I'm not really all that mysterious

Jekyll is Driving Me Crazy

*Attempts to optimize some code*

*Build time has now increased by >150%*



This last week in astronomy and physics seems really wild.

  1. We still don’t know what’s causing the light fluctuation from Tabby’s star and the leading theory is a megastructure built by extraterrestrials

    Have we detected an alien megastructure in space? Keep an open mind • 2016 Aug 12 • Seth Shostak • The Guardian

  2. There’s a weird trans-Neptunian object that orbits the sun in a totally different orbital plane than every other known object in the solar system, suggesting that our theories on how the solar system came to be might be off

    Scientists Just Discovered a Mysterious Object Beyond Neptune • 2016 Aug 12 • Kelly Dickerson • Mic

  3. Physicists put a muon in orbit around a deuterium nucleus and there’s nothing in existing quantum theory that explains why the proton charge radius would vary

    Researchers orbit a muon around an atom, confirm physics is broken • 2016 Aug 11 • John Timmer • Ars Technica

  4. There might be a fifth force.

    Physicists confirm possible discovery of fifth force of nature • 2016 Aug 15 •

Obama Has a Time Machine

Twice now, Donald Trump and his campaign staff have accused Obama of using a time machine. Once to kill Capt. Humayun Khan in Iraq in 2004, and once to found ISIS in 1999. (To be fair, it was called Jama’at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad then, morphing into Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004, then finally becoming the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in 2013.)

What if Obama really has a time machine?1

And it’s not just accusations of time travel, but accusations of creating alternate timelines!

This means Katrina Pierson lived in a version of the U.S. where 9/11 didn’t happen up until Obama created a temporal point of divergence!2

“Remember, we weren’t even in Afghanistan by this time,” she said of Obama taking office in 2009. “Barack Obama went into Afghanistan creating another problem.”
Donald Trump’s spokeswoman Katrina Pierson says (incorrectly) that it was Obama who ‘went into Afghanistan’ • 2016 Aug 13 • Kurtis Lee • Los Angeles Times
  1. crossposted on Facebook

  2. crossposted on Facebook

The Demise of the Tea Party

I have always been skeptical that the Tea Party was ever really primarily a grassroots movement. Much like Trump, it always looked like an astroturfing corporate-funded money-making scheme meant to capitalize on populist anger (which manifests mainly as virulent anti-government sentiment, xenophobia, and misogyny).

But Trump is far more popular and recognizable than the Kochs, so it was inevitable that they’d get kicked to the curb.

How We Killed the Tea Party • 2016 Aug 14 • Paul H. Jossey • Politico

It’s basically proof that—much like Communism—all practical implementations of Libertarianism devolve into crony capitalism and kleptocracy.

Trump vs. Duterte

After Trump declared the Philippines a terrorist nation, Philippine Congressman Joey Salceda has proposed banning Trump from the Philippines.

Trump has no major business in the Philippines, but developer Century Properties Group Inc is building a $150-million Trump Tower, a high-rise residential building under license from the American real estate mogul.

In a bill filed in Manila’s House of Representatives, Congressman Joey Salceda said, “There is no feasible basis or reasonable justification to the wholesale labeling of Filipinos as coming from a ‘terrorist state’ or that they will be a Trojan horse.”

Philippine Lawmaker Seeks to Ban Donald Trump From Country • 2016 Aug 8 • NBC News

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is threatening to declare martial law:

President Rodrigo Duterte took offense with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s letter [expressing concern over his list of judges, local government officials, policemen, and soldiers allegedly involved in drugs], saying he did not appreciate being “ordered” around by the Supreme Court.

Duterte said, if Sereno does not appreciate his methods in purging the country of drugs, would she rather he declared martial law?

Duterte to Sereno: Want me to declare martial law? • 2016 Aug 9 • Pia Ranada • Rappler

As much as I hate Trump, Trump hasn’t had people summarily executed without any charged or threatened to declare martial law… yet. But I think Trump is just a kleptocrat scam artist who will skip the country after he’s bankrupted us while Duterte has all the makings of a ruthless bloodyhanded dictator.1

  1. crossposted on Facebook

Philippines is a Terrorist Nation

I wonder how this is going to play out with the many reliably GOP faction of Filipino Americans?

We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them. You have no idea who they are. This could be the great Trojan horse of all time…. We are dealing with animals.

Donald Trump

Trump calls Philippines a terrorist nation • 2016 Aug 6 • Abner Macolor • Kicker Daily News

…Trump provided a lengthy explanation of why he thinks the United States needs to be skeptical of immigrants from many countries, even if they follow the legal process. Reading from notes, Trump listed nearly a dozen examples of immigrants, refugees or students who came to the United States legally – often applying for and receiving citizenship – and then plotted to kill Americans, sometimes successfully doing so. The countries that he referenced in these examples: Somalia, Morocco, Uzbekistan (he asked the crowd where it was located), Syria, Afghanistan, the Philippines, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen…

Donald Trump now says even legal immigrants are a security threat • Jenna Johnson • Washington Post

Catholicism, Terrorism, and Global Capitalism

Pope Francis understands that the root cause of terrorism are the inequalities caused by the history of imperialism and colonialism and perpetuated by global capitalism.

I think that in nearly all religions there is always a small fundamentalist group.… We have them…. I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I look at the papers I see violence here in Italy - someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law. These are baptised Catholics. If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent.… I know it [is] dangerous to say this but terrorism grows when there is no other option and when money is made and it, instead of the person, is put at the centre of the world economy. That is the first form of terrorism. That is a basic terrorism against all humanity. Let’s talk about that.

