2.27.2024

Thereby writing a new definition of "Battleground State"

Chiefs parade shooting could be a new test of expanded ‘stand your ground’ protections

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The man accused of firing the first shots at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl rally told authorities he felt threatened, while a second man said he pulled the trigger because someone was shooting at him, according to court documents.

Experts say that even though the shooting left one bystander dead and roughly two dozen people injured, 23-year-old Lyndell Mays and 18-year-old Dominic Miller might have good cases for self-defense through the state’s “stand your ground” law.

I knew a girl from Missouri once. She insisted on pronouncing it "Misery." 

Honey, Honey

Somebody told me last summer that eating honey from local bees would help desensitize me from Spring pollens, the kind that have been causing me a lot of stuffy problems in recent years.

I'm guessing the time to start finding out if that's true is now.

Grocery list.

Who could have guessed?

 Just before the Michigan primary…

Biden signals there could be a truce in Gaza soon but Israel and Hamas indicate no deal is imminent

Is this a miracle of lucky timing? Or not?

[The Michigan Primary is today, Feb. 27.]

In Boston this month…

it was the first February since 1872 (when records were first kept) during which there was no day with a high temperature below freezing (32ºF).

The coldest low temperature for the entire winter was 14ºF. (That's so far, of course. but not likely to get any colder at this point). No other winter on record has been that warm.

Boston is on the coast and weather there is moderated by the sea. It's been somewhat chillier where I live, but still quite mild as New England winters go. 

Make of that what you will. 

(It's fine with me.)

2.26.2024

Living on the edge

California doctor refuses to move from $15.9M cliffside mansion despite warnings it could slide into the ocean

While experts claimed the Dana Point cliffside properties are safe to live in, further work will need to be carried out for them to withstand future storms.

It's the pictures. 

Wait a minute. Lost?

A giant meteorite has been lost in the desert since 1916—here’s how we might find it

A tale of "sand dunes, a guy named Gaston, secret aeromagnetic surveys, and camel drivers."

[That's a decade longer than Amelia Earhart. FYI] 

2.25.2024

The AI has a moment

ChatGPT goes temporarily “insane” with unexpected outputs, spooking users

"The common experience over the last few hours seems to be that responses begin coherently, like normal, then devolve into nonsense, then sometimes Shakespearean nonsense," wrote one Reddit user…

Suffers from the same malady a lot of writers do (no surpise there): Does not know when to quit.

Or maybe it gets paid by the word? 

The good news is…

 …(yes, good) the sun is waking up at just about the same time I do now. Here. Good morning, Sun.

Won't be long until it's waking up even earlier —which would mean daylight wasted, but we've figured out a way to save some of that and use it in the evening instead. 

Win win, say I.

(And maybe hit the mid-50s this week, but not today.)

Second City, you say?

Opinion: Welcome to Payola World!

A University of Illinois study finds that despite all vows to abolish shoebox and pork-barrel politics, Chicago remains the most corrupt city in the nation, judged by the per capita number of indicted officials. Illinois is the third most corrupt state.

Looks like #1 to me. 

2.24.2024

It just gets better (or worse)

Vending machine error reveals secret face image database of college students

Canada-based University of Waterloo is racing to remove M&M-branded smart vending machines from campus after outraged students discovered the machines were covertly collecting facial-recognition data without their consent.
Sales brocures promised "the machines are capable of sending estimated ages and genders" of every person who used the machines without ever requesting consent, according to this article from Ars Technica (link above).

It may not be surprising that the vending machine company claims no laws have been broken here.

That house in DC is in the news again

Surveillance Fight Pits the White House Opposite Reproductive Rights

Prominent advocates for the rights of pregnant people are urging members of Congress to support legislation that would ban warrantless access to sensitive data as the White House fights against it. 

“The implications for Americans’ privacy rights are staggering.…It makes little sense to rein in warrantless surveillance under one authority when the government can simply fall back on other available techniques to acquire similar information.”

The lawsuit here is new but the warrantless surveillance issue is not. There's been a great deal of fuss for quite some time (Snowden was in the news just over a decade ago) over multiple agencies at every level of government collecting unwarranted personal information from U.S. citizens. Laws have been passed, with great fanfare, to prohibit that. And they've all been neatly sidestepped by purchasing the prohibited information from commercial data brokers, if which there are, by now, many.

And that's not all. The same information is available, globally, to anybody with a buck. Or a yuan, or a ruble, or a rial…. Or an AI.

This privacy ship sailed a long time ago.

Trading Israel for Michigan

White House reverses West Bank policy, calling Israeli settlements illegal

White House spokesman John Kirby, within minutes of Blinken’s remarks in Argentina, told reporters in Washington that the decision to declare settlements illegal put the Biden administration in harmony with previous U.S. administrations — with the exception being Trump’s.

No, I'm not taking sides on this issue: I'm simply predicting. And most likely within the next six months.

[The article is from The Washington Post. You should be able to read it without encountering a paywall by clicking the link above.]

