GOP “Commitment to America” doesn’t include learning how to navigate the Web

They simply flipped documentary footage from Russia

House Republican leaders on Friday unveiled their “Commitment to America” agenda for 2023 ― and with it, an inspirational video full of scenes presented as exceptional imagery of America that were actually stock footage from Russia and Ukraine.

The GOP’s video, “The Preamble to the Commitment to America,” opens with a narrator highlighting aspects of what it means to be an American.

“We celebrate the rich heritage of the American story and the vibrancy of the American Dream,” the voice says, over footage of a drilling rig at sunrise.

But this video snippet, an apparent nod to America’s natural resources, wasn’t filmed in America. It’s stock footage created by Serg Grbanoff, a filmmaker based in Russia.

This bumped Jennifer Bendery’s curiosity enough to start her looking around, checking on productions on other websites “designed” to build the online presence of leading Republicans. Turds like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy.

Consistent mistakes. Guess they just discovered the Web

Thanks, Ray K.

Could be the most important planned collision – ever!

That last moment before impact

This coming Monday, NASA will broadcast its first attempt to modify the orbit of an asteroid, a capability that will be essential if we detect an asteroid that poses a threat of colliding with Earth. The planetary defense effort is focused on a craft called DART, for Double Asteroid Redirection Test, which will target a small asteroid called Dimorphos that orbits the larger 65803 Didymos, forming a binary system. If all goes according to plan, DART will direct itself to a head-on collision that slows Dimorphos, altering its orbit around Didymos…

…The planned collision will also be broadcast live on NASA’s YouTube channels. While we’ll know immediately whether the collision occurred as planned, it may take several months before we’re certain that Dimorphos’ orbit was successfully modified…

During its final approach to Didymos, DART will be distant enough that round-trip transmissions will take over a minute. As such, the final approach and targeting of the asteroid will be handled by an on-board navigation system called SMART Nav (Small-body Maneuvering Autonomous Real Time Navigation)…

As described by Evan Smith, DART’s deputy mission system engineer, the system will shift over to on-board navigation at about four hours before impact, and the SMART Nav will track the larger Didymos and use that for navigation until about 50 minutes before collision, or about a half-hour after it can be resolved. At 2.5 minutes prior to the collision, the ion engine will be shut off, and DART will coast into a collision at about 6 kilometers a second.

And then, if everything goes well, the transmissions will stop.

RTFA for all the geek details about the mission. Thoughts to be examined, resolved after the mission. Whatever time the Big Bang happens, I plan to be watching. Even though there is a small companion craft accompanying DART that will record the final encounter from (what we hope is) a safe distance. Slo-mo replays and all.

Thoughts on the 2022 MacBook Air

It has been a few months since Apple released the 2022 edition of the 13-inch MacBook Air –arguably the most popular laptop in the Mac line-up. Not surprisingly, there was a lot of interest in the thin-and-skinny laptop. And the reviews came in thick and fast…

…If you are wondering what else I can add to what has already been said, then you are right to assume that: not much…Except, I wanted to see how good (or bad) the new M2-powered MacBook Air would be for me as an “on-the-go” photographer…

My opinion on the design of the laptop isn’t changed — it feels like a skinnier (and, in my opinion, better) version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro.

However, by losing the iconic shape, Apple has shorn the “Air” line-up of its instant recognizability. For me, Macbook Air signified — practical, smart, and sensible. The new MacBook Air is just another faceless slab of aluminum in an ocean of laptops. Unlike John Gruber and others, I just can’t get over the loss of an iconic design.

And that’s where my criticism of the new laptop ends.

I think losing the old iconic shape has come at a cost — roughly $200. But it does buy you a much better screen, better audio, better webcam, better chip, and a more powerful chip. Dollar for dollar, not only is the Macbook Air 2022 better than its predecessor, it is better by a country mile than its “professional” cousin, the 2022 13-inch MacBook Pro.

At this point, Om launches into a detailed, thoughtful, useful analysis of the newest MacBook Air.

Worthy as ever, Om’s review reflects skills and his long history as a user-friendly geek. His writing style is personal…and what he has to communicate to his readers is productive and to the point. Carry on, reading.

Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Heart Disease

A potential direct association between higher artificial sweetener consumption and increased cardiovascular disease risk, including heart attack and stroke has been uncovered by a large study of French adults published on September 7 by The BMJ.

These food additives are consumed daily by millions of people and are present in thousands of foods and drinks. The findings indicate that these artificial sweeteners should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several health agencies…

Because this is an observational study, it can’t establish cause. Additionally, the researchers cannot rule out the possibility that other unknown (confounding) factors might have affected their results.

Nevertheless, this was a large study that evaluated individuals’ artificial sweetener intake using precise, high-quality dietary data. Furthermore, the findings are in line with other studies linking exposure to artificial sweeteners with several markers of poor health.

