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Hometown: Southwestern PA
Home country: USA
Current location: Washington, DC
Member since: Mon Nov 10, 2003, 07:36 PM
Number of posts: 43,645

About Me

If an H-1b has an American accent, they are probably not an H-1b. It's race, not citizenship. Americans are more diverse than you think. Millions of US citizens don't look the way you might expect. This fact is very important and will help us win elections.

Journal Archives

Who's Smarter, Dogs or Cats? Science Now Has the Answer


They might chew your shoes, occasionally pee on the rug, or snarf down your entire dinner the minute you turn your head, but it turns out your family dog is measurably smarter than your cat.

Researchers at Vanderbilt decided to put the age old debate to the test objectively, studying the number of cortical neurons in the brains of a number of animals. The results? Canines had a significantly higher number than felines.

Dogs, it turns out, have about 530 million cortical neurons. Cats have less than half that, coming in with 250 million. (We humans have about 16 billion.)

“I believe the absolute number of neurons an animal has, especially in the cerebral cortex, determines the richness of their internal mental state and their ability to predict what is about to happen in their environment based on past experience,” said Suzana Herculano-Houzel, associate professor of psychology and biological sciences at Vanderbilt, who oversaw the study with a collection of international researchers.

The paper, which will be published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroanatomy (and almost certainly maligned on reddit, the Internet’s haven for cat lovers), notes that the physical size of the brain doesn’t necessarily relate to overall intelligence. For example, researchers found that the brain of a brown bear, while 10 times as large as a cat’s, has roughly the same number of neurons. (Raccoons, also, are on par with cats when it comes to smarts.)

Despite the findings, don’t expect this argument to go away anytime soon. Herculano-Houzel herself admits that, while the study was objective, she herself does have a bit of a bias.

“I’m 100 percent a dog person,” she says, “but, with that disclaimer, our findings mean to me that dogs have the biological capability of doing much more complex and flexible things with their lives than cats can.”


Before cat lovers put me on ignore, I like both cats and dogs. Working dogs have been trained to do all sorts of jobs throughout history and have an uncanny ability to comfort and care for their humans. See any blind person with their service dog and be amazed as they navigate the mean streets while dodging cars. Cats can catch small rodents. Both will eat you if they get hungry enough.

It's very sad that society views affection, loyalty, and enthusiasm as signs of stupidity while generally selfish aloofness is a sign of intelligence. It happens with humans too where assholes are considered clever and nice people are considered suckers.
Posted by IronLionZion | Fri Dec 1, 2017, 03:42 PM (8 replies)

How the Republican tax bill benefits the rich, according to government analysis


There are two governmental organizations that have conducted nonpartisan analyses of the anticipated effects of Republican legislation aimed at overhauling the tax system. There’s the Joint Committee on Taxation, established in 1926 with congressional oversight to prepare revenue estimates on proposals related to taxation. There’s also the Congressional Budget Office, which produces independent analysis of the budgetary effects of legislation.

Recently released analyses from both groups come to the same conclusion. Over both the short- and long-term, the benefits of the Republican proposal is weighted to wealthier Americans.

One aspect of the JCT’s analysis included an estimate of how many households in various income ranges would see increases or decreases in the amount of tax paid. The vast majority of those making under $10,000 a year — 96 percent — would see a minimal change (no more than $100 in either direction) in their tax bill by 2019. By contrast, 91 percent of households making between $500,000 and $1 million a year would see a cut of at least $500.

It’s worth noting that there aren’t that many households making more than $500,000 a year, relatively speaking. But scaling the figures to the number of households in each group, the same broad effect can be seen. There are about 18.4 million households that earn under $10,000 a year which will see little change in their tax bill. There are about 24.5 million households that earn $100,000 to $200,000 a year which will see a savings of at least $500. The 18 million households in the $50,000 to $75,000 range will save at least $500. About 3 million in that group won’t see much change.

Lots more good graphs at the link showing how blatantly they are screwing the rest of us. Even many of the people who think they are getting a tax cut will actually pay more when they lose important deductions. It shifts the tax burden downwards.

White House Plans Tillerson Ouster From State Dept., to Be Replaced by Pompeo, Within Weeks

Source: New York Times

WASHINGTON — The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said on Thursday.

