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August 31, 2015

Quorum Sensing

What a fantastic phrase.

According to Wikipedia:

Bacteria that use quorum sensing constitutively produce and secrete certain signaling molecules (called autoinducers or pheromones). These bacteria also have a receptor that can specifically detect the signaling molecule (inducer). When the inducer binds the receptor, it activates transcription of certain genes, including those for inducer synthesis. There is a low likelihood of a bacterium detecting its own secreted inducer. Thus, in order for gene transcription to be activated, the cell must encounter signaling molecules secreted by other cells in its environment. When only a few other bacteria of the same kind are in the vicinity, diffusion reduces the concentration of the inducer in the surrounding medium to almost zero, so the bacteria produce little inducer. However, as the population grows, the concentration of the inducer passes a threshold, causing more inducer to be synthesized. This forms a positive feedback loop, and the receptor becomes fully activated. Activation of the receptor induces the up-regulation of other specific genes, causing all of the cells to begin transcription at approximately the same time. This coordinated behavior of bacterial cells can be useful in a variety of situations. For instance, the bioluminescent luciferase produced by Vibrio fischeri would not be visible if it were produced by a single cell. By using quorum sensing to limit the production of luciferase to situations when cell populations are large, V. fischeri cells are able to avoid wasting energy on the production of useless product.

They're studying ways to disrupt quorum sensing in order to fight drug-resistant bacteria.

Taking this a step further, the research community could use the information about the intercellular network to identify the best approaches to quorum-sensing inhibition, which disrupts bacterial communication even if it does not actually kill the bacteria. "Once we have modeled their communications network, we can look at how bacteria behave under attack, how they communicate and how this communication breaks down," Marculescu says. "Longer-term, with detailed [information] about a patient's condition, our framework can intelligently generate personalized treatment plans that have the best predicted efficacy without inducing drug resistance."

I cringed a little reading this because the scientists use Twitter analogies to explain how bacteria communicate. I'm old now and i mistrust Twitter on an instinctual level. Also, when they talked about disrupting those avenues of communication in order to defeat the bacteria from organizing, i sort of imagined it in terms of the government using techniques to thwart activism. But "quorum sensing" is still pretty awesome.

By min | August 31, 2015, 9:30 AM | Good Words & Science| Link

August 29, 2015

Familiar Horde

This is the "familiar" horde because the bulk of them are very tiny creatures that can be used as familiars for magic-users (like a witch's black cat or Harry Potter's owl). It is also "familiar" (to me) because half of the familiars that came in the Bones set used the same casts as a set of metal familiars that i already owned. So the creatures below are duplicates of miniatures that i already have, although of course i've colored them differently. The original metal ones have much more distinct features; the plastic Bones are more blobby and harder to paint.

The rest of the familiars, more supernatural types (not that the faerie dragon above isn't supernatural), are all new to me. Here we have the world's tiniest Grim Reaper, some kind of Fraggle, and and a wood nymph.

And then a water sprite, a baby treant, and a couatl.

Besides the familiars, i figured these beetle swarms would be quick to paint.

And now the more important pieces that i actually took some time with. A golem or steampunk robot blacksmith (who is not from the Bones set) and a knight.

And some lizard men that are actually official D&D miniatures that i've finally gotten around to painting. They are both metal and were a joy to paint after all the plastic Bones. Technically, according to their cards, one is a "lizard folk" and the other is a troglodyte.

And lastly, the big guy, who has some nice armor and a big sword.

