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    • Too close, Onion. Too close.
      Undecided Voter Looking Forward To Learning More About Donald Trump During Campaign https://t.co/OtGM5CGYuw — Suburban Guerrilla Ω (@SusieMadrak) August 10, 2020
  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • Cold War 2.0 Incoming
      Right, with the ban on Huawei using chips made with American manufacturing equipment (one of America’s last few places of absolute advantage); the bans of TikTok, Tencent and WeChat; the attempt to convince other countries to not use Huawei 5G; the arrest of the Huawei founder’s daughter for doing business with Iran along with the […]
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Tea Juice

Baby, it’s cold outside. It snowed last night. My guest is headed home today. I mean, comrade in arms as we wage yet another battle in the War on Christmas in the Pittsburgh theatre. We’ve sipped latte from our desecrated Starbuck’s cups and said “Happy Solstice” to the Walmart greeter.

On a cold, snowy winter day like today, we comfort ourselves with thoughts of how the folks back home are struggling valiantly against deprivation with Clancy’s milk chocolate popcorn and cups of hot tea. Show your national pride and don’t be careless about your tea making. Fortunately, we have the instructions for making mass quantities for our war canteen. Get out your muslin bags:

Ahhhhhh, that hit the spot in our darkest hour.

Lovely.

Note: Do not under any circumstances pour hot boiling water into your graduated cylinder while you are holding it at eye level. Place the cylinder on the lab bench, wear protective eyewear and gloves. Pour the boiling water into a beaker first. Then carefully pour into the cylinder until the water level touches the bottom of the meniscus on the desired milliliters. Consider a shake flask with a tight fitting stop cock.

Have a little London Fog:

London Fog

Earl Grey tea

Steamed milk

Vanilla honey

Make a strong pot of earl grey tea. Pour 6 oz into a large cup. Add 4 oz of hot steamed milk. Finish with a teaspoon of vanilla honey.

Enjoy with mashed lemony avocado on garlic toast, a roaring fire and a good book.

My daughter is a NASTY WOMAN

Number One child’s birthday is coming up in a week. What does she want for her birthday? Well, check it out:

You can visit her fundraising page for Planned Parenthood of Saint Louis here. Actually, it’s an invitation so maybe you can’t click on her link. But you can still donate to Planned Parenthood in your area. All the nasty women are doing it these days (yes, that is *my* T-shirt that I got from Sam Bee’s fundraiser for PP of Los Angeles)

By the way, she’s moving to St. Louis for a new job and after 2 years will be immigrating to a small city state in Southeast Asia. I see a lot of long flights in my future.

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I’m off this week (I know, I’m always a little off). Got a lot to do today. Like clean out the fridge. And maybe relax later.

BTW, Lady V is in bed with the flu. I’m sending healthful thoughts her way. And that goes for Sweet Sue as well who got socked in the gut by some weird microbes lately. Get well soon.

Anyone else sick that I missed? I am blissfully healthy with only a slight seasonal cough. Knock wood.

Everybody breathe deeply.

Merry Christmas

All Is Well

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Early morning snark from Susan Simpson:

Best reply so far:

For some reason, the idea that Donald Trump is leading a charge on anything reminds me of the Walker Brigade from an SNL skit.

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Speaking of SNL skits, this one is for BiFF who is cooking dinner today:

Unf#%^ability, the followup

Cenk Uygar of The Young Turks and Don Hazen at Alternet are two of the most recent subjects of the #metoo movement.

Cenk has a long history of foaming at the mouth at everything Hillary has ever done, wants to do, how long she has lingered in the public stage…

I know this will come as a shock to you but Cenk also is a breast man. Yep, he loves tits. Miami tits are especially nice. 14-16 year old tits will be delicious when they’ve had a few years to ripen. And he has a habit of making women who work with him uncomfortable with endless talk about sex and how much he got, etc.

It almost sounds like if you’re not 22 and well endowed, Cenk thinks your a blight on the landscape. I mean, really, what are you good for?? Who wants to hear a 68 year old unfuckable woman talk about policy? Amirite? You know I am.

As for Don Hazen, currently on suspension from Alternet and formerly of Mother Jones, he was one of the biggest mouth pieces egging Bernie Sanders supporters on and pointing out how unlikeable Hillary was. I think we can all agree that unlikeable was code for unfuckable.

