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SgrA*, George Carlin, VT escape, clean air danger, bread and "real" bread
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Published Thursday, May 12, 2022 @ 9:01 PM EDT
May 12 2022

SagA*

Groundbreaking Discovery: First ever image of the Milky Way’s Supermassive black hole. The image is a long-anticipated look at the massive object that sits at the very centre of our galaxy. Here's an explanatory video.

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Remembering George Carlin

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This is the safest place to live in the US as the climate changes (TL;DR: Vermont)

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Young Americans say abortion access matters for future moves. The majority of young people surveyed in a poll responded that abortion access is at least "somewhat important" in determining where they'll live in the future.

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You just can't win. Study finds cleaner air leads to more Atlantic hurricanes. A 50% decrease in pollution particles and droplets in Europe and the U.S. is linked to a 33% increase in Atlantic storm formation in the past couple decades, while the opposite is happening in the Pacific with more pollution and fewer typhoons, according to the study published in Wednesday's Science Advances.

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US overdose deaths hit record 107,000 last year, CDC says. The provisional 2021 total translates to roughly one U.S. overdose death every five minutes. It marked a 15% increase from the previous record, set the year before.

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The confirmation of a third Democrat to the Federal Trade Commission could pose trouble for Amazon and Elon Musk.

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Russia is resorting to putting computer chips from dishwashers and refrigerators in tanks due to US sanctions, official says.

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Things you should know: Why modern sandwich bread is different from "real" bread.

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Tweets, observations, and diversions:

Starbucks raised prices after reporting a 31% increase in profits. Same with Tyson, who posted $1 billion in profits last quarter — a 48% increase from the first quarter of 2021. Get the picture?
-Robert Reich

When Richard Nixon Wanted to be a Rapper. Yes, that Richard Nixon.

So the same people killing us by denying the fact that masks & vaccines work are ALSO the experts on when human life begins?
-Jon Cooper

KGB is taking the day off tomorrow. The report will return on Monday.


Categories: Abortion, amazon.com, Black Holes, Climate change, Elon Musk, FTC, George Carlin, Opioids, Sagittarius A*, Ukraine, Weather


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ICE, Derby delays, Sssh!, Mickey a target, finding things, George Carlin
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Published Wednesday, May 11, 2022 @ 4:23 PM EDT
May 11 2022


This just in: You thought joy was within reach, but you were wrong.
(New Yorker)

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ICE 'now operates as a domestic surveillance agency,' think tank says. Although it's supposed to be restricted by surveillance rules at local, state and federal levels, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has built up a mass surveillance system that includes details on almost all US residents, according to a report from a major think tank.

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More people watched replays of the Kentucky Derby than watched it live. NBC said some 36 million people watched the exciting finish of horseracing's premier event on NBC Sports' social media accounts, including 11.6 million on TikTok, the most ever achieved for a network sports presentation. That doesn't account for non-NBC outlets, for which there was no estimate available.

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Congress targets loud commercials on streaming services The update would extend the current law governing broadcast, cable, and satellite to streaming services, as well as beef up the Federal Communications Committee's ability to go after violations and mandate a study of the effectiveness of the law to date.

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GOP goes after Mickey Mouse: Josh Hawley targets Disney with bill to reverse its copyright protections. Disney's copyright on Steamboat Willie, the first appearance of Mickey Mouse, is set to expire next year. Although there has been some speculation that the company would seek a further extension, they were likely would face opposition to such a move even before the latest GOP efforts to target the company in the culture wars.

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The bottom line:

  • The Turnaway Study followed groups of women who wanted abortions for five years. Two-thirds of the group that was unable to get abortions were living in poverty within six months, compared to 45% of the group that was able to receive the procedure.
  • In 1970, prior to Roe v. Wade, women's labor force participation rate was about 43%. Scholars argue that abortion access was an important factor in raising that rate to 57.4% by 2019.
  • A 2020 paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that being denied abortion access causes bankruptcies and evictions experienced by women to rise by 81%, and increases the amount of debt women hold that is 30+ days past due by 78%.

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Pilot down, passenger takes over with 'no idea how to fly', lands safely with help from air traffic controller. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Rick Breitenfeldt confirmed that the pilot and passenger were the only two people aboard. The agency is investigating, he said in an email. There was no immediate word on the condition of the pilot, and authorities didn’t release their identities.

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Something useful: Twelve principles for finding things you've lost. (I would have posted this sooner, but I couldn't locate the link.)

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Tweets, observations, and diversions:

The strange afterlife of George Carlin Nearly 14 years after his death, his provocative humor has been embraced by people across the political spectrum. What happens when comedy outlasts the era it was made for?

