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August 30, 2016

Wikipedia of Congress

I love the idea of the Library of Congress hosting a copy of all online-only copyrighted media for public review.

By fnord12 | August 30, 2016, 2:31 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 25, 2016

How *did* Vikings evolve into modern Scandinavians?

I guess someone finally translated the gibberish and felt bad about it.

By fnord12 | August 25, 2016, 11:54 AM | Comics | Comments (1) | Link

August 17, 2016

Profile raised

If nothing else, at least Bernie's run for president means that he now makes headlines (granted, in The Hill) when he says the same sort of thing he's been saying for years prior.

By fnord12 | August 17, 2016, 1:05 PM | Liberal Outrage| Link

August 16, 2016

Copyright means you can't have nice things

This remake/remastering of Metroid looks pretty cool. And i'm not a Pokemon guy, but as a fan of the SNES Zelda, i think the look and feel of this game is pretty nice. Unfortunately, both fan-made, distributed-for-free games have been made unavailable because Nintendo is enforcing their copyrights.

By fnord12 | August 16, 2016, 12:02 PM | Liberal Outrage & Video Games| Link

August 12, 2016


If it was a band, i'm sure it would suck.

By fnord12 | August 12, 2016, 4:03 PM | Comics| Link

August 11, 2016

The Sub-Mariner's Not Going to Like This

Canadian mining firm Nautilus Minerals says it plans to lead the way with the world's first commercial deep-sea mining project, scheduled to get underway within the next few years off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
Only recently has deep-sea mining become technologically and financially feasible, thanks to using remotely operated subs and other technologies developed for deepwater oil and gas production. Proponents say higher ore grades mean deep-sea mining would be more cost-effective than land-based operations, with a smaller ecological footprint that would be less visible.

But these are uncharted waters, says Cindy van Dover, director of the Duke University Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C. "We do not know where the tipping points are with regard to how much damage deep-sea systems can sustain and still maintain the health of the ocean," she says.


One likely test case is Nautilus's Solwara 1 Project, which will target a massive sulfide deposit 1,500 meters deep in the Bismarck Sea northeast of New Guinea. Nautilus estimates the site could produce more than 72,500 metric tons of copper and more than 4.5 metric tons of gold. The copper ore grade--the concentration of a valuable mineral within an ore--averages nearly 8 percent, compared with 0.6 percent on land in 2015, says Nautilus chief executive Mike Johnston.

To collect this treasure Nautilus has designed a trio of huge, remote-controlled underwater machines that would not look out of place in a Terminator movie. Two "cutters"--weighing 308 and 250 metric tons, respectively--will crawl across the seafloor on tank treads and grind the ore into slurry using spinning toothed wheels. A 2,200-metric-ton collecting machine will feed the slurry into an enclosed pumping system to the surface. Operators in a support vessel control the cutters and collecting machine using joysticks, sonar and live streaming video. Onboard the support vessel the slurry will be drained and transferred to another ship for processing in China. The wastewater will be filtered of impurities and pumped back down to the seafloor.


Richard Steiner, a conservation biologist and former University of Alaska professor who is not involved in the Solwara project, is unconvinced. "There's no question this will pose massive environmental impacts," he says--from bright lights, noise and potential toxic leaks to sediment plumes that could clog the filters many kinds of sea life use for feeding. The deep ocean is the largest and least understood biological habitat on Earth and deep-sea vents--discovered as recently as 1977--may be one of the rarest of all ecosystems, says Steiner, who heads up the conservation consultancy Oasis Earth. Only about 300 vent sites are known and estimates of the total number that exists range between 500 and 5,000.

Impact reports that use land-based mines as a benchmark are comparing apples and oranges, Steiner says--and our environmental track record in deepwater oil and gas recovery is not exactly inspiring. The deep ocean is unforgiving, even to experts; in 2014 Woods Hole's Nereus robotic sub imploded in the Kermadec Trench, a 10-kilometer-deep rut in the Pacific Ocean floor where two tectonic plates meet northeast of New Zealand. "There's a dangerous combination of ignorance, arrogance, greed and very poor scientific understanding," Steiner says. "Humans are terrestrial primates; we just don't get underwater."


As seen with fracking, we are experts at pulling things out of the ground and then pumping water back into the holes without incurring horrible consequences. And it's all totally contained. No worries. What are the chances anything could leak out?

By min | August 11, 2016, 8:43 AM | Science| Link

August 10, 2016

Italian Government Not Keen on Vegan Parents


An Italian official is calling for new laws that would punish parents who put their children on vegan diets, or force "reckless and dangerous eating behavour" on them with a sentence of up to six years in prison, Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported.

The legislation would "stigmatize the reckless and dangerous eating behaviours imposed by parents... to the detriment of minors," the outlet quoted Elvira Savino, a deputy of the center-right Forza Italia party, as saying.


In the introduction to the bill, Savino warned that the view of a vegan diet "resulting in significant health benefits" was becoming more widely accepted in Italy.

The suggested base penalty for parents is one year, but it could be longer if the child is under three years old. In addition, if a child becomes ill due to the diet, the sentence could be lengthened to 2.5 - 4 years, and if the diet results in a child's death, parents could be put behind bars for up to six years.


Calls for the anti-Vegan law came after several high-profile cases of children suffering from severe malnutrition as a result of veganism emerged in Italy.

Last month, a one-year-old boy weighing 5 kilograms with blood calcium levels barely sufficient to survive was removed from his parents in Milan.

In June, a two-year-old toddler was hospitalized in Genoa and had to be treated for vitamin deficiency as the result of a vegan diet.

I love that the Italian official warned people about the dangerous idea that veganism has "significan health benefits".

Hopefully science will win out.

However, the president of the Italian Society of Food Science responded to Savino, telling La Repubblica that a diet containing excessive sugar and fat could do much more harm than vegan diets.

I'm all for arresting idiot parents, but it's got nothing to do with them being vegan. Their kids were malnourished because they weren't feeding them properly, not because they weren't letting them have meat and dairy. Yeah, making sure a kid gets all the nutrients they need on a vegan diet is work. If you can't manage that, don't have kids. Please. It would be a favor to everyone.

By min | August 10, 2016, 10:12 AM | Ummm... Other? | Comments (1) | Link

August 9, 2016

More Important Than the Olympics

While almost everyone seems focused on who will be the fastest swimmer today, Brazil's first female president is being impeached for what some might say are less than legit reasons. Here's Sanders is getting his two cents in.

Sanders yesterday denounced in harsh terms the impeachment of Brazil's democratically elected president. As the Brazilian Senate heads toward a final vote later this month, Sanders described his position, set forth in a statement posted on his Senate site, as "calling on the United States to take a definitive stand against efforts to remove Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff from office." He added: "To many Brazilians and observers the controversial impeachment process more closely resembles a coup d'état."

Sanders also condemned the unelected center-right coalition under Michel Temer that has seized power during Rousseff's suspension and is now trying to install themselves through 2018. "After suspending Brazil's first female president on dubious grounds, without a mandate to govern," he said, " the new interim government abolished the ministry of women, racial equality and human rights" and "replaced a diverse and representative administration with a cabinet made up entirely of white men." They are now attempting to implement radical policies that could never be democratically ratified: "impose austerity, increase privatization and install a far right-wing social agenda."

Sanders' statement comes as Brazil's elites - virtually unified in favor of Dilma's impeachment - have taken extraordinary (and almost comically futile) measures during the Olympics to hide from the domestic public, and the world, how deeply unpopular Temer is. Brazil's largest newspaper, Folha de São Paulo, last month was caught manufacturing polling data when it claimed that 50% of Brazilians want him to stay (in fact, their own poll showed a large majority (62%) want Temer out and new elections held and the paper's Ombudsman harshly criticized them). Brazilian media spent months hyping the prospect of Temer's election in 2018 without mentioning the rather significant fact that he's been banned by a court for running for 8 years because he violated election law (they were forced to mention that last week when the São Paulo prosecutor called attention to this fact in the wake of a new media movement to have Temer run).

Originally, Dilma's impeachment hinged on an accusation that she did some sketchy bookkeeping to hide government debt. The Brazilian Senate investigator's report then said there was no evidence of this. "Shockingly", this didn't stop the impeachment proceedings.

In just over 30 days since his installation, Temer lost three of his chosen ministers to corruption. One of them, his extremely close ally Romero Jucá, was caught on tape plotting Dilma's impeachment as a way to shut down the ongoing corruption investigation, as well as indicating that Brazil's military, the media, and the courts were all participants in the impeachment plotting.


Now you may go back to watching your sports.

By min | August 9, 2016, 1:24 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (4) | Link

It is Beastly

Emphasis mine

I think when people are young they ought to do an honest job of work. There are lots of beastly things that have to be done, like working in towns in offices. I don't think anybody ought to shirk that side of life."