The latest interesting thing to happen is Joan Walsh, editor of Salon, has not had her contract renewed by MSNBC. But they’re keeping Chris Matthews after allegations of misconduct against him.

I will leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure that out.

I’ll end this post with a video from 2008 that sums up everything that went wrong with the Hillary campaigns. Funny we haven’t heard any allegations about Keith Olbermann yet but will it surprise anyone if he’s another one? The thing about unlikeability is that it is on the same gene with perceptions of unfuckability on the Y chromosome.

These are the guys who delivered the White House to Donald Trump. They helped with the tax bill and non-renewal of CHIP and the roll back of reproductive rights for women. They are responsible for us leaving the Paris Climate Change accords and Dreamers having their protections revoked.

It wasn’t the Republicans that did that to our candidate alone. No, it was sexist asshole guys who think the candidate’s worth is dependent on how their dicks respond. They gave us this mess and put our futures at risk.

This video is dedicated to them.

Happy Solstice

Attributed to Albert Camus.

According to Vox:

the winter solstice occurs when the sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn, or 23.5° south latitude. In 2017, this will occur at exactly 11:28 am Eastern time on December 21.

The natural world is full of wonder and delight.

My homemade Solstice card to you:

No Democrats voted for the Tax bill because…

… taxes are going to go up.

The whole idea of a tax cut was stupid. Republicans are always screaming about stuff we can’t afford. They create the scarcity narrative. We can’t afford to buttress the social safety net because we can’t afford it. That’s the reason they haven’t funded CHIP. It’s too expensive to protect the health of 9 million American children.

Ok.

Then why are we getting a tax cut? (Most of us *aren’t* getting a tax cut but that’s besides the point.)

The next time your Fox News loving friend supports the tax bill because of trickle down economics, ask them who is going to pay for the interstate. They’ll roll their eyes and go back to trickle down. But ask them again, who’s going to pay for the roads and bridges? And Amtrak?? Who? Keep asking, if we take $1.5 TRILLION dollars out of the federal budget, WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR THE FRICKING ROADS??

They’ll eventually throw up their hands in exasperation.

The answer is, YOU will. Everyone who is not a corporation or very wealthy is going to have to dig deep into their pockets to fix the roads and pay the teachers because we will have no choice. And even if we do manage to cough up more in taxes from our disposable income, we still won’t be able to cover the gap. $1,500,000,000,000.00 is a lot of money.

So then Republicans will want to cut entitlements. They’re actually not entitlements. They are deferred income that we have already earned. Why will they do this? It’s because the federal budget has been borrowing money from the Social Security trust fund. You know, that trust fund that you’ve been paying all your working life and the surplus fund too. And the people who bought the Republicans are acting like any other new owners. They never agreed to this social security crap. Their money belongs to them.

So, to recap: the Republicans are robbing the budget to pay their donors for all of the nice and luscious campaign funds and they have no intention of honoring the IOU’s that are supposed to go back into the social security trust fund.

Pretty soon, the average Trump voter, even the ones who are well off, are going to have to start kicking in more in state and local taxes, that there is now a deduction cap on, in order to fund stuff we used to take for granted.

Then some of them will be “woke” and realize they’ve been treated like suckers and losers by the likes of Donald Trump but it will be too late.

Don’t blame the Democrats. They were intentionally left out of the negotiations for this massive give away. And they want nothing to do with the hardship this bill is going to impose on regular Americans.

This is the Republicans’ baby.

Mueller and Trump about to go Mano a Mano

So says WaPo.

I hope the lawyers have had time to explain to Trump that Mueller has ALL of the emails and he got them with a warrant. And that is different from hacking into a server.

Which is bad.

Very bad.

Bad, Donald. No biscuit for you.

And how is Donald taking it?

Trump himself has expressed frustration with the probe but has shown optimism that it will not touch him. He told associates recently that he harbors no deep concern over the investigation and noted that his lawyers talk with Mueller’s team regularly, according to a person who spoke with Trump last week and spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private conversation.

When pressed by two advisers to take the matter more seriously and asked why he is so confident in his lawyers, Trump brushed off the concerns. “He is living in his own world,” the person said, predicting that Trump would erupt at some point in 2018 if the probe continued to drag on.

Another associate said that even in private, Trump is “confident, even arrogant” that he has done nothing wrong.

I’m not surprised. This is a guy who has paid off or threatened anyone who dared challenge him. If you have enough money, the rules simply do not apply. One way or another, he’ll be exonerated. It’s just a freaking massive pain in the ass until then.

Thank god he has underlings to lash out at who will absorb all of his infantile tantrums.

I mean, that’s what underlings are for, amirite?

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Tweet du Jour:

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Apropos of nothing:

Pandering to the unscientific base

The CDC just got a new style guide. According to new Trump administration rules, it is no longer supposed to use the words “transgender”, “fetus”, “science based” or “evidence based” in its publications.

Well. Talk about political correctness. I can see the long arm of the evangelical contingent, sweeping the table of any references to things that make it feel oogy. Will evolution be next or will it require a little disclaimer about how “evolution is only a theory and not a fact due to diversity of opinion in the scientific community”.

In general, scientists get a bad rap in this country. I’ll admit that when I spent most of my research career in R&D territory for 2+ decades, it never occurred to me that we were so reviled outside of our enclave. To me, the world made sense when I was surrounded by people who viewed their environment rationally, using cause and effect to guide them.

What’s weird about being out of science in another city is I am amazed at how many people would prefer it if we *didn’t* use evidence based methods to make sense of the world. No, they walk through the world where nothing is predictable, people’s motivations make no sense and rational thought is inferior to thinking with your heart and gut. Paranoia and godliness.

This is stupid. I’m allowed to say that because I’m using evidence based methods to draw my conclusions.

Case in point: there are a lot of people, including people I know who should know better, who are very concerned with North Korea gazorching a nuke across the Pacific at Seattle.

Mebbe. Mebbe not.

What I find a LOT more likely, easier to pull off and much more deadly would be for North Korea to create a bio-weapon. Oh, heck yeah. This is a piece of cake if you can mine a public sequence database and have the equipment to make some synthetic DNA, pick a vector to transfect with multiple routes of infection and play a game of Plague. (Played it. Killed off humanity several times. Then playing God lost its charm) The North Koreans could launch a thousand little new diseases and bring the west to its knees in no time. Engineer a flu that triggers a cytokine storm that takes out a lot of young healthy people. What’s to stop it?

Why isn’t the base freaking out about that much more likely scenario?

Probably because understanding that enough to be rationally fearful of it requires knowledge of evolution and evidence based methodologies and the base is much more concerned with smothering the life out of transgender people and women who have no desire to become mothers because they don’t see it as part of their destiny.

But the base should be concerned because it doesn’t take a lot of money or years of labor to make a biological weapon. Maybe what the base really lacks is the ability to imaginate. They’re really very boring and easily lead. If they weren’t so dangerous to us, we could safely ignore them.

For sure, I don’t expect anyone at the CDC to follow the new guidelines. I guess Trump could fire all of them. It would make for an interesting experiment.

Slightly off topic: earlier in the year when I had heard that Trump was planning to stifle the climate scientists and they were busily packing up their data and ftp-ing it to Canada and France, I mused on Twitter about what would happen to the public databases with NIH research, FASTA sequences and protein databases, the biggest one containing my published crystal structures.

Not to fear, tweeted one involved governmental scientist in charge of the databases, that data is being globalized so it will be safe in another country’s servers, like in Japan.

I should have been reassured.

It actually made me feel more dread, not less.

Giving Season

Granny Starver Ryan is planning to retire next year but that doesn’t mean the legislation he and his party passed won’t have an effect on less fortunate Americans.

Think about making a recurring donation to a charity or NGO that services the poor. Or consider donating to Puerto Rico hurricane relief at Somebody Help Us.

My choice is Feeding America. You will be surprised at how far your small recurring donation will go to make sure no child in America goes to bed hungry.

If you can’t give money, give your time. I have volunteered at my local food bank stocking shelves, preparing emergency food packages and helping clients fill their shopping baskets. Food banks help those who may have come up short in food stamps or are otherwise facing a food emergency. Get to know these people and fill your heart with compassion, not judgement.

Think out of the box.

Solstice is coming.