Shell announces plans to plant single tree for every irreversible planetary disaster it causes. (The Onion)

Musk sells Twitter after it fails to make him interesting. (New Yorker: Borowitz)


Categories: Abortion, Andy Borowitz, Copyright, Disney, George Carlin, ICE, Josh Hawley, Kentucky Derby, Mickey Mouse


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Marilyn, Donovan, Bono, Musk, Trump, book bans, iPods, Las Vegas stiffs and climate change
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Published Tuesday, May 10, 2022 @ 5:22 PM EDT
May 10 2022

Marilyn

Warhol's 'Marilyn,' at $195 million, shatters auction record for an American artist. Not bad for a kid from Pittsburgh's Oakland neighborhood. (NY Times free article)

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Elon Musk says he'll reverse Donald Trump's Twitter ban. Swell.

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The next book ban: States aim to limit titles students can search for. Republican lawmakers across the country are proposing legislation that would target online library databases and library management technology- tools built by a half-dozen large companies that catalogue millions of books, journals and articles that students peruse for assignments.

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Baby formula shortage worsens: About 40% of popular brands sold out across US. The ongoing infant formula shortage isn't over yet- and appears to be getting worse.

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Ukraine is rebuilding cities as fast as Russia destroyed them. (Washington Post free article).

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Earth given 50-50 chance of hitting key warming mark by 2026. The odds are inching up along with the thermometer. Last year, the same forecasters put the odds at closer to 40% and a decade ago it was only 10%.

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Oddly-related climate story: Bodies surfacing in Lake Mead recall mob's time in Las Vegas. "There's no telling what we'll find in Lake Mead," former Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman said Monday. "It's not a bad place to dump a body."

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The end of an era: Apple discontinues iPod touch, ending 20 year run of iconic 'iPod' brand. The number of devices made obsolete in my lifetime is into two figures and growing...

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Speaking of obsolete technology, on this date in 1975, Sony introduced the Betamax videocassette recorder.

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Donovan (Donovan Phillips Leitch ) is 76 today.

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Bono (Paul David Hewson) is 62 today.

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Microsoft to help cover workers' travel costs for abortions. The software maker will "support employees and their enrolled dependents in accessing critical health care- which already includes services like abortion and gender- affirming care- regardless of where they live across the U.S.," according to a statement Monday. "This support is being extended to include travel expense assistance for these and other medical services where access to care is limited in availability in an employee's home geographic region."

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Tweets and observations:

Last week, Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said her confidence in the court had been "had been rocked" because justices lied during their confirmations about their intent to overturn Roe v. Wade. This week, she's voting to block Democrats' effort to codify Roe v. Wade.
-No Lie with Brian Tyler Cohen

Good morning to everyone who reported treason through proper channels and not book deals, @MarkTEsper
-Rachel Vindman!

Republicans want to keep women pregnant so their swollen feet hurt too much to stand in line for six hours and vote against them.
-Middle Age Riot

The President, whether Democrat or Republican, is not in charge of baby formula.
-Paula Poundstone

The people protesting outside the homes of the justices are just tourists engaging in legitimate political discourse.
-Covie_93


Categories: Abortion, Andy Warhol, Apple, Betamax, Bono, Book bans, Climate change, Donald Trump, Donovan, Elon Musk, iPod, Lake Mead, Las Vegas, Marilyn Monroe, Microsoft, Republicans, Sony, Ukraine


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Mother's Day, Grandmas, Orson Welles, the hot topic
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Published Friday, May 06, 2022 @ 4:33 PM EDT
May 06 2022

When I told my 95-year-old mother I planned to stop by on Mother's Day, she asked, "Are you doing it for me or are you doing it for yourself?"

This was at the end of a ten minute soliloquy- prompted by what she thought to be impudence on my part- in which she enumerated all the things she regretted doing in her life. I wasn't included by name, but an overly sensitive individual could have made that inference due to associations with certain other events and individuals she referenced.

It should have been obvious I wasn't planning to return to her house on Mother's Day because I enjoyed listening to her ramblings of what she perceived to be her past dystopian existence. I suspect my anticipated visit wouldn't be the highpoint of her day, either.

I'm going to see her on Mother's Day because that's what a son does. Especially when you're an only child. In this time of societal breakdown, it's important to uphold tradition. I respect the office, if you know what I mean.

Sunday is Mother's Day. Grandmothers are a subset of that cohort. I've done mother-related quotes in the past; this year, let's go with grandmas.

And don't forget to at least call Mom on Sunday. At best, she'll appreciate the sentiment. At worst, she'll realize everyone makes mistakes.

