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Ivan Makfinsky
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Yup, this will restore confidence in our elections. Why is this even an issue? 
Elections are critical infrastructure in a democracy, and should be treated as such: so this article argues, and in my opinion, quite wisely. While this article focuses on protection of critical infrastructure from foreign attackers, I would say the argument extends further still, into the entire way we run and operate elections. They need to be built for reliability even under adverse circumstances, easily monitorable, and create confidence in everyone that they are fair. None of these are easy with the half-assed way we currently run them. 

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This looks like something a fair number of adult internet users might benefit from. Especially the "Be internet alert: don't fall for fake."

I'll be reviewing this in order to prep myself for being the kiddos involved.
Introducing #BeInternetAwesome, a way for kids to learn how to be smart, confident explorers of the online world →

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Have you seen this in your timeline as much we have? Get the facts on Comcast's history with Internet freedom.

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A series of tubes

Before retiring, my father worked his whole career in the cast iron industry, in a way that was always somewhat related to water pipes. He knew the pipes inside and out, literally, because the hardest thing about water pipes is that the inside coatings need to be compatible with the kind of water being transported, while the outside coatings need to be compatible with the soil surrounding the pipes. The story of the water of Flint, Michigan, shows why managing drinking water is harder than it seems.

Over the years, standards for water pipes around the world tightened, while in the USA standards didn't change as much. I don't know what the exact reasons were for the US staying behind, but it's possible that at each step someone thought that keeping looser standards would protect the US industry, either as a goal or as a positive consequence.

Bit by bit, though, US manufacturers of water pipes found themselves unable to sell on non-US markets. This became a major issue when US-manufactured pipes couldn't be made to meet Chinese standards.

Eventually, US manufacturers found themselves so far behind that they couldn't even export unfinished iron shells to be finished overseas to non-US standards, since those US manufacturers had never developed the expertise to cast shells that could be used with the newest coatings.

By not keeping up with worldwide progress, the US severely weakened its own cast iron industry.

I fear that the same thing might happen with environment-related concerns, with Trump pulling the US out of the Paris Agreements. Should the Paris Agreement evolve in a direction that forces signatories to only source their supplies from other signatories, the US will end up in a position that hurts its whole economy. That's why we're seeing states, cities, companies, individuals, all scrambling to continue honoring past US commitments without the federal government: they don't want to be labeled as non-compliant. Imagine if US oil companies can't operate outside the US any longer, of if US-based airlines can't fly to non-US airports any longer, or if US agricultural products can't be exported any longer.

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If you haven't read this transcript or heard the speech yet, do.

Landrieu hits the proverbial nail squarely on the head.

New Orleans was America’s largest slave market: a port where hundreds of thousands of souls were brought, sold and shipped up the Mississippi River to lives of forced labor of misery of rape, of torture.

America was the place where nearly 4,000 of our fellow citizens were lynched, 540 alone in Louisiana; where the courts enshrined ‘separate but equal’; where Freedom riders coming to New Orleans were beaten to a bloody pulp.

So when people say to me that the monuments in question are history, well what I just described is real history as well, and it is the searing truth.

And it immediately begs the questions: why there are no slave ship monuments, no prominent markers on public land to remember the lynchings or the slave blocks; nothing to remember this long chapter of our lives; the pain, the sacrifice, the shame … all of it happening on the soil of New Orleans.

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Yikes! We're at the point that our (humanity's) backup systems are needing to be re-engineered. 
I think I'm going to be sick.

If you want to really scare an engineer, have one of the last-line backups -- the ones that nobody normal even thinks about, the ones that are meant to make sure the system fails safe if something unimaginably apocalyptic happens -- fail.

The seed vault isn't the best backup against a global apocalypse; honestly, if that happens, then the odds of us being able to use this effectively aren't great either. But it is a backup against, for example, some rapidly-spreading plant disease causing a collapse of a major food crop. These backups are what we'd need to start engineering resistant strains if contamination happened globally faster than we could catch it. That's a nontrivial failure mode of our food system, and that's why this vault is really important to have.

It was designed to be self-operating, maintained at the required -18C primarily by the cold temperatures of Svalbard. An isolated station that would let the people who worry about our food supply sleep at night. But the system never expected this scale of climate change; and with the permafrost melting, water flooded in and froze in the entryway. Thank all the gods, the vault itself remained unbreached, but the system can no longer be considered to be stable in its own right; it's being manned 24/7 until we can figure out how to stabilize it.

h/t Ursula Vernon.

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Nothing good will come from trumpcare.
New AHCA Healthcare Bill Allows DNA to Determine Pre-Existing Conditions

If you're an American, you may not have been satisfied with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but among several key provisions it restricted genetic tests from being used to determine pre-existing medical conditions.

Not so with the new Republican healthcare bill (American Health Care Act - AHCA) that just cleared the House. If it passes the Senate and is signed into law, your DNA could be mined for genes with a high correlation to certain illnesses. That doesn't mean you have those illnesses or ever will have them -- just that you (theoretically) have a predisposition to them. This could be used to jack up your insurance rates. Have three or four different marker genes? Tough luck for may be priced out of healthcare.

Aside from the callousness of this policy, it might also wind up hurting American innovation in biotech by causing the general public to resist any attempt to study their DNA -- for the obvious reason that insurers could use it to later deny them care. Without a clear Genetic Bill of Rights, Americans don't have a clear stake in the outcome of that research -- which could, in turn, drive genetics research overseas. This would be disastrous because in my opinion, genomics and synthetic biology will be the economic engine of this century.

Did Republican legislators actually think about the consequences of this bill? Did they even read it before they voted for it?

#GeneticTests #HealthInsurance #PreExistingConditions

Posted (DS) WED May 17, 2017 (6.25 pm) 

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Do it again.

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Do it again. The FCC claimed a DDoS took down their site last week and they probably threw all the comments away.
Missed Last Week Tonight with John Oliver? Watch it now, then go to and tell the FCC you support net neutrality. 

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Help protect the internet from corporate interests.
Speak out. Fight back. Internet freedom is on the line, and the FCC needs to hear from you.
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