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Messages - TheDrake

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General Comments / Re: Smart Home Hacking
« on: Today at 09:37:42 AM »
So I've mucked about with some smart lights, and I can now voice control my kitchen lights. This is coming in more useful than I thought. Not having to cross the room isn't a big convenience, but it feels nice. This switch also operates manually, which is nice if I have guests.

My stairway is a smart bulb. That basically means that I still have switches that should never be used. Here, any untrained guest is just going to toggle the switch back and forth - leaving it in the off position 50% of the time. I would be tempted to just cap the switches - but I need to turn it off to replace the bulb at minimum.

Meanwhile, now Amazon has information on when my lights go on and off. This isn't a huge deal, but I wonder what they might be able to infer. Because I've given meaningful names to my lights (stairway, nightstand, kitchen), this could potentially be useful for marketing. Coupled with my use of FireTV, Music, ordering....

They really start to have a pretty complete outline of my daily routine. They know how much time I spend doing which activities, and where. Compared to web ads and other apps that just hammer me with my last search term. Wayfair is stalking me now because I browsed ceiling fans once...

How about a ceiling fan? What you need is a ceiling fan. Notification - don't miss these new ceiling fans.

AAUGH! I don't mind smart ads, but please, no dumb smart ads.

It used to be that there was no ability in the Senate to force even an individual member to give up the floor. The cloture rule came about in 1917, and it was originally 2/3. This is actually weaker than prior to the cloture rule.

The Senate still wouldn't become exactly the same as the House, as representing citizens statewide is different than cavorting around your district (at least in larger states). Let's not also forget that the Senate still has proportional votes by state, and that doesn't change, so there's a distinct difference there (which always has California and Texas gnashing their teeth, because they can be cancelled out by NH and Wyoming in that body).

A true voting supermajority was never envisioned by the Constitution, or it would have been written that way. The filibuster was a hack used by the minority to halt legislation they didn't like.

I believe the purpose of the Senate was badly broken by the 17th, and it has led to federal encroachment on state's rights that have undermined the 10th Amendment. Imagine though, that the entire freedom caucus (and quite a few progressives) would be apoplectic about senate appointments.

Without the 17th, Bernie Sanders is never going to hold a seat.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 13, 2018, 03:42:29 PM »
Fair enough, Greg. Intervening in the Congo is a bad idea, just like intervening in Iraq was a bad idea - just like it was a good idea not to commit NATO to intervene in the Rwandan civil war, and a good idea not to get involved in Tibet. It might be a decent idea for the UN in some cases, but it is certainly a terrible idea for the US unilaterally. That should help clarify.

UN commitment is useful to ensure that we don't wind up on opposite sides (Syria, Russia vs. US). It is also useful to ensure some follow up once bullets stop flying. I think it is less likely that you get Abu Graib with UN peacekeepers. Too many people, too many cultures, too much visibility. Now, you can certainly still have the country with the largest military providing most of the troops, but its more likely to be proportional. Ethiopia, India, and Pakistan are top three countries - about 7000 troops each. United States - 58. Not 58 thousand.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 13, 2018, 12:22:35 PM »
So, TheDrake, are you going to stop expressing opinions on the efficacy of anything, because it is not easy to see the repercussions of your assertions?

I'm not avoiding an opinion, I'm stating one. Military intervention by the US makes things worse overall, it is not our job, we have no mandate from the world - nor does NATO.

The UN model isn't new either, it was used in the Korean war, East Timor, the slavic states. The UNSC is the correct body to decide when the world should intervene - not Europe and North America acting on their own.

We have 70 years of experience with NATO in place.

I'm not even going to bother listing all the bad things we had 70 years of experience with that were bad.

And I also disagree with your "Iraq War was okay because Saddam was killing Kurds" assertion. Killing Kurds was evil. There's a lot of evil in the world.  Around the same time as we intervened in Iraq (which likely led to an additional 500K-1000K fatalities) there were about 3 million people being murdered in the Second Congo War.  If Saddam was killing thousands of Kurds each year (and I am not sure the number is that high) it is truly evil, but it does not render us incapable about making judgments concerning the advisability of the Iraq War.

The Congo isn't a NATO thing.

The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.
They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty...

Which part of this sounds like "we resolve to go on the offensive in Africa because people are getting killed."?

Of course, since I don't want to be the police, I'm am not in favor of anything that helps us continue that role - including growing that capability. Europe getting more defensive capability means less operational risk to deploying our forces to other theatres from our handy NATO bases. The only way that doesn't happen is for us to reduce our expenditures as Europe takes up the slack.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 13, 2018, 11:06:22 AM »
So if President Trump achieves the #1 foreign policy goal of President Putin and destroys NATO, and then only a few small wars and genocides occur in only some of the countries in Europe, who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of people killed?

This presupposes that NATO is the only agency that could stop such a thing. Why couldn't EU forces accomplish the same? Much as the African Union intervenes on that continent. Did the UN dry up and blow away in this hypothetical future? It also assumes that the US wouldn't intervene as a unilateral action, like in Somalia. And then there's whether it actually leads to more death in the future, like some suggest that US intervention in WW1 lead to punitive measures taken against Germany that set the stage for WW2?

Unless you've got a Tardis or a Wayback machine lying about, its not so easy to see repercussions of action or inaction. People were dying in Iraq at the hands of Hussein - a lot of them, ask the Kurds. Then we rolled in and - a lot more died. Instability set the stage for Daesh to fill the vacuum.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 13, 2018, 09:35:06 AM »
Apologies for a longer than average post. I wanted to make sure I didn't cherry pick just one example, to be fair to the concept of clarity and transparency.

I want to acknowledge that the transcript removes the intonation, body language, and facial expressions that accompany questions. So questions that look relatively benign in print could be highly aggressive in reality. This is why actors learn to say a netural word and convey emotion and meaning behind it.

Q    Mr. President, I’m Tara McKelvey with the BBC.  Can you tell us whether or not you warned people that the U.S. would pull out of NATO if they weren’t meeting their spending goals?

THE PRESIDENT:  I told people that I’d be very unhappy if they didn’t up their commitments very substantially, because the United States has been paying a tremendous amount, probably 90 percent of the cost of NATO.  And now, people are going to start and countries are going to start upping their commitments.  So I let them know yesterday, actually.  I was surprised that you didn’t pick it up; it took until today.  But yesterday, I let them know that I was extremely unhappy with what was happening, and they have substantially upped their commitment, yeah.  And now we’re very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago.

So first, he never answers the question. He didn't say "Yes, I did warn them the US would pull out NATO." nor does he say "No, I did not warn them that the US would pull out of NATO."

The PBS reporter immediately tries to ask the same question, with a similar lack of transparency.

As for clarity, the 90% figure is pretty unclear. Could he mean the portion of the actual NATO budget? That number is more like 25%. But this probably isn't what he meant. He might have meant the portion of all military spending that supports permanent bases in Europe.

I can take numbers from well prior to Trump, eliminating any anti-Trump press bias neatly.

2011 breakdown

Gates at the time was much more clear than Trump, while also not providing specifics.

"What I've sketched out is the real possibility for a dim, if not dismal future for the trans-Atlantic alliance," he said. "Such a future is possible, but not inevitable. The good news is that the members of NATO — individually and collectively — have it well within their means to halt and reverse these trends and instead produce a very different future."

As opposed to "I was very unhappy, but now I'm happy because they are changing their tune."

With respect to US media, I didn't see anything unpleasant about the PBS questions. They didn't seem designed to box Trump into a corner and make him look bad.

Q    President Trump, Ryan Chilcote, PBS NewsHour.  Did you win concessions in your meetings and discussions with the German Chancellor when it comes to German defense spending and also with this issue of purchasing energy from Russia?  And secondly, what would you say to your critics that say by creating this scene here at NATO you’re only enabling President Putin and Russia to further disturb things in Ukraine and Georgia?

As for clarity on relationships:

We discussed it at length today.  Germany has agreed to do a lot better than they were doing, and we’re very happy with that.  We had a very good relationship with Angela Merkel.

Trump has spent the majority of his time being highly critical of Merkel. Describing it as a "good relationship" is not at all transparent.

Pop in on CNN, the most egregious anti-Trump media storm:

Quick question with regards to Germany and the comments that you made yesterday.  Do you feel like given the threats that you made about potentially leaving NATO, about insulting Germany’s sovereignty, it appears, by suggesting that they’re totally controlled by Russia — do you feel like that’s an effective way to conduct diplomacy?  And secondly, would you be able to be a little bit more specific about the commitments that you secured today with regards to increasing the financial commitment?  Is there an updated timeline?  Are there specific countries you could cite?  Because a majority of them were already planning to meet that 2 percent threshold by 2024.

Yeah, that's pretty bad. Its practically a speech, not a question. There are four separate items crammed in there. And at the end, answering his own question. Ick.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, many of them — in fact, Germany was going to be in the year 2028 or ’30.  Yeah, I think it’s a very effective way to deal, but I didn’t deal exactly the way you said.  I have great respect for Germany.  My father is from Germany.  Both of my parents are from the EU, despite the fact they don’t treat us well on trade.

Erm, what? Trump's father was born in New York City. His grandfather immigrated from Germany in 1885. At least he got the bit about his mother right.

Meanwhile, I don't know how to parse the rest of the start of his answer. I think its an effective way to deal, but that's not how I did it? I can imagine that he just got knocked off balance by the CNN question. Other Presidents would handle this with aplomb, with some humor and then just pick the one question they felt like answering instead of trying to tie it all together.

But I think that will change also, and I think we’ll see that — because on the 25th of July, they’re coming in to start negotiations with me.  We’ll see.  And if they don’t negotiate in good faith, we’ll do something having to do with all of the millions of cars that are coming into our country and being taxed at a virtually zero level, at a very low level.

So he's happy that everyone upped their commitments, but then they are actually going to start negotiations soon? And then he makes a random trade threat in order to put pressure on Germany's actions with respect to NATO? This, actually, is transparent. Trump will do anything he feels like to force a person, company, or nation to do what he wants.

Q    Mr. President, Robert Wall with the Wall Street Journal.

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes.  Hi, Robert.

Q    If the Germans and the Canadians and others don’t come up to 2 percent, what is your fallback position?  How will you up the pressure to make them actually?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, they will.  They will.  I have no doubt about it.  They all made commitments.  And they will be up to 2 percent.  It will be over a period — a relatively short period of years.  Okay?

US press, once again, a pretty neutral fact finding question. Not answered. Q. "What will you do if they don't meet their commitments?" A. "Don't worry, they will."

Clear as day.

Q    (Inaudible) from Finland.  What would be the best deal with Putin when you come to Helsinki?  And don’t you think that your hard diplomacy — that you are playing to the same goal that Putin, with your hard diplomacy towards EU and NATO?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I can’t tell you what would be the ultimate.  What would be the ultimate?  Well, let’s see: No more nuclear weapons anywhere in the world would be the ultimate, okay?  No more wars, no more problems, no more conflict.  Let’s find a cure to every disease known to mankind, or womankind.  That would be my ultimate, okay?  And we’ll start from there.

