I have no opinion on the merits and drawbacks of this construction project. I don't know enough about it. But government granting nearly 1200 miles of easements across private land, with 25 to 50 feet of temporary work space designated for construction, and placement of the pipeline as near as 25 feet from private homes, does not strike me as small, non-obtrusive government.
There is nothing new about government taking (with compensation) private land for purposes deemed to be in the public interest, but doing so is an act of government power over the individual and the individual's property. This power has been abused at times to serve business interests that are not clearly in the public interest. Again, in this case, I have no opinion about the broader public interest because I don't know enough about the project. I just find Paul Ryan's characterization of the Corps of Engineers decision as 'big government at it's worst' to be wildly misleading. I would describe the decision as a government entity checking government power to act on behalf of a private business. To the business, it's a government intervention, but the entire project exists only because of government power over the individual.
By the way, many observers expect that Trump will overturn this decision based on his favorable opinion of the project. That linked article claims that Trump owns a stake in the business(es) involved in the project, but according to Snopes, the claim is unproven. What we do know is that the government's power of eminent domain has been vital to many Trump projects, so it isn't difficult to imagine that he's inclined to come down on the side of government granting easements to business over the objections of land owners, never mind a nearby Indian reservation.
He comments every week. Whether or not SNL is funny is beside the point. SNL has been doing presidential parody since its inception. Doesn't the president elect of the United States have better things to do than tweet and grouse about parody week after week?
Then there's this.
The President of Taiwan CALLED ME today to wish me congratulations on winning the Presidency. Thank you!
Well yes, it is interesting and there are people you could ask about why the U.S. and Chinese governments maintain this fiction of a non-relationship relationship. Hint: Everyone gets something they want out of the fiction. And I'm sure Trump could call Obama, or Bush, or Bill Clinton and ask about this, if he's actually interested. Or he could talk with State Department officials or he could ask intelligence officials to explain this Taiwan-China business, though for now he's refusing his briefings.
You know what else is interesting? Trump's business has been negotiating a hotel deal in Taiwan and needs government approval. When that was first reported, a Trump staffer said it wasn't true. Then a NY Times reporter found a Trump employee tweeting about her business trip to Taiwan, and it all came out.
Maybe the Taiwan phone call has something to do with that hotel deal. After speaking with the Argentine president a couple of weeks ago, a hotel deal that was hung up quickly got the green light. Or maybe Trump staffers who want a more aggressive policy toward China set this up without Trump even knowing that the phone call breached protocol. Or maybe he knew, and decided he wanted to change China policy. We don't know. We never know why he does what he's doing, because the man has so many conflicts of interest, he can barely do anything without running into a conflict. I'm not going to attempt a list, but there are many. Many, many, many.
The scariest things about Trump for me are dishonesty that makes just about every other politician look like a model of rectitude, his lack of understanding and indifference to the laws and norms of liberal democracy, and what I believe to be his inability to look past his own interests toward the interests of the country. I just don't think he's even close to capable of objectivity with regard to doing the right thing.
SpaceX, the aerospace company founded by the Mars-hungry tech entrepreneur Elon Musk, just made a big move to enshroud the planet in high-speed internet coverage.
On November 15, the company filed a lengthy application with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to launch 4,425 satellites. (We first heard about the filing through the r/SpaceX community on Reddit.) That is a hell of a lot of satellites.
That would quadruple then number of satellites currently orbiting the earth. Each of the satellites is described as being about the size of a Mini Cooper. Broadband speed this system could offer is 1gbs per user. That's much faster than most of us have now. Our download speed is about 30mps, so this about 33 times faster than what we have and 200 times faster than the average broadband service globally.
The announcement that Mall of America was welcoming its first black Santa Claus was greeted in many quarters as a good thing but, as might be expected in a country that has become increasingly more comfortable saying any racist thing that comes to mind, many were highly offended.
Three years after Fox’s Megyn Kelly definitively explained to America that both Jesus Christ and Santa Claus were white men, Mall of America dismissed her advice and hired Larry Jefferson, a retired U.S. Army veteran from Irving, Texas to spend four days at the mall listening to the wish lists of children of all colors.
According to the editorial editor of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, comments on black Santa became so offensive the paper shut down their online comments on the article about it.
“Looks like we had to turn comments off on story about Mall of America’s first black Santa. Merry Christmas everyone!” Scott Gillespie wrote.
One commenter at the Star Tribune article called for a boycott of the mall, and suggested renaming it "Ragheadland," a recommendation that has no discernible connection with black Santa, so I assume he's just showing off the diversity in his palette of bigotries. As much as I view madness as intrinsic to the human condition, I'm not expecting the commenter's suggestion to put a dent in shopping at the mall. Crazy bigotry is no match for the crazy desire to shop. The shopping wins every time.
Speaking of crazy shopping, Hatchimals. Do you know what I'm talking about? I was shopping for hatchimals online yesterday and found them priced between $150 and $225 per egg. Sorry kiddo, I'm not that crazy.
A few nights ago while listening to the radio on my drive home, I heard a 'therapist' say that people overeat because they're trying to fill a hole in their emotional life. I'd like to see this explanation for overeating and for obesity retired.
First of all, this is an example of the reification fallacy. Just because food fills us in a material sense, that doesn't mean there is a hole in the emotional life of the fat person and that fat people are trying to fill it by eating. Therapies historically aimed at filling these imaginary holes, whatever they're imagined to be, have shown no success in controlling obesity.
This isn't to say that eating never affects emotional life. Eating can certainly have an impact on emotional states, just as many other activities can affect emotions. Exercise, watching a movie, attending a party, having a conversation, meditating, taking a drug, looking at a smiling face--any activity may change how we feel.
The psychological dimensions of fat and social reactions to fat are complex, but a much better general explanation for obesity is that people are fat because cheap, high-calorie food is abundant and easily accessible. Human beings have evolved to survive food scarcity. We're built to store fat for times of shortage, and that's what we do. Only now, most of us in First World, fast-food nations never encounter shortages, so we just store the fat.
I'm not suggesting that this is the entire story of obesity, but we need more sophisticated ways of understanding fat than the "filling holes" explanation.
I wasn't even going to mention my gripe with the hole theory of obesity, but I decided to use it to lead into a far more interesting and incredibly frank exploration of the psychological side of fat. Elana Baker, a producer with This American Life, discussed her 110 pound weight loss at age 23. Ms. Baker wanted to date, but hadn't had any luck up to that point, and she also found herself unemployed after a year out of college. She decided to seek medical help for weight loss, and the weight loss changed her life, but... just listen.
Her segment is 20 minutes long and well worth your time if you have any interest at all in this subject.
A woman in Saudi Arabia is facing calls for her execution after a photo of her appearing in public without wearing a hijab was posted on social media. According to reports, Malak Al Shehri posted the photo of herself in the Saudi capital of Riyadh wearing a dark coat covering a floral dress, dark sunglasses — but no hijab, or abaya, a traditional body covering worn by women in Saudi Arabia. The backlash came swift and fierce with some people calling for her death and others calling for her imprisonment.
The Times story was posted yesterday and this tweet, linked in the story, is still on twitter.
I assume the tweet has been reported to twitter many times, but just to see if Twitter would even respond, I reported it when I read the article hours ago. Haven't heard a thing back from them. That account is still active and the tweet is still posted. Twitter seems to be all talk when it comes to removing this sort of garbage. Not only should they remove the tweet, they should delete the account. I know that the tweeter can open another account, but he'll lose all of his old tweets and followers, and for a time, any influence he may have had.
On a positive note, using the translate button, I see that at least some people writing in Arabic are supporting the woman and condemning those who are making threats. Still, far too many people in this world think that God commands them to murder those who offend their sensibilities.
and if people in Youngstown are saying it, someone should tell them it's not okay.
Tim Ryan, for those without a political scorecard, is an Ohio Democrat who launched an unsuccessful bid to replace Nancy D'Alesandro Pelosi as house minority leader. I wonder if her heritage brought that word to mind?
If you're keeping track, Trump is in Day 2 of a major meltdown on twitter. The tweets are coming in reaction to Jill Stein's recount requests and the Clinton campaign announcement that they will participate. It's important to note what happens to Trump's self-control and thinking when he's distressed. He sounds more like a distraught child than a man who will assume what is arguably the most powerful public office on earth in less than two months.
Former Republican strategist and cable news commentator Ana Navarro offers Trump some advice.
This customer meltdown happened in a Chicago store I know well. I wouldn't say that Trump's victory was the prompt for the meltdown, but for some reason the woman had to announce that she voted for Trump, and she threw a Trump rant into the middle of her 1/2 hour meltdown.
According to this story in Chicago Patch, a black cashier offered to sell the customer a reusable bag at checkout, and the customer decided that charging for a bag was based on racial discrimination because she's white and the cashier is black, and something about voting for Trump, and the last person who made it known that they voted for Trump got beaten up. The store manager, who is also black, tried to reason with the customer, but the manager was also deemed a racial discriminator.
About that bag. For the past year, Chicago and some communities near the city have regulated use of plastic bags by retail stores. Some but not all stores in the area now sell bags at checkout, so I'm not sure why the customer interpreted the offer of the bag as an act of discrimination. Also, typical customers in the store are white, so it would be weird to single out this particular customer for racial discrimination. According to the Patch account, numerous customers waited in the store until the woman left because they wanted to support the employees in the event that the angry customer files a complaint, as she said she would. Chicago police were called, but by the time they arrived, the woman was gone.
The neighborhood (East Lakeview) is mostly white, gentrified in the 1980s, with expensive homes, mostly prosperous residents and a lot of younger families. The customer looks rather typical for the neighborhood. She actually looks familiar, but I can't place her.
While her Trump rant isn't really explained, she's definitely got a thing about being a Trump voter and a thing about race, which are interconnected themes in many of the Trump voter meltdown videos.