Saturday, June 10, 2017


"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong." - H. L. Mencken

Courts have held that public money can constitutionally fund the transportation of parochial school pupils to classes — but not on field trips. It can fund nurses at parochial schools — but not guidance counselors. It can fund books — but not maps. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wondered: What about atlases, which are books of maps?  (Will)

Although magnets abound in everyday life, they are actually rarities -- only about 5% of known inorganic compounds show even a hint of magnetism. And of those, just a few dozen are useful in real-world applications because of variability in properties such as effective temperature range and magnetic permanence.
"Predicting magnets is a heck of a job, and their discovery is very rare," said a mechanical engineering professor at Duke University. But after years of work synthesizing various predictions, material scientists "predicted and built two new magnetic materials, atom-by-atom, using high-throughput computational models.

The U.S. decided to use the largest conventional bomb in its inventory to attack an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan.  It is not the conventional equivalent of the Hiroshima bomb; it releases only one-tenth of one percent of the destruction that bomb did, and with no radiological effects. But there may be a change in American thinking away from "nation building" and toward simple anti-terrorism--and "nation breaking."

"We in the judiciary do not do our business in a partisan, ideological manner. The new justice is not a Republican or a Democrat; he's a member of the Supreme Court. But it's hard for people to understand that when they see the process that leads up to it." That was said by Chief Justice Roberts.

Who is...André Leon Talley?

Steve Wozniak predicted portable laptops back in 1982, and now says that by 2075, we could also see new cities built from scratch in the deserts, with people wearing special suits to protect them from the heat. AI will be ubiquitous in all cities, as consumers interact with smart walls to communicate -- and to shop -- while home medical devices will allow self-diagnosis and doctor-free prescriptions. And according to the article, Woz "is convinced a colony will exist on the Red Planet. Echoing the sentiments of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose Blue Origin start-up has designs on traveling to Mars, Wozniak envisions Earth zoned for residential use and Mars for heavy industry." (Though he doesn't have high hopes that we'll ever meet aliens.) 

In 2015, just 0.09 percent of airline passengers in the U.S. were denied boarding, according to Bureau of Transportation Statistics data. More than 9 in 10 of those passengers voluntarily gave up their seats in exchange for compensation.

Three doctoral students at Stony Brook University spent eight months analyzing internet scammers who pose as remote tech support workers (usually pretending to be from Microsoft of Apple). Their research revealed more than 25,000 scam domains and thousands of different scam phone numbers. "Although victims of these scams can be anywhere, the researchers found that 85.4% of the IP addresses in these scams were located across different regions of India," reports On The Wire, "with 9.7% located in the United States and 4.9% in Costa Rica. Scammers typically asked users for an average of $291, with prices ranging from $70 to $1,000." 

Golden Oldie:

A study from professors at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that 46% of transgender men and 42% of transgender women in the study had attempted suicide.

A paper recently on physician's time in the office. "Physicians logged an average of 3.08 hours on office visits and 3.17 hours on desktop medicine each day," the authors wrote. "Over time, log records from physicians showed a decline in the time allocated to face-to-face visits, accompanied by an increase in time allocated to desktop medicine."

Brazilian President Michel Temer held a meeting in 2010 where a former Odebrecht executive said he agreed to pay a $40 million bribe to Mr. Temer’s PMDB party in exchange for a construction contract.

“The current first lady is the best thing about the Trump administration." --André Leon Talley. 
Melania up front!

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic examined 286 patient records of individuals who had decided to consult a second opinion, hoping to determine whether being referred to a second specialist impacted one's likelihood of receiving an accurate diagnosis. The study, conducted using records of patients referred to the Mayo Clinic's General Internal Medicine Division over a two-year period, ultimately found that when consulting a second opinion, the physician only confirmed the original diagnosis 12 percent of the time. Among those with updated diagnoses, 66% received a refined or redefined diagnosis, while 21% were diagnosed with something completely different than what their first physician concluded.

Uber opened up its books to Bloomberg, prompting one analyst to exclaim "this is a cash-burning machine."

Swan Galleries has a sale coming up; a highlight of the sale is a love letter from Ernest Hemingway to Marlene Dietrich, in which he asks her to visit him at Finca Vigía, Cuba.

A pleasant little quote from Schiff: "Trump doesn’t want to preside over a major decline in our standard of living, but ultimately that has to happen. Because this is the consequence of all this excess consumption that went on before he was president. You know, we sacrificed our future to indulge our past. The future is now the present. We’re here, and it’s time to pay the piper."

Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran for ten seasons on Comedy Central and The Sci-Fi Channel, with its last episode airing in August, 1999. Season 11 has just debuted on Netflix.

According to ABC, Facebook says it targeted 30,000 fake accounts linked to France ahead of the country's presidential election, as part of a worldwide effort against misinformation. The company said it's trying to "reduce the spread of material generated through inauthentic activity, including spam, misinformation, or other deceptive content that is often shared by creators of fake accounts." It said its efforts "enabled us to take action" against the French accounts and that it is removing sites with the highest traffic. Facebook and French media also ran fact-checking programs in France to combat misleading information, especially around the campaign for the two-round April 23-May 7 presidential election. European authorities have also pressured Facebook and Twitter to remove extremist propaganda or other postings that violate European hate speech or other laws.

Runners tend to live about three more years than non-runners.

Burger King released a TV ad  that opened with an actor saying, "Ok, Google, what is the Whopper?" thereby triggering any Google Home device in hearing range to respond to the injected request with the first line from the Whopper's Wikipedia page. Google responded to the injection attack by fingerprinting the sound sample and blocking it from triggering responses. However, it seems Burger King and/or its ad agency has released an altered version of the ad to evade Google's block. 
(The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act broadly prohibits anyone from accessing a computer without authorization... Burger King has instantly become the 'poster child' for mass, criminal abuse of these devices... Some think it was a direct and voluntary violation of law.)

AAAAAaaaannnnnndddddd....a picture of The Rosa Moss Bridge, Ireland:

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