Thursday, October 23, 2014

Have no fear: Stan Stanart is here

I voted today. It was such a relief to find out that our presumptive county clerk is going to save America. The background of that sign is doom black.

Also, our presumptive lieutenant governor is going to secure the border so we can all rest easy. The line "I will secure the border" is no longer in the ad at the second link but I got to watch the original on TV so can attest he said it.

I didn't vote a straight ticket because I wanted the pleasure of selecting every candidate individually and picking the Green Party candidate when no Democrat was running. A lot of Republicans run unopposed (and without my vote).

Oddly, I didn't see signs for Democrats around the polling place. You couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting an Abbott sign but there were none for Wendy Davis. It is not beyond possible that someone stole them. Texas is an angry place.




It took a bit of work to get to the polls. Although things are peaceful here, adjusting to being alone all the time has me struggling with mood. The last session with FPO got canceled because I was watching the installation of the new security system for ES while she drove a friend to a medical procedure. He tested the system for half an hour and I couldn't hear myself think. But I'm making progress (see above). The only things I still can't do are write to SP (sorry about that) or watch the news. Someone text me when it's no longer a fucking nightmare. No sidebar post today; we'll see about tomorrow.




Assurances that Ebola isn't easy to catch or transmissible until symptoms appear don't explain why a doctor who had treated Ebola patients was not in self-imposed (or imposed) isolation. I realize he returned before the new guidelines were in place but come on. A new opportunity to learn from mistakes.




I hired a new lawn service today. I am irrepressibly hopeful this one will work out. The current people are perfectly nice and do show up (a plus) but they cut the lawn too short, had a big role in the demise of the gates (which were fixed the next day after the first attempt), and since they speak no English will go on doing as they have been. I doubt either problem can be addressed in any event. Service providers do what they are able; it's up to the consumer to decide whether that thing suits their needs. And fire them if not.

Really, though, what pushed me to dump them was the call from my bank this morning. Someone tried to use my credit card in Dallas and St. Louis. There's a remote chance it's due to a data breach at Target or Home Depot, but the smart money is on the local provider who uses this card to bill me and has little to no security. I called them today to fire them but no one returned my call. They'll call when the card fails to clear at the end of the month if they're still in business by then. No matter either way; I'm not calling them again.

The new guy is very nice and says frankly that they get a lot of business because they all speak English and they do show up. On a large job providers send a supervisor or crew chief who speaks English. I'm fine with that and the ones who don't have no trouble understanding when I bring them food and drinks and tell them they can use the restroom. The yard guys were the first time I've had an entirely non-English speaking crew. When we were working out a time for the new guy to come I said I was voting today. He asked about my politics. I said, "I'm a Democrat. I hope you won't hold that against me." He laughed. He said his wife is the political one (a devotee of Fox News it seems).

This chronology of data breaches is entertaining (not) and you can sign up for free credit monitoring from Home Depot here.




The biopsy was clean so I can wait until I make a new friend before scheduling the surgery. I'll need a ride to the hospital.

Health Thursday (Oct 23)


Credit: Christopher V. Carman and Roberta Martinelli, Harvard Medical School, BostonSnapshots of Life: Visualizing Blood Vessels | NIH Director's Blog
This might look a bit like a fish net, but what's actually caught in this image is the structure of the endothelium--the thin layer of cells lining your blood vessels that controls the flow of molecules in and out of the bloodstream. The red lines are the actin filaments that give each endothelial cell its shape, while the purple are proteins called cadherins.

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The Bizarre Thing That Happens Every Time You Drink A Soda | Prevention

If you drink a lot of soda, you may want to brace yourself--literally. Swallowing soft drinks may increase your risk for hip fractures or other bone issues, suggests new research in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.


The Natural Fix For Your Seasonal Depression | Prevention

Feeling blue or just down on yourself? Downing more produce could help.


Chemoprevention a hard sell but breast cancer experts believe it doesn't have to be | LA Times

If oncologist Larry Wickerham ruled the world, every woman would know her chances of getting breast cancer, and those at high risk would be offered a drug to prevent the disease.