Pope Francis defends Muslims and blasts ‘Islam is NOT terrorism’ • 2016 Aug 2 • Express


Aside from the overhyped and clickbaity headlines, one of the basic problems of popular medical journalism is that they generally elevate meta-analyses over randomized controlled trials.1

It isn’t that meta-analyses aren’t as useful, but they can certainly be more unreliable due to having to summarize possibly quite disparate studies with widely varying sample populations with significant differences in experimental design and in expected end-points and measurements. Sure, you can account for a lot of this with statistical analysis, but this tends to introduce additional assumptions that may or may not be warranted, and is another step that’s susceptible to bias.2

  • Meta-analysis: Its strengths and limitations • 2008 Jun • E Walker, A Hernandez, and M Kattan • Cleveland Clinic Journal of Medicine
  • Meta-analysis: pitfalls and hits • 2013 • T Greco, A Zangrillo, G Biondi-Zoccai, and G Landoni • Heart Lung Vessel • PubMed
  • Including all relevant material–good, bad, and indifferent–in meta-analysis admits the subjective judgments that meta-analysis was designed to avoid. Several problems arise in meta-analysis: regressions are often non-linear; effects are often multivariate rather than univariate; coverage can be restricted; bad studies may be included; the data summarised may not be homogeneous; grouping different causal factors may lead to meaningless estimates of effects; and the theory-directed approach may obscure discrepancies. Meta-analysis may not be the one best method for studying the diversity of fields for which it has been used.
    Meta-analysis and its problems. • 1994 Sep 24 • Eysenck HJ • BMJ • PubMed
  • A meta-analysis is a safer starting point than a single study – but it won’t necessarily be more reliable.

    A meta-analysis is usually part of a systematic review. It’s a heavy-duty effort, and it’s often described as the ultimate study, outweighing all others. The last word. A single study becomes a puny thing, to be ignored even.

    But while combined results can carry a lot of weight, there are 3 main problems with the idea that a meta-analysis always trumps a single study.

    Firstly, a systematic review and meta-analysis isn’t a formal experimental study. It’s a non-experimental or descriptive study. There are subjective judgments every step of the way, giving small teams of like-minded people plenty of room to steer in a desired direction if they want to. A bad or patchy meta-analysis might not come to as reliable conclusions as a well-conducted, adequately powered single study.

    Secondly, it’s not at all unusual for a meta-analysis to be heavily dominated by a single study. A study by Paul Glasziou and colleagues in 2010 found that even when there were several trials, the most precise one carried on average half the weight of the results – and around 80% of the time the conclusion of the meta-analysis was pretty much the same as that single study. Understanding and discussing that dominant study is critical.

    The third problem is so big, it gets the next place on this listicle: a single new study can overturn the results of a meta-analysis.…

    A meta-analysis is a snapshot in time – it can even be out-of-date the day it’s published.

    Another 5 Things to Know About Meta-Analysis • 2015 Jun 30 • Hilda Bastian • Absolutely Maybe • PLOS
  1. crossposted on Facebook

  2. crossposted on Facebook

Anarchy in the Philippines

“My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me.” — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte


400 dead in a month in Philippines’ ‘shoot-to-kill’ war on drugs • 2016 Aug 5 • Los Angeles Times

Wannabe Kleptocrat

Most of Trump’s economic advisers run hedge funds or are major figures in the real estate industry. Oh, and he has a couple of actual economists, one of whom advised both Reagan and GHWB. Trump basically wants a group of foxes to watch the henhouse. So maybe I’m wrong. Trump isn’t a fascist. It looks like he’s just a straight-up wannabe kleptocrat.

Trump Names Wall Street And Real Estate Titans As Economic Advisers • 2016 Aug 5 • Jim Zarroli • NPR

Honestly, it seems like he’s totally telegraphing the fact that if gets elected, he’s simply going to plunder the country and flee to somewhere where he can’t get extradited.

Given that his campaign manager is Paul Manafort, it totally strikes me that this is basically what Ferdinand Marcos tried to do, except he was too close to death to actually enjoy his ill-gotten wealth. (And to this day, no one really know where all the money that Marcos plundered from the Philippines went.)

Also, I am reminded of the lyrics to the Radiohead song “Idioteque”

We’re not scaremongering
This is really happening, happening
We’re not scaremongering This is really happening, happening Mobiles skwerking, mobiles chirping
Take the money and run, take the money and run
Take the money!

“Idioteque”” by “Radiohead” • “Genius”

Algal Blooms and Climate Change

I’ve wasted lots of time arguing with climate change deniers, but maybe they’ll go swim in a lake someday.

Don’t go swimming at Silverwood Lake right now because of toxic algae bloom, officials say • 2016 Aug 4 • Stephanie K. Baer • San Bernardino County Sun

Climate Change and Harmful Algal Blooms • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


I don’t know what I did to deserve getting an Iggy Azalea earworm stuck in my head.

One of the Greatest Presidents

Assuming we avert the Trumpocalypse and manage to remain a democratic republic (at least for the rest of my life), I imagine Democrats of the future will talk about Obama the same way we talk about FDR and the same way that Republicans talk about Reagan.

Anarchocapitalism and Medicine

Prior to Medicare and Medicaid and before employee-provided health insurance, health care was a luxury only the wealthy could afford, and most diseases and all cases of severe trauma were completely untreatable. I’m not sure why people think the era before the advent of antibiotics, modern emergency rooms, and positive-pressure ventilation was all that great.

A big reason why health care has become so highly regulated both by the government and by the private sector (the Joint Commission is a private non-profit) was because there were a lot of unscrupulous health care professionals back in the day robbing patients blind with “cures” that were useless or even actively harmful, at the while effectively threatening them with death if they didn’t pay. To me, they sound more like the bad old days.

Voting Libertarian? I hope you or your kids never get sick • 2016 Aug 3 • Jen Gunter, M.D.

Maybe Trump Isn't Hitler

If you don’t like comparing Trump to Hitler, maybe you can just compare Trump to Ferdinand Marcos?

Paul Manafort’s Wild and Lucrative Philippine Adventure • As Ferdinand Marcos used his fortune to cling to power, he found an ally in Trump’s campaign chairman. • 2016 Jun 10 • Kenneth P. Vogel • Politico

Also, if there was any doubt, the Reagan administration was kind of evil….

