Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bad Assistant

Siri's voice is sexist, or something:
"Because the speech of most voice assistants is female, it sends a signal that women are obliging, docile and eager-to-please helpers, available at the touch of a button or with a blunt voice command like 'hey' or 'OK,'" the study also noted. "The assistant holds no power of agency beyond what the commander asks of it. It honors commands and responds to queries regardless of their tone or hostility. In many communities, this reinforces commonly held gender biases that women are subservient and tolerant of poor treatment."

Sexual harassment

The study also said the "subservience of digital voice assistants becomes especially concerning when these machines — anthropomorphized as female by technology companies — give deflecting, lackluster or apologetic responses to verbal sexual harassment," noting that a writer for Microsoft's Cortana assistant said "a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries" ask about the assistant's sex life.

In addition, companies like Apple and Amazon with overwhelmingly male engineering teams have created AI systems that "cause their feminized digital assistants to greet verbal abuse with catch-me-if-you-can flirtation," the study said.
But aren't assistants supposed to do what you tell them, not the other way around?

Gold Star Time

When you become too good to compete:
The University of St. Thomas — called a Division III "powerhouse" — is getting kicked out of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference seemingly because its teams are too dominant, ESPN reported.

"The MIAC Presidents' Council cites athletic competitive parity in the conference as a primary concern," the league said in a statement, according to ESPN. "St. Thomas will begin a multi-year transition immediately and meanwhile is eligible to compete as a full member of the MIAC through the end of spring 2021."

St. Thomas, a private school in Saint Paul, Minnesota, was told the league would disband if the school remained a member, the outlet added, citing school officials.

ESPN said St. Thomas has won six MIAC football titles since 2010 and reached the title game in 2012 and 2015. But the outlet also said the school's overall athletic program has been on a winning streak, with St. Thomas finishing 10th nationally in the Learfield Directors' Cup standings for Division III schools, which grades athletic programs' success.
Shades of Harrison Bergeron...

Dumbing Upward

The developed world may be facing an IQ deficit:
if IQ scores are really dropping, that could not only mean 15 more seasons of the Kardashians, but also the potential end of progress on all these other fronts, ultimately leading to fewer scientific breakthroughs, stagnant economies and a general dimming of our collective future.

As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall — despite what you may be tempted to surmise from the current state of the political debate. But don’t rush to celebrate American exceptionalism: If IQs are dropping in other advanced countries but not here, maybe that means we’re not really an advanced country (too much poverty, too little social support).

Or — just as troubling — if we are keeping up with the Joneses (or Johanssons and Jacques) in terms of national development, that means we are likely to experience similarly plummeting IQs in the near future. At which point, the U.S. will face the same dangers of intellectual and economic stagnation.
And that's just in Washington...

The Oldest Trip

Sometimes you just leave stuff lying around:
“There was like a residue … a crust or a crystalline residue on it,” said Curtis.

He sprayed a cleaning solvent on it and started to push the dissolving crystal with his finger as he attempted to dislodge the residue and clean the area.

About 45 minutes later, Curtis began to feel a little strange. He described it as a weird, tingling sensation. He discovered this was the feeling of the beginnings of an LSD experience or trip.

The sensation lasted roughly nine hours.

Three individual chemical tests identified the substance as LSD. A well-known LSD researcher and expert who asked to remain anonymous told KPIX that LSD can remain potent for decades if kept in a cool, dark place.
Literally haunted by the Sixties?

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Together Forever?

Should you be able to take your friend with you?
In Virginia, with few exceptions, burying animal remains with human remains in the same cemetery plot is against the law.

"It’s not legal to put a dog’s cremated remains - or any animal - in a casket and bury them,” according to Larry Spiaggi, president of the Virginia Funeral Director’s Association and owner of Morrissett Funeral home.

There are few funeral directors in the country as “pet friendly” as Spiaggi. When you enter his establishment, you’ll be greeted by Peace, a chocolate lab that has free run of the place.

And while Peace is Larry’s personal pet, he’s also a highly trained and certified therapy dog that he keeps at the funeral home to help clients through their grief. He finds the practice of putting down an animal to be buried with its master as abhorrent. And he just won’t do it.

“I am licensed by the state of Virginia, so I have a license on the line with the Health Professionals Board,” he said. “So I can NOT do it.”
Your friend can go on...

Storm Zombies

The deadly fad of storm chasing:
Much of the problem stems from the sheer number of chasers on the road. Back in the 1970s and '80s, there were only a handful out there. Those that were were generally trained atmospheric scientists who understood the dynamics of what they were dealing with.

But the mid-2000s ushered in an era of do-it-yourself storm chasing - popular TV shows such as the Discovery Channel's "Storm Chasers" and the advent of smartphones spurred many to think "I can do this." And in many cases, they can. But in my opinion, they shouldn't.

It's easy to turn on the TV and see a severe weather risk area plastered on a map. Driving to it is simple. And nowadays, high-resolution computer models are made available to the public online. The sheer amount of information out there gives the tools of the trade to anybody. But that doesn't mean they know how to use it.

Storm behaviors change. Cell service drops out. And computer models are often shaky at best. Today's "home-grown" storm chasers may have what they need to get by 99 percent of the time. It's easy to know what to do when things go right. But it's only a matter of time before things go wrong.
Darwin will decide?

No Business Is Bad Business

A former host agrees:
Crawford took to Twitter to say, “I ALWAYS avoided political commentary during my 15 yrs w/ ESPN. 2 things shocked me. 1) So many of my colleagues couldn’t help themselves from weighing in on political matters. 2) That it took so long for a brilliant company like Disney to figure out it was horrible for business.”

Crawford, who first joined the network in 2003, made his comment in reply to a Daily Caller piece revealing ESPN chief Jimmy Pitaro’s efforts to eliminate the constant drumbeat of left-wing politics on the network.

“Without question, our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics. My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused,” Pitaro recently told the Los Angeles Times.
Save the confusion for a different network next time...

Money Train

They want that money:
The suit claims the feds nixed the grant due to "political retribution" for the state's opposition to border wall funding. The state will also file a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent the government from spending the money in anything else -- including, Trump's border wall.

The Federal Railroad Administration basically says that's ludicrous.

NPR:

In a statement released Thursday, the Federal Railroad Administration says California has "repeatedly failed to comply" with the agreement and "failed to make reasonable progress on the project."
It adds that the state has "abandoned its original vision of a high-speed passenger rail service connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles, which was essential to its applications for FRA grant funding." The statement also said the FRA was still exploring "all options" to get back $2.5 billion in federal funds it had already awarded for the project from the state.

One of the major reasons California got the grant in the first place was to build an LA-San Francisco rail line -- a project that has been all but abandoned due to massive cost overruns and intolerable delays.
If you can't con 'em, sue 'em...

Sponge Brains

They're soaking it in:
According to the poll, 48 percent of all likely voters agree that the United States has only twelve years left to fight climate change before the effects are irreversible. The poll did not identify Ocasio-Cortez or Bernie Sanders (who still believes the doomsday prediction to be true) while conducting the survey. According to the poll, 40 percent disagree with the prediction, and 11 percent are undecided.

The most fascinating thing about the poll, aside from the large percentage of Democrat sea sponges who believe the 12-year prediction, is how the number of voters who believe it has skyrocketed in just a few months. When Rasmussen first polled on this issue back in January, after Ocasio-Cortez first publicly made her prediction, only 23 percent of voters agreed with it. Back in January, however, only 34 percent of Democrats believed what Ocasio-Cortez says only a sea sponge would have taken seriously. This shows the incredible influence the socialist wing of the Democratic Party has on the party as a whole.
The Spongebob Party?

A Crook For A Client

So much for his presidential ambitions:
Prosecutors have accused Avenatti of stealing "a significant portion" of an advance that Daniels was to receive for a book deal. Daniels' book, "Full Disclosure," was published last fall. The book detailed her alleged affair with President Donald Trump in 2006.

Although Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is not named in the court documents, the filing's details make it obvious that she is "Victim-1," according to the New York Post.

Avenatti allegedly forged Daniels' signature on a letter to her literary agent that instructed them to divert two installment payments of $148,750 to an account which he controlled.

"Michael Avenatti abused and violated the core duty of an attorney – the duty to his client," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in a statement. "As alleged, he used his position of trust to steal an advance on the client's book deal. As alleged, he blatantly lied to and stole from his client to maintain his extravagant lifestyle, including to pay for, among other things, a monthly car payment on a Ferrari. Far from zealously representing his client, Avenatti, as alleged, instead engaged in outright deception and theft, victimizing rather than advocating for his client."
Maybe he can open a new law office where he's going...

