1. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Thanks, PZ.
    Unfortunately, I don’t actually have anything interesting to say right now.

  2. kevinalexander says

    I just got out of the bath. While I was soaking my troubles into a more pliant form and letting my mind wander I got to thinking about the classic Trolley thingy in philosophy. And Trump, because you can’t stop thinking that these days.
    Good people are generally safe from assassination because only evil people want to kill them and evil people are generally stupid and cowardly and can’t think of ways to get to their target. Lots of people wanted to kill Obama but I think he was pretty safe. The Secret service is very good at what they do.
    Good people don’t want to kill people even if they hate them because good people don’t kill people. Which brings up the Trolley thing. A case could be made that Trump is so dangerous that a good person might be tempted to save the many by taking out the one.
    Then the good person would think of Mike Pence and thank Jesus for Donald Trump.

  3. Silver Fox says

    I think the only thing for me to do in these trying times is take a road trip to Colorado and go on a pot vacation. I hear there are B&B’s that cater to people like me. I’m in a black, black mood. I used to think things were getting better, but now I see that I was living in a fool’s paradise. Trump will erase Obama and all that will be left of him is my old Change poster. I’m not sure there’s enough pot in Colorado to make me feel any better, but it’s worth a try.

  4. Greta Samsa says

    This is my first post after some time lurking, and I’m glad the community is so progressive, though I do have some concerns:
    (1) It seems that PZ Mehers (as well as his Atheism+ colleage, Ken Ham) have somehow missed the “Big Bang” section of Genesis, which clearly explains that the universe began with a rapid expansion of matter (and even offers a helpful hint as to the wavelength of the cosmic background radiation), and states that the following content is merely a fairy-tale to entertain children.
    (2) I agree on many issues, however Pharynula seems to be in many senses an echo chamber. Wouldn’t the community benefit from more diversity of opinion, such as the opinion that the world is flat, or that the sun moves around it? After all, gravity is just a theory, alike Flat Supermassive Earth Theory.
    (3) Although I typically agree with what is said, I would note that the community is often quite shrill, and I disagree with their tone. As we all know, being upset makes you irrational and being calm makes you completely rational, which is how we know that Kirk Cameron’s bias against gay people is the result of careful calculation.
    (4) Many parts of the community seem to labor under the flawed assumption that women are also a type of people, rather than being designed (intelligently) as secondary characters. (It should be quite apparent that consciousness is embedded not in the brain, but in the testicles.)

  5. says

    Hey all, not sure if this is interesting, but I think I’m going to start participating here again. It’s been a while. I used to love this community, but I had to break up with you a few years ago. I had a really contentious conversation with some of you about suicide that really pissed me off so I left in a huff.

    About a year later I tried to end my life with a shit ton of ibuprofin, plus everything else in the medicine cabinet mixed in for good measure, all in a blender with ice milk and some mango popsicles. I spent two weeks in a medically induced coma, intubated and on dialysis, and 10 days in psyche after that. I only lived because my upstairs neighbor was in town when I thought he was out of town, and he saw my note on his door before I’d meant for him to.

    Part of the reason I was so depressed, other than the fact that I had been my entire life, was that I was going through a rough breakup. When I got out of the hospital, I was delusional and put my ex through hell. I didn’t threaten her or touch her, but I wouldn’t leave her alone even when she asked me to. She was nice for a few weeks after I got out, and we hung out a few times, but at some point, she decided she couldn’t deal with it and started to push me away.

    The meds they had me on were seriously messing with my emotions, and I didn’t take this new, second rejection very well. I spent two months trying to get her to talk to me, to forgive me. Being an IT guy, I rummaged through her personal communications like facebook and email without her consent, trying to find some sliver of hope that I still had a chance to win her approval.

    Eventually, the guilt from that got to me and I had another nervous breakdown. I confessed it all to the police, and unbelievably, no charges were pressed. I was back in the Psych ward for another week. I spent 6 months living with family and not working after that.

    I haven’t whispered in her direction in 2 years now. I don’t recognize the person that did those things, but it was me. I accept the responsibility, which is why I will never be in a relationship again. I didn’t feel in control in that situation, and I never want to risk putting someone through that again, so I’m happy to remain single going forward, but at my age, it’s on me to develop and maintain healthy friendships that make my life rewarding and give it meaning.

    It took a long time to come to terms with the fact that I had mental health issues, specifically, anxiety, OCD and depression, and even longer to learn how to cope with that, without turning to drinking.