-- Gervase Robertson, Pastoral

Also, she feels that 7-8 years is a sufficient amount of time to not shirk this beastly duty, so everybody can go retire now. WOOO!!!

By min | August 9, 2016, 12:05 PM | Boooooks| Link

August 4, 2016

"The Kid"

My favorite's the stuff of locusts.

Obligatory: Juggernaut isn't a mutant.

By fnord12 | August 4, 2016, 9:37 AM | Comics | Comments (3) | Link

Classic Sci-Fi Genderswapped

An interesting experiment.

"Will you draw the curtain, Commdora. Young man, there's a little knob just near the snap. Will you move it upward, please? Go ahead, it won't hurt you."

The boy did so, drew a sharp breath, looked at his hands, and gasped, "Oh!"

From his waist as a source he was drowned in a pale, streaming luminescence of shifting color that drew itself over his head in a flashing coronet of liquid fire. It was as if someone had torn the aurora borealis out of the sky and molded it into a cloak.

The boy stepped to the mirror and stared, fascinated.

"Here, take this." Marion handed him a necklace of dull pebbles. "Put it around your neck."

The boy did so, and each pebble, as it entered the luminescent field became an individual flame that leaped and sparkled in crimson and gold.

"What do you think of it?" Marion asked him. The boy didn't answer but there was adoration in his eyes.

Oh the times i rolled my eyes reading Asimov's characterization of women in his novels. To be fair, the only characters i thought he wrote well were Giskard and Daneel.

Hines discusses his goals for this exercise in Part II.

Authors sure spend a lot of time describing a female character's appearance, down to clothing and hairstyle. Weird. I couldn't objectively say if this happens disproportionately to female characters or not since my method of reading involves skimming the descriptive paragraphs until i get to the next bit of dialogue. I almost never know what a character looks like.

The important take-away isn't that we should despise older works, but that newer ones should look at themselves through this lens and not make the same mistakes.

By min | August 4, 2016, 9:15 AM | Boooooks| Link

August 3, 2016

Tunneling Through a Singularity

What the hell does that mean? Physicists seem to think they can just casually throw that out there as if it explains something.

"We found that the universe passes smoothly through the singularity and out the other side. That was our hope, but we'd never really accomplished this before."
"We know that in the first 50,000 years the universe was essentially just filled with radiation," says Anna Ijjas, a physicist at Princeton University who was not involved in the research. "The normal matter we see now was not really very significant. I think a scaleless early universe is actually very much suggested by our current measurements."

Under those conditions Turok and Gielen found that the contracting universe would never actually become a singularity--essentially it would "tunnel through" the worrisome point by hopping from a state right before it to a state right after it. Although such sidestepping sounds like cheating, it is a proved phenomenon in quantum mechanics. Because particles do not exist in absolute states but rather hazes of probability there is a small but real chance they can "tunnel" through physical barriers to reach locations seemingly off-limits to them--the equivalent, on a microscopic scale, of walking through walls. "The fuzziness in space and time and the matter conspires to make it uncertain where the universe is at a given time," Turok explains. "This allows the universe to pass through the singularity."

They're talking about the fuzziness of space and time and matter. And this somehow makes it possible to just skip over that annoying part of the calculation that can't be solved. It totally sounds like cheating. Although, most of quantum physics sounds like cheating to me, so shows what i know.

Of lesser fantasticness to me is the main thrust of the article which is the theory that the universe didn't start with a bang, but initially contracted before expanding out.

But an underdog idea posits that the birth of this universe was not actually the beginning--that an earlier version of spacetime had existed and contracted toward a "big crunch," then flipped and started expanding into what we see today. Now a new study suggesting a twist on this "bounce" scenario has supporters excited and inflation proponents newly inflamed over a "rival" they say they have repeatedly disproved, only to have it keep bouncing back.

By min | August 3, 2016, 9:15 AM | Science| Link

August 2, 2016

At Least He Knows Which Bright Ball in the Sky is the Sun

I guess. Link

At the award-winning seafood restaurant in downtown Cleveland that The Atlantic rented out for the entire four-day Republican National Convention, GOP Rep. Bill Johnson turned to me and explained that solar panels are not a viable energy source because "the sun goes down."


The event was sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, the lobbying arm of fossil fuel giants like ExxonMobil, Chevron, and ConocoPhilips.

