Big Bad Shorties

It’s the Food: It turns out that people do pay attention to nutrition labels. That’s a good thing, because soon and very soon obesity will overtake tobacco as the #1 killer of Americans. Have some truth in comic form.

Zombies!!: Well sure, they aren’t allowed to try and collect it, but they can still claim you owe it!

Act Two is Coming to Ferguson: The grand jury will speak soon. And it looks like the police are prepared for anything that happens… by which I mean that they are heavily armed in a manner that is itself inflammatory.

On Privacy, not Piracy: Americans are aware of how little privacy they may have.

A few last election items: Yeah, voters are disappointed in Democrats. Yeah Republicans simply “lost less.” And yeah, anybody who wants to win in 2016 better pay attention to how things are going for normal Americans.

And Finally: It would appear that I am the one person in America that does not give a single **** about Kim Kardashian’s ass.

Music Monday, Might Be Tuesday: Elementary

Turns out chemistry isn’t as hard as I feared.

In Closing: voice actors; only when it comes to spending that helps normal people; anybody have any idea why our government cares about ISIS/ISIL more than Boko Haram? (Is it just oil? Could there be a faint whiff of racism?); money money money money; I bet he even remembers that Commandment about not killing; and jumping cats.

More Ferguson

The ASSociated Press has published a little article which my local news picked up. The first paragraph reads:

The fatal shooting of a black 18-year-old by a white police officer has opened a debate over what level of force is appropriate when law enforcement confronts a citizen perceived to be a threat.

Let’s back up just a moment. The question that should be asked in Ferguson and perhaps elsewhere is this:

What should a police officer consider a threat?

We now know that the young man was in fact running away from the officer when the confrontation began. Is someone running away a “threat”? At the very least, the officer can no longer use the “he was headed straight for me” defense without expecting laughter.

Backing up further, is a “thief” who shoved a store clerk a “threat” (even though everyone agrees that the cop didn’t know about the alleged incident)? Well, since it turned out that the theft was trumped up and the film that supposedly proves the young man was a Very Bad Man actually shows him paying, no.

Are photographers and journalists a threat? How about churches?

I leave you with three more Ferguson thoughts. First, what the press might well report if Ferguson were overseas. Second, Ferguson appears to have a rich heritage of discriminatory legal practices. Finally, the police have all kinds of new crowd control toys. One, Taser brags, can incapacitate anybody who happens to be in a target area. Forgive me for wondering how you make a crowd disperse by incapacitating them.

In Closing: I don’t know, maybe you could try doing things voters like?; on privacy and metadata.

Shorties Fright

The Monk who Saved Lives: Ittetsu Nemoto.

The Priest who Preached Happiness: Let’s hear it once more for Pope Francis.

Israel and Palestine: Just a few assorted and random links.

You know you want it: Here’s the NSA, privacy, FBI, CIAWar on Terror, and related links.

Broken:  immigration and immigration reform problems.

Wow: Larry Kudlow seems to have found his lost mind.

All about the Jobs: We did have good jobs numbers this week. Let’s put it in perspective.

Research supports my observation:  Indeed: “[I]t sure does seem like the vast majority of the people who say diets don’t work have somewhere in their story a sentence like ‘I went on my first diet when I was 13.’ Or 11. Or 16.”

Fiddling while America Burns: Congress is too busy making baseless lawsuits and running out of town, so they can’t be bothered to fund things like fighting forest fires.

Want to know the interesting thing about this article?: This article about events that empower girls by reinforcing gender stereotypes was written by a man.

And finally: Keep it clean, people.

Keep It Simple, Silly.

Alright, so apparently it took tens of thousands of kids showing up all alone in our country, having traveled thousands of miles through incredible obstacles to get us to collectively pay attention to immigration policy for more than 5 minutes. There’s screaming on both sides: they’re kids, many of them little, and they need our protection; they’re here illegally and we need to send them back to their [incredibly impoverished and unsafe] homes as quickly as possible before they bring crime and disease for crying out loud, due process be damned.

