Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Another polar bear bites the dust

Did you see that pathetic National Geographic video of a starving polar bear? Did you see the propaganda that went with it:
"The simple truth is this—if the Earth continues to warm, we will lose bears and entire polar ecosystems. This large male bear was not old, and he certainly died within hours or days of this moment. But there are solutions. We must reduce our carbon footprint, eat the right food, stop cutting down our forests, and begin putting the Earth—our home—first."
Not to be topped in the hysteria department, The New York Times came right out and said it: "Experts and environmentalists say the broad answer — however controversial and nuanced it may be — is to reduce the present levels of global greenhouse gas emissions in order to curb global warming. In January, federal wildlife officials issued a report that called climate change the biggest threat to the survival of the polar bear."


These images aren’t the work of a scientist, an impartial documentarian or even a concerned bystander. They are part of a very calculated public relations exercise by SeaLegacy, an organization whose stated purpose is to capture photos that drive “powerful conservation wins.” The group dispatched five expeditions in 2017, all with the goal to “trigger public and policy support for sustainable ocean solutions.” Terry Audla is a past president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, an advocacy organization representing all Canadian Inuit. In a Sunday tweet, he called the photos a “stunt” that represented a “complete disservice to climate change science.” SeaLegacy’s social media posts about the bear also failed to mention that the images were taken in August, when ice cover naturally disappears from many polar bear habitats.
That once respectable publications like National Geographic and The New York Times went along with this stunt tells you a lot.

Image: In green areas polar bear populations are likely increasing, in the darker blue areas the population is stable, and in the lighter blue areas the population is likely stable.

Tending to the bacteria in your gut

I've written a good bit about the microbiome, the bacteria in our guts that affects our health. The problem about this new field of health is that we don't know a lot about how to deal with it: What should be eating to have a healthier microbiome, for example.

One study suggested that prebiotic fiber and kefir are good for improving your gut. Foods rich in a prebiotic fiber called inulin are good. Prebiotics are substances that feed the good bacteria already living in our guts, and inulin can be found in Jerusalem artichokes, chicory root, onions, garlic and leeks. Kefir is a traditional fermented drink that contains an array of bacteria and yeast.

But be wary of any processed product in grocery stores, the researchers said. The good stuff might have been processed out.

The New York Times recently ran an article with the rather discouraging title "There Is No ‘Healthy’ Microbiome." Essentially it says that the microbiome is a lot more complex than buying a cup of chocolate flavored yogurt.
The microbiome is a teeming collection of thousands of species, all constantly competing with one another, negotiating with their host, evolving, changing. While your genome is the same as it was last year, your microbiome has shifted since your last meal or sunrise.

The microbiome is the sum of our experiences throughout our lives: the genes we inherited, the drugs we took, the food we ate, the hands we shook. It is unlikely to yield one-size-fits-all solutions to modern maladies.

We cling to the desire for simple panaceas that will bestow good health with minimal effort. But biology is rarely that charitable. So we need to learn how tweaking our diets, lifestyles and environments can nudge and shape the ecosystems in our bodies. And we need ways of regularly monitoring a person’s microbiome to understand how its members flicker over time, and whether certain communities are more steadfast than others.
My guess is that eating that healthy diet your mother forced on you and getting a lot of exercise are your best tools for managing your bacteria.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Mikey just assumed Hillary would get elected

Pals protecting the country.
Just when we were beginning to doubt that there really is a Deep State cabal out to get The Donald we get this ...

A veteran of nearly three decades in the CIA, Michael Morell became the agency’s longtime deputy director, twice serving as its acting leader. In the summer of 2016 he broke with tradition to endorse Hillary Clinton over Trump, and he has continued to "sound the alarm" ever since.

"Sound the alarm" are the words of  Politico writer Susan Glasser who interviewed Morell and heard him say this:
In August of 2016 ... I became political, when I endorsed Hillary Clinton with an op-ed in The New York Times, and that was a very difficult decision for me, because I had never been political before. I worked at this nonpolitical agency, bright red line between intelligence and policy, and intelligence and politics. So I had never played that role before.

But I was so deeply concerned about what a Trump presidency might look like from a national security perspective, and believed that there was such a gap between Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump with regard to how well they would protect the country, that I thought it extremely important to come out and say that.
Let's stop here and ask Mikey some questions. A nonpolitical agency? Really? Have you checked that with John Brennan? You think Hillary "Russia Reset" Clinton would protect us better? Really? Please continue ...
I don’t think it was a mistake. I think there were downsides to it that I didn’t think about at the time. I was concerned about what is the impact it would have on the agency, right? Very concerned about that, thought that through. But I don’t think I fully thought through the implications.

And one of the ways I’ve thought about that, Susan, is—okay, how did Donald Trump see this? Right? And from—it’s very important—one of the things we do as intelligence analysts is make sure that our guy—the president—understands the other guy. Right?

So, let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?
And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.

And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, “What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?” The current director at the time, John Brennan, during the campaign occasionally would push back on things that Donald Trump had said.

So, when Trump talked about the Iran nuclear deal being the worst deal in the history of American diplomacy, and he was going to tear it up on the first day—John Brennan came out publicly and said, “That would be an act of folly.” So, he sees current sitting director pushing back on him. Right?

Then he becomes president, and he’s supposed to be getting a daily brief from the moment he becomes the president-elect. Right? And he doesn’t. And within a few days, there’s leaks about how he’s not taking his briefing. So, he must have thought—right?—that, “Who are these guys? Are these guys out to get me? Is this a political organization? Can I think about them as a political organization when I become president?”

So, I think there was a significant downside to those of us who became political in that moment. So, if I could have thought of that, would I have ended up in a different place? I don’t know. But it’s something I didn’t think about.
Golly, Mike. Do you have a moment for a few more questions?
  1. Why are you coming out and admitting this now? Are you afraid of something? 
  2. Do you understand that you are describing the Deep State? Or are you so entrapped in the bubble that you don't realize what you've just said? 
  3. What do you suggest we do with this new information, Mike?
Melissa Mackenzie has some questions: A top level spy didn’t think about the implications of monkeying with an election, the American election. He didn’t think through how the possible President would interpret his behavior? Seriously? What mistakes did this man make in his spy activities overseas if he didn’t consider the consequences of his actions here?

When it's okay to talk to yourself

When I wake up I go downstairs, turn off the alarm and take Scout the Wonder Dog outside. Some days in the time it takes to turn off the alarm at the front door and reach the back door where I take him out I forget whether I've turn the alarm off.

What's a mother to do?

I've just read that saying something out loud will help you remember it better.
Even mouthing something without producing sound seems to trigger the effect. But what appears to work best is speaking it aloud. "I think that leads to better initial encoding of the information in memory," says Colin MacLeod, a psychology professor at the University of Waterloo.
Okay, a couple of things.

Would you want to go around the rest of your life saying you'd graduated from the University of Waterloo?

Another thing: if you start saying everything out loud, such as when you go upstairs to get something and get up there and can't remember what you went up there to get, or when you park in a parking garage and say your section out loud, and you get the idea, people are going to start wondering.

At home I really don't care, because Scout the Wonder Dog doesn't understand anyway. However, in a parking garage I try to maintain a proper dignity.

Nathaniel Branden: self-esteen

"Self-esteem is the reputation we acquire with ourselves."

Monday, December 11, 2017

An update on the coup attempt against The Donald

Spell that last name again, Peter?
If you're keeping score at home, you may have noticed that Deep State Defender  Robert Mueller hit a bump in the road when it was discovered that his lead investigator, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, whose last name nobody can spell or pronounce, had been writing anti-Trump texts to his mistress, who was also on the Mueller team.

As we say in the swamp, Oh Boy!

