Friday, August 1, 2014

If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you're a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind. ~ Kurt Vonnegut

The cats are at the vet. Benjamin threw up Tuesday night. Not a happy event but one which I'd planned for in my mind. I packed and labeled their food, blankets, a toy for Maggie, and bottled water that night. [Cats, especially males, have tiny urinary tracts and shouldn't drink hard water; normally they get PUR filtered water but it's easier for the vet to have small bottles of Aquafina.] I belted their carriers into the backseat and wrote instructions for the vet. They're staying there until both are cleared to return.

I'm not worried about Maggie; Benjamin is a difficult cat so it was harder to get his medicine down. I expect we just didn't kill all of the bug in him. Although I dealt with it calmly it's taken me a couple of days to regain equanimity. More steam cleaning in my future but not the entire house. I'll deal with it perhaps tomorrow. The vet has it worse; they had to sedate him to draw blood after he drew some blood of his own.

The dishwasher is still unfixed; the water utility came out one more time to fix the sprinkler they turned out of alignment; they are working on (last I knew) fixing the incorrect billing for the new meter; I contacted the irrigation people for the fourth time to come fix the earth around the drains they put in; and I wonder whether there is a competent person left on the planet. I passed by an article detailing the reasons for the spectacular failure of the health care web site without reading it; I did that work for over thirty years and don't need that education. If engineers built things to the same standards that the hopefuls that enter the world of software do, we'd be living in rubble.

To be fair, the irrigation guy is jerking me around so I'm not sure he counts. That's a long story; short version is that he's an asshole and I'm still considering talking to his employer. It's a hard choice to make because what I have to tell them isn't good and he'll feel the hit for sure. He's also relatively new so his employment could be in jeopardy. If he opens his mouth to me one more time when they come to do the work, he's toast. DNFWM, especially after the month I've had.

It's About the Lying | The Intercept

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Bernie Buzz: Corporate Deserters | Senator Bernie Sanders

The Bernie Buzz

Take the poll: Are corporations paying their fair share in federal taxes?

Corporate Deserters

One out of four American corporations already pay no federal income tax. Now, more and more of them have come up with a new scheme to dodge U.S. taxes by moving their headquarters overseas. Bernie filed legislation to ban those businesses from receiving U.S. government contracts. "I have a message for these corporate deserters: You can't be an American company only when you want corporate welfare from American taxpayers or you want lucrative contracts from the federal government." The giant drug maker AbbVie made no bones about the fact that ducking U.S. taxes is why it hopes to take over its European rival. Walgreen's, the giant drugstore chain launched at a Chicago storefront, may move its corporate headquarters to Switzerland to avoid U.S. taxes. They are part of a growing corporate trend. Bernie had a word for it. "It's treason," he said.

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Medical MistakesMedical Mistakes

Preventable medical errors in hospitals are the third leading cause of death in America – killing as many as 440,000 people per year, according to The Journal of Patient Safety. Only heart disease and cancer kill more Americans. "This is a problem that has not received anywhere near the attention that it deserves," Bernie said at a hearing he chaired last Thursday. James Warren of the New York Daily News wrote about what he called the "low-key, measured but damning two-hour exploration of endemic human, corporate and systems failures."

WatchWatch hearing highlights

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Extremely FrighteningExtremely Frightening

The EPA wants to curb power plant emissions to fight global warming. Bernie said Republicans critics are ignoring the scientific evidence. "There is no more debate," he said. "The overwhelming majority of scientists say climate change is real, that it is caused by human activity and that it already is causing devastating problems around the world. If we do not get our act together the situation will only get worse. That we have a major political party rejecting science is extremely frightening."

ReadWatch hearing highlights

A Success StoryA Success Story

Major television network Sunday shows discussed climate change more during the first half of this year than they did during all of 2013, Media Matters reported on Monday. Bernie last year had asked TV executives why there had been "shockingly little discussion" about global warming on Meet the Press and other Sunday shows. "This is a step in the right direction," he said of the latest report by the media watchdog.

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Must Reads

NewsBanks Cash In on Inversion Deals Intended to Elude Taxes
By Andrew Ross Sorkin for The New York Times

NewsThe Rise of the Non-Working Rich
By Robert Reich for The Huffington Post

NewsThe Health Care Waiting Game
By Elizabeth Rosenthal of The New York Times

NewsAt $1,000 A Pill, Hepatitis C Drug Sovaldi Rattles Medicaid Programs
By Bruce Jaspen for Forbes

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Thursday FTSidebar

10 Questions for Paul Ryan | The Caucus | NYT

Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin gained a national profile -- and a spot on the 2012 Republican presidential ticket -- by taking an aggressive approach to budget-cutting. But now the House Budget Committee chairman is aiming to broaden his appeal, as well as that of his party.