Paul Manafort has made a career of keeping dictators in power.

The Quiet American • Paul Manafort made a career out of stealthily reinventing the world’s nastiest tyrants as noble defenders of freedom. Getting Donald Trump elected will be a cinch. • 2016 Apr 28 • Franklin Foer • Slate

Manafort is also still getting paid by a Ukrainian politician who is pro-Putin.

Is Donald Trump’s Campaign Manager Still on the Payroll of a Ukrainian Political Leader? • Paul Manafort has long advised Ukrainian politicians—and he may not have stopped. • 2016 Aug 1 • Pema Levy • Mother Jones


Bernie-or-busters have been posting this quote from HST lately:

I nodded. The argument was familiar. I had even made it myself, here and there, but I was beginning to sense something very depressing about it. How many more of these goddamn elections are we going to have to write off as lame but “regrettably necessary” holding actions? And how many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote for something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?

Hunter S. Thompson on voting strategically • 2015 Aug 18 • Matt Alfalfafield • The Alfalfafield

Before you go off on how BoBs are utterly ridiculous and coming from a position of privilege, I would argue that there’s a kernel of truth in this.

HRC cannot run on a purely anti-Trump platform. She has to stand for something. Negative campaigning is useless at best and many times it backfires.

The narrative that we need politicians to create progress is somewhat toxic. Most of the major improvements in the last century with regards to social and economic issues were fought for on the ground at the grassroots level—worker’s rights, women’s suffrage, the Civil Rights Movement, abortion rights, LGBT rights, the rights of the undocumented, Black Lives Matter, etc., etc. The politicians are always Johnny-come-lately and generally serve more as an impediment rather than an assurance to progress, no matter what political party they’re from.

Consider also that the coalition that McGovern assembled—black people, feminists, the LGBT community, student activists, and economic populists—are critical components of the modern day Democratic Party.

It’s likely that the Obama presidency would’ve been impossible without McGovern, and just sticking with the establishment would’ve delayed progress significantly.

With regards to the Nixon’s re-election in 1972, in retrospect, the McGovern total fail and the disintegration of the New Deal coalition was inevitable.

If not McGovern, the candidate would’ve been Hubert Humphrey—who was arguing for putting Communists in camps—and George Wallace who, while no longer calling for segregation forever, thought that desegregation was going way too fast.

Ed Muskie—whom HST pillories as the “compromise candidate”—was 4th place in the Democratic primaries with 11% of the vote (no thanks to active sabotage directly from Nixon.) The only thing he had going for him was that the polls said he was the only candidate capable of defeating Nixon. The top three each got a little less than a quarter of all votes.

And McGovern might have still lost even if the Democratic establishment hadn’t abandoned him (and even actively sabotaged him.) It’s difficult to unseat an incumbent president in time of war, as we’d learn again in the 2004 general election. But it might not have been as crushing of a defeat if the Democratic establishment had supported him.

Nixon only won in 1968 because LBJ bailed out, RFK got assassinated, and Humphrey was too closely identified with LBJ’s pro-war stance when 80% of the Democratic constituency voted for anti-war candidates.

If you’re a fan of neoliberalism, McGovern’s utter failure was the best thing to happen to the Democrats and paved the road to Third Way centrism and Clintonism. If you’re not, then it’s clear that running with compromise candidates like Carter and Bill Clinton might have lost more progressive ground than they preserved.

What Democrats Still Don’t Get About George McGovern • 2016 Feb 29 • Joshua Mound • New Republic

Democrats have their history wrong — and are about to make a grievous mistake • 2016 Mar 6 • Kathy Donohue • Salon

What Is Your Major Malfunction?

I really like the idea of Private Joker getting twisted by Nam, Watergate, and Reagan and becoming a government scientist working for the CIA involved with MKUltra.

Upside Down

ミA彡 and I finished “Stranger Things” last night, and one of the things that arrested me in the last episode was a song by Moby:

Moby • When It's Cold I'd Like to Die

Where were you when I was lonesome?
Locked away with freezing cold
Someone flying only stolen
I can’t tell this light so old

I don’t want to swim the ocean
I don’t want to fight the tide
I don’t want to swim forever
When it’s cold I’d like to die

“When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die”” by “Moby” •

And it totally took me way back to all those times when I felt lost at sea and impossibly far away from shore, and imagining swimming the ocean forever until I grew too weary and too cold and finally drowned.


I never got into D&D enough to know about the Demogorgon appearing in an expansion to the first release of basic D&D, but apparently there are even references in Orlando Furioso, The Faerie Queen, and Paradise Lost. I only know about the Demogorgon because of the Commodore 64 game “The Forbidden Forest”

In Other News

My brother is going to be a father!

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, and family

Crazification Factor

In light of all the people voting for Trump and all the people refusing to vote for Clinton, this seems apt.

Obama vs. Alan Keyes. Keyes was from out of state, so you can eliminate any established political base; both candidates were black, so you can factor out racism; and Keyes was plainly, obviously, completely crazy. Batshit crazy. Head-trauma crazy. But 27% of the population of Illinois voted for him. They put party identification, personal prejudice, whatever ahead of rational judgement. Hell, even like 5% of Democrats voted for him. That’s crazy behaviour. I think you have to assume a 27% Crazification Factor in any population.

Lunch Discussions #145: The Crazification Factor • 2005 Oct 7 • John Rogers • Kung Fu Monkey

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, and politics

Bernie or Busters and Moderate Republicans

It is interesting that there seems to be more venom reserved for Bernie-or-busters compared to moderate Republicans who think Trump is a disaster but can’t stand the idea of voting for Clinton. Both these demographics’ interests can at least be partially served by voting for Clinton, but for some reason, holding out because you’re a Republican is more virtuous than holding out because you’re a progressive.