    I should have listened more during my time here. I don’t always agree with everything I read, but generally, you folks get it right, and for many years you were my moral compass. The second I turned my back on this community though, I lost it. There are a ton of smart cookies here. I miss that, and with the craziness of the election, I need to spend my leisure time around sane, smart people, even if only digitally and through the comment sections here.

    None of the above earns me a cookie, this I know. I was a shit and did horrible things. I’m ready to start truly making amends by doing my part to defend our most vulnerable citizens during these trying times. I’m writing letters, signing petitions, and planning to go to marches and protests, as my work life allows. I’m seriously considering a pilgrimage to Standing Rock over the Thanksgiving holiday. I can’t think of a better way to spend a holiday that is a lie about Native Americans, than by spending that holiday standing with them. I have a friend who is there doing some video editing and he’s asking every one he knows to come.

    So for anyone who remembers me, or that I pissed off, I’m sorry, truly, but I’m a different person now, I think, and I’d like to rejoin this community, if you all would have me.

  6. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    erikthebassist #7
    It’s good to see you.
    I’m glad that things are looking up for you.
    Be warned, though, we are not as much of a ‘community’ as we used to be.

  7. quotetheunquote says

    John Morales #13:
    That’s brilliant! I want a trained one, to take down all those obnoxious hovering things that are starting to plague our parks here in Ontario.

    Also in the news: mostly, things are really bad here in North America (and, by extension, the rest of the world), and people are starting to feel, in the immortal words of Tom Lehrer, “a bit like a Christian Scientist with appendicitis.”

    Into this darkness come a few brilliant sparks of hope; such a one is this recent story from Torontonian Salma Hamidi.
    (Audio clip if you’d rather listen to her speaking about it in an interview.)


  8. multitool says

    I would like to know:

    What are people here doing in real life to get ready for the coming assault from above?

    For myself, I feel a strong need to know as many politically active people in person as I can, just as a first step. I’m seeking out meetings with NOW, the local Dems, the Bernie people and whoever else I can find.

    Partly because you never know who you may have to hide in your attic someday. :/

    But also, our collective strength is totally dependent on how intensely we can behave as a single beast. Not just websites and donations, but knowing each other personally, to expand the limits of my empathy and trust.

  9. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Elon Musk is thinking big again. This time high-speed satellite internet coverage.

    SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by the Mars-hungry tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, just made a big move to envelop the Earth in high-speed internet coverage.
    On Tuesday, the company filed a lengthy application with the Federal Communications Commission to launch 4,425 satellites. (We first heard about the filing through the r/SpaceX community on Reddit.)
    That is a lot of satellites.
    According to a database compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, 1,419 active satellites are currently orbiting Earth. Roughly 2,600 satellites that no longer work are thought to be floating in space, but even factoring those in, SpaceX’s planned fleet would be larger than everything already in space.
    Some of the biggest telecommunications satellites can weigh several tons, be the size of a bus, and orbit from a fixed point about 22,000 miles, or 35,000 kilometers, above Earth.
    After we took a look at SpaceX’s FCC application, though, it seems these won’t be your typical telecommunications satellites.
    Each satellite in SpaceX’s planned constellation will weigh about 850 pounds, or 386 kilograms, and be roughly the size of a MINI Cooper car. They will orbit at altitudes ranging from 715 miles (1,150 km) to 790 miles (1,275 km).
    From this lofty vantage point, SpaceX says, each satellite could cover an ellipse about 1,300 miles (2,120 km) wide. That’s about the distance from Maine to the Florida panhandle.

    A good use of his pre-flown launchers when the insurers stop covering them.

  10. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Addendum to my #17. SpaceX is preparing to return to flight next month. They have been working on parameters necessary to avoid the problem of solid oxygen adhering to the Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels (COPVs) containing liquid helium at the top of the liquid oxygen tanks. The second photo in the article shows the results of a deliberate attempt to get the helium tank to explode at their McGregor, TX, test site. My visual inspection of the photo agrees that the test was a success.

  11. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    So when Trump evicerates NASA, will the space-geeks be able to find work?

    Over half of SpaceX’s future manifest is commercial satellites, most for geotransfer orbit. They’ll be busy.

  12. Greta Samsa says

    I think that we may not actually be alive. It’s not unlike the heap paradox.
    Say that someone’s brain is taken away in differential slices. When do they die? They certainly don’t die when the first slice is removed; many people have had a lobe removed through surgery and behaved just as living people do. We can therefore conclude that they won’t die until at least half of it is removed, but another differential slice would hardly make a difference.