Let’s be clear on this. Immigration policy is broken. Further, our current system for asylum and naturalization is so complicated that any solution that does not involve radical simplification is no solution at all. That simplification needs to include a reduced amount of paperwork, written in a way that it can be filled out in some cases without the help of expensive lawyers. That simplification needs to eliminate limits on the numbers of immigrants that can come from specific regions and get work permits — unrealistically low limits that even the Senate knows need to go. Maybe it doesn’t need to be so simple that a little kid can navigate the system, but certainly an adult who knows how to read should be able to get started.

Of course that’s only one piece of the puzzle — the part the most helps the kids right now. In the long term, we as a nation have to stop doing things that increase poverty and gang violence in Central and South America. That will make it safer for other children to stay in their homelands with their families rather than come thousands of miles to a strange land that only offers the faintest hope of a better life.

We also need to remember that children aren’t the only ones who illegally come to the United States because no matter how bad conditions are here, it’s better than at home. Conditions are bad here for undocumented immigrants because the byzantine rules for work permits means they work in low wage, low skill, long hours, sometimes blatantly illegal, non-existent protections for workers jobs — the so-called “Jobs Americans Won’t Do [because we foolishly want minimum wage and a safe workplace]”. The employers who exploit these willing workers (and put law abiding businesses at a competitive disadvantage) must face consequences: fines, inspections, jail for the people who sign off on breaking the law.

This is not a complete solution. However, it’s how we “stop digging the hole” we’re trapped in.

In Closing: “The beatings will continue until morale improves”; the latest attempts to undermine your privacy (and indeed, your access) online, and bonus NSA links; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer yet again; “This isn’t about your health. It’s about control.”; great, because it turns out we’re gonna need some new bridges soon! (I saw a picture of the set-up last week and it’s truly impressive); and Remember Come November. Oh, and vote in the damned primaries so we at least have decent candidates!

Only Shorties Left Alive

Ok, I know why some of you are here: to get your sweet sweet dose of NSA links.

Turns out not: There’s no shortage of STEM workers. There may, however, be a shortage of STEM workers who want to work for crappy wages.

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me: Which of these inventions is likely to be fake? Two teenage girls invent new bomb detector that could revolutionize getting around their home town, teenage boy makes browser plugin that allows you to see who a politician’s major contributors are with a simple mouse-over, or Egyptian military invents a gadget that can detect AIDS and Hepatitis C without taking blood samples? Regrettably, I cannot promise that Carl Kassel will record your voicemail message.

Sick of Politics and November is So Far Away: Pelosi thinks immigration reform is now a longshot (because hey, we can’t have a Democratic Kenyan President signing that into law or something). Republicans don’t like it when President Obama does things that President Bush and President Reagan did frequently. Maybe Senator McCain shouldn’t talk about ISIS anymore. And the Koch agenda.

A Couple Items on Abortion: Southern Beale points out that abortion restrictions don’t keep women from getting abortions, just from getting safe ones. And someone I’ve not had the chance to link to in a long time, MahaBarbara on “What If Banks, Not Abortion Clinics, Needed Buffer Zones?”

Have you ever wondered what these signs mean?: In short, the higher the number, the more dangerous it could be.

I’ve said it before: In areas where schools push the high school start time back, student traffic accidents dropped 70%. Oh yeah, and their grades improved.

Have you read this one yet?: It’s been making the rounds, just want to make sure everybody’s seen it.

And finally: A gun safety ad that doesn’t involve a made up tragedy.

I’m not actually an optimist, but I play one on the Internet

The problem with the unexpected is that, well, it’s unexpected.

A decade ago, some guy was running for Senate in Illinois as a Democrat. I’m not sure anybody thought he had a chance — after all, he’d already lost in a bid for a seat in the House — until the unexpected happened. In this case, details about the divorce of the front running Republican from his very pretty actress wife happened to be disclosed by the courts to the Chicago Tribune. And the details regarding his sex life were absolutely devastating.

