mindstalk: (Default)
Macron's out of nowhere party seems set to win legislative landslide in France. http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/06/11/macron_wins_landslide_in_french_legislative_elections_ends_french_party.html

Meanwhile, in US elections, hacking can't change votes (yet) but could screw with turnout: https://www.vox.com/new-money/2017/6/6/15745888/russia-election-hacking-leak

Puerto Rico had another referendum, with a whopping 97% voting to become a US state -- but with 20-something% turnout.

Someone's roadd trip through Trump America https://qz.com/1000690/im-a-minority-my-son-is-disabled-its-an-unsettling-time-for-people-like-us-in-trump-country/

School buses 8x safer for kids than being driven by their parents. https://one.nhtsa.gov/Research/Crashworthiness/School-Bus-Crashworthiness-Research
This is roughly consistent with http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/risks_of_travel.htm but https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CE42rp_XIAAfhao.jpg has more extreme risk ratios. Both agree that motorcycling is deadly. But speaking for that: risk gaps: https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2014/7/14/texting-in-your-risk-gap.html

"End traffic stops!" https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2016/7/24/the-routine-traffic-stop

Interactive vote simulation. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: IRV sucks." http://ncase.me/ballot/ Cool fireflies simulation from the same source: http://ncase.me/fireflies/

UberPool kind of reinventing fixed route buses: http://humantransit.org/2017/05/the-receding-fantasy-of-affordable-urban-transit-to-your-door.html

Conservatives despise fact-checkers. https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2017/06/09/study-conservatives-despise-the-fact-checking-industry/?utm_term=.ac97e946288b

US air marshalls

2017-Apr-22, Saturday 14:37
mindstalk: (Default)
"Someone forgets their gun" isn't that newsworthy; people make mistakes. This article is more interesting for the other terrifying information it includes:
"newly hired air marshals do not currently receive on-the-job training"
"Although it has an $835 million budget, agents cover less than 1% of US domestic and international flights"
"A CNN report in 2015 exposed the long hours, chaotic schedules and use of drugs and alcohol among federal air marshals"
"obtained a now-classified study commissioned by the TSA that revealed 75% of air marshals flying domestic missions were sleep-deficient"

I like that 'now-classified' bit. "Oh god, they found problems. Let's classify it so people can't see!" This is also part of why it's hard to take "leaked classified information" as an inherent civic sin.

mindstalk: (atheist)
It's a small thing in the world, but I feel compelled to counter-act their revisionism. For once, posting is direct action! http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article71659992.html

Turkey context:

2016-Jul-15, Friday 18:20
mindstalk: (atheist)
Turkey's military is sworn to uphold secular democracy. This might be the sixth coup since 1960.

Turkey joined NATO in 1955: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NATO#Members so being a NATO member with a coup isn't new. For that matter, Portugal joined in 1949, and was run by the dictator Salazar until 1968. Greece was run by a junta of colonels from 1967 to 1974.

Erdogan has been undermining democracy, going after opposition MPs https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/08/erdogans-draconian-new-law-demolish-turkeys-eu-ambitions and prosecuting more than 1800 people since 2014 for "insulting" him.

And this weirdness, from what I'm told is the third largest newspaper in Turkey and legit: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/no-one-should-do-politics-in-turkey-except-erdogan-says-chief-adviser-yigit-bulut.aspx?pageID=238&nID=100501&NewsCatID=338

'With President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan at the helm in Turkey, there’s no need for anyone else in the country to engage in politics, presidential adviser Yiğit Bulut has said.

“There is already a leader in this country and he is engaging in politics. There is no need for anyone else to engage in politics. He is engaging in politics both at home and abroad. Our duty is to support the leader in this country,” Bulut, Erdoğan’s chief economy adviser, said during a program on state television TRT Haber on June 14.'

'Bulut, a former news anchor and editor-in-chief of the private broadcaster 24 TV, was appointed as then-Prime Minister Erdoğan’s chief adviser in July 2013 during which time he unraveled a vast and nefarious international conspiracy to assassinate Erdoğan “using telekinesis.” After Erdoğan’s election as president in August 2014, he was appointed as his chief adviser on economics.'
mindstalk: (science)
Someone claims to have made a breakthrough with the Voynich manuscript: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-26198471 also http://stephenbax.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/Voynich-a-provisional-partial-decoding-BAX.pdf
The reports introduced me to an idea for it that I hadn't noticed before: that it's a book in an novel script in an extinct language. That would sound romantic on its own, but compared to "massive hoax" or "medieval RPG manual" it feels almost banal. In his paper Bax notes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rongorongo the undeciphered script of Easter Island, and the https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glagolitic_alphabet which isn't undeciphered but had a rocky early period and could easily have died out leaving us some book in a weird script and extinct Slavic dialect.

I also wondered "what if we had an Iliad-class epic in Linear A?"

There's also undeciphered texts, like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rohonc_Codex

Rohonc is most like Voynich, including in being suspected of being a hoax.

In reading around, I stumbled upon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yugtun_script which is a Yupik syllabary created in five years by Uyaquk, who like Sequoyah of Cherokee fame, started out as an illiterate. (Five years? Between this and Vai, Sequoyah starts to seem slow.) Unlike the Cherokee script, it didn't take off, and having a Bible translation in "what the hell is this" seems a plausible outcome.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sundaland mentions some new work claiming people were on the SE Asian continental shelf aka Sundaland 50,000 years ago, with much older populations, and SE Asian culture starting there before sea level rise kicked them off; the Polynesian culture says Y chromosome + mitochondiral DNA shows 'Taiwanese' migrants move into existing Melanesian populations. Given that people were in Australia 40-60,000 years ago, people north of there seems like a no-brainer...


Disney princesses as Game of Thrones characters. http://www.buzzfeed.com/ariellecalderon/disney-princesses-as-game-of-thrones-characters
Related fanart:


Finns are pushing an initiative for gay marraige. I got excited, until I learned that all it does is push a bill into the legislature, where it can die in committee just like any other bill; it's not an initiative for a referendum, as in Switzerland or US states. Lame!


Venezuela is exploding.

Swiss news

2013-Oct-15, Tuesday 23:05
mindstalk: (Earth)
November vote on a 1:12 pay initiative. More interesting to me is the sidebar on the existing state of income disparity... I don't have anything to compare it to, but it feels rather low. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Voters_to_decide_on_tougher_salary_gap_limits.html?cid=37097114

Relatedly, on the Wikipedia income equality page, it seems that Switzerland's pre-tax/transfer Gini is among the lowest around, tied with the Nordics. The Nordics overtake it after transfers, to 0.25, vs. 0.3 for Switzerland and 0.45 (and climbing) for the US.

And of course at some point they'll be voting on a basic income scheme. An absurdly generous and unnecessary one to my mind: 30,000 francs a year vs. a GDP/capita of 70,000 francs. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Old_utopian_ideal_revived_on_Swiss_streets.html?cid=36104780

Norway's prisons became famous a few years ago, but Switzerland apparently has very liberal incarceration policies as well. You *can* get a life sentence, but you also get a review after 15 years. Only 11.5% of convicts get sent to prison, vs. fines or suspended sentences. "the Swiss incarceration rate is only 80 convicted offenders per 100,000
inhabitants. By comparison, the UK's rate is 155, the Netherlands' 100,
France's 96, Germany's 90, and the U.S.'s 760"

Small increase in taxes on the rich planned, to pad out unemployment funds. Unemployment is shockingly high at 3% -- allegedly they're more used to 1%. http://www.west-info.eu/switzerland-to-tax-the-rich-to-subsidise-unemployment/
3.2% youth unemployment, vs. 50% in Spain and Greece, 22% in the eurozone and EU. Dual track education, without a big prestige difference between practical apprenticeship and secondary education. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/business/What_future_for_the_younger_generation.html?cid=32584024
This would be why I call the basic income unnecessary: try for full employment first, and they seem good at that already.

No official minimum wage, though collective bargaining agreements have a similar effect. http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/swiss_news/Weighing_up_the_consequences_of_a_minimum_wage.html?cid=35467568

Swiss human capital investments are pretty high. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/07/switzerland_0_n_4038031.html
Though one thing in that is misleading: government health care spending may be low, but overall they have the second more expensive system in the world, after the US. It's basically Obamacare with non-profit insurers and probably no per-state exchanges. So high spending, via mandatory premiums, largely affordable through egalitarian wages I guess.

Swiss prostitution history http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+sex+trade+in+Switzerland%3A+prostitution+has+been+documented+since...-a0171887336
and Zurich's "drive-in" prostitution http://www.modernghana.com/news/485077/1/controlling-prostitution-can-ghana-learn-from-swit.html
Legal age was raised from 16 to 18 last month, which tells us that prostitution has a legal age, and also that it was 16... http://www.foxnews.com/world/2013/09/10/switzerland-ups-legal-prostitution-age-from-16-to-18/

Universal male conscription got put to a vote, and passed http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/23/world/europe/swiss-vote-to-keep-mandatory-army-service.html

Possession of 10 grams of marijuana decrminalized. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/03/switzerland-decriminalizes-marijuana_n_4037400.html

Gay marriage

2013-May-13, Monday 19:19
mindstalk: (glee)
Woo-hoo! Rhode Island, Delaware, now Minnesota! 12 states plus DC and 3 tribes.

I'd somehow not noticed Maryland approving it in 2012 -- by popular vote, as in Maine and Washington.

Illinois will be next if the bill can escape the House; Senate has passed it and governor has said he'll sign. (Also, Michael Madigan is still Speaker? Wow.)

