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New York Times endorsement cop-out
Senator Warren is a gifted storyteller.” — duh

Why news organizations should not be public companies
Alden’s strategy of acquiring struggling local newsrooms and stripping them of assets has built the personal wealth of the hedge fund’s investors.” — a mirror image of what Tribune did when it was a media conglomerate.

Republicans and Democrats are bathing in the same water
Democrats, too, have made up their minds, and that would be equally upsetting but for the mountain of actual evidence on which their judgment rests.” — Sometimes I feel like I’m standing between dimensions.

They know who you are and you can’t stop them
When people can be identified and their data correlated at a speed and scale previously unseen, we need new rules.” — I’ll start worrying when ads online stop asking me to buy what I just purchased.

Intentional Communities… as opposed to unintentional communities?
According to Sky Blue… ” — Yes, there is a person named Sky Blue. The article was the best ad for nut butters I’ve ever read.

America’s parallel universes are taught in school
The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation’s deepest partisan divides.” — Maybe… just maybe if they taught the facts and leave the nuances for college our kids would learn more.

The return of SARS
The number of confirmed cases of the new coronavirus—part of a class of pathogens that can cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to the deadly severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS—has more than tripled to 218 cases, according to Chinese state media and health authorities.” — 218 cases? Let me know when it’s 10,000. Then I’ll worry.

I wish I understood monetary policy
Global banks’ use of funding from markets rather than from customer deposits has grown rapidly in recent years, mostly in the form of short-term funding, which was a central problem of the 2008 financial crisis, according to a body that monitors global financial risks.” — I need a bigger mattress I think.

Were we better off when our life expectancy was 46?
The bad news is that the aged are too often degraded as irrelevant, useless, burdensome, ugly if not grotesque—or, not to put too fine a point on it, a pain in the butt.” — So I’ve got that to look forward to.

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Seems the entire world is exploding

Under reported are volcanic eruptions in Alaska, Mexico, and Peru that occurred prior to the eruption in the Philippines. All unexpectedly started spewing hot ash almost 5 miles into the air.

Where do you hide from an exploding planet? HEY… ELON MUSK… get that rocket to Mars ready NOW!!

A volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands spewed ash into flight paths, prompting a warning to pilots by the National Weather Service.

A volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands spewed ash into flight paths, prompting a warning to pilots by the National Weather Service.

Shishaldin Volcano erupted at 5 a.m. Tuesday, the Alaska Volcano Observatory announced, and sent up an initial ash cloud to 19,000 feet. Clouds initially obscured the mountain, but satellite imagery confirmed the ash cloud, U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Hans Schwaiger said.

A volcano in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands spewed ash into flight paths, prompting a warning to pilots by the National Weather Service.

Anchorage Daily News

Mexico’s Popocatépetl volcano burst to life on Thursday in a spectacular gush of lava and clouds of ash that hurled incandescent rock about 20,000 feet into the sky.

The dramatic explosion of the active stratovolcano, a little over 40 miles southeast of Mexico City, was captured on video by Mexico’s National Center for Disaster Prevention, CENAPRED.

NPR.org

Explosive activity continues. Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Buenos Aires warned about a volcanic ash plume that rose up to estimated 24000 ft (7300 m) altitude or flight level 240 and is moving at 15 kts in S direction.

volcanodiscovery.com
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Interesting video on the state of modern media

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Republicans are truly responsible for Trump’s impeachment

For those with short memories or who were born after 1980 don’t remember or were never taught the details of President Clinton’s impeachment back in 1998. The short version is that Republicans had a strong dislike of Clinton, investigated him for things that had nothing to do with his presidency, and finally impeached him on one count of perjury and obstruction of justice. His impeachment happened ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY ALONG PARTY LINES. This is why President Trump was impeached yesterday.

Did President Clinton perjure himself and obstruct justice? Yes. But, would he have committed those crimes if the independent counsel’s fishing expedition never occurred? No. The only reason he was impeached is because during the course of the investigation it was uncovered that Clinton was getting “serviced” by a White House intern. He lied about it and tried to hide it and committed crimes in the process.

The republicans at the time, and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, should have stopped the investigation once it careened out of control and away from it’s original mandate. But, they didn’t because of their strong dislike for the man and they never could let go of the 1996 election where Clinton beat President George H.W. Bush.

The impeachment of President Clinton has been in the back of the Democrats’ minds ever since. Along comes President Trump. Brash, boastful, unapologetic, and most importantly a REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT. Add to that the fact that he defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, not by the popular vote, but by an Electoral College win.

