. Many species create skyscraping chimneys atop these lairs to ventilate the underground chambers, and in some African species, these mounds can tower 30 feet high. But the Brazilian mounds are neither chimneys nor nests. They’re just amorphous lumps of soil, with no internal structures. Nothing lives inside them. Instead, “they’re just slag piles,” says Funch.

The local termites create extensive subterranean labyrinths of tunnels, and they eject whatever soil they don’t need on the surface. The process is slow and gradual, but the termites have been at it for millennia. They’re more like a geological force than an organism. Just as rivers or glaciers sculpt the landscape around them, so too have these tiny insects sculpted some 90,000 square miles of Brazil into a junkyard that’s visible from space.
Everybody has to put their trash somewhere...

Nancy's Last Stand?

The knives are out:
The letter does not include at least three additional Democratic lawmakers or members-elect who have confirmed to POLITICO that they intend to oppose Pelosi on the floor: Rep. Conor Lamb of Pennsylvania, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia and Jason Crow of Colorado.

That would bring Pelosi’s opponents to a total of 19 members or members-elect committed to voting against her — enough to keep her from becoming speaker should these members refuse to budge.

Three House races in Utah, Georgia and Texas have not been called but are trending toward the Republican incumbents. Should Democrats be victorious, Pelosi could have more wiggle-room and could lose as many as 18 votes.

Pelosi has defiantly said she will win a speaker vote and has no intention of withdrawing. Her allies predict she will take this fight all the way to the House floor and will wear down her opponents.

“If your strategy relies upon Nancy Pelosi giving up, you will lose every single time," said a senior Democratic aide. "Ninety-four percent of the Caucus didn’t sign this letter.”
Maybe they're just biding their time...

That Lost Car Smell

A childhood memory may be history:
“Unpleasant interior smell/odor remains the top industry problem in that market,” said Brent Gruber, senior director, global automotive, at J.D. Power. “To put that in context, it is nearly double the problem rate of the second most prevalent problem, excessive fuel consumption.”

Consumer feedback from Chinese buyers in recent years has been consistent. More than 10 percent of drivers complained about the issue according to the 2018 J.D. Power China Initial Quality Study.

Americans seem to like it, though.

“When I go online, I can find 30 different products that will give my car that new car smell,” said Brian Moody, executive editor at Autotrader. “And now they’ve come up with something to limit it?”
No smell, no sale?


Don't scare the students:
Course leaders say capitalising a word could emphasise "the difficulty or high-stakes nature of the task".

The memo says: "Despite our best attempts to explain assessment tasks, any lack of clarity can generate anxiety and even discourage students from attempting the assessment at all.

Generally, avoid using capital letters for emphasis and "the overuse of 'do', and, especially, 'DON'T'."
Remember, DON'T do that...

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Bad Poetry Night

The best of the worst:
“Trees” made Kilmer famous, but his reputation slipped as tastes changed and modernists like Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot ascended. Carefully rhymed poems like Kilmer’s suddenly seemed, well, sappy. Eventually Kilmer was considered dreadful enough to parody with a contest that values the ability to string thoughts together the way he did: enthrallingly, even absorbingly. But also badly.

… all that a poem can do is make the heart feel
Lifeless illusions of things not quite real...

This is just a bad poem and I have no remorse.
This is just a bad poem and for it I’ve no recourse.
And if you say this poem’s bad, I’ll say: no, it’s worse.

Yeah, I just rhymed remorse with worse. Case in point.

— From an untitled poem by David Lalo

So, in its way, the Kilmer competition complements the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, which recognizes atrocious opening lines for novels and is named for a 19th-century British writer infamous for beginning a novel, “It was a dark and stormy night.”

At the Kilmer contest, the entrants took their commitment to badness almost literally. One ended his poem like this: “Bad, bad, bad, bad.”
If you can't do the time, don't commit the rhyme crime...

Welcome To Flatland

One big happy Flat Earth family?
Sure there are schisms. Multiple YouTubers make snipes at other YouTubers during their presentations. Trolls like one or more of the Tim Ozmans make bomb threats. All the major speakers are at odds with the Flat Earth Society, whom many describe as “controlled opposition.” The first night concludes with a formal debate between a Christian literalist who believes Earth is flat and a Christian literalist who believes Earth is round but that the solar system orbits Earth, not the sun.

But overall, the conference is a barrage of reinforcement. Earth is flat and you’re here with your Flat Earth family. Earth is flat and you’re here with your Flat Earth family.