  13. wondering says

    I’m a Canadian, and I don’t know how petitioning the White House truly works, but I saw this on a friend’s feed. As it is about petitioning the president to intervene and protect the water protectors at Standing Rock, I thought I would try to give it wider attention. Monday the 28th is the last day to gather signatures, and they still need 51,000 more.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    It’s begging season on PBS, and PBS has released Black America Since MLK, and I Still Rise a four part four hour series narrated by Henry Louis Gates of Harvard University.
    Making DVDs for our next-door-neighbors who are black. If my new iMac holds out running antiquated software….

  15. says

    I had someone call me a historical revisionist in a reply to something I posted yesterday. Apparently thinking that one of the major issues that led to the US Civil War was slavery makes one a revisionist.

  16. says


    So for anyone who remembers me, or that I pissed off, I’m sorry, truly, but I’m a different person now, I think, and I’d like to rejoin this community, if you all would have me.

    I was part of the conversation which led to you leaving, I remember it well, and for what it’s worth, you didn’t piss me off, even though I found your position on things frustrating. Now, I can only say I’m very happy you are here, and healthy, and reaching out again. I’m very sorry you went through so much, that shouldn’t happen to anyone.

    I don’t hang here much anymore, because I’m blogging on FTB now, but I hope you know Affinity is open to you, and there’s an open, endless thread there, and you are more than welcome, always.

  17. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @30:
    earlier in afu 2016:
    RIP Emerson :-(

    now Lake :-(
    run Palmer run
    E :-( // L :-( // P ??
    why why why why why

  18. quotetheunquote says

    Earlier today, someone on another forum I frequent wrote (regarding Greg Lake), that she really liked ELP’s music when she first heard it, “all those years ago.” My first thought was “hey, whattaya talking about, ELP is a very cutting edge, modern band!”

    But my second thought was much more sombre – “Damn, it’s THAT anniversary again.” John Lennon died 36 years ago today; somehow, that seems a lot older than ELP’s heyday, although I know it isn’t; just the way the mind associates, i guess.

  19. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Another Starman headed to the Stars. :-(
    RIP John Glenn our literal starman.
    move over Bowie. ;-(

  20. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Just returned from the cinema broadcast of the Broadway Hit Allegiance. essentially George Takei’s memoir of his internment childhood. While not about him personally, he experienced many of the events portrayed. He found the book and managed converting it to musical and getting it shown on Broadway. He plays two major characters in the show (Sammy in the present, and Sammy’s grandfather in the memory sequence). *applause*
    The early dialog of the 2nd generation Japanese-Americans when the Pearl Harbor attack is announced is very American, and arguing that they are American, born and raised in America, that only their ethnicity is different than other Americans, not their spirit.
    A later, similar number in the camps, got me thinking of how present day Muslim-Americans are being treated similarly and reacting similarly. “only my religion is Muslim and I am American born and raised here”.
    I kept thinking what the reaction of viewers would be if the ethnicity of the characters was swapped from Japanese to Muslim. Even to me, trying to drop any partiality, it seemed like “dystopian scifi” that would be immediately dismissed as unrealistic and offensive. Without changing any of the dialogue, only the ethnicity of the characters and the time period portrayed.
    This resulted from speculating that Pence should have seen this show instead of Hamilton, to get a better sense of issues a little more current than the historical issues in Hamilton.
    The film concluded with text describing incidental details, one being the opening date and venue of the Broadway show and the closing date of the show. dammit. I had been putting on my 2C-list (ie “to see” ) for my next NYC adventure. shit missed it.
    Credits was followed with filmed interviews and background pieces. one where George is visiting the internment camp of his childhood, which is coincidentally the setting of the show.
    if they ever release this on DVD I will snap it up.

  21. Saad says

    CN: transphobic shit

    Contemptible shitbag Milo Yiannopoulos targets transgender student

    Breitbart writer Milo Yiannopoulos brought his “Dangerous Faggot Tour” to the Student Union at UWM on Tuesday night at the invitation of a new student group called Turning Point USA.

    During his speech to a crowd the university estimated at 325 to 350 people, plus others watching via live stream on the Breitbart website, Yiannopoulos singled out a transgender student who had protested against a new UWM policy created for its recreation center’s locker rooms.

    The policy was adopted after the student — who is in the process of physical transition from male to female — used the sauna in the women’s locker room last January. The new policy requires that “non-conforming genitalia be covered at all times,” and the university added private showers and changing rooms with curtains to make that easier.

    Yiannopoulos named and showed a picture of the student to his audience, and accused the student of being a man trying to find his way into women’s bathrooms.

    “The way you know he’s failed is I can still bang him,” said Yiannopoulos, who is gay.

