Saturday, April 20, 2019

Mueller Fundamentals


There’s so much Mueller analysis out there. (A searchable/if redacted version.) But you know I offer angles you'll not get elsewhere. Here are digest-fundamentals that shine through Attorney General William Barr's sycophant spin. 

1. The importance of specific intent. Our rule of law is rightfully biased against prosecution, especially near the borders of free expression. Hence, in each instance of collusion or obstruction, there must be simultaneous actions and specified types of intent.


2. The Report details many acts that were clear obstruction, but Barr several times said illegal intent was missing because D. Trump was enraged and unaware of implications, while uninterested in cogent legal advice. This defense doesn’t work for assault or murder, but several times Barr leaned explicitly into this Rage and Stupidity Defense*.


3. Other acts of blatant obstruction DT did knowingly order, in order to obstruct. But he gets off some of those because underlings refused to carry them out! So, we had intent, but without the fully-completed act. See: “Don McGahn may have single-handedly saved Donald Trump's presidency.”


4. As for Collusion, Mueller does not exonerate. He only says “not decisively-proved” regarding specifically 2016 Trump campaign conspiracy with the Russians. 

Nothing to do with Putin-conniving after Trump became presidentEvents in 2017 and 2018 are still on our doorstep, including major counter-intelligence investigations, and the paper bag is aflame.

As for 2016 collusion, Mueller reports that the Trumpists:

(a) both openly and privately encouraged crimes and acts of war against us by hostile foreign powers. (Mueller separately indicted 16 Russian nationals, many of them oligarchs with blatant-smelly ties to Trump.)

(b) openly expressed gladness to benefit from those crimes and acts of war, and

(c) maintained highly suspicious contacts both during and after, and


You or I would call that a closed loop of treason. But Mueller's team - guided by prim U.S. definitions - needed a fact (e) that clearly was there, but they could not prove.

See it explained in an appraisal from Lawfare
    "This report shows that the Trump campaign was reasonably aware of the Russian efforts, at least on the hacking side. They were aware the Russians sought to help them win. They welcomed that assistance. Instead of warning the American public, they devised a public relations and campaign strategy that sought to capitalize on Russia’s illicit assistance. In other words, the Russians and the Trump campaign shared a common goal, and each side worked to achieve that goal with basic knowledge of the other side’s intention. They just didn’t (provably) agree to work toward that goal together."

Wow, isn’t western jurisprudence… well… prudent? You or I would call all that a huge pile of smoking guns. But our rule of law – gleefully used by enemies against us – requires rock solid proof of coordination during 2016

Hey, while we all know that coordination happened, this is not Russia, and hence what “we all know” doesn’t convict. The state must prove things beyond doubt. (Again, coordination with the Kremlin after 2016 is the treason that’s absolutely blatant in front of everyone’s eyes. It has been passed to other investigations. But the most blatant treason of all is the way that Fox and every single Fox watcher makes writhing excuses for all this.)


5. Can a sitting president be indicted? Mueller cites the infamous Justice Dept. Office of Legal Counsel's (OLC) opinion paper – not a law, regulation, ruling or precedent, just an opinion -- that indictment would unduly constrain a president's ability to govern, and hence can’t be allowed.

This is insane. It gives any president who has a McConnell in the Senate carte blanche to proclaim himself above the law. Sure, frivolous court actions could harass a constitutional chief executive – it’s what Trump tried doing to Obama with ‘birther’ lawsuits. 

In fact, the same protection could be afforded by "slow indictments" that are constrained so that -- audited by a court -- the president only spends say a maximum of ten hours a week on legal defense. Oh, sure, that too could be abused in stall tactics. But at least the principle is defensible. Depositions and due process could grind forward. And stalling can be fought. A never-indict precedent can’t be.

(Applying the OLC opinion to a president who spends almost no time governing is amazing.)


6. The Mueller report left clear that this is not over. There are at least a dozen ongoing federal investigations. Moreover, New York State will – Madison willing -- ensure that justice still prevails over many of Trump’s eventual pardons.


7. The power of removal. Mueller also added a searing paragraph making clear that Congress can constitutionally correct this travesty… though elsewhere I’ve given many reasons why I oppose impeachment. For now. Hey, I like Elizabeth Warren and the dems should have attack dogs shaking this bone. But McConnell.   

(An aside: See below in notes how Barr's Rage and Stupidity Defense reopens discussion of the 25th Amendment.)