The Man In Blackface

It might not have been Ralph Northam after all:
The report found that there were several other photos of students wearing blackface in EVMS yearbooks, including two others in the one from Northam's year. However, the investigators could not determine whether or not Northam was one of the people in the photo.

It also found that the school had known about the photo for years. The report said that "[m]embers of the EVMS staff brought the photograph to the attention of the president of EVMS on two separate occasions. Most recently, it was brought to the attention of President Homan, and prior to that it was brought to the attention of then-President Lester."

The report said that both presidents of the university had "decided that the school should not take steps to publicly announce the Photograph or to call Governor Northam's attention to it.
Will the real racist please stand up?

Unholy Hit Man

Megachurch murder for hire?
According to the Christian Post, the allegations were first brought to light by independent journalist Julie Roys, who cited allegations from Chicago-area radio personality Mancow Muller and Emmanuel Bucur, who is a deacon at the church as well as a former friend and bodyguard of MacDonald.

Wilmette Deputy Police Chief Pat Collins told the outlet Monday, "A subject came in and filed a report and we are doing an investigation based on that report."

The outlet reported that MacDonald allegedly asked Muller twice in 2018 if he knew of a hitman for hire. Muller said he thought MacDonald was kidding at first but later discovered through further conversation that the megachurch pastor was "really serious," according to the Roys.
God paid him to?

Burning Vegan Man

Don't feed his fire?
Knauff's case hinges on his assertion that veganism is more than a simple dietary choice for him, explaining that it is also a conscientious one and thereby deserving of government protection as a "creed."

"I am an ethical vegan in that I not only follow a vegan diet, but I extend the philosophy of non-consumption of animal products to all other areas of my life," he said.

When Knauff arrived to assist with the fire in mid-July 2017, around 10,000 nearby homes had been evacuated and the only nearby store was a Time Horton's restaurant that was being partially operated, the complaint says.

"On some days during my deployment to Williams Lake, I was not provided with any food that was vegan or not otherwise contaminated with animal products, and therefore forced to go hungry," even though he had filled out a food information form regarding his diet, he wrote.
More for the rest of his co-workers, then...

Got Milkshake?

Not all leftists agree:
Throwing a milkshake at someone is rude at worst. It may also qualify as assault in some jurisdictions, especially in the United States. British political and media figures condemned the incidents. Prime Minister Theresa May's office said that politicians "should be able to go about their work and campaign without harassment, intimidation and abuse." Tim Farron, the leader of the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats, said, "I'm not laughing along with the attack on Farage. Violence and intimidation are wrong no matter who they're aimed at. On top of that, it just makes the man a martyr, it's playing into his hands."
....

On the one hand, nobody should have to walk around in fear of having things thrown at them, but on the other, a temporarily milky face is also just not a satisfying redress.

I'd far rather see the Brexit Party nosedive in terms of its expected votes on Thursday. I'd far rather see Farage unemployed and ignored by every media outlet currently so keen to provide him with a platform. I want him irrelevant, not just slightly damp and embarrassed.
Don't drink the milkshake...

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fighters, Not Lovers

Whatever happened to peace and love?
Dehumanizing your opponent is crucial. Over on this side of the pond, an indie comics publisher called Devil's Due just published Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force, a comic book that apparently depicts AOC as some sort of superhero. (And then they moan, "Why are Republicans so obsessed with her?")
....

Now, this sort of stuff is relatively mild. It's quite a step back from James T. Hodgkinson trying to kill Republicans, and almost succeeding with Steve Scalise, because they won an election and Hodgkinson didn't like it. But normalizing this sort of rhetoric is dangerous, no matter what you think about Trump or Farage or anybody else. "This behavior is justified because I really hate these guys" has never led to anything good.
You have to wonder why the left keeps doing it, then...

Dear Aunt Warren

Elizabeth Warren, advice columnist?
Sen. Warren, who earlier this year thanked her husband for being at their house — in a live stream video in which she awkwardly attempted to appear relatable via drinking beer — offered to help writer and comedian Ashley Nicole Black figure out her love life on Sunday.

“Do you think Elizabeth Warren has a plan to fix my love life?” tweeted Black on Saturday, likely in reference to several of Warren’s recent policy proposals, in which the presidential candidate suggests that she, as a politician, can fix the public’s personal problems.

“DM me and let’s figure this out,” replied Sen. Warren, to which Black reacted by tweeting, “I knew I could count on you.”
Do we want a president, or a therapist in chief?

No Politics Network

Leave your politics at home:
Pitaro has also satisfied ESPN’s more traditional fans by steering commentators away from political discussions on-air and on social media, which heightened during President Trump’s criticism of NFL player protests against social injustice during the playing of the national anthem.

“Without question our data tells us our fans do not want us to cover politics, ”Pitaro said. “My job is to provide clarity. I really believe that some of our talent was confused on what was expected of them. If you fast-forward to today, I don’t believe they are confused.”
No, just dumb...

Monday, May 20, 2019

Golden State Goose

The homeless just keep coming:
Many cities across the U.S. have struggled with rising homelessness in recent years, partly due to the pressure of rising housing costs, and the social devastation of the opioid epidemic. However, in California the problem is compounded by the presence of warmer weather and the availability of generous welfare benefits, both of which tend to attract transients from other parts of the country. Unscrupulous drug treatment clinics have also exploited the state’s health insurance system, luring addicts to receive treatment and kicking them out when the state insurance money runs out.

A news release from the office of San Francisco Mayor London Breed stated:

Every two years, San Francisco is required to conduct a homelessness Point-in-Time Count by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The HUD count, which was conducted on January 24, 2019, counted 8,011 homeless people, both sheltered and unsheltered, in San Francisco. The 2017 HUD count recorded 6,858 people. The increase in unsheltered people was driven largely by people living in vehicles, accounting for 68% of the increase in unsheltered people. There was also an increase in sheltered residents, resulting from the investments the City has made to add shelter beds.

The mayor pledged $5 million in additional spending on the problem.
That may be part of the problem right there...

Oil, Oil Everywhere

Socialism means never having to share your oil wealth:
In the western city of San Cristóbal, near the Colombian border, members of the country’s National Guard wore anti-riot gear as they limited gasoline sales to 40 liters (10.6 gallons) per vehicle, roughly equivalent to a full tank for a compact vehicle, but well below capacity for SUV’s, 4×4’s and other large vehicles.

In some parts of the city, angry protesters vented their frustration by blocking streets with garbage, metal barriers, and tree branches. “How can a country function like this?” Antonio Tamariz, 58, told the agency, having waited days for fuel to return his truck back to his farm. “No one has explained why there are so many lines for gasoline. I think the government is losing control of this.”

In Maracaibo state, once considered the epicenter of the country’s oil industry, soldiers limited drivers to just 20 liters (5.3 gallons) of gasoline. “They have taken control of the pumps,” said Rocco Huerta, a manager of a service station in Maracaibo. “Every five hours there are inspections by the Military Intelligence Division to measure how much gasoline is left.”

The shortages reportedly did not affect the Caracas metro area, home to around six million people, after the Maduro regime prioritized supplies to the capital in an attempt to alleviate pressure within the city most important to his regime’s survival.
Some cities are more equal than others...

Walk, Don't Text

Texting and walking really don't mix?
Liu claims that the legislation would force pedestrians to take responsibility for their personal safety.

"While we expect drivers to yield to pedestrians, everybody does have some responsibility to keep themselves safe," he told Streetsblog NYC. "It does not let drivers off the hook for their responsibility."

The lawmaker pointed out that dozens of pedestrians have been killed by reckless drivers this year.

"It's a problem that my constituents also talked to me about, including parents who want their kids fined," Liu said.

Distracted walking puts young people at risk for injury, according to the National Safety Council, the Democrat & Chronicle reported.

"The National Safety Council is focused on efforts to eliminate distracted walking — specifically walking while using a mobile device," the group said on its website. "Kids often don't recognize the dangers of distracted walking."
What about the dangers of distracting legislation?

L.A. Fight Club

Your elected officials at work:
The Times reported that at least seven people were involved in the fracas. A spokesperson for the Riverside County Sheriff's Department told the outlet that those seven people were "involved in an altercation and physical battery." Police reportedly questioned the public officials, but received pushback from uncooperative witnesses.

KTLA-TV reported that authorities attempted to identify those people involved in the brawl, but noted that "none of them were cooperative."

One eyewitness told the Times that it was a "hectic scene."