So here we are once again. One political party cheapens the process of impeachment and 20 years later the other party makes it worse. None of this is good for the republic and neither side is abiding by their oath of office to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…”.

When will this madness end?

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Have yourself a depressing little Christmas

The original lyrics to the song, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” are pretty depressing but honestly so much better that the version performed by Judy Garland or Frank Sinatra that have become the season’s classics. Here are the original lyrics:

Have yourself a merry little Christmas
It may be your last
Next year we may all be living in the past
Have yourself a merry little Christmas
Pop that champagne cork
Next year we may all be living in New York
No good times like the olden days
Happy golden days of yore
Faithful friends who were dear to us
Will be near to us no more
But at least we all will be together
If the Lord allows
From now on, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Entertainment Weekly

It’s an old story but I just found out about it from a story in the Chicago Tribune.

I wish someone would perform it with these lyrics.

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Climate change is real and thank goodness man caused it.

When I was growing up in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s we were concerned about climate change. Temperature changes, arctic ice sheets, over population, and the concern of whether or not the human race would survive. The story then was that we were already past the tipping point. We were doomed.

But, thanks to human ingenuity and our continued ability to flood the Earth with new humans somehow we were able to hold back the advance of nature and change the climate more to our advantage. We are now flourishing more than ever. Thank goodness for fossil fuels and the over production of carbon dioxide.

Yes. The above is a poor attempt at satire. Below is the propaganda we were fed as kids. The only difference is that we were being told that the scientific “consensus” was that the Earth was cooling instead of warming.

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When will idea of Socialism finally die?

Younger generations in the US keep favoring “Socialism” even though they have no real idea what it is or what it does to a society. The history of Socialism and Communism are not properly taught in schools today and instead children are being softly propagandized of the benefits of a utopian socialist society. It doesn’t exist and never has. Every place this ideology has been tried it has failed and failed miserably. It has killed more people than all the world wars combined.

Here is a personal perspective from a former Venezuelan who watched his country and his father die due to this invalid ideology.

Since the election of Chávez in 1998, the government has removed eight zeros from the constantly inflating currency and twice changed its name. It is expected that in 2020 there will be still another currency with even more zeros lopped off—with one new currency unit equaling hundreds of billions of old bolívars since Chavism started. The International Monetary Fund has indicated that inflation could be anywhere between 1 million and 10 million percent by the end of 2019, but it’s hard to know for sure since the government has stopped bothering to publish many basic economic indicators.

Venezuela now has the lowest average minimum salary in the world: just $2 a month, one-tenth the figure for impoverished Cuba. There are general shortages of almost everything, including gasoline, despite the fact that Venezuela has the largest petroleum reserves in the world. The water and electric systems are collapsing: Major national blackouts started in early 2019, with some parts of the country going dark for weeks. Telephone and internet services fail constantly, due to the electrical disruptions and a lack of system updates. Most patients who require cancer treatments or dialysis are just dying. Our former “capital of Heaven” now has no gas, no light, no food, no water, no jobs, no money, no medicine, and no hope.

It’s no wonder people are leaving. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that more than 4.3 million people, or around 14 percent of the population, have fled Venezuela, and the total could pass 5 million by 2020. This kind of massive refugee crisis is a first in the Americas, and it’s creating serious regional problems. The number of murders has grown from 5,000 a year before Chávez to around 25,000 today, though the government has stopped publishing those figures, too. That’s about a half-million murders—a whole city dead—since the advent of Chavism.

Reason.com
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Random Thoughts Technology

The Internet is 50 years old today

Who knew? It’s already been half a century since the first message was sent across the Arpanet. That moment lead to me being able to post the following diatribe that no one will read. Oh the wonders of modern technology!

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web (which is different from the Internet itself), over the last year has spearheaded a movement to try to somehow reconfigure the Web to make it more open and free. He didn’t like how the Web was used to create things like Twitter and Facebook (these are walled gardens) and I don’t think he likes how all traffic around the world is basically controlled by Google through search (leveraging a superior search product to sell advertising).

The solution? A “Contract for the Web“. Just by the naming of this you can tell it will never work. The Contract has a set of principles. They are:

Governments will

  • Ensure everyone can connect to the internet
    • So that anyone, no matter who they are or where they live, can participate actively online.
  • Keep all of the internet available, all of the time
    • So that no one is denied their right to full internet access.
  • Respect people’s fundamental right to privacy
    • So everyone can use the internet freely, safely and without fear.