Coping with anxiety: Newsmen share strategies, including meditation | LA Times

When Dan Harris had a panic attack while reading the news on "Good Morning America," he decided he had to make some changes in his life. "My panic attack was not only seen by my colleagues but, according to the Nielsen ratings, over 5 million viewers," he said.


The Habit That May Lead to HPV | Men's Health

In a new study from the Moffitt Cancer Center, men who reported consuming the most alcohol--just over 2½ drinks a day--had a 13 percent increased risk (*) for contracting any kind of human papillomavirus than light drinkers. The big boozers' risk of infection for specific cancer-causing strains was also 35 percent higher.


The Terrible Consequences Of Not Talking About Your Balls | Men's Health

The most humbling moment of my life happened on a Friday night when I was 10 years old. Earlier that day at school, I'd noticed a sharp pain around my groin region. More specifically, my testicles.

A friend who went to the doctor for Viagra happened to mention during the exam that the "left one" was sore. Testicular cancer (totally treatable and he's fully recovered, albeit one short). Don't be the guy who waits too long.



The Scary Way Painkillers Could Hijack Your Blood | Men's Health

Are you popping dangerous pills? Some kinds of painkillers may raise the risk of a serious blood clotting condition, finds new research from Bassett Medical Center.

In the study, people who took certain nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were 80 percent more likely to develop venous thromboembolism (VTE).


Pill Identification Tool | WebMD

Pill Identifier | Medscape

Check to ensure you got the right medication for new prescriptions and when one changes shape, color, or imprint (even when you know it's a new dosage).



Amyloid plaques
New insight on why people with Down syndrome invariably develop Alzheimer's disease | MedicalXpress

A new study by researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute reveals the process that leads to changes in the brains of individuals with Down syndrome--the same changes that cause dementia in Alzheimer's patients. The findings, published in Cell Reports, have important implications for the development of treatments that can prevent damage in neuronal connectivity and brain function in Down syndrome and other neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative conditions, including Alzheimer's disease.



Finally: A missing link between vitamin D and prostate cancer | MedicalXpress

A University of Colorado Cancer Center study recently published in the journal Prostate offers compelling evidence that inflammation may be the link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer. Specifically, the study shows that the gene GDF-15, known to be upregulated by Vitamin D, is notably absent in samples of human prostate cancer driven by inflammation.


US ranks last among wealthy nations in access to health care | MedicalXpress

The U.S. health care system ranks dead last compared to other industrialized nations when it comes to affordability and patient access, according to a new survey.


Gold starHighly effective new anti-cancer drug shows few side effects in mice | MedicalXpress

A new drug, known as OTS964, can eradicate aggressive human lung cancers transplanted into mice, according to a report in Science Translational Medicine.



'I'm scared I'm going to die' | Machines Like Us

Axl Goode recently discovered that he was sitting only three seats away from Ebola patient Amber Vinson while flying from Cleveland to Dallas on October 13th. Here is his courageous story.


Tuberculosis epidemic worse than previously thought, says WHO | Al Jazeera America

While public health efforts have resulted in lower mortality and incidence rates, a "staggering" number of people still die from the curable disease each year, the UN's health agency said in a statement accompanying a new report on tuberculosis (TB).


When Fighting Ebola, PPE Practice Makes Perfect | Under the Microscope | Popular Science

PPE is anything but easy to use and requires training & practice to be done perfectly


Like Bats In West Africa, Do Rats In The Big Apple Pose A Hidden Zoonotic Threat? | Under the Microscope | Popular Science

A recent investigation explores rats and the risk for zoonotic infections in New York City

Wednesday FTSidebar has two must-read favorites, good news, crazy news, a smackdown, and Star Wars nostalgia

Minion reading


Three Top Scientology Officials Corner Ex-Scientologist, Berate Him at the Airport. Insane... | 22 Words Video
Most religious organizations leave you alone if you walk away from their faith. They may ignore you or even disown you, but they won't actually chase you down and intimidate you.