8. Poison fruit. The top rationalization pouring out of Fox and Kremlin basements,  repeated by ol' Two Scoops? The original Steele Dossier - plus a few FBI agents - were biased against Trump!!  Hence the long scroll of subsequent investigations, FISA warrants, revelations, indictments, convictions and lies should be tossed. 

It's a bastard version of the “fruit of a tainted tree” doctrine that prevents cops from ignoring our fourth and fifth amendment rights. Evidence derived from a blatantly illegal search is “tainted fruit.” We’ve all seen this in cop shows, though legal folks are starting to realize there are now better ways to curb bad police behavior than letting felons go free on a technicality.

First irony: Republicans have long howled against the tainted fruit doctrine! 


Second: there is no doctrine against police evaluating biased tips that come through no outright illegality of their own. Nor are cops forbidden to have opinions, or to open investigations based on hunches. (They are forbidden from lazy-ass prejudice and profiling.) 

Note this well: it is juries and judges and courts who need to eliminate all bias. In our adversarial justice system, prosecutors and law officers are allowed to say: “I think this jerk is guilty and I will follow where the evidence leads.”

Third: The harpy screech of Hannity, Pirro and ilk is "stop looking!" Stop Mueller, stop SDNY and New York. Stop Congressional hearings! Despite their own Clinton-Obama investigations costing
 half a billion dollars of our money, that across 25 years total found less criminality than we're finding in the GOP daily

Stop looking? What do innocent people say, vs criminals, when investigation looms? The Clintons, despite their tediously dramatic eye-rolling - never cried "stop looking." 

I could go on with this thread for pages. But suffice it to say, you need to have an answer, when your confederate uncle trots out this Putin-Fox talking point about FISA warrants and Steele Dossiers and biased FBI agents. It's all Kremlin basement stuff and they should be ashamed.  



9. The likely reason why so many are betraying their country and our future. Okay, it’s my job to point at aspects that you’ll see nowhere else. Is it because I think outside the box? Because I am mad? 

Either way, to me the most striking-bizarre aspect of this whole frenzied “Mueller Month” has been the behavior of Attorney General William Barr.

Oh, Barr was a partisan attack dog going back many decades, and a hypocrite, applying opposite standards to Democrats vs. Republicans. Still, he always seemed to stand on just this side of law, honor and prudence. But that’s not what we’ve been seeing lately. Indeed, stop and think. There’s no way that Donald Trump -- after his experience with Sessions, Rosenstein, McGanh etc. -- would appoint anyone without a very taut leash. 

Now admit it… what we just saw from William Barr is a fellow who is very well at-heel.

This is not the only case of someone displaying bizarre obedience to those who are stage managing our national calamity. Am I the only one to smell something funny in the abrupt resignation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy? 


I've hollered for twenty years about what I deem to be the greatest weapon used by our enemies against us, a beloved tool of the KGB all the way back to the czarist Okrahna.

And all it would take is one true hero – just one - to bring it crashing down.  If you haven’t read this, you need to.


MUELLER CONCLUSIONS (for now): I am in no position to dissect the Report in detail. There are skilled men and women out there doing their jobs. Moreover, the newly liberated and assertively constitutionalist House of Representatives is back at work on our behalf. (Oh, the advantages of a parliamentary system!) 

But what’s already clear is that the answer must eventually be political.


== Trump’s best defense: polarization and civil war ==

What hope have we for resolution, if the Law is so prim that herds of Trump’s hapless aides get nailed, but never him? When his own microcephalic obduracy and rage is his best defense?

And our own stupid  inability to use the weapons he gives us? Take the fact that he’s been “betrayed” by more appointees than all other presidents combined! It shows at-minimum that he’s a terrible judge of character – no Foxism can evade that polemical knife.

Alas, Robert Mueller, consummate professional has appropriately punted this to us. As posited above, the way to punish all this is politically.

But as investment guru Russ Daggatt recently put it: the biggest development over the past two years was Trump’s success in rallying his party behind him and making the investigation, led by a lifelong Republican who was probably the most highly respected law enforcement official in the country, yet another matter of partisan polarization.