This article and others associated with it say that there haven’t been any long-term studies differentiating between strictly artificial sugar substitutes and products derived from the stevia plant. Often used to produce sugar alternatives rather than artificial substitutes.

I have to put in a plug here for my own reading – and opinion. The safety and usefulness as an alternative of the herb stevia is one that I’ve decided to make my own choice.

Stevia’s history goes back to ancient times. Grown naturally in tropical climates, stevia is an herb in the chrysanthemum family that grows wild as a small shrub in Paraguay and Brazil, though it can easily be cultivated elsewhere. Paraguayans have used stevia as a food sweetener for centuries while other countries, including Brazil, Korea, Japan, China and much of South America, have a shorter, though still long-standing, record of stevia use…

There are more than 100 species of stevia plant, but one stands out for its excellent properties as a sweetener—stevia rebaudiana, which contains the compound rebaudioside A, the sweetest-flavored component of the stevia leaf. Rebaudioside A acts chemically similar to sugar in onset, intensity and duration of sweetness, and is free of aftertaste. A majority of stevia-sweetened products contain mostly extracted Rebaudioside A with some proportion of stevioside, which is a white crystalline compound present in stevia that tastes 100 to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.

This article is about a decade old and continues to serve as a reliable analysis. Conclusions endorse a number of brands of stevia-derived products. Including, I must admit, my favorite. Though, in practice, my feelings about a healthy lifestyle, nutrition and exercise, don’t especially include cultivating a taste for sweets. My only use is in 2 of the 4 cups of traditionally-strong styles of coffee I consume daily. :-]

Apple is killing the password

FOR YEARS, WE’VE been promised the end of password-based logins. Now the reality of a passwordless future is taking a big leap forward, with the ability to ditch passwords being rolled out for millions of people. When Apple launches iOS 16 on September 12 and macOS Ventura next month, the software will include its password replacement, known as passkeys, for iPhones, iPads, and Macs.

Passkeys allow you to log in to apps and websites, or create new accounts, without having to create, memorize, or store a password. This passkey, which is made up of a cryptographic key pair, replaces your traditional password and is synced across iCloud’s Keychain. It has the potential to eliminate passwords and improve your online security, replacing the insecure passwords and bad habits you probably have now…

If you are new to an app or a website, there’s the potential that you can create a passkey instead of a password from the start. But for services where you already have an account, it’s likely you will need to log in to that existing account using your password and then create a passkey.

Apple’s demonstrations of the technology show a prompt appearing on your devices during the sign-in or account-creation phase. This box will ask whether you would like to “save a passkey” for the account you are using. At this stage, your device will prompt you to use Face ID, Touch ID, or another authentication method to create the passkey.

As Apple’s passkeys are based on the wider passwordless standards created by the FIDO Alliance, there’s the potential that they can be stored elsewhere, too. For instance, password manager Dashlane has already announced its support for passkeys, claiming it is an “independent and universal solution agnostic of the device or platform.”

RTFA for all the instruction you’ll need to begin using passkeys. Time for another change that makes using the Web easier.


Dogs, reunited with their owners, cry tears of joy

Dogs literally cry tears of joy when they see their owners after they’ve been away, scientists have found in the first study of its kind that is also totally going to make us cry, too.

Published in the Current Biology journal, this study by Japanese researchers found not only that dogs shed happy tears, but also that the love hormone oxytocin — the same one that causes humans to feel emotional bonds with each other and with animals — may be underlying that mechanism.

Researcher and paper co-writer Takefumi Kikusui of Azabu University in Japan said in a press release about the study that he first began to wonder about oxytocin tears in dogs when his standard poodle gave birth to puppies about six years ago. He noticed then that his dog had tears in her eyes as she nursed the puppies, and has been fascinated by the topic ever since.

My parents bought my first dog for me when I was 5 years old. An Alaskan Husky, his name was Hank. And that’s about all I can put down on this page, right now.

We couldn’t afford a London flat, so we bought a farm in Italy instead . . .

The UK’s exorbitant housing market has driven Lucie Davidson and her boyfriend Jerry O’Shea to radically expand their property search.

The couple started househunting in May last year. They were looking for a one-bedroom flat in Brixton, Bermondsey or Camberwell in south London and their budget was up to £450,000.

They found nothing. So instead they decided to buy a 110-acre farm in central Italy with no running water or electricity and a farmhouse that had been badly damaged by an earthquake…The thought of starting a new life together as farmers in the Italian region of Le Marche seemed preferable to “spending half a million pounds to live in a box”, said Lucie, 26…

I know the feeling. Been down that thoughtful road a couple of times. Circumstances were never quite right…as far as my personal life was concerned. Owned a chunk of disposable property , one sort or another over time, which could have been sold to fund such a purchase. But, the waiting paid off because I found my wonderful Helen and she already had a delightful place just outside Santa Fe.

We married. I sold my house in town. Moved about 8 miles to La Cieneguilla…30 years ago. Couldn’t be happier.