Most religions aren't anything like Scientology, though.



GifApparently, An Oxford Education Isn't What It Used To Be | Lawyers, Guns & Money

Charles C.W. Cooke is very upset that people who oppose antidiscrimation laws are compared to people who oppose antidiscrimination laws:



Leaks in Michael Brown Death Investigation | TalkLeft

I haven't been following the Michael Brown case lately, but I am interested in the issue of law enforcement leaks that favor Officer Wilson at a time when the grand jury is considering whether to charge him.


Thumbs upRemarks by the President on the U.S. Government's Ebola Response and the Shooting Incident in Canada | The White House

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I wanted to give you an update I just received from the team that's been working day and night to make sure that the American people are safe and that we're dealing effectively with not just the Ebola case here, but the outbreak and epidemic that's taking place in West Africa.



Canada's Coverage of the Ottawa Shootings Put American Cable News to Shame | Mother Jones Video

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation today gave a master class in calm, credible breaking news reporting.


Minion EvilMan Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through "Duck Dynasty" Is About to Be Texas' Second-in-Command | Mother Jones

As a Texas state senator, Dan Patrick has conducted himself in a manner consistent with the shock jock he once was. Patrick--who is now the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor--has railed against everything from separation of church and state to Mexican coyotes who supposedly speak Urdu.



Open bookWhy Oregon is about to be the poster child for how to legalize and regulate marijuana | Alternet | The Raw Story

At the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Portland last month, the atmosphere was that of a winning NASCAR pit crew during the victory lap. Bullish is too weak a word to characterize the 700 vape pen purveyors and cannabis attorneys in attendance (they'd come from as far as Alabama and India). The vibe was bullish but congenial. Inclusive, not cutthroat. On Day Two, an attendee was doing tai chi in the Portland Convention Center hallway in between speakers.



Trying | Matt Gemmell Picture

The University of Glasgow has some magnificent buildings, but The Boyd Orr Building (known affectionately and universally as the Boy George) is not among them. Indeed, it's widely accepted to be the ugliest building in the university.


For Bhutan, it Takes a Community to Save the Snow Leopard | NatGeo Favorites Picture Graphic

The snow leopard, like most of the world's big cats, survives by keeping a low profile. Yet its secretive nature and penchant for living among some of the steepest, remotest mountain ranges on the planet have not saved the cat from human intrusions throughout most of its range.


Teen killed in New Orleans believed in the power of food justice and gardens | Brentin Mock | Grist Favorites Picture Video

I met George Carter when he was 10 years old, at a banquet where his organization, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, was receiving an award. The "Rethinkers" are young people who came together in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, to ensure that students' voices would be heard in the rebuilding of public schools.


CNN's Jake Tapper Asks the Right Question on Climate Change in Florida Governor's Debate | The Equation | UCS

Too often, journalists ask politicians questions about climate change that only reinforce polarized and misleading messages about climate science. That didn't happen last night.


Scientists use drones to monitor killer whales | TreeHugger Picture Video

Drones have been used in a variety of ways to observe and protect wildlife, from looking out for poachers in Africa to capturing video of giant dolphin pods on the move. Now, through a partnership between the Vancouver Aquarium and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), drones have been used to monitor protected Northern Resident killer whales and the endangered Southern Resident species for the first time.


The Hard-to-Tell Story of the High School Classroom | Math With Bad Drawings

Now and then, an article lands in my inbox, promising that some technology will remake the classroom. Our schools, apparently, are as outdated as car-phones or medical leeches.


Happy facePresident Obama Designates San Gabriel Mountains National Monument | ENS

WASHINGTON, DC, October 21, 2014 (ENS) -- President Barack Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish 540 square miles of national forest land in the San Gabriel Mountains of southern California as a national monument, permanently protecting the popular outdoor recreation destination.

With this designation, President Obama has now protected more than 260 million acres of land and water, nearly three times more than any other President since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906.



