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      “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?” “A Republic, if you can keep it.” (Benjamin Franklin) So, apparently Trump has said he will declare a national emergency to build his wall. I’m going to make one point about this. If you have an abusable law or power it will eventually be abused. […]
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

You’ll never guess how I’m spending my Valentine’s Day. Go on, guess. No, I’m not in a sunny and warm location. I’m not at work.

I’ll tell you soon. Some things must be done delicately.

I hope your sweethearts bring you lots of love, chocolate and white roses (my favorite).

Or anyway that you shag yourselves silly.

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Black Ice

It’s slick and slippy in Pittsburgh this morning. I have a post floating in my head about Patrick Healy’s tweets from yesterday. But work has been hectic lately and I’ve got something else coming up starting tomorrow that I’ll let you in on in a few days.

In the meantime, if you already know what you think about Patrick Healy, let’er rip in the comments.

Walk to work music:

Lou Reed because why not?

Lush Life in Pittsburgh Winter

It’s cold, dark and rainy. So, I’m going to my favorite piano bar to listen to Billy Strayhorn sing something warm and mellow:

We tried to warn them

But would anyone listen to the libtards?

According to the Washington Post, millions of Americans are finding that their tax refund for 2018 has been slashed:

Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.

People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.

The uproar follows the passage of a major overhaul to the tax code in December 2017, which was enacted with only Republican votes and is considered the biggest legislative achievement of Trump’s first year. While the vast majority of Americans received a tax cut in 2018, refunds are a different matter. Some refunds have decreased because of changes in the law, such as a new limit on property and local income tax deductions, and some have decreased because of how the IRS has altered withholding in paychecks.

The article goes on to say that the refund cut was compensated by the fatter paychecks.

Um, I didn’t see a fatter paycheck, or at least not by MY definition of fatter.

A lot of people in blue states are hit bigly by the tax deduction changes. Most of them knew it was coming but I guess there are always a few Trumpers who are surprised.

“Ya gives’em books and gives’em books but all they do is chew on the covers.”

Welcome to Trump’s America.

{{BLUARGHHH!!!}}

That’s what I heard in the House Judiciary Committee hearing yesterday (featuring the smug asshole stylings of Matt Whitaker).

For two years, the majority of the country that did not vote for Trump or his “ism”, had to sit on its hands and watch in dismay as Muslims and other immigrants were treated like less than human beings. It had to watch children torn from their parents, legitimate voters disenfranchised, sick people threatened with an ice floe, POC stripped of their dignity and women of their ability to choose their reproductive fates. It had to wait for the billionaires to shrug off all responsibility and get even more money in the form of tax breaks while infrastructure continued to deteriorate. There were tax cuts that never materialized for the middle class and significant tax INCREASES on the libtards who stupidly had jobs and houses in blue states. It saw environmental and health regulations stripped, climate science decimated and pieces of vital governmental services, like the weather service, sold for parts to private entities.

It was forced to witness corruption on an unheard of scale for the United States of America. It saw a president who is without shame, scruples or limits (apparently) viciously attack our justice system, engage in nepotism, obstruction of justice and coercion and severely compromise our national security with hostile foreign adversaries.

And it watched the Republican Party sit back and shrug.

Matt Whitaker was disrespectful, contemptuous and defiant. He’s also an obvious liar.

The hearing started off badly and quickly devolved. I heard the duct tape finally ripped off of the loyal opposition. It finally got a chance to speak and it spoke loudly with rage and anguish.

None of us signed up for this shit. Not even the clueless Trumpers. We hold one house in Congress but the majority in that house represents the majority of the country even if some of the minority still hold their seats through ruthless gerrymandering and criminal election actions.

It sure didn’t sound pretty. It sounded like gasping for air after being water boarded.

I totally get it.

Biggus Dickus

Jeff Bezos, aka “The Richest Man in the World” and owner of The Washington Post, struck a blow against AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer yesterday. He outted the tabloid for trying to blackmail him with intercepted sext pics between himself and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

Jeff was having none of it. If the title of The World’s Richest Man doesn’t guard you from personal exposure, I don’t know what does. I mean seriously, Bezos is going to actually get so embarrassed by some dick pics and hot chicky baby shots that he’s going to become a broken man and do whatever David Pecker tells him to do? Does he look like Lindsay Graham?? No. He does not. Jeff can just buy his own country and live out the rest of his life in luxury. It’s not like courtiers are suddenly going to stop sucking up to him.

This extortion move is so stupid, kludgy and short sighted that it almost feels like Donald Trump’s sticky little fingers are all over it.

But the reason that AMI threatened Jeff is much more troubling and could have serious implications. The thing that got Jeff on AMI’s extortion list is that Jeff and his security consultant, Gavin de Becker, started to investigate how AMI got the texts in the first place. His phone wasn’t hacked. That means that whoever got the texts was an entity sophisticated enough to intercept the transmissions. Or penetrate the cloud. It is suspected that a foreign country did this. Possibly it was Mossad from Israel or Britain’s MI6. That last one seems improbable though. Why would Britain want to intercept Jeff Bezos? Was it the Prime membership increase? I only ask.

Here’s the really big deal. No one knows how the intercept happened. What freaks me out in an indirect way is that Amazon is one of the world’s biggest cloud service providers. Now, I’m not saying that anything bad is going to happen to your data or your zillion compound library that is busily docking into all of the receptor sites in the pdb. But the possibility that someone who can intercept Jeff Bezos’ iPhone transmissions and get away with it is very frightening when it comes to what else could be intercepted. Should we all be concerned?

Back when I was in R&D, oh those many years ago, I looked into cloud computing on behalf of my comp chem group. I sat in on a seminar by a security expert at a proteins conference. A company like a pharma doesn’t always want to upgrade its hardware to run simulations and docking experiments but it could put billions of dollars worth of data at risk by running calculations in an insecure cloud environment. Could the R&D community trust that the data would be safe? According to the speaker, Amazon was supposed to have the gold standard in terms of data security. Its security specialists rivaled or exceeded our own government national security experts.

But now we see that even Bezos’ dick pics aren’t safe. Yes, a phone intercept is one thing. The interception of thousands of businesses data is something much much bigger. I’m not suggesting that such a thing has happened or is possible. I’m just extremely troubled by the proximity of this breach of privacy to Amazon’s cloud service.

I hope de Becker and Bezos knows who did it and I’m betting dollars to donuts that Donald Trump knows too.

We are headed into uncharted territory, oh best beloveds. All the ugly things are about to hatch out and there are some desperate parties who will try just about anything to keep from being exposed. It feels like anything can happen. Scary.

February Fog

It’s dark and cloudy, misty and foggy in the ‘burgh. Looking forward to the weekend.

Might as well dance.