Holy rhetorical gyrations, batman! What was that?

Hats off to Trump though for catching himself saying mankind, fixing it on the fly, and avoiding a CNN headline on his misogyny.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 12, 2018, 02:11:08 PM »
China is a good reason to maintain presence in Japan and South Korea, possibly, although I take a more isolationist stance. It still doesn't mean bases in Germany.

I'd really prefer a pre-ww2 footing where we didn't meddle around the globe. We withdraw, the EU can worry about Europe, Japan and Australia can worry about the Pacific. India can worry about China. Israel can worry about the middle east. We can stick to North America. Everything gets rebalanced. When spot issues come up, like Syria or if China invades Taiwan, we can engage with those nations on a case by case basis rather than maintaining a standing presence in the region.

Military spending is $900 billion. Income tax is $2.3 trillion, so I don't really like that much of my paycheck going out to make other people safe. Germany's defense budget is $43 billion, so even if they gave it all directly to us, it hardly makes much difference. And no one is calling for that.

Where are the calls for Israel to spend its part? We're currently giving them $3 billion in military aid. They only pay $17 billion of their own money, while their percentage is 5% of GDP, its really about what we're spending versus what we're getting in return.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 12, 2018, 12:03:55 PM »
Can't find a transcript. I can't watch that man for 30 minutes, everything about his body language and facial expressions rub me the wrong way. But I'd be curious to read it.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 12, 2018, 11:54:17 AM »
The US is spending more than anyone else. Ya know, there's another way to balance the equation. We could spend less.

Now there's a solution that no one else in NATO wants to hear and you think Trump is the radical one?  The point of NATO is to be a defensive alliance, not to become a US military vassal state.  If it were the later we'd expect them to contribute to our military budget.

It's been pointed out regularly that those countries do pay costs associated with our presence, although it likely factors into totals. As for the value of NATO, German bases have been used far more often for the US to stage attacks in Africa and the Middle East, or as medical facilities for our troops engaged outside Europe than anything else. The US outspends the next seven countries combined, and you don't think that's excessive? We should stop being a global police force, we can't afford it. The alternative Trump suggests is that we should increase the net number of troops and weapons in the world, and of course have lots of parades celebrating how powerful and badass we are.

There's really no excuse for Germany.  As you note their economy is plenty strong enough to allow them to make the contribution required to the common defense.  Germany is literally on of the most direct beneficiaries of US military cover and leads the way on the "demands" placed on NATO continuing as an effective force.  They literally the "free rider" of the NATO alliance.

What exactly is Germany needing protection from these days? Russia invading eastern Europe and restoring the Warsaw Pact? Taking back East Germany? Other NATO countries? Europe is already spending more than Russia collectively. Does it really take trillions of dollars for Germany to remain a sovereign nation? Or for us?

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 12, 2018, 08:58:35 AM »
The US is spending more than anyone else. Ya know, there's another way to balance the equation. We could spend less.

Germany keeps blowing all their money on healthcare and foolishly running a budget surplus for four years instead of borrowing madly like the US.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 11, 2018, 06:25:58 PM »
And how could you ever prove that the candidate, once in office, did his actual job rather than merely catering to those who gave "donations"?

Do you think that's the case now? We don't have questions about donations to politician's charities, or hiring them as lobbyists, or giving them excessive speaking fees?

General Comments / Re: Tariffs are a problem?
« on: July 11, 2018, 06:07:33 PM »
Oh, and, lest someone think this is spin, out of Trump's twitter:

"We agreed to the denuclearization of North Korea. China, on the other hand, may be exerting negative pressure on a deal because of our posture on Chinese Trade-Hope Not!"

Yeah, odds are China isn't going to give you things you want while you are escalating a trade action against them - no matter or righteous or justified.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 11, 2018, 04:12:15 PM »
Actually, they can take direct contributions from anyone at any time. It would be better than the current PAC approach, because it is more transparent (I still believe in reporting, just not contribution limits). I agree with existing and long standing rules that require reporting.

Assuming candidates can only spend such donations on re-election (and not true bribery), then I have no problem with that. Money influence on politics is better solved by fixing a lazy and stupid electorate that votes based on sixty second ads, yard signs, push polling, and bulk mailing.

If Harley Davidson wants to air an ad for Trump's opponent pointing out how crappy his tariffs have been for them, shouldn't they be able to?

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 11, 2018, 03:22:24 PM »
Why shouldn't anybody be able to spend any amount as an individual or a group to have their voice or voices heard? I have serious problems with most of the FEC on a constitutional basis. It faced constitutional challenges, and was stopped for a while. (5-4 decision)

"Justice Byron White dissented in part and wrote that Congress had legitimately recognized unlimited election spending "as a mortal danger against which effective preventive and curative steps must be taken".[1]"

Is that a basis in law? Or just something that would be nice to have?

General Comments / Re: Tariffs are a problem?
« on: July 11, 2018, 02:57:37 PM »
Here we go again. Trump decided to move to another order of magnitude against china, adding 200bn to the 34bn already in place.

It will be interesting to see the response. This now makes it impossible to go tit for tat, as China doesn't import enough to match.

This represents 40% of imported goods from China.

If you feel like buying anything, now might be the time.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 11, 2018, 02:36:06 PM »
In Brown, the court was absolutely defending the people from a government that failed to treat citizens equally and with fairness. In other words, curbing government oppression. Likewise with gay marriage. And yes, I want the court to defend liberty, the most fundamental of which concern the 14th amendment (Brown).

I'd probably be uncomfortable if not upset, if the court had ordered private businesses to integrate - but that case was about how the government treats people.

I also appreciate Citizen's United as a defense of liberty.