Should Obama Fire His CIA Chief for Misleading the Public About the Senate Spying Scandal? | Mother Jones

The facts have come out--well, in a way--and, it turns out, Brennan has been proved wrong. As McClatchy News reported on Thursday morning, a CIA inspector general investigation has determined that CIA employees did improperly access the computers used by Senate intelligence committee investigators.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks with Katie Couric | SCOTUSblog

In an exclusive interview, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg talks with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric about everything from retirement to her jabots and the Court's recent decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

USDA overhauls poultry inspections to reduce foodborne illness | Al Jazeera America

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is overhauling poultry plant inspections for the first time in more than 50 years, a move it says could result in 5,000 fewer foodborne illnesses each year.

CFPB Report: Typical Overdraft Situation Is Comparable To Small-Dollar Loan With 17,000% Interest Rate | Consumerist

If you're one of the hundreds of millions of consumers who use a debit card you've likely found yourself on the receiving end of an overdraft fee when your account balance just wasn't quite enough to make a desired purchase. While consumers might not necessarily question the occasional overdraft fee, a new report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau puts the fees into a disconcerting perspective.

Rental Car Companies Asked GM To Look Into Ignition-Related Crashes Years Before Recall | Consumerist

It's becoming harder and harder for GM execs to claim that the company was largely unaware of the problems with the Chevy Cobalt and other vehicles with an ignition problem that has resulted in at least 13 deaths, dozens of accidents and the long-delayed recall of millions of cars. A new report shows that car rental companies have been telling GM to look into the issue since at least 2005.

Only 1 Out 12 Small Cars Gets "Good" Rating In New Crash Test Results | Consumerist

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (the place that crashes cars into walls for science) recently ran a dozen popular small cars, including the Chevy Volt, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mini Cooper Countryman, and the Mazda 5, through its "small overlap" front crash test, where only the front corner of the vehicle is involved in a collision. While several of the tiny cars had okay results, only one earned an overall "good" rating from the IIHS [four received "poor" ratings].

Leaving Your Child In A Hot Car: "If You Think It Cannot Happen To You, You're Wrong" | Consumerist

If you want to make your voice heard, you can sign a White House petition by to stop child deaths in hot cars. The petition seeks action from the Obama administration to make such innovations possible, by authorizing the U.S. Department of Transportation to provide financing for research and development of technology to alert drivers.

Hillary Clinton | Political Irony

I was recently invited to attend a private event, a live interview with Hillary Clinton followed by her answering questions from the audience.

I had to think about it. I was never a huge fan of Bill Clinton's presidency, and Hillary was a full partner in that.

A thoughtful piece.

At Least My Hospital Isn't Being Bombed | The Nation  Favorites

I'm in the hospital as I write this, getting ready to be cut open for some kind of intestinal surgery. I feel stressed, a little scared, yet given the news in the world, oddly grateful. I'm grateful that this clean facility, and its overworked but exceptionally kind staff, is not in the process of being bombed by the Israeli Defense Forces.

The threat of sanctions worked against Israel in 1956 -- and it can work again | Mondoweiss

In 1957, President Eisenhower addressed the US public:

"Should a nation which attacks and occupies foreign territory in the face of United Nations disapproval be allowed to impose conditions on its own withdrawal? If we agreed that armed attack can properly achieve the purposes of the assailant, then I fear we will have turned back the clock of international order."

Presbyterian Church votes to divest holdings to sanction Israel | The Guardian [21 June 2014]

Most prominent US religious group voted to sell church stock in companies whose products Israel uses in Palestinian territories

No, National Parks Don't Cause Problems For Border Control | ThinkProgress

The House decided not to vote on its controversial border bill due to lack of support Thursday, a move that means that the public lands along the border are, at least for now, safe from the interference the bill would have allowed.

This company sends safe and effective green cleaning products straight to your door | TreeHugger

Nyt Liv aims to make finding and buying safer and more sustainable cleaning products simple and easy.

We want to recycle more; we just need more places to do it | TreeHugger

Overall, the beverage container recycling rate in the United States sits at 42 percent. Yet, recent surveys by PepsiCo show that more than 80 percent of Americans say they would recycle beverage containers at retail and public locations if bins were available.

What if politicians talked about fracking like this? | TreeHugger  Video

But, just as news breaks that the government is pushing ahead with plans to invite more firms to apply for fracking permits, Greenpeace has teamed up with long-time sonic trouble maker(s) Cassette Boy to remix British Prime Minister David Cameron for what they are billing as "his most shocking speech."

L.A. Using Only a Fraction of its Rooftop Solar Potential | ReWire | KCET

Los Angeles has installed only two percent of the rooftop solar that's feasible in the city, and raising that figure to just ten percent would create 47,000 new jobs. That's according to a new report from UCLA's Luskin Center for the Environment and Environmental Defense Fund.

