Jason Kottke sings the hits

In response to the Atlantic article  I posted yesterday about impeaching Mr. Trump, blogger-whom-I-look-up-to Jason Kottke wrote (emphasis mine):

Reading this, I was struck by a real sadness. What a massive waste of time the Trump presidency has been. America has urgent challenges to address on behalf of all of its citizens and they’re just not getting much consideration. Instead, we’ve given the attention of the country over to a clown and a charlatan who wants nothing more than for everyone to adore and enrich him. Meanwhile, the US government and a populace bewitched by breaking news is stuck in traffic, gawking at this continually unfolding accident. And we somehow can’t or won’t act to remove him from the most powerful job in the world, this person that not even his supporters would trust to borrow their cars or water their plants while on vacation. What a shame and what a waste.

My reoccurring thought about President Trump’s first two years has been exactly that: what a waste of our nation’s time. Don’t we have real issues to debate, conservative vs liberal? We don’t have time for a deranged egomaniacal lunatic to work out his starved narcism on the world stage. There are much more pressing issues at stake than manufactured embellishments and stubborn hyperbole.



WOW: Quit everything, study science to cure your own rare disease …

This story of a woman named Sonia Vallabh is remarkable. She lost her mother to a rare disease that causes insomnia, which killed her within a relatively short amount of time. Once Sonia found out she carried the same mutated gene, she quit her job, studied for her Ph.D., started research and is on her way to hopefully finding a cure. Wow. Yes, to science. Yes, to human intuition, resilience, determination and strength.

From Wired:

Not long after Sonia found out that she was a carrier of fatal familial insomnia, a scientist friend named Stevie Steiner gave her a thumb drive. It was full of research on prion diseases. Sonia had never imagined that so many people studied them, given their rarity. She and Eric became obsessed with learning more. Sonia had taken a few biology classes in college, but Eric, a Chinese language major, had avoided them almost entirely, satisfying his curriculum requirement with a course called Cropping Systems of the Tropics. “I had to go on Wikipedia to remember what dominant versus recessive meant,” he says. They sat in on classes at MIT, trying to pass as undergraduates, and started a blog, which they used to organize their thoughts and speculate on therapies.

Within a few weeks of the diagnosis, Sonia had quit her job to study science full time, continuing classes at MIT during the day and enrolling in a night class in biology at Harvard’s extension school. The pair lived off savings and Eric’s salary. Sonia had expected to take a temporary sabbatical from her real life, but soon textbooks and academic articles weren’t enough. “The practice of science and the classroom version of science are such different animals,” Sonia says. She wanted to try her hand in the lab. She found a position as a technician with a research group focusing on Huntington’s disease. Eric, not wanting to be left behind, quit his job too and offered his data-­crunching expertise to a genetics lab. The deeper they dove into science, the more they began to fixate on finding a cure.

the excellence of wringing hands in restlessness

The chorus of dissent will crescendo. Thank goodness.

The above tweet will eventually link you to this article. You’ll want to read that one.

The Washington Post reports:

Rudolph W. Giuliani claimed Wednesday night that he “never said there was no collusion” between President Trump’s campaign and Russia leading up to the 2016 presidential election. In a remarkable, at times contentious, interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the president’s lawyer appeared to contradict his own past statements about collusion as well as what Trump and his supporters have repeatedly asserted.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

In early 2015, a man who runs a small technology company showed up at Trump Tower to collect $50,000 for having helped Michael Cohen, then Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, try to rig online polls in his boss’s favor before the presidential campaign.

NPR reports:

More than half of registered voters say they have made their minds up against supporting President Trump in 2020, according to a new poll. In a PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist Institute survey released Thursday, 57 percent of registered voters said that they would definitely not support Trump in 2020, and would instead “vote against” the president by supporting one of his announced opponents.

Axios reports:

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie settles scores in “Let Me Finish,” a memoir out Jan. 29 from Hachette Books, writing that President Trump “trusts people he shouldn’t, including some of the people who are closest to him.”

Christie asserts that Trump has a “revolving door of deeply flawed individuals — amateurs, grifters, weaklings, convicted and unconvicted felons — who were hustled into jobs they were never suited for, sometimes seemingly without so much as a background check via Google or Wikipedia.”

The Daily Beast reports:

Rick Gates, the former campaign aide to Donald Trump, is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into whether individuals from the Middle East worked with the Trump campaign to influence the election, according to two individuals with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.

Gates has answered questions specifically about Psy Group, an Israeli firm that ex-employees say drew up social media manipulation plans to help the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the questions.

Mueller’s team also asked Gates about interactions with Psy Group’s owner, Joel Zamel, and Lebanese-American businessman George Nader, who worked as an emissary for Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the sources said.

Gabriel Sherman reports at Vanity Fair:

The shutdown and related chaos has pushed Donald Trump’s approval rating to new lows, with even Rasmussen, his polling happy place, pegging him at 43 percent. But the White House believes this is only the beginning of his troubles.

In recent days, according to a source briefed on the conversation, Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has told people privately that he expects Robert Mueller to deliver the first installment of his report, dealing with obstruction of justice, “within the month.” “Rudy thinks it will be soon,” said a person who’s spoken with Giuliani. “It’s only a matter of time.”

The mounting pressure has also strained Giuliani’s relationship with Trump. “Rudy hates the job,” a Republican briefed on Giuliani’s thinking told me. “Trump is very hard to deal with.”