By fnord12 | August 29, 2015, 4:36 PM | D&D | Comments (3) | Link

August 27, 2015

Solar Sails in the Works


Just as sailboats use wind pressure to propel through water, solar sails use the pressure from light radiated by the sun to move through space. Once the province of science fiction authors such as Arthur C. Clarke, solar sailing is gradually moving into the realm of reality. A privately funded $4.5-million mission to test solar sailing technology called LightSail now has a launch date in April 2016 and a ride to space onboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. Once in orbit, LightSail 1 will make maneuvers using sunlight, rather than rocket fuel.
LightSail 1 will deploy four ultrathin Mylar sails that will stretch to 32 square meters (potentially large enough for naked-eye observers to spot from the ground). These sails will be bombarded with sunlight and each light particle, or photon, that impacts them will impart a tiny bit of momentum. Added up, those tiny bits should be enough to move the spacecraft without the need for heavy and expensive chemical propellant. If LightSail's orbital speed increases once it deploys its sail, engineers will know it works. In theory, solar sailing should be powerful enough to propel a spacecraft out of Earth orbit and into the solar system. "The disadvantage to that is it takes a long time [to move], just like it takes a lot longer to sail to the Bahamas than drive a speedboat," Stetson says. Still, in space beyond Earth's atmosphere without friction to stop it, once a solar sail gets going, it keeps accelerating as long as sunlight keeps hitting it. That makes solar sails an appealing option to explore the whole of the solar system and beyond. Many experts say they're the likeliest candidate to propel the first interstellar mission to another star, with extra thrust supplied by a laser, perhaps stationed in orbit around the sun, aimed at the sail in addition to sunlight. One downside, however, is that solar sails don't come with brakes or any means of changing trajectory or slowing down once they're zooming. One possible solution is using a planet or star's gravity to decelerate the craft or slingshot it along a desired path.

Don't slingshot into the past!

Forget space travel. Where's my solar sail car?

By min | August 27, 2015, 3:13 PM | Science| Link

August 26, 2015

Defining issue

I don't want to blog about the speculation on Joe Biden getting into the primary, but i was happy to see this:

If Vice President Joe Biden decides to jump into the presidential race, his decision will be driven, he has said in recent conversations, by a belief that Hillary Clinton's background won't allow her to be a credible messenger when it comes to income inequality, which Biden sees as a defining issue.

This is all anonymously sourced and speculative, but i am glad to see that the thinking seems to be about a substantial issue and not just scandal stuff. And of course:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), meanwhile, has soaked up large chunks of the party's grassroots financial backing and could lay claim to having elevated economic inequality as a focus for months before Biden entered the race.

When Sanders got into this race, i never hoped for more than that he would bring national attention to the issue of income inequality. In that sense, he's already won. Of course now i do dare hope for more, regardless of whether Bernie is running against Hillary or Joe or both.

By fnord12 | August 26, 2015, 9:34 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Marvel Sales


The Beat must have been playing catch-up because these have been coming in quick succession. We're also at a weird time because of Secret Wars, so as i scroll through the list the majority of the titles aren't recognizable to me.

By fnord12 | August 26, 2015, 7:56 AM | Comics | Comments (5) | Link

August 23, 2015

Horde Again

The gorilla, the insect thing and the rat man are not Bones.

By fnord12 | August 23, 2015, 2:42 PM | D&D | Comments (1) | Link

August 21, 2015

Tell Your Senators 'No to CISA'...Again


Right before Congress left for its annual summer vacation the Obama Administration endorsed the Senate Intelligence Committee's Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA). EFF opposes the bill because its vague definitions, broad legal immunity, and new spying powers allow for a tremendous amount of unnecessary damage to users' privacy. Just last week the Department of Homeland Security agreed and criticized CISPA for its lack of privacy protections. More importantly, CISA fails to address the causes of the recent highly publicized data breaches.
The administration has invested immense capital into looking strong on cybersecurity since January. And instead of publishing another veto threat, the White House Press Secretary urged the Senate to pass CISA. There was no deep analysis as in 2012. There was no explanation about CISA's own privacy problems. And there was no acknowledgement about the White House's sudden change in position.

Even though the President wants to sign the bill, the Senate must pass CISA first. Privacy advocates have defeated these "cybersecurity bills" five times in the past five years. In July, users and privacy advocates postponed a vote on CISA after sending over 6 million faxes opposing CISA to Senators during a Week of Action. Unfortunately, the vote was only postponed to mid-September when Congress gets back from vacation.

We must continue the pressure on the Senate to stop this bill. Please join us in continuing to tell our Senators to say no to CISA.

Click on the link in the block quote to send them a fax.

By min | August 21, 2015, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

It's Not Just the South Koreans

We could have fans on while we slept, but they couldn't be pointed directly at us. That would result in something bad. Possibly a ghost sitting on your chest. Mebbe death. I don't remember exactly anymore. Sometimes the horrible consequences for various things sort of blend together in my memory.