I take a break from a presentation to type in the lobby. Two strangers, a man and a woman, sit down across from me, and over the course of a long conversation, scooch closer and closer to each other until I relocate to another couch. For all the presenters’ talk of open-mindedness and debate, people are really looking for others like them.
Insanity breeds familiarity...

Super Ego

You don't mess with the fan base:
In a blog post published on his website Saturday, Maher wrote: “The guy who created Spider-Man and the Hulk has died, and America is in mourning. Deep, deep mourning for a man who inspired millions to, I don’t know, watch a movie, I guess.”

“But then twenty years or so ago, something happened – adults decided they didn’t have to give up kid stuff. And so they pretended comic books were actually sophisticated literature,” Maher continued.

“The problem is, we’re using our smarts on stupid stuff. I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to suggest that Donald Trump could only get elected in a country that thinks comic books are important,” the comedian wrote.
Maher’s comments drew immediate ire from comic book fans and writers alike, with cartoonist Greg Capullo and writer G. Willow Wilson denouncing Maher’s analysis.
Bill Maher, super-villain? 'Nuff said!

True Believers

Jerry Brown says the unfaithful will convert:
On the California fires, Brown said, “Well, how they started is now the subject of investigation. The consultation occurs because the brush, the vegetation is so dry, and the humidity is so low. And when you have that and then the heat and years of drought, that gets it going. In paradise, there were a lot of buildings that also caught fire, and it just went from one to the other. So it’s a mixture of many things, and the president talked about how our forests are managed. That’s an element. But there is also the way the houses were built, the materials, what kind of vegetation is around, and then there’s also the changing climate and the increasing drought and the lowered humidity and water vapor. All of that is combining to create the tragic situation that we saw today in both northern California and here in southern California.”
But there's still plenty of hot air over the issue...

Saturday, November 17, 2018


Whatever happened to the Republican Party?
The entire GOP landscape across the country is undergoing a seismic shift. Suburban voters -- once a source of tremendous strength for the GOP -- are abandoning the party in droves. The same holds true for much of the Midwest, where the term "rock-ribbed Republican" was born.

Looking at the GOP today, we see a party strong in the upper and lower South and mountain West, but becoming increasingly isolated in the Midwest. There are still pockets of Republican strength in rural areas of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, but those areas are shrinking while Democratic cities, suburbs, and ex-urbs are growing. East of the Alleghenies, it's a Republican wasteland.

Is Trump accelerating the GOP decline? There's no doubt that Trump's antics as president have energized his base. They are, if anything, more loyal and enthusiastic today than they were when he was elected.

The rest of the country? Not so much.

As leader of the party, Trump is responsible for its growth or decline. Right now, it's declining across the board. The answer is not goosing Trump's base supporters. The answer has to be broadening the appeal of the party.
And perhaps reclaiming actual, conservative values?

Lunchables Time

In praise of lunchables:
The brand has had its shifts—introducing and later phasing out hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as dabbling in breakfast—but its core selling points of convenience (for parents) and fun (for kids) have remained constant since its early days. At a time when many parents are attuned to shifting nutritional advice and want to avoid wasteful consumer products, there is still ample appetite for a sugary, fatty prepared lunch that comes in a disposable plastic tray.

“It’s been that fun lunch … and I think that’s what kept it evergreen,” says Greg Guidotti, the head of marketing at Oscar Mayer, which makes Lunchables and is owned by the enormous food company Kraft Heinz. “There’s a ritual involved with opening it, and stacking it, and building it,” he told me, in describing the enduring appeal to kids of assembling the components in a Lunchables tray.
Gather ye crackers and ham slices...

Poor Man's Jacket

Don't flaunt that coat:
The Independent reports that according to headteacher Rebekah Phillips, parents had asked for the prohibition:

“We are very concerned about the fact that our children put a lot of pressure on parents to buy them expensive coats,” she said. Pupils were attending classes in coats that cost up to £700, she said, adding “a lot of parents at our school cannot afford that”.

Those pupils who did not have expensive outerwear were upset, she continued. “They feel stigmatised, they feel left out, they feel inadequate,” she said.

Phillips said some parents previously had had an issue with students’ “designer rucksacks.”

From the story:

“The support from parents/carers has been overwhelmingly positive and we are very thankful for this.

“Some have also asked whether Pyrenex coats, which are also in a similar price range (with some also having real fur) will also be prohibited.
You will wear what they want you to wear...