Using a metric of "let the legislature and executive do what they want" we could look at FDR with overwhelming support from voters. The nine people overruled the opinions of the majority at that time. It struck down the agricultural adjustment act. Some people said that was based on law, others didn't. Somebody gets to decide, and that's them.

Going back to the original point, that's why the choice of a justice is a very important thing worth talking about, as it can shift the landscape dramatically from one type of court to another. One dedicated to judicial restraint (Dred Scott?) or judicial intervention (Roe). It's worth talking about - a lot.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 11, 2018, 11:06:22 AM »
So, we've spent over a week now, being told that the nomination of this Justice is the most significant event in the history of the country.   It's not.  There is nothing the Justices can do that the people can not undo if they have the political will.

I don't know if I'd characterize it as "the most important" either in the coverage or by my own assessment, but it is hard to understate. The importance of the Supreme Court makeup is evident in its pervasive influence on political fundraising, historical decisions like Brown v Board of Education. Or its role in curbing the most radical of

Let's review, in 53 Brown desegregated schools. It would take another eleven years for the Civil Rights act to pass. Now, in conservative circles, some might say Brown was an overreach, that it should be up to the states and local government if they want to sequester all their black people in separate facilities, and things will change eventually. In practice, that would mean how many Americans receiving a lesser education, being taught that they were different? What about that 2nd grader who would be all the way through school before Congress got around to it?

You can call that "activist judges" if you like, but I would call it the Supreme court ensuring the freedom of all Americans, and enacting the spirit of the Declaration. Fast forward to same sex marriage - how long would those Americans have had to wait if the court had not acted? Political change was underway, with 37 states already recognizing gay unions at the time the court accelerated the 13 stragglers who refused to acknowledge freedom and equality.

So, yeah, changes in the makeup of the court are longer lasting than any other official, the longest term belonging to a US Senator. Meanwhile the votes are among a 9 person body, as opposed to 100.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 04:05:22 PM »
I've never been that impressed with Politifact. At best it is a source of raw material to be mined, and a lot of criticism in the article is well deserved.

That said, a lot of the programming mix on CNN could easily face similar criticism (one of the worst outliers in my opinion). It's not like breitbart or thefederalist are going to do much better in the opposite direction. As we've talked about before, it depends on how people consume their news. If they watch one television channel non-stop (Trump & Fox?) then its going to be pretty biased. If they sort through articles (which I do on Breitbart and CNN), then you can find useful wheat in the chaff.

I know I run the risk of being called out for claiming false immunity, but I tend to think a well-balanced diet is the best defense against becoming myopic. That's why I force feed myself Breitbart articles, to keep from getting too shifted into one point of view. The grammar alone is atrocious, although no worse than CNN.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 01:07:54 PM »
No, we WERE far from an election cycle in the first six months, though. It makes more sense now than then, like the rally in ND to promote the candidacy of Cramer.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 12:34:32 PM »
I think people who attend Trump rallies are probably already as fired up as they are going to get. We know they were going to vote anyway. They might volunteer more or try to convince others to join in the vote. They might bring a friend to the rally. It just doesn't seem worth the time and expense far away from an election cycle (like the post inaugural victory laps). Now, that doesn't mean it can't be effective. Clearly Trump's a different kind of guy.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 12:30:59 PM »
There are, of course, established ways to get your message out undiluted. It used to be possible to watch a press conference in its entirety from That doesn't exist any more, the last briefing posted was 23 April, almost three months ago.

FDR created the concept of a radio address, Obama recorded addresses on a weekly basis. Trump has weekly addresses also, you can find them on YouTube.

There are any number of vehicles -speeches, press conferences, calling in to fox news (check, done)

The unique part of a campaign style rally is a crowd of enthusiastic supporters. That could be useful for optics (look how big the crowd is, everyone loves me, there's not even enough room for all my fans), or for ego. I don't see any other upside.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 11:57:23 AM »
All of those are legitimate criticisms worth talking about. Explain how rallies mitigate any such effects? Trumps followers have already decided that the mainstream media is failing, biased, and an enemy of the people, so what are the rallies for?

I was looking at a Pew report that found the media was 20% negative on Obama and over 60% on Trump.

For it to be a problem, that presupposes that they are equally bad. Sometimes, somebody deserves lots and lots of negative coverage. Shkreli has nearly 100% bad press, is that because of a biased media, or because he's a really bad person?

Twitter and other direct communication make sense, but unless you physically at the rally, you are getting all of that filtered through the media as well.

General Comments / Re: Smart Home Hacking
« on: July 10, 2018, 08:43:32 AM »
I've hunted extensively, and I can't find a single instance of a smart lock actually being hacked in the wild. It's all security conferences and people who work in security fields, however:

Googling a very simple phrase led me to a list of “smart homes” that had done something rather stupid. The homes all have an automation system from Insteon that allows remote control of their lights, hot tubs, fans, televisions, water pumps, garage doors, cameras, and other devices, so that their owners can turn these things on and off with a smartphone app or via the Web. The dumb thing? Their systems had been made crawl-able by search engines – meaning they show up in search results -- and due to Insteon not requiring user names and passwords by default in a now-discontinued product, I was able to click on the links, giving me the ability to turn these people's homes into haunted houses, energy-consumption nightmares, or even robbery targets. Opening a garage door could make a house ripe for actual physical intrusion.

So I think I'll be careful about how I make anything available outside my firewall. If my phone bluetooths to my lock, fine and good. Unlock remotely via wifi over http? Maybe not.

I'm considering using Nest as my full ecosystem, which has solutions for lock, doorbell, thermostat, garage, etc. A larger company is more likely to patch and update promptly, and it gives me a single point of failure as opposed to several different companies each having unique exploits.