Commerce Mayor John Soria told the Times, "I want to be clear in condemning the violent behavior from the individuals who initiated these assaults. Once additional information is available, I intend to call on my council colleagues to take appropriate action regarding any individuals that represent the City of Commerce who were involved in the incident."
Now they'e just got to protect their phony baloney jobs...

Soda Jerks

Soda tax doesn't work as advertised:
The study found that during the first year of the tax, soft drink sales fell a whopping 51 percent within the Philadelphia city limits.

CNN explains:

The study compared beverage costs and sales in Philadelphia -- following implementation of the 1.5 cents per ounce tax -- with Baltimore, which has a similar demographic but doesn't have the same sales tax. With the tax, beverages in Philadelphia jumped from 5.43 cents per ounce in 2016 to 6.24 cents in 2017. In Baltimore, beverages went up from 5.33 cents per ounce to just 5.50 cents.
However, the study also found that after Philadelphia implemented its new tax that soda sales in neighboring municipalities — which do not have the tax — went up.

That means people were traveling outside of Philadelphia to still consume sugary drinks, just at a lower price. The result, of course, undermines the desired effect of the law, which is to improve consumer health by economically limiting marketplace choices, while proving what many critics of the tax said would happen.
People who want them will not be denied their sugary drinks...

Almost Live

The hologram tour is here:
"With Primary Wave's global appeal and wealth of contacts, the partnership will advance the artistry and integrity of Whitney's legacy to a stratosphere that she herself left us all to enjoy for a lifetime," Pat Houston, the late artist's sister-in-law and executor of the estate, said in a statement.

"Before she passed, there was so much negativity around the name; it wasn't about the music anymore," Pat Houston told The New York Times.

"People had forgotten how great she was. They let all the personal things about her life outweigh why they fell in love with her in the first place."

She told the paper a hologram tour featuring the artist's laser-generated likeness is the first priority of the new contract, which could be followed by branding deals and a potential Broadway musical.

"Whitney Houston is an incomparable artist whose voice resonates in people's lives to this day," said Lawrence Mestel, head of Primary Wave, which focuses on marketing classic catalogues of megawatt names including Bob Marley, Smokey Robinson and Def Leppard.
Just because you're dead, doesn't mean your career is over...

In His Words

What you can learn from old journals:

Feed Your Disease

Is your diet the way to beating cancer?
The importance of nutrition has long been accepted for conditions like diabetes and hypertension, diagnoses that come with well-known dietary prescriptions. Even the most commonly used drug in type 2 diabetes, metformin, has been found in clinical trials to be inferior to diet and exercise. Cell biologists like Locasale see extending that line of thinking to cancer as a logical step, since at the cellular level cancer is also a disease of metabolic pathways.

Suggesting that people fast or starve themselves in order to kill a tumor has been the domain of dubious and exaggerated claims over the years, and that is not the suggestion now. In recent trials, metabolic pathways have been targeted though various approaches to changing what people eat. Some research has involved minimizing sugar intake. Indeed, some cancer cells metabolize glucose at higher than normal levels (to support the process of aerobic glycolysis), and depleting their access to sugar can slow growth.
No sugar for you...

Mama's Ape

Mother apes know best?
Bonobos live in mostly matriarchal societies, where females both occupy the highest ranks and form the core of social groups. If sons stick close to their mothers, they’re more likely to end up at the center of a community, where more females sit. “That creates more mating opportunities,” Surbeck says. “It’s not that the moms physically drag their sons over. It’s more like a social passport.”

But mothers frequently took matters into their own hands, too. As Hanna did, they would stop unrelated males from interfering with their sons’ sexual encounters. They’d interfere themselves, stopping unrelated males from mating with other females. They’d gang up with their sons to evict other males from trees with lots of females.

Surbeck thinks that the mothers use these strategies as a way of furthering their own genetic legacy. They can do this by having more children of their own, or by ensuring that their children give them more grandchildren. They have little influence over their daughters, since bonobo females tend to leave home to find their own communities. Males, however, stay with their birth group, and especially near their mothers. Even in the best-case scenario, a male bonobo can easily go through life without reproducing, and without a mother's presence, the odds of his having a kid are around one in 14. To increase the size of her own dynasty, a mother needs to ensure that her sons have the best sexual opportunities.
Listen to your mother...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Payday

That's one way to do it:

Back From The Future

Predicting the future is hard:
The idea for the most important study ever conducted of expert predictions was sparked in 1984, at a meeting of a National Research Council committee on American-Soviet relations. The psychologist and political scientist Philip E. Tetlock was 30 years old, by far the most junior committee member. He listened intently as other members discussed Soviet intentions and American policies. Renowned experts delivered authoritative predictions, and Tetlock was struck by how many perfectly contradicted one another and were impervious to counterarguments.

Tetlock decided to put expert political and economic predictions to the test. With the Cold War in full swing, he collected forecasts from 284 highly educated experts who averaged more than 12 years of experience in their specialties. To ensure that the predictions were concrete, experts had to give specific probabilities of future events. Tetlock had to collect enough predictions that he could separate lucky and unlucky streaks from true skill. The project lasted 20 years, and comprised 82,361 probability estimates about the future.

The result: The experts were, by and large, horrific forecasters. Their areas of specialty, years of experience, and (for some) access to classified information made no difference. They were bad at short-term forecasting and bad at long-term forecasting. They were bad at forecasting in every domain. When experts declared that future events were impossible or nearly impossible, 15 percent of them occurred nonetheless. When they declared events to be a sure thing, more than one-quarter of them failed to transpire. As the Danish proverb warns, “It is difficult to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Ideas are one thing, actual results are another...

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Blue Versus Blue

Democrats eat their own:
The Progressive attacks on Biden might be little more than the opening salvo in the coming Democratic Civil War. The party's progressives almost certainly won't get the impeachment they were promised.
....

Maybe the Dems need to play to the party's radical left-wing; maybe they need to stick with Joe Biden -- boring, old, gaffe-prone, and kinda gross. Maybe the Dems need to double down on the multi-trillion dollar Green New Deal; maybe they need to play nice with Republicans instead. Socialism or moderation? And so on, as the older, more moderate Democrats try to keep control of their party from the radical Young Turks.

Who will win? There's only one way to decide, and that's a vicious Democrat Civil War.
Who will bring the popcorn?

By The Board

Who needs the SAT?
A number of excellent colleges are already going test-optional and choosing to rely on the actual record of the individual student. This is a good trend. Even better would be a revolutionary overhaul of our entire system of higher education that has become moribund. The proper approach would be a consumer-driven (i.e students and their families) higher educational system, not that institution-first system that we have with universities like Harvard and Princeton, wealthier than half of Africa and acting like grands seigneurs. After all, who is education for? Students. Not the institutions themselves and certainly not The College Board's social engineers.

The consumer-driven system would naturally take on entirely different characteristics from our current one -- cheaper and more effective in every way. And less elitist. In an ideal situation, it wouldn't even be important whether one went to college or not, but whether he or she could fill a useful role in society, be a good citizen, and live a happy life.
Unfortunately, the current college system seems determined to make people miserable...

A Few Good Mentors

Has MeToo created a mentoring crisis?
“We need to actively support women at work,” the summary said, “including by mentoring and sponsoring them. Men—who are the majority of managers and senior leaders—can help make this happen.” The study also found that these increased fears were correlated with the increase in visibility of the #MeToo movement.

And this problem may feed an even greater disparity in female representation in the workplace: “The vast majority of managers and senior leaders are men,” said Facebook COO, SurveyMonkey board member, and LeanIn.Org founder Sheryl Sandberg in a statement. “If they are reluctant even to meet one-on-one with women, there’s no way women can get an equal shot at proving themselves.”

“We’re in a bad place—no one’s ever gotten promoted without a one-on-one meeting, I feel confident in saying that,” Sandberg told Gayle King on CBS This Morning. “Senior men right now are nine times more hesitant to travel with a woman and six times more likely to hesitate to have a work dinner.”
No mentors, no success...

The Devil Made Them Write It

Who wrote the Devil's Bible?
While the technical name for the manuscript is Codex Gigas (literally “giant book” in Latin), it is better known as the ‘Devil’s Bible.’ It is currently housed in the National Library in Stockholm, but it was created in the twelfth century in Bohemia (the modern Czech Republic), possibly at the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice. It was transported to Sweden as part of the booty seized at the conclusion of the Thirty Years’ war in 1648. It would have taken two men to steal it, as the book is around a meter tall and weighs almost 165 pounds.
A weighty work, indeed...

Terminating The Terminator?

This guy won't be back:

Medicine Men

In some ways, doctoring hasn't changed much:
"Channeled through the astrologers' pens are fragments of the health and fertility concerns, bewitchment fears and sexual desires from thousands of lives otherwise lost to history."