Friday, November 16, 2018

Two Minute Warning

Florida literally screws itself again:
“We uploaded to the state two minutes late so the state has chosen not to use our machine recount results and they are going to use the first unofficial results as our second unofficial results,” D’Alessandro explained.

“Basically I just worked my a** off for nothing,” he added bitterly.

Broward County supervisor of election Brenda Snipes was celebrating their effort before it was discovered that they didn’t meet the deadline.

“We are excited to be at this point,” Snipes said.

Her tone was much changed after the mistake was noted.

“I have taken responsibility for every act in this office, good, bad or indifferent,” she said. “I always hold myself accountable.”

The blunder caps off a weeklong series of castigations and recriminations between Democrats and Republicans over the recount, including tweets from the president who posted scornful accusations from his social media account.
Now they'll just have to endure more, because, their version of "democracy..."

The Gender Dialogues

Not all feminists are equal:
Murphy is an outspoken feminist who has been opposed to a Canadian bill that would make gender identity and expression part of the law.

Murphy later added, “What ARE we allowed to say here??? How tf is simply saying ‘men aren’t women’ hateful??? I am losing my godd**ned mind over this. Enjoy your brave new world, sjws. Here’s your f***ing social justice.”

“I’m assuming my account is going to get locked again simply for speaking about this,” she added. “But this is not f***ing ok and I’m not going to let it go silently.”

Murphy went on to reveal that trans activists have been targeting her online for her outspoken notion that women simply don’t have penises.

“Trans activists have been targeting my account for a few months now,” she wrote. “Either someone at Twitter or with an in at Twitter has been combing through old tweets and reporting them for ‘hateful conduct.’ Twitter seems to instantly shut my account down without a second thought.”

Murphy went on to question if Twitter was attempting to ban all users with similar opinions, or if just she was a target for suspension.

“Are you going to ban every single user on here who says ‘men aren’t women’?? Actually??? @Twitter Or are you just going out of your way to specifically silence ME?” Murphy complained.
Apparently the ones without specific body parts are...

This Is...The Trump News Network

When it's all Trump, all the time:

Pass Or Go

Jim Acosta is back:
The Trump administration suspended Acosta’s hard pass last week after a heated confrontation during a news event in which Acosta refused to give the microphone back to a female White House intern.

In response, CNN announced that the organization would be filing a lawsuit against the president and several members of his administration. CNN’s suit alleged that Trump and other administration members violated Acosta’s constitutional rights by preventing him from entering into and reporting on the White House.

CNN is also suing for a “declaration that the revocation of Acosta’s press credentials was unconstitutional.”

Others named on the suit included White House chief of staff John Kelly and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Kelly’s ruling means that Acosta will have access to the White House for a “short period of time,” according to CNN.

The judge also added that overall, he believes that CNN and Acosta’s case are likely to be successful on the merits of the suit.
Still annoying after all this time...

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Same Crime, Different Time

Reverse sexism in sentencing?
The study in question, “Estimating Gender Disparities in Federal Criminal Cases,” was the first major academic article to find that men face harsher prison sentences than do women.One possible reason for this disparity is the “girlfriend theory.”

“Prosecutors and judges may consider such women less dangerous, less morally culpable, or useful sources of testimony,” she writes. “While leniency may be appropriate in such cases … such perceptions are not always justified by the facts,” Starr adds.

The sentencing disparity helps explain why men are 93 percent of federal prison inmates, though of course, it goes without saying that men are also more likely to be found guilty for drug offenses (which account for 46% of federal inmates) and violent crimes such as rape or arson.
Do women really want equality everywhere?

Cash Cows

How low can they go?
Authorities on Thursday say 44-year-old Thomas Cash and his wife, 39-year-old Alisha Cash, were arrested in Madison County, Alabama, and extradited to face fraud charges in New York. Both are in Steuben County Jail. It could not be determined if they have a lawyer.

Investigators say the couple opened numerous accounts over five years while living in Hammondsport, New York, using the identities of their three children under 18 who didn't live with them.

Police say they racked up nearly $10,000 in unpaid utility bills. The children were unaware of the scheme until one applied for a loan.
They sound more like politicians than parents...

The Game Of Your Life

Truth in advertising?
A new edition of the classic board game Monopoly has some young people up in arms. The new edition, which is called Monopoly for Millennials, is packaged with the tagline “Forget real estate. You can’t afford it anyway.” On the cover, the Monopoly Man is wearing a “participation” medal and taking a selfie.

As soon as the game was announced, young people took to social media to express their anger over the game’s premise.

“What?! @Hasbro‘s #Millennial Monopoly says “forget real estate, you cant afford it anyway.” Hopefully they’ll be donating the proceeds to student debt relief. (which is why millennials can’t afford real estate),” another user wrote.

Another user, @TechnicallyRon, joked about a Millennial Edition of Monopoly earlier this year before the game was announced. “Let’s play a game of MILLENNIAL MONOPOLY. The rules are simple, you start with no money, you can’t afford anything, the board is on fire for some reason and everything is your fault,” he wrote in May. It seems like Hasbro took the tweet, which went viral, and turned it into a game.
Seems like the game is making its point...

Big Brass Bust

It's the building of big spenders:
Results of the inspection - conducted by some 1,200 auditors and examining financial accounting on a wide range of spending including on weapons systems, military personnel and property - were expected to be completed later in the day.

"We failed the audit, but we never expected to pass it," Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan told reporters.

The U.S. defense budget for the 2018 fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30 was $700 billion. It was unclear what consequences there would be for the failed audit, but defense officials and outside experts have said it may be years before the Pentagon is able to fix its accounting gaps and errors and pass an audit.
The Pentagon has a lot in common with the rest of the government...

Migrants Not Welcome

No caravan for them:
With some exceptions, Mexico has welcomed the Central Americans, offering food and lodging in towns during their journey. The migrants said they were stunned by the hostile attitude in Tijuana.

"We are not criminals. Why do treat us like this if everywhere we have traveled in Mexico they treated us well?" migrants shouted back. "Think about the children who are here, please."

Recent polls show a sizeable minority of Mexicans opposed to aiding the migrants as they head northward to the United States.
You reap what you sow...

Slow Rising

The tax cut was fun while it lasted:
The tax law enacted last year lowered tax rates and reduced tax burdens for most households in 2018. It also required the IRS to switch to a different, slower-moving measure of inflation to adjust a variety of tax-code features for rising prices.

The standard deduction, tax brackets and other items will still increase most years, but now they will usually climb more slowly than they would have under the old formula.

The result: More income gets taxed at all, or taxed at higher rates.

The bite starts as a nibble. In 2019, the standard deduction for a married couple will be $24,400. The deduction would have been $24,550 under the old inflation-adjustment method, according to calculations by the Tax Foundation, a conservative-leaning group.
The problem with nibbles is that they can soon turn into chunks...

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Mob Still Rules

They're back:
The account was created sometime in November and has about 50 followers. It has retweeted five other Antifa-related accounts but has no original tweets.

Twitter’s rules state that “Accounts created to replace or mimic suspended accounts may be permanently suspended. We may also remove accounts which Twitter is able to reliably attribute to entities known to violate the Twitter Rules.”

Fox News’s account, which has 18.2 million followers, has not tweeted in six days to protest Twitter’s handling of Smash Racism DC’s initial suspension. Fox reportedly complained to Twitter about the account, but instead of immediately removing the inappropriate content, Twitter insisted Fox open a support ticket.

Twitter did not initially take action against Smash Racism DC until The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out for comment on the threatening and doxxing posts.
They may be down again, but for how long?

Red Letter Decade

Whatever happened to the postal service?
The United States Postal Regulatory Commission’s report showed that USPS had a net loss of over $3.9 billion in the past year — compared to a loss of $1.2 billion in 2017 — in spite of a 10 percent spike in sales from its shipping and packaging division. The fiscal year 2018 ended on Sept. 30.

According to The Associated Press, this is the 12th consecutive year the independent government agency has operated in the red.

USPS’ bottom line has been hurt by rising costs, including worker pay, employee benefits and fuel prices, Reuters reported. Another factor that has dogged the agency is consumers’ increased use of email over letter mail, the latter of which makes up 70 percent of USPS’ revenue.
Dinosaurs just don't adapt well to change...

Liars Never Prosper

Seth Meyers isn't impressed with CNN's lawsuit:

Up The Amazon

Amazon's move to New York isn't sitting well with everyone:
"True progressive leaders of the Democratic Party do not throw corporate welfare at the richest man in the world," New York City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, who represents the area, told Fox News. "Jeff Bezos, Amazon Cuomo, and Mayor de Blasio got in a room and cut out the people who this deal is going to affect, whose money will be spent to make it all possible."

Van Bramer added in a separate interview with Politico that both Cuomo and De Blasio -- two of the most powerful Democrats in the state – “misread the moment” and how much of a backlash the deal for Amazon to bring one of its headquarters there would generate.

“I think if the takeaway from the recent election in Queens, New York City and nationally is that we should actually step up corporate subsidies and billionaires getting billion-dollar bailouts — if that’s the takeaway, somebody's not got their fingers on the pulse of Democrats, certainly, but people generally in this country,” he said.
Hey, it worked for GM...

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Fire Claim Watch

No, it wasn't the warming:
“The situation is complex,” Mass told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “And most of the politician are getting things wrong.”

“President Trump is not correct that forest management is a major issue in these fires,” Mass said via email. “The recent fires are predominantly in grassland and chaparral.”

“And Governor Brown is not correct that global warming is a significant issue,” Mass said. “The grasses and chaparral would have been dry enough to burn no matter what, since California is typically dry after its typical long warm/dry summer and the offshore-directed Diablo/Santa Ana winds would have dried it out in any case.”

Most California fires are human caused, and while the number of fires is decreasing, the size of fires in some parts of California have grown, past research shows. Some scientists say global warming has helped dry out vegetation in the west, making the region more vulnerable to fire.

But as Mass noted, California is dry enough this time of year to spark massive wildfires even without any global warming. It’s local weather, primarily low humidity and Santa Ana winds, that make the state vulnerable to fires.

“The temperatures were colder than normal over Northeast California and Nevada, which helps produce inland high pressure that produces the winds,” Mass said.
All weather politics is local...

Emotional Recusal

When it comes to lawsuits, Bob Woodward is not a fan:
“In the news media, there has been an emotional reaction to [President Donald Trump] … too many people for Trump or against Trump have become emotionally unhinged about this,” Woodward said. “This is a negative … Trump is sitting around saying, ‘This is great.'”

Woodward accused CNN of taking Trump’s bait, adding that the solution to Trump’s attacks on the media is more “serious reporting” as opposed to a lawsuit.
Get serious, or go home?

Journal Of Conservative Record

Freedom of speech for academics:
The Journal of Controversial Ideas is a proposed academic journal that could address issues of censorship in academia.

One of the journal’s would-be editors, Peter Singer, is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University. Singer has long stirred controversy for his views on abortion and euthanasia.

“I favor the ability to put new ideas out there for discussion, and I see an atmosphere in which some people may be intimidated from doing that,” Singer said in a comment to the Chronicle. “The idea is to establish a journal where it’s clear from the name and object that controversial ideas are welcome.”
Christina Hoff Sommers, a former philosophy professor, celebrated the journal’s announcement on Twitter. “A new academic journal will allow free and open discussion of forbidden ideas. Authors can use pseudonyms. ‘The Journal of Controversial Ideas.’ Twitter scolds won’t like it,” she wrote.
Too bad for the speech scolds...

Short Term Shaft

Delaware tries to save its Obamacare at the expense of plans that actually cost less:
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the current unsubsidized monthly premium for Delaware’s Obamacare exchanges costs $750 per month, whereas short-term health plans start at approximately $75 per month.

Delaware was not the first state to curb short-term health plans. In September, California banned short-term health insurance.

Covered California, the state’s health insurance exchange, featured far more expensive plans compared to short-term health plans. A mid-level Silver policy cost roughly $400 per month in southern California and approximately $500 per month in northern California, which compares to only $91 per month for a short-term policy.

Heritage Foundation health scholar Doug Badger said in a research paper that short-term health plans “offer broader choices of providers and lower premiums for people in good health than Obamacare policies.”
But Obamacare is what the left says people should have, so...

Monday, November 12, 2018

No Celebrities, Please

In China, fame finds you:
The new directive aims to crack down on celebrity hype, fake audience and click-through rates for a healthy growth of the industry, according to a statement issued by the National Radio and Television Administration on Friday.

The edict comes just over month after Beijing ordered A-list movie star Fan Bingbing to pay about 884 million yuan (£98 million) in taxes and fines, spurring widespread discussion on the moral health of China's film industry.

Some programmes have been overpaying celebrities, destroying industry order and leading teenagers into worshipping stars and money, the administration said.

Radio and television stations, along with online audio-visual service providers, should scrap vulgar content, promote core socialist values and keep children away from entertainment and reality shows, it said.

'Production and media organisations must always put social benefits as their first priority while trying to unify social and economic benefits. When there is a clash between the two factors, social benefits should always come first,' it said. '[Programmes] must not enslave themselves to the market and smell like money.'
Granted, most celebrities tend to smell like something else...