Never pass up a chance to sit down or relieve yourself. -old Apache saying

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Backfire Effect

I cannot post this whole strip from The Oatmeal here, because I just don't know how. I'd never heard of this concept, but it makes a lot of sense. It will take only a minute or two to get through this one. Give it a shot.

The Oatmeal "The Backfire Effect"

Monday, March 12, 2018

cleanest beaches

It's been too cold to even get in the water. No wonder they're clean. Nobody has been pissing or crapping in the ocean yet. Just wait till summer.

South Padre Island beach among cleanest waters in state

South Padre Island has some good news about its beaches as visitors trickle down to the area for spring break.
The Texas Beach Watch Division of the Texas General Land Office has named South Padre Island the cleanest beach in the entire state. The announcement comes after recent fecal bacteria testing.
"Beaches in Cameron County are the cleanest in the state based on the data we've collected," said Craig Davis with the Texas Beach Watch, who is in charge of the testing. "They're all very clean down there."
The weekly tests are done by collecting water samples and then incubating them for 24 hours in a lab. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, you can suffer from nausea, vomiting, stomach aches, diarrhea and more if you come into contact with fecal-contaminated water.
But spring breakers and Rio Grande Valley natives are safe if they choose to take a dip inside South Padre Island's waters.
"As far as South Padre Island beaches, there's almost never any high samples at all," Davis said.
Brandon Hill, Shoreline Director for the city of South Padre Island, says he plans to keep it that way.
"Thankfully, a lot of it is nature-based. We're just in such a beautiful area here in the coast of Texas that the water that is filtered down to us here is cleaner, thanks to the wetlands and the various plants it moves through down to our system," said Hill. "We put a lot of work into making sure no matter which access you choose to go to, no matter what day you're going to get a beautiful South Padre Island Texas beach."
There will be 18 workers cleaning up SPI beaches around the clock during spring break, along with 200 trash cans placed throughout the shoreline to ensure nothing contaminates the island.
"Every city employee that works hard to make spring break happen is a hero," said Hill.
Several beaches, like Crystal Beach near Galveston, ranked 'high' for large amounts of fecal bacteria. Nine Corpus Christi beaches were also found to have medium levels of fecal bacteria.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

pot boom

Remember when Trump was talking about people on the US side of the US Mexico border being hurt by packages of drugs that were being hurled over the border from Mexico? Most of us had a good laugh about it, but there was a grain of truth to it.

Pot Boom
from High Times

An officer shows the cylindrical packet
 fitting in the tube of the bazooka.
Pot smugglers in Mexico have been using a cannon to blast bundles of weed over the border into Douglas, AZ. Mexican authorities found the big gun in a van on the Mexican side, in Agua Prieta, along with 1,800 pounds of weed divvied up into 900 cannonball-size packages. Transnational pot-flinging has been reported elsewhere in the area lately, according to the Arizona Daily Star. In February of last year, Border Patrol agents discovered a weed-tossing catapult attached to the border fence near Douglas's port of entry. In December 2016, a pair of teenagers were nabbed in Cochise County, AZ, after receiving cheeba missiles fired by an air cannon over the border fence into the United States. Three months before that, authorities in Agua Prieta found an air cannon inside a van used to shoot pot packets into Douglas. If the US president ever builds his "big beautiful wall," we can expect more artillery fire from south of the border.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

fake everything

Oh, great! Like we don't already have enough to worry about with the "fake news" BS. Now we can get totally fake, and totally believable. Yikes. You just know the right-wingers are going to use this shit to the hilt.

Friday, March 9, 2018

creepy laughter

We have not purchased any kind of "home assistant" like the Echo or Siri or whatever else is out there. There have been suspicions that these devices are "listening in" on their owners and sending information to the home computer, in effect, spying on people. Their job is in fact to listen to their owners and respond with answers or music or whatever they have been programmed to do. 

These devices are NOT supposed to just break out in laughter without any kind of prompting from the owners. I think it would make me jump out of my skin if my assistant just started laughing for no reason. Yea, technology!

Unprompted, creepy laughter from Alexa is freaking out Echo users [Updated]

from ARS Technica
Don't be alarmed! Your Alexa-enabled device may lapse into a sudden fit of giggles, but Amazon is aware of the problem. Recent reports detail a quirky bug that has Amazon's virtual assistant Alexa laughing for no apparent reason, scaring the daylights out of unsuspecting users.
According to a Bloomberg report, Amazon is aware of the issue and is working to fix it. The news comes a few days after users took to social media to share their stories of strange laughter coming from their Echo devices. Some claim Alexa laughed in response to unrelated or misunderstood commands, while others claim Alexa simply laughed out of the blue.
It's not uncommon for Echo devices to hear sounds and mistake them for a user's wake word. Amazon's smart speakers can be programmed to respond to a few words: "Alexa" is the most common, but other options like "Echo" and "Amazon" are available as well. These bouts of laughter could be a byproduct of Echo devices mistakenly hearing their wake words.
But reported situations of unprompted laughter in silent homes are obviously quite creepy. Some users have resorted to unplugging their Echo devices to ensure that Alexa cannot interject anything, ominous or not.
While my Echo device has lit up and responded to random noises in my home a few times, I've never experienced the laughing issue. When asked, "Alexa, how do you laugh?" my Echo replied, "Sure, I can laugh—tee hee!"
It's always worth checking the History section of the Alexa mobile app in situations like this. Since Echo devices are always listening for their wake words, they record and save clips to the cloud every time they hear something that they think Alexa needs to respond to. Users can review and delete these clips at any time in the Alexa app's History section.
Update (8:26am ET March 8): An Amazon representative provided the following statement to Ars, explaining that Alexa's unprompted laughter was caused by an incorrectly heard phrase.
In rare circumstances, Alexa can mistakenly hear the phrase “Alexa, laugh.” We are changing that phrase to be “Alexa, can you laugh?” which is less likely to have false positives, and we are disabling the short utterance “Alexa, laugh.” We are also changing Alexa’s response from simply laughter to “Sure, I can laugh” followed by laughter.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