Indeed, the transcribed cases, which include patients' names, ages, locations, occupations and symptoms, offer a fascinating and sometimes sordid snapshot into the afflictions of patients from infants to seniors living hundreds of years ago.

The language in the cases reflects another era (28-year-old John Wilkingson, for example, was most unfortunate to have "a rapier in his privy parts," aka venereal disease, while Ellen Mariot, 25, experienced a "swimming in her head & did swoon"). But many of the ailments are the same ones that bring patients into the offices of doctors and therapists today: colds, fevers, chest pain, headaches, miscarriages, broken bones, dog bites, insomnia, anxiety, heartbreak and unhappy marriages.
Thy doctor will see thee now...

No Help Here

Tony Robbins really doesn't like you:

Big Credit Is Watching You

Be good or else:
According to Australia’s ABC News, the government has produced a “Deadbeat Map” via an app on WeChat, which shows a radar-style graphic identifying every laolai in the vicinity of the user.

“Tapping on a person marked on the map reveals their personal information, including their full name, court-case number and the reason they have been labeled untrustworthy. Identity-card numbers and home addresses are also partially shown,” ABC reported.

There are reports that those whose social credit score falls too low are preemptively arrested and sent to re-education camps. Not because they have actually committed a crime, but because they are likely to.
You have been warned...

Friday, May 17, 2019

It Still Works

It's the government, stupid:
Capitalism works. If you think socialism does too, take a look at North Korea, a socialist nation in which half the population lives in extreme poverty and as many as 120,000 people rot in political prisons. Or Cuba, where socialist policies have people standing in line for hours to buy basic groceries and the government recently started rationing staples like eggs, rice and beans.

The morality and strength of capitalism (or free enterprise, free markets, whatever term you choose for the U.S. economic system) is that it allows people to succeed by meeting the needs and wants of others. People in a capitalist society are constantly trying to come up with ways to make everyone's lives better. The failures critics blame on capitalism are caused by the mistakes of government, not an economic system that rewards hard work and innovation.
Don't fix what ain't broke...

The Great Non-Depression

The genes didn't fit:
For depression, SLC6A4 seemed like a great candidate: it’s responsible for getting a chemical called serotonin into brain cells, and serotonin had already been linked to mood and depression. Over two decades, this one gene inspired at least 450 research papers.

But a new study—the biggest and most comprehensive of its kind yet—shows that this seemingly sturdy mountain of research is actually a house of cards, built on non-existent foundations.

Richard Border from the University of Colorado Boulder and his colleagues picked the 18 candidate genes that have been most commonly linked to depression—SLC6A4 chief among them. Using data from large groups of volunteers, ranging from 62,000 to 443,000 people, the team checked if any versions of these genes were more common among people with depression. “We didn’t find a smidge of evidence,” says Matthew Keller, who led the project.

Between them, these 18 genes have been the subject of more than 1,000 research papers, on depression alone. And for what? If the new study is right, these genes have nothing to do with depression. “This should be a real cautionary tale,” Keller adds. “How on earth could we have spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying pure noise?”
The road to research is often paved with static...

In This Corner

The weird, sometimes dangerous, world of pro wrestling:
Sleaze and disaster wash around Dark Side of the Ring. Along with the capacity to create those huge, crude personas come some huge, crude appetites and some huge, crude vulnerabilities. Did the handsome Gino Hernandez—imagine the Miami Vice theme tune with muscles—overdose, or was he murdered by drug people? How is it possible that Fritz Von Erich, the iron patriarch of the Von Erich wrestling dynasty, lived to see five of his six sons predecease him, three of them by their own hand? Was “The Fabulous Moolah” a pioneer of women’s pro wrestling and a wonderful mentor, or an abusive den mother running a factory farm of love-starved apprentices? Unanswered questions. If there’s truth in or around pro wrestling, the producers seem to suggest, it’s nonbinary.
The truth doesn't always set you free...

Car Crunch

Could California drivers eventually run out of gas?
Speaking at an air-quality workshop in San Diego, Mary Nichols, chair of the California Air Resources Board, was expected to toss in the idea of killing off gas-powered cars based on her prepared remarks. They called for her to list ways in which the state can get tougher on pollution.

“That might mean, for example, tougher requirements for low-carbon fuels, looking at tighter health-protective regulations on California refineries, doubling down on our enforcement efforts on mobile and stationary sources — and might lead to an outright ban on internal-combustion engines,” according to the remarks obtained by Bloomberg News.

But when it came to actually delivering the remarks, the direct reference to a gas-engine ban was omitted. In closing the conference, Nichols said if the air can't be cleaned fast enough, tougher measures like "fees, taxes and bans on certain types of vehicles" might be required. She added, "These are things that most of us don't think is the right way to go."
With good reason, some might add...

False Stress Test

Democrats weren't so stressed after all?
For the study, the authors looked at more than 1 million Bing searches by Democrats, Republicans, and Spanish-Speaking Latinos from before and after the election. The searches were grouped based on previously answered questions by users who’d revealed their political affiliation, and by those who searched in Spanish. In particular, the authors looked for specific mental health-related search terms: depression, anxiety, stress, suicide/suicidal, and therapy. They also sought out searches for antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

Researchers then compared the findings to previously reported public surveys about how voters felt after the election.

“We find that while Democrats expressed serious mental distress about the election result on surveys, on average, the Democrats in our sample did not show an increase in mental health-related searches after the election,” the authors write. “Democrats were no more likely to search for stress relief, nor mental illness, nor treatment for mental illness before or after the election. This suggests that some Democrats reported mental health declines after Trump’s election as a form of reverse cheerleading, where partisans report evaluations that are more negative than their true beliefs to reflect badly on a president of the opposing party.”
It seems to have reflected more on them...

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Plague Wars

The Soviet Union's secret war on plague didn't go as advertised:
The eradication efforts didn’t work because the area was simply too big, too vast to cover with humans or airplanes. The Soviet anti-plague system had more than 100 institutes spread over 11 republics, but it still wasn’t extensive enough. Jones points out that successfully eliminating all the plague-carrying rodents in the Soviet Union would have meant wholesale ecological collapse, as many species rely on rodents for food and their burrows for shelter. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. Rodents would be temporarily eliminated in an area and then come back, along with the plague.

Beginning in the 1960s, as reality intruded, the Soviet anti-plague system shifted from total eradication to control. The scientists knew that plague outbreaks among humans tended to follow rodent outbreaks in any local area. So they would conduct plague surveillance by systematically testing animals. If the results came back positive in an area, they would focus their efforts there. People were taught to avoid sick rodents. Patients were treated with antibiotics and quarantined. Vaccines eventually became available for people at high risk. People had to learn to live with the threat of the plague, as they had done for millennia in Central Asia.
Unfortunately, they also had to live with the Communists who enabled it...

The Mushroom Age

Are mushrooms going mainstream?
It’s still not legal to possess psilocybin mushrooms in Denver, or certainly to sell them. Much less to claim that you are “the lizard king” in a public park while eating pomegranate seeds out of a human head. No, certainly not. The measure says only that punishing people for having some mushrooms for personal use falls among the “lowest law-enforcement priority.”

But it comes in the context of a lumbering cultural embrace of the drug. Legalization measures are anticipated on ballots in California and Oregon in 2020, and movements are afoot in Canada and Australia. In academia, clinical research on psychedelics is surging back into vogue, with at least some data now suggesting benefits for depression, anxiety, cluster headaches, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and pain, among other conditions.
The alternative to opioides?

Scoring Through Adversity

Will the SAT make some students more equal than others?
How colleges consider a student’s race and class in making admissions decisions is hotly contested. Many colleges, including Harvard University, say a diverse student body is part of the educational mission of a school. A lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants by holding them to a higher standard is awaiting a judge’s ruling. Lawsuits charging unfair admission practices have also been filed against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of California system.

The College Board, the New York based nonprofit that oversees the SAT, said it has worried about income inequality influencing test results for years. White students scored an average of 177 points higher than black students and 133 points higher than Hispanic students in 2018 results. Asian students scored 100 points higher than white students. The children of wealthy and college-educated parents outperformed their classmates.

“There are a number of amazing students who may have scored less [on the SAT] but have accomplished more,” said David Coleman, chief executive of the College Board. “We can’t sit on our hands and ignore the disparities of wealth reflected in the SAT.”
Maybe they were just better students...

A Few Good Mayors

Why doesn't anyone want to run for mayor anymore?
...the Internet’s fundamental delocalization of media has pushed a far higher share of journalistic resources into covering presidential politics than ever before. Among newspapers, the clear winners in the digital transition are The New York Times and The Washington Post, national papers that attract a national audience with national stories. The clear losers are, well, all the local papers cutting their way to profit.
....