Johnson, a climate denier and influential member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, spoke of a future when American scientists "solve these big problems" and "figure out how to harness the sun's energy, and store it up, so that we can put it out over time." His hypothetical invention, of course, is called a battery, and was invented over 200 years ago.


Both congressmen went nearly unchallenged by the moderator, The Atlantic's Washington Editor Steve Clemons, who said he wasn't able to find an opposing speaker, but went ahead with the event anyway.

I sympathize with Clemons. I'm sure it's quite difficult to find anyone in the entire world who could possibly have an opposing view on climate change.

Evidence of human-made climate change is so conclusive that it's wrong for journalists to treat its denial like a reasonable point of view.

And now i get to post this link to a Wonderella comic about the media's need to present "both sides" when one of those sides is coo-coo and also factually wrong.

By min | August 2, 2016, 9:24 AM | Liberal Outrage| Link

Now Who's Gonna Get the Tall Stuff for Me?


According to a new study, American men were the third-tallest people on the planet a century ago but now rank 37th in the league table of tall--and some researchers think height would be a better tool for measuring sustainable human development levels than the standard economic indicators.
The researchers found that Dutch men are tallest today, followed by those from Belgium, Estonia and Latvia. Latvian women rank highest in stature, with Dutch, Estonian and Czech women also standing tall. The biggest increase among women was in South Koreans, who have shot up a whopping 20.2 centimeters, whereas Iranian men have grown the most, adding 16.5 centimeters. The gap between the tallest and shortest women has stayed constant, at 20 centimeters and the gap between men has increased by four to 23 centimeters.

Height is still increasing in some Latin American and southern European countries but it has plateaued in many other places in the last few decades. North America was the first to stop growing, around 30 or 40 years ago, and the U.S. has experienced the smallest increase of any high-income country (five centimeters for women, six centimeters for men). Other countries that have leveled off include the U.K. and Japan.

Arggh! The metric system! Theoretically, i can picture a centimeter in my mind, but once i start having to compare lengths, forget it.

The team compared changes in height with changes in risk of dying between ages 50 to 70, finding that countries that had grown most tended to have declined most in risk of premature death. "In the case of men, countries that gained 10 to 12 centimeters in height had about [a] 20 to 30 percent decline in risk of premature dying," Ezzati said. "Slightly smaller for women, about 10 to 20 percent, but those are big changes."
It also found that the U.S. plateaued earlier--and shorter--than many European countries. "The west European welfare state creates the best conditions for optimal growth of the human organism," says Komlos, who was not involved in the Imperial College-WHO study. "That's a major finding of this research."

Komlos has also studied obesity--and has found that not only are Americans falling short, they are also getting wider. Given there is no shortage of access to food in the U.S., studies like these suggest that, in high-income countries, it is not quantity so much as quality of food that matters. Komlos also suggests that financial inequality matters across the board because rich children increase in height less than poor children decline--so more inequality may mean a shorter population, especially if there are more poor children. "The U.S. has fallen behind because of the delivery of medical care; a large segment of the population is uninsured, and doesn't get good nutrition and health care early in life," Komlos says. "The U.S. has the greatest poverty rate in the developed countries: about 20 percent of children grow up in poverty; in the Netherlands it's probably about half that." Height has also been linked to educational attainment and higher incomes and Komlos says links to both health and wealth are consistently found. "There's no exception: higher income--taller population; higher mortality rate--shorter population; more inequality--shorter population," he says. "It's undeniable."

By min | August 2, 2016, 8:53 AM | Science| Link

Good Thing We've Got a Dem in the White House

Cause a Republican might do something crazy like bomb Libya. It well so well the first time, afterall.

The U.S. launched a major new military campaign against ISIS on Monday when U.S. planes bombed targets in Libya, responding to requests from the U.N.-backed Libyan government. Strikes took place in the coastal town of Sirte, which ISIS took in June of last year.

The strikes represent a significant escalation in the U.S. war against ISIS, spreading the conflict thousands of miles from the warzones in Syria and Iraq.

All of these attacks took place without Congressional authorization or even debate.

"We want to strike at ISIL anywhere it raises its head," said Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook. "Libya is one of those places." He said the airstrikes "would continue as long as [the Libyan government] is requesting them," and that they do not have "an end point at this particular moment in time."

Yeah, big surprise. There's never an "end point". We can't manage to find the funds necessary to make sure people's water isn't contaminated, but we always have money for more bombs.

By min | August 2, 2016, 8:48 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1) | Link

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