In South Korea, many older people fear that if you sleep with an electric fan in the room, you may never wake up.
The South Korean news media and scientists keep trying to debunk this notion, but it won't go away.
Do a bit of research on fan death, and you'll find an American climatologist who -- at least according to the Internet -- says it's a real thing.

That man is Larry Kalkstein of the University of Miami, and he says if you're dehydrated, sitting in front of a fan in a hot room can make you more dehydrated. That can cause medical problems.

But, he's quick to add, "fans do not chop up oxygen molecules in the middle of the night, they can't lead to hypothermia, they can't suck oxygen out of a room. None of those things can happen."

This lost-in-translation moment came a few years ago when Korean journalists interviewed him in Seoul.

"One of the women asked me if I believed in fan death, which I'd not heard of, so I said, 'Yes. Fans can create a problem.'" he recalls.

"But they thought I meant that I believed in traditional fan death, when I did not, so that made a bit of a stir, and that's probably why you're calling me right now, because my name became associated with fan death," he adds.

So for the record, Kalkstein does not believe in fan death.

In 2008, Chun Rim, a professor at the Department of Nuclear and Quantum Engineering at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, decided to actually test the hypothesis.

He says it was hard to find anyone to take part in this so-called dangerous experiment. So he used his 11-year-old daughter.


I risk my life nightly so that fnord12 can have the ceiling fan on when we sleep. No ghosts, so far, but sometimes i have to sleep with my head under the covers for protection from all that moving air.

Don't go to bed with wet hair, either. That'll result in rheumatism. And headaches.

By min | August 21, 2015, 1:14 PM | Ummm... Other?| Link

August 20, 2015

Priest on Panther

One of my favorite comic book runs is Christopher Priest's Black Panther. Newsarama has a three part interview up, timed with a release of the run in trade form. One really weird thing about Newsarama is they never link from part one of an article to part two, so here are the links to all three parts: part one, part two, and part three.

By fnord12 | August 20, 2015, 2:05 PM | Comics | Comments (6) | Link

Smartphone for Daredevil

A tiny startup outside Chicago has created external hardware for a smartphone that enables a user to feel as well as see an image on flat glass. The user has the sensation of touching keys on a keyboard, for example.
The technology works by tricking the brain into feeling something that doesn't exist, not unlike the way a television fools the eye into perceiving motion. A tiny actuator in the housing makes the glass resonate at 38.7 kilohertz, an ultrasonic frequency that cannot be heard or felt. Tanvas's algorithms analyze images on the Moto G's screen, and the phone calculates where over the screen the user's finger is positioned. These data are translated into ultrasonic oscillations that create the illusion of something physical.
The TPad is capable of simulating smooth and raised shapes, abrupt edges and curved lines. Bas-relief images on, say, a coin can be faithfully represented. A scanned page's words and images might be made to feel as if they were on a raised surface.


So, i like being able to write my notes, as opposed to Swyping them (takes forever. damn you, autocorrect!). But using a stylus on a tablet or phone is horrible. No friction. Mebbe this would fix that. And then mebbe our signatures when we sign for packages won't look so stupid.

By min | August 20, 2015, 1:44 PM | Comics & Science| Link

Batgirl tortures fan

Mark Evanier has a fun story about Yvonne Craig, who recently passed away.

By fnord12 | August 20, 2015, 7:57 AM | Comics & TeeVee | Comments (1) | Link

August 16, 2015

What Do You Want? RAAARRGH!!

When do you want it?

Apparently, all our talk of politics has infected the wookiees.

I feel their demands are pretty reasonable.

By min | August 16, 2015, 7:51 PM | Cute Things & My stupid life & Star Wars | Comments (7) | Link

August 14, 2015

Godzilla Chronology Project

Today we are opening up a new section of SuperMegaMonkey. It's the Godzilla Chronology Project. It's a review of every Toho Godzilla movie (and more), with an org chart that makes an attempt at visualizing the various timelines and continuities. And it's a joint project between me and Min, with color commentary from her in blue, and everything shaped from our annual Godzilla movie marathons. It's a little over a year in the making, and unlike my Marvel Chronology site, it's already all done (until Toho releases another movie; they are supposedly working on one for 2016).

Google has already found it, so you may already be aware of it, and we've already had one comment. But we're now officially done (which isn't to say that there aren't still typos or bugs and such).

So feel free to give it a look (and if you're really good you'll skim the About page).

By fnord12 | August 14, 2015, 2:07 PM | Godzilla | Comments (5) | Link

Marvel Sales

I've been slacking:



(Actually it looks like The Beat was slacking. May's post only came out on 8/6.)

By fnord12 | August 14, 2015, 12:01 PM | Comics| Link


This website was put together by volunteers and it's not affiliated with the Bernie Sanders campaign, but it's really an amazing compilation of Bernie's positions and, more importantly, record. I've never seen such a comprehensive site for a political candidate, probably because we've never had a candidate that has been so consistent and active for so long. But also because the volunteers that put this together are obviously extremely passionate.

By fnord12 | August 14, 2015, 10:43 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 13, 2015

More Sleep Can Hold Off the Decay

According to the British Sleep Council, if you don't sleep for at least six hours a night, you're 12% more likely to die young. Lack of sleep can trigger a range of health problems. It can give you heart disease. It can give you diabetes. It can make you obese. It can ruin your concentration, your memory and your youthful good looks in one fell swoop.
The problem is now so bad that the government has actually had to intervene on our behalf. The middle-aged will soon be targeted with a campaign designed specifically to make them go back to bed. The most chilling line in Public Health England's description of its own campaign is this: "Only around 20% to 30% of what we think of as 'ageing' is biological; the rest is 'decay' or 'deterioration', which can be actively managed or prevented." Essentially, if you're aged between 40 and 60 and you don't get enough sleep, you're rotting your own body.


Hey, i will go to sleep right now if you let me. I love sleeping. I just hate going to bed, which is an important distinction. But once i'm asleep, i will happily stay that way for many, many hours, so the six hour minimum is no problem for me. I'm also lucky in that i don't have kids to disrupt my sleep schedule, i don't have crazy work hours, and i don't have a sleep disorder. I dunno what the rest of you people are doing. Bed is lovely.

This amused me:

Since we had a baby earlier this year, I've physically aged by about three decades. I've somehow managed to become both sunken and paunchy, the vast majority of my sentences now begin with the word "Nyuhh" and it takes a superhuman level of effort to pay attention to anything, which is why I just had to take a 15-minute break from this sentence to look at photos of watermelons on the internet.

By min | August 13, 2015, 2:16 PM | Science| Link

August 11, 2015

Bulk up, people

By fnord12 | August 11, 2015, 12:18 PM | Comics & Ummm... Other? | Comments (2) | Link

August 10, 2015

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Ms. Marvel #17 - If i have a complaint, it's that the Kamala/Carol interaction felt less an actual reaction between the two characters that i know and more like a generic "fangirl meets her idol" situation. I guess what i was hoping for was more from Carol's side coming from her character's history, connecting it with things that Kamala is going through. There's a lot to draw on: Carol's costume iterations, her decision to carve out an identity for herself separate from Captain Marvel, her trials after Rogue stole her powers and memories, her bout with alcoholism, her decision in the early 2000s that she wasn't being the best she could be. A lot there that could have been used to connect with Kamala's identity struggles and self-doubt. Carol instead came across more like a generic authority figure. I still think the issue worked from Kamala's perspective, and it was fun. I have to admit i'm a little distanced from the whole story because of the connection to Secret Wars, which i'm not following, and in that context it seems a little weird for Carol to devote time to helping Kamala with her local problem, but just taking the story at face value this was fine. I also liked Kris Anka's cover, and wouldn't mind seeing those clean straight lines in the interior.

By fnord12 | August 10, 2015, 10:23 AM | Comics| Link

August 8, 2015

Give it up for Tom Brevoort

For those of you too young to know, this is 100% true.

By fnord12 | August 8, 2015, 2:39 PM | Comics| Link

The Big Guns of 1991

As was doing my prep work for covering 1991 for my Marvel Timeline project, these two covers stood out.

Big guns: not just for Cable, Deathlok, and the Punisher (and...).

