Late Night Open Thread: How Can They Tell?

What passes for ‘real’ among the Repub cognoscenti:

(FiveThirtyEight reports Trump’s current approval rating at 41.9%)

ETA: Bess Levin at Vanity Fair has an explication for the ‘Google stole mah votes!!!’ bullshite Cole mocked this morning:

Seven minutes prior to the tweet, Fox Business aired a segment discussing congressional testimony from psychologist Robert Epstein. In June, Epstein told Ted Cruz that Google’s bias had likely resulted in at least 2.6 million undecideds voting for Clinton, and that in 2020, Big Tech could band together and throw an extra 15 million-odd votes toward whomever the Democratic nominee turns out to be. As TechCrunch notes, Epstein puts out “anti-Google editorials almost monthly,” and has been attacking the company since 2012, when Google helpfully warned visitors to Epstein’s website that it had been hacked to serve malware to anyone reading it…

In April, Epstein presented another study in which he argued that Google’s algorithms are biased because their search results are dominated by news from mainstream outlets like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times, rather than conservative sites like Breitbart. In other words, Epstein’s basis for saying Google is biased is that it gives more weight to legitimate new sources and less to the since abandoned love child of Steve Bannon and erstwhile Trump sugar daddy Robert Mercer. Using this theory, Epstein tracked “47,300 searches by dozens of undecided voters in the districts of newly elected Democratic Reps. Katie Porter, Harley Rouda and Mike Levin,” and then claimed that an estimated “35,455 voters who were on the fence were persuaded to vote for a Democrat entirely because of the sources Google fed them.” Yes, people read stories from news outlets that have never had an entire section called “black crime,” and made a decision based on those stories. Or, as Epstein would put it, they were manipulated into voting for a Democrat by Google, a move the site may pull again in 2020…








{FacePalm} Open Thread: Greenland, Unlike the Trump Administration, Is Not For Sale

“Losing” — ?!?








Open Thread: This Is An Age of Miracles & Wonders

No, seriously: Cooling vests are excellent tech (I’m tempted to get one for working in the garden, assuming I can find one in my size). And also I’m glad that furries can feel comfortable enough to be interviewed by the Daily Beast:

Tired of overheating in his own fursuit, Pepeyn Langedijk adapted a military cooling vest to his own ends to create the EZ Cooldown vest. Langedijk, a resident of the Netherlands, goes by “EZ Wolf” in lupine costume and named his invention after his character.

Langedijk and his husband Tom live in Amsterdam and run the EZ Cooldown business together full-time. They met during Elfia, a medieval fantasy reenactment fair, and their hobbies led them to test their product on themselves. The team told The Daily Beast that they sold more than a thousand vests in 2018, which each retail for $215, packs included. Roughly 80 percent of the company’s sales are to U.S. customers.

The pair don’t have official military contracts, but they told The Daily Beast that a small group of U.S. Navy troops in Japan reached out to EZ Cooldown three years ago to ask if the company could ship to military bases. The service members ended up buying 10 vests, then their friends bought 20, then 30, Langedijk said. He still doesn’t know how they heard of his product…

The Dutch innovator decided to create his own slimmer cooling vest targeted to people in costume, placing cooling packs in the small of the back and high up on the chest to complement the owner’s body. On the way, he worked with partners to concoct a proprietary chemical blend that fills the packs of his vests. He released the product at “Eurofurence,” a furry convention, in 2013. Langedijk’s cosplaying friends quickly told him the design was a “game changer.”…








Open Thread: Trump Has No Friends, Just (Temporary) Accomplices

For years they ran parallel grifts, and they got along nicely. Then Don (with a little help from his Russian buddies) got a big promotion, and Tom made the mistake of thinking he could draft in his old buddy’s wake. SAD!

If Trump had been able to grasp the concept of social reciprocity as well as your average kindergartner, he wouldn’t have managed to bankrupt more than one casino. Which is probably related to the fact that nobody in Trump’s circle can be trusted alone with more than fifteen cents in cash…

Trump was “really upset” to read reports about Barrack’s role in allegedly making it easy for some foreigners and others to try to spend money to get access to Trump and his inner circle and whether some of the inauguration money was misspent, according to a senior administration official…

… According to the Mueller report, Barrack recommended that Trump hire his old friend Paul Manafort, who was initially brought onto the campaign to smooth Trump’s path at the Republican convention. Manafort went on to assume a larger role in the campaign after the firing of Corey Lewandowski, only to be ousted himself amid media scrutiny of his business dealings in Ukraine — and later to be indicted for those activities.

And as other prosecutors have dug into Barrack’s handling of the inauguration fund, Trump has privately soured on his mentor…

All the money raised for the convention, a record $107 million, was for the specific purpose of covering inauguration costs, but it came from a number of people and companies Barrack couldn’t convince to give money to the campaign or to outside groups when he was raising money for Trump during the 2016 campaign, according to the senior administration official.

“Trump improbably wins and they’re like, ‘Holy crap, I better send a check.’ They send a check to the inauguration and are like, ‘Look at me, six- or seven-figure check, I’m involved, I support your presidency,’” this person said. “But you didn’t support his candidacy three days ago.”…

The harsh spotlight goes well beyond the inauguration as Barrack, a Lebanese-American who is friendly with several Middle East leaders, has been accused of promoting his own business interests in his dealings with the president.

A report recently released by Democrats on the House Oversight and Reform Committee showed that Barrack worked with well-connected UAE businessman Rashid Al-Malik to make suggestions for an energy speech Trump gave in 2016 to be more favorable toward the Middle East and urged Manafort to get Trump to mention Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed…
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West Virginia: Warmer, Wetter, AND Drier

This article caught my eye last weekend. It’s a quick read, but the implications – for WV as a whole and rural residents who are agriculturally dependent, but also for traffic that must transit the state – are dire.

Having just driven back and forth through 4 hours of WV, I can attest to the number of bridges, and I was surprised how many of my favorite passes in Colorado were still closed because of avalanche/road damage from all the precipitation the past 18 months.  If even a few bridges are knocked out because of the combined effects of more moisture and drier, less-absorbent soils, so much commerce will grind to a halt! I know in our talks of Climate Change, rarely is attention given to infrastructure and what happens once it fails. Some places, like WV, are so dependent on bridges that a string of collapses would put a damper on a huge area’s economic activity, not to mention the permanent population shifts as the land no longer supports the people that cling to it.

An excerpt:

If nothing is done to mitigate temperature rise, the study says, Appalachia is likely to become not only hotter, but wetter and drier. How can it be both? Zegre, an associate professor of forest hydrology in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and his team, just completed a study of the entire 7 state region.  Here’s how they say it would happen: “As the atmosphere warms, evaporation increases so water that is in the trees, in the soil, in our crops, in wetlands lakes and rivers, evaporates more quickly.”  And with all that water held in the atmosphere, when it rains it pours. “In the steep topography of the Appalachian region, what this translates to, is landslides and floods.”

Article (and audio, for those interested): Appalachia to become hotter, wetter, drier

Open thread!








Fallout


This is an interesting couple of minutes of video, where Peter Beinart (a practicing Jew) points out that anyone who visits the West Bank understands the inhumanity of the conditions there. Rich Lowry, of course, falls back on Palestinian terrorism as a rationale for doing nothing. (Violence in the service of politics that Lowery endorses is “freedom fighting”. All the rest is “terrorism”.)

I don’t know if this will make any difference, but the mere fact that this conversation is going on is a product of Bibi’s inability to hop off of Trump’s dick for even a second. If Tlaib and Omar had visited the West Bank as planned, I’m sure they would have made some noise, but I doubt this much attention would have been paid.








Field Canning: Useful Technique For Camping, Emergencies, Etc.

Folks,

Today I want to teach you a bit about canning, and about a simple technique that can help preserve food or keep things water/vermin proof when you don’t have normal storage or preservation available.

The Basics of Canning

Canning is a simple concept – you put things in a jar, put a lid on it, and, using a variety of techniques, draw air out of the jar so that a slight vacuum is created inside, which keeps the lid snug and the things inside air-and-contaminant free. Well-processed canned goods can last decades without spoiling.

Normally, this involves a water bath canning setup, for most fruits and veggies, and occasionally calls for a pressure canner for meats and some fruit and veggie products. Note – this is because you can get to a higher effective temperature with a pressure canner and so you can ensure that your meat/tetchy-fruit/veggie contents are safe.

A water bath canner is just a large wide pot in which you boil water and put filled jars into, in order to heat them to boiling temperature and get the residual air in the jars to expand and force itself out through the not-firm seal. The heat affects a sealant on the lid that helps it adhere ever-so-slightly to the clean glass as the escaping gas causes a vacuum in the jar. A pressure canner is just a large pressure cooker; mine is like 13 inches high and 12 around. I left my dedicated water bath canner in Colorado when I went “wagons-East”, but my pressure canner suffices for both purposes, I just leave the lid off except when initially heating the water.

Lids and rings are the two other pieces of the canning puzzle. Both are sanitized before use (I boil them in a saucepan and keep it on a low simmer) and the lids have a design that means that once they seal, they permanently deform when opened so they cannot be used to re-seal a jar in a canning setup.

Field Canning

The idea for field canning came when I was camping and I wondered if there was a better way to deal with half-eaten contents than just putting a lid back on a jar. I did some research once home, and voila – field canning. It is not hygenic-per-se and does not result in safe food – it just seals a jar with a light vacuum seal.

Field canning is useful whenever you have a need to seal a jar and don’t have proper canning equipment. It requires – a semi-full jar of something, some wax paper, some foil, a lighter/match, a non-used lid (i.e., a new or not used to vacuum seal lid extra from the jar), and, ideally, the ring for the jar lid.

From here, it’s quite simple:

  1. Make sure your lid is clean and unused; this technique will not work with an already-used lid.
  2. Take a small piece of foil and make a small “boat”, nothing ornate. This will protect the jar contents from flame and ash.
  3. Take a small piece of wax paper and roll it into a wick. When I put it in the jar, I try and and bend it into a “U” shape to ensure it sits with the burning end sticking.
  4. Put the foil boat into the jar and adjust its edges so that wick/ash won’t fall.
  5. Wipe the jar edge with a clean, very slightly damp paper towel or cloth and make sure the lid and ring are ready.
  6. Light the wick and put it on the foil.
  7. As quickly as you can, carefully stuff the burning wick down a bit and put the lid on the jar and press it down gently but firmly. The flame will sputter and keep burning for what seems like forever; in reality it’s just a couple of seconds.
  8. Screw the ring on snugly to ensure the lid isn’t jostled; depending on your altitude and how much burning there was after you closed the jar, the vacuum seal on the lid may be delicate.

At this point, the jar is sealed with a light vacuum seal and there is little-to-no oxygen inside. The contents are safer from spoilage than they would be just with a closed jar, though they may have a slight smoke flavor from the wax paper.

This is NOT a true form of canning – because the contents are not brought to boiling, you’re not making the food inside safe. This technique is only one for sealing for temporary preservation, where you want no air in the jar, or want the stuff inside staying waterproof (in case of a flood, for example). It can be great when camping because you can open and reseal a large jar repeatedly, only limited by the number of unused lids you have.

An afterthought is that you’d more likely keep the graham crackers in the jar so they don’t get moist than the marshmallows, but they were at hand.

Thus endeth the lesson.








Good Morning Twitter I Would Like to Report a Brutal Beating








On the Road and In Your Backyard

Good Morning All,

Monday I had the pleasure of seeing how the new On the Road will look and work, and it should be nice. It looks like we have two weeks, perhaps a bit more, until the transition.

So, please feel free to submit your pictures and stories using the current form at tools.balloon-juice.com but do it quickly as this form will be shut down Wednesday evening. Once shut down, I’ll run through the content I’ve received, and hope that things align well. Unpublished content before the site change will be used, but may not be published immediately.

Have a wonderful day, enjoy the pictures, and keep your eyes open for a mini-canning post later today.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Yup, We’re Doomed

(Tom Toles via GoComics.com)
.

Like earthquakes, wildfires, and floods, recessions are recurring problems. And as with those (other) ‘natural’ catastrophes, it’s easier to prepare for them in advance and survive them afterwards if we’re not dependent on grifters, political cultists, and soggy-brained showboaters…

Catherine Rampell, at the Washington Post“Move over, Illuminati. The conspiracy against Trump’s economy is massive”:

… Trump, aided by his economic brain trust of cranks and sycophants, believes any indicator showing the U.S. economy could be in trouble must be fabricated. It’s all part of an anti-Trump conspiracy, he rants, according to reports in The Post, the Associated Press and the New York Times.

And move over, Illuminati, because this particular conspiracy is massive.

It’s led by the Federal Reserve, Democrats and the media, of course, or so say Trump and his Fox News minions. But it also includes the entire U.S. bond market, which flashed a warning sign last week when the Treasury yield curve inverted (meaning long-term bonds had lower interest rates than short-term ones, which usually predates a downturn).

Also colluding are the many farmers, retailers, manufacturers and economists who have been warning for more than a year that the burden of Trump’s tariffs is mainly borne by Americans, not China or other trading partners, and also that uncertainty over trade tensions can paralyze hiring, investment and purchasing decisions, which we need to keep the economy expanding…

The White House has reportedly declined to develop contingency plans for a downturn because it doesn’t want to validate this “negative narrative.” This is, in a word, idiotic. As others have analogized, it’s like refusing to buy a fire extinguisher because you’re afraid of feeding a “negative narrative” that you might someday face a fire.

Administration officials decided the best way to deal with recession risk, which they of course aren’t personally worried about, was through a show of force on TV. There, Trump’s economic advisers assured Americans they definitely, certainly, cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die don’t see reason to worry…

… Kudlow’s call for optimism has a whiff of Peter Pan logic about it: If only we believe in fairies hard enough, we can always save Tinker Bell — even when we’re sending her out into a hailstorm. If you believe, clap your hands; don’t let Tink die!

It’s hard to imagine nervous Americans are really this credulous. Then again, perhaps we were never the intended audience for such performances. Sure, maybe White House aides are trying to fool the public into believing recession warning signs don’t exist. But maybe they’re actually just trying to fool their boss.

A frightening conspiracy theory, indeed.

(Mike Luckovich via GoComics.com)
.


Late Night Open Thread: He’s A Trendsetter, Dude!…

Trump will be citing this as a positive no later than Wednesday, because isn’t all publicity good publicity?

A Reuters poll released today contains a trove of interesting data on race. Trump has long sought to use racial tension to gain political leverage, but this summer he has become especially explicit about exploiting and exaggerating racial divisions, with a series of racist attacks on four Democratic congresswomen, and then on their colleague Elijah Cummings, as a strategy ahead of the 2020 election.

But the Reuters poll casts doubt on that strategy: “The Reuters analysis also found that Americans were less likely to express feelings of racial anxiety this year, and they were more likely to empathize with African Americans. This was also true for white Americans and whites without a college degree, who largely backed Trump in 2016.”

Among the details, the number of whites who say “America must protect and preserve its White European heritage” has sunk nine points since last August. The percentages of whites, and white Republicans, who strongly agree that “white people are currently under attack in this country” have each dropped by roughly 25 points from the same time two years ago.
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Open Thread: Appreciating the 1619 Project for Its Detractors

I’m nowhere near finished reading the NYTimes‘ whole 1619 Project (wish I’d found a print edition yesterday, frankly), but IMO it will have an impact on The Discourse similar to that of Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Atlantic article. And, yes, one sure signifier of its importance is the volume and intensity of the hatred directed against it by the Usual Suspects (few, if any, of whom could’ve read so much as Nikole Hannah-Jones’ introductory essay before taking their grievances public). The pushback was, thankfully, immediate…


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Plutocrats on the Run

Well, this is interesting (The Post):

Group of top CEOs says maximizing shareholder profits no longer can be the primary goal of corporations

The organization representing the nation’s most powerful chief executives is rewriting how it views the purpose of a corporation, updating its decades-old endorsement of the theory that shareholders’ interests should come above all else.

The new statement, released Monday by the Business Roundtable, suggests balancing the needs of a company’s various constituencies and comes at a time of widening income inequality, rising expectations from the public for corporate behavior and proposals from Democratic lawmakers that aim to revamp or even restructure American capitalism.

“Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity,” reads the statement from the organization, which is chaired by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon.

Staying ahead of the mobs and pitchforks is a good strategy! They’re hoping to convince us we don’t need something like the Accountable Capitalism Act — corporate titans have realized the current system leaves out some constituents (i.e., everyone but themselves and fellow rich people) and will henceforth play nice out of the goodness of their hearts. I don’t believe it for a second.

Meanwhile, Trump just waved a magic wand and solved wealth inequality:

As of now, disbelieving the evidence of your own eyes and ears isn’t enough — you have to add fictional zeroes to your personal bank account totals too. No doubt there are people who are stupid and/or brainwashed enough to believe even this gigantic whopper, but I think we’re seeing a preview of the central flaw in the “Keep America Great” campaign argument.

In 2016, Trump could lie about what he was going to do. In 2020, he has to pretend that he did all this shit that he didn’t do. I’m no expert political analyst, and God knows I don’t want to underestimate the stupidity of tens of millions of our fellow citizens again. But that seems like a tougher sell to me.








Get offa my lawn!

Well, dock, to be more specific:

The river is just below flood stage, which this gator interpreted as an invitation to hoist itself up onto the dock for a snooze. I interrupted its rest, first with a photo, then by performing my version of the “lion’s roar” from Kung Fu Hustle. It skedaddled.

The National Weather Service predicts water levels will drop back toward normal this week. Good!

Open thread!








Who’s Who of Reasonable Centrist Enablers

Mark Halperin sat out his #MeToo issues for almost two years (14 dog’s years, people!) and now he has another book with interviews of 75 Democratic operatives, including this list of co-conspirators:

Jill Alper, David Axelrod, Bob Bauer, Donna Brazile, James Carville, Tad Devine, Anita Dunn, Karen Dunn, Adrienne Elrod, Jennifer Granholm, Ben LaBolt, Jeff Link, Jim Margolis, Mike McCurry, Mark Mellman, Amanda Renteria, John Sasso, Kathleen Sebelius, Bob Shrum, Ginny Terzano, and David Wilhelm.

Fuck all those people, collectively and individually.

It has been nearly two years, so it’s worth recalling what conduct Halperin was accused of in 2017. Back then, I spoke to multiple women who said that Halperin sexually harassed or assaulted them. The stories of harassment ranged in nature, from him propositioning employees for sex to kissing and grabbing one’s breasts against her will.

Three women who spoke to me described Halperin as, without consent, pressing an erection against their bodies while he was clothed. One woman told me Halperin masturbated in front of her in his office, while another told me that he violently threw her against a restaurant window before attempting to kiss her, and that when she rebuffed him he called her and told her she would never work in politics or media.

Halperin apologized in 2017 for some of his behavior, but he denied grabbing a woman’s breasts, pressing his genitals against women, masturbating in front of anyone, and threatening the career of a woman.

I’m trying to imagine the inner dialog that caused these folks to talk to Halperin:  On the one hand, we have women risking their careers to report a sexual predator.  On the other hand, some of my friends/competitors are getting quoted in a DC insider’s book.  Nobody reads those things anyway, so I’ll talk to this guy, even though he’s personally despicable and political poison for Democrats.

Halperin’s strategy is painfully obvious:  apologize for the less awful things, deny the more awful things, hide and resurface like a turd you can never flush. If it succeeds for Halperin, then it’s going to succeed for a bunch of other predators.