avoid Mexico

Here's yet another reason to not go to Mexico. Damn shame that a beautiful country such as Mexico, with some outstanding beaches, is so fucked up socially and politically that it's just too dangerous to go there.

State Department Warns Spring Breakers of Mexico Threat
(CNN) — The State Department warned US citizens against travel to Mexico’s Playa del Carmen late Wednesday, a week after an explosive device was found on a tourist ferry in the area.
In an emergency message posted to the embassy’s website, the agency said it had received “information about a security threat in Playa del Carmen,” and that it is barring government employees from traveling to the resort town.
Playa del Carmen is a popular destination for American college students traveling for spring break, which many universities observe in March.
001playadel State Department Warns Spring Breakers Of Mexico Threat
(credit: Thinkstock)
“US citizens must have as much information as possible to make informed travel decisions,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement Thursday. “We take our obligation to provide information to US citizens seriously as evidenced by the clear, timely, and reliable safety and security information we release worldwide.”
Nauert did not specify the nature of the threat. However, the State Department issued a separate emergency message last week notifying US citizens of an undetonated explosive device discovered on a ferry. That incident came about a week after an explosive device detonated on another ferry, injuring several passengers.
US officials have been in touch with Mexican law enforcement officials who are leading the investigation, Nauert said at a news briefing Thursday.
“Clearly, there is a threat,” said Nauert. “We’re making Americans aware of that threat so that Americans can protect their own safety and the safety of their families.”

Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Steve Benen is essential reading. I'm sure there are more people that are "essential reading" but, dammit, who has the time?! Lots of links in Steve's writings. 

The problem with this story is that the GOP and Trump just continue to lie about everything, even after things get "debunked."

When it comes to conspiracy theories, Republicans are now 0-for-4

It’s been a rough year for Republican conspiracy theories. Donald Trump was all excited, for example, about Sen. Mark Warner’s (D-Va.) texts with D.C. lawyer Adam Waldman, before the allegations completely fell apart. Trump was similarly worked up about the idea that Barack Obama intervened in the FBI’s Hillary Clinton probe, before that too was completely discredited.

For a short while, Republicans even had high hopes for the “Nunes memo,” though the stunt clearly didn’t work out well.

And then there’s the Uranium One story, which has never made any sense, but which assorted GOP partisans have embraced as proof of … something. The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman yesterday highlighted a document released by congressional Democrats that “pretty much demolishes” the Republicans’ push.
To push along the Uranium One “scandal,” last fall Republicans said they had explosive new evidence from a confidential informant named William Douglas Campbell, a lobbyist who had worked with Russian companies and who was secretly working for the FBI, claiming that the Russians had funneled money to the Clintons to get the Uranium One deal approved. […] 
The Democratic memo, however, makes clear that if Republicans think Campbell is going to blow the lid off this whole conspiracy, they’re sadly mistaken. The memo summarizes what happened when Campbell – and, separately, officials from the Justice Department – were interviewed by GOP and Democratic members of the three congressional committees. The upshot: Campbell appears to have no evidence of such a conspiracy to offer, and he’s also an unreliable witness.
Waldman fleshed this out in great detail, but long story short: the blockbuster GOP witness was a dud. Among other things, Campbell never even made “any allegation of corruption, illegality, or impropriety on Clinton, the Clinton Foundation, President Clinton, the Uranium One deal, or CFIUS.”

Remember, for quite a while, Republicans pointed to this guy as the basis for a new special counsel who would investigate the Clintons.

And yet, there was Donald Trump in the fall, arguing via Twitter, “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”

Over the summer, the president declared, “When I make a statement, I like to be correct. I want the facts… Before I make a statement, I need the facts.” More recently, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Trump “believes in making sure that information is accurate before pushing it out as fact.”


As for the road ahead, the Washington Post  reported in December, “Attorney General Jeff Sessions is entertaining the idea of appointing a second special counsel to investigate a host of Republican concerns — including alleged wrongdoing by the Clinton Foundation and the controversial sale of a uranium company to Russia — and has directed senior federal prosecutors to explore at least some of the matters and report back to him and his top deputy.”

Will the attorney general be able to resist the pressure and acknowledge reality now that the GOP’s story has collapsed?