If Fox News were around in the 50’s…


Thanks, gocomics.org

This commentary is excerpted from an email I sent off literally 5 minutes before I saw tonight’s cartoon.

In the 1940’s – when I was a kid in elementary school and spring came around to the East End of Bridgeport, there were a couple of constants. (1) We’d get ready to start playing baseball, again. There always were seasonal pickup games of basketball or football; but, baseball was the sport for our neighborhood. (2) We’d look around as kids would start gathering to and from school, afternoon sports time, weekends – to see who died over winter.

Diphtheria vaccination was becoming widespread; still, we’d always lose at least one kid over winter. Going into spring and summer, polio was the scariest. There often was a survivor or two clattering through the neighborhood on crutches … And another one or two missing.

We learned to embrace vaccination, parents and kids alike, as the best modern survival medicine on Earth. I can’t recall more than one True Believer of the breast-beating Christian category who refused to be vaccinated. And, yes, he died before he was old enough to vote. My peers and I said, “he got what he deserved”.

Our government, our educators, have grown soft in the head and lax since the bad old days … Ignoring the propaganda of religious nutballs and ignoranus conservatives. They deserve the blame … and most of the responsibility to bring education and understanding back up to standard. In my not-at-all-humble opinion.

Ed Campbell

In 2017, the Broadband Industry funded “fake grassroots support” to end Net Neutrality


Trump’s tame FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai

The largest Internet providers in the US funded a campaign that generated “8.5 million fake comments” to the Federal Communications Commission as part of the ISPs’ fight against net neutrality rules during the Trump administration, according to a report issued…by New York State Attorney General Letitia James.

Nearly 18 million out of 22 million comments were fabricated, including both pro- and anti-net neutrality submissions, the report said. One 19-year-old submitted 7.7 million pro-net neutrality comments under fake, randomly generated names. But the astroturfing effort funded by the broadband industry stood out because it used real people’s names without their consent, with third-party firms hired by the industry faking consent records

It was clear before Pai completed the repeal in December 2017 that millions of people—including dead people—were impersonated in net neutrality comments. Even industry-funded research found that 98.5 percent of genuine comments opposed Pai’s deregulatory plan. But [the] report reveals more details about how many comments were fake and how the broadband industry was involved.

“The broadband industry could not, in fact, rely on grassroots support for its campaign because the public overwhelmingly supported robust net neutrality rules,” the report noted. “So the broadband industry tried to manufacture support for repeal by hiring companies to generate comments for a fee.”

This article from arstechnica is damned good at presenting the case against corrupt companies, corrupt politicians and those who aided their cover-up. Want ALL the details? Go to the report filed by the NY State AG, Letitia James.

Demonstrations continue against Israeli cops evicting Palestinian families – turning homes over to Israeli settlers


Ahmad Gharabli/AFP

Israeli forces raided the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of occupied East Jerusalem for the second night on Tuesday, spraying skunk water, a chemically enhanced type of sewage water, and physically assaulting residents and solidarity protesters…

Palestinians have been protesting against the forced displacement of people in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood following an Israeli court order. The Israeli district court in East Jerusalem approved a decision to vacate six Palestinian families from their homes in May in favour of Israeli settlers. The same court ruled that another seven families in Sheikh Jarrah are to leave their homes by August 1…

Palestinians fear it is part of an ongoing effort by Israeli settlers to take control of Palestinian homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood … A video showing a settler attempting to take over a Palestinian home in Sheikh Jarrah on Saturday has further caused outrage.

Since 1956, a total of 37 Palestinian families have been living in 27 homes in the neighbourhood – including 28 refugee families who were ethnically cleansed from their homes in Jaffa and Haifa in 1948.

However, illegal Jewish settlers have been trying to push them out on the basis of a law approved by the Israeli parliament in 1970.

Yup. The land of the free 2.0 … in much of the American Press.

Hypothetical Asteroid crashes into Earth even with 6 months lead-time

It’s the Doomsday event that reigns supreme over all others: An asteroid, on a collision course with Earth, is discovered with very little time to prevent a possible impact.

In addition to being wonderful fodder for blockbuster movies, this scenario was also the inspiration for a tabletop exercise with NASA scientists at the International Academy of Astronautics’ Planetary Defense Conference last week. The asteroid drill is a mainstay of the biennial conference, but this year was different for two reasons: 1) The event was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 2) the fictional 2021 asteroid could not be stopped despite the scientists’ best efforts, even with a nuclear option…

“One of the objectives of this exercise is to get the disaster management and emergency response community more involved and thinking about what they would be facing if we didn’t have the time to divert an asteroid in space, and did have to take the impact somewhere,”…

“To mount a campaign, even a single mission, given our current state of the technology and how we do these deep space missions, we need a lead time, I would say, of a minimum of two years, and we’d be much more comfortable if it were five years,”…

As a result, the team recommended the development of rapid response spacecraft launches that could blast off within days or weeks of notice.

Nice that they reached a conclusion that might reduce this potential disaster. RTFA for the variables wandering through this part of the exercise. There is new tech in the pipeline that might give us better odds of sorting out a similar danger.

I have to wonder how many times folks have been analyzing this danger to our planet – without concluding it was time to get prepared.

Asteroid impact simulation ends with a new hole in Europe

An international exercise to simulate an asteroid striking Earth has come to an end. With just six days to go before a fictitious impact, things don’t look good for a 298 km-wide region between Prague and Munich…

This may sound like a grim role-playing game, but it’s very serious business. Led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Centre for Near Earth Object Studies, the asteroid impact simulation is meant to prepare scientists, planners, and key decision makers for the real thing, should it ever occur…

…A key takeaway from this year’s simulation was the dramatic way in which key variables, such as the probable impact area and affected population size, were affected by new observations. At one point, for example, North Africa, the UK, and much of Scandinavia were inside the possible strike zone…

Previous tabletop exercises provided many years of warning time, but not this one. Accordingly, the focus of exercise was geared toward the disaster response and the importance of identifying dangerous asteroids in advance.

RTFA. Be prepared! Even if the only response possible in real time is RUN LIKE HELL!

At least, it didn’t explode!

Today is bread day. I bake my loaf of bread for the following week every Friday. It is an old-fashioned European process consuming several hours actually starting the evening before.

So, Thursday evening, I mix what is called a poolish – vernacular for it’s supposed origin in Poland centuries ago. A very wet mixture, half flour, half water, barely an eighth of a teaspoon of yeast … the whole critter allowed to mumble to itself for 8-12 hours … covered in plastic wrap so no spiders or other critters fall in overnight. By Friday morning, the poolish is ready to be mixed with the remaining flour, water, salt and yeast to make the completed dough.

In our home, that’s called Jabba. :-]

I left it sitting out on the counter, last night. Didn’t get round to starting the end process till morning sunlight had already begun streaming in the East windows into our kitchen. The result is above.

What will you do when your favorite gas station runs dry, this summer?

Millions of people stuck at home for more than a year are expected to hit the road for much-needed post-pandemic vacations this summer. Good luck finding gas.

Not that there’s a looming shortage of crude oil or gasoline. Rather, it’s the tanker truck drivers needed to deliver the gas to stations who are in short supply.

According to the National Tank Truck Carriers, the industry’s trade group, somewhere between 20% to 25% of tank trucks in the fleet are parked heading into this summer due to a paucity of qualified drivers. At this point in 2019, only 10% of trucks were sitting idle for that reason.

“We’ve been dealing with a driver shortage for a while, but the pandemic took that issue and metastasized it,” said Ryan Streblow, the executive vice president of the NTTC. “It certainly has grown exponentially.”…

Not just any truck driver is allowed to drive a tanker truck. It requires special certification, including a commercial driver’s license, and weeks of training after being hired. And while the jobs are more attractive than some long-haul trucking jobs that can keep drivers away from home for days or weeks at a time, it is strenuous, difficult work.

Holly McCormick, who runs the workforce committee for NTTC, said another problem was the shutdown of many driver schools early in the pandemic. The pipeline of new drivers those schools would have produced has yet to be filled, she said. And then there’s a new federal clearinghouse that went online in January 2020 to identify truck drivers with prior drug or alcohol violations or failed drug tests, which knocked about 40,000 to 60,000 total drivers out of the national employment pool.

Oops!