But as in the above case, a lot of these exploits are only happening for typical users (like default passwords on cameras and routers, the chronic "admin admin" problem). First thing I'm going to do with any device is ensure that the password is changed and unique from my other passwords.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 10, 2018, 08:20:31 AM »
If the media wasn’t so anti-Trump and stopped engaging in fake news, I doubt we’d see so many rallies.

Interesting take. So you're suggesting that the people who attend the rallies need to be reassured so they don't believe the fake news and start disliking Trump?

Well, there is no "whole thing". This was a draft proposal being worked on prior to session, so there's no official record of proposed language that circulated, and no leaked copy. And the administration certainly hasn't gone out of their way to publish any additional information to explain why they felt so strongly about it.

Do you find anything odd about this?

Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty.

That's a very strange thing to say, Mr. Trump. How is baby formula a better solution because of poverty?

Quotes below have been edited from the original article, and I have not indicated where I removed paragraphs for brevity.

Formula milk companies are continuing to use aggressive, clandestine and often illegal methods to target mothers in the poorest parts of the world to encourage them to choose powdered milk over breastfeeding, a new investigation shows.

A Guardian/Save the Children investigation in some of the most deprived areas of the Philippines found that Nestlé and three other companies were offering doctors, midwives and local health workers free trips to lavish conferences, meals, tickets to shows and the cinema and even gambling chips, earning their loyalty. This is a clear violation of Philippine law.

At the same time, powerful lobby groups have been working to curtail government legislation regulating formula marketing and promotion, in the Philippines and across the world.

Stick thin, her cheek and collarbones sticking out, Icawat was visibly malnourished, as was Trista, whose swollen stomach stuck out beneath a faded pink Little Mermaid T-shirt. The average cost of Nestogen is 2,000 pesos (£28) a month but Icawat could afford to spend only 800 pesos.

The World Health Organisation’s international code explicitly prevents formula companies directly targeting mothers and healthcare professionals, and restricts advertising.

At a health centre in Malabon, midwife Grace Shelo Almarez admits that before she was given training, she was among the many wined and dined by Nestlé, Mead Johnson and Wyeth and offered numerous trips to conferences. As recently as October Nestlé offered her a trip to Iloilo, which she declined.


I do think it is delightful that the administration backed down when Russia got involved. :D

Well, we can count on the tweeter in chief:

The failing NY Times Fake News story today about breast feeding must be called out. The U.S. strongly supports breast feeding but we don’t believe women should be denied access to formula. Many women need this option because of malnutrition and poverty.

And as usual, there's nothing in the measure that would deny anyone access to formula. It just says it should be discouraged in favor of breast feeding. Nobody is trying to ban formula.

From HHS:

"The United States was fighting to protect women’s abilities to make the best choices for the nutrition of their babies. Many women are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons, these women should not be stigmatized; they should be equally supported with information and access to alternatives for the health of themselves and their babies," Caitlin Oakley said in a statement to The Hill.

The one thing we actually have reported about the draft resolution is:

It pushed to remove a phrase from the draft text that would exhort governments to “protect, promote and support breast-feeding”.

That doesn't sound anything like "denying options for women that can't breast feed".

I'm going to go with giant industry lobbying on this one.

General Comments / Re: Smart Home Hacking
« on: July 09, 2018, 03:07:26 PM »
why would you want a smart deadbolt?

Reasonable question. Giving a friend a code instead of a spare key when I'm out of town. Not fumbling for my key. Not needing a key if I accidentally lock myself out (no more key under a fake rock). Not having to take a key with me if I'm going to the neighborhood pool. Being able to check to make sure I locked the doors when I left, or to never have to worry about it because they always lock behind me.

And yes, cameras can get hacked with a varying degree of difficulty, not to mention footage getting hacked or other compromises. I'd be a lot more hesitant with an interior camera for privacy concerns, and I don't really see any value to it other than spying on the cat when I'm away. Which is to say, no value. The major motivation with the camera in this case is to discourage package theft from my front door or at least record that it happened. I don't anticipate anyone getting naked or breastfeeding on my front lawn, although in theory it could be used to spy on my neighbors across the street if they leave the drapes open...

General Comments / Smart Home Hacking
« on: July 09, 2018, 01:02:36 PM »
I'm starting to look around at smart home stuff. Among the items I'm looking at are a smart camera (doorbell), and a smart lock (deadbolt).

I've read a fair amount about hacking these devices, and I wind up asking myself two questions. Do I care, and does it happen?

In the case of the camera, it's going to face the exterior. If someone hacked this camera, do I care? It can see pictures of me (and anyone else) arriving and leaving the home. But who cares? I don't expect to be actively stalked or hunted. I don't expect to be ripe for blackmail. From the wifi end I somewhat care, because it could mean entry into more interesting parts of my network, but not for its own sake. Any attack requiring physical access seems silly to worry about.

As for the lock, similar cases exist. Are criminals going to run around actually doing this, or is it just a puzzle that security nerds like to solve? I tend to think forced entry would be the burglary to worry about, and it wouldn't be that hard to bust out my window. Meanwhile, my garage door is far easier to hack with its simple security. And yet I have never read an actual news report about people doing this in significant numbers, although I have heard nerds talk about how they did it to prove they could.

How worried should people be about such things?

I guess you mean "Why the US said they took the action?" Most articles are pretty clear it is to protect business interests of formula producers.

Normally I go to fox news to find out the administration view, but they don't seem to have an article on it.

It is odd to have no quotes in the article from anyone in the US delegation, or a statement that says they reached out for comment with no response.