To put this all in the most basic terms: The Internet makes us more interested in national politics and less interested in local politics. That’s in part because we have easier access to national news outlets now, and in part because it’s a lot easier for news organizations to make money covering national races rather than local ones. That higher national interest, in turn, makes it easier (and more career-enhancing) to run for president. And that lowered local interest makes it harder to find someone to run for city council.
If you want to run for President, you need to start somewhere else first...

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

One Of Our Presidents Is Missing

Whatever happened to the president of Kenya?
Concern over Kenyatta’s whereabouts spread on social media after it emerged he had not been seen in public since his meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping at the end of April and deleted his social media accounts. The speculation even led to the hashtag #FindPresidentUhuru.

The investigation eventually elicited a response from Kenyatta’s spokesperson Kanze Dena, who claimed that he had been working privately on his agenda.

“The President is around, it doesn’t mean that because he is not seen in public he is not there, he has an office where he goes every day and he is working on several things,” she said in a radio interview. “President Uhuru Kenyatta’s social media accounts are his personal accounts. He has the right to activate and deactivate them. He has his reasons (for deactivating the accounts) and we have to respect that.”
The president who isn't there?

Avert Your Eyes

No looking allowed:
“My personal advice to women is to respect the hijab even more than before and gentlemen must avoid looking directly at female passersby,” Gholam-Hossein Esmaili, a judiciary spokesperson said. “Anyone ignoring these instructions during the Ramadan will be committing an offence and should expect some punishment from the law enforcement units.”

The headscarf, or hijab, is mandatory in public for all women in Iran. Those who violate the rule are usually sentenced to two months in prison or less and fined around $25

The Muslim morality police added they will also arrest anyone playing music on their car radio and will tow their car away and hand them a heavy fine.

The crackdown on public displays of affection and emotion comes as police launch an investigation into “disturbing” social media videos of schoolgirls dancing to a pop song as well as female students seen protesting Iran’s mandatory headscarf law.
Woman shall not be seen, or heard...

Frat Follies

Frat days are over:
According to a statement from Swarthmore College President Valerie Smith, fraternities and sororities will immediately be disbanded. Certain Greek life organizations will be permitted to continue until 2022. However, the vast majority of groups will be immediately shut down.

Fraternities and sororities will no longer exist at the College. The Swarthmore chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority may continue with its current members through the spring 2022 semester but may no longer recruit or initiate additional members.

The voluntary disbanding of Phi Psi and Delta Upsilon reflects a broader change in student needs and desires. Exclusive, dues-paying social organizations no longer effectively meet the needs of our residential liberal arts environment.

President Valerie Smith ended her statement by saying that the campus has to focus on their values of diversity and inclusion.

As we move forward, I call for each of us to examine how we live up to the aspiration of inclusivity. We must try to do so together, without giving up on one another and without giving up on our community. Practice the art of deep listening. Do not accept division. Remain in difficult conversations, especially with those with whom we disagree. This work will not be easy, but we will all be the better for it.

Many college and universities around the country have considered ending Greek life on campus. Greek life organizations have been accused of contributing to issues with alcohol abuse, sexual misconduct, and social cliques.
No more fun of any kind...

No Facts Necessary

News coverage is nothing more than feelings:
The study analyzed 15 news outlets across print journalism, cable TV, and the internet. It conclusively found that over the last 28 years, between 1989 and 2017, "news content has generally shifted from more-objective event- and context-based reporting to reporting that is more subjective, relies more heavily on argumentation and advocacy, and includes more emotional appeals."

The outlets included in the study are:

Print: New York Times, Washington Post, St. Louis Dispatch
Broadcast: CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC
Digital: TheBlaze, Politico, Breitbart News, HuffPost, The Daily Caller, BuzzFeed Politics

"Our research provides quantitative evidence for what we all can see in the media landscape: Journalism in the U.S. has become more subjective and consists less of the detailed event- or context-based reporting that used to characterize news coverage," said Jennifer Kavanaugh, political scientist and lead author of the report.
Never let facts get in the way of your feelings...

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

The Commies Are Coming

Communists come home to roost:
The group set up signs, handed out flyers, and wrote out chalk markings, as seen in photos obtained by Campus Reform, even after being asked by staff and housing officials to stop their activities. The group’s distributed manifesto condemned capitalism, as well as “jokes” based on race, gender, nationality, etc. Chalked markings on the ground and walls asked students to speak.

The Communists remained in the campus dorms, known as “The Hill”, for several hours before leaving.

Sections D3, D8, and D10 of UCLA’s On-Campus Housing Regulations forbid using housing spaces without permission, chalking and signing on The Hill without UCLA approval -- the failure of the group’s signage to be in Residential Life display cases indicates this was not obtained -- and advertising a non-university organization without approval, respectively. However, according to UCLA’s On Campus Conduct Policy, there exists no process for sanctioning non-resident violations.

A whiteboard displayed by the group bore the message "Revolution is the only solution."
Didn't they already do that?

Fire Man

It's Bill Nye, the Swearing Guy:

No Pride Allowed

Communists don't like gays, either:
Cuba’s political police arrested at least eight people – one of which was merely suspected of walking over to join the protest – and beat and hauled away some of the more defiant people in the crowd. Among those arrested were Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, an environmental scientist who went on hunger strike last year after being arrested for revealing Castro regime damage to the local ecosystem, and Daniel Llorente, the activist arrested for being wrongly presumed to be on his way to the march because he was clad in his signature American flag.

Urquiola appeared in photos taken at the event being hauled off by his feet by Cuban government agents, shouting while wearing a red, white, and blue lei around his neck.

The independent Cuban publication 14 y medio reported that the “Alternative LGBTI March” attracted about 300 people to Havana’s Central Park, the largest number for an illegal assembly since at least 1994. Those congregated waved rainbow flags and chanted slogans like “diverse Cuba” and “yes, we could.”
Except that they can't in a Communist country...

Viva Employment

Less protest, more work, he said:
“I get angry when on the TV someone on the left attacks me because he says ‘Italians have also emigrated around the world'” he said and later added, “They should rinse their mouths before comparing those who went to the mines in Belgium or make a fortune in the United States, in Switzerland or in Germany to those who come here to mess up at 35 euros a day.”

“They lack education,” Salvini said of the protesters and called them products of the far-left social centres. Telling the protestors to get a job instead, he continued, “I have patience but if those people put their hands on even just a decent person who is in the square I get angry like a beast. Go to work if you are able to do so, be ashamed.”
The problem is, the Left has no shame...

Don't Leave Those Kids Alone

A little discipline can still go a long way:
Progressive-left pedagogy has seen tried and tested teaching methods — derided by figures such as former PM Tony Blair’s education advisor Sir Michael Barber as “chalk and talk” — gradually replaced by ‘child-centred’ learning approaches which encourage children to learn from doing ‘group work’ and other activities with their peers, with the idea that knowledge is mainly acquired through exploration and osmosis.

“There was a massive assumption that children would behave if you simply planned lessons correctly, if you allowed them to do lots of independent work, project work, group work and so on, and that these teaching methods would create great behaviour,” he told The Telegraph this weekend.

“I think that the failure of these methods to automatically create great behaviour has resulted in a lot of people in the education system pretending behaviour wasn’t an issue.

“Progressivism rests on the idea that children want to behave and they want to learn, the teacher needs to step back and allow the child to explore their natural curiosity, which will motivate them and keep them engaged,” he added.
"Motivation" to misbehave?

Capitol High

And that's not counting the politicians:

Vanity Unfair

Beto O'Rourke says he's too privileged, or something:
He added, “I’ve had advantages that others could not enjoy. So being aware of that and then doing everything in my power to help correct that, working with others, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment for example so that it is beyond the shadow of a doubt that women will be treated equally in this country. Staring in the face of the legacy of slavery and segregation and Jim Crow and continued oppression in our economy and system of justice is the only way you begin the work of repair and stop visiting those injustices on the generations that follow. So, yes, we have our work cut out for us in this country. I have my work out cut for me to be a better person and ensure that I’m more mindful to the experiences that others have had different than the experiences that I’ve had.”

Co-host Joy Behar asked, “Are those mistakes? Would you say those are mistakes, being on the cover of “Vanity Fair”? It looks elitist?”

O’Rourke said, “Yeah, I think it reinforces that perception of privilege and that headline that said I was born to be in this, in the article I was attempting to say that I felt that my calling was in public service. No one is born to be president of the United States of America, least of all me.”
I'm sure many voters will agree...