By fnord12 | August 8, 2015, 12:05 PM | Comics | Comments (9) | Link

August 7, 2015

Trump and Single-Payer

Matthew Yglesias, retaining his Slate-pitchy roots: Donald Trump had the best policy idea of anyone in last night's debate

By fnord12 | August 7, 2015, 1:10 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Sanders, Clinton & Welfare Reform

Bernie Sanders has been civil in his campaigning so far, declining to attack Hillary Clinton even when pushed by the media. He's questioned her refusal to come out with positions on things like the TPP and the Keystone Pipeline, but he's just said he thinks it's strange and told reporters to go ask her about it. I think the tone he's set for the campaign is admirable, but he shouldn't be above drawing a distinction from Clinton on policy matters. He definitely shouldn't get into Benghazi and stuff like that, but he should be highlighting differences in their positions. And, maybe now that Clinton has swung the first punch, he seems to be doing that, talking about the Clintons' 1996 Welfare Reform bill.

In an phone interview Thursday with Bloomberg, the Democratic presidential candidate said that history will not look kindly on the 1996 overhaul of the New Deal anti-poverty program, which then-President Bill Clinton enacted over the objections of many liberal Democrats, including Sanders, who was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time.

And in case you think it's not fair to blame Hillary for something her husband did decades ago, she was both deeply involved in its passage and still supporting it at least as recently as 2003:

Sanders' chief rival for the Democratic nomination, front-runner Hillary Clinton, wrote in her 2003 book, Living History, that she supported the bill, despite some concerns, because she "felt, on balance, that this was a historic opportunity to change a system oriented toward dependence to one that encouraged independence."


Clinton wrote that she "worked hard to round up votes" for the her husband's legislation, which imposed time limits on welfare benefits and work requirements on beneficiaries.

This isn't a small thing. This is really what the Democratic party is about. Do we support a social safety net or not? This is really the core of what Sanders' campaign is about. And just as importantly, and especially relevant since Clinton was attacking Sanders on race, do we buy into the right wing myth that welfare is a way to allow lazy minorities to get away with not working?

In his own book in 1997, Sanders called the bill "the grand slam of scapegoating legislation..." Now a U.S. senator from Vermont, he doubled down on that assessment in his interview with Bloomberg. "I think that history will suggest that that legislation has not worked terribly well," he said, arguing that too many politicians would rather target the poor than poverty.

"I mean, that's what Ronald Reagan's 'welfare queen' was all about," he said, referring to the former Republican president. "It was the illusion that we're spending huge sums of money on people who are cheating, who are taking of the welfare system and so forth," he said.

"And what I said then is what I believe to be the case right now," Sanders added. "We need to figure out why people are in poverty. We need to get people out of poverty... Instead of giving tax breaks to billionaires, we should make sure that every person in this country lives in dignity." He added, "What I do see is very often, people trying to pit the middle class against low-income people - often people of color - and that is called scapegoating and I strongly object to that."

Clinton criticized Sanders for only looking at racism through an economic lens. But it's worth noting that when you concede to the welfare queen myth, you're not just using racism to divide us economically. You're also validating racism, increasing the likelihood that more people will buy into racist ideas. In other words, if the Clintons had pushed back on the welfare queen myth instead of capitulating to it, the explosion of racism that we've seen more recently might not have been so strong. The TEA party, after all, was formed on the basis that their taxes have been going to support undeserving minorities.

Coincidentally, this topic came up during the Republican debates last night. Per Politico's fact-check:


Rick Santorum: "I ended a federal entitlement"

The former Pennsylvania senator got into fact check trouble back in 2012 when he made a similar claim in his last presidential run. So it's no surprise he entered hot water again by taking such a large degree of credit for the landmark 1996 law that reformed the welfare program.

Santorum certainly had a large hand in the law President Bill Clinton signed just months before his reelection. He did serve as a floor manager for starters. But he certainly isn't alone either as the measure's champion. Clinton, for one, had promised in his own 1992 campaign to "end welfare as we know it."

When both you and Rick Santorum agree that something is awesome, you are probably doing it wrong.

By fnord12 | August 7, 2015, 8:16 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link

EPA Accidentally Contaminates River in Colorado

Bad bad bad.

A team of US regulators investigating contamination at a Colorado goldmine accidentally released a million gallons (3.8 million liters) of orange-hued waste water containing sediment and metals into a local river system, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Thursday.

The waste water had been held behind a barrier near the abandoned Gold King Mine, but was accidentally emptied into Cement creek, which flows into the Animas river in San Juan county, said an EPA spokesman, Rich Mylott.


You should click through to look at the picture of the river. It's mustard-colored.

