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Showing posts from June 3, 2017

Today's Trumpery

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[Welcome to the monkey house. A daily pastiche of Trumpisms and responses thereto. *RON*]

Donald Trump's Triumph of Stupidity, Der Spiegel [Good article!]
Fact-checking President Trump’s claims on the Paris climate change deal, Washington Post [Good to have on hand for discussions with the 'alternate facts' crowd]
Trump Pulls Out of Paris: How Much Carbon Will His Policies Add to the Air?, Scientific American
Blame White Evangelicals For Trump’s Withdrawal From Paris Climate Change Agreement, Progressive Secular Humanist [Interesting statistics.]
Leaders Lament U.S. Withdrawal, but Say It Won’t Stop Climate Efforts, New York Times
Trump climate deal: US can fulfil pledges, says Michael Bloomberg, BBC

20 million starving to death: inside the worst famine since World War II: A report from South Sudan.

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[Maybe pause once in a while today to remember that this is what these people are living, right now, as you go about, doing your thing. *RON*]
Jane Ferguson, Vox, 1 June 2017
On the ground in Leer, South Sudan —
When war came to 15-year-old Rebecca Riak Chol’s small town in rural South Sudan in early April, she and 27 other villagers fled into nearby marshlands to hide. They spent two grueling weeks slowly making their way to the relative safety of a region controlled by rebels from her same tribe. They were constantly hungry, constantly thirsty, and constantly in danger of being killed by the troops trying to hunt them down. Chol’s sister died along the way, but it wasn’t because she was found and shot. Instead, she — like growing numbers of South Sudanese — died from starvation.

“We didn’t have anything to dig with to bury her, so we just put grass on the body and left it there,” Chol told me during a conversation in the schoolyard of her new ho…

High Stakes as Pentagon successfully tests ICBM defense system for first time

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[Note: "first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack." Great, I suppose, in case North Korea attacks the US with a fiercely role-played game of Dungeons and Dragons. *RON*]

Phil Stewart and Lucy Nicholson, Reuters, 30 May 2017

The U.S. military on Tuesday cheered a successful, first-ever missile defense test involving a simulated attack by an intercontinental ballistic missile, in a major milestone for a program meant to defend against a mounting North Korean threat.

The U.S. military fired an ICBM-type missile from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands toward the waters just south of Alaska. It then fired a missile to intercept it from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

Experts compare the job to hitting a bullet with another bullet and note the complexity is magnified by the enormous distances involved.

The Missile Defense Agency said it was the first live-fire test against a simulated ICBM for the Ground-base…

God 'can take care of' climate change if it's a real problem, congressman says

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[Stop the American Taliban. Maintain the separation of church and state. With people like Walberg in charge, we are all dead. *RON*]

Taylor DesOrmeau, MLive Michigan, 31 May 2017

COLDWATER, MI - As President Donald Trump mulls pulling the country from the Paris Agreement on climate change, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, briefly touched on global warming during a town hall on May 26.

"I believe there's climate change. I believe there's been climate change since the beginning of time," Walberg said during the meeting in Coldwater. "I think there are cycles. Do I think that man has some impact? Yeah, of course. Can man change the entire universe? No."

While Walberg's website gives his stance on a host of issues, climate change is not mentioned.

"As a Christian, I believe there is a creator - a God - who's much bigger than us," Walberg said in the meeting. "I'm confident that if there's a …

California Senate passes single-payer health care plan

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[A state the size of Canada is in direct opposition to Trump's healthcare policies. See also: New study: Single-payer health care would save California $37 billion, and Study: New taxes could fund universal California health care. *RON*]

Katy Murphy, Mercury News / Bay Area News Group, 2 June 2017
SACRAMENTO — As a legislative deadline loomed, California senators Thursday — in some cases, reluctantly — voted to pass a $400 billion plan to create a government-run health care system without a way to pay for it.

Senate Bill 562, by Sens. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens, and Toni Atkins, D-San Diego, passed 23-14 and will now advance to the Assembly, where it will likely be amended to include taxes. And that would mean the measure would require two-thirds votes in both chambers.

“What we did today was really approve the concept of a single-payer system in California,” Lara said in an interview after the vote.

The California Nurses Association, the bill…

Algorithm Accurately Reconstructs Faces From A Monkey’s Brain Waves

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[Incredible stuff. *RON*]
Nathaniel Scharping, Discover Magazine, 2 June 2017

When you see a face, what indicates that it is, indeed, a face?

The question has vexed neuroscientists for quite some time, especially because humans seem to be so darn good at recognizing faces — not just in other people, but on sandwiches, in car grills, and even on other planets. The phenomenon even has a name, pareidolia. It is thought that our brain’s ability to conjure faces from random objects is due to something called configural processing—a face is more than the sum of its parts. We don’t need to put together the various components of a face — eyes, nose, ears — we just recognize one when we see it.
What’s In A Face?

New research from the California Institute of Technology presents a challenge, or at least a wrinkle, to this understanding of facial recognition. Working with macaques, the researchers say they identified a small group of neurons that are specializ…