Most recent episode of Vox's The Weeds podcast is particularly interesting this week.
Link directly to .mp3 file: http://traffic.megaphone.fm/PP7756593704.mp3
What the hell is
going on in the White House, Trump? I suspect he hasn't a clue. Keep your attention on all of this, America, because we're all going to get to see just how unfit
Trump is for this job and how incompetent
he and his administration and "team" are.
[Eventually I'll post a substantive entry of some kind. I've now got a very old laptop as a temporary stand-in for my computer. It's good enough - for now
- for the absolute barest minimum of my needs. But there's so little I can do with it that it's rather depressing, which leaves me with little motivation to get on it.]
I see now why Trump made conflicts of interest such an attack against Clinton: Trump is loaded with conflicts of interest himself.
Please, I beg of you to read this article in its entirety. Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal
I know it's very long, but the citizens of this country need to know about Trump's financial and business interests, conflicts
of interest, and how entangled they are in politics, especially international politics, and potential policy that he will try to put forward. His behavior is, frankly, unbelievable. He still refuses to release his tax returns, claiming Americans don't care about that, only the "crooked" media does; and
he proudly states openly that the laws do not actually prohibit the president from having financial and business conflicts of interest, and that he could legally run the country while also being involved in those financial and business conflicts of interest. And he may
be right about that! It may actually be legal! But does that mean the American public - who are supposed to be the major interest in our democratic government! - should just accept that as perfectly okay? Just because something is legal does not make it right and just
. After all, laws are regularly challenged for being unjust, and if the courts agree that they are, then they are changed. That's how things are supposed
Point being: we all need to stay on top of this, and pay attention, and not allow him to screw over the American public, and utilize his position and power to benefit himself and his family, which he will very likely attempt to do, given his entire history of behavior regarding his financial and business interests.
Aside from all the other bad, difficult and challenging things, and the madness and depression of my life the past several months, my computer broke down a little over a month ago. Since my situation does not afford me the possibility of even trying to see if it could be fixed, or of getting a new one, I am still without a computer, and expect to be for a little while.
what would I do without this world faceless incurious
where to be lasts but an instant where every instant
spills in the void the ignorance of having been
without this wave where in the end
body and shadow together are engulfed
what would I do without this silence where the murmurs die
the pantings the frenzies towards succour towards love
without this sky that soars
above its ballast dust
what would I do what I did yesterday and the day before
peering out of my deadlight looking for another
wandering like me eddying far from all the living
in a convulsive space
among the voices voiceless
that throng my hiddenness
my way is in the sand flowing
between the shingle and the dune
the summer rain rains on my life
on me my life harrying fleeing
to its beginning to its end
my peace is there in the receding mist
when I may cease from treading these long shifting thresholds
and live the space of a door
that opens and shuts
Hearing more and more about this issue/controversy/debate regarding the algorithmic filtration of people's "news feeds" on facebook, the reactions (including feelings) people are having to the gradual realization that their own views and perspectives have been shaped by a filter that they not only had no say in, but never knew about, and then realizing that that is just as true for everyone else on facebook, and then realizing what that means or might mean given the fact that facebook is one of the main places of interaction between people … add to that the similar world of Twitter, the impacts that Twitter is having on people's views and on their lives, and then people's gradual realization of that fact, … :
I have to say, it makes me very grateful that I'm neither on facebook nor on Twitter.
In fact, a big part of the reason I got off facebook six years ago was precisely because of how much undesirable, unnecessary, and useless influence it was having on me and my day to day life. And avoiding that was a big part of the reason why I never signed up for Twitter.
I've never felt more grateful for being so cut off from what the majority of other people are socially involved in.
But it doesn't make me feel better. Because I am very much aware of the damage it – what the majority of other people are socially involved in – has done, that damage coming in many degrees and in many varieties.
But do not misunderstand me: I am well aware of the good and positive things that have and do come out of facebook and Twitter. Like most things, they're not inherently good or bad; because it all depends on how they're used. But that doesn't make me feel any better either.
Things are still crazy and bad in the personal realm, so it's very challenging finding the mental and emotional space in which it's possible for me to write, and
having that coincide with the right timing. But I came across this article by chance, and it seems worth sharing, because my first reaction to the headline was, "wait, what??", until I realized that it was actually written back in March. However!
The sub-headline immediately roused another "wait, what??", so then I had to read it even though it's not recently written.
Here's that sub-headline: "Maybe — just this once — state legislators should use their constitutional authority and change how we elect the president." So my continuing reaction while reading was a mixture of more "what??", surprise, bewilderment, and a building sense of wondering I'm not even sure what. But I certainly wasn't aware of how much more there is to the Electoral College, and I presume that most people aren't either.
So how come we, the citizens, never hear any discussion or reporting on these deeper aspects of the Electoral College? Are most of the people who work in media and journalism unaware, too? Because, well, this seems like more going on "behind the scenes" in terms of actual presidential election, but not because it's supposed
to go on behind the scenes, just that it does go on "behind the scenes" just because nobody talks about it. I don't know, I guess I'm slightly bothered by it, but I don't really know what to think, but it seems like something we all should be much more aware of, and something that should be talked about.The electoral college could still stop Trump, even if he wins the popular vote: Maybe — just this once — state legislators should use their constitutional authority and change how we elect the president.
Really, it's worth reading it. It's not just the popular vote vs. electoral vote; this is much deeper.
Wow, I really feel the need to say, for the record, I'm so proud of my fellow citizens. Already, voter turnout everywhere is amazing – not just in person voting today, of course, but including early and absentee voting. I think reports are saying that here in Florida we're having record breaking turnout in a lot of counties.
However it all turns out, I really am proud of everyone voting.
And never would I have ever thought I would ever say that sort of thing. How weird.
This thought has occurred to me on several occasions: Perhaps the appeal of Trump is just another symptom of a current trend in our culture: being against experts, against those who have legitimate
authority, and who are thus the most qualified, on certain topics or in certain fields. In my oh so humble opinion, choosing Trump because you think his being a political outsider is a good thing and is what's going to "fix all of our problems", is like choosing a witch doctor (or a naturopath!) instead of an oncologist when you find out you have, or your closest loved one has, cancer.