By min | August 7, 2015, 7:54 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 6, 2015

That's... oh wait. That *is* a moon.

Cool animated photo of the moon orbiting the Earth from NASA.

By fnord12 | August 6, 2015, 8:52 PM | Science | Comments (1) | Link

Me and Religion

On the way home the other day, i spotted a nun and thought "Wow. That's a nun."

This morning, i again saw a nun (possibly the same one?), and i thought, "Holy shit! There's another one!", as if nuns are rare like buffalo or unicorns.

And then i was afraid to make eye contact in case she tried to steal my soul.

By min | August 6, 2015, 11:01 AM | My stupid life | Comments (1) | Link

Uh, boss? We really doing this?

I got a chuckle out of this:

Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley... accused party insiders of trying to tilt the primary contest in Hillary Clinton's favor.

O'Malley lit into the Democratic Party for seeking to limit the number of presidential debates, which he said would help Clinton glide to the nomination...

"There's an effort by a few insiders to try to limit the number of debates that we have and I've shared with the chair -- Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- that I think that's a grave mistake and I think it's undemocratic," O'Malley told The Hill in between in-between campaign stops in Cedar Rapids and Des Moines.

"It's all about trying to pre-ordain the outcome, circle the wagons and close off debate," O'Malley said. "If they could actually accelerate the date of the Iowa caucuses and hold them tomorrow -- they'd like to do that. Then there'd be no campaign at all. That's what they'd really like."

Asked if the party insiders included the Clintons, O'Malley said: "Of course they are. President and Secretary Clinton are the most colossal, prolific fundraising couple in the history of representative democracies."

An aide then reminded O'Malley that he was on the record.

"I know," O'Malley answered, before continuing. "So yes -- lots of people have long histories with the Clintons."

O'Malley said he told Wasserman Schultz of his concerns.

"I told her that I didn't feel that the party was listening to our concerns and I told her that limiting the number of debates before the first contest would be a grave mistake," he said. "The people have a right to hear what the candidates stand for. We need to have a debate."

I also thought the DNC's response was creepily Stepford Wife-ish:

DNC spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a statement that DNC officials are "thrilled to hear that Governor O'Malley is eager to participate in our debates."

By fnord12 | August 6, 2015, 7:43 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 5, 2015

Meta Polling

Ok, i promise this is my last Bernie Sanders post for at least... let's say an hour.

This is really more of a joke. I am reacting to this headline:

Poll: Democratic primary voters see Hillary Clinton as most electable

They are polling people to see how well they think politicians will do in polls. I demand they go one step further and poll people on how well people think politicians will do in the polls about which politicians people think will do well in the polls.

There is a serious element to this, though, as illustrated in this article: Bernie Sanders Doesn't Have A Chance Because People Think He Doesn't Have A Chance.

As i've said before, we are incredibly bad about guessing who people will vote for. Even professional pundits are really bad at it, and all we do is process and internalize what the pundits say. Primaries are our time to shape the state of the debate, not to pre-emptively capitulate on our policies because we think the rest of the country won't like them. And if you must make these kinds of calculations, consider that Sanders' positions are broadly popular (and it's not like Hillary Clinton's relationship with the general electorate is all that great).

By fnord12 | August 5, 2015, 8:37 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2) | Link


Article from July 23rd, 2007:

It may be equally important that Clinton's initial support for the Iraq war is not proving a significant impediment to her bid. Clinton has drawn criticism this year for refusing to apologize for her 2002 vote authorizing the use of force, but the poll shows her leading among Democrats who support a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces as well as those who oppose a deadline...

At this early stage, Clinton remains the candidate to beat in the Democratic field.

Overall, 45 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents support Clinton to be the party's nominee, with Obama second at 30 percent. Edwards, whose hopes for winning depend heavily on a victory in the Iowa caucuses in January, is at 12 percent. Clinton's margin over Obama has been generally steady since February, just after the two candidates launched their presidential bids.

The RealClearPolitics poll tracker average has Clinton at 56 and Sanders at 20 at the moment, with 13 percent going to Biden who may or may not run (and if he did, it remains to be seen if he'd split the anti-Clinton vote with Sanders or the anti-establishment vote with Clinton, or maybe some combination of the two).