This will have implications for Mueller's crusade, as Nick James, a trial attorney in the D.C. area who formerly worked for the United States Department of Justice as an award-winning federal prosecutor, explains.
Like a headless turkey running around in circles, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation is dead, even if he does not yet realize it. While his investigation stumbles onward, with life support provided by the biased media, from a legal perspective the viability of any criminal case that Mueller could possibly bring has been effectively gutted thanks to the news (suppressed for months by Mueller’s team) that the FBI’s “key agent” in both the Russia investigation and the Clinton email probe was an ardent Hillary supporter with an anti-Trump bias.
Under federal law, a prosecutor is required “to disclose exculpatory and impeachment information to criminal defendants and to seek a just result in every case.” Specifically, pursuant to Giglio v. United States, prosecutors are obligated to provide defendants with impeachment evidence, which includes, according to the DOJ’s guidelines, evidence of a witness’s biases, “[a]nimosity toward defendant,” or “[a]nimosity toward a group of which the defendant is a member or with which the defendant is affiliated.”
As a result, in any prosecution brought by Mueller against a Republican target, defense counsel would be entitled under the Constitution to all evidence in the government’s possession relevant to exploring the apparent biases of FBI agent Peter Strzok and his animosity toward Trump and the Republican Party. This, in and of itself, could be a case-killer because it is very unlikely that Mueller or the DOJ would want defense counsel poring through all the records and documents, emails, and texts in the DOJ’s and Strzok’s possession revealing the agent’s biases since this could fatally undermine any other cases or investigations the agent has worked on—such as the FBI’s decision to recommend charging General Flynn with lying to federal agents even though Hillary Clinton’s besties, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, were given a free pass despite apparently doing the same thing.
Significantly, the fatal damage done to Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation does not only rest in the fact that defense counsel will be able to conduct an unlubricated prostate examination on the FBI’s key agent at trial. Instead, the real reason why Mueller will not risk a criminal trial is the lasting damage that would be done to the FBI’s reputation by having Strzok’s baggage brought into the daylight.
To expose the agent’s biases, defense counsel would have the opportunity to cross-examine the agent and his apparent mistress, an FBI lawyer who also worked on Mueller’s investigation and the Clinton email probe, about their exchanged messages showing support for Clinton and hostility to Trump. Additionally, the agent’s wife, a high-profile attorney at another federal agency, apparently was a member of several pro-Obama and pro-Clinton Facebook groups and is a follower of a Facebook page called “We Voted for Hillary.”
One can only imagine the fun that an aggressive defense attorney would have shredding Strzok’s credibility by grilling him to see if he shared his wife’s posted political views.
The prospect of having to reveal to defense counsel and the public the FBI’s dirty laundry concerning Strzok—the former deputy head of the agency’s counterespionage unit—plus having to watch as defense attorneys parade the disgraced agent, his disgraced FBI mistress, and possibly his betrayed wife before the jury to explore the extent of his anti-Trump biases pretty much kills the likelihood of Mueller indicting any other Republicans. There’s simply too much downside.
Undeniably, if Mueller were to proceed with a trial under these tainted circumstances, he would be exposing the country’s vaunted legal system and the agency he once headed, to both national and international ridicule. The FBI’s reputation for impartiality would be forever flushed down the toilet. This price simply is not worth it particularly since he has found no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia. Indeed, one wonders, cynically, if this realization prompted Mueller to offer a light plea deal to Flynn so that he could quickly sign him up as a cooperator and add the general as a notch on his prosecutorial belt before the DOJ notified the public of the real reason for Strzok’s removal from Mueller’s team? (Arguably, Giglio disclosure obligations only apply after a person has been indicted but not if he pleads guilty pre-indictment.)
Finally, it is worth noting that under principles analogous to the fruit-of-the-poisonous-tree doctrine, any FBI agents or officials who worked with Strzok (including James Comey) would be tainted by, and subject to cross-examination to explore, Strzok’s biases and whether he is the type of person who hid from them his biases while making key charging recommendations.
In short, Mueller’s anti-Trump investigation is effectively dead (unless his targets’ lawyers are nincompoops). And, ironically, this is all the fault of Strzok and his mistress who wanted to help “Crooked Hillary” and target Trump. How do you like ‘dem apples?
All of this arises from the fraudulent nature of James Comey's non-investigation of Hillary and Mueller's persecution of The Donald. Of course the legal niceties don't matter to Comey and Mueller, because the whole thing is political, and it is sufficient for them only to keep a dark cloud above the White House.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Vespers: The Oxyrynchus Papyrus

This video is about the ancient Christian hymn, "The Oxyrynchus Papyrus."

The Oxyrhynchus hymn is the earliest known manuscript of a Christian Greek hymn to contain both lyrics and musical notation. It is found on Papyrus 1786 of the Oxyrhynchus papyri. The hymn was written around the end of the 3rd century AD.

The lyrics of the Oxyrhynchus hymn were written in Greek, and poetically invoke silence for the praise of the Holy Trinity (i.e. cosmic stillness, a motif of ancient Greek hymnody).

The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a group of manuscripts discovered during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by papyrologists Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt.

The Oxyrhynchus hymn is the only surviving fragment of notated Christian Greek music from the first four hundred years of the Christian period.

Let it be silent
Let the luminous stars
not shine,
Let the winds and all the noisy rivers die down;
And as we hymn the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
Let all the powers add "Amen Amen"
Empire, praise always, and glory to God,
The sole giver of
good things,
Amen Amen

Can you see the bilberries in your grocery store?