But, I digress from what I initially intended to be posting. I think this is definitely worth considering the topic for discussion: Civility at the core of American democracy, whatever politicians say
It's not in-depth, it's not very specific. I just think it's worth looking at because, in the very least, it puts onto the table for discussion something that I think is most probably, when we dig down to basics and fundamentals, common ground between all or nearly all of us, regardless of our political views and perspectives and feelings and backgrounds.
Tangentially related, I highly
recommend John Dickerson
's podcast Whistlestop
: "a podcast of campaign curiosities" from history, revisiting "moments from the American quadrennial carnival. Hear about the grand speeches, emergency strategies, baby kissing, and backstabbing that make each presidential election cycle so fascinating."John Dickerson
, I would like to point out, is a political journalist par excellence
. If you've never listened to him or read any of his work, you really ought to, because he truly is an example of how political journalism ought to be done and how a political journalist ought to speak, ask questions, and behave. (I actually find him rather pleasant to listen to, because he has a really nice voice, and just because of the way he speaks.) This, from the Wiki page, is spot on: "The Washington Post
once wrote about his style of asking questions: 'The master of the game is John Dickerson of Time
magazine, who has knocked Bush [George W.] off script so many times that his colleagues have coined a term for cleverly worded, seemingly harmless, but incisive questions: "Dickersonian."'" He is the political director of CBS News, host of Face the Nation
on CBS, and a political columnist for Slate
magazine; he used to write for Time
[Edited @ 10:00 Eastern, 4 Nov, edit flagged in list below.]
(Due to a change in some circumstances – a change that is not
good, though – I might actually have some time to add more to this today.)[Edited @ 7:36 Eastern, 4 Nov, edit flagged in list of articles below.][Edited @ 22:45 Eastern, see end of post.]
I've been meaning to post these for awhile, with some of my own comments, but things in and around my life have been bad, very bad, worse, and potentially getting more worse, so I haven't had the time nor the mental space. But I have to get this out there.Donald Trump’s Companies Destroyed Emails in Defiance of Court Orders
Yes, it's long, but it's so worth reading, because people really need to know who Trump really is and what he is really like, and this is a very, very good representation. How Donald Trump Ditched U.S. Steel Workers in Favor of China
Trump really does have quite a history of screwing over workers, too.In 2007, Trump was forced to face his own falsehoods. And he did, 30 times.[Edited @ 7:36 Eastern, 4 Nov]
I just remembered this gem: Donald Trump’s Ghostwriter Tells All
: “The Art of the Deal” made America see Trump as a charmer with an unfailing knack for business. Tony Schwartz helped create that myth—and regrets it. [/edit]Trump Has 75 Ongoing Legal Battles -- Which Media Are Ignoring During Their Breathless FBI Letter Coverage
This is truly frightening! But this is exactly what we should all expect from him!Trump's kitchen Cabinet: The nominee leans on like-minded CEOs, many of whom he's known for years.
CEOs of big industry companies, including ones in oil and possibly coal? Please, America, wake up and realize how much more elitist and corrupt and tied to big business interests Trump is than Clinton could ever possibly be. (That's another problem: y'all think you know Clinton, but the fact is, few people of the general public really know what she's actually done and accomplished and how she operates. Because they're too lazy to find out, and too willing to just follow the childish sensationalism.)[Edited @ 10:00, 4 Nov]
I know a lot of people are in denial about Trump's relationship with Russia, but, there is something
there, and it's extremely frightening. Why Vladimir Putin’s Russia Is Backing Donald Trump
Again, I know it's long, but worth the read. [/edit]
I cannot possibly recommend a better podcast right now. This has been so full of useful information I probably would never have come across anywhere else. Slate's Trumpcast
A few episodes are with authors who've either written for
Trump – because he didn't actually write any of the books that bear his name, nor has he even read them! – or about him, and they are very revealing because those authors got to spend a lot of time with Trump, getting to know him very, very well. I wish I had the time right now to link to them specifically, but circumstances just aren't permitting right now.
Equally, I wish I could post some articles on Clinton. I doubt I'll have time tomorrow, but perhaps there's a slim chance. The only reason I'm able to slap this up at the moment is that I already had the list of links on hand, because I was planning on sending them to someone. I just haven't had the chance to compile a list on Clinton, which I'd hoped to do for that same person.
Actually, this podcast has been equally great and informative: Slate's Political Gabfest
Okay. I'm exhausted. Mental mess.
Here's at least one brief piece on the Clinton Foundation that I just now happened across. It's not much, but if you really listen to what Clinton says about the supposed appearance of "pay to play", and if you take a step back and an honest look at how organizations such as charities operate and behave, it's not only normal, it's perfectly legitimate and perfectly fine. The accusations (by Trump and others who oppose her) of "pay to play" are hot air; and
they are playing off of the public's lack of knowledge and background information on these sorts of things in order to disinform
you. Trump and his ilk do it constantly: they're counting on people's ignorance in order to take advantage of them and manipulate them by using their ignorance to make them believe things that are false, or deliberate misunderstandings, or disinformation, or just plain don't even make any sense because they just fail to refer to reality in any meaningful way. Anyway, I'm putting too much into this right now, so here it is:Despite Trump's Claims, Evidence From FBI's Clinton Foundation Probe 'Not Impressive,' Sources Say
I haven't even listened to this podcast yet, but it's about bats, so it's got to be good, right?
Inquiring Minds: Episode 153: Merlin Tuttle: The Secret Lives of Bats
Or, on Soundcloud
, if you prefer.
Bats are truly amazing animals, utterly underappreciated by too many people because of dumb myths and just plain falsehoods about them.
No, they're not going to get caught in your hair. The fact of the matter is that bats, especially
the small ones, are the best, most skilled and most precise fliers in the entire animal kingdom. (You certainly don't ever worry about birds getting caught in your hair! Why would you think bats would while birds won't?) They're so good and so precise, they'll easily dodge you and whip by you so fast you won't even realize what just happened. I have been in the woods with bats flying around, flying right past me, around me, and even crossing my path right in front of me while I was walking. I've been in the same room(!), more than once, with a bat flying around because it somehow accidentally got inside, and didn't know how to get out; but it sure didn't have a problem flying around and not flying into anything.