Do classical moderate Republicans have significant issues with Cinton’s foreign policy? (I’m definitely not talking about the insane people who keep yelling about e-mails and Benghazi.) Because in my mind, there seems to be a lot of overlap. Maybe even more so than with Obama.

And for the moderates who are truly small government minarchist/libertarian, Clinton’s positions on trade and civil liberties seem far more favorable to their causes than Trump’s.

America First vs. Russia and N. Korea First

Now that Donald Trump is officially the Republican nominee, the Democratic Party is the only major political party in this country that actually puts America first.

Are You Really as Pragmatic as You Say You Are?

Any approach to convincing people to vote for your candidate of choice that does not include listening and empathy is doomed to failure and likely to strengthen their opposition (see also: argumentative theory of reasoning and the backfire effect.) Proceed with caution.1

It’s human nature. If people are truly as pragmatic as they say they are and not merely ideological in the guise of pragmatism, I think it would be important to keep this in mind.2

  1. crossposted on Facebook

  2. crossposted on Facebook

First Woman Presidential Candidate

Hooray, we’re finally catching up with the rest of the Western world as well as a lot of developing countries!

Hillary Clinton Becomes First Female Nominee of Major U.S. Political Party • 2016 Jul 26 • Carrie Dann • NBC News

Just Becase They Weren't Indicted for Corruption Doesn't Mean They Weren't Corrupt

Pet peeve: Whenever someone commits an act that is ethically/morally problematic and the first thing people say is “Well, it’s not like it was illegal….”

Farewell, Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Honestly, the ousting of DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz was long overdue, well before Sanders started his campaign. It would’ve been only a matter of time before she ran the Democratic Party into the ground with her inept ground game and her active alienation of significant portions of the party membership. I can’t help feel that if someone else more inspiring and diplomatic were at the helm, we might not have done as badly in 2012 and 2014.1

Few Democrats will miss Wasserman Schultz, who was widely seen as an ineffective leader. She was a poor communicator whose gaffes often caused the party headaches; a mediocre fundraiser; and a terrible diplomat more apt to alienate party factions than bring them together.

  1. crossposted on Facebook

BoBs and PUMAs

There is definitely a contingent of Sanderistas who were never Democrats and who will never vote for Clinton, very similar to the PUMAs who refused to vote for Obama. Clinton will never win them over.

But there is also a contingent of Sanders supporters who have been Democrats all their (mostly young) lives and who see returning to the New Deal/Great Society roots of the party as the only path for the future of the party. They’re not going to vote for Trump, but the concern is that they might go Green or not vote at all.

In the end, Clinton’s biggest enemy is probably apathy and lack of enthusiasm. The number of people who might stay home will massively dwarf any defectors to the Green party or even the Sanders concern trolls who will vote for Trump. The key is to inspire the apathetic and unenthusiastic. And I’m not sure how she’s going to do that.1

It’s not a matter of Clinton simply coaxing Sanders supporters back into the fold — many were never in the fold to begin with.

The margin between Obama and McCain was large enough that the PUMAs made no significant difference in 2008, but they definitely did exist and probably had an effect. And there are probably more hard core Sanderistas and the projected margin between Clinton and Trump is far slimmer.2

Pre-election polls from 2008 suggest that Obama might have done slightly worse (-1%) with Democrats than Kerry did in 2004 which might be the full extent of the PUMA effect.

  1. crossposted on Facebook

  2. crossposted on Facebook

Foreign Influence

We’ve been influencing other democracies’ elections for a long time now (Yay, Monroe Doctrine!) through propaganda, espionage, material support to our preferred regimes, and even overt military intervention. I suppose it was only a matter of time until what went around came around.1

The FBI says Russia hacked the DNC. US officials say crushing Hillary and electing Trump was Putin’s goal—but that “trying to manipulate an election is not” a crime, so what the FBI can do is limited.

FBI: Russia hacked DNC. US officials: Electing Trump, crushing Clinton was Putin’s goal. • 2016 Jul 25 • Xeni Jardin • Boing Boing

I am surprised that trying to influence an election using black-hat tactics isn’t a crime.

  1. crossposted on Facebook

The Case for Pessimism

Positive thinking has a downside.

People who positively fantasise don’t tend to perform as well as people who think more negatively – we achieve our goals in our minds and feel good in the moment, but over time, reality catches up. There’s a link between positive thinking, poor performance, disappointment and depression. Don’t look on the bright side

Don’t think too positive • Fantasies about the future have a troubling effect on achieving actual goals. If positive thinking doesn’t work, what does? • 2016 Jul 25 • Gabriele Oettingen • Aeon

Correlation does not necessarily imply causation and all that, but in a country where the idea of positive thinking is such a huge part of our culture and our myths and drives so much of our economy, and people’s misfortunes get frequently blamed on their own lack of positive thinking, it’s probably not a terrible idea to examine the dark side of positive thinking.1

  1. crossposted on Facebook

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, and pessimism

Yes, People Die in the U.S. Because of Our Politics

It’s ridiculous to argue that people in this country don’t get killed for political reasons.

Gun violence in America, explained in 17 maps and charts • 2016 Jul 25 • German Lopez • Vox

High as the Expectations

The radio has been playing the shit out of “Too Good” by Drake featuring Rihanna.

(This is a cover since I don’t think the official video is on YouTube)

Jasmine Thompson • Too Good

For the longest time, I had been mishearing the lyric “high as the expectations” as “hi-azy expectations”, like a portmanteau of “high” and “crazy”, which actually makes a lot of sense in context.

Also, I learned that “cock up your bumper” is a common idiom for anal penetration. #CaptainObvious

see also: - ““Love Yuh Bad”” by “Popcaan” • “Genius” - ““Cock Up Your Bumper”” by “Elephant Man ft. Big Tigger” • “AZLyrics”

Angels Don't Let Me Down

The first time I heard “Don’t Let Me Down” by the Chainsmokers featuring Daya was a couple of days before my and ミA彡’s wedding and it immediately made me think of “Angels” by the XX.