Original Star Wars movie models revealed | Machines Like Us Picture

Before the days of computer graphics, film industry model makers constructed incredibly detailed, hand-made spaceship models for science fiction films. These models helped shape our collective vision of the future, and continue to do so today.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday Whimsy

Dancing Minion




Squirrel adopted by cat learns to purr Video


This Extraordinary Compilation of Animal Rescues Is Like a Best-of for the Human Race | 22 Words Video


8-Year-Old Gets to Suit up for High School Football Game, Scores the Best Touchdown Ever... | 22 Words Favorites Video


Higgs Boson | xkcd


Watch This Hilarious Video of a Cat Trying To Apologize to His Sibling | Distractify Video


The 22 Most Unbelievably Colorful Places On Earth | Distractify Picture


45 Pieces of Urban Art Making The World More Beautiful | Distractify Picture


28 Teeny Tiny Wild Mice | Bored Panda Picture


Bernie Buzz: Democracy vs. Oligarchy | Senator Bernie Sanders


The Bernie   Buzz

Poll: Should Congress be able to limit corporate spending for political candidates?

Democracy vs. Oligarchy

The Koch Brothers and other billionaires are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into negative campaigns. Corporate campaign cash, once outlawed in America, is tilting the playing field. In California, Chevron shelled out at least $3 million to buy friends at city hall in Richmond, a Bay Area city that's home to a giant petroleum refinery. Untraceable "dark money" is being spent elsewhere. Voter ID laws are keeping people away from polling places. Are we going to let them get away with it? Experts say 60 percent of Americans will not vote on Nov. 4. Eighty percent of low-income workers won't vote. "That's not democracy. That's oligarchy," said Bernie. "We must educate, organize, overturn Citizens United and move toward public funding of elections."

ReadRead more about Richmond, California


WatchWatch Bernie discuss Chevron's attempt to buy a municipal election


ReadRead about a GAO study for Bernie on voter ID laws




Save the Postal ServiceSave the Postal Service

The Postal Service in January plans to shut down as many as 82 mail processing plants, eliminate up to 15,000 decent-paying jobs and end overnight delivery for first-class mail. Bernie and a bipartisan majority in the Senate want a one-year moratorium on the cuts to give Congress time to enact a comprehensive postal reform bill.


WatchWatch Bernie on The Ed Show




Income Inequality in AmericaIncome Inequality in America

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen sounded the alarm on economic inequality. While the central bank leader recognized the problem, she didn't say what the Fed should do about it. Bernie had a suggestion. "The Fed must act as boldly to rescue the disappearing middle class as it did when it bailed out too-big-to-fail banks. The Fed has got to demand that big banks significantly increase affordable loans to small businesses to create jobs," he said.


ReadRead more




Generic Drug PricesGeneric Drug Prices

Continuing their campaign to expose steep spikes in generic drug prices, Bernie and Rep. Elijah E. Cummings called on the Obama administration to act "immediately and aggressively." They wrote to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell about "alarming" price increases for the once-affordable generic drugs. The two lawmakers had earlier demanded that top executives at 14 pharmaceutical companies explain price increases. Their answers are due later this month.


ReadRead more




War in the Middle EastWar in the Middle East

The self-styled Islamic State in Iraq and Syria will not be defeated unless countries in the region with the most at stake become deeply involved in the effort - including the use of combat troops. Saudi Arabia, for example, has the fourth largest military budget in the world. It's army is at least seven times greater that the ISIS forces. The U.S. and our allies must support the fight against ISIS, but Bernie voiced concern about the U.S. being dragged into a "perpetual war" in the Mideast that would divert resources from priorities for working families in America.


WatchWatch Bernie on CNN's 'State of the Union'



Must Reads

NewsWhat's behind the huge price jump for some generic drugs?


News$10.10 Minimum Wage Would Save The U.S. Government $7.6 Billion A Year


NewsThe Walmart Heirs Are Worth More Than Everyone in Your City Combined


NewsInside the Koch Brothers' Toxic Empire



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