Maybe you don't like bats just because you think they're ugly. (You can't think this
is ugly, now can you?) I would bet that the ones you'd probably think are ugly are the ones with really weirdly shaped faces. Well, I'd ask you to take a moment to appreciate that those faces evolved as instruments
for echolocation, especially for helping the bat focus
their calls, and possibly helping to increase the power of the call. A call so powerful, mind you, from such a tiny little thing, that if you could hear it, it would be as loud as a jet engine!
So, those little strange faces that a lot of people think are ugly are rather a lovely example of the beauty of evolution.
Oh, and by the way, bats do not
have poor vision. They can see quite well, actually; a hell of a lot better than you can in very low light, which is what their eyesight evolved for. So on top of being able to "see" extremely well using their echolocation, they can also see just fine using their pretty acute eyesight.
Love it. And right now, with some personal things going on, I sure needed the laugh.
By the way, the images show up here a little cropped, so you should click it to see the full images.
I am so glad to see that someone finally wrote about this! It has been frustrating to see so many people making a ridiculous big deal about a journalistic practice that is both fairly common and very effective as a method for getting "the goods" to write great pieces of journalism that we're all grateful for revealing to us the kinds of things that we all want to know about. Those and other journalists don't at all deserve to be lambasted for the kind of behavior revealed by some of the Podesta emails; they're doing their job, and they're doing it well, and at the end of the day, you
get to benefit. WikiLeaks and the Oily Washington Press
, by Jack Shafer, senior media writer of Politico
Some noteworthy excerpts – of which the very last line is my favorite:
The toadying behaviors are driven by the power relationship between the news media and an administration or campaign. I would bet that many establishment reporters tiptoed around the Romney people as well, and asked them pretty-please for interviews. It’s a certainty that many of them bowed to George W. Bush when he was in the White House. Not saying it’s right. Just saying it is. […]
The primary reason Washington operators can dictate the terms of engagement with Washington journalists is that the true insiders are few and the journalists are many. […] [L]ong before the invention of email, journalists routinely donned false faces to charm their sources. They pretended to be sympathetic, they feigned interest in their sources and their families, they fawned, they socialized with them, fed their egos and remembered their birthdays. If you were a Washington journalist, you would, too. […]
Lesson learned, maybe Washington journalists will stop over-relying on email and return to the time-honored audio burn-bag that is the telephone to court and seduce and exploit their sources. Meanwhile, over drinks, they will recover soon enough and laugh at your petty ethical concerns.
I would like to draw your attention to a particular phrase the importance of which could very easily be missed. In the second half of the first sentence of the middle excerpt: the true insiders
. There is an important reason he uses the word 'true' there.
Scientific American Podcast: Flint's Water and Environmental Justice
Not even 20 minutes long. No excuse not to listen. This stuff is so important, because there are a hell of a lot of other Flints out there.
Digging into the data and the records looks like it is starting to reveal that the socioeconomic and racial discrimination is systemic and pervasive. But is it intentional?
That's pretty much impossible to prove. What is
probably intentional is the practice of putting money first, making profits, and just not caring about anyone's welfare.
The data and records are starting to show that the building of plants and other industrial facilities that pollute the surrounding environments and neighborhoods occurred after
segregation (inequality) had already started to make those neighborhoods populated predominantly by people of color and populated overall by socioeconomically poor people. In other words, the sites for building those facilities were chosen because they were cheap because all the neighbors were people no one would listen to or care about if they complained about the negative impacts on their health and well-being. Which is exactly what has happened when they have complained, time and time again. Furthermore, the presence of those polluting facilities contributed to the trend of segregation, making it worse and more worse over time.
Original article: http://www.popsci.com/calling-food-healthy-doesnt-really-mean-anythingCalling Food 'Healthy' Doesn't Really Mean Anything
Nutritionists and food policy experts say the word is nothing more than a marketing term
By IAN GRABER-STIEHL
OCTOBER 10, 2016
Back in 1994, the FDA decided to regulate a word that began popping up on food packages across the country: healthy. At the time, fat was America’s pariah fuel source and as such, these new “healthy” labels mostly dominated foods that were low in fat, letting foods high in added sugar slip through the cracks as “healthy.” Now, as more and more research shows the health implications of eating too much sugar, the FDA is stuck scrambling to find a work around.
At the end of September, the agency announced that it would begin the process of redefining its official meaning of healthy, and would take into consideration public opinion. However, nutritional and medical experts as well as public health policy specialists say that the real root of the problem may actually be the word itself. They argue that defining healthy should not, and perhaps cannot be done.
In September, a paper published in JAMA
revealed that in the 1960s, as research started coming out that linked sugar and fat to a host of health conditions, sugar interest groups began funding and publicizing research that focused only on the latter link. Diet fads came to capitalize on that data, and turned “fat” into a four-letter word.( Read more...Collapse )
I wonder if this will have consequences regarding "non-GMO" and "GMO" labeling madness. Since, that should all probably just go away. Based on, you know, the mountains of evidence supporting GMO technology and production.
There is a logical argument against voting, the gist of it being that your individual vote just cannot matter enough, so doing almost anything else would be the more rational choice because it would be a far better use of your time. Obviously, the argument is based on numbers: your vote mattering or making a difference in a presidential election gets mathematically translated into the probability that your individual vote would be the deciding vote (in your state, of course). The probability is so close to zero that, logically or rationally speaking, it's an utter waste of your time.
Now, the wrong response to this argument is to simply say that we have a civic duty (or however you want to phrase it) to vote even though it's irrational. That's the wrong response.
So what is wrong with the argument? Because something has to be wrong with it, right? Because if not voting were the rational choice, that leads to a clear problem if we carry out the consequences: no one votes.
Where the argument goes wrong is in an assumption that most likely is never stated (i.e. it's hidden) or is only vaguely referred to without being at all fleshed out or explained. I don't know how it would or should be stated or fleshed out or explained, but that's because, first, I've never tried to work it out, and, second, it has to end up being incoherent, which is why it's where the problem with the argument lies. What I can tell you is that the assumption has to do with the nature of a vote, what it is, in the sense of its purpose, what it means in a certain kind of context.
The incoherence would arise so long as the nature of a vote is fleshed out in a way that makes it an individual thing, a singular object, a thing that is a thing itself. Why is that incoherent? Because the nature of a vote – and this relates to having to do with the nature of a democracy – can only make sense within a larger context: a vote can only be a vote when there are other votes existing in the same context that make it a vote. In other words, the very nature of a vote is that it is fundamentally part of a collective of votes; and without that context, there's no such thing as a vote. (Let me point out: it may perhaps be more correct to say a potential collective. Like I said, I haven't put much thought into this. I suppose that, whether it would make more sense to put it in terms of a potential collective or not would depend on some of the other details in fleshing out the whole theory on the nature of a vote and of voting.)
So the problem with the logical argument against voting is that it assumes a fundamentally individualistic conceptualization to the nature of a vote, such that, your vote is a single and individual thing all by itself, a vote-object distinct and individuated from all other objects that are also votes.
Once you reject that idea, and instead take the nature of a vote to be something fundamentally existentially relative to a collective context, the logical argument falls apart because it no longer makes any sense to ask whether your individual vote matters, since your vote cannot be a distinct, individual object that could be coherently conceptually considered in isolation from all other votes. So, to ask whether your vote matters is to ask whether the collective of votes to which your vote belongs matters. Once you ask it that way, the logic cannot lead you to that simple mathematical translation of the question being what the probability is that your individual vote will decide the outcome of the election (in your state). Instead, a mathematical and probabilistic translation is going to end up being a lot more complicated. But, I'm not sure you need the numbers to argue the case in favor of voting; I think a purely conceptual argument would suffice.
[So, I included J.S. Mill in my tags, because, surely, Mill has to figure into this discussion somehow. Right?)
I don't even know what to say about this. Maybe I don't need to say anything, because it speaks for itself.
The reason I am posting this is because the same sort of thing can be said about so many other conspiracy "theories" (read: myths
) about the government (or whoever) having complete and total control over information on some topic or other.
Despite what certain conservatives would like so much for you to believe
, because they're sure you must be stupid enough, Weather forecasters can't manipulate hurricane warnings
, because the whole fucking internet is watching, and if one single iota was out of place, you can be damn sure someone would notice and the internet would blow up about it.
I am willing to bet that a lot of the "alt-right" and other such individuals don't even believe one tenth of the bullshit they try to feed the general public. They're just using their followers as tools, nothing more.
A lovely follow-up to my previous post: demonstration of the cognitive problem solving capabilities of a New Caledonian crow. Like us, this species adopted and then evolved for tool use. While other species of corvids might be able to figure out how to use a tool, New Caledonian crows have so regularly fashioned and used their own tools for so long, that their bodies evolved adaptive traits for this kind of tool use. Compared to what you find in other corvids of similar size, the bottom half of the beak is larger and sturdier, with I think a little more muscle attached, and it has a slight curve upwards, again compared to what you find in other corvids, making the shape of the beak straighter, so that they have much greater control and precision and strength of grip on the tool. Furthermore, the eyes are actually a little higher up on the head so that they can easily see straight ahead and over their beak to see what they're doing with the tool.
(I do wish I could have a pet crow or raven
! It would be quite the challenge
to have such an intelligent and clever animal around, which is certainly one reason why I'm sure I'd love it
. (I kind of love that guy in those videos. He's not for everyone, but his sense of humor is one I appreciate. And there's just something I find a bit endearing about him.))
Wow. I'm so glad for this. These kinds of predatory journals are a disgrace.Source: IOP Physics World
By Michael Allen, science writer based in Bristol, UK
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
– an independent agency of the US government – has filed charges against the open access publisher OMICS Group
. It accuses the publisher of misrepresenting its journals to attract submissions, hiding publication fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and making misleading claims about the conferences it organizes.
The FTC is seeking a permanent injunction against OMICS and is also seeking monetary relief, which could include refunds of money paid by researchers. OMICS, which is based in India and has offices in the US and Europe, publishes more than 700 online journals, including a number of physics titles such as the Journal of Physical Chemistry & Biophysics and the Journal of Astrophysics & Aerospace Technology. ( Read more...Collapse )
[Hmm, do you think that title just got the attention of the NSA? Hah.]
I've already posted
about Islamophobia and its effects. But it needs emphasis again and again. Because frankly, I understand those Muslims here in the U.S. – and elsewhere in "the West" – who end up being pulled (pushed
) into extremist or radical ideology and turning against us and lashing out, and even committing (or attempting to commit) acts of terrorism. What do you think is going to happen when you marginalize a certain group of people, become prejudiced against them, discriminate against them, mistreat them, give them dirty looks, say insulting and bigoted things to them, tell them they don't belong in "your" country, bully them, and even attack them?
I know what it's like – obviously, to a much
lesser degree – to be on the receiving end of dirty looks and mistreatment and discrimination just because of the way I look, because I have a lot of tattoos and dreadlocks and have styles of dress that are apparently too different and unconventional for a lot of people. Furthermore, I'm an atheist, so I also know what it's like to be on that receiving end purely because I have such a different worldview and different beliefs (or lack
of beliefs) and different values; and to have people assume that, just because I'm an atheist, I must have no ethical principles and must therefore be immoral, and that I must hate everyone who's not an atheist, and whatever other ridiculous nonsense they can come up with.
So I have no problem understanding the frustration, the increasing
frustration, and the anger that so many Muslims are now actually
feeling – as opposed to the mythological anger and hatred against the West that far too many Westerners believe all Muslims have always had. I have no problem understanding the seeming ease with which many Muslims are nowadays sliding towards extreme and radical and separatist views. I say the seeming ease
, because it's not that they're easily sliding into it, but are being pushed. "You think I'm a terrorist? You treat me like I'm a terrorist? Well, then I'll show you a terrorist."