They are a cousin of the blueberry, cranberry and huckleberry, just not as well known. And like its berry relatives, bilberry contains phytochemical compounds that hold promise for supporting particular health conditions -- particularly in your eyes.
The anthocyanidins in bilberries have antioxidant function and are responsible for one of bilberries’ most common therapeutic applications: supporting healthy vision. Specifically, these phytochemicals boost the production of rhodopsin, which improves night vision and facilitates the eyes’ adaptations to changing light.
Long-term bilberry supplementation (oral capsules; six months or more) was shown to result in small but significant improvements in visual acuity in subjects with normal-tension glaucoma. Bilberry may be beneficial for patients with glaucoma or cataracts. Increased ocular pressure is a frequent finding in glaucoma, as is poor circulation, in general. Patients with cataracts or glaucoma are often found to have compromised antioxidant defense systems, as well. Bilberry could be instrumental for ameliorating both of these situations: the antioxidants in bilberry are potent free radical scavengers, and the blood-thinning effects may result in reduced intraocular pressure and improved overall circulation. Individual polyphenols in bilberry had a dose-dependent inhibitory function on angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) in cultured human endothelial cells from umbilical veins. 
That information is from a supplement company, but a study published by the National Institutes of Health says: Many studies have shown positive effects, including improvement in retinal abnormalities, increased capillary resistance, slowing of progression of lens opacity and myopia, and improved dark adaptation. Although bilberry is promoted most commonly for improving vision, it has been reported to lower blood glucose, to have anti-inflammatory and lipid-lowering effects, and to promote antioxidant defense and lower oxidative stress.

Look for it.

I am sending my messenger ahead of you

From The Lectionary:

Mark 1:1-8

1:1 The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

1:2 As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;

1:3 the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,'"

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

Image: 14th Century Macedonian icon of John the Baptist

Henry David Thoreau: self-awareness

"It is as hard to see one's self as to look backwards without turning around."

Friday, December 08, 2017

Casual Friday: We're An American Band

"“When I was younger I felt like a man trapped inside a woman’s body. Then I was born.” ~ Yianni

You're probably washing your hands incorrectly

Singing Happy Birthday.
I take Scout the Wonder Dog to visit residents and patients at a couple of nursing homes and a hospital. So I've started washing my hands a lot. And using antimicrobial lotion.

Since you paid attention in history class, you will recall that Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever (also known as "childbed fever") could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.

With a name like Ignaz he had to come up with something.

Of course all the doctors laughed at him. It was only years after his death, that Louis Pasteur confirmed the germ theory and Joseph Lister, acting on the French microbiologist's research, practiced and operated, using hygienic methods, with great success.

To late for poor Semmelweis. In 1865, Semmelweis was committed to an asylum, where he died at age 47 of pyaemia, after being beaten by the guards, only 14 days after he was committed.

At any rate, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England says scrubbing your hands for 20 seconds is the only way to get rid of viruses and bacteria that can cause colds, flu, infections and upset stomachs. It says that bout a third of cases of diarrhea and 16 percent of respiratory infections can be prevented through good hand washing.

It has been reported that antibacterial handwash is no better than soap – and cold water kills as many germs as hot. That leaves it up to you.

What I was taught is that you should wash your hands for as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice. You might want to sing it softly lest you end up like poor old Ignaz Semmelweis.

Here's an actual real live doctor, or at least someone who plays on on TV, showing you how to do it:

She's probably on the payroll of some soap company.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Just when you started thinking you're important

Look! There you are!
Using ground-based telescopes, astronomers have discovered the most distant supermassive black hole ever found.
The black hole has a mass 800 million times greater than our sun, which earns it the “supermassive” classification reserved for giants like this. Astronomers can’t see the black hole, but they know it’s there because they can see something else: A flood of light around the black hole that can outshine an entire galaxy. This is called a quasar, and this particular quasar is the most distant one ever observed.

The light from the quasar took more than 13 billion years to reach Earth, showing us a picture of itself as it was when the universe was just 5 percent of its current age. Back then, the universe was “just” 690 million years old. The hot soup of particles that burst into existence during the Big Bang was cooling rapidly and expanding outward. The first stars were starting to turn on, and the first galaxies beginning to swirl into shape.
Eventually you came along.

(Maggie's Farm)

The radioactive Bob Mueller

I follow the writing of a blogger who calls himself The Z Man. I don't like for bloggers to be anonymous, but this guy is intelligent and he seems to know what's going on. In a recent post he posited a motive for Robert Mueller's investigation of The Donald, and I agree with him. Natch.

