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Paul Cowan
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This is long, but really worth the read. It's utterly fascinating. A recounting of the chaos of September 11 2001, pieced together from some pretty candid interviews with folks who were there in Florida with the president (and caught up in the confusion with him): folk from Karl Rove to the president's military nurse, from Associated Press reporters to the pilot of Air Force One.

You all know I'm a rabid lefty, and that I think GWB was a colossal failure of a president. But that said, I've always felt that the Michael Moore-and-co. narrative of the bumbling president reading to seven-year-olds because he couldn't think of anything better to do while New York burned, of a president too scared to go to Washington and lead—was unfair and frankly ridiculous. This story gives a wonderful account of how chaotic the day was, how hard it was to get information, and how the confusion and uncertainty made it impossible to decide how to get the president to safety.

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*SEE COMMENTS BELOW FOR AN IMPORTANT UPDATE* I'm sure you're all sick of being constantly hit up for money (and much of it by me; if you're donated out, I understand). But having recently fasted for a day to help fundraise, well, I discovered that fasting for a day wasn't really a challenge. So I thought I'd step it up a bit. Not eating is easy, even if you're a fat bastard; but not drinking... for a month? That's a different kettle of fish. But cancer is so fucking horrible, I'm willing to go without my beloved beer to do my tiny bit for people living with this horrible disease—a disease that's affected a lot of my loved ones recently, and is hence close to my heart.

(Not drinking for a month doesn't sound like a challenge? Well, in the last 12 months, I've tried 855 different beers. EIGHT HUNDRED AND FIFTY FIVE. Going without for a month is going to be… interesting.)

So… let's help kick cancer's arse. I really appreciate any donation you might be able to spare. Donations are tax-deductible, if you're Australian at least.

(Thanks +Luisa Fearnside for being my conscience and/or inspiration here.)

OK, over on the other social network, someone asked me more directly, in the comments of my last post about being-careful-not-to-elect-nutters, how to TELL the nutters. Here's the summary I put in the comments there, for posterity:


Parties that, IMHO, aren't actually nutters:

* Labor, Libs, Nationals, Greens (ignoring political positions, they're SANE. You may not agree with them, but none of them are mad)
* The rump of the Democrats (this is 'Group B' if you're in Victoria… don't ask)
* Pirate Party, Sex Party — neither of whom are actually really what they say on the tin, but in the good way this time (they actually have policies, 90% of which are basically sane)
* Science Party, Cyclists Party, Voluntary Euthanasia Party, Australian Progressives, Renewable Energy — mostly single-issue parties, high risk (what are their opinions on other issues? Who knows), but seemingly basically sane.
* Motoring Enthusiasts Party — in theory, single-issue, like the above. But if you're in Victoria, this is effectively a vote to reelect Ricky Muir, who arsed it into the senate last time and had everyone terrified he was a single-issue nutter but in fact seems to have basically been pretty sensible. Non-nutter group for Victorians at least.
* Nick Xenophon Team — you pretty much know what you're getting. Populist, no real policies, but not really actively harmful.

And that's... nearly it? Mix in the usual gang of probably-harmless socialists, country parties, other single-issue parties, etc. per your preference. There's one case I'll leave to your judgement (Animal Justice Party — they do pretty much live up to their name, BUT in a very hardcore PETA-esque way which may or may not suit your own leanings).

People I would qualify as actual nutters, or actively harmful: One Nation (racists), Sustainable Australia (racists), Fred Nile (racists and homophobes), Citizens Electoral Council (actual insane people — like, The-Queen-of-England-is-a-lizard insane), Family First (racists and homophobes), Rise Up Australia (serious racists and serious homophobes), and Health Australia (anti-vaccine nutbags).

Palmer United, Jacqui Lambie, Derryn Hinch, DLP, Liberal Democrats are borderline: I'd classify them as "stupid" rather than "mad".

For the Aussies: I'm not gonna give you a full political rant today, but for those of you who haven't yet voted, my one request: please, please don't neglect your Senate ballot paper. This being a double-dissolution election, the Senate is even more important than usual. And the biggest lie you've been told this election is that a Senate without a clear majority is "blocking" or "obstructionist" or "dysfunctional". No, a Senate where minority interests are represented, and which requires negotiation and compromise to pass legislation, is EXACTLY FULFILLING the Senate's intended role. That's what it's FOR. A majority in both houses, for any party, isn't a healthy parliament; a balanced Senate, where all the broader views are represented, is essential. Don't fall for the propaganda.

Think carefully about who you want reviewing, and tempering the excesses of, whoever you vote in the lower house today. Remember, too, that the Senate is a complex beast, so make sure you number carefully to avoid utter lunatics getting in. And remember that the name isn't actually the party (Health Australia are dangerous nutters; the Citizens Electoral Council are just plain old regular nutters; Sustainable Australia are racists, not environmentalists; etc.).

Research, think, number carefully, and enjoy your democracy sausage!

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It's always a thrill for me to see someone who does schadenfreude better than I do. From Reddit:

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Today, thanks to an ex-Google SRE who works there (thanks Jinnah!), I got to tour the factory floor of SpaceX's facility in LA. We got to see all the various rocket parts being made, and learned a vast amount about the vehicles, the process, the team, the software, the technology, the facility, and everything else. It was one of the most awesomely nerdy experiences of my life; I was geeking out the whole time.

Can't wait to see the bits I saw them making today go into space. It'll be surprisingly soon, and I'll be watching with bated breath. Go, magic space parts!
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Sweet merciful crap +Tom Murphy VII never ceases to amaze me. This is really quite incredible.
I made this project and video for #SIGBOVIK 2016! It's about automatically making NES games 3D.

Pointless trivia question of the day: name a TV show, titled after one of its characters, where that character left the show.

Example: if Meredith Grey left Grey's Anatomy, or if Roseanne had left Roseanne, that would count.

I thought of one example; an Internet search (surprisingly difficult to find good answers) found two more. Curious to know whether any of you can find any others. Go!

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This is tremendously well-done. Just perfect.

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Laugh? I nearly shat.
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