Yes, I can fully empathize, because a human being, who is no fucking different from you, can only take so much abuse before they've had enough and turn around and fight back. ( Read more...Collapse )
It is downright ethically wrong what the anti-science fear-mongerers do. Which means, those who are able, have an ethical duty to try to do right by the public and set things straight. I urge anyone who happens to actually come across this post to please listen to this podcast episode (link below goes straight to .mp3 file), and to please pass it on to others, because the issues are extremely important for the public, and we all need to play our part in helping to educate. (I know the music playing in the background during the first few minutes of the episode is extremely annoying, but just bear with it for a little while, because it does stop.)Weed Killer in Vaccines? No, absolutely not. (Talking Biotech Podcast Episode 51)
Description of this episode:
Today’s episode is born of frustration. Fear-mongering non-experts are abusing improper interpretations from an available herbicide detection kit to make claims that herbicides are now found in vaccines. Namely, they seek to find glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup. They use a kit you can buy on the internet, but fail to use it in the way it is designed. Instead of using it on water, they use it on complex mixtures that yield false positives that are interpreted as legitimate signals.
So to push back I want to provide you with the information you need to discuss these topics with confidence. This topic has no guests. I reached out to the folks making the claims as well as the company that makes the product, and nobody wants to join the conversation. It is simply me talking about the claims, the assay, and how you can help debunk the bad information that pollutes this important public discourse.
The Talking Biotech Podcast
is done entirely (and funded entirely) by Dr. Kevin Folta
, Associate Professor and Department Chair of the Horticultural Sciences Department at the University of Florida. (His "About"
page on the podcast website.)
It is worth giving you the mission statement of Dr. Folta's podcast:
The safe and powerful technologies of genetic engineering have had tremendous impacts in agriculture and medicine. However, future innovation and deployment of beneficial technologies are slowed by a lack of understanding. The point of this podcast is to help connect the public to current science and technology, and let scientists tell the stories of how science can help our farmers, industrialized world consumers, the environment, and the Developing World. The hope is that this resource can entertain and explain how new tools can improve food security, reduce poverty, and improve agricultural and medical practices.
Now, the anti-science fear-mongerers, because they seem to be filled with nothing but hatred and anger, have made an effort to smear Dr. Folta with ridiculous slander, which you can find plenty of across the interwebs. (They have also done a lot to try to destroy his life – they like to be destructive
in as many ways as they can – and even gone so far as to break into his office
.) But having myself spent time in academia and knowing what people in academia are like, and after listening to all of his podcast episodes and interviews of him on other podcasts, I can assure you that Kevin is nothing but genuine and that he is truly a valuable scientist, educator, and communicator, and thus, a valuable asset to the world.
I'm only sharing this because, honestly, it's too good not to.
This morning while on the toilet I notice two big bruises and some light scratches just below my left hip: "Oh my god! What the f--… Oh wait. Right. I fell from a tree yesterday."
While there is no question that Ray Kurzweil is very intelligent and has contributed a lot of great work to the world, he strikes me as an excellent example of the unfortunate fact that, in our world, you don't actually have to fully know what you're talking about; you just have to come off as solidly confident that you unquestionably do. And then a lot of people will see that as an obvious sign of your "genius" and flock to you.
So much of the time I have so many thoughts in my head, so many things I want to say, or ask, or propose, so many connections I want to make, sometimes it's overwhelming, and stifling. Besides, at the end of the day, whatever I might have to say, or think, or might have to offer, doesn't really matter anyway.
Whether or not Trump is genuinely serious about the mass deportation of 11,000,000 illegal immigrants, what I don't understand is:Why is no one throwing the question to his supporters: who the hell do you think is going to pay for that?!
'Cause it's going be expensive as hell, you do realize that, don't you?
Even his supposed wall that he claims he'd make Mexico pay for, you do realize that what he's proposing is that the wall will
be built, and then somehow he's supposedly going to convince Mexico to pay the bill, right? So who the hell do you think is really
going to be paying for that wall?
And while I'm at it, let's talk about what he claims concerning the military. (I'm astounded that military personnel aren't appalled and insulted about what he says here.) Because he claims that he would also "beef up" the military big time. But again, who the hell do you think is going to pay for this so-called "beefing up" of the military?!
But, why does the military need "beefing up" anyway? He claims the military is ragged and thin, and is relying on old, shitty equipment that hasn't been replaced in decades, because they haven't gotten money from the government, so they're basically "starving" and they can't get access to the latest technology. Excuse me?
If that isn't complete horseshit, I don't know what is.
The United States of America has the most powerful and most technologically advanced military in the world. And one of the most important reasons why is because our government, for decades, has been willing to pour billions upon billions of dollars into it! The military doesn't just have access to the latest technologies, the military is often the raison d'être for a lot of the latest technologies! Because the Department of Defense is one of the biggest contributors funding scientific research and development! (And mostly for the development!)
I'm not all patriotic and I'm not some worshiper of the military, so it's not like I have some personal interest or desire in talking up how awesome our military is. This is just the reality, and you don't have to look hard to find it!
The trash Trump talks about our military is so full of insulting bullshit, it's horrendously shameful and a disgrace.
But at the end of the day (or the end of this entry), the question remains: who the hell do you think is going to pay for this supposed "beefing up" of the military? Seriously, do any of his supporters ever wonder these things? He goes on and on about how much money the Democrats have spent and added to the national debt, and yet the shit he says he's going to do as president would cost ridiculous amounts of money!
Not to mention the money and lives
he would cost sending us to war with Daesh, since he claims he'd make sure we completely demolish them. But I've talked about this before.
So, everyone is talking about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick sitting in protest during the national anthem before a game. And it's apparently pissed off a lot of people, including a lot of people who are or were in the military. It's the same old refrain: "Thousands of soldiers have died and are dying defending our country. How dare you be disrespectful!"
But what exactly does it mean to say that soldiers have died and are dying defending our country?
Before giving an answer to that, I think it would be worthwhile to take a look at our not so distant history. (But perhaps distant enough that too many people have forgotten.)
The Vietnam War.
Let's imagine it's 1970. And let's imagine Kaepernick is the 49ers quarterback then. And, before a game, he sits during the national anthem. How would people react? Of course, before you can even begin to think about answering that question, you have to know enough of the history of that time and what the political atmosphere in this country was like. I daresay, even before he could announce to the world what his reason was, a lot of people would already applaud his defiance. But, after the game, the reporters run in, and he explains that he sat in protest of the Vietnam War. Immediately, a whole lot more people would applaud him.