“Trump spent two years attacking Mueller and his team, seeking to discredit the investigation, calling it a “Witch Hunt” over 170 times. Just today, he called the investigation an “Illegally Started Hoax that never should have happened”  (see point #8), with the “Crazy Mueller Report ... written by 18 Angry Democrat Trump Haters” containing “total bullshit”.  Sadly, it worked. By the time the (redacted) Report was made public yesterday, Republicans were fully invested in defending him from anything it might contain. Leading that defense is Attorney General Barr.” (See point #9.)

Daggatt refers back to March 22, 2017, when Mueller was appointed special counsel to oversee an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

“Mueller’s (redacted) Report quotes Trump saying at that time, “Oh my God. This is terrible. This is the end of my Presidency. I’m fucked.”  (Needless to say, not the reaction of an innocent person.)… Trump had repeatedly insisted there had been no contacts between Russia and his campaign. He had told the American people he had no business dealings in Russia. Trump even refused to acknowledge that Russia interfered in the election to benefit his campaign (“It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, ok?”). That was the starting point of Mueller’s investigation, which initially had strong bipartisan support.”

He continues: “Two years later, there is no doubt whatsoever of the role Russia played in the campaign. As Mueller states, “The Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion.” And there has been documented over 140 contacts between Trump and at least 18 of his associates with Russian nationals and WikiLeaks, or their intermediaries, during the 2016 campaign and presidential transition. Their scope is staggering.” 

Daggatt asserts that across the last two years, while the Republican voter base has shrunk, what remains has rallied every-more volcanically behind Trump, till almost no Republican will dare say a word amid a giant Nuremberg rally of outthrust salutes. (My metaphor, not Russ’s.)


== Stark jibbering… ==
  
Red-Fox America’s reflexive excuse-making for this tsunami of treason – along with all-out war against every fact-using profession -- can only end at the ballot box, and that repudiation must be overwhelming, or Putin and Murdoch will then turn to their last resort: spurring a more violent phase of civil war.

Each of us knows RASRs – Residually Adult-Sane Republicans – who are writhing unhappily, wallowing in “whatabout” rationalizations and “I know my side’s gone nuts, but democrats are just as bad” incantations. If just half a million of these at-core-decent neighbors get cornered, forced to face the full monstrosity of it all, and peeled away from the Putin-Fox coalition, then a Big Tent can welcome them. A tent of national and world salvation that’s broad enough to offer safety and a voice to Eisenhower… and yes, even Reagan… conservatives. If only they will help.

But first they must be hammered. Grabbed by the lapel. Read-to aloud. As with this article: “Here's the 1 thing the Mueller report proves beyond a shadow of a doubt.” Its most telling excerpt is about
 White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, who, in May 2017, said this in the wake of the firing of FBI Director Comey:

"The President, over the last several months, lost confidence in Director Comey. The DOJ [Department of Justice] lost confidence in Director Comey. Bipartisan members of Congress made it clear that they had lost confidence in Director Comey. And most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director."

Pressed by reporters on that that last comment -- about the "rank and file" losing confidence in Comey -- suggesting that the rank and file were supportive of Comey, Sanders responded this way: "We've heard from countless members of the FBI that say very different things."

Ah, but here's what Mueller wrote about the episode: "Sanders told this Office that her reference to hearing from 'countless members of the FBI' was a 'slip of the tongue.' She also recalled that her statement in a separate press interview that rank-and-file FBI agents had lost confidence in Comey was a comment she made 'in the heat of the moment' that was not founded on anything."

When your RASR shrugs over things like this, counter with WODI: “What If Obama Did It?”

(Someone out there! Take a dozen damning Mueller Report passages and change the names from Trump etc. to Obama/Clinton, with appropriate-minima tweaks. Offer it to us: Benghazi! We can show to our RASRs so they’ll be enraged at that a democratic president did such things! Then spring the trap: “Oops, that wasn’t Obama, after all. Why weren’t you enraged that a GOP president actually did this?”  All right, that’s too-clever, by half. So then stick with facts… and wagers (they always run.)

You need to be part of this.  Yes, you.

If “all Heaven rejoices over a repentant sinner,” then all of America, civilization and all future generations depend on the RASRs we peel off. Them… plus the non-voters, who are actually worse in their smug, dullard-cynicism.

===

===

===

Notes:
If Rage and Stupidity are now the dfense points held by the US AG, then why aren't we talking again about the 15th Amendment. The House + a critical mass of GOP senators need to slip into a bill some kind of "commission of national sages" for some advisory matter... then add "The Vice President may appeal to this council as an "other body" established by Congress for purposes of the 25th Amendment."