Companies will

  • Make the internet affordable and accessible to everyone
    • So that no one is excluded from using and shaping the web.
  • Respect consumers’ privacy and personal data
    • So people are in control of their lives online.
  • Develop technologies that support the best in humanity and challenge the worst
    • So the web really is a public good that puts people first

Citizens will

  • Be creators and collaborators on the web
    • So the web has rich and relevant content for everyone.
  • Build strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity
    • So that everyone feels safe and welcome online.
  • Fight for the web
    • So the web remains open and a global public resource for people everywhere, now and in the future.

Why will this Contract fail? Because only the United States has a Constitution that protects natural rights and natural rights are directly tied to the Internet and the Web. The European Union, Russia, China, and other nations have already taken steps to ensure the current Web or its progeny will never be open and unencumbered.

Is Internet access a natural right? No. By the fact of your birth are you entitled to access to a computer network? It’s ridiculous to argue that it is. Being human does not require a computer at all. How will countries that don’t respect natural rights “ensure” that everyone can connect? Does that mean a government subsidized system? I will get taxed so someone else can get online? That’s just stupid.

All the world is moving to limit speech and therefore will not keep all of the Internet available all of the time. In the EU, there is the “right to be forgotten”. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the public record or not but an individual can petition to have things removed online (or at least blocked from view in the EU) to protect people from humiliation. In the United States, the Congress continually grills social media companies for things their users post. The US already passed a law years ago that protects so-called “platforms” such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from lawsuits from content posted by users. However, the more these social media companies get into censoring posts and takedowns of content the more they are looking like traditional publishers and less like platforms. If they continue to move down that road I can’t see a difference between them and television networks or newspapers. Either leave the speech alone or become responsible for what gets posted. You can’t have it both ways. Congress is largely full of people that aren’t interested in upholding their oath of office and more interested in control of the public. It’s not like they care about social media companies being publishers or platforms. As long as the content is content they agree with they are happy otherwise the posts are fake and illegal.

On the right to privacy, if you are receiving a product for no cash compensation how do you expect the company providing the product to make money? Broadcast TV, at least in the US, is free. How do they make money? Through advertising. They using rating systems to figure out the people who are watching and try to push ads to those demographics. It’s the same for Google, Facebook, and Twitter. They do nothing more than what magazines (when print was big) used to do. I remember when subscribing to PC Magazine, back in the 1980’s, that they would have a little survey of your interests to gauge who their readers are. After completing the survey you would start receiving all kinds of offers in the mail for things surrounding that survey. Was that wrong of them to do? They obviously sold my name, address, and personal preferences and they did this while I paid for a subscription. That’s how print media stayed afloat. How is that different from Google seeing keywords in my e-mail and pushing ads or Facebook seeing posts about food and pushing me ads for restaurants?

The Contract calls for companies to make the Internet affordable and accessible to everyone. It is impossible to define affordable. What is affordable to me may not be affordable to you. And what will define accessible? Say I pay $50 for a connection that gives me 100 mbps down and 12 mbps up. Is that affordable? Does that speed level give me access to everything? I don’t think you can stream 4k at those speeds but I can surely watch streaming video and download any kind of audio and text. Who will decide these things? Some blue ribbon committee?

What is the best in humanity and what is the worst? Are non-profits good and for-profits bad? I think modern non-profits are actually profit generating entities and exist largely to employ people and shape public policy towards some political agenda. Sure there are the non-profit organizations that actually exist to perform altruistic functions and do good for their communities but what about the big boys like the Red Cross, American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society? I don’t trust that, at the top of the organizations, they are interested in solutions for the purposes for which they were formed. I believe they exist to make money for the executives and the top management layers and nothing else. The people at the middle and bottom, and especially unpaid volunteers, are actually trying to help people but in my mind are mere slaves that prop up corrupt organizations. With for-profit organizations at least you know explicitly what they are about. Profit. Pure and simple. They are there to sell you something in order to make money. In my mind, that helps people more than any non-profit. What has produced more to benefit the world? Microsoft or the American Diabetes Association? How many wealthy people did Microsoft help create? How has that wealth created more wealth through other companies? How has that wealth created more philanthropy? The American Diabetes Association on the other hand doesn’t even acknowledge that a low carbohydrate diet reduces the risk of Type 2 Diabetes. This while people are literally getting off of their insulin by adopting a low or very low carbohydrate diet, essentially curing themselves through diet.