Paradise Lost

Workers rebel at a workers' paradise:
The complaint, which the Post obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, was filed by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, a massive retail union that boasts more than 60,000 members.

Employees — who spoke anonymously over fear of retribution from their bosses — told the Post they're requesting better scheduling, increased staffing, greater transparency from management, and perceivably, improved compensation.

How has management responded?

Tight-lipped employees revealed their supervisors are furious over the collective bargaining effort. The NLRB complaint alleges that one boss even threatened the employees with pink slips should the unionization efforts fail.

That boss reportedly told employees they "should have a backup plan."
Socialism for me, not for thee...

Monday, May 13, 2019

Sliders

It wasn't all fun and games:
The stainless steel chute in Estepona was designed to give residents a quick way to travel between the streets at different elevations, saving a 10-minute walk, according to Sky News.

But videos posted to Twitter showed people hurtling down at a high rate of speed, flying off at the end.

Others also shared images of bruises and scrapes they said they received while going down the ramp.

"The slide of Estepona is a s---, seen and proven," one woman wrote. "I threw myself and I hurt everywhere, I flew 2 meters and the cops started to laugh."

The town council said Friday it ordered the company that built the slide to carry out a thorough check and will close it in the meantime.
Next time, take the stairs?

Bill Of Whose Rights?

Equality, or not?
The legislation — including its tedious “findings and purpose” section — reads like it was written by a college sophomore in gender studies. It isn’t clear why Democrats are so desperate to pass it. While progressives might claim that the Equality Act is an LGBT rights bill, it reads much more like a men’s rights bill, which understandably has some feminists asking, “Et tu, Nancy?”

Think I’m exaggerating? Consider this: the Equality Act would fundamentally redefine “sex” within all aspects of civil rights law to mean “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” scrapping the traditional legal standard of male and female as a product of biology and replacing it with an incomprehensible mess. The many legal protections women now enjoy would be effectively eliminated, resulting in a version of “equality” that many of the Equality Act’s supporters might not be anticipating.
Be careful what you wish for...

Bernie's Big Bust

At least he's honest about it:

Where's The Fake Beef?

No meat is not meat:
Meat-alternative products made by companies like Beyond Meat BYND 4.95% and Impossible Foods appeal to a growing number of consumers that want to cut down on meat. A high-profile report from the EAT-Lancet Commission warned that red-meat consumption needs to halve by 2050 to avoid serious health and environmental problems.

Whether or not consumers are fooled, vegan brands have found success in giving a meaty flavor to their marketing. Beyond Meat even puts its products in the meat aisles. It’s a smart way to preach to the unconverted and encourage so-called flexitarians to toss a veggie burger into their basket instead of a beef one.
But is it burger, or not burger?

For The Record

It's an all time high:
Prior to this fiscal year, the most that the federal government had ever spent in the first seven months of a fiscal year was in fiscal 2011, when it spent $2,476,257,690,000 in constant April 2019 dollars (adjusted using the Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator).

Federal spending in the first seven months of this fiscal year exceeded the previous record by $97,450,310,000.

At the same time that the Treasury was spending the most it has ever spent in the first seven months of a fiscal year, it also ran a deficit of $530,870,000,000.
It's only money-until the bill comes due...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The First Spy

the man behind the Cold War?
As World War II wound down, Igor Gouzenko was a military officer working in the Soviet embassy in Ottawa, Canada. Exposed to the many benefits of freedom and democracy in his post, Gouzenko had grown embittered with his own country’s government and global ambitions, so he made the decision to defect. And to purchase his passage into asylum, he brought armfuls of secret documents into the local Royal Canadian Mounted Police office. But this incredibly brave act made little impact on the Canadians.

The spying apparatus of his home country took notice, however.

Soon after, Soviet agents burst into Gouzenko’s Ottawa apartment, prepared to arrest him as a traitor and likely send him home to face a death sentence. Fortunately for Gouzenko, he wasn’t home at the time and his wife and child were in an apartment across the hall. But the raid finally awakened the Canadians to Gouzenko’s worth and they quickly granted him asylum.

As for the 109 smuggled documents he provided, they offered the West definitive proof of Soviet espionage within the West’s atomic weapons programs. The shockwaves from Gouzenko’s revelations immediately soured the U.S. and its Canadian and British allies on the nation that had just helped them defeat Nazi Germany—and many say it ignited the fuse that eventually set off the four-plus decades of the Cold War.
It was a long fuse...

Viva Las Literature

The literary scene of...Las Vegas?
With irregular regularity, various places in the United States that are not the Big Obvious Centers start throwing off a more concentrated number of cultural sparks: Austin, Tex.; Seattle; Chapel Hill, N.C.; Atlanta. Las Vegas might not seem the most obvious place to join this list. The Strip is still, and ever shall be, as Joan Didion described it, “bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification.” But a recent infusion of money, people and The Believer, a literary magazine, have kindled an already present bookish community into a steadier flame.

The hub of this resurgence (or, to coin a term, surgence) is the Black Mountain Institute, a literary center that operates out of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. When Joshua Wolf Shenk was named the executive and artistic director of the institute in 2015 — after the retirement of Carol Harter, who founded B.M.I. in 2006 — he was not planning to also become the editor in chief of a magazine. But soon after beginning his tenure, Shenk talked to The Believer, then published by McSweeney’s and based in San Francisco, about cooperating on a live event in Vegas.
It's not just for gamblers anymore?

No Holiday For Her

The woman who created it couldn't stand it:
Jarvis was very intentional about the name of her holiday. It's Mother's Day — as in one mom. The way Jarvis put it, Mother's Day is a day to honor "the best mother who ever lived, yours."
But Mother's Day became way more popular than she expected. People today honor any mom-like figure in their lives.
Jarvis couldn't stand the idea of people spending so much money on extravagant flower arrangements, sappy greeting cards and overly priced chocolates.
First, she went after florists, protesting their marketing of those beautiful and ornate carnations. Then, her protests escalated to arrests for public disturbances.
Jarvis didn't stop there. She went after first lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother's Day as a way to promote the health and welfare of women and children. While it was true that Jarvis' mother was a community health advocate, Jarvis still didn't like the association.
Jarvis died in a sanitarium in 1948. The holiday she created lives on.
Love your mother, but let her have her own day in peace...

Final Performance

What happened to Bas Jan Ader?
“In Search of the Miraculous” was conceived in three parts. The first is a series of black and white photographs showing Ader walked around L.A. and making his way to the ocean. It was accompanied by a video of his students singing sea shanties.

The second part was to be his three-month journey from the coast of Massachusetts to the coast of England in a 12.5-foot sailboat, while the final installment involved his attendance at an exhibition of his work at the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands.

“In the tradition of vision quests, this passage was his own epic poem where the artist serves as the central heroic figure,” Pilar Tompkins Rivas wrote in the catalog for a 2010 Bas Jan Ader exhibition at Pitzker College. “In this work, Ader pits himself against the elements, a proposition in which the reconciliation of existential truths, and queries of fate and faith likely played a major role.”

Anderson Ader said the boat was constructed to be virtually unsinkable. It was swathed in styrofoam and Ader planned the trip so that, even if the sail was somehow lost, the ocean currents would naturally carry him to the coast of the U.K., just in a bit more time than he had allotted.

“But the problem was that it was a very small boat in a very large ocean,” Anderson Ader said.

The boat was found 10 months after Ader set sail on the path that he had predicted it would naturally take. The artist was not on board.
The sea keeps its secrets...

The Greatest Thing Since...

Literally, sliced bread?

The Lady Behind The Smile

Who was the Mona Lisa?
Another theory: The Mona Lisa is a portrait of a man—either Leonardo himself or his pupil and possible lover, Salaì—dressed as a woman. The self-portrait theory found expression in a 1987 Art & Antiques article by Lillian Schwartz, an artist and computer technician who used digital tools to superimpose an image of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the woman in the painting. No question, Schwartz concluded: Leonardo used himself as a model. A similar conclusion is reached in a video now on YouTube titled “Mona Lisa IS Leonardo da Vinci.” The viewer is urged to watch the overlay of a Leonardo self-portrait onto an image of the Mona Lisa in order to see “how amazingly they line up.” The notion that the Mona Lisa is a Leonardo self-portrait is not one that experts have rushed to embrace.

Other investigators have speculated that Mona Lisa’s expression suggests compulsive grinding of her teeth, poor diet, a dysfunctional marriage, deafness, or facial paralysis; that the look of contentment on her face and the coy placement of her hands indicate that she was pregnant; that she was a prostitute; that she is smiling with her mouth closed because her teeth had been blackened by mercury treatments for syphilis; or that she suffered from strabismus (crossed eyes). The Mona Lisa’s famous smile was analyzed in 2005 by researchers at the University of Amsterdam (with technical assistance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), using what they called “emotion recognition” software. The researchers determined that the woman in the portrait was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.
At least she gave Nat King Cole something to sing about...

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Red Rejection

No socialists, please:
Sixty-six percent would be willing to elect a Muslim president, 63 percent would support a president over the age of 70, and 60 percent would be comfortable electing an atheist.

Then there's a significant drop-off to socialism, which only 47 percent of respondents would feel comfortable electing to the presidency. That number has not changed from the same poll in 2015.

Justin McCarthy's conclusion for Gallup about the poll is not encouraging for Sen. Bernie Sanders, the only major candidate to run explicitly as a socialist.
Even the other socialists don't want to run as socialists...

Going Dutch

Denmark doesn't do feminism:
The poll, conducted by the YouGov-Cambridge Globalism Project in partnership with The Guardian, found only one-sixth of Danes thought they were feminists. Moreover, one-third of Danes were just fine with men wolf-whistling at women. Additionally, only roughly 40% of Danes supported the #MeToo movement.

One 37-year-old Danish woman told The Guardian: “It’s a difficult question. What is a modern feminist? I don’t want to be equal in all senses.” She said of wolf-whistling, “I don’t mind it so long as it’s done in a nice way. I see it as a compliment, actually. A lot of Danish women say that they would like men to to be more like in southern Europe and tell you how nice you look.”
It's just their Dutch treat?

Crisis Or No Crisis

Even the Rat agrees there isn't one:
Former FBI Director James Comey has become such a darling of the Trump-hating circuit that CNN gave him a town hall forum on Thursday, the two-year anniversary of his firing.

When lobbed a leading question by host Anderson Cooper, Comey's response surely disappointed the frothing CNN hordes.

The Hill:

Former FBI Director James Comey said Thursday in a CNN town hall that he does not believe, as some top Democrats have said, that the U.S. is in a "constitutional crisis."
“I actually don’t think so,” Comey said when asked by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper whether the U.S. was in a constitutional crisis.

“We’re in a time where our constitutional design, the genius of our Founders, is going to be tested, and I think it’s up for it,” he added during the town hall on the 2-year anniversary of his firing.

Comey did say that he thought the system here was being "stress tested."

He is correct on that count, but it isn't the president who is testing it, as I'm sure he and the CNN audience believe.
The stress comes from within, not without...

The Apprentice

Why apprentices are making a comeback:
First, every kid who gets a job working for a plumber, an electrician, a stonemason, a carpenter, a house framer, a heavy equipment operator, or any other master tradesmen has a great opportunity to learn the skills necessary to become a successful businessman in a trade that's not going away as long as people are living and working in structures built by somebody else. Some of these apprenticeships are formalized (the electricians have done it this way for decades) and some of them are informal relationships between older professionals and younger kids who have enough sense to know a good opportunity when they see one.

Second, colleges and universities have really dropped the ball here. Historically, universities insisted that they were not vocational schools, but rather Institutions of Higher Education, concerned with preparing the human mind. It's difficult to understand how an accounting or engineering degree is other than vocational, but the haughty attitude was dragged out when it was useful – like when we asked about jobs in a depressed market.
....

The older way to learn a profession is coming back into popularity. Reading the law was the customary path to the bar exam before the rise of the law school and its protected status in most jurisdictions. Apprenticeship is a cheaper, more productive way into certain professions, and it has the distinct advantage of getting paid while you learn the trade instead of going into debt for an uncertain outcome.
Learn how to use tools, not to be one...

Movie Money Mania

Fake cash is on the rise:
According to police officials I spoke with, cheap counterfeit bills began proliferating on Amazon and eBay around 2015. Today, one can easily order 100 C-notes for $10. In a story published in the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Argus Leader in March, a local Secret Service agent, Randy Walker, said prop money is the most popular type of counterfeit bill currently in circulation. “People don’t have to make anything,” he explained.

As the Secret Service has struggled to keep up, other types of fake money with ostensibly legitimate purposes have also popped up online—such as Chinese-made “training money,” designed for bank tellers. In lieu of a “For Motion Picture Use Only” disclaimer, these bills are stamped with pink characters that translate to “Bill to Be Used for Counting Practice.” Russian-made bills are harder to spot; serial-number fields are filled with a mix of numbers and Cyrillic characters (translation: “Souvenir”), while on a $20 note, the image of the White House is relabeled “Donetsk City,” the name of a shopping mall in Ukraine.
To be fair, they're probably worth more than the real thing...

Anger Mismanagement

When getting angry can be good:
Because the effects of anger are sometimes so appalling, it’s easy to conclude that anger is inherently bad in itself – with occasional exceptions, perhaps, for major social transformations, like the fight for women’s suffrage, or the US civil rights movement. But studies have consistently shown that even everyday anger – not campaigns against injustice, but snappy remarks over the dinner table – usually has positive results. Pioneering work in the 1970s by the American researcher James Averill, confirmed in the years since, found that nonviolent expressions of anger generally helped people understand each other better, and to cooperate more successfully. “When an angry teenager shouted about his curfew, his parents agreed to modifications – as long as the teen promised to improve his grades,” Charles Duhigg wrote in the Atlantic recently, summarizing Averill’s findings. “Even the enraged wife’s confrontation with her unfaithful husband led to a productive conversation.”
And when it doesn't, it can at least let the other side know where you stand...

Funny Foreign Money

The problem with a Chinese donation? You want another one an hour later:
According to the indictment, Mr. Michel paid $1 million in money he received from Mr. Low to a 2012 political group that supported Mr. Obama, and an additional $865,000 to straw donors to support Mr. Obama’s campaign—people he reimbursed for their contributions.

Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Michel, said his client was innocent and expected to go to trial. “Mr. Michel is extremely disappointed that so many years after the fact the government would bring charges related to 2012 campaign contributions,” Mr. Pollack said.

A representative for Mr. Low said in a statement that Mr. Low was innocent. “The allegations against Mr. Low have no basis in fact: Mr. Low has never made any campaign contributions directly or indirectly in the U.S. and he unequivocally denies any involvement in or knowledge of the alleged activities,” the statement said.
It has to be laundered somehow...

Friday, May 10, 2019

Hoops For Peace

Kim wants big men:
ABC News notes that, according to their sources, cultural exchanges ranked high on the list of topics important to the North Koreans. They reportedly also requested “the exchange of orchestras between the two countries.”

The report did not list or specify who the basketball players Kim wished to have visit him were, or if the North Koreans had a list of athletes that they shared along with their request. It is not clear if Kim follows contemporary professional basketball in the United States given the limitations of the North Korean internet and lack of outside media in the country under his tyrannical rule, or if he is aware only of older basketball stars like frequent visitor Dennis Rodman.

The State Department did not confirm the report or the allegations regarding Kim’s demands.
Well, he does seem to like Dennis Rodman...

The Bardess

Will the real Shakespeare please stand up?
Doubts about whether William Shakespeare (who was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in 1564 and died in 1616) really wrote the works attributed to him are almost as old as the writing itself. Alternative contenders—Francis Bacon; Christopher Marlowe; and Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, prominent among them—continue to have champions, whose fervor can sometimes border on fanaticism. In response, orthodox Shakespeare scholars have settled into dogmatism of their own. Even to dabble in authorship questions is considered a sign of bad faith, a blinkered failure to countenance genius in a glover’s son. The time had come, I felt, to tug at the blinkers of both camps and reconsider the authorship debate: Had anyone ever proposed that the creator of those extraordinary women might be a woman? Each of the male possibilities requires an elaborate theory to explain his use of another’s name. None of the candidates has succeeded in dethroning the man from Stratford. Yet a simple reason would explain a playwright’s need for a pseudonym in Elizabethan England: being female.
To be a woman, or not to be?

Star Strike

Letting your team know they suck:
Protesters gathered around noon at the intersection of South Figueroa and West 11th streets. The organizer, fan Charlie Rivers, a University of Arizona graduate student, claims that owner Jeannie Buss has allowed nepotism to dictate the direction of the team.

“The amount of decisions being made right now is basically the decisions of a few people, as a result of nepotism, instead of those with basketball knowledge on how to run a front office, or those with value to the actual game of basketball,” Rivers told CBS2 by phone Thursday night.

Wearing the Lakers signature purple and gold and holding up a sign with an image of LeBron James, one fan told CBSLA the message is clear: the Lakers need help on the court and off.