It's this: Look to the Obama Administration giving 20 percent of our uranium to Russia. Somebody's trying to cover it up. Here's the post. It's long, I know.
The recent developments in the so-called Russian hacking case have proven that it was never about Russia. It was about “other stuff.” This seemed obvious for a while, but now we know for sure. The two main figures singled out as part of some conspiracy to do something with the Russians, were found to have done nothing with the Russians. They have been charged with unrelated crimes. The public statements of Robert Mueller make clear that he is not investigating Russian involvement in the election.
This was not hard to figure out. I posted about this here and here. The chants of “Russian hacking” from the Clinton camp were always ridiculous. Lots of foreign governments meddle in our elections. That’s not new. What they are not doing, because it cannot be done, is “hacking” the election. Instead, the public information has always supported the idea that the people involved in this probe were trying to hide something. The question is what are they trying to hide and why would they go to these lengths? 
So, what’s going on?
The first thing to note is that all of the recent scandals seem to include one of the people now involved in the probe into the mythical Russian hacking stuff. Robert Mueller was the delivery boy in the Uranium One deal. He delivered a uranium sample to the Russians on behalf of the United States government. He then handled the investigation of the shenanigans around the Clinton Foundation and the money that came in from Russian sources, just around the time when Hillary was pushing the Uranium One deal.
Of course, Mueller was the mentor of James Comey, who took over for Mueller as head of the FBI. Comey is one of those guys you see in Washington, who is a lot like the career assistant coach that finally gets to be head coach. Everyone loved him as the second banana and assumed he would be a great top banana. He gets the top job and suddenly, everyone realizes why he was a career assistant. Comey’s main role was in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal, which he managed to botch in ways no one imagined.
Comey’s blundering is reminiscent of Janet Reno. The Clintons picked her to run Justice because she was stupid, incurious and easily controlled by assistants. Reno was never bright enough to realize that her assistants were making sure she never asked the wrong questions or looked in the wrong places. That seems to be the role Comey played in the last years of the Obama administration. He staggered around thinking he was being the good citizen, when in reality he was being controlled by political operatives in the FBI.
Then there is the infamous “dodgy dossier” that was cooked up by a firm called Fusion GPS. This firm is run by former Wall Street Journal reporters. They exist to do opposition research for the political class. What we know is the Clinton campaign paid them for something. The NeverTrump loons paid them for something. The FBI relied on them to justify their Russia probes. We also know they are fighting Congress tooth and nail to prevent any of this being exposed to sunlight. So is the DOJ for some reason.
Then there is the fact that the FBI was bugging Trump Tower. Their justification was, wait for it, Russian gamblers. It’s surely a coincidence and there is no reason to think they were listening to Trump. The fact that the DOJ was routinely unmasking Trump people, so they could listen in on their communications, was probably no big deal. Well, it is was a big deal to General Flynn. The FBI charged him with lying to them, because they had the electronic records contradicting his statement about his dealings with foreigners.
Then we have Obama appointee Rod Rosenstein, who seems to be in the middle of just about everything. There’s a John Dean vibe to this guy. He was the one who wrote the long memo to Trump, recommending that Comey be fired. Then, coincidentally, he was the guy who recommended the appointment of the special prosecutor. Even crazier, he is the guy who picked Bob Mueller’s name out of nowhere to be on the list of options for President Trump. He just happens to be an old friend of Bob Mueller. What a coincidence!
Finally, the last member of the dramatis personae is Andrew McCabe, the second in command at the FBI. He came to fame when it was revealed that while he was leading the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail shenanigans, his old lady was taking fifty grand from Clinton bagman Terry McAuliffe. Mrs McCabe was running for local office in Virginia and the governor, out of the blue, suddenly took an interest in her political career. He raised a bunch of money for her, just because he is that sort of guy.
Theories of the crime?
The first thing that is obvious is that the same cast of characters keep turning up in these different scandals. Rod Rosenstein, Bob Mueller, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, these names keep popping up in all of the not obviously related matters. Maybe it is a coincidence, but there’s a Tammany Hall feel to it. No one guy is obviously guilty of anything, but criminality seems to hang over them like a bad odor. It’s possible that the FBI has become a rotten precinct and infected some in the Department of Justice.
Another possibility is that these guys were turned by the Clinton machine and they got sloppy in the year prior to the election. They assumed Clinton was going to win, so they wanted to show their enthusiasm and loyalty by going the extra mile during the general election. After all, everyone in official Washington was sure Clinton was going to win for at least six months prior to the election. John Dean went to great lengths to conceal his own perfidy during the Watergate years. We have a gaggle of John Deans here.
Of course, there is the Trump factor. Maybe these guys figured they could clever their way out some embarrassment by maneuvering Trump into appointing a special prosecutor. Then he and his people would not get too curious about this stuff as no one dares take on a special prosecutor. They just assumed Trump would be like a normal politician and roll over for them. Instead, Trump is banging away at them. Suddenly we have serious people saying Trump should fire Mueller and bring in someone fresh.
Back when Trump started running in the primary, I started calling him The Mule, after the character in the Asimov novel. For two years now, everyone who has dared to take on Trump has been blown to bits, usually by their own hand. It is quite remarkable. The arc of the Trump political career is littered with the obituaries of people who foolishly challenged him. The fact that Trump has maneuvered all of the main actors into the same box now, suggests he may have been way ahead of these guys all along.
I was going to put together my own post on this, but The Z Man beat me to it. I never liked him.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