The Chainsmokers featuring Daya • Don't Let Me Down
The XX • Angels

Which brings me to this mashup of TLC with the XX:

Bastille featuring Ella • No Angels
posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, and playlist

Enterprise is Still Canon

It really cracks me up that while the Star Trek reboot totally altered the Prime Universe from TOS and beyond, “Star Trek: Enterprise” is still necessarily canon.

“Star Trek Beyond” even makes overt references to ST:E. The Xindi Wars. The MACOs.

The U.S.S. Franklin is even an NX class vessel (although it’s weird that despite being able to only go Warp 4, it has a higher registry number (NX-326) than the Enterprise NX-01, which is capable of Warp 5.) The original crew of the U.S.S. Franklin wears the blue uniform of pre-Federation Starfleet.

Put Out the Fires First

It troubles met that on the same day that Hillary Clinton picked a centrist Democrat as her running mate, Wikileaks released documentation of the DNC actively trying to suppress Bernie Sanders’ campaign.

In isolation, the Tim Kaine pick is neutral at worst, but in conjunction with the DNC’s obvious distaste for progressive politics, it brings back into question whether or not Clinton will actually pursue the Democratic Party agenda that was inspired mostly by Sanders.

Backlash from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is probably to be expected and the neoliberal wing of the Democratic Party is likely to end up on the defensive.

Instead of fighting conservatives and fascists, they’ll end up having to shore up their leftward flank instead, and the outcome in November might be terrible.

There’s the analogy of choosing between getting your head cut off and getting your limbs cut off. The “rational” and “objective” people think it’s obvious that getting your head cut off is the worse decision.

I don’t want Trump to win but I fear he will because the people who want Clinton to win do not seem to care at all about the people who feel like they have no political voice.

If the System has worked out for you, the choice is easy, but if you have no stake in the System or if the System is actually actively harming or even killing you, getting your head chopped off might not even be your worst option.

And I will admit, on the net balance, the System has worked for me. But I work regularly with people who are younger than I am who have more people depending on them than I do who haven’t been anywhere nearly as fortunate as I’ve been.

And while I’ve never talked about politics directly with them because it’s not my place and it has no bearing on how I serve them, I try my best to empathize with their situations.

And if you’re on fire and someone tells you that you have to decide right now whether to get your head chopped off or your limbs choped off, that decision might not really seem like the most urgent thing.

The only way to reach them is to put out the fire first. And 108 days isn’t a lot of time to do that.

I suspect that demonizing people for not wanting to vote for Clinton is not going to be a very successful strategy for convincing them to vote for Clinton.

If you’re demanding that people with fewer resources than you just suck it up and do things your way with the threat of utter catastrophe looming over their heads and you’re not helping them get what they need—what they’re asking for—to survive, and you’re not helping remove the barriers that keep them from doing things your way, then you’re just punching down.


While this is the actual dialog between Charles Kelsey and the cop who shot him despite Kelsey being on the floor with his hands up (and the cop was allegedly trying to shoot an autistic man with a toy truck instead), I can’t help but feel like this can apply to a lot of things that are done in or by this country.

Q: Why did you shoot me? A: I don't know. #America2016

via mdmagicsquared


It looks like Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson are about to drop an album.

Stephen Hawking, Bill Nye, and Neil deGrasse Tyson

h/t Tad D.

(see also What’s the story behind this picture? • Quora)

…although, yeah, you can measure very cold things in Kelvin, too. So I guess they should’ve said “…so hot they have to express the temperature in terakelvin….”

They Will Shoot You Anyway

Jesus fucking Christ. At least Charles Kinsey isn’t dead. And it is Florida. But what the fuck?

Florida police shoot black man lying down with arms in air • 2016 Jul 21 • Amanda Holpuch • The Guardian

Statistical Arguments For and Against the Existence of Finland

There is a 50/50 chance that Finland does not exist.

There are approximately 5.4 million Finnish people, right? That’s out of roughly 7.4 billion humans on the planet. That means Finns make up 0.0729% of the planet.

That’s not even a tenth of a percent. That means that more than 99.9% of the world isn’t Finnish. How do we know this? Government censuses.

Now the best government censuses have a margin of error of about 1%. So Finns make up 0.0729% of the planet, plus or minus 1%.

In conclusion, there’s a 50/50 chance Finland does not exist.

from Very Finnish Problems (h/t Iris J.)

Which reminds me of a passage from The Restaurant at the End of the Universe by Douglas Adams:

It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.


Do people even have access to thesauruses (thesauri?) anymore?1

Honestly, it wouldn’t have been such a massive deal if they hadn’t gone on the offensive in the aftermath. The thing that I find offensive and contemptible is how stupid they think we all are.2

Trump camp admits Melania speech passages came from Michelle Obama’s speech • 2016 Jul 20 • Timothy B. Lee • Vox

  1. crossposted on Facebook

  2. crossposted on Facebook

Non-Standard Numbers

I’m sure “non-standard numbers” has a different meaning in the context of finance(?), but now I can’t help but imagine that the Windows implementations of integers and floats is somehow bizarrely awry.

Under pressure from SEC, Microsoft refines use of non-standard numbers • 2016 Jul 20 • Francine McKenna • MarketWatch

Ghostbusters AR

Does anybody remember the 8-bit C64/Atari 800 version of Ghostbusters released by Activision where you wander around the streets of NYC trying to make money and keep the PKE meter low? Pokemon Go makes me think they should release an AR version of this.

crossposted on

Ray Parker Jr. and Adam Bellin • Ghostbusters


I can’t explain it, but I never really liked the word “amazing”. It’s even worse now that I can’t tell when people are using it to denote something wonderful vs. something bewilderingly awful.

Louis C.K. • The Way We Talk

(h/t Jed H-K)

Master of Deflection

In Trump’s America™, it’s Hillary Clinton’s fault that Melania Trump’s speechwriters plagiarized Michelle Obama’s speech.