New England + NY is a bloc, Maryland and Delaware are a tiny bloc which will be hooked up to NE if New Jersey can override Christie's veto, or gets a better governor, and Minnesota and Illinois would make a bloc with Iowa.
mindstalk: (Default)
"Voters give Europe and euro a chance"

Not mentions is that pro-austerity parties New Democracy and Pasok got, between them, not quite 43% of the vote. ND gets to form a government with Pasok only because of a constitutional provision that grants an extra 50 seats to the plurality winner -- a provision put in by New Democracy, I'm told. In fact voters rejected parties backing the austerity/bailout/memorandum by a large majority. If the legislature properly reflected the election results, it would be leftist Syriza trying to form a government with all the other anti-austerity parties -- an interesting challenge, granted, with the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn having about 7% of the vote, thus the difference between a bare majority and the full 57%.

Granted, giving majorities to minorities is a pretty common result; just happened in France, and in Scotland earlier, and in Canada. But it's rarely such an explicit design feature; in fact in Scotland people were saying "the system was designed to make single-party majorities unlikely!" though from my POV these people can't do math.

In other news, an article on the French election includes

One of the biggest upsets for the Socialists came in La Rochelle, where the Socialist former presidential candidate Ségolène Royal was beaten by a dissident candidate expelled from the Socialist party for standing against her. Royal's battle was at the centre of a presidential private-life saga this week when Hollande's partner, the journalist Valérie Trierweiler, tweeted her support of the dissident. Hollande had backed Royal, who was his partner for 30 years and is mother of his four children.

Just seems so weird to an American... though I'm not sure if 'partner' here means a purely private couple, or one registered as what we'd call a civil union, since those seem to have displaced 'marriage' in France even for heterosexuals.
mindstalk: (Default)
Fannie Mae subprime lies

Hungary details

defensive plutocrats top 1%

stimulus prediction
Romney lies continue

IMF, austerity, and bleeding

new mercury regulations!
GOP opposes; Jon Huntsman insane too
government to require truth in airfares

10 worst economic ideas of 2011
Fannie Mae big lie

Obama guts Obamacare, lets states decide essential benefits

low inflation

dark age of economics: devaluation and forgetting Milton Friedman
evidence of wage stickiness
evidence of fiscal policy working

Turkey accuses France of genocide

veganism vs. grass-fed beef, mice sentience

Israel discusses Armenian genocide, with odd bedfellow politics
Thailand royalists arrest more critics. 20 year prison sentence for text

core inflation
experts look smarter than they are due to experience
bond rates fall everywhere

Republicans trying to restrict college voters

gay marriage in NY

2011-Jun-25, Saturday 00:48
mindstalk: (Homura)
Guess I'm first on my friendslist... Senate passed the bill, 33-29, and Cuomo signed, to take effect 25 July. An article says this doubles the number of Americans who live under same-sex marriage laws; I haven't checked the numbers. Of course, California was even bigger, for all of 5 months.

Apart from Iowa and DC, it's a solid bloc of states. Which touches Canada, where it's also legal. Infectious!

Given how Hollywood gets everyone thinking California's 18 age of consent is universal truth (it's not, 16 would be more representative) and convinces foreigners that they have Miranda rights, I wonder what would have happened if CA had managed to stay good. Gay marriage all over the United States of Television, convincing Americans it was normal...

NDP surge!

2011-Apr-21, Thursday 04:01
mindstalk: (Default)
Overtaking the BQ in Quebec! Tying the Liberals in national polls!
Of course, (a) keeping this and (b) translating that support into actual seats in a flawed voting system will be another matter. But still, cool!

TSA links

2010-Dec-09, Thursday 16:27
mindstalk: (Default)
TSA doesn't screen ground crews. You want to bomb a plane, subvert the
baggage handlers.
US airlines more crowded, have higher fees, fewer flights
TSA humiliation and willing submission of America
TSA patdowns spreading disease
TSA objectors referred to as domestic extremists, now intelligence targets
"gate rape"
opt-out dealt with by turning backscatters off
US may drop color coded alert system
TSA patdowns will kill Americans -- encourage people to drive, which is
more dangerous
TSA scanner skin cancer concerns. probably worse for children
Ebert vs. TSA
TSA workers punish mother over breast milk
TSA patdowns don't even work
danger of X-ray backscatters
police officer observes TSA lack of coherent policy, practices aimed at
compliance rather than security

TSA molesting surgery patients
air safety myths

TSA searches diplomat
mindstalk: (Default)
TSA San Mateo DA threatens prosecution for patdowns
Dayton agent sexual assault
opt out day
TSA glitch killed baby in 2008

Obama claims rights of assassination of US citizens without judicial oversight ('old' news but ongoing)

to the north,
Canadian provinces seek trade links with China, unencumbered by pesky
concerns about human rights

BP oil news special

2010-Jun-19, Saturday 01:43
mindstalk: (angry sky)
BP hires private mercs to block reporters from public beaches, or at
least from interviewing workers
BP media restrictions
BP cost-cut safety measures. Even Halliburton thought it was a bad idea
oil surf (click for big)

oil bird? I can't even tell