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Accusations of socialism


Okay so Bill Weld is going to primary Trump, giving some RASRs (Residually Adult-Sane Republicans) a potential path off the plague ship. But will it matter? While total numbers of self-described Republicans keeps plummeting – especially hemorrhaging members of every fact-using profession – Trump’s percentage support among the remaining GOP masses remains 90% while his organization is frenetically busy enforcing Trumpist purity in every Republican state or county committee. (This isn't new; name one top Republican between Reagan and Ryan who was touted at the 2016 GOP convention? Just Newt, who had frantically toed the line. No other Republican leaders - even presidents - were even mentioned. What can that mean?)

Will folks in the Republican outlier state – Utah, clean and sober – finally come to grips with their wretched quandary? Either stick with a Kremlin-led party of mafiosi, gambling, addiction and sexual perversion, or follow Evan McMullin or Gutless Mitt offstage…  

…or else (shudder) start flirting with the party of socialism?   


== They plan to scream “socialism!” ==

Among liberals’ biggest mistakes: getting lured into expressions of hostility to the markets, enterprises and small/startups that generate the wealth we then use to make things better for all children. The Putin-Fox Party plans to use “socialism” against democrats, despite the GOP now being wholly owned by communist and “ex”-communist foreign despots. 

There are two forceful answers:

1) The Greatest Generation (GG) that endured Depression, crushed Hitler, contained Stalinism and made the world’s greatest middle class adored one living human, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The GGs “made America Great." So why not force our red neighbors to choose: either attack the GGs or accept that they were right?

Only one democrat has edged closer to using this powerful meme. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with her terminology “Green New Deal.” But even she doesn’t seem to quite get the power of a true judo move.

2) Across 6000 years, far more open-flat-fair-competitive-creative enterprise systems were wrecked by oligarchy than were ever harmed by moderate, democratic socialism (e.g. Canada or Sweden.) Oligarchy by uber-rich cheaters must be denounced as the enemy of enterprise. Dems Should claim Adam Smith as one of their own. (If you actually read him, you’ll understand.)

See the point made here. Counter the "socialism!" accusation with the Greatest Generation's love of FDR, then follow through with the favorite Americans of the 1950s, Jonas Salk, who saved a generation of children, and Dwight Eisenhower, who made AOC's socialism seem tame. Here's the info about Ike you can use to shred Fox nostrums into confetti.


== A flawed hero is better than a traitor villain ==

In comments below, watch how the Kremlin-generated meme machine is already in gear with hate-blips aimed at FDR's faults.  And yet, the only sane way to judge men is by the context of their times and their net effects for good. Roosevelt's flaws were real and lamentable; I lost some cousins because of his waffling. But there is a reason why Philip K. Dick set the Nazi-dominated hell of "The Man in the High Castle" in a world where FDR had been killed.

Yes, by our current standards, FDR was bigoted and made some howling-awful decisions. The same could be said of LBJ. And you honestly think they would not have led the way in recanting those mistakes? 

Anyone condemning them, while ignoring all their good, should read Frederick Douglas's eulogy of Abraham Lincoln. Especially the last paragraph of this excerpt:

"I have said that President Lincoln was a white man, and shared the prejudices common to his countrymen towards the colored race. Looking back to his times and to the condition of his country, we are compelled to admit that this unfriendly feeling on his part may be safely set down as one element of his wonderful success in organizing the loyal American people for the tremendous conflict before them, and bringing them safely through that conflict. His great mission was to accomplish two things: first, to save his country from dismemberment and ruin; and, second, to free his country from the great crime of slavery. To do one or the other, or both, he must have the earnest sympathy and the powerful cooperation of his loyal fellow-countrymen.

"Without this primary and essential condition to success his efforts must have been vain and utterly fruitless.[...]

"Viewed from the genuine abolition ground, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent; but measuring him by the sentiment of his country, a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult, he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined."

Likewise, our own mad wing of lefty purists uses genuine tragic history to make true criticisms... and draw utterly useless/counterproductive conclusions, as in this example from earlier threads: 

Eisenhower is a bad example he toppled democratic nations in South American for taking care of their citizens like “communists” and put brutal dictators in charge. He doesn’t deserve even a small measure of good will.”

To which I answer: try reading the history of empires across 6000 years. Name one that tried harder for a better ratio of good deeds to bad, or did as well when tempted by great power. Go on, please, offer your examples in comments, below.

