5 Things to Read Today (Jan. 11)

Today’s articles cover Internet fakery, bad forensic science, a huge malware attack, an awesome read about being a cable guy, and how your cell providers are selling your private data.

Bad Headlines & Poe’s Law

Reminder: Most people reading the news really only read headlines, particularly folks who get their news via social media. Y’all have to do better at headlines.

Two quick things about this screenshot.

First Thing: This headlines states that Donald Trump thought the the people he saw talking on the TV were talking privately to him. The article, however, is about an answer Pence gave to a question from NBC: “Which former presidents told President Trump, as he said, that he should’ve built a wall?” The answer was basically, “Maybe Trump saw it on TV.”

Look, guys, I know you’re trying to get clicks. We’re all trying to get clicks. But we’re dealing with a president who has an obvious mental impairment of some kind, and who seems to be in mental decline. You can’t go announcing that he thinks the TV people are talking directly to him, because that is shit we’ll all easily believe in real life.

You’re not helping.

Second Thing: The President of the United States is such a hot, festering mess that I just read a headline that said Trump thinks the TV people are talking directly to him, and I found that shit extremely easy to believe.

Like, it wasn’t a “Ha ha, he’s so dumb, I bet he does,” reaction. It was a “Yeah, he probably does, dude has dementia or something and dementia patients get confused like that,” response.

And that is terrifying.

The shutdown drags on…

Here’s some news about the ongoing government shutdown, Trump’s demands to address the nation during prime time on Tuesday, and, just for funsies, “Supernatural.”

Some good news: Russell Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, claims the IRS will pay out tax refunds even if the government is still shut down. Details as to how they’ll do that are thin on the ground, considering they haven’t been legally allowed to disperse funds without actually having the funds in the past. And they won’t have funds until a spending bill gets passed. So I guess we’ll see?

And some bad news: The Dept. of Agriculture, which runs the SNAP program (“food stamps”), doesn’t know how much longer they’ll be able to pay those out. That’s real bad, folks.

Meanwhile, Trump wants to address the nation tomorrow at 9 p.m. so he can lie at us some more about his border wall. News folks were reporting earlier that network stations weren’t sure if they were going to carry the address, but the article I linked says they will. I’m not sure if that’s been updated recently or what. Keep an eye on that, I guess. And of course, if you do bump into Trump during prime time tomorrow evening, don’t believe a word he says. The man is pathologically unable to tell the truth.

Trump keeps saying he’s going to declare a national emergency and use his emergency powers to build his wall, and the House Democrats plan to meet him in court if he tries it. Other experts have said that a national emergency and presidential emergency powers still won’t get the wall built. NPR has a fact check, if you’re interested.

And, to wrap things up on a lighter note, it looks like Supernatural‘s 300th episode is going to have some favorite old faces involved somehow.

(Photo credit: White House in Washington, D.C. on Wikimedia Commons. Source and licensing.)

Trump must go to prison.

I have no interest in immunity deals to get Trump out of office. Trump must be held accountable.

Former Bush II adviser Alan J. Steinberg wrote recently of Trump, “the self-professed supreme dealmaker will use his presidency as a bargaining chip with federal and state authorities in 2019, agreeing to leave office in exchange for the relevant authorities not pursuing criminal charges against him, his children or the Trump Organization.”

And like… maybe?

Impeachment is probably a non-starter. The Democrat-controlled House could hold a hearing and impeach Trump, but then the Senate has to vote to convict on the impeachment as well. Twenty Republicans would have to break with the party to manage a conviction and toss Trump out of the White House, and that seems pretty damned unlikely at the moment.

Trump, his kids, and his businesses are neck deep in serious legal troubles, so there might be leverage for an immunity deal in return for a resignation. I’m couldn’t say how possible or likely such a deal would be, since I know nearly nothing about that kind of legal wrangling.

But here’s what I do know: Trump is deeply mentally diseased. He’s probably a malignant narcissist and/or sociopath. His sense of self is deeply tied to his own mythology, that of the “winner,” the “great dealmaker,” the guy who never loses. So I’m not entirely sure that Trump is capable of recognizing that he’s in trouble he can’t get out of and striking a deal like that. It would subvert his own sense of self to a pretty gross degree.

I also don’t think he gives that much of a damn about his kids. I mean, he doesn’t act like he does.

I lean towards thinking that Steinberg’s opinion piece is just wishful thinking.