Health Thursday (Jul 31)

Psychotherapist borrows horse sense for book on human behavior | LA Times

Psychotherapists have plumbed all sorts of relationships in their quest to understand and improve human communication, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before they studied horse sense. Herd behavior, changing habits, building trust -- it seems that people have a lot to learn from Equus ferus caballus.

Scientists discover genetic marker that predicts suicide risk | Al Jazeera America

Scientists have discovered a genetic mutation linked to the human stress response that may be able to determine a person's likelihood of committing suicide.

Retired Coal Miner To EPA: 'We're Dying, Literally Dying For You To Help Us' | ThinkProgress

"Instead of switching from coal to natural gas or to nuclear, if states switch from coal to non-combustible sources to renewable sources, they will actually get there faster and it's better for climate change and it's better for the air," Saberi said. "It's almost like a win, win, win, but somehow that gets lost in the discussion."

Five a day will do, larger study of fruit and veg intake suggests | The Guardian

Those who despaired of ever being able to eat seven portions of fruit and vegetables a day, as suggested by a team of scientists earlier this year, can probably relax.

Bondi fitness scheme turns the tide on treating mental illness | The Guardian

A groundbreaking "lifestyle medicine programme" developed on the surfers' paradise of Bondi Beach in Australia will be used by the NHS to improve the scandalously neglected physical health of people with serious mental illness.

Monoamine oxidase A: Biomarker for postpartum depression | ScienceDaily

Postpartum mood swings are correlated with high monoamine oxidase A binding, a study shows.

Traditional treatment for depression is not always the answer | The Guardian

In the face of a Tory call for cuts to benefits for those who go without treatment, it is important to know how brutal some methods can be and why refusing them can be valid

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

NIH: Autism Architecture; NIMH Twitter Chat on PMDD

Autism Architecture: Unrolling the Genetic Blueprint | NIH Director's Blog

0We know that a combination of genetic and environmental factors influence a child's risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is a diverse group of developmental brain conditions that disrupt language, communication, and social interaction. Still, there remain a great many unknowns, including the crucial issues of what proportion of ASD risk is due to genes and what sorts of genes are involved.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder  Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

There's a less common and more severe form of PMS called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) that causes significant suffering. Recently, PMDD was recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5), as a mental disorder. To learn more about PMDD, please join NIMH for a Twitter chat on Thursday, August 7, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. EDT. NIMH expert Peter Schmidt, M.D., chief of the Section on Behavioral Endocrinology, will be on hand to discuss PMDD and answer related questions. Please use the hashtag #NIMHchats to participate.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tuesday FTSidebar

Eric Holder's Missing Defendants | John Cassidy | The New Yorker

On Monday, Eric Holder, the Attorney General, announced that Citigroup had agreed to pay seven billion dollars to settle a federal investigation into its packaging and marketing of mortgage-backed securities in the run-up to the 2008 financial crisis.

ISPs tell government that congestion is "not a problem," impose data caps anyway | Ars Technica

Shocking government research also finds Internet users don't want data caps.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Tells Women Not To Laugh In Public | ThinkProgress

Take note, women: if you chuckled in public at this headline, you are apparently bringing about the collapse of civilization.

At Aspen GOP Governors Forum, It's Still Your Grandfather's Republican Party | The Nation

You never know what might happen when a bunch of Republican governors get together to discuss policy and politics. Well, actually you do kinda know: that they'll make asses out of themselves, and at great length.

God gave Alabama coal, so EPA can't tell us not to burn it, state officials say | The Raw Story

State officials urged Alabama residents to pray for divine intervention to block proposed environmental regulations for coal-fired plants, saying such policies violate God's laws.

Did Hillary Clinton Just Join the Neocons on Iran Policy? | The Nation

Did Hillary Clinton just throw in with the neoconservatives and the Israel lobby on the key sticking point in the Iran-P5+1 talks--namely, whether and how much Iran may enrich uranium on its own soil?

Don't believe anything you read at Natural News | Grist

Last week, Mike Adams, who calls himself the Health Ranger and runs the site Natural News, posted a truly insane article which seems to advocate violence against scientists and journalists who support genetic engineering.

Obama Opens Door To More Dirty Drilling In Atlantic | Earthjustice  Video

The testing alone would injure an estimated 138,000 marine mammals from 34 species, according the administration's own estimates.

Quantum Sleeping Beauty and the Multiverse | Sean Carroll

Hidden in my papers with Chip Sebens on Everettian quantum mechanics is a simple solution to a fun philosophical problem with potential implications for cosmology: the quantum version of the Sleeping Beauty Problem.