You do have to hand it to them, though. An entire day dedicated to anti-immigrant sentiment and white supremacy, and this is all we can talk about.

Hit the Dance Floor

Is it strange that this song with a tropical beat reminds me of my honeymoon with ミA彡 in Iceland, which is the first place I ever heard it.

Sia ft. Sean Paul • Cheap Thrills

Willful Stupidity

There shouldn’t be such great shame with being stupid, but it’s harder to be magnanimous to someone being willfully stupid who sincerely thinks they’re smarter than you are.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

Robert Hanlon

Any sufficiently advanced form of stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.

Grey’s Corollary

Justice vs. Antistatism

If you’ve decided to totally conflate people killing cops with people standing up for their right of due process and right to equal protection, that’s really on you. You’re the one committing a grave category error that will only ensure things will get far worse.

Non-Complementary Behavior

On the way to Santa Barbara, ミA彡 and I listened to an episode of Invisibilia about non-complementary behavior.

The idea is that the usual way we interact with each other is complementarity: if you are nice and friendly, then I am apt to be nice and friendly to you, but if you are angry and belligerent, then I am likely to be angry and belligerent in return.

Practicing non-complementarity is trying to break out of this pattern.

Psychology has a golden rule: If I am warm, you are usually warm. If I am hostile, you are too. But what happens if you flip the script and meet hostility with warmth? It’s called “non-complimentary behavior” - a mouthful, but a powerful concept, and very hard to execute. Alix Spiegel and Hanna Rosin examine three attempts to pull it off: during a robbery, a terrorism crisis and a dating dry spell.

Flip The Script • 2016 Jul 17 • Invisibilia

Non-complementarity is a powerful tactic that can help change behavior. It’s probably no accident that it is a prominent tenet of many major religions.

But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:27-31 NRSV

It’s also probably no accident that it features prominently in successful social change.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Limitations of Thermodynamics and Weight Loss

Yes, weight loss is dependent on thermodynamic factors (energy expended must be greater than energy consumed) but any approach that ignores psychological factors and the neurohormonal profiles that impact these psychological factors is doomed to failure.

How Artificial Sweeteners May Cause Us to Eat More • 2016 Jul 12 • Bret Stetka • Scientific American

Fix the Distribution System Instead of Just Increasing Yields

Standard disclaimer: I am not anti-science by any means and I do not believe that GMOs are intrinsically toxic but I am wary of those who push GMOs without question and who are quick to label those who are wary of GMOs and Big Ag in general as anti-science, especially if they are (1) worried about a Malthusian catastrophe, (2) think that increasing yields is the only way to prevent starvation, and (3) think that laissez-faire capitalism is the only way to efficiently distribute food.

Half of all US food produce is thrown away, new research suggests • 2016 Jul 13 • Suzanne Goldenberg

Despite the fact that mass industrialized agriculture is highly productive, it’s a sad fact that the U.S. has disproportionately high rates of hunger, malnutrition, and starvation.

This has everything to do with the way food is distributed and unless this is ameliorated, merely increasing yields is likeyl to simply increase waste.

Cold Weather and Cold Viruses

So maybe mom was right and going out in the cold is exactly how you catch colds.

Cold Viruses Attack When Your Immune System Is Cold • 2016 Jul 11 • Alex Berezow • American Council on Science and Health

Post-Antibiotic Era

It’s a slow rolling back of the tide, but at some point it will become difficult if not impossible to perform certain surgical procedures and to keep people with certain disease and conditions alive.

All Dogs Go to Heaven

I’d been contemplating death lately. Between the great tragedies of the world and the smaller tragedies of my friends and family, it’s the only thing we know for sure.

The one death that I think about a lot—because for the longest time I felt like my reaction was grossly disproportionate—was of my dog Angel.

Vox • 2016 Jul 11 • Alvin Chang

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, Angel, and death

At the Mouth of Monkeypatching Hell

For a while now, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to decrease the amount of time it takes [Jekyll][1] to render my blog. It now takes up to 6-8 minutes, which seems rather excessive.

So I tried pre-rendering a ton of pages instead of using Liquid to iterate through all date-based and tag-based archives, not to mention the custom taxonomies I implemented. But the place where Jekyll really gets stuck are the date-based and tag-based archives. I only recently found out that jekyll-archive actually disables incremental regeneration, which means I have to re-render the whole damn thing no matter what.

So jekyll-archive needed to go. And I started writing some code. And I think I might be on the verge of writing my own code engine, if I can figure out how to implement Liquid templates.

While on this long journey trying to rewrite the bulk of Jekyll functionality, being as how I’m just an amateur coder, I contemplated some crazy techniques. The Internet did successfully convince me that trying to subclass Array or Hash would be a horrific idea.

The Internet has not yet successfully convinced me of the madness of monkeypatching Time.

It feels wrong, but I’m not sure writing my own Time-like class is the right thing to do either.

Time will tell, I suppose.

Sexualizing Imperialism

I don’t know if this is really true, but it struck me that in that many cases, people describe the country that they’re from as the “motherland” when they’re immigrants or the children of immigrants. (And it’s generally no accident that the country they currently live probably colonized the country that they or their parents came from.)

Which makes me wonder if people who live in the country of their birth are more apt to use the term “fatherland”.

Which also reminds me that while we have “patriotism” we don’t have “matriotism”.

OK, actually, we do have matriotism, but its coinage definitely seems historically/politically revisionist.

matriotism · Google ngrams

Automation and the Increasing Value of Social Skills

Automation has already happened. The robots have already taken over most of the jobs that robots can perform. And it’s already had major effects.

crossposted on

The Best Jobs Now Require You To Be A People Person • 2015 Aug 25 • Andrew Flowers • FiveThirtyEight

…“[C]omputers aren’t good at simulating human interaction….” …That means a job as a manager or consultant is harder to automate, and the skills those jobs require become more valuable.