“Sire, the night is darker now

And the wind blows stronger

Fails my heart, I know not how

I can go no longer.”

“Mark my footsteps, good my page

Tread thou in them boldly

Thou shall find the winter’s rage

Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

In his master’s step he trod

Where the snow lay dinted

Heat was in the very sod

Which the Saint had printed

Therefore, Everyone, be sure

Wealth or rank possessing

Ye, who now will bless the poor

Shall yourselves find blessing.

The New South is Rising

The data out of Alabama about who voted for Doug Jones in Tuesday should make the GOP nervous.

Be afraid, GOP, be very afraid.

There’s a very good reason why they’re trying to ram a bad tax bill through and want to hand the internet over to the Telecoms who will owe them big time next year.

I’m going to guess that turning the internet into just another packaged deal for the cable companies is going to turn out younger voters like you have never seen before. Net Neutrality may be the single thing that finally does the Republicans in.

Go ahead, touch that third rail.

In the meantime, guys like this one give me hope. Oh, sure, you might not be able to download him quickly after next year. But he’ll still be out there. Yep. Rednecks are liberals too.

**********************************

Texas Republican Blake Farenthold is a dick and a bully. No one should have to work under these conditions. Shame of the House of Representatives for not disciplining him and getting him to resign.

Michael Rekola, who was Farenthold’s communications director in 2015, described in an interview with CNN new details of the congressman’s abusive behavior. It ranged from making sexually graphic jokes to berating aides — bullying that Rekola says led him to seek medical treatment and psychological counseling, and at one point, caused him to vomit daily.

One comment from the congressman was especially personal. Rekola was about to leave town to get married in July 2015, when, he said, Farenthold, standing within earshot of other staffers in his Capitol Hill office, said to the groom-to-be: “Better have your fiancée blow you before she walks down the aisle — it will be the last time.” He then proceeded to joke about whether Rekola’s now-wife could wear white on her wedding day — a clear reference, Rekola said, to whether she had had premarital sex.

“I was disgusted and I left. I walked out,” Rekola said. Almost immediately after returning from his wedding, he gave his two-weeks notice.

Those crude remarks in the summer of 2015 marked just one of many instances in which Farenthold made sexually charged comments to or in the presence of aides, Rekola said. During the nine months that he worked for the congressman, Rekola said, he was also subject to a stream of angry behavior not sexual in nature — screaming fits of rage, slamming fists on desks and castigating aides, including regularly calling them “f**ktards.”

Blake Farenthold and Ted Cruz, Texas role models.

********************************************

Speaking of that third rail, Business Insider has a post about what you can expect after net neutrality is ended. This is how they do it in Portugal. You know how you can’t get certain channels on cable unless you buy stuff you don’t want? Something similar will happen with Netflix and Hulu or instant messaging. Yes! That unlimited messaging that you ALREADY pay your wireless service for could be charged again when you come home and switch to your home’s WiFi.

Isn’t that special?

If you like your health insurance choices, you’re going to love the new internet from Comcast under no net neutrality.

********************************

The Conversation has a post by Frank McAndrew, at the psychology department at Knox College about why year end celebrations like winter solstice, Christmas and Hanukkah are so important to people. To me, this suggests what it is that cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses are disrupting when they cut their followers off from those celebrations and why they do it:

The Zuni of the American Southwest, meanwhile, have long viewed the house as a living thing. It’s where they raise their kids and communicate with spirits, and there’s an annual ritual – called the Shalako – in which homes are blessed and consecrated as part of the year-end winter solstice celebration.

The ceremony strengthens bonds to the community, to the family (including dead ancestors), and to the spirits and gods by dramatizing the connection each party has to the home.

During the holidays, we might not officially bless our home like the Zuni. But our holiday traditions probably sound familiar: eating with family, exchanging gifts, catching up with old friends and visiting old haunts. These homecoming rituals affirm and renew a person’s place in the family and often are a key way to strengthen the family’s social fabric.

Home, therefore, is a predictable and secure place where you feel in control and properly oriented in space and time; it is a bridge between your past and your present, an enduring tether to your family and friends.

It explains so much about how ex-JW kids react to the holidays.

People, do not do this to your children.

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We’re all in this together. Everybody sing: