On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

 

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

 

Let’s just agree to embrace the bird, if only for today:

Where it was taken: Near Roscommon, in northern Michigan
When: Summer Solstice Day (6/21) in 2017
Commenter: Albatrossity

 


Other notes or info about the picture:
Kirtland’s Warbler, which breeds only in the jackpine forests of Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario. This habitat is not extensive, and additionally this bird’s nesting requirements depend on regular fires to regenerate the young jackpines (like the one this bird is perched in) where they build their nests. When fires became less frequent in this landscape in the 19th and 20th centuries, the habitat disappeared and the bird became very rare. In addition, invasion of this fragmented forest by Brown-headed Cowbirds, which lay their eggs in the nests of other birds (including this warbler) further depressed the population of warblers, since parent warblers were raising lots of cowbirds and very few young warblers. It was added to the Endangered Species List in 1967, when it was estimated that the entire population was only a few hundred birds. Extensive management of forests by a coalition of state, federal and NGO groups has been successful; current estimates are that there are about 2000 breeding pairs of this bird today. But you still have to travel to Michigan in the summer to see this bird, or to Bermuda in winter, because it is found nowhere else in the world.

 

Just an amazing picture, once again – thank you for sharing some of your expertise and passion.

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Open Thread: Meanwhile, in A More Intelligent Parallel Universe…


.

What’s everybody up to, here in Murphy the Trickster God’s domain?



What’s next

First thing, tonight, enjoy it.

If you like to partake in a recreational, legal intoxicant, enjoy one in moderation.

And then tomorrow get back on the phone and get back to pressuring the Senate.

The current Republican plan is to see what Senate Majority Leader can do to make the bill worse while giving non-Tea Party Republican hold-outs visible media wins with carve out cash and plus-ups for visible priorities. The plan is for him to release $20 billion dollars to opioid treatment so Senators Moore and Portman can claim a victory. He’ll authorize a plus-up for Medicaid reimbursement for Alaska and Montana and Idaho for $5 billion dollars. It will be the saddest show of an old man making it rain to buy attention for himself.

And then they’ll try to jam the bill through once they get back from the 4th of July recess.

So keep on calling tomorrow.



Pardon Our Motherfucking Dust

UPDATE: VICE has retracted the Hall of Preidents story. However, the real Trump is still an asshole, and his robot doppelgänger will probably cause mayhem when finally unleashed on an unsuspecting public. — 6/28/2017.

Since I grew up in the shadow of The Mouse, I’m familiar with Disney’s hokey-ass Hall of Presidents exhibit. In case you aren’t, I’ll summarize: It’s like a jingoistic “It’s a Small World” ride, only with robots fashioned to look like U.S. presidents instead of multicultural animatronic dolls in traditional garb, and it features a mostly warts-free voice-over account of U.S. history in place of the painful ear-worm song. Lincoln and whoever is the current president have the only speaking roles.

Bush 2 was president last time I actually sat through it, but Obama’s people worked out a short speech with the Disney folks, which President Obama himself recorded in time to ensure a transition between robot presidents as seamless as the real transfer of power. Just as Bush 2 had done when Robot Bush 2 took over for Robot Bill Clinton.

You’ll be shocked to learn that Robot Donald Trump is just as big a pain in the ass as his bloated, orange, fleshy counterpart. Via VICE’s Motherboard:

“When Disney tried to get this process started earlier this year,” said the source in an email to Motherboard, “Trump’s people said, ‘We’ll be writing the speech that the President’s Audio-Animatronic figure will be saying.'”

“The Imagineers [the researchers and developers behind Disney’s theme park attractions] tried to point out that they’re typically involved with this process,” continued the source. “That they directly collaborated with Clinton, Bush, and Obama’s people when it came to figuring out what the President’s Audio-Animatronic figure would say. Trump’s people said, ‘No. We’re writing this speech. You guys have no input on this.'”

So that’s been the holdup. Disney has always collaborated with the president on the final speech. Disney, apparently, has finally reached an agreement with the Trump team, though we still don’t know yet how much involvement Disney will have in the crafting of the speech (if any).

“There are those at Imagineering who hope that if they hold off on doing anything with this attraction until the fall, Trump may have done something so egregious that the general public won’t have an issue with putting a non-talking version of [Trump] in The Hall of Presidents,” said the source.

And now, a simple speech recording—something that should have been small, perfunctory, and ceremonial—has snowballed into a political issue.

The Imagineers will be waiting a long time if they think Trump will ever do something egregious enough to put off his cult followers. Those morons will line up to kiss Trump’s ass as he’s disconnecting their disabled children’s ventilators due to Medicaid cuts.

But yeah, a non-talking Trump would be the least embarrassing option. Or just scrap the whole goddamned thing — send animatronic presidents 1-44 to their respective libraries, demolish the Hall of Presidents building and erect a circus tent in its place to honor the current clown. The US presidency has jumped the fucking shark.



BlogCon 1: Global Ransomware Attack in Progress

Time to batten down the cyber hatches!

Companies across the globe are reporting that they have been struck by a major ransomware cyber-attack.

British advertising agency WPP is among those to say its IT systems have been disrupted as a consequence.

Ukrainian firms, including the state power company and Kiev’s main airport, were among the first to report issues.

The Chernobyl nuclear power plant has also had to monitor radiation levels manually after its Windows-based sensors were shut down.

The international police organisation Interpol has said it is “closely monitoring” the situation and liaising with its member countries.

Experts suggest the malware is taking advantage of the same weaknesses used by the Wannacry attack last month.

“It initially appeared to be a variant of a piece of ransomware that emerged last year,” said computer scientist Prof Alan Woodward.

The NY Times has a break down of what is and is not known.

Known:

• Cybersecurity researchers first said that the new ransomware appeared to be a variation of a well-known ransomware strain called Petya. One researcher from the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab reported the new ransomware was a strain of Petya first identified in March 2016. Kaspersky found evidence that the latest strain had been created on June 18, suggesting it has been hitting victims for more than a week. But Kaspersky also said it was still investigating the attack and that it could be a new type of ransomware that has never been seen before.

• Kaspersky reported that approximately 2,000 computer systems had been affected by the new ransomware so far.

• Symantec, a Silicon Valley cybersecurity firm, confirmed that the ransomware was infecting computers through at least one exploit, or vulnerability to computer systems, known as Eternal Blue.

Unkown:

• Who is behind the ransomware attack. The original Petya ransomware was developed and used by cybercriminals, and variations have been sold through dark web trading sites, which are accessible only by using browsers that mask a user’s identity, making it difficult for cybersecurity researchers to track.

• Why it is spreading as quickly as it is. Cybersecurity researchers believe that like WannaCry, the ransomware infects computers using vulnerabilities in the central nerve of a computer, called a kernel, making it difficult for antivirus firms to detect. It is not yet known if the new ransomware uses any new vulnerabilities, or variants of the vulnerabilities, made public by the group known as the Shadow Brokers.

• It’s unclear if systems protected against WannaCry can still be affected by the new ransomware attack.



Tuesday Morning Open Thread

Because I am not a naturally nice person myself, I fear a lot of the “If Trumpcare passes, here’s a person who will suffer and probably die” narratives simply don’t work on Republican voters. Too many people, even the people you know and sometimes love, look at those sad tales and think: Here’s a worthless meatbag gobbling up my tax dollars, and I’ll never get so much as a THANKS SUCKER in return. Yes, that’s a terrible and selfish response, but spoiler: A great many people are terrible and selfish, when they’re sure nobody’s watching!

On the other hand, those sad narratives are for sure energizing for the rest of us, those who possess the basics of human empathy (even if it took us years of grim practice to learn). Just be sure you know your audience. Some people want to save the baby ducks. Others just want not to lose their own personal jobs / relatives / lives — and if they can be convinced saving the baby ducks is what it takes, they’ll be out there collecting armloads of fluffy little peepers…

Mr. Charles P. Pierce:

Unless there’s a procedural snag of which I’m not aware, I don’t know why the Senate majority wouldn’t punt this until August, and do so at the last minute. The accelerated schedule is insane; even Republican senators are complaining about it. It would give them more time to sabotage the Affordable Care Act, which Sean Spicer threatened to do in today’s audio-only daily briefing. (Jesus, people. Just turn the cameras on and see what happens.) It would give them another month to make the cosmetic changes necessary for the “dissenters” to come around. It would give them the fig leaf of a “process” they could cite.

Of course, it also would give the opposition a month to increase its already formidable momentum. Tough call for McConnell, but that’s why he gets the big money.

McConnell needs to ram this monster through while he can, before enough sheep GOP senators get spooked at the thought of having to defend their vote to their voters.

Apart from facing down the haters, what’s on the agenda for the day?



On The Road

Good Morning All,

This weekday feature is for Balloon Juicers who are on the road, travelling, etc. and wish to share notes, links, pictures, stories, etc. from their escapades. As the US mainland begins the end of the Earth day as we measure it, many of us rise to read about our friends and their transient locales.

So, please, speak up and share some of your adventures, observations, and sights as you explore, no matter where you are. By concentrating travel updates here, it’s easier for all to keep up-to-date on the adventures of our fellow Commentariat. And it makes finding some travel tips or ideas from 6 months ago so much easier to find…

Have at ’em, and have a safe day of travels!

 

Should you have any pictures (tasteful, relevant, etc….) you can email them to picstopost@balloon-juice.com or just use this nifty link to start an email: Start an Email to send a Picture to Post on Balloon Juice

 

That’s what it’s all about.

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