Has there been a slowdown in growth of high-wage, technical jobs, or is there simply a shift in growth toward jobs that also require high social skills? It seems to be the latter.

…most of the employment growth in jobs requiring cognitive skills occurred in those that also required interpersonal skills. Think of doctors, lawyers and management consultants. Purely technical occupations — those requiring knowledge of math but fewer social skills, such as actuaries, machinists, electricians, billing clerks — have fared badly since 2000 in both pay and job growth. Even jobs with low math but high social skills have grown — lawyers and physical therapists, for example.


If not revolution, then at least incrementalism.

Sanders scores platform victory, calls for $15 minimum wage • 2016 Jul 9 • Catherine Lucey and Ken Thomas • PBS Newshour

Democrats’ new platform adopts many Sanders demands • 2016 Jul 10 • Chris Megerian • Los Angeles Times

The Democratic Party has moved left after Bernie Sanders’s run. The platform is proof. • 2016 Jul 11 • Jeff Stein • Vox

The Ethics and Societal Ramifications of Adopting Robot Bombs as a Law Enforcement Tactic

Disclaimer: I unequivocally condemn the actions of Michael Xavier Johnson and I can’t help but wonder if his actual aim was not just to terrorize law enforcement officials but also to discredit the Black Lives Matter movement.

I’m not sure how many people are really tripping about the fact that they used a “robot bomb” to kill a heavily armed suspect after the failure of negotiations instead of snipers or something, but it seems clear that the real controversy among law enforcement officers is whether a tactic that has formerly been reserved for active warfare has a place in day-to-day law enforcement.

Similar to the controversy of using UAVs to kill suspects remotely, I imagine the real concern among civil libertarians especially in the wake of the killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile is the likelihood that this tactic will be abused and the likelihood that the right to due process will be further abridged.1

When a reporter asked the POTUS about “living in a perpetual state of war” I wasn’t sure if he was asking about fighting terrorists abroad or asking about life in the U.S. with militarized police and a heavily armed populace.2

see also: - ‘Bomb Robot’ Takes Down Dallas Gunman, but Raises Enforcement Questions • 2016 Jul 8 • Henry Fountain and Michael S. Schmidt • New York Times - Use of Dallas ‘bomb robot’ to kill revives police militarization issue • 2016 Jul 8 • Dustin Volz and Isma’il Kushkush • Reuters - Why the Dallas police had explosives, and how those explosives were fatal • 2016 Jul 8 • Philip Bump • Washington Post

  1. crossposted on

  2. crossposted on

posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga

The Slippery Slope of Extrajudicial Killing

Yes, it’s possible that blowing up Michael Xavier Johnson with a robot-delivered bomb saved lives, but at the same time, this is basically one more step down the road of relying on extrajudicial killing to maintain law and order instead of allowing the criminal justice system to work as intended. In addition to robotic bombers, it’s not difficult to imagine LE relying on heavily armed drones to take out suspects. And if it’s a human rights violation for the POTUS to take out suspected terrorists with drones without due process, surely it’s also a violation of civil rights if local and federal LE do the same thing.

crossposted on

Using a Bomb Robot to Kill a Suspect Is an Unprecedented Shift in Policing • 2016 Jul 8 • Jason Koebler and Brian Anderson • Motherboard

That the suspect is heavily armed does not necessarily mean deadly force is necessary to subdue the suspect, considering that both the Charleston church shooter and the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooter were taken alive.1

  1. crossposted on

It Was an Isolated Incident

Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent on Utah v. Strieff, a Fourth Amendment case about police searches:

We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are “isolated.” They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.

Utah v. Strieff • 2016 Jun 20 • Supreme Court of the United States

See also: - “No One Can Breathe in This Atmosphere” • Everyone should read Justice Sonia Sotomayor on how police stops are life-and-death experiences for people of color • 2016 Jul 7 • Dahlia Lithwick • Slate - Justice Sotomayor’s Ringing Dissent • 2016 Jun 20 • Matt Ford • The Atlantic - You need to read Sonia Sotomayor’s devastating, Ta-Nehisi Coates-citing Supreme Court dissent • 2016 Jun 20 • Victoria M. Massie • Vox

The Continual Whitewashing of Science Fiction

Whitewash all the things.

crossposted on

No mention at all of Octavia Butler? Really?

The NYT Called This White Guy “Daring” for Tackling Slavery Through Sci-Fi. Uh, No. • Slate’s Culture Blog • 2016 Jul 6 • J. Holtham • Browbeat • Slate


One of my regrets in life is when I once went to the Midnight Special Bookstore in Santa Monica when Octavia Butler was signing books. I wanted her to sign my used copy of the Xenogenesis trilogy but I could only find my beat-up paperback copy of Adulthood Rites and I got shy and didn’t ask her for an inscription.1

I also find it ironic that the only reason I started reading Octavia Butler was because Orson Scott Card used her writing in multiple examples in his book How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy2

  1. crossposted on

  2. crossposted on

Not So Synchronous

In some tangential synchronicity to this post about Don Quixote I learned from digging through some Ruby documentation that Cervantes and Shakespeare did not in fact die on the same day, since Spain had already adopted the Gregorian calendar at that point while England was still on the Julian calendar.

When should you use DateTime and when should you use Time? • DateTime • Ruby Std-lib 2.3.1

Don Quixote, Neo, and Tyler Durden

I’ve been binge-watching “The Expanse” and all the Don Quixote references have made me ponder how Cervantes basically anticipated a lot of the themes in “The Matrix” and in “Inception” and it’s making my perception of “The Expanse” feel way more Philip K. Dick-ian than it might deserve.

With the mention of the grueling physical violence that the protagonist is subjected to, it also makes me realize that Cervantes anticipated a lot of the tropes in “Fight Club” (and by extension, “Mr. Robot”)

There’s a Reddit post about how “Fight Club” is really just Don Quixote from the viewpoint of Sancho Panza, but I think that’s off the mark. “Fight Club” is Don Quixote from the viewpoint of Alfonso Quixano, and I wonder if someone has already written an actual version of Don Quixote in this manner….