Mike Pence was afraid he might accidentally see a breast?

But the US has frequently bullied other nations on the international stage, although it is usually about weightier matters like the death penalty, Israel, regime change, budget, accountability, etc.

As the article points out, the US regularly uses heavy leverage against any weakening of patent protection when it comes to third world health care.

I don't have to read snopes, I read the bill, at least the parts that pertain to this 55 gallon limit. It clearly states that the utilities are responsible, not individuals. It also clearly states that this target is 20% below existing levels. So while your numbers may be correct for the average American, it clearly is not relevant to what californians might have to give up.

Your contempt is nauseating.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 08, 2018, 12:41:31 PM »
"It's not totally unusual for a sitting president to hold campaign rallies, but Trump has already held 24 rallies since the 2016 election. President Obama had his first post-inaugural rally nearly six months into his presidency"

"Since taking office, he has headlined five campaign style rallies."

So, in the first six months Obama had one campaign style rally, Trump had 5. I don't have a source for the full 18 months, but this gives some concrete perspective.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 07, 2018, 04:24:57 PM »
Obama had events and speeches, but I don't recall rallies nor at the same frequency or with the same tone. He went on the road quite a bit to sell healthcare, for sure, but it was more Q&A and such.

General Comments / Re: whats up with all the rallies
« on: July 06, 2018, 04:43:12 PM »
Nothing about Trump is normal. Trump requires regular doses of adulation that he simply can't get at the White House, or even Mar-a-lago.

Random comment:

We live in So Cal and are very aware of the water shortage. Even with all the rains from last winter, the drought is here to stay. We just installed artificial grass and drought tolerant plants in our beds; Best thing we ever did. The lawn looks fantastic and the plant beds have drip irrigation. They only need water 2 times per week.

O cruel tyranny! To be denied the fundamental freedom of bermuda grass!

So the better alternative is to build out giant reservoirs, towers, and the like? So California can raise taxes even higher, or borrow more in bonds? I'm sure you'd never criticize them for that... :)

Three years ago, during the depths of California’s historic drought, state voters overwhelmingly approved Proposition 1, a $7.5 billion bond measure to pay for new water projects, including building more dams and reservoirs.

Hoping to get some of that money, water districts drew up plans and submitted lengthy applications for 11 projects, including two in the Bay Area and a massive new $5.1 billion lake in Colusa County known as Sites Reservoir.

But on Thursday, the staff of the California Water Commission, which must decide by July which water storage projects will receive bond money, raised major concerns. They announced that nearly half of the projects have no public benefits that meet the ballot measure’s rules for getting money, and the rest fall significantly short of providing as much benefit to the public as they would cost.

And then there's the fact that pretty much all of the cost feasible locations are already dammed up.

California is already dammed up. Over 55 years, California saw 800 new dams — more than one a month. The state has an inventory of close to 1,200 dams (plus another 200 under federal control) but no over-arching plan to maintain, monitor or remove them when they are past their engineered life span. The Oroville Dam spillway fracture, which forced the evacuation in February 2017 of nearly 200,000 people downstream, was a wake-up call.

Groundwater storage, storm water capture and recycled water are more efficient, less costly storage solutions that balance human and environmental needs, in part because the water can be stored closer to users.

Those solutions do exist, and I'm sure they'll be used as part of the overall strategy. As well as desalination, to the tune of at least a billion dollars.

This isn't the 1950s, as much as some people might want it to be. Non-invasive strategies aren't available any more.

But luckily they really don't have to worry, because according to you, Crunch, they'll all be fleeing the state in stark terror and the ones left can have 150 gallons apiece.

General Comments / Re: Racism or rational response to trespassing
« on: July 06, 2018, 02:54:54 PM »
Pool nazi, or concerned community member?

A black woman has alleged racism after the police were called when she entered a North Carolina swimming pool, in an incident that has gone viral.

Jasmine Edwards said she was visiting the neighbourhood pool in Winston-Salem with her baby on Wednesday when a white man asked her to show identification.

She filmed the interaction and posted the video to Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 4.5m times.

Amid the ensuing backlash, the man has been fired by his company.

the latest controversy

This could fall into the busybody category. It could also fall into the category of tact. Let's say you see someone you don't recognize. Why not walk up, be friendly, and introduce yourself as the pool chairman and HOA board member? Ask which building the person lives in, or if they just moved in. Or just don't worry about it if a couple of random people sneak in and use the pool unless they cause trouble. At the very least he could have apologized once it was clear that the person had a keycard (which was probably clear already). Instead, he seems to imply that it could have been stolen because "they make their way around".

I wouldn't show ID at my community pool, why the hell would I bring my driver's license to the pool two blocks away? It's interesting because I just visited my own community pool for the first time this week. Nobody batted an eye. But if somebody had come over and demanded my ID, you can be sure I'd ridicule them for it. Then what, the cops get called about it? That's what some people deal with on a regular basis.

Does the guy deserve to lose his job over it? I'm not at all sure about that. Certainly he needed to resign from the HOA. Is there a good chance he'll have to use an alias or legally change his name if he ever wants to relaunch his career? Yes, quite possibly, if even that is enough. There's no parole from a racist label in the Internet era, and with advanced search anyone with your resume can probably connect the dots, especially a background check service.

He's getting threats over it, apparently. That's beyond out of control. This isn't a situation where he was violent or screaming a racist rant. Its where a person conditioned unconsciously by society acted in what he probably thought of in good faith. He certainly could have handled the situation better, but it won't be a the last time a self-important little prick wields his minute HOA power over community residents.

I'll bet he wishes he had apologized now. I'll bet he wishes he had taken the time to explain the reasons behind why they are so hyperactive about somebody getting in to their most precious pool.

(A) For indoor residential water use, 55 gallons per capita daily water use as a provisional standard. Upon completion of the department’s 2016 report to the Legislature pursuant to Section 10608.42, this standard may be adjusted by the Legislature by statute.

(2) It is the intent of the Legislature that the urban water use targets described in paragraph (1) cumulatively result in a 20-percent reduction from the baseline daily per capita water use by December 31, 2020.

So the numbers came from 20% of current use, it can't be so dire. Plus, it can be adjusted.

They have to do something to avoid turning into Arrakis. Most of this can probably be accomplished by tearing out lawns and putting in other landscaping.

Out of curiosity, I looked up my last water bill and I'm pretty sure the meter is in tenths of gallons, I used 53.7 on my peak month with a much lower average. I'm going to skew high, because I live alone in a house and irrigate my lawn.

Now, if I were retired or worked from home, I'd use more. But understand the legislation doesn't cause the water police to come write you a ticket. It is a target placed on the suppliers.

Suppliers can use a variety of methods, subsidizing efficiency improvements, setting tiered pricing, or whatever else.

But go ahead and try and scare people from an ignorant caricature of what the legislation actually is. California just doesn't want to become the new Johannesburg, but I guess you call that bad government.

That is an odd introduction for an academic paper:

On February 6, 2017, President Trump stated that media neglect to report some terrorist attacks.4
His administration released a list of purportedly underreported attacks.

I don't understand the end of the sample set:

On average, each of the 136 terrorism incidents was covered in 26 news articles. However,
the distribution is highly skewed. Over one quarter of the incidents received no coverage from the
sources that we searched while other attacks received disproportionate coverage. In the present
dataset, Muslims perpetrated 12.5% of the attacks yet received 50.4% of the news coverage. The
perpetrator was arrested in about half (47.1%) of the incidents. Attacks targeted law enforcement
or government 20.6% of the time. On average, less than one person was killed per attack, though
this again is highly skewed with the vast majority of attacks (81.6%) having no fatalities.

81.6% have no fatalities? The sample set seems pretty thin to work with, considering we're talking about 136 to start. Table A2 shows average fatalities to be 0.7 - that's a pretty weak average terror incident.

I'd look for that myself, but GTD (University of Maryland) which was used for the study does not make their dataset public.

I'm not saying the premise isn't true, I covered it in an earlier thread "Hoping for a Muslim". The paper just isn't terribly compelling and there's a lot of editorializing in it. It reads more like something a think tank would put out to support policy.

General Comments / Re: Liberals have lost
« on: July 05, 2018, 07:07:15 PM »

So, more evidence this isn't some odd fringe group of republicans:

For 10 Republican state Senators, however, protecting the current “crimes against nature” law was worth voting against an otherwise non-partisan goal of expanding laws against bestiality. Sen. Ryan Gatti, one of the Republicans that voted against the bill, said he feared the bill would “be used as a Trojan horse to delete the sodomy law.”

Gatti told the Associated Press, “This bill was written because the far left wants to undermine our other laws that protect family and traditional values that the people of Louisiana hold dear.”

Conservative Christian group Louisiana Family Forum has lobbied against the bill on similar grounds. LFF executive director Gene Mills said the current law “spells out community standards of morality.”

“We believe Louisiana law is instructional in nature and is written to reflect the values of the citizens of the state,” Mills told the Times-Picayune. “The last thing we need is another law on the books.”

While Morrell’s interest in separating bestiality from sodomy in order to make an enforceable and comprehensive law against bestiality, Louisiana police have tested the enforceability of anti-sodomy laws in recent years.

In 2013, the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office made a public apology for sending undercover deputies to arrange sexual encounters with local gay men and then arresting them under suspicion of  “crimes against nature,” according to the Times-Picayune. Because the Lawrence v. Texas ruling had rendered Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law unconstitutional a decade prior, the Sheriff’s Office was forced to apologize and drop all charges against the men involved.

That's today, that's 10 elected Republican state senators. Is that a majority of even Louisiana Republicans? No, 25 senators voted for the bill (which actually doesn't even try to repeal the sodomy law, it only operates to separate it from bestiality.

23% of Americans still think homosexual relations should be illegal in 2018

Has there been a massive trend in the last 12 years? Sure, that number has been cut in half. And it isn't all Republicans who are anti-gay, Pew Research in a different study found 43% of Republicans who thought homosexuality should be discouraged, but 22% of Democrats also agreed with that lesser statement.

Is this trend going to do an about-face on the national scene? Unlikely. But for certain states could you see it, just like we are seeing with abortion? Absolutely. And it is very troubling, because it might not be more than a few Republican victories away before you start seeing abortion doctors put in prison for trying to help women after abortion becomes either impossible or prohibitively difficult to do legally. If that happens, I'm not sure you won't see violence involved in the backlash against the people responsible. I don't advocate or condone it, but it wouldn't surprise me.

General Comments / Re: Liberals have lost
« on: July 05, 2018, 04:54:35 PM »
the "right" includes a large number of people who'd never support laws against sodomy

15 years ago, 14 states still had sodomy laws in place. So I think you'd also have to grant that large numbers of people did support those laws.

Texas wasn't trying to defend their sodomy law in front of the Supreme Court, but rather 3rd parties argued on their behalf.

The states of Alabama, South Carolina, and Utah advised the Court that unlike heterosexual sodomy, homosexual sodomy had "severe physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual consequences"

In 2003. BTW, that decision was 6-3.