Mr. Pompeo would be replaced at the C.I.A. by Senator Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas who has been a key ally of the president on national security matters, according to the White House plan. Mr. Cotton has signaled that he would accept the job if offered, said the officials, who insisted on anonymity to discuss sensitive deliberations before decisions are announced.

It was not immediately clear whether Mr. Trump has given final approval to the plan, but he has been said to have soured on Mr. Tillerson and in general is ready to make a change at the State Department. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, developed the transition plan and has discussed it with other officials.

Under his plan, the shake-up of the national security team would happen around the end of the year or shortly afterward. But for all of his public combativeness, Mr. Trump is notoriously reluctant to fire people, and it was not known if Mr. Tillerson had agreed to step down by then. Public disclosure of Mr. Kelly’s transition plan may be meant as a signal to the secretary that it is time to go.

Read more: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/30/us/politics/state-department-tillerson-pompeo-trump.html

More officials should call him a moron. What's the average duration of a Trump cabinet member? a few months?

WeRateDogs Owner Realizes Net Neutrality Killer Ajit Pai Follows Him On Twitter, Gives Him A Taste

‘WeRateDogs’ Owner Realizes Net Neutrality Killer Ajit Pai Follows Him On Twitter, Gives Him A Taste Of His Own Medicine


How four recent launches signaled new leaps in North Koreas missile capabilities


It wasn’t a big surprise, but it was a big deal — so much so that North Korea issued commemorative stamps. Two successful missile launches in July almost certainly proved that the country had produced an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States. A Nov. 29 test that flew even higher and longer indicated that the entire U.S. mainland most likely was within range.

According to U.S. intelligence analysts, the country also has nuclear warheads small enough to fit on its missiles. On Sept. 2, the country tested its most powerful nuclear device yet, a blast seven times the size of the bomb the United States dropped on Hiroshima.

Nonproliferation experts had long assumed that the secretive country’s nuclear capability was further along than many people wanted to believe, but seeing the proof was still jarring.

North Korea has launched 20 missile tests in 2017, and 15 were successful, according to a database maintained by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. The tests represented giant leaps forward in technology.

Great images at the link in a format that I can't link to here.

We better hope our missile defense system works correctly to intercept it. We have two nuclear armed idiots who are mentally unstable, deeply insecure, and have something to prove.

Even sex is in crisis in Venezuela, where contraceptives are growing scarce


CARACAS, Venezuela — Yorlenis Gutierrez, a 28-year-old mother, spent months vainly scouring pharmacies for a drug whose scarcity is complicating her sex life and that of countless Venezuelans. In a country beset by shortages, this is one of the hardest: the disappearance of contraceptives.

When she couldn’t renew her supply of birth control pills, Gutierrez and her husband made a choice. Long-term abstinence was not an option, they agreed.

They tried to be careful, but soon she was pregnant with her second child.

“We barely eat three times a day now,” said a distraught Gutierrez, a former hair washer in a beauty salon who lost her job because of the economic crisis. “I don’t know how we’re going to feed another mouth.”

In Venezuela, a collapse in oil prices coupled with nearly two decades of socialist policies has sparked a severe recession and one of the world’s highest inflation rates. People often wait hours in line to buy bread. Prices for staples jump almost by the day. Medical shortages range from antibiotics to cancer drugs.

As if the Venezuelan people haven't been through enough already.

After political drama at consumer agency, what happens to its open investigations?


Mick Mulvaney argues the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is "trampling on capitalism" -- a problem he has promised to fix immediately.

During his first day as the watchdog agency's acting director on Monday, Mulvaney announced a 30-day freeze on new regulations so he can make sure they are not "choking off" lending. Mulvaney said he will soon be briefed on the roughly 100 lawsuits the agency is involved with.

"Anything that is discretionary we're putting a 30-day hold on," Mulvaney told reporters.

Mulvaney has long been a sharp critic of the CFPB. Now his distaste for the bureau is raising questions about what will happen to the many open investigations and lawsuits it has launched against companies and banks.

Court documents and regulatory filings show these targets include Wells Fargo (WFC), online real estate database Zillow (Z) and student loan processor Heartland Campus Solutions. The CFPB is also likely looking into other companies that have not yet disclosed the investigations.

"Rumors that I am going to set the place on fire, blow it up or lock the doors are completely false," Mulvaney said.

However, Mulvaney, who as a lawmaker voted to abolish the CFPB altogether, said President Trump wants him to "fix" the CFPB because the previous administration "went too far."