    The university chancellor’s *courageous* response:

    “Free speech is one of UWM’s core values and I will support students’ decisions to bring a wide array of speakers to our campus – even if the speaker is controversial, and even if I disagree with him or her,” Mone said.

    “That said, I do not agree with Yiannopoulos’ views, and I strongly condemn the belittling of others and their appearance, and the encouragement of hate and harassment. I also will not stand silently by when a member of our campus community is personally and wrongly attacked.”

    “but you may return to our campus anytime you wish, Mr. Yiannopoulos because muh freeze peach!11”

  22. Greta Samsa says

    slithey, #39
    Not fake? Could you help me out? I think I’ve missed it.
    I do love the axes, however. I expect to see on Faux and Fluffington tommorow, “Meets high standards” — Imgur Guy.

  23. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 40:
    your keen eye is better than mine. Faux and Fluffington do not meet my criteria for “Meets High Standards”. I missed it due to the Venn diagram label of “good for confirming your biases and bad at convincing others, don’t spend much time here”. Kind of a self-contradictory labeling system.

  24. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re 40&41:
    I guess depends on definition of “high standards”. as in Faux meets very high standards of the very high. *Wink*, *toke*

  25. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Let us know the html code to change the color of the font between the tags. For example to create a text of hidden spoiler, where the text is white and can be seen only by mouse dragging {select} over the text. I’ve been trying the basic html tag of
    <font color=FFFFFF>hidden text</font>
    to make [hidden text] disappear, as pure white, unless selected by mouse dragging.
    [PREVIEW] won’t show if it worked, so I’m asking for a little html-fu [suffix is the chinese word, not the abbreviation]

  26. says

    I have a question for you lot. I’ve had an argument with a facebook ‘friend’ and I’m torn as to whether I’m right.

    The situation is this:

    This ‘friend’ of mine posted a picture of a young man and his mother sitting in a waiting area at the hair salon she was at. She added text that described the young man as “abusive” towards his mother who was trying to compliment him on how nice he looked after his haircut. She says he screamed at her several times “Mom I’ve told you a thousand times…”, but never said what came after that. This made the mother tear up and go silent.

    Now, I’m not defending the young man, or his actions, but I did think it was incredibly irresponsible to be posting his AND his mother’s photos online while saying the man was abusive. The reason why isn’t because I’m too concerned with what it could do to him, but what it could do to his mother if this got back to the family that it was posted.

    It seems to me that if indeed the guy does have anger management issues and his abusive, which I’m fully prepared to believe and do, that this ‘friend’ could trigger the situation and make it worse for the mother and her family, possibly instigating violence on his part against them or himself.

    I asked her nicely to take it down in a private message. She got very defensive and argued with me back and forth about it, several times insinuating that I was being controlling by telling her what to do on her own facebook feed. At the end of the day the post disappeared, but I’m not sure if she took it down or just hid it from my view.

    Of course her friends were all jumping on the bandwagon talking about what a shit he is and indicating that they were resharing the post in order to publicly embarrass the kid.

    Am I wrong? Is public humiliation a valid tactic against abusive people when they do it in public? Or am I right that confonrting an abuser in this way while his victim is still under his control risky and the completely wrong way to go about this?

    FTR, She never confronted him in person, only via this post. I suggested that maybe she should have asked the mom to speak privately and ask her if everything was ok or if she needed help with the situation, maybe even talk to the guy at the time.

    I know I probably would have said something to him in person, but it seems to me that this kind of internet vigilantism with out the consent of the victim is not acceptable.

    Your thoughts?

  27. says

    I should note that I’m asking here because I know several of you regulars have a great deal of experience with abusive relationships, especially male vs female. I’ve dealt with more than my share of abuse as a child, and as a result have dealt it out unfortunately in my past as well, but I went to a lot of counselling and feel that I’ve left that part of me behind. I guess this friend has me questioning my moral compass here because of that past part of myself, and the fact that I have to always check myself to make sure I’m not slipping back in to abusive or controlling behavior, but I don’t think speaking up in this situation is controlling. I’m willing to be told I’m wrong there too.

  28. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    Happy New Year!!!
    Today is Solstice, being the first day of the ACTUAL New Year ™.
    Why have we let the calandar wander so far from solar alignment. (?)
    Calandarists be damned. Their piece of paper, with numbered boxes scratched all over it, don’t mean nuthin, just totally arbitrary.
    The Sun rules us all. Today we restart our orbit as our tilt indicates.

    Winter. Has. Come. … ~ all you GameofThroners beware!!!

  29. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    forgot to mention:
    Analemma to you!!
    sideways analemma is infinity

  30. John Morales says

    slithey tove @43, it’s convenient for you I happened to look.