This is why Al Gore invented the Internet

Vladimir, you getting this>
How would you like for your laundry detergent bottle to communicate with the Internet, allowing the NSA and Vladimir Putin to know how dirty your clothes are and use that knowledge to blackmail you?

Me neither.

That's why we need some Antifa goons at the University of Washington to step up and take action. UW engineers have developed the first 3-D printed plastic objects that can connect to other devices via WiFi without using any electronics. For example, a 3-D printed attachment (see photo) can sense how much laundry soap is being used -- and automatically order more when the bottle is running low.
3-D printing enthusiasts will be able to create objects out of commercially available plastics that can wirelessly communicate with other smart devices. That could include a battery-free slider that controls music volume, a button that automatically orders more cornflakes from Amazon or a water sensor that sends an alarm to your phone when it detects a leak.
I could see an automatic reorder of dark chocolate, but I don't eat cornflakes. That's science for you.

Here's a video narrated by a guy who sounds sketchy to me.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

An update on the coup attempt against The Donald

Nice work, Bob.
I read today that Robert Mueller, the special counsel hired to get ride of The Donald, has subpoenaed records of Deutsche Bank, which has lent The Donald lots of money over years. Then I heard on TV that this was not the case. One way or another we've got some fake news going on here.

Now it doesn't seem to me that The Donald's business dealings with a German bank would have anything to do with Mueller's charge to investigate Russian meddling in the election. It doesn't matter, because everyone knows that Mueller's real job is to set The Donald up for impeachment.

Andrew C. McCarthy III is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, so he understands what Mueller is doing. He writes:
The end game of the investigation is the removal of Donald Trump from the presidency, either by impeachment (which does not require proof of a court-prosecutable crime) or by publicly discrediting Trump to such a degree that his reelection becomes politically impossible. The latter can be accomplished by projecting the appearance of a critical investigation (notwithstanding that there is no underlying crime), turning administration officials into suspects, and hopefully generating the false-statement prosecutions that help depict the administration as dishonest and icky.
So Mueller and his handlers are committing politics. Trouble is, it won't work. No less than the liberal The Atlantic says:
Since Robert Mueller became special counsel in May, the chances of the House of Representatives passing articles of impeachment—and the Senate ratifying them—have probably gone down. That kind of mass Republican defection has grown harder, not easier, to imagine. It’s grown harder because the last six months have demonstrated that GOP voters will stick with Trump despite his lunacy, and punish those Republican politicians who do not.
This is the meaning of the tax cut bill: It will stimulate the economy, creating new jobs, and people still do vote their pocketbook. It's also the meaning of eliminating the Obamacare mandates. And it's also the meaning of Roy Moore and John Conyers: It's about tallying up the votes in the Congress where impeachment happens.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Is your mouthwash killing you?

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham recorded the use of mouthwash by 1,206 people.

They discovered that using mouthwash may lead to the onset of diabetes.
Many mouthwashes contains antibacterial compounds — such as chlorhexidine — that kill bacteria in order to help prevent gingivitis, tooth decay, and other oral health conditions. The researchers suspect that these compounds also destroy "good" bacteria in the mouth that are important for the formation of nitric oxide, which is a chemical compound that helps to regulate insulin — the hormone that controls blood sugar levels.
I wouldn't panic just yet. Wait til there is confirmation.

Meantime, just to keep you confused, some of those bacteria in your mouth linked with gum disease may increase the risk of cancer. The presence of one oral bacterium in particular, called Tannerella forsythia, was tied to a 21 percent increase in the odds of developing esophageal tumors, said a team at NYU Langone Health in New York City.

Meantime, just to confuse you even further, the investigators found that some types of mouth bacteria were associated with a lower risk of esophageal cancer.

What isn't known is whether mouthwash kills these bacteria associated with cancer. I guess you'll just have to wait until you die to find out if your bad breath killed you.

Meantime, just to help you have a pleasant day, we know that mouth bacteria can contribute to:
  • Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Some research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

1,000 Words: I want my iPhone

In Romania in 1980 under communism ordinary people were lined up for bread (“piine is the old spelling of bread in Romanian, it’s since been changed to “paine”). Today they’re  lined up to buy Apple products, probably the iPhone X.

(AEI via Maggie's Farm)

Fathers: It's not really a black thing

If a famous black actor says it, people tend to notice. Denzel Washington: "If the father is not in the home the boy will find a father in the streets. I saw it in my generation and every generation before me, and every one since." 

Duh. Notice that he didn't say black home.

Here's the reality: 57.6% of black children, 31.2% of Hispanic children, and 20.7% of white children are living absent their biological fathers.

Why are the black numbers higher? Tom Knighton suggests:
Next to slavery, the greatest sin committed by the Democratic Party was the destruction of the black family by LBJ's supposed "War on Poverty." It created a perverse financial incentive for America's black population -- the largest recipients of LBJ's programs at the time, still poor due to Jim Crow laws just being abolished -- to no longer live in family units. Many opted to ignore marriage, as single motherhood led to greater benefits.
Washington knows of which he speaks.
When he was 14, his parents divorced, and his mother sent him to a private preparatory school, Oakland Military Academy in New Windsor, New York. "That decision changed my life," Washington later said, "because I wouldn't have survived in the direction I was going. The guys I was hanging out with at the time, my running buddies, have now done maybe 40 years combined in the penitentiary. They were nice guys, but the streets got them."
Denzel Washington has always been one of my favorite actors, and I like him even more now.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Vespers: Be Still My Soul

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings "Be Still My Soul."

Jean Sibelius
This Christian hymn was written in German  in 1752 by Katharina Amalia Dorothea von Schlegel (1697–1768) and translated into English in 1855 by Jane Laurie Borthwick (1813–1897). It is usually sung to the tune Finlandia. Borthwick is of Scottish family. Her sister (Mrs. Eric Findlater) and herself edited "Hymns from the Land of Luther" (1854).

Finlandia, Op. 26, is a tone poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire.

This arrangement is by Mack Wilberg (born February 20, 1955), a composer, arranger, conductor, choral clinician and the current music director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

Nature's invisible networks

What are they saying?
We've known for awhile that plants talk to each other, and evidence of this is accumulating.
Willow trees, poplars and sugar maples can warn each other about insect attacks: Intact, undamaged trees near ones that are infested with hungry bugs begin pumping out bug-repelling chemicals to ward off attack. They somehow know what their neighbors are experiencing, and react to it.
It’s now well established that when bugs chew leaves, plants respond by releasing volatile organic compounds into the air. Other plants detect these airborne signals and ramp up their production of chemical weapons or other defense mechanisms in response.

The plant signaling pioneer Ted Farmer of the University of Lausanne has discovered that plants transmit information — with electrical pulses and a system of voltage-based signaling that is eerily reminiscent of the animal nervous system. 

In one experiment sagebrush plants were clipped, imitating the injuries caused by the sharp teeth of insects and inducing the plants to produce methyl jasmonate and other airborne chemicals. The wild tobacco nearby started pumping out the defensive enzyme polyphenol oxidase. At the end of the season, these tobacco plants had much less leaf damage than others from grasshoppers and cutworms.
Plants can communicate with insects as well, sending airborne messages that act as distress signals to predatory insects that kill herbivores. Maize attacked by beet armyworms releases a cloud of volatile chemicals that attracts wasps to lay eggs in the caterpillars’ bodies.
There is a practical application for this. A 2011 report found that commercial corn hybrids seem to have lost the wild maize plant’s ability to release chemicals that attract parasitic wasps that kill stem borer moths. If these defensive traits could be bred back into crops, they could reduce the need for pesticides.

Somewhat on the bleeding edge of this research is the suggestion that when we're out in the woods we can benefit from nature's healing networks. Dr. Qing Li, an associate professor at Nippon Medical School in Toky, suggests:
In studies of people who spent time in a forest, their immune systems  showed an increase in the activity of natural killer (NK) cells – a component of the immune system in charge of preventing cancer.