2.23.2024

*This is why it happened,* NYTimes

From a piece on the upcoming South Carolina Republican primary in the Friday, 2/23, edition of the Times:

Barring unexpected snags, the first results should start coming in soon after the polls close at 7 p.m., and full results should arrive within a few hours.

When the Democrats held their primary in South Carolina on Feb. 3, the first results arrived within minutes, and The Associated Press was able to call the race for President Biden within half an hour.

U.S. voters have been conditioned by the press (now known as "the media," but I'm an old-school guy), over years, to expect this kind of election reporting.

But in 2020 COVID caused a sudden dramatic increase in multiple forms of remote voting and saw election results returned not in hours, but in days.

I've been saying since before the event — and still do — that single phenomenon made the election vunerable to hacking. And hacked it was.

I don't mean hacked as in falsifying the results. I'm completely satisfied the results were correct. Of course Biden won.

The hack was in convincing an inordinate number of people the results were not correct. Many seem to still be convinced.

Yet here we are, heading into another round of it. 

We don't need to go back to single-day, at-the-polls voting. In fact, there's no back there. We have always permitted absentee balloting — at least as far as I can remember and I'm, as I may have mentioned, old school. But what we do need to do is foster a more realistic understanding of just how the process works and how secure, the way it is, it really is.

Pop quiz

 Somebody read "All the King's Men."

The problem with climate change is the disconnect between action and impact. If politicians vote against construction standards and a school collapses, the next election will be their last. But with climate change, cause and effect are at a vast distance.
What's the clue?
  1. No points will be awarded for correct answers.
  2. Quote from NYTimes op-ed by Nate Lowentheil.

2.22.2024

Like lose a pound or two?

It’s Been 30 Years Since Food Ate Up This Much of Your Income


"Consumers [food company executives say] will find ways to cope."
“If you look historically after periods of inflation, there’s really no period you could point to where [food] prices go back down,” said Steve Cahillane, chief executive of snack giant Kellanova, in an interview. “They tend to be sticky.”

The story is behind a paywall at the Wall Street Journal, here, or on Apple News+

Maybe, maybe not

Northeast braces for ugly storm that will bring drenching downpours, possible snow just in time for morning commute

This system, working with somewhat limited ingredients, will not likely be a big rain- or snow-producer for most, but it’s expected to be a nuisance for millions….

Of course, a New Yorker's idea of Northeast is New Haven.

In the meantime…we seem to have done an inordinate amount of bracing this winter and I'm getting fed up with it.

Twenty-six days until Spring.

At the beach, in the gentle glow of the evening

Thousands of decaying barrels off Los Angeles coast may contain radioactive waste: report

The total number of barrels possibly leaking radioactive chemicals into the ocean is still a mystery — but one map from the International Atomic Energy Agency indicated that “more than 56,000 barrels of radioactive waste had been dumped into the Pacific Ocean on the U.S. side” just between 1945 and 1970.

 Or…wait, don't panic yet…maybe it's not radioactive waste, maybe it's DDT.

“This is a classic situation of bad versus worse. It’s bad we have potential low-level radioactive waste just sitting there on the seafloor. It’s worse that we have DDT compounds spread across a wide area of the seafloor at concerning concentrations,” research team leader David Valentine told the Los Angeles Times.

Now panic. 

Lunar-cy

Private US spacecraft enters orbit around the moon ahead of landing attempt

A smooth touchdown would put the U.S. back in business on the moon for the first time since NASA astronauts closed out the Apollo program in 1972. The company, if successful, also would become the first private outfit to ace a moon landing.

How long until the moon starts looking like this? 

2.21.2024

Libraries aren't just for lending books any more

Washington girl wears 45 sweaters at the same time to break record

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- A young Washington girl broke a Guinness World Record when she donned 45 sweaters at her local library.
All acording to Guinness World Records rules, of course.

The Washington in this story must surely be Washington State, because nobody in Washington, DC, would  even think of doing something this adventurous. And how many other Washingtons are there?

[H/T Shawn]

So wait…

Warnings of the impact of fertility treatments in Alabama rush in after frozen embryo ruling

“Unborn children are ‘children’ ... without exception based on developmental stage, physical location, or any other ancillary characteristics,” Justice Jay Mitchell wrote in Friday’s majority ruling by the all-Republican court.

they're good for tax deductions?

Sounds like a thing.

From the McMansion to…

The Great Compression

Mr. Lanter’s house could easily fit on a flatbed truck, and is dwarfed by the two-story suburban homes that prevail on the blocks around him. But, in fact, there are even smaller homes in his subdivision, Cinder Butte, which was developed by a local builder called Hayden Homes. Some of his neighbors live in houses that total just 400 square feet — a 20-by-20-foot house attached to a 20-by-20-foot garage.

…the duplex garage?

Of course this house is in a pricey part of Oregon, the New York Times duly notes. That's the Times of New York, where an apartment the size of Mr. Latner's house rents for $3,687/month. Average. According to Apartments.com.


Hey, Belichick's out of a job

News from the California Capitol: New statewide poll shows Adam Schiff and Steve Garvey gaining momentum

Is it too late to get him on the ballot by November? Win one for the team?