    You could use the _ tag, should you care to.

  31. blf says

    Vera Rubin, astronomer who helped find evidence of dark matter, dies at 88:

    Vera Rubin, a pioneering astronomer who helped find powerful evidence of dark matter, has died aged 88, her son said on Monday.


    Vera Rubin found that galaxies don’t quite rotate the way they were predicted, and that lent support to the theory that some other force was at work, namely dark matter.


    Rubin’s scientific achievements earned her numerous honours, including becoming the second female astronomer to be elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She also received the National Medal of Science from President Bill Clinton in 1993 “for her pioneering research programs in observational cosmology”.


    Apparently, she was denied entry to Princeton’s graduate astronomy program, which at the time (c.1948) did not allow women.

  32. says

    Found some stuff similar to my ideas. Here’s the Semantic Web.

    Apparently these people want this to become the norm across much of the internet. I don’t need to take it that far. So it’s good to see that there has been success using such methods in more specialized ways. I think I can do that, maybe.

  33. blf says

    This is from a recent discussion at Bad Science on some comments apparently made by “Dr” Wakefield on various changes to the UK’s vaccines regime. It purports to illustrate what teh doctor of genocide says:

    Re: Comments on Maritime Safety Docket No.266-2016-0094.

    Dear Mr. George Clooney,

    The following comments are submitted on behalf of the Flat Earth Society (FES). Many of their followers have sailed on or plan to sail on the ocean, either in the capacity of sailor/navigator, or as a commercial passenger. One of the most serious navigational crises affecting ocean-goers is the issue of post-horizon drop, the phenomenon which many of us feel will happen to them if any attempt is made to sail over the edge of the visible ocean margin.

    Your Maritime Safety Navigation proposal is a critical document and should be designed to inform ocean goers of the navigational risks of venturing beyond the currently visible horizon. There are numerous, well documented historical reports of dangerous, giant sea creatures inhabiting the ocean fringe, and these have caused serious damage to ships and crew. In addition, the risk of post-horizon drop is a significant one. Many ships have been reported lost at sea; the obvious conclusion to world famous pediatric gastroenterologists like myself (even if I have been struck off my professional register for being a dishonest fraud) is that this correlates perfectly with the drop phenomenon described […]

    It continues in that manner for several paragraphs, finally concluding with:

    [… Y]our Maritime Safety and Navigation document is at best woefully inadequate, and at worst is only suitable for wiping my patulous anus once I have managed to ease out the last of the yellow tugboats (the large ones with the battery operated revolving propellors are definitely the most enjoyable).

    Ex-Dr Andy McFraudytrousers, ex-MB,BS
    Director WAXXXXED
    Colonic Irrigation Channel

    The whole snark is well-worth reading, it is hilarious.

  34. Greta Samsa says

    I just noticed that the side bar has some sort of “Social Justice Llink Roundup”.
    It seems pretty similar to a group of normal links.

  35. blf says

    Here is a really intriguing idea, Kenya’s ‘panic button’ app: shake of phone sends distress signal:

    Kenyan university student Edwin Inganji was happily pursuing his passion — computer science — until he lost his laptop in an armed robbery. Beaten and bruised, and wondering how he could call for help since his mobile phone had also been stolen, Inganji came up with a new coding idea: what about a type of “panic button” app that could be activated quickly and silently, alerting the emergency services of your location and directing them straight to you?

    Thus was born “Usalama” (Swahili for security), a smartphone app activated simply by shaking one’s phone three times, holding down the volume button, or tapping on the emergency icon. The app alerts the police, medical or fire authorities — as well as every other Usalama user within 200m — broadening the scope of help available to the person in need.

    Had Inganji configured the app before the robbery, he could have reached into his pocket, shaken his phone and activated the app, and, perhaps, still lost it — but the police would have been notified of both the location of the crime, and the thieves’ new location, tracing them through GPS on Inganji’s stolen mobile phone.


    Inganji’s app […] includes a database of all the crimes logged, which helps emergency services to know where most crimes are being committed, and as a result where best to position officers.

    “It shows us where crime is happening but the services are failing to deploy,” says Inganji. “So it shows who is not being accountable, and should make the services act with more responsibility.”

    The app requires the user to input three personal contacts — such as a spouse, parent or work colleague — who are notified alongside the services of any emergency situation, and are given updates every five minutes until the situation is resolved. In this way, the user’s contacts can also ensure services are accountable, says Inganji.