A friend of mine recently posted her profile picture. I’ll put it below the fold. I have absolutely no idea how she’s going to accept the news that her idol (and her sin of idolatry) will affect/change/ease her waining, absolutely bizarre system of belief.

Continue reading “the excellence of wringing hands in restlessness”

I want to see this film: “Pick of the Litter” (a film about seeing eye dogs? yes, please!)

PICK OF THE LITTER follows a litter of puppies from the moment they’re born and begin their quest to become guide dogs for the blind. Cameras follow these pups through an intense two-year odyssey as they train to become dogs whose ultimate responsibility is to protect their blind partners from harm. Along the way, these remarkable animals rely on a community of dedicated individuals who train them to do amazing, life-changing things in the service of their human. The stakes are high and not every dog can make the cut. Only the best of the best. The pick of the litter. #IFCFilms #PickOfTheLitter #Dogs #Puppies

Is the science wrong on sun exposure?

With Puerto Rican blood living in a winter cold location like Chicago, every summer I turn into a brown version of a tall, dark-haired male. I actually look kind of ethnic in summer months. In Europe, I’m confused for Italian, Spanish Greek or even some form of Arabic.

When I was growing up, one time someone confused me for African American. But we were in dimly lit area. Whatever.

I’m adopted, and there’s one thing I definitely got from my birth mom, it’s the love of the sun. Even at 43, I love running shirtless along the lakefront. Not to show off what little muscle I have, but to avoid a farmers tan …

Every time I go to the dermatologist, they tell me, “Wear sunscreen. Especially when you’re running. Consider getting one of those sunscreen shirts.”

I try to wear sunscreen. But sometimes I “forget.” I like that summer time glow.

This article from Outside Magazine online may be the death of me. Ha. Sometimes all we need is that bias confirmation and then … we’re off to the races.

The article basically says that the current science on sunscreen-apalooza apocalyptic thought is primarily based on the whitest of the white skin. My evolved state of sun exposure didn’t make it this far by wearing chemicals on my skin. LOL.

Check it out. Here’s a snip:

These are dark days for supplements. Although they are a $30-plus billion market in the United States alone, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, beta-carotene, glucosamine, chondroitin, and fish oil have now flopped in study after study.

If there was one supplement that seemed sure to survive the rigorous tests, it was vitamin D. People with low levels of vitamin D in their blood have significantly higher rates of virtually every disease and disorder you can think of: cancer, diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, heart attack, stroke, depression, cognitive impairment, autoimmune conditions, and more. The vitamin is required for calcium absorption and is thus essential for bone health, but as evidence mounted that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with so many diseases, health experts began suspecting that it was involved in many other biological processes as well.

And they believed that most of us weren’t getting enough of it. This made sense. Vitamin D is a hormone manufactured by the skin with the help of sunlight. It’s difficult to obtain in sufficient quantities through diet. When our ancestors lived outdoors in tropical regions and ran around half naked, this wasn’t a problem. We produced all the vitamin D we needed from the sun.

But today most of us have indoor jobs, and when we do go outside, we’ve been taught to protect ourselves from dangerous UV rays, which can cause skin cancer. Sunscreen also blocks our skin from making vitamin D, but that’s OK, says the American Academy of Dermatology, which takes a zero-tolerance stance on sun exposure: “You need to protect your skin from the sun every day, even when it’s cloudy,” it advises on its website. Better to slather on sunblock, we’ve all been told, and compensate with vitamin D pills.

New tricks for old … Learning science at 70

It absolutely drives me nuts how much science that I did and did NOT learn as a young person at an evangelical school in the south. When I got to college, and properly learned about biology, chemistry, astronomy, physics, et al, I was astonished at how poorly I was equipped with knowledge.

Worse, those around me still seem to lack any basic knowledge of science outside of their bias for “creationism.” It’s weird. Understandable, because the fog of faith is so thick down yonder. But the oppression of information is so bizarre to me.

This 70 year old former editor of the Economist sat down at 70 and learned what seems so basic, like that he’s a mammal. Check it out!

So far I have found physics relatively straightforward, because (at this level anyway) it has a lot of maths in it. Biology is not far behind, as it seems to be mainly about animals and plants. But chemistry, always mysterious to me, is pure revelation. It is making me look at so many everyday phenomena with far more interest and, yes, even understanding. A few weeks ago my tutor, John Harris, handed me a proper white overall and we spent a happy hour in his kitchen mixing acids and alkalis with the juice from a cooked red cabbage. Elementary stuff, but to me it felt like grown-up research.

F.B.I. Opened Inquiry Into Whether Trump Was Secretly Working on Behalf of Russia

When one looks back on American history, I imagine one generally has a negative perspective on Richard Nixon, and I imagine in his time, he generally had a following of positive supporters.

I can only hope, that in the future looking back, Trump supporters will carry the same general negative feeling about the guy they’re idolizing to degrees greater than sainthood and, dare I say, Jesus himself.

NYTs reports (those fake-y Mcfake fakes!):

WASHINGTON — In the days after President Trump fired James B. Comey as F.B.I. director, law enforcement officials became so concerned by the president’s behavior that they began investigating whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests, according to former law enforcement officials and others familiar with the investigation.

The inquiry carried explosive implications. Counterintelligence investigators had to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security. Agents also sought to determine whether Mr. Trump was knowingly working for Russia or had unwittingly fallen under Moscow’s influence.

The investigation the F.B.I. opened into Mr. Trump also had a criminal aspect, which has long been publicly known: whether his firing of Mr. Comey constituted obstruction of justice.