Galaxies That Are Too Big To Fail, But Fail Anyway | Sean Carroll

Dark matter exists, but there is still a lot we don't know about it. Presumably it's some kind of particle, but we don't know how massive it is, what forces it interacts with, or how it was produced. On the other hand, there's actually a lot we do know about the dark matter.

Sugar, Science, and Your Summer BBQ | The Equation | UCS

With the FDA's comment period on proposed changes to the Nutrition Facts label--including the labeling of added sugar--coming to a close August 1, I find myself reflecting a bit on the sugar many of us have been consuming over the course of the summer picnic season.

Federal Government Would Allow Exploding Rail Cars To Keep Rolling For 3 To 6 Years | Earthjustice

This week, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed long-overdue rules to improve the safety of tank cars used to ship highly volatile Bakken crude oil and other hazardous fuels across America.

Technology Tuesday (Jul 29)

How Project Morpheus Works | HowStuffWorks

Virtual reality (VR) headsets have been around since the 1960s, and as you would expect, they have evolved and gotten better over the years. But they really haven't caught on as viable consumer products.

The U.S. Economy Is A Casualty Of NSA Surveillance Programs | io9

Ever since Edward Snowden revealed the true extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance methods, the public debate has focused mostly on issues of privacy and national security. But new evidence shows that the fallout from the NSA backlash is wider than we thought, and could cost U.S. companies billions.

Kill switch in cell phones could save consumers more than $3.4 billion annually | ScienceDaily

A new study shows consumer savings from the Kill Switch legislation exceed initial projections and now points to well over $3 billion. This savings to consumers comes at the expense of insurance and wireless industry profits.

Ergo: will never happen.

Self-cooling solar cells have greater power output, last longer | TreeHugger

Researchers have developed a new coating that allows solar cells to cool themselves instead of requiring the use of coolants or ventilation, which can be water and energy intensive. Not only that, but the coating boosts power output and extends the life of the technology too.

Connected devices have huge security holes: study | PhysOrg

The surge Web-connected devices--TVs, refrigerators, thermostats, door locks and more--has opened up huge opportunities for cyberattacks because of weak security, researchers said Thursday.

Why does my old iPhone seem to get slower before a new release? | The Guardian

Google Trends shows a spike in searches from people simply for 'iPhone slow' the moment Apple releases its latest model

The Surgeon General's Call to Action to Prevent Skin Cancer

Dept. of Health & Human Services

Skin cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States, is a major public health problem that requires immediate action, according to a new Call to Action released today by the U.S. Surgeon General.

Even though most skin cancers can be prevented, rates of skin cancer, including melanoma, are increasing in the United States. Nearly 5 million people in the U.S. are treated for skin cancer every year, at an average annual cost of $8.1 billion. It is also one of the most common types of cancer among U.S. teens and young adults.

A key message in today's report is that although people with lighter skin are at higher risk, anyone can get skin cancer--and it can be disfiguring, even deadly. Over the last three decades, the number of Americans who have had skin cancer is estimated to be higher than the number for all other cancers combined.

Read more about today's announcement.

NIH Research Matters: Depression & vision loss; cool temperature alters human fat; isolated cancer cells may lead to personalized treatments

NIH Research Matters banner

Therapist working with a patient who has low vision.Preventing Depression From Age-Related Vision Loss
Depression is a common risk for people who've lost vision from age-related macular degeneration. A type of therapy called behavior activation can cut this depression risk in half.

Brown fat in neck and upper back region.Cool Temperature Alters Human Fat and Metabolism
Men exposed to cool temperatures for a month had an increase in brown fat along with changes in metabolism. The finding hints at new approaches to conditions such as obesity and diabetes.

Tumor cells.Isolated Cancer Cells May Lead to Personalized Treatments
Scientists used a novel microchip-based method to isolate and grow tumor cells circulating in blood. The technique provides an important step toward personalizing cancer therapy.

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Sunday, July 27, 2014


Things are moving along here. So far no evidence of a recurrence. Maggie is resting on my chest as I type. She's bored because the new cat toys have not arrived. Only so much fun to be had climbing the new scratching post.

The housekeeper came Friday to finish off the items of mild concern, unpack the new vacuum, and do a passable job washing the dishes. The guys can't come until later this week to fix the dishwasher, waiting for the parts to come in.

The recent FDA bulletins are using the original pictures, which means that in some RSS readers they might look wonky. The FDA will sometimes include a very large picture and shrink it with CSS, which doesn't always work well outside the blog. No time or energy here to correct that for now.

This Vending Machine Takes Bottles And Gives Food To Stray Dogs In Exchange | Bored Panda  Pictures Video

30 Country Timelapse Tour of Europe | Twisted Sifter  Video