    Inganji and his team plan to broaden the app beyond its “panic button” use […]

  36. Jessie Harban says

    Today’s fun-time discovery in the endless fight for disability benefits:

    The approval letter that my assistant assured me would come is a phantom; apparently, I was supposed to advance to the next step on my own without waiting for an approval letter first. That would have been nice to know several months ago, along with the actual next step I’m supposed to take (since that was allegedly in the letter that doesn’t exist).

    So what’s the next step?

    I need to find yet another assistant to assist with the next part of the application process. Finding an assistant is mandatory. The assistant is paid for by the state, but doesn’t directly work for the state; I have to look up qualified individuals and hire one (or ask a friend to go through the qualification process and then hire them). This is a needless and completely superfluous barrier between me and disability benefits.

    But the one thing that I’m not getting over is this: Apparently, I have to find, call, interview AND HIRE an “assistant” by myself. To receive benefits. For autism.

    In order to get benefits for autism, I am required to go through a process that requires very good social skills and very good executive functioning.

    I’m technically capable of both neurotypical-esque social and executive functioning but both require massive expenditure of spoons, and I barely have enough spoons to cover eating and showering. You might as well impose a $500 fee on food stamp applications.

    My previous assistant (who isn’t allowed to be my new assistant) assures me that the reason for this absurdity is because the system assumes that anyone applying for autism benefits is a child whose application is being filed by neurotypical parents who won’t find it difficult. I do not find this assuring.

  37. Jessie Harban says

    Amendment to #58: The lucky autistics are the non-disabled ones who can live normal lives and meet with other non-disabled autistics to discuss how none of the people who had the spoons to show up to the meeting and the ability to express their views are disabled, therefore autism is not a disability and should not be treated.

    I’m one of the relatively lucky disabled autistic people for having some semblance of a support network while others with my condition are impoverished, imprisoned, or dead.

  38. says

    I don’t know where else to put this…

    TrumPutin lost his shit today in his news conference and compared American intelligence agencies to Nazis. Here’s some of the response from current and former intelligence officials…

    “The dialogue is full of misunderstanding: this is not a real intelligence document and the IC did not ‘ leak’ it,” said former acting CIA Director John McLaughlin, calling Trump’s harsh comments “regrettable.”
    None of the seasoned intelligence officials thought much of the 35-page memo, calling it poorly sourced gossip that wouldn’t stand up to the rigors of American or British spy agencies.
    “It reads like a high-priced detective gathering evidence for a high-profile divorce case,” sniffed on senior former CIA operator.
    “There’s nothing about their reliability levels, nothing about levels of confidence in the sources, so it’s just very raw intelligence,” added another.
    “It’s a lot of unsubstantiated allegations that are very explosive and [Trump] has a right to be mad about it. But he’s shooting the wrong target,” another of the former officials said.
    Yet every single intelligence professional who read the document said they would likely have made the same call—to share it with Trump and others, if only to inoculate them from the surprise of having the memo break in the media.
    “Knowing this was floating around Washington, they had to give him the heads up,” said one of the officials. “If he had not been told, it would look like they were withholding information.”

    Seems to me like Trump Streisanded this whole thing, because he’s an idiot, or he’s an evil genius, either way, comparing our intelligence services to the Nazi’s is something I did Nazi coming, that’s for sure.

    Pun’s aside, this is getting scary. It’s like he’s setting himself up for a complete takeover of government at every level, but not just government, media too. During this same news conference he threatened Buzzfeed and said they would “suffer the consequences” or releasing the report.

    Had Heir Cheeto just stopped and listened to the intelligence experts, he could have easily dismissed this thing as bird cage puppy piss material, but his own ego forced him to blow it out of proportion so that now it is a national headline.

  39. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    SpaceX returned to space today, sending 10 Iridium Next satellites into orbit and successfully deployed them.
    They also landed the booster on their Pacific Ocean ADS, right on the X.
    I just checked and the Youtube video of the webcast isn’t up yet. They had video feed from the booster as it was coming down and landing. Just amazing footage.
    A year ago, they soft landed a booster on the same ADS, but it toppled over as one of the landing legs collapsed.

  40. KG says

    I’m sorry to report that Zhou Youguang, Chinese intellectual, inventor of the Pinyin system of Romanization of Chinese, and advocate of political reform, has died at the exceptionally memorable age of 111 years and 1 day.

  41. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Nerd #63
    The private enterprise space program(s) seems to have more ‘problems’ than the government run program(s).
    Or am I doing a seniors golden age thing?

  42. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Or am I doing a seniors golden age thing?