The end result of this *ahem* unfortunate turn of events is that the Republican candidate was replaced by someone deemed “more electable,” and the underdog Democrat went on to win a seat in the Senate. Just a few years later, that man went on to become President of the United States.

So, when Serious People say that a Democrat’s only shot at winning is “a Republican screwup“, remember that stranger things have happened.

A quick break: To bring you a metric ton of NSA and NSAreform” and Ed Snowden and NSA related items.

And, In Closing: on the Class of 2014; someone noticed; given up; most popular Google searches by state; and ironic photos.

Shorties Academy

One last thing on Microbiology: We have perfectly good vaccines that prevent deadly diseases. Use them!

Freakin NSA: please, help yourself to the links.

Can you feel the love tonight: A wolf falls in love.

This is apparently a thing: Maybe I should have waited until Caturday, but heck, enjoy some Catios.

TIL: Anderson Cooper is the son of Gloria Vanderbilt — which means he is of Old Money. And that’s not even the most interesting thing about him. He was a model as a boy, and a CIA intern for a couple summers.

Radley is Back: And he reminds us that cops (and others) have no expectation of privacy in a public place.

Politics as Usual: Words of wisdom for Republicans and Democrats.

Study proves fruits and vegetables are good for you: duh.

Let’s end happy: A nice news story with a happy ending and a pretty picture.

Yet More Things I Learned This Semester

Yes, the semester is almost over and that means it’s time to share a few choice thoughts.

In General:

  • There are people who are willing to wait for a spot 100 feet closer to the building, even in nice weather. In the meantime, I’ve parked in the next lot over, locked my car, walked to the building, and made it to the 3rd floor while That Guy is still waiting for an ever-so-slightly closer parking spot.
  • You’d be surprised how many people don’t show up to class regularly and still expect to do well in that class.
  • Sorry, I already knew that time management is important.
  • Cleaning staff never notice graffiti on the back of a bathroom stall door.

In Spanish:

  • Spanish has two verbs that translate “to be.” Use one to ask “What kind of person is Juan” and the other to ask “How is Juan”. Use one to ask “Where is Maria” and the other to ask “Where is Maria from”. Use the wrong one, and you may well say “Teresa is boring” instead of “Teresa is bored.” Teresa would be understandably upset.
  • It’s alarmingly easy to mix up the verbs “to go” and “to see“.
  • You can do a lot with cognates. The one thing you can’t do is be sure you understand the correct thing.

In Microbiology:

  • Not only can viruses infect bacteria, they can accidentally take bacterial genetic material to the next bacterium when they leave.
  • The entire family of Penicillin related drugs works by pulling out the “molecular nails” that bacteria use to build cell walls. Resistant bacteria have an enzyme that breaks up the “nail-puller.” Viruses don’t have cell walls, and that’s why these drugs don’t effect them.
  • Look, you’re never ever going to wash every single germ off your hands. What’s more, you wouldn’t want to. The germs that normally live there help keep “opportunists” — that’s bad-guy germs — from setting up shop. So for pity sake, stop using that damned anti-bacterial soap.

In Anatomy:

  • If you are trying to remember a whole bunch of acronyms (say, hormone names), you are better off memorizing the long version. Otherwise the “alphabet soup” will drive you mad. Besides, often the long version tells you what the darn thing does!
  • How much carbon dioxide you have in your body determines a lot more things than the amount of oxygen. It effects your respiration rate, the pH of your blood, and more.
  • The first thing your body does with any carbohydrate you eat is turn it into a simple sugar. So, should a diabetic be eating a lot of pasta?

There you go. Now let’s have some In Closing: GOP is upset that their Nevada organization doesn’t want to keep fighting a lost battle; on debt; it does at least put a roof over head; I wish I could refute this; even Mitt “Rmoney” thinks that the minimum wage is too low!; death penalty follow up; Subway CEO tosses owner operators under the bus; the ACLU on NSA reform and letting cops hack your computer.