Also, an immunity deal? Hell no. Trump should go to prison. America needs Trump to go to prison. America needs to put this criminal president in jail for a good, long time. We need to show ourselves and the world that presidents are not above the law, that there are consequences for evil actions, even for the powerful.

The Trump administration has committed evils that are, as far as I can see, unprecedented in modern times. Step one in correcting those evils and making up for them is making sure that those who ordered those actions are called to account.

Anything less than that is just a declaration that we intend to allow more of the same.

Photo credit: Donald Trump, by Gage Skidmore (source and licensing).

New Year’s Resolutions: 2019

It’s that time of year again: Time to revisit last year’s resolutions, and make some new ones.

Last year’s resolutions were, in no particular order:

  • Read 30 books ✔️
  • Start exercising 😐
  • Lose weight 😐
  • Get finances in order ❌
  • Clean house ✔️

I read 60 books, so I blew that one out of the water, and I did get the house cleaned, de-cluttered, and reorganized. I didn’t start exercising, as in an actual exercise program, but I did start walking a ton more. I did actually lose weight, too, but I gained it all back over the holidays. So… half credit for those ones? Finances went nowhere.

This year’s resolutions, in no particular order:

  • Read more new books.
  • Start an actual exercise program and stick with it.
  • Lose weight and keep it off.
  • Get finances in order. No, for real this time.

I did a lot of re-reading last year, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s lots of new books out there I haven’t read. I’ve apparently gotten super picky about what I read, bookwise, in my old age, so I hardly ever look at new books. I’ll have to work on that.

Everything I read tells me if I want to feel better in general, I need to lose weight and exercise regularly, which sounds to me like some sort of torture program. But I guess. If I must. I’m tired of feeling vaguely crappy all the time.

And then, y’know, money. I fully expect at least a recession, and I’d like to get rid of some of my debt load before that settles in. I’ll probably need to revisit my budgeting.

I have a few other bad habits I’d like to work on – reading Twitter all morning, lazy blogging habits, that sort of thing. I have a few good habits I’d like to add, like sleeping more, eating better, getting my anxiety issues sorted out. I’m not going to make any of that official resolutions, though. That’s just stuff I want to work on.

At any rate, there’s my resolutions. Happy New Year, folks!

What did I read in 2018?

Most of these got read during long TV hiatuses – winter break, summer, that sort of thing.

One of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to read 30 books this year. I actually read 60, but they were mostly re-reads. I think 16 of these were new reads (bolded). Next year: more new reads.

  • The Herald Spy Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Wars Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Fire & Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Michael Wolff
  • The Last Herald-Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Arrows of the Queen Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Winds Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Mage Storms Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • The Owl Mage Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Vows & Honor, Mercedes Lackey (3 Books)
  • Kerowyn’s Tale, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Honor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Exile’s Valor, Mercedes Lackey
  • Take a Thief, Mercedes Lackey
  • The Collegium Chronicles, Mercedes Lackey (5 Books)
  • Wee Free Men, Terry Pratchett
  • A Hat Full of Sky, Terry Pratchett
  • Wintersmith, Terry Pratchett
  • I Shall Wear Midnight, Terry Pratchett
  • The Shepherd’s Crown, Terry Pratchett
  • Lords & Ladies, Terry Pratchett
  • Carpe Jugulum, Terry Pratchett
  • Witches Abroad, Terry Pratchett
  • I’ll Be Gone In The Dark, Michelle McNamara
  • Brief Cases, Jim Butcher
  • Storm Front, Jim Butcher
  • Fool Moon, Jim Butcher
  • Grave Peril, Jim Butcher
  • Summer Knight, Jim Butcher
  • Death Masks, Jim Butcher
  • Blood Rites, Jim Butcher
  • Dead Beat, Jim Butcher
  • Proven Guilty, Jim Butcher
  • White Night, Jim Butcher
  • Small Favor, Jim Butcher
  • Turn Coat, Jim Butcher
  • Changes, Jim Butcher
  • Ghost Story, Jim Butcher
  • Cold Days, Jim Butcher
  • Skin Game, Jim Butcher
  • Firefly: Big Damn Hero, James Lovegrove & Nancy Holder

William Vaughan on the New Year

“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” – William E. Vaughan

I am definitely a pessimist this year.

William E. (“Bill”) Vaughan (October 8, 1915 – February 25, 1977) was an American columnist and author. Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, he wrote a syndicated column for the Kansas City Star from 1946 until his death in 1977. He was published in Reader’s Digest and Better Homes and Gardens under the pseudonym Burton Hillis. (Wikipedia)