    No, once NASA found what worked, they didn’t want to improve upon it much, but did it repeatedly, hoping for the same result. Private industry, like SpaceX, is trying constant improvement instead of locking it all in for years. The latest mishap was they changed the way they loaded the helium to the tanks that keep the LOX tank pressurized as the oxidant leaves. They went back to the old way, and successful launch.
    Even in the pharma industry, constant improvement means locking it in for a while, but only implementing the changes after verification that it works with test batches.

  43. quotetheunquote says

    Speaking of space … we went out to see Hidden Figures over the weekend, and were really impressed; particularly with Janelle Monae, she’s a real pro, hope to see more of her in the future.

    I was also particularly impressed that the theatre was pretty much full, for a film about mathematicians and engineers; not your typical fare for filling up the multiplex.

  44. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Because of several other current threads
    I really, really miss the EndlessTZTThunderdome.

  45. blf says

    Why Ikea’s flatpack refugee shelter won design of the year:

    Ikea’s solar-powered Better Shelter lasts six times longer than a typical emergency tent and has already changed the lives of thousands of refugees around the world


    With years of expertise in squeezing complex items of furniture into the smallest self-assembly package possible, Ikea has come up with a robust 17.5 sq m shelter that fits inside two boxes and can be assembled by four people in just four hours, following the familiar picture-based instructions — substituting the ubiquitous allen key for a hammer, with no extra tools necessary.

    Developed by the not-for-profit Ikea Foundation with UNHCR over the past five years, the Better Shelter consists of a sturdy steel frame clad with insulated polypropylene panels, along with a solar panel on the roof that provides four hours of electric light, or mobile phone charging via a USB port. Crucially, it is firmly anchored to the ground and the walls are stab-proof, a potentially life-saving feature given that such shelters are often sited where violence is rife and gender-based.


    “It’s almost like playing with Lego,” says Per Heggenes, CEO of the Ikea Foundation. “You can put it together in different ways to make small clinics or temporary schools. A family could also take it apart and take it with them, using the shelter as a framework around which to build with local materials.”

    The design, which has been showered with international accolades, is already housed in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York […]


    Dr Tom Corsellis, executive director of NGO Shelter Centre, is impressed, having seen the shelters in action in Iraq and Greece. “Private-sector innovation in the humanitarian world often has a bad name,” he says. “There’s a sense that they keep throwing us gadgets and gizmos we don’t need. But the Better Shelter is a real improvement — from its flexibility to it being the only shelter of its kind you can actually stand up in. It’s big enough for children to do homework in and adults to do some kind of home-based enterprise. It offers a chance for basic, dignified living.”


  46. blf says

    Malala Yousafzai’s UN speech set to music for International Women’s Day:

    BBC Radio 3 announces Kate Whitley’s composition, using statements about every girl’s right to education, will broadcast on 8 March

    Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 speech to the UN, in which she spoke powerfully about every girl’s right to an education, has been set to music.

    BBC Radio 3 announced it commissioned the composer Kate Whitley to set to music the text […] as part of programming for International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March.

    The piece, called Speak Out, will be performed for the first time at the BBC Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff by the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales and broadcast on Radio 3.


    [Yousafzai] said she was “honoured and excited that my speech inspired a composer to set it to music”. [She] added: “As the speech is a call to raise our voices, it makes me very happy that it will be sung by a large choir, that so many voices will rise to share the message of education for all.

    “It is wonderful that the message and the music will reach many more people through the live broadcast.”


    I do not know if BBC Radio 3 broadcasts are accessible, in any form, via the Web…

  47. says

    I have been writing to the Mayor of my hometown, Buffalo, NY, asking him to make us a sanctuary city for some time. It seems as if he has finally replied, although not specifically to me, but it’s still good to see my local politicians being on the right side of history. Our county executive, Marc Polincarz has also made strong statements in defiance of Trump’s immigration policies and the wall.

    Put pressure on your local politicians folks, it flows up hill!

  48. blf says

    This is great

      In 4 days, public sector employees and scientists have leaked memos and gone rogue on Twitter…
      But somehow the FDA and CDC have hidden the cure for cancer and the “truth” about vaccines for decades?

    Spotted on Bad Science.

  49. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Ted’s incredible journey: SPCA dog escapes, treks across town to find woman who fed him treats

    This is the love story of Ted and Abbey — a shelter dog that escaped and trekked across the city to find the kennel worker who had fed him some cheese-flavoured bacon strips.
    The SPCA shelter is located in an industrial area on the outskirts of the city. The total distance between the SPCA and Abbey’s house is 5.5 kilometres through established roads.