Calling for citizens (of which country?) to be creators and collaborators, build strong communities that respect civil discourse, and fight for the Web. What nonsense is this? Content creation part is easy. I’m doing it now (regardless of whether or not this content is consumed). But what about building strong communities that respect civil discourse and human dignity? This cannot be defined. What if racists want to create their own social network that denounces all other races that are not their own in the belief that the other races are not human? To them those people are not human and don’t deserve dignity. In the United States, this type of community and speech used to be protected under the First Amendment and I would argue that it should be. The First Amendment is under assault by people that don’t want their feelings hurt or for ideas that they may find abhorrent to be spread. While I find the idea of Communism and Socialism abhorrent where others don’t I would not seek to silence those people. Whereas those that find Capitalism abhorrent seek to demonize those that believe in that system and shout them down. How will any Contract for the Web protect that when the U.S. Constitution is having a difficult time with it?

To me, what needs to be protected and spread across the world, is the U.S. Constitution. There is no other document that protects the natural rights of human beings the way it does. If governments across the world adopt this there will be no need for any Contract for the Web.

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The latest Trump controversy is another non-controversy

First, here’s the video all the media is talking about but won’t show you. At least until YouTube takes it down.

Now, here’s a link to an article from Reason.com that tells you the truth about where the video was shown and how it probably wasn’t seen by too many people. I’m sure more people have seen it now than if the media would have just ignored the nonsense. Here’s a tweet that shows the room where it was playing. pic.twitter.com/O87stQDfrc As you can see the room is empty. It was an “art” display.

The legacy media are having their Dr. Zaius moment, paternalistically shielding their infantile audience (read: you and me) from ugly images and realities. This is not simply a revolting development but a deeply troubling one that will only accelerate the ongoing loss of confidence and trust the public has in media. According to polling done for the Columbia Journalism Review, fewer than 20 percent of us have a “great deal of confidence” in the press. The only institution held in lower esteem is Congress.
Yet the media seem happy to keep digging their own grave. Yesterday, for instance, The New York Times reported on what it called a “macabre video of [a] fake Trump shooting media and critics” that was shown at a conference held at one of the president’s own properties (Trump had nothing to do with the conference or the video, which the White House has condemned). You’d assume the paper would link to or embed the video in support of its characterization. But it refused to, even as it’s safe to say that it was the Times’ coverage that helped bring the video to a large viewing audience (that’s how I learned about it). Instead, it described the video, which was included in an exhibition of videos associated with pro-Trump “memesmith” Carpe Donktum

Reason.com

I’m not defending President Trump. I’m just kind of disgusted with how the news is manipulating people. They talk about “the Russians” but they really need to look in the mirror.

Take Meet the Press and Chuck Todd for instance. I ran across this tweet from the show:

Listening to Chuck Todd talk about what the President said and refuse to actually show the clip to which he’s referring is journalistic malpractice. What right does he have to withhold the information from the public? Here’s a tweet that has a link to the video of President Trump’s comments on former Vice President Biden and his son Hunter.

Just when I think things can’t get more ridiculous they get more ridiculous.

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If MLB batters hit more home runs but no one is there to see it does the ball leave the park?

MLB batters, in 2019, set a home run record knocking 6,106 baseballs out of the park as of yesterday… and the season isn’t quite over. The game was changed over the years to facilitate more scoring and more home runs. The theory was that more scoring makes a more exciting game and a more exciting game will bring in more fans. Is it safe to say yet that the theory is absolutely wrong?

So far in 2019, teams are playing to 66% capacity.

But MLB’s attendance took a 4% hit in 2018 and is on pace for another dip this year.

USA Today

There are people that get paid a lot of money to try to figure out how to market MLB to keep and expand the fan base. Someone should get fired.

I used to be a Chicago White Sox season ticket holder. I used to watch the games even when I gave up my season tickets. The operative phrase in those last two sentences is “used to”. I no longer watch and I barely read about the team that took me and my kids to the World Series. Why? Because the game is boring.

Pitchers that take forever on the mound, batters that step in and out of the batters box after every pitch to adjust their batting gloves, excessive home runs, excessive strike outs, and situational pitching have made the game slow and boring. The things that made the game exciting like the hit-and-run, the bunt, and hitting behind a runner have gone the way of the Dodo. Who wants to sit through 3 hours of pitching changes, strike outs, with a sprinkling of home runs?

Some of the most exciting games I ever saw, in person or on TV, where games pitched by Mark Buehrle of the Chicago White Sox. The games were sometimes less that 2 1/2 hours long and the ball was usually put in play. Most of the time he didn’t over power hitters and he didn’t strike too many out. He got the ball from the catcher and pitched. If the batter hit the ball it was assumed the men in the field would do their job. And they did. The drama during his no-hitter and perfect game were incredible because the ball was put into play.

If MLB is to bring fans back they need to bring the action and strategy back to the game. Home runs, strikeouts, and exploding scoreboards won’t do it.