One difference between then and now:

Democrats are way behind the pace they set in the 2008 cycle--the last time there was an open Democratic nomination. By this point in the primary calendar, there had already been five debates, the first one in South Carolina in April '07.

Bernie supporters launched a major campaign this week to pressure the DNC to hurry up with the debate schedule, and the article at the third link says that the DNC will now finally announce the schedule and rules later this week.

No one ever thought Bernie would do as well as he already has, so it's already pretty amazing to me. I'm not saying that the debates will be a definite win for Bernie. I am hoping he keeps his crankier impulses in check, and it still remains to be seen if his message will resonate with the larger national audience that the debates will reach. But the timing and number of debates this season does make it feel like the DNC was doing everything possible to smooth the way for Hillary Clinton.

Quick update: To be clear, i don't think the debate schedule is a conspiracy against Bernie or anything like that. I think the DNC's expectation was that Clinton wouldn't have any significant challengers and they therefore wanted to keep the attention off her and on the Republicans. I still don't think that's fair to, say, Martin O'Malley, but i think the idea that a 73 year old Democratic Socialist might have been a serious contender was the furthest thing from their minds.

By fnord12 | August 5, 2015, 7:34 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 4, 2015

Who is Hillary Clinton talking about?

On Monday, Hillary Clinton said:

"[#BlackLivesMatters] is fueled in large measure by young people and it is a particular development in the civil rights movement that deserves our support," Clinton said. "By that I mean, there are some who say, 'Well racism is a result of economic inequality.' I don't believe that."

Hmmm. Who are these "some" that say this?

It can't be Bernie Sanders. Sanders did say this:

As we celebrate King's great achievement and sacrifice, it is wrong to round off the sharp edges of his legacy. He saw inequality as a fundamental and tragic flaw in this society, and he made clear in the weeks leading up to his assassination that economic issues were becoming the central focus of his advocacy.

Nearly five decades later, King's words on the subject still ring true. On March 10, 1968, just weeks before his death, he spoke to a union group in New York about what he called "the other America." He was preparing to launch a Poor People's Campaign whose premise was that issues of jobs and issues of justice were inextricably intertwined.

"One America is flowing with the milk of prosperity and the honey of equality," King said. "That America is the habitat of millions of people who have food and material necessities for their bodies, culture and education for their minds, freedom and human dignity for their spirits. . . . But as we assemble here tonight, I'm sure that each of us is painfully aware of the fact that there is another America, and that other America has a daily ugliness about it that transforms the buoyancy of hope into the fatigue of despair."

Those who lived in the other America, King said, were plagued by "inadequate, substandard and often dilapidated housing conditions," by "substandard, inferior, quality-less schools," by having to choose between unemployment and low-wage jobs that didn't even pay enough to put food on the table.

The problem was structural, King said: "This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor."

Eight days later, speaking in Memphis, King continued the theme. "Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day?" he asked striking sanitation workers. "And they are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen, and it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income."

King explained the shift in his focus: "Now our struggle is for genuine equality, which means economic equality. For we know that it isn't enough to integrate lunch counters. What does it profit a man to be able to eat at an integrated lunch counter if he doesn't earn enough money to buy a hamburger and a cup of coffee?"

But what King saw in 1968 -- and what we all should recognize today -- is that it is useless to try to address race without also taking on the larger issue of inequality. He was planning a poor people's march on Washington that would include not only African-Americans but also Latinos, Native Americans and poor Appalachian whites. He envisioned a rainbow of the dispossessed, assembled to demand not just an end to discrimination but a change in the way the economy doles out its spoils."

And that is the theme that I wish to pursue this evening. The need to simultaneously address the structural and institutional racism which exists in this country, while at the same time we vigorously attack the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality which is making the very rich much richer while everyone else - especially the African-American community and working-class whites - are becoming poorer.

But that's definitely not the same thing that Hillary Clinton was accusing someone of saying, so who is she talking about?

By fnord12 | August 4, 2015, 5:57 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Ready on day one

President Obama's executive order on climate change is looking good. And since the midterms, Obama has been really great with executive orders. But they are executive orders, which means that Obama could have done them at any time. For the past 6 years or so, the "adult" Democrats have been telling us pesky progressives that presidents aren't dictators and they're basically powerless when there's all this gridlock in Congress, so we had no grounds to be disappointed. And then suddenly in his final two years in office Obama has found all sorts of great - and they are great - things to do, from the mini-DREAM act to raising the Federal minimum wage to the FLSA changes to these EPA regulations.