Quinn decided to arrest Lawrence and Garner and charge them with having "deviate sex". In the separate arrest reports he filed for each, he wrote that he had seen the arrestee "engaged in deviate sexual conduct namely, anal sex, with another man".[22] Lawrence and Garner were held in jail overnight. At a hearing the next day, they pleaded not guilty to a charge of "homosexual conduct". They were released toward midnight.[23] Eubanks pleaded no contest to charges of filing a false police report. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail but released early.

That was the case, and it happened in 1998. Only twenty years ago. Read some of the comments on Breitbart, and tell me again that there aren't large numbers of people who would be delighted to see sodomy laws put back on the books.

The existence of those laws, and all others, are predicated on the threat of violence by the state to arrest and incarcerate the offenders. I think it is dangerous to make a blanket assumption that such recently hard won freedoms are to be taken for granted.

General Comments / Re: Possibility of peace with NK
« on: July 05, 2018, 02:09:45 PM »
I can not separate knowledge of what Iran would use (and did use) the money to support with a "moral" position that we had to give it back.

It's an interesting model, to put it that way. So if Facebook receives ad money for something they eventually deem racist, morally they should just keep it so they don't give it back to the people who will probably use it for bad things, according to their value system?

Since we received the payment to send them a bunch of weapons, it seems weird to balk at the fact that they will use it to buy a bunch of weapons once it is returned. It's not like we held money that had been paid to us for medical supplies.

General Comments / Re: Possibility of peace with NK
« on: July 05, 2018, 01:31:07 PM »
TheDrake, I still haven't made up my mind on whether exiting the deal was wise.  Once you factor out the sunk costs, even continuing a bad deal can generate positive results.

I get that, and really evaluating requires running into philosophical questions, like whether you are operating under a utilitarian philosophy or some other code.

A large center for agreement is that a Nuclear Iran would cause them to be ten times more belligerent and destabilizing than anything we've seen to date. Who would curb their funding of terrorism if they had the capability to erase Tel Aviv?

As for responsibility for harm caused, one could make the argument that American military spending and intervention has been far more destabilizing to the middle east than anything the Iranians have managed. How shall we assess that harm that the US has caused?

Sometimes good policy can't stand the light of day. Kennedy's deal to exchange Turkish missiles for Cuban ones is a clear example, to me.

The millions shipped to Iran, as you doubtlessly also know, was the return of an advance payment for goods we never delivered. Or do you advocate just stealing the property of countries that don't align with what you want them to do? And yes, I know these tactics are common and accepted. It just doesn't sit very well with my personal philosophies, which are not grounded in utilitarianism.

And as you point out, agreeing to the deal in the first place is separable from the decision to exit the deal.

General Comments / Re: Possibility of peace with NK
« on: July 05, 2018, 11:36:58 AM »
You guys are literally a broken record. 

We are all broken records on this one. You say "this was a bad deal" and I say "it was better than no deal, and there was no better deal available".

They can both be true at the same time. Would continued status-quo sanctions have been the better path, as you suggest? Because that doesn't seem to slow a nation down significantly, from what I can see. That's the NK model, is it not? Other than that, all you have is bombings and invasions, and I think we know how well those work out by now.

I'm sorry that you're upset that we gave back the money we stole from them because we didn't like their change in government back in the 1970s. I can only imagine what you'd say if a country froze American assets because of Trump.

General Comments / Re: My conflicted NATO
« on: July 03, 2018, 04:34:03 PM »
Uh, "The Conservatives" complaining about NATO dates back to AT LEAST the Clinton Administration. You can probably find less than enthusiastic comments from many of us, myself included, from during the Bush Administration here on Ornery.

Antagonism towards NATO from many of us isn't new, and has nothing to do with Trump.

True, and also true that Obama and Bush also complained about NATO countries not doing enough. They just did it more diplomatically and never called into question whether it ought to exist.

In frank comments about foreign relations, the US president also revealed he warned his British counterpart that the “special relationship” would be at risk if the UK did not commit to spending 2% of its national income on defence, in line with Nato targets.


Anyone claiming asylum is given the right for their case to be heard, according to many Democrats. It is considered a right under international law, etc, but to some conservatives that mean anyone gets in, anyone gets to be released to disappear into the population. They feel that it is so easy to do this, that it is tantamount to an open border.

That's a strong enough basis to avoid calling this an outright lie and rather more a characterization.

General Comments / My conflicted NATO
« on: July 03, 2018, 12:50:57 PM »
I am pretty conflicted on the latest Trump moves concerning NATO. On the one hand, I am pretty strongly in favor of a "take all our marbles and go home" foreign policy. I think we've vastly overreached, and the more alliances and foreign footprint we have the more expensive it is for us.

Absent NATO, there isn't a lot of risk these days of an invasion from the East. France and the UK are nuclear capable states, and they aren't likely to stand by if Russia were to continue West into Poland or Romania from Ukraine. Not to mention, it is quite possible to continue to have mutual defense without all the forward deployment.

On the other hand, it diminishes our leverage in global affairs as well as the leadership position that our spending currently affords. A NATO without US might well pursue different policy that might not be so aligned with our interests. In the case of engagement in other theaters of operation, it leaves us without shared responsibility as we had in Afghanistan.

I only wish that to balance cost we were decreasing our military costs rather than insisting other countries try to match our insane spending levels.

As for open borders - there is only one real definition. It applies to the states of the EU, and to the individual states of the United States. No one ever asks anyone for a passport, freight or vehicles can be searched for agricultural or tax reasons, and there certainly aren't people trying to round up anybody from the state you have an open border with.

A truly closed border would be like NK, hardly anyone in or out.

Everything else is a discussion about a functional border and how easy or hard it is to cross under a myriad of circumstances.

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