But, would anyone be outraged and say to him, "How dare you be disrespectful! Thousands of soldiers are dying out there defending our country!"? No. I am very confident in saying that no one would say that, least of all, someone in the military. In fact, if anything, soldiers would cheer.
Because I think damn near everyone would agree that it wasn't the U.S. soldiers fighting and dying in Vietnam who were defending our country. Between 1965 and 1975, it was the protesters who were defending our country.
Back to the present. A lot of people throw around the phrase "defending our country" without giving it a lot of deep thought about what it really means. And that's unfortunate, because the result is that a lot of people as citizens don't really know what our country means to them, or is supposed to mean to them.
Well, I wanted to keep this short, so I'll just tell you one thing that it means.
It means defending our rights and liberties.
And one of the most important rights that we as citizens of this country have is the right to protest. You don't really know how important that right is until you look through our history and look into other countries today where that right doesn't exist, whether on paper or in practice. (Because there are plenty of places where that right exists on paper, but is not protected and is regularly violated by the government.)
So, when Kaepernick sits during the national anthem in protest, not only is he not disrespecting our country, he is demonstrating for all of us one of the most important rights that we enjoy, the right to protest. And, he is defending that right. And just like the millions of Americans who protested the Vietnam War, Kaepernick is protesting both something the government is doing and something it's not doing; and by such protest, is also standing up for something that is supposed to be an American value.
How can it be that so many people are so stupidly blind that they cannot see that their Islamophobia
is directly leading more and more Muslims straight into the path of radicalization and extremism?
How can they not see that their Islamophobia only gives more and more Muslims reasons to begin to become more and more like what Islamophobics think Muslims are like?Daesh delights in all the Islamophobia; for it gives them exactly what they want.
Islamophobia = the terrorists win.
You're afraid of Muslims? Then you've willingly surrendered yourself to the terrorists and now allow them to manipulate you. Your hatred and vitriolic bigotry are weakness.
The open letter signed by 50 former National Security officials
explaining that none of them will vote for Trump because he is a very serious threat to our national security is well worth reading. But
, I think it's even more worth it to attentively read through the official titles of every single one of those signers. Why? Because I think it matters a whole lot to know just who these former National Security officials are, in the sense of knowing what their positions and roles were, to give us all a good idea of how much these people know what the hell they're talking about. And
, I think it reminds us all of the complexity of such a large and powerful organization as the federal government of the United States of America, and that something like national security isn't simple – nothing in government is – because it involves a lot of different departments and agencies, and you can bet that list only scratches the surface.
You are not doing yourselves any favors when you target and lock up human rights
lawyers and activists. The world is watching and you're not fooling anyone
. Do you really think your own citizenry are that stupid? You are only demonstrating for them why more of them need to speak out.
Just think of the shame
you are bringing upon the future China when they will have to acknowledge and admit the wrongs and the harms you are now doing.
The Autumn cicada
Dies by the side
Of its empty shell.
In the Autumn mountains
The colored leaves are falling.
If I could hold them back,
I could still see her.
~Kakinomoto no Hitomaro
As certain as color
Passes from the petal,
Irrevocable as flesh,
The gazing eye falls through the world.
~Ono no Komachi
- Mood:incurable meloncholy
Hard evidence: spanking could lead to health problems, antisocial behavior
[This article was originally published on The Conversation
. Read the original article
, University of Texas at Austin
and Andrew Grogan-Kaylor
, University of Michigan
Whether you are a parent who has occasionally spanked your child, an adult with recollections of childhood spanking or even an observer who has witnessed spanking in a public place, you likely have personal experience with the spanking of children for misbehavior.
Spanking remains a common parenting practice in the U.S. A nationally representative, long-term study of children beginning in kindergarten found that 80 percent of children had been spanked
by the time they reached third grade.
While we all may have our opinions about whether spanking “works” as a method of disciplining children, what does science tell us? And what are the average outcomes for children who are spanked?
Recently, we conducted a “meta-analysis”
– a review of existing research on spanking – to answer these questions. We found that spanking significantly increases the risk of detrimental outcomes for children. While this finding does not mean that every child will experience problems as a result of spanking, it does mean that a large body of research has shown it significantly increases the risks for problems.Is there any evidence that spanking is good for children?
We included data from 75 studies from the U.S. and 12 other countries that were conducted over a period of 50 years, which included over 160,000 children. We looked at the associations between spanking and several different child outcomes.
Spanking was not linked with better child behavior. Instead, we found spanking was linked with worse child behavior. Spanking was associated with 13 of the 17 outcomes we examined, and all showed spanking was linked with detrimental outcomes.
The more children were spanked, the more aggressive and antisocial they were. We also found that children who were spanked were more likely to have mental health problems, problematic relationships with their parents and lower cognitive ability.( Please continue reading!Collapse )
Well, have a taste of what they're like in my current state of residence:
New Yorker Political Scene podcast: Harriet Krzykowski talks about abuse in prisons in Florida
An article about the main case Krzykowski talked about:http://www.policestateusa.com/2014/darren-rainey/
People try to make themselves feel better by insisting that abuse is rare, so that they, too, can turn a blind eye to our cruel and sadistic and medieval penal system here in the U.S., so that they still have "bad" people (convicts, inmates) they can hate and spit on and be condescending towards, in that desperate attempt to elevate themselves as "better" than those "bad" people whom they convince themselves deserve what they get in prison.
What they fail to get is that it doesn't matter whether the extreme abuses are rare or common. Because this is about so much more than just those extreme abuses,
because those are just the introduction to our cruel and medieval penal system. Because you have to start with the easy stuff – like in maths, you start with arithmetic because that's super easy and obvious. And, like in maths, most people don't care to go beyond the easy stuff, because it's hard…
I don't have anything more to say.
Finally sitting down to watch All the President's Men – forgot I even had it.
Goddamn. It may have been made in '76, but movies today just can't compete with this.
If you have not seen this film, then do so.