    Yeah, it’s a sappy, feelgood story, but sometimes you just need one of those… Especially these days…

  50. chigau (ever-elliptical) says

    Up to now I have not looked at images of Kellyanne Conway.
    If you put them in a line-up, I don’t think that I could distinguish her from Ann Coulter.
    Have they ever been in the same room?

  51. Saad says

    chigau, #80

    Have they ever been in the same room?

    I think so, but there was also a mirror in it so I can’t say for sure.

  52. Rey Fox says

    Hadn’t ever seen this thread, popped in. Scrolled up only about ten posts, saw something about Obama commuting Chelsea Manning’s sentence. God, that seems like forever ago.

  53. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve been watching some old Nova (season 31-32) episodes. The episode I’m watching at the moment is about Typhoid Mary. The interesting part is the narrator, Anthony Bourdain. Somehow, I don’t see a chef narrating a tale about a medical problem. But, I can also understand, if you are trying to get on TV, narration is one way to get started.
    (The Redhead and her parents would often have the Travel Channel in the background during their Tuesday evening phone calls).

  54. Rob Grigjanis says

    Nerd @83: Did you watch the “The Elegant Universe” three-parter with Brian Greene? Originally aired in 2003 (season 31), but I saw it more recently. I vaguely remember that it was pretty good.

  55. says

    Rob @ 84

    I’ve read several of Green’s books and used to love that series on Nova, but since then, string theory has come under a great deal of fire for having had 40 some years now to produce anything of value and failing to do so as well as being completely untestable.

    If you want a glimpse at some it’s critics I suggest Lee Smolin or Peter Woit.

    Quantum loop gravity seems to be where it’s at these days in unification attempts. Don’t ask to explain the difference, I’m not a mathematician or cosmologist, just a fan and a laymen.

  56. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Nerd @83: Did you watch the “The Elegant Universe” three-parter with Brian Greene?

    Yes, but as erikthebassist mentions, there isn’t any solid evidence that string theory. Until it gets some predictive power, just an interesting hypothesis.
    What made Einstein’s general relativity so solid, is that he made predictions that were confirmed by empirical evidence. Even some recent satellite experiments confirm the predicted frame dragging does occur.

  57. Rob Grigjanis says

    erikthebassist @85: I’m aware of Smolin’s and Woit’s views. I don’t think loop quantum gravity is any more “where it’s at” than string theory, and probably still a fair bit less as yet. My impression is that Smolin’s main critique is not that string theory is a dead end, but that alternatives have been neglected. More of a cultural than a physics criticism, and one that I agree with.

  58. Rob Grigjanis says

    Nerd @86:

    Until it gets some predictive power, just an interesting hypothesis.

    Right. “Interesting” is what I liked about it. It’s my main motivation for watching telly or reading books! Same reason I liked Colin Renfrew’s Archaeology and Language: The Puzzle of Indo-European Origins, and Julian Jaynes’ The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind. Both are very much open to criticism, but they’re the products of first-rate minds questioning received wisdom. You don’t have to believe it or disbelieve it to appreciate the work.

    What would be interesting is “recent satellite experiments dispute frame-dragging”. Confirmation of general relativity in its applicable domain has been boring for decades.

  59. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Confirmation of general relativity in its applicable domain has been boring for decades.

    Yeah, it does tend to discourage flights of fancy if they standard paradigm won’t be wrong. I know Stephen Hawking was hoping the Higgs Boson wouldn’t be found, so that new physics could be investigated.
    My field of chemistry is very boring these days.
    I must admit I have a backlog of Scientific American/American Scientist going back to the Redhead’s stroke five years ago. Hope to start attacking the backlog in a month or so.

  60. Rob Grigjanis says

    Anyone know what’s going on at HJHornbeck’s place (Reprobate Spreadsheet)? Comments disabled for regular posts, supposedly enabled for the Community thread, but I can’t comment there either. And no email as far as I can see.

  61. Rob Grigjanis says

    chigau @92: I see the problem now. There’s the “Leave a Reply” with a comment box and “Post Comment” button beneath it. If I type in more than nine lines, the “Post Comment” button disappears, with no apparent way to access it.

    I’ll leave a couple of lines for HJ explaining the problem.

  62. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Today was the first “fire in hole” at SLC 39A since the end of the Shuttle program. 39A was used for almost all the Apollo launches and a majority of the Shuttle launches. Today, SpaceX ran a static test fire of a Falcon 9 booster, where they briefly ignite the engines to full power before shutting down the rocket, in preparation for their launch no earlier than 2/18 of a Dragon capsule to resupply the ISS.
    SpaceX crew Dragon missions will launch from 39A.