“You know what, we want a star. We want another star free agent,” he said. “KD [Kevin Durant], Kyrie [Irving].”

Among the chants heard at the rally: “Fire Rambis”, referring to the Lakers’ senior basketball advisor and cult fan favorite Kurt Rambis.
They might need more than trick shots for this...

Non-Friended

Who needs a friend?
The majority of respondents cite friendship-making barriers that include aversion to the bar scene where most people choose to socialize, or the feeling that everyone’s friendship groups have already formed.

Other notable reasons Americans can’t seem to make new friends as an adult include commitments to family (29 percent), not having any hobbies that allow them to meet new people (28 percent) and moving to a new city (21 percent).

Though adults find the struggle to be very real when it comes to making new friends, they are open to suggestions for expanding their social circle. In fact, 45 percent of those studied reveal they would go out of their way to make new friends if they knew how or had more opportunities.
Maybe they can...

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Space Binge

What the astronauts watch:
Astronauts watch all kinds of entertainment on the ISS, from TV shows and films to sporting events and cable news, usually on their laptops. (Feustel’s favorite was car races, such as Formula One.) On Saturday nights, the crew might watch a movie together on a 65-inch screen that was installed in 2015. Earlier this week, they watched Star Wars in honor of May 4, the unofficial holiday of the franchise. The station is stocked with DVDs, and astronauts can request more in regular cargo deliveries, if there’s room. But most of the media is beamed up as digital files.

“Space-station crew members request whatever programming they would like to see, and Mission Control arranges for those television shows to be uplinked to them on their [laptops],” explains Stephanie Schierholz, a NASA spokesperson. “The connection is quick. Essentially the delay is not any different than the TV broadcast in your house.”
In space, nobody can see you stream...

The Social Network Problem

What to do with Facebook?
Part of the problem with breaking up Facebook is that the company is amoebic, of little determinate form, like the networks of mucuous mesh grazers that trawl the deep seas.

The appeal of Hughes as a critic of Facebook derives from his status as a co-founder, an early member of the product team, and a friend of Mark Zuckerberg. And yet, he failed to concretize that unique experience into a unique perspective. It’s not like Hughes is the only party to suggest breaking up Facebook, and citing Instagram and WhatsApp as the obvious limbs to sever first. Given how dire his warnings are about Facebook’s power, the idea that a tripartite version of the company would offer satisfactory reprieve rings hollow.

There is one clear problem with Facebook’s power—Zuckerberg’s tight grip on the board, and therefore on the company’s strategy and actions. But Hughes gives only momentary attention to the company’s governance structure, noting that the CEO controls about 60 percent of its voting shares.
It's the man, not the position?

Speech Check

MS Word becomes politically correct:
For example, if a person writes, "We need to get some fresh blood in here," the program would probably suggest changing the wording to something like, "We need to get some new employees," Fast Company said.

Words that refer to genders such as "spokeswoman," "waitress," or "mailman," would likely trigger suggestions including, "spokesperson," "waitperson" or "mailperson," respectively.

Similarly, if you call someone a "disabled person" in your writing, the software would prompt you to change the wording to "someone with a disability."

It will flag phrases that could be considered offensive in other countries or cultures, according to Fast Company. And it will assist writers with clarity and conciseness.

Microsoft worked with a team of language experts to come up with commonly used poor wording choices and develop a list of terms that could be used instead, Office Intelligence product manager Malavika Rewari told the magazine.
PC for your PC?

Like, Free

Because other people will pay for it, or something:

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Mob Maniacs

The mob strikes again:
“We decided to do an activism event, and it was ‘Build the Wall,'” said Coffeen, describing how last week’s incident unfolded, “Generally, when you do activism events, you get a larger crowd, because that’s the whole point of it — we started drawing in a rather large crowd, bigger than I anticipated, and the crowd, they were angry.”

“It turned into mob mentality pretty quickly,” continued the TPUSA representative, “We had a lot of students yelling at us, calling us every name in the book — one student, in particular, ended up rushing our table, he pulled everything off of it, kicked down our wall and broke it, and pushed one of my students down.”

“The only thing that stopped it from anyone else getting more violent was rain,” said Coffeen, “It started raining. It was almost like a gift from God honestly, and then everyone dispersed.”
Snowflakes hate the rain...

Monday's Lessons

Life lessons get a whole new meaning:
The Alabama coaches gather up their players every Monday to teach them skills the boys might not learn anywhere else.

Lessons include such things as learning to change a tire, tie a tie, magnetize a screwdriver, check oil and transmission fluids in a vehicle, and even make jewelry for that special lady in a young man's life.

Gross and Carter kicked off "Manly Mondays" six weeks ago, according to AL.com, and the two kick off Monday practices with life lessons for the kids on the team.

"We taught [the players] how to look a man in the eye and give a good, firm handshake," Gross said. "And they couldn't leave the locker room until they did that."

"The big thing is, as coaches, we can have a big impact on young men," Gross said. "That's why I do what I do. When [last] season ended, I felt the need to be more intentional about some things we do. We try to model the behaviors we expect."
Life after football is hard...

Real Fake News

Beware of the fake news anchors:
Their deep fake research is funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, which acts as the research and development wing of the U.S. Defense Department. They're working to develop a set of tools the government and public can use to detect and combat the rise of deep fakes.

"What we're doing here is providing a kind of detection method to authenticate these videos," Lyu said.

What's more, deep fakes technically aren't that hard to make. All it takes is a few seconds of video of someone, a powerful computer, and some code, which Lyu and his team don't release publicly.

"The real danger, I believe, is the fact that the line between what is real and what is fake is blurred because of the existence of this kind of technology," Lyu said.

But it is about more than just a news anchor face-swap experiment. The power to make a video of anybody saying anything is alarming.
What good is reality, when even it can be faked?

Big Revisionists On Campus

The erasure of history on college campuses continues:
The censorship is getting wider in scope. Controversial historical figures like Christopher Columbus and Woodrow Wilson have consistently drawn student outrage and protest, as have Confederate monuments, but other more beloved figures like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are also beginning to attract controversy.

There are many examples in recent years of universities removing or censoring artwork that has been accused of being derogatory, disrespectful, hurtful or racist, according to a survey by The College Fix.

Campus activists have aimed their protests at a variety of murals, statues, and other forms of artwork, demanding that they be taken down or covered up because their presences represent some sort of danger to students on campus. Oftentimes, administrators agree.
Historical truths can do that to closed minds...

Uncle Boss Sam

It's good work if you can get it?
Of the full-time year-round workers, 88,296,000 were private-sector employees; 17,617,000 were government employees; and 9,750,000 were self-employed. (Another 42,000 were classified as "unpaid family workers.")

The overall median earnings for all of these full-time year-round workers in 2017 were $48,500.

Workers in private industry, however, made less than the overall median. Their median earnings were $46,797.

The self-employed did a little better than the national rate. Their median earnings were $50,383.

But government workers did the best. Their median earnings were $53,435.

That was 14.2 percent better than private-sector workers and 6.1 percent better than the self-employed.
Uncle Sam wants you-to have a good paycheck?

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Little Green Warming

It's like space aliens, or something:

No Pictures, Please

No press allowed?
DiPaulo made the accusations on Twitter, saying one reporter was allegedly asked to leave by a campaign staffer who subsequently took their picture, a second journalist claimed a Biden staffer "physically invaded their space" in order to block them from the candidate, and a third reporter was also physically blocked by an aide who allegedly put her arms up in front of his camera.

DiPaola went on to say that Biden staffers "tried to remove" the media from "what appears to be a public lot," while the campaign moved the candidate's motorcade three times in an attempt to dodge questioning.

None of the unnamed reporters mentioned by DiPaola have gone on the record, and in fact, they all refused to comment when approached by Fox News. When DiPaola was asked by a Twitter follower to expose their identities and answer why they hadn't given their own accounts, he explained that "some of them cover Biden regularly and don't want to jeopardize their relationship with the campaign," while others "have to get permission from their employers to speak on-the-record."
Let them eat sound bites...

Lose At All Costs

They really don't want him to win:

Hog Wild

"Tolerant" leftists strike again:
"I was preparing a client's order. I felt liquid hit me, I touched my head and the liquid was quite red," the butcher told BFM television.

"I looked up and there were 15 or 20 people in front of the stand with the slogans 'Freedom and defence for animals'," he said.

The two suspects were to be brought before a judge to face potential charges later Monday.

A series of French butcher shops have been vandalised in recent months by "anti-speciesism" activists, who say eating meat is an immoral violation of the rights of other species.
Acting like animals doesn't help your case in defending them...