The Geneva Convention established that intentionally targeting medical facilities is a war crime, a crime against humanity. In Syria alone, just in the first four months of 2016, seven MSF (Doctors Without Borders) supported hospitals have been bombed.
But that's just MSF facilities; there are many more hospitals and medical facilities not supported by MSF, so how many of them have been bombed, too?
And it's not just in Syria, but other countries, Yemen being one.
The ongoing slaughter and devastation in Syria as well as other places for at least the past five years tells us something about the rest of the world, ourselves included, and the value of human life, the attitudes to the killing of very large numbers of people, the extreme suffering – suffering we can't even imagine – of those still (barely) alive, because it's not as if we don't know about it or as if we don't have the capabilities to do anything about it.Do we see them? Don't we care?Aleppo onslaught: clinic hit by air strike, the second time this week a medical facility has been targetedDozens killed in Aleppo attacks: Tit-for-tat attacks between Syrian government and rebelsSyria war: people are facing appalling desolation, hunger and starvation
Photos: Death rains down on Syria
I can't say it enough: nature is just more creative and clever than we are.
The traditional, orthodox [read: outdated, incorrect
] theory of the brain carved it up into distinct parts that each have their distinctive function. One could perhaps compare it with a ship, the design of which is founded on function so as to fulfill a purpose: each part of the ship exists in order to fulfill that purpose by having its own function that plays a part in fulfilling that purpose. For example, the keel, the hull, and the bow are all part of the body that is in contact with the water, but each is a distinct part with its own function(s) apart from the others. But, those functions work together in concert in order to fulfill the purpose for which the ship is designed. Now look at the body of a bird, and one can see the same sort of logic of a composition based on function. That the brain should be so, too, seemed intuitive enough.
But if there is one lesson to take home from science, it is that we ought not trust our intuitions as much as comes so naturally to us by inclination.
(Oh, but such things do seem to get easily misplaced once home, don't they?)
The evidence that the brain is not
carved up into functional parts has been accumulating, and here is one of the latest findings: some aspects of language are all over the brain. But it's not random. Because if anything, your brain is a master of organization, thanks to evolution. (In comparison, our attempts to come up with a theory of the functional structure and organization of the brain might as well have been written in crayon.)A 3D map of the brain shows we understand languageTake a tour of the interactive 3D language map of the brain
. I highly recommend checking it out if you can – although be warned that it's a heavy page to load up, being an interactive 3D model. Perhaps you should also be warned that if this sort of thing really piques your interest, you might lose an hour or so, getting sucked into playing around with it. Because it's fascinating and really cool
Whatever it is you might think this could lead to, technologically and epistemically: stop, because it won't. If you think it might, then you are still stuck in that traditional, orthodox theory of the brain. It may be true in an objective sense that this brings us one step closer to understanding the human brain. But it's a step that reveals a stretch of terrain we hadn't seen before, because we had not a high enough view; and along with it, beyond it, a broader and further horizon.
And that is why I find this research and study to be fascinating and exciting.
It is worth pointing out that it also reveals to us that some previous research into topics on the neuroscience of language and linguistics were, at best, poorly designed due to certain assumptions about the brain – and of course, I mean assumptions we are realizing were incorrect – and at worst, fundamentally and irreparably flawed. And this, consequently, calls into question whatever were the findings and conclusions of those previous studies and researches. That is something that, as we go forward, we ought to keep in mind, and not underestimate how much it affects or changes what we thought we knew and/or found.
So let me highlight two paragraphs from the Popular Science
article [emphasis in bold and italic added]:
While the results were quite similar across individuals, this doesn’t mean that the researchers have created a definitive atlas for language. First, the study only looked at seven participants, all from the same area of the world and all speakers of English. It also only used just one source of input: a series of spoken, engaging narrative stories. The researchers are eager to learn how things like experience, native language, and culture will alter the map.
Further, Gallant [one of the neuroscientists in the group of researchers who did the study] says, they think the map could also change if the setting changed or if a person was in a different mental state: if a person read the story instead of hearing it, or instead of hearing an engaging story, the context was tedious cramming for an exam.
N.B. I did intend for those analogies in my opening paragraph to be oversimplified and misguided, and therefore, basically just plain wrong.
Undrawing my tattoos: Tass Cambitzi has been tattooed 18 times, but is now undergoing painful laser removal
This woman pretty much represents the complete opposite of my attitude towards tattoos. Basically, everything that has always seemed to me obviously stupid types of tattoos and reasons for getting tattooed.
I don't mean to sound so harsh, and I'm not saying she herself is stupid. Because what she was, was suffering and in pain.
But this, this!
, is why you don't get tattoos linked with significant others, or even friends, unless y'all have been together for a long
time, at least a decade, maybe even longer, and things are still great. I have never understood how people can be so stupidly impulsive to get tattoos the meaning of which is their significant other. Or even, a best friend – of course I think there can be exceptions when it's fine, but my criteria won't be easy to satisfy.
Out of all of my tattoos – I don't know how many I have – there is only one
the meaning of which is linked to a person in my life, and that is my mother. It's a lily, because that's what her friends and family call her because her name is Lillian.
Something just occurred to me. Elephant poaching is driven by demand for ivory, obviously, but where is there currently a high demand, possibly the highest? China. And a couple of surrounding countries, but largely, China. We've also learned via the Panama Papers that there are a significant number of those offshore accounts that are linked to China, including politicians, bankers, and lawyers.
Might those accounts have a link to the ivory trade in China that's driving a whole lot of elephant poaching?
Perhaps this is something people should be thinking about and looking into.
Could Donald Trump change journalism for the better?
Well, not Donald Trump, but putting into the spotlight how journalists and commentators report on and talk about Trump in order to re-evaluate journalistic practices, particularly demands for "objectivity" and "balance" when, under analytic scrutiny, these concepts are misunderstood and misapplied. What are we sacrificing when we kowtow to such misguided and confused insistence on "being objective" and "being balanced"?
This is wonderful news: Harriet Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill
Jackson wasn't as great as people in this country have been trained to believe [parrot]. Jackson was an absolute brute, pretty much an egomaniac, and as far as he was concerned, anyone who disagreed with him on anything was a traitor and deserved to be ruined and punished to the maximum degree, and Jackson would have been delighted if that meant death.