It's too late to wonder about Obama at this point, but here's to hoping that the next Democratic president comes to office with a list of executive actions to enact on day one. I'm a Bernie Sanders supporter, but to Martin O'Malley's credit, per the link above, it looks like he already has plans to have his EPA regulate carbon emissions from industrial and agricultural sources. Sanders has said that he'd expand the DREAM executive order to include families of DREAMers, that he'd go further with the FLSA ruling, and that he's generally open to more executive action. Clinton, unsurprisingly, hasn't been specific. But the idea should be that you go in with every executive action that you can do, and maybe even going a little further than you think is necessary, so that you have something to negotiate with the legislative branch about. If Obama had made this EPA ruling 4 years ago, for example, i bet Cap & Trade would have passed.

One thing i've seen from paying (vague) attention to other country's political systems is they have the concept of a Shadow Government. That sounds like something run by the Templars, but it means that the party that is out of power runs a parallel mock government, reacting to real world events and coming up with policies that they would enact if they had been in power at the time. That way when they get back in power they have a working plan to enact right away. Our system is different for a number of reasons, but the basic idea of having a plan prior to inauguration, especially on executive orders where there's no need to get things through Congress, still makes a lot of sense.

By fnord12 | August 4, 2015, 9:21 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 3, 2015

Cutting me off

Via Kevin Drum, at least one polling organization has decided to stop polling the Republican primary race on the grounds that they feel like by doing so they are actually affecting the results. One could argue that by stopping the polling they are affecting the outcome just as much, but as a poll junkie, all i have to say is, "Noooooooooooooooooooo!".

Actually, please do it. Democratic polls too. In fact, the quality of life of all Americans, and especially addicts like me, could be greatly improved if they would cut off all coverage of the primaries except for intelligent explanations and analysis of the candidates' policy positions. Which is to say there would be no coverage.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2015, 11:03 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Spam keeps getting weirder

I do not own a hotel, and everyone knows i am already the Great.

By fnord12 | August 3, 2015, 7:12 AM | My stupid life| Link

August 1, 2015

Vegan Peach Pie

vegan peach pie

The crust was made using the recipe here.

Filling Ingredients

  • 10 peaches
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup butter, cubed (we like Earth Balance buttery sticks)

Halve the peaches and remove the stone. Peel using a vegetable peeler. Cut each half into four wedges. Then halve those to make chunks.

Mix the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and nutmeg into the peaches. Pour into prepared crust, dotting with the butter.

Top with the rest of the pie crust dough, crimping the edges and cutting slits on the top. Refrigerate for half an hour.

Heat the oven to 425degF. Brush the pie with non-dairy milk or creamer. Sprinkle with course sugar. Cover the edges and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350degF and bake for another 30 minutes. Uncover the edges and bake for a final 15 minutes.

Cool the pie completely (i prefer to leave it for a full day to allow all the juices to be re-absorbed and not end up with soupy pie) before cutting.

By min | August 1, 2015, 3:46 PM | Vegan Vittles | Comments (1) | Link

SuperMegaSpeed Reviews

Daredevil #17 - Ok, so after my questions about Spider-Woman in the previous Speed Review, this issue opens with a demonstration that Julia still has her powers, or at least can still throw a punch. Beyond that, my comments about last issue continue to apply. Good story, good art, and the mental sparring between Daredevil and Kingpin turns out to have even another layer to it, which is great.

By fnord12 | August 1, 2015, 3:16 PM | Comics| Link


My D&D players have thought to create shields made of dragon scales and backpacks made of landshark hides. One even turned a giant gorilla tooth into a helmet. But apparently you don't have to get so exotic:

Texas man shoots armadillo, gets hit in face by bullet ricochet.

Of course this isn't news to comics fans.

By fnord12 | August 1, 2015, 2:29 PM | Comics & D&D & Ummm... Other? | Comments (3) | Link


Sure. Who wouldn't want a bunch of sink strainers in assorted sizes as a gift?

By fnord12 | August 1, 2015, 2:26 PM | My stupid life| Link

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