Sunday, December 04, 2016

Miami's Aquatic Future

Bloomberg News has an item (video)  "Miami's Luxury Real Estate Battles the Rising Tide".

Investors continue to pour money into Miami Beach and Miami luxury real estate.  The recognition of the occurrence of increased flooding is with raised roads, with new construction in Miami moving a little back from the ocean, with elevated construction, no underground garages, etc.

But the story suggests that people have faith that somebody will step up "to do something".  I guess they expect some King Canute who can turn back the tides.

In the meantime, the climate change deniers are pushing the theory that the land in Miami is subsiding rather than the sea level is rising.

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Republican Opposition Research on Bernie Sanders

Kurt Eichenwald writes at Newsweek about the opposition research the Republicans had in case Sanders became the Democratic nominee for POTUS:

I have seen the opposition book assembled by Republicans for Sanders, and it was brutal.

Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped. You can just see the words “environmental racist” on Republican billboards. And if you can’t, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

Also on the list: Sanders violated campaign finance laws, criticized Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that he voted for, and he voted against the Amber Alert system. His pitch for universal health care would have been used against him too, since it was tried in his home state of Vermont and collapsed due to excessive costs. Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned “state terrorism” by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was “patriotic.”

The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.)
 Some substantiation of this would be useful.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Our parsimonious ancestry

From a previous post:
Paternal haplogroups are families of Y chromosomes that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time.
Similarly, mitochondrial haplogroups trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time.

Wiki lists 20 major Y-haplogroups. There seem to be a similar number of major mitochondrial haplogroups (e.g., see here.) Since the origin of the haplogroup ultimately traces to one individual, we are all, 7+ billion, ultimately descended from about 20 men and 20 women.

Oh, we are descended from a lot more than the 20 men and women I previously mentioned. For example, all non-Africans have a 1-2% Neanderthal admixture; but there are no Neanderthal paternal or mitochondrial haplogroups among today's humans as far as I know. What we mean is that only about 20 men (and 20 women) who lived long ago have unbroken patrilineal (and matrilineal) lines of descent.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Protecting Trump's Burgeoning Empire

Trump's business interests in Georgia, Argentina, Scotland, India have received boosts after he became POTUS-elect, e.g., in Georgia and Argentina, stalled construction projects have resumed.

Let's say that all that is "normalized".   What happens when someone wanting to hit the US of A targets a Trump property abroad in whose management the POTUS is actively involved? (i.e., they believe that it makes more of a statement to hit a POTUS property than a generic KFC or McDonald's.)  Does the POTUS get to deploy US marines to protect his property?

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Media mess

CNN had paid contributors, Donna Brazile for Clinton and Corey Landowski for Trump, who were simultaneously advisers to their respective campaigns.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was reportedly advising Trump.

Megyn Kelly's allegations:
In a sit down on Sunday with Fox News colleague Howard Kurtz, Kelly was asked about a passage in her book which claims that media and political journalists tipped Trump off ahead of time about upcoming tough questions in a interview. She indicated more than one network practiced this. Kelly suggests the journalists were trying to preserve their fair and impartial reputation, but, in reality, the interviews were just “acting,” as she characterized it.
CBS CEO Les Moonves (February 29, 2016):
Les Moonves, the chief executive of CBS, celebrated Donald Trump’s candidacy for the second time on Monday, calling it “good for us economically.” Moonves, speaking at the Morgan Stanley Technology, Media, and Telecom Conference at the Park Hotel in San Francisco, described the “circus” of a presidential campaign and the flow of political advertising dollars, and stated that it “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS, that’s all I got to say.”

“So what can I say? The money’s rolling in, this is fun,” Moonves continued, observing that the debates had attracted record audiences.

The CBS media executive also riffed briefly about the type of campaign advertising spending produced by such a negative presidential campaign. “They’re not even talking about issues. They’re throwing bombs at each other and I think the advertising reflects that.” Moonves added, “I’ve never seen anything like this and this is going to be a very good year for us. … It’s a terrible thing to say, but bring it on, Donald, go ahead, keep going.”
 Having seen the results of all this, why would I ever go back to the TV and cable channels for news?

PS: Columbia Journalism Review's postmortem includes this striking recollection (my emphasis):

25 August 2015: Univision anchor and journalist Jorge Ramos is ejected from a Trump press conference in Iowa. Other media organizations are later banned from covering Trump events

Jorge Ramos, anchor, Univision and Fusion: In that press conference only two journalists defended me: Tom Llamas from ABC and Kasie Hunt from MSNBC. All the other journalists didn’t say anything. I think that the way we covered Trump at the beginning of his campaign was seriously flawed. The New York Times, the LA Times, Politico and the Washington Post [in September] called Donald Trump a liar. [But] it took 13 months for them to do that. At the beginning, it was seriously inappropriate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Post-election-day changes

November 8, 2016 is a date that will live in infamy.

My actions since, to cope with it:
  • Terminated my 18-year-old New York Times subscription.  Peter Woit's criticism was spot on.
  • Subscribed to The Atlantic.
  • Subscribed to The New Yorker.
  • Revived my subscription to
  • Zero TV news - cable or network - only weather channel weather news.  I do not intend to return, ever.
  • No more sign-in to Facebook until they convincingly fix their fake news problem.
  • No more sign-in or posting to the Bharat Rakshak Forum (for its 100-to-14 support of Trump in a straw poll).
  • No radio news except for traffic and weather (I will eventually resume listening to WNYC and WHYY public radio, and Bloomberg Radio.   Let the scar tissue form first).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The business of America is Trump's business

As the HuffPo reports:
President-elect Donald Trump told The New York Times Tuesday that laws around conflicts of interest don’t apply to him, and he can simply keep running his businesses from the White House.

“In theory I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly,” Trump said, according to tweets from New York Times reporters interviewing the president-elect Tuesday. “There’s never been a case like this.”

He is technically correct on both counts.
 The Atlantic has a bit of history about how that came about:

What did Trump Voters vote for?

Trumpists clearly voted for Donald J. Trump, the man, not for his policy positions.   Or they selectively paid attention only to that which they wanted to hear.

President-Elect Donald Trump took 141 distinct stances on 23 major issues during his bid for the White House. 
After more than a year and a half of stadium rallies, around-the-clock interviews, sweeping primary wins, and one stunning general election victory, the Republican president-elect has the most contradictory and confusing platform in recent history. This is a catalog of his views over a 511-day span, from June 16th 2015 to November 8th 2016. 
As to Donald Trump, the man, the reports from the off-the-record meeting with the chiefs of the news organizations are:
The overall impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing, blowhard as he was during the campaign.”