Oh… and Harry Truman had some insightful thoughts on socialism:

"Socialism is a scare word they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism
 is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people."
             -Harry S. Truman 10/10/1952

Whatever your armchair quarterback/hindsight views of Truman, note that red-boomers still recall how their GG parents admired the man. Use him -- and FDR and Salk and Ike -- against the confederate-putinist-foxite madness.  


 == As the Mueller turns… ==

Given how many Trumpists and Republican operatives have been convicted by juries of their peers – compared to almost nil among Clinton-Obama folks – the Fox-Putin machine has turned to Whatabouts. But the standard “what about Hillary’s emails?” has collapsed now that we find the same regulations against using private servers were violated far worse by both Bushes, Cheney, Colin Powell, Ivanka, Kushner and half of Trump’s aides (not to go into DT’s own unsecure phone and unvetted meetings with dictators.)  

The new whatabout is the word “collusion.” The only thing that matters is direct proof of specific conspiracy between Donald Trump himself and Russia’s spy agency during the 2016 election. (That is the only "exoneration.") 

Anything else, from conniving with Putin-pal oligarchs to vast loans from Russia via Deutsche Bank, is “circumstantial,” while Fox etc. shout “don’t look!” at the tax returns and other document troves that might get to the core. 

Above all, they scream that Russian interference on behalf of Trump and the Republican Party is irrelevant, a non-issue, a trivial matter.

But in fact, it’s the core matter.  HereThis cogent summary in the Los Angeles Times cogently summarizes where the Mueller investigation seems to stand, at-present, and you need to read it, in order to have ready the stunning tsunami of facts, showing we have been attacked in what are clearly, open acts of war.

And yet, of course, the inferno is not what the Kremlin did on behalf of Trump and Fox and the GOP. It is the hellscape that these three have made of every American strength, from our alliances and world standing to the smoking ruin of U.S. science, to betrayal of the tens of thousands of skilled men and women who saved us from Hitler, Stalin, Mao and bin Laden, and who are now derided – (by genuine traitors) – as a so-called conspiratorial “deep state,” just because they believe in the things that Fox hates most and that could defeat Vladimir Putin and gird us for the challenges ahead.

Facts.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Science updates!


It's hard to evade politics, even in a weekend science update. for example when a top Republican factotum declares: “Science is a Democrat thing.” 

Um. They say it proudly! Yes, science, but also every single fact-based profession. Including medicine, law, teaching, journalism and those "deep state" enemies -- the Intel/FBI/military officer corps -- who know that fact and science and climate change are real.


== Long ago at least they had an excuse for ignorance... ==

As we re-examine our distant past...

We’re finding numerous past eras when the male population in a region was winnowed to a narrow gene pool or else replaced by newcomers. One massive swing happened about 12,000 years ago, about the same time that two technologies might have exacerbated male death rates: agricultural kingdoms and the availability of plentiful beer. (This is actually my own theory, based upon traveller reports from Polynesia and other places that told of kings ordering the instant death of offending louts. It would help explain human resistance to addiction, which though terribly imperfect is greater than in most species.)

Now comes evidence that a mass migration of males transformed the genetic make-up of people in Spain during the Bronze Age. It remains unclear whether there was a violent invasion or whether a male-centric social structure played an important role.”  Interesting article!  And yet, in my “contrarian gadfly” role, I must point out that while dominance by top king-chief-patriarchs seems the most likely explanation, there IS another way that a Y chromosome winnowing could have occurred. 

Female dominance. There have been a few cases of matriarchy in which women councils exerted strong control over which males were allowed to breed. It is quite conceivable (get it?) for such councils to enforce hypergamy – preference to share those males who meet strict standards, rather than “settle” for average. 

A mild version of this practice was seen among the Cherokee and Iroquois, for example.  Yes, our sad litany of nasty and oppressive patriarchies was far more common. But it’s wrong simply to assume that Y chromosome winnowing happened because of inter-male strife. It might have been female selection, which is actually the great driver of evolution in many non-human species.

== More evidence from the past ==

And the Denisovan story gets even more complicated and strange: our Denisovan cousins may have mated with modern humans as recently as 15,000 years ago.

A fossil discovery in North Dakota is strongly believed to be a fish that was blasted and killed precisely the very day that the Cretaceous ended with the Chicxulub meteorite impact, 66 million years ago, the most incredible (and precise) paleontological discovery of the century, so far. If this story is even 5% true...wow. Just wow.

Meanwhile a new fossil trove in China - the Qingjiang biota - has yielded thousands of Cambrian period specimens, with dozens of new species, yet to be named.

Gabonionta are the earliest multicellular macroscopic organisms discovered so far, vastly older –by almost 4x ! – than previous evidence for complex life. Known only from their fossilized mucous trails in black shale from Gabon. Likely something like colonial amoebae or slime molds, they seem to have appeared almost right after Earth finally got appreciable oxygen in its atmosphere. Good science reporting.

My old Caltech housemate Joe Kirschvink has done it again, proving (with colleagues) that humans have a small but verified sensitivity to magnetic fields. 

== Tech updates ==

Via Peter Diamandis: Researchers at Boston University have mathematically designed a 3D acoustic metamaterial that can block up to 94 percent of noise flowing through it. Most dramatically, however, the 3D-printed structure reflects noise-producing vibrations without impeding the passage of light or airflow itself.

GauGAN, from NVIDIA, may be the “MS Paint for the AI age.” Using a generative adversarial network (GAN) trained on 1 million Flickr images, GauGAN can create photorealistic images from just a few lines drawn by a user. As an example, a user could click on “tree,” draw a line, and GauGAN will create an image of a tree trunk.

And “Google has successfully shrunk its speech algorithm storage demands down to 80MB, rendering its speech recognizer small enough to fit on your smartphone, and work offline.”

A world game-changer would be to wean billions off cattle or other inefficient and eco-damaging meats, either with vegetable substitutes like the (yummy) Beyond Burger or else real-meat by tissue culture. Latest: “Memphis Meats, for example, recently filed a patent describing a method to create real chicken and beef tissue using CRISPR.”

Goodyear unveiled its new concept Aero tire, designed to run on roads and double as a propulsion system for flying vehicles.  Yes, the tires become rotors capable of downward thrust and lift. Yipe. Amazing tech.

Optical interferometry has long promised to help us parse distant planets from their hugely brighter nearby stars. Now a group claims to have done it. But then, a few weeks later, we got that image of a real black hole(!) via a method very similar.

 == short takes ==

Methane is so good at trapping heat that one ton of the gas causes 32 times as much warming as one ton of CO2. And Methane is spiking. The possible sources are worrisome. The GOP blocked Obama efforts to fund more inspectors to prevent venting from oil fields. But Trump savagely cut them further and progress toward an international treaty have foundered. 

Even worse are signs that methane is bubbling forth from permafrost and undersea hydrate ices, threatening the “blurp” cascade that would truly make it all deadly, making Earth an almost literal hell. These people are outright enemies of your children.

Slime molds’ ability to reconfigure their volume while fleeing from spots of light has enabled scientists to use these biological computers to solve complex mathematical  conundrums like the Traveling Salesman Problem.

Our opportunity to save ourselves includes ideas like the “Circular Economy.” Watch the video. Then re-read Earth?

An article on Vox discusses the latest silly-wrongheaded attempt by zealots to shout “messages” into the cosmos without ever doing risk analysis or talking it over with the rest of humanity, or allowing their assumptions to be examined. The saddest part is their dislike of science fiction, since SF explores a wide horizon of possibilities, and their religious fanaticism allows for only one.

Wallace’s bee, the size of your thumb and thought extinct, rediscovered!

Evidence that the huge Deccan Traps volcanic eruptions started just before the Yucatan asteroid impact, and hence may have severely weakened the dinosaurs and other species… but then got even worse after the impact, possibly tightening the noose. “The researchers' dates are also consistent with a major shift in the properties of the erupted rock occurring at the same time as the impact. This supports the idea that the impact's seismic effects reached across the entire planet.”

Wired ran a story on Valentine’s Day about OpenAI, the nonprofit institute founded by Elon Musk and Y Combinator founder Sam Altman, which has apparently designed a system that can learn natural language patterns better than any previous attempt so far after feeding it eight million web pages to train it. What is newsworthy to me about this is what they did next: they stopped to consider the implications.  “It could be that someone who has malicious intent would be able to generate high-quality fake news,” an OAI vice president told Wired.

We are a glorious, scientific civilization. Pictures of black holes! SpaceX triple landings! New disease cures! Meat substitutes! And if the enemies of all this want to make this partisan, then let's go.