Did Miguel de Cervantes Invent Fiction With ‘Don Quixote’? • 2016 Feb 17 • Jonathon Sturgeon • Flavorwire (h/t S.L.)

crossposted on

The Howling Hobbesian Wilderness

I think one of the ways our culture contributes to ongoing violence is the way it consecrates and sanctifies Darwinian competition. So ultimately all our relationships are adversarial. You’re either for us or against us. You have to pick a side. It’s a zero-sum game. There’s no room for more complex paradigms involving sincere cooperation and altruism. The idea that we’re not just all selfish assholes looking out for #1 is looked upon with utter disdain and contempt.

crossposted on

It Depends on Your Definition of Monster, I Guess

White privilege is being able to say that someone who owned people and likely de facto raped them wasn’t a monster.

crossposted on

Thomas Jefferson Was Not a Monster • 2012 Oct 19 • Annette Gordon-Reed • Slate

Islamophobia is Merely Racism

It’s obvious that there’s a racist component to Islamophobia. It’s mostly just another excuse to hate brown and black people, especially when you consider that so many victims of Islamophobia in the U.S. aren’t even Muslim.

crossposted on

Bosnian Muslims in Southern California may not fit the stereotype but they feel the prejudice • 2016 Jul 4 • Sarah Parvini • Los Angeles Times

Like A Christian Bombing St. Peter's Basilica on Easter Sunday

It’s hard to imagine a real Muslim bombing and killing people during the second holiest Islamic city during an Islamic holy month right after he’d been offered breakfast by fellow Muslims.

crossposted on

Medina explosion: Suicide bombing near Saudi holy site • 2016 Jul 4 • BBC News

There’s a fine line where saying “it’s because of their religion” stops being at all logically explanatory and starts becoming victim-blaming xenophobia, but, hey, that’s what’s popular these days.

crossposted on

ISIS is an Enemy of Islam

The U.S. has never needed religious reasons for murdering indigenous people and killing people in other countries. So I kind of suspect it’s not necessarily religion that promotes mass murder and I don’t think anyone in the U.S. has the moral high ground here.1

This One Tweet Perfectly Sums Up What Everyone Is Missing About The Istanbul Terrorist Attacks • 2016 Jun 29 • Isaac Saul • A Plus (via George Takei)

It’s also clear that you needn’t be religious to be dogmatic and self-righteous and judgemental and to propagate hate that leads to violence.2

  1. crossposted on

  2. crossposted on

The Stench of Cutting People Open

To me, the smell of a Bovie searing tissue is more disturbing intellectually than it is viscerally. It’s the bacterial odors that incite involuntary disgust in me. Opening up abscesses—many of which I’ve done in a totally outpatient setting—have made me instantaneously nauseated. The stench of Pseudomonas and of Staph are instantly recognizable to me. I’m gagging just thinking about it.

Surgery’s Open Secret: It Smells • 2016 Apr 29 • Sarah Laskow • Atlas Obscura

crossposted on

I Want A New Duck

So I woke up this morning for some reason with “I Want A New Duck” stuck in my head.

It’s a Weird Al Yankovic parody of a song by Huey Lewis and the News, and the reason why I was even exposed to it is because Disney once had this cartoon docudrama about Donald Duck’s life.

Weird Al Yankovic • I Want a New Duck
Down & Out with Donald Duck
Huey Lewis and the News • I Want a New Drug

I think it’s bizarre that Disney would use a song that was originally about recreational drug use.

But the other weird thing that my brain did was mash it up with the bass line from “Poison” by Bell Biv Devoe.

Bell Biv Devoe • Poison
posted by Author's profile picture mahiwaga
tagged: mahiwaga, and earworms

Two Months

ミA彡 and I have been married for two months now!

Life, the universe, and everything can be pretty amazing sometimes!

U.K. vs. E.U. on Xenophobia

From what I understand, no matter how you spin it, a lot of voters in the Leave camp are anti-immigrant.

While most sane people realize that even if the U.K. leaves the E.U. and builds a wall like Trump wants for the U.S. that the immigration situation would remain unchanged, I can still imagine this ultimatum making it explicit will make all the xenophobes foam at the mouth.

EU to Britain: No access to single market without migration • 2016 Jun 29 • Angela Charlton and Lorne Cook • Yahoo! Finance

Brexit, Neoliberalism, and Global Capitalism

Between Donald Trump and the Brexit (not to mention all the other ultranationalist populist movements in Europe) sometimes I feel like Western Civilization is in terminal decline.

The post-apocalypse will be a fight between the people who believe neoliberalism and global capitalism have failed vs. the people who believe liberal democracy has failed.

Brexit was a rejection of Britain’s governing elite. Too bad the elites were right. • 2016 Jun 25 • Jeremy Shapiro • Vox

crossposted on

Ultimately, the Brexit was a populist reaction towards the political and economic system of neoliberalism and global capitalism that a majority of people believe has failed them.

It’s clear that this discontent is fermenting worldwide. The popularity of Sanders and of Trump is clear evidence that this discontent is significantly present in the U.S.

Sanders and democratic socialism would’ve been a progressive way to address the failings of neoliberalism and global capitalism. In contrast, Trumpism is an anti-democratic reactionary answer to those failings.

But it’s clear that ignoring those failings is a great way to lose elections.

It amazes me how the New York Times, Washington Post, and other mainstream media continue to analyze Bernie’s campaign successes without acknowledging the power of his message. That’s also been the response of the Democratic Party — wondering how to win over Bernie’s supporters without Bernie’s message. The truth is, his message was (and continues to be) the heart of his appeal.

Robert Reich

Bernie Sanders Campaign Showed How to Turn Viral Moments into Money • 2016 Jun 24 • Nick Corasaniti • New York Times