Who needs the invisible hand of the market when you have the iron fist of Trumpsters. Mick Mulvaney is going to strangle the CFPB and drown it in the bathtub.

Consumers won't be getting much protection from these predators.

Guns were Black Friday must-haves, going by the FBIs record 203,086 background-check requests


For decades, the term “Black Friday” has conjured up distinct images: turkey-stuffed consumers awake at insanely early hours of the morning, bursting into big-box stores to fight over flat-screen TVs.

But in a muzzle flash, it seems, a new image may be replacing that stereotype. It involves a trigger and, possibly, a scope.

On Friday, the FBI received 203,086 requests for instant gun background checks, according to USA Today — nearly a 10 percent increase from the year before and a new record for background checks in a single day.

That’s not an anomaly. According to the FBI, the previous two records for background checks were also set on the day after the federal holiday in which Americans give thanks for the year’s blessings.

The FBI didn’t provide any analysis behind the spike, but the biggest shopping day of the year may come at a moment of worry for people who fear someone from the government may knock on their door someday and confiscate their guns.

On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed the FBI and ATF to look at potential problems in the National Instant Criminal Background Check system (NICS).

Obama's coming to get your guns! Quick, buy some more! Or is it Hillary? Maybe it's that elf Jeff Sessions this time. Someone, some day will knock on your door and take them so always be ready. It's the American way.

Massage Envy therapists accused of sexual assault by more than 180 women


Popular chain Massage Envy faces allegations of sexual assault – and that it mishandled those claims.

An investigation by BuzzFeed News found more than 180 women have accused therapists at Massage Envy of groping and other sexual acts. Massage Envy told CBS News their therapists have done 125 million massages over the past 15 years. Still, it said even one incident is too many, reports CBS News' Meg Oliver.

Susan Ingram said her masseur turned into a sexual predator during her seventh visit with him at a Massage Envy location in 2015.

"I was really in a state of shock, disbelief, fear," Ingram said.

She said it started when James Deiter began rubbing his groin against her.

"He lifted up my body, groped both of my breasts roughly and aggressively. Put his hands down to the lower part of my body," Ingram said.

Too disturbed to report the assault immediately, she called the manager after she got home.

"She said in a very apparently scripted response, 'We invite you in to talk about your services.' And I said, 'No, no, no you don't understand,'" Ingram said.

That scripted response

10,000 people died in the past year while stuck in a backlog of judges disability cases.


Webster County, Miss. — On the 597th day, the day he hoped everything would change, Joe Stewart woke early. He took 15 pills in a single swallow. He shaved his head. And then he got down to the business of the day, which was the business of every day, and that was waiting. He looked outside, and saw his mother there in a green sedan, engine running. So many months he had waited for this moment, and now it was here. Time for his Social Security disability hearing. Time to go.

Stewart, 55, set out on crutches, tottering out of his mobile home and down a metal ramp he’d laid when stairs became too much. “I’m sweating my ass off,” he said, getting into his mother’s car, his long-sleeved dress shirt hanging open. He tilted the passenger seat all the way down, placed a pillow at the small of his back and, groaning and wincing, settled in as best he could.

“Did they say long-sleeved?” asked his mother, Jean Bingham, 73.

“It was the only decent shirt I had!” he said.

He knew only what he’d been told by his lawyer, who wanted to see him again before the hearing, and that was not to wear a T-shirt and to bring along a list of medications he uses to treat the pains that are all he has to show for a lifetime spent installing vinyl siding throughout Webster County. Neurontin for nerve pain. Baclofen for muscle spasms. Trazodone for depression. Hydroxyzine and Buspirone for anxiety, a condition that seemed to worsen each day his wait stretched into the next.

Stewart had first applied for federal disability benefits on May 21, 2015. The application was denied, and so was his appeal. When he appealed the second rejection, he went to the back of one of the federal government’s biggest backlogs, where 1.1 million disability claimants wait for one of some 1,600 Social Security administrative law judges to decide whether they deserve a monthly payment and Medicare or Medicaid. “A death sentence” is how Stewart, who has no health insurance, has come to think of another denial.

Social Security does have a fast track process for people who are about to die if they don't get treatment soon.


Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for disability benefits. These conditions primarily include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The CAL initiative helps us reduce waiting time to reach a disability determination for individuals with the most serious disabilities.
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