Everything about Harriet Tubman in the situation she faced in this world makes that woman a goddamn hero.
This is just pathetic: Tennessee Senator thinks the switch "diminishes" Jackson
Frankly, I'd be willing to give you
the claim that it diminishes him, but I think that's just what needs to be done. The kind of hero-worship that Americans have been brainwashed to bow to is disgusting, and diminishes the real heroes!
(I hope this is coherent enough. I've been working on this, and Part III, for several days now, here and there, but my day to day mental states haven't been all that conducive to writing. And then something awful happened, but at the moment it's not over yet, and I just can't think all that straight. But this was close enough to being ready to post, I think
, that after a few edits or so, I just have to go ahead and post what I have here.)Part I
More response to Stuff to Blow Your Mind's The Unsettling Depths of Bird Intelligence
. My comments might seem a bit random, but that's because I don't particularly feel like attempting to write a smoothly flowing essay.
It is worth beginning by pointing out the one glaring issue with all of this: what exactly do we mean by 'intelligence'? History of anthropology and anthropological accounts clearly reveal biases on what constitutes intelligence. (And how many times did tribal peoples think these anthropologists were idiots for not understanding certain things that were obvious to them?) I won't go into (again, for the umpteenth time
) all of the criticisms and problems with the notion of "intelligence" qua
IQ test, or anything similar. One might also argue that there are perhaps distinct types of intelligence. Furthermore, even if one could come up with a suitable definition and a method of determining the degree of intelligence, the issue of whether intelligence is fixed or flexible
needs to be addressed, especially since it often isn't. And while that might seem to apply only to humans, whereas for all other species it must
be fixed, such an assumption would clearly be biased so as to find some
way of somehow distinguishing [distancing] ourselves from the rest of the animal kingdom and varied forms of life on the planet. Besides, there are characteristics in some species that we assumed for the longest time had to be instinct
or inborn, but have turned out to, in fact, be learned. For example, otters must learn to swim; a mother spends quite a lot of time teaching her pups to swim, and she is even methodological in her curriculum of teaching lessons. Meerkats have to learn how to eat the poisonous scorpions they are so well known for eating; and once again, mothers are quite methodological. There are migratory birds that have to learn to migrate, and one very significant example is the whooping crane. Conservation efforts – which, for the whooping crane, are very challenging – involve raising them in captivity until they are mature enough to make a migratory flight; then they are led across the entire migration route by a person flying a powered parachute (or some such vehicle). And there are plenty of other examples.
They – the hosts of the podcast, that is – read a quote from Herzog on the intelligence, or lack thereof, of chickens. Herzog sees them as incredibly and utterly stupid, and makes the claim that this is evidenced by how easy they are to hypnotize.
I was rather surprised that neither of the hosts doing the episode made any mention of why Herzog's statement is refutable nonsense. Herzog is claiming that hypnotizability is evidence of a lack of intelligence. Except that the evidence is quite clear: there is an observed correlation between higher than average intelligence and hypnotizability (in people – and pretty sure we're talking about IQ). Of course there are exceptions, but it has been observed to be generally true. As always, correlation does not equate to causation, so whether the correlation is meaningful or accidental, no one knows, though there are many hypotheses out there to choose from. So, whatever you think about the cognitive capacities of chickens, Herzog's statement is misguided and confused.
Related to the Herzog quote, there is mention of, for some people at least, though this is not being claimed by the hosts themselves, a sense of emptiness in the eyes of birds. I simply had to say that, my first thought was: try looking into a hawk
's or eagle
's eyes, or even some vultures, like a beard
or a cape griffon
. (And I would just like to point out that I just spent two and half hours being mesmerized looking at pictures of those birds.)( Read more...Collapse )
I think I have been meaning to share this for at least a year – my fabulous ADD memory: eventually
I remember, just might not be all that timely. It is worth pointing out that the artist Muslimgauze was active 1983-1998; he died in '99. He was pretty prolific, with a good portion of his work being released posthumously and unfinished.
The thing I love about music like this – and by "this" I do mean something rather broad – is that, if you let it, it takes you to a different world – kind of like, dreaming while awake. Which is sort of how I feel most of the time anyway.
(My apologies, y'all, for the lack of postings. Still getting settled into a new place after moving. And, well, you know how depression goes…)( Behind the cut…Collapse )
This presentation is a little data heavy at the beginning, but it's worth it to listen through:The Female Autism Conundrum
And there's this piece from IFLScience: Changing the Face of Autism: Here Come the Girls
It would be nice to be recognized.
Then people would get it, why I can't really function in society. Why I am so detached from the rest of the world. Or hell, even just why I talk the way I do.
But there is no one currently around me that I can talk to. No one who would believe me or take me seriously. No one in my family would ever consider the possibility, because they're certain they know what autism is, and they're certain that they know me.
But it sure as hell would be nice if they knew and understood just how much I am disabled by it, with respect to the world outside my own head and beyond my interests and obsessions.
At some points, that presentation was hard for me to listen to. Because it confirms for me that I will
have to suffer in silence, just as I have from the beginning, and forever misunderstood. (Perhaps things could be different if I had the benefits of privilege.) I don't recall exactly how old I was when I first conceptualized to myself that what I was doing everyday was wearing a mask for the rest of the world, but I do know for certain that I was still in elementary school. At some point I just couldn't do it anymore. It was too painful, too exhausting, too aggravating and frustrating. And, to put it purely metaphorically because I cannot right now come up with better and more accurate terminology, it was killing my soul
to be fake, to be disingenuous, to pretend to be something that I was not and did not want to be
So I threw that mask away, and vowed to only ever be true to myself.
And yet I still wear a mask. Because, as that presentation does well enough to explain, other people just don't and can't see it. I see
the people around me being blind to what it is they are looking at and seeing when they are looking at and seeing me. They see me, and yet I am invisible. Or perhaps the opposite, that I am opaque.
But at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter. Because at the end of the day, it's just the same as it was yesterday: it hurts, and I'm exhausted.