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A grandmother will put a sweater on you when she is cold, feed you when she is hungry, and put you to bed when she is tired.
-Erma Bombeck

A home without a grandmother is like an egg without salt.
-Florence King

Grandchildren don't make a man feel old; it's the knowledge that he's married to a grandmother.
-G. Norman Collie

If nothing is going well, call your grandmother.
-Variously attributed

Just about the time a woman thinks her job is done, she becomes a grandmother.
-Edward H. Dreschnack

Let's bring back grandmothers! A real family consists of three generations. It's time Americans stopped worrying about interference and being a burden on the children and regrouped under one roof.
-Florence King

Grandmamma had been the last connection to our past. I had understood her as some referent moral authority to whom we paid no heed, but by whose judgments we measured our waywardness.
-E.L. Doctorow

My grandmother gave me five dollars and said, 'Don't tell your mother.' I told her, 'It's going to cost you more than that.'
-Steven Wright

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She's ninety-seven now, and we don't know where the hell she is.
-Ellen DeGeneris

My grandmother was a very tough woman. She buried three husbands. Two of them were just napping.
-Rita Rudner

My grandmother was insane. She had pierced hearing aids.
-Steven Wright

To reform a man, you must begin with his grandmother.
-Victor Hugo

Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting.
-Variously attributed

Whoever said 'Grandmas are moms with lots of frosting' obviously never licked one.
-John Alejandro King (The Covert Comic)

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Remembering Orson Welles (May 6, 1915 – October 10, 1985):

On the evening of October 9, 1985, Welles recorded his final interview on the syndicated TV program The Merv Griffin Show, appearing with biographer Barbara Leaming. "Both Welles and Leaming talked of Welles's life, and the segment was a nostalgic interlude," wrote biographer Frank Brady. Welles returned to his house in Hollywood and worked into the early hours typing stage directions for the project he and Gary Graver were planning to shoot at UCLA the following day. Welles died sometime on the morning of October 10, following a heart attack.

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The Hot Topic:

"'The unborn" are a convenient group of people to advocate for. They never make demands of you; they are morally uncomplicated, unlike the incarcerated, addicted, or the chronically poor; they don't resent your condescension or complain that you are not politically correct; unlike widows, they don't ask you to question patriarchy; unlike orphans, they don't need money, education, or childcare; unlike aliens, they don't bring all that racial, cultural, and religious baggage that you dislike; they allow you to feel good about yourself without any work at creating or maintaining relationships; and when they are born, you can forget about them, because they cease to be unborn. It's almost as if, by being born, they have died to you. You can love the unborn and advocate for them without substantially challenging your own wealth, power, or privilege, without re- imagining social structures, apologizing, or making reparations to anyone. They are, in short, the perfect people to love if you want to claim you love Jesus but actually dislike people who breathe. Prisoners? Immigrants? The sick? The poor? Widows? Orphans? All the groups that are specifically mentioned in the Bible? They all get thrown under the bus for the unborn."'
-from a 2018 social media post by Dave Barnhart, a pastor at Saint Junia United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.

What are Alito's primary sources for suggesting the criminalization of women for terminating their pregnancies? One is a 1732 journal called Gentleman's Magazine. (via Slate)

The GOP doesn't want your 12 year old daughter to read "The Handmaid's Tale". But they are absolutely giddy at the thought of making her live it.
-@dan6654

For all those worried about "The Handmaid's Tale" coming true, there had to be a plague first that disrupted everything so... oh, shit.
-@iamisaided

In honor of Mother's Day, the Republican Party is trying to force more women to be mothers.
-@middleageriot

Don't like abortions?
Just ignore them like you do kids in foster care.
-@TrisResists

"Judges can't just wake up one day and say I have an agenda - I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion - and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world. It's not the law of Amy. It's the law of the American people."
-Amy Coney Barrett, 10/13/20


Categories: Abortion, Amy Coney Barrett, Dave Barnhart, Grandmothers, Mother's Day, Republicans, Roe v Wade, Supreme Court, The Handmaid's Tale


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Bonhoeffer's Theory of Stupidity is still valid
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Published Wednesday, May 04, 2022 @ 3:07 PM EDT
May 04 2022

As I've aged, I've come to feel that people are getting more stupid. Just watch the current crop of political advertising, and you'll understand what I mean. Some of these commercials are so stupid, you wonder at whom they're aimed. Dietrich Bonhoeffer offered a convincing explanation. The fact this is not a new phenomena is not comforting- especially since it has a disturbing record of success.

"If history repeats itself, and the unexpected always happens, how incapable must man be of learning from experience."
--George Bernard Shaw

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No conservative judicial nominee repeated Bork's mistake:

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"It reveals a rip in the culture of the Court that we've not seen."

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Why are gas prices so high? These obscure traders are partly to blame. "Nobody with power is looking at what they’re doing," but they're helping to drive soaring gas prices despite increased oil production.

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66 possibly ethical but probably illegal things.

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The perfect passive-agressive Mother's Day gift.

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May the Fourth be with you...

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Las Vegas outlaws grass.

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The Weird Al biopic teaser has dropped:


Categories: Abortion, Dave Brubeck, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Drought, Ethics, Gas Prices, Las Vegas, Mother's Day, Star Wars, Stupidity, Supreme Court, Weird Al Yankovic


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