Dr Li attributes the increase in NK activity partly to breathing in air containing phytoncide – an essential oil from the wood – like α-pinene and limonene, which are antimicrobial volatile organic compounds emitted from trees to protect them from rotting and insects.
Phytoncides are natural preservatives and fungicides, classified as antimicrobial volatile organic compounds. These phytoncides induce NK cell activity, which kill tumor cells by releasing anti-cancer proteins. It’s been shown that ‘forest bathers’ have increased this activity by 50%.
Is this why gardening and hiking are such healthy activities?

Make a joyful noise

From The Lectionary:

Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.

2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name.

5 For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.

Claude M. Bristol: self-image

"Undoubtedly, we become what we envisage."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Why we can't have nice things

The Left did its best to trash Thanksgiving. Perhaps because it was established as a holiday by white men. Perhaps because it acknowledges God, who is competition for government. Perhaps because they're just irritable, unhappy people.

Give them a perp walk. Four people protesting President Trump’s immigration policies staged a sit-down protest and briefly blocked the Thanksgiving Day parade route before cops removed them. The protesters are young people who came into the country undocumented but were allowed to stay,

"Undocumented" means they came here illegally.

Throw them in deep fat. Researchers at the University of Manchester in England figure that a turkey-n-trimmings feast for eight produces approximately 44 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. About 60% of that planet-warming gas comes from the life cycle of the turkey alone. The Washington-based Center for Food Safety wants Americans to lay off food produced by "industrial agriculture" for the sake of the planet.

Let's all just stop eating and die.

Woke up, already. Here’s Newsweek’s guide to having a conscious, or “woke,” Thanksgiving: It’ll be hard to avoid making the president of the United States the main topic of discussion on Thanksgiving. And for good reason. But Trump himself is only the tip of the iceberg. The entire Trump Administration should receive equal attention at the dinner table. Here's a good place to start: The GOP's tax plan will mostly benefit the rich.

In 2010 Newsweek was sold to former stereo equipment mogul Sidney Harman. For $1

Rough day, Chuckie?
What a turkey. Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer is encouraging Twitter users to be the overly-political family member at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Schumer tweeted out a chart on the GOP tax plan on Sunday and told his followers to “bring this chart to Thanksgiving dinner.”

You could use the greasy Schumer to baste your turkey.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. Bernie Sanders: "Because of your effort, we’re going to take them on on their disastrous tax proposal to get massive tax breaks to billionaires, while at the same time raising taxes the millions of people in the middle class. Take on Trump and move the country forward in a progressive way.”

As an anti-capitalist politician, Sanders has made a quite comfortable living. The scourge of the 1% has income that puts him in the top 3.8% of American households. Sanders' wife is under federal investigation for her role in a land deal that went bad. 

"Look! Its a turkey!"
Obama's CNN general. Retired lieutenant general Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling said Thursday that President Trump’s comments to troops deployed overseas, which included remarks about themilitary’s recent success, were insulting. “You’re talking to soldiers and military personnel around the world who have been in this fight for 17 years, and to suddenly be told they’re winning now when they weren’t winning before is somewhat insulting.”
Let's see, Mark, 17 YEARS and that's successful? 

ACL bothering you? New York Giants defensive end Olivier Vernon was the only NFL player to kneel during the national anthem in a Thanksgiving game Thursday.

The Giants are paying Olivier Vernon the richest contract for a defensive end in NFL history: five years, $85 million, with a  guarantee of $52.5 million. In his first year with the Giants, he made $29 million. Vernon is protesting police brutality. His father is a retired cop.

Olivier is not even indigenous. The Nation, which is sort of a magazine, had this to say about Olivier and his team playing Washington's team: "The NFL—for all their corporate rhetoric about being something that “brings the country together”—of course has a team named after a Native American racial slur in the nation’s capital. That’s not news. What is news is that on Thanksgiving, for the first time in league history, this team in Washington will be playing host. That means as we finish our food, slip into sweatpants, and to gather around the television to watch NFL football, a tradition only slightly less ubiquitous than pumpkin pie, the R*dskins slur— a name that exists only because of genocide and displacement—will have center stage."

The Nation's circulation peaked in 2006. It has lost money in all but three or four years of its existence. It is based in New York, whose G*ants playe the R*dskins on Th*nksg*v*ng. Apparently it can't afford copy editors. Note that it said: "The NFL -- for all their ... has a team ... " This is why it loses money: It can't count.