Monday, September 28, 2020
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Friday, September 18, 2020
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Every year for the past decade an organization called Social Progress Imperative compiles data and statistics on a large number of factors to create an index of all the countries in the world, and their standard of living. It's an immense pool of data and I've spent a couple of weeks pouring through it.
Let's start with the conclusion - ranking countries. Here is the top 25:
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
2.2 Million Acres on Fire. There are 104.8 Million Acres in the whole state (according to a quick Google search). That means that 2.1% of the state is burning.
3,438 square miles.
All of Rhode Island and most of Delaware.So far.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Friday, September 4, 2020
So I've been restructuring my social media presence over the past couple of weeks, and one of the side effects of this is that I've changed where I get my news from. Oh, I still go to the same websites as before, but because of changes I've made to my social media what gets spoon fed to me by the various sites out there has changed dramatically. It put me in the absolutely thrilling position of telling Newt Gingrich to go fuck himself - directly. I'm also getting a lot less conspiracy garbage thrown at me, and that allows me to look more closely at reality itself.
So while you've all been hearing from the news media and the political bloggers how a woman getting her hair done has the same weight as allowing 200,000 people die, allow me to tell you what the government of the United States of America has been doing in just this past week, the first week of September 2020.
Department of Defense: This week the Pentagon ordered the cessation of publication both in print and on line of Stars and Stripes, the independent and superb newspaper of the U.S. Military. They have been independently operated and published since 1861, and that will stop at the end of this month. Because Trump is frightened of some of the stories they run, including one that says he is critical of those who have made the choice to serve, especially if they die during that service. Update: As I was finishing writing this essay news broke that the Trump Administration had backed down from shutting down Stars & Stripes. I certainly hope so. They've lied about this sort of thing before.
Department of Education: This week the Education Department has decided to reinstate Standardized Testing, which they suspended due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This has drawn sharp criticism from Governors of both major parties, as we're, you know, in the middle of a fucking pandemic! Oh, and testing isn't to be done remotely, but in person.
Department of the Treasury: Has been claiming all week that there will be a deal next week on a new stimulus package for dealing with some aspects of the fallout due to the pandemic. That would be a neat trick, considering that the Senate is only scheduled to be in session 2 days next week. Ever look at the track record of the current Treasury Secretary of actually doing the things he says he's doing? It's pretty abysmal. How the hell was this guy a successful movie producer?
Department of State: Has this week been quietly (and not so quietly) floating the idea of the U.S. leaving NATO. They also placed sanctions of two investigators from The International Court at The Hague, because it is their job to look into the possibility of war crimes in our never-ending conflict in Afghanistan. Not on the court, but on people who work for the court.
Department of Justice: The man who runs the Justice Department, who is a lawyer (a requirement to hold the post), did not know that it is a Felony to vote twice in an election, or to encourage others to do so. In other words, he didn't know that Trump broke the law when he told people to vote twice in North Carolina this week.And oh yes, he dismissed yet another Chief Prosecutor of a District Court, and believes that racism isn't a thing anymore.
Department of the Interior: Did you notice this this week was the big week? The first lots to become available for drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge came out this week. Bidding has begun on who gets to destroy millions of acres of pristine habitat!
Department of Agriculture: A leading scientist named Lewis Ziska has resigned after the government buried a paper he had written, subsidized by government study, that shows that due to the rise in Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere the nutritional value of rice has fallen to critical levels. Rice is the staple diet of a very large portion of the world, and our current government wants to to ignore this.
Department of Commerce: Still going after TikTok. They don't seem to be doing anything else.
Department of Labor: Doled out $20 Million for relief for those struggling to recover from Hurricane Laura. The actual need in economic costs (non property and non insured losses) being about $8 Billion. So about 0.25% of the need. It would have been as much as 0.75% of the need, another $40 Million, but Trump moved that money, possibly illegally, to the Department of Homeland Security to help pay to send unmarked and unregulated troops to beat people up in Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and other places.
Department of Health and Human Services: started telling people to stop getting tested, in the middle of a Pandemic that as of today's writing is sickening over 45,000 people per day and killing over 1,000.
Department of Housing and Urban Development: the ban on evictions for people under hardships because they might be one of the 50 Million people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic has been lifted. Mass evictions began this week.
Department of Transportation: The department is continuing their now month-long trend of allowing airlines to stop servicing specific routes for United Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and many more. Did you want to fly there? Well, that route has now been cancelled.
Department of Energy: This week sunk $29 Million into a total of 14 studies on technology that presently doesn't exist and that many physicist believe is impossible: Cold Fusion.
Department of Veteran Affairs: Dismissed a high level employee and a veteran herself from an important position because she has a podcast - about the Mueller investigation.
Department of Homeland Security: Suspended intelligence briefings to Congress and Presidential Candidate Joe Biden about Russian interference in the 2020 election, despite the fact that they are both entitled to these briefings, by law.
And these are just some of the big ticket items I found in just a few minutes of searching. There is lots more. Lots more.
How many of these stories did you know? A few, I'm sure, but all of them? I know about all of them because I dropped Facebook. That's the only thing I did, and so much disinformation and filtering disappeared from my news gathering sources. I learned some weeks back that the algorithms that Facebook uses to filter your content are also used by many other media sites, including news sites, who tracks through cookies your history on Facebook and uses that data as their own filtration sources.
Facebook controls what you see on about 70% of the entire internet, in terms of how that data gets filtered. That's just unacceptable. I'm perfectly fine with Facebook controlling what you see on their platforms. It's their site, let them run it as they see fit. But a lot of Facebook's money comes from selling the same filtration data for focused advertising to other companies, and they've been soaking it up. And we've been letting it happen.
I don't want Facebook to decide what I can see. I want to determine this myself. It can't be done as long as you have an active Facebook account.
This was a difficult step for me to take. I have remained in contact with many of my friends through Facebook alone, and I will lose some of them. That isn't pleasant. I'm a cranky man and it's difficult to be my friend and as such those people who are my friends a place great value on. I have discovered wonderful things thanks to Facebook. And even though I find Facebook to be a creative black hole - in that it makes the creative process harder because of the sheer overflow of garbage - I never was able to fully leave the site.
But this was a step too far for me. For all that I lose I honestly believe I will gain more. The ability to be better informed. That is my very lifeblood.
I am still here, still on twitter, still on tumblr, and will be reviving my Patreon page in the upcoming months. And because I love you, have some new Vulfpeck: