I can’t support NRA backed candidates of either party

What is the difference between a dozen dead second graders and a dozen dead high school students?

The high school students’ best friends will be able to vote next year.

And no, I will not apologize for the strong words and horrifying imagery. It is time for strong words and horrifying imagery.

As a voter, and a delegate to June’s state DFL (Democratic Party) convention, I am facing a number of different poltical choices this year. As a delegate, I will be casting my vote to endorse two US Senate candidates, the State Auditor, the State Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Governor. Recently, I was engaged in the endorsement decision for my US House District, and my local state House Representative is up for election. Continue reading I can’t support NRA backed candidates of either party

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After you install Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

Installing Bionic Beaver

I’m not going to tell you how to install the latest stable release of Ubuntu’s Linux desktop. For that, just go to Ubuntu and follow the appropriate instructions. I recommend using a bootable USB stick, and how you manage that depends on exactly what computer you are going to make it on. All three major operating systems have their own way of doing it. A quick google search will find simple instructions. The general pattern is to download the “DVD image” onto your hard drive, put a large enough USB stick that contains nothing of value into the slot, open the correct program, and tell it to put the DVD image on that stick in bootable form.

I do have this advice. If you ultimately want a certain desktop (such as XFCE or Mate or KDE or whatever), use the Ubuntu “flavor” for that desktop, things will go more smoothly. For this particular iteration, I decided to install the main Ubuntu desktop, and I’m going to try Gnome 3 for a while and see if I end up liking it.

Ubuntu 18.04 walks away from 32 bit support, and ditches Unity. The default desktop is Gnome, but this is the modern Gnome that is not that different from Unity. I generally prefer a Gnome 2.0 style desktop, so I usually use Mate (pronounced Matt ay).

Post Installation

Most of these suggestions are pretty standard for any install of any Linux system. Also, you can ignore much of this. Continue reading After you install Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

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Book Deals

Cheap in Kindle format right now:

Robert Heinlein’s Expanded Universe: Volume One

Heinlein personally selected each story or essay for inclusion in this collection, which is ordered chronologically, starting with his first sale in 1939 of “Life-Line” to Astounding (for seventy dollars).This remarkable collection highlights the development of Heinlein’s writing style and his philosophy on life throughout his career.

More importantly, this collection is as close to an autobiography as anything Heinlein wrote during his life. Heinlein was an extremely private person who never wrote much about himself. In this exclusive collection, he offers forewords to most of his stories and essays (and an occasional afterword), giving readers a rare glimpse into the inner mind of the master.

Expanded Universe is a must-have for any Heinlein enthusiast and any fan of science fiction.

Get Call for the Dead: A George Smiley Novel (George Smiley Novels Book 1) if you feel like starting (or restarting) the Smiley Series, a story about happier times when Russian Spies were Russian Spies, and so were the British Spies. It is the first in the Smiley series.

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You killed me.

Our gun culture kills children

Years ago, my parents were still alive and living in Albany, New York. I had arranged a lunch with some colleagues at their house. I do not recall why exactly, but that is what I did.

In the house lived my parents Joe and Betty, Grandma (dad’s mother) and Great Aunt Tillie (mom’s stepfather’s sister). Grandma and Tillie were very old so they took lots of medicine. Also, they were very old and therefore had a special dispensation from the pharmacy, allowing them to get the medicine in non-child proof bottles.

So the colleagues came over, and that included a woman with her young son, older than toddler age but not much. During our lunch, he was off in the kitchen or someplace amusing himself with a coloring book or something.

But then the child walked into the room and we could see that his face, mainly around his mouth, was covered with azure blue substance, as were his hands. Just as realization of what this blue substance was dawned on his mother, I, the others, Great Aunt Tillie, who had just walked into her bedroom (she had been in Grandma’s bedroom watching soaps), exclaimed, “My medicine!!!!” Continue reading Our gun culture kills children

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If your toddler falls from your window, will it necessarily die?

It is that time of year again. Children falling out the window awareness week is every week in the spring and early summer. Here is a repost about this topic, still relevant, because kids still keep falling out the window.


No! A surprising number of toddlers who manage to get their way through a window opening to fall to the pavement below live. Something just over three thousand toddlers do this every year in the US.
Continue reading If your toddler falls from your window, will it necessarily die?

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Tom Wolfe

American Studies expert and author, Tom Wolfe, has died at an appropriate ripe old age. If you have not read The Bonfire of the Vanities, which is one of his fiction books that is essentially, pure non-fiction, then you must. Never mind that a mediocre movie was made out of it. Bonfire is one of the key books of modern history, documenting in a fictional story about fear and loathing among the ultra-privileged, about racism and class, about Masters of the Universe and social bouquets. It is the quintessential novel of the 1980s, and since the 1980s is the most important decade ever, you must read it. I personally missed the 1980s, I was either underground, literally, under a huge pile of graduate work, literally, or in a remote jungle, literally. But when I got back from all of that I read the book and learned what had happened.

Wolfe also wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and The Right Stuff.

His book The Kingdom of Speech critiques both Darwin and Chomsky, for reasons that seem pretty legit to me, though I hasten to add I’ve not read it, only summaries of it (and maybe an article somewhere by Wolfe).

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Minnesota Could Get A “State Bank” if Rebecca Otto Becomes Governor

In 1919, the farmers of North Dakota got fed up with predatory lenders, and successfully lobbied for a credit union style state-run bank for them to use instead. Private sector financial institutions elsewhere in the country would have none of this, and destroyed this initial effort by freezing the North Dakota bank out of access to bonds, and by underwriting a political attack on bank supporter Governor Lynn Frazier, leading to his recall. Frazier was, in fact, the first governor to be successfully removed from office in the United States. The leader of the anti-farmer and anti-labor movement, a member of the Independent Voters Association party, took over the governor’s seat. Frazier was later elected senator.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto on her farm.
Although anti-farmer interests managed to get rid of pro-farmer and pro-union Frazier, they didn’t exactly get rid of the bank. It continued to exist, but with an altered mission. Today, the bank is still a state bank. The state uses this bank to hold its funds, instead of using a privately owned bank. Local governments can optionally use it, as can other entities.

A state bank that is not chewed up by Wall Street goons has the potential to help a lot of people and advance important progressive ideals. Therefore, you can expect Republicans, Libertarians, Conservatives, and of course, bankers, to vigorously oppose it.

But Minnesota may well get a state bank. Continue reading Minnesota Could Get A “State Bank” if Rebecca Otto Becomes Governor

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NPR: For Every Woman Who Dies In Childbirth In The U.S., 70 More Come Close

This latest in a series of reports from NPR is out.

Over the past year, NPR and ProPublica have been investigating why American mothers die in childbirth at a far higher rate than in all other developed countries.

A mother giving birth in the U.S. is about three times as likely to die as a mother in Britain and Canada.

In the course of our reporting, another disturbing statistic emerged: For every American woman who dies from childbirth, 70 nearly die. That adds up to more than 50,000 women who suffer “severe maternal morbidity” from childbirth each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A patient safety group, the Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health, came up with an even higher figure. After conducting an in-depth study of devastating complications in hospitals in four states, it put the nationwide number at around 80,000.

I’m not going into great detail about this, but I do want to make a few related salient points. Continue reading NPR: For Every Woman Who Dies In Childbirth In The U.S., 70 More Come Close

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A few cheap books and one cheep book

First, the cheep book. Just a book note, I’ll be reviewing this, but it looks great:

Birds and Their Feathers by Britta Teckentrup, author of Tree: A Peek-Through Picture Book and The Egg.

Hailed as “a magnificent volume that offers hours of lingering pleasure… fertile ground for conversation and imagination,” (Midwest Book Review) Britta Teckentrup’s The Egg introduced children to one of nature’s most perfect creations. Now, employing the same earth-tone coloring and delicate illustrations that have made her an enormously popular children’s author, Teckentrup turns her gaze to the endlessly fascinating feather. What are they made of? Why do birds have so many of them? How do they help birds fly? And what other purpose do they serve? By providing accessible answers to these and other questions, this delightful book introduces young readers to the wonders of “plumology,” while also drawing them in with enchanting illustrations. An exquisitely rendered fusion of art and science, this marvelous book satisfies young readers’ natural curiosity about the world around them.

And now the cheap books, covering several different topics, but all held in common by one feature: Cheap in Kindle edition right now:

Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon

Accidental Medical Discoveries: How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World

Minecraft: The Island: An Official Minecraft Novel

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Bloviating Morons Will Bloviate: Trump and Giuliani

As a logical person seeking an understanding of what happened with the election, the Trump campaign, all of that, there is one piece of information that led me, long ago, to strongly suspect that there was an arrangement made between Trump and his campaign, the Russians, and Wikileaks (and possibly other intermediaries).

This was when two people with inside information told us that this was happening. These two individuals told us that information that we later learned was stolen by Russian agents and distributed via WikiLeaks and other means would be used to affect the outcome of the election.

The first instance was a bit vague, but it was repeated several times and in retrospect, this is strongly suggestive. Here:

The second was not vague at all and is very clear, considering what was said, when it was said, and what happened:

I’m not claiming this is court admisible evidence. But then again, I’m not a court. I’m a person. When I see these two sets of comments, knowing what happened, I see this as very strong evidence that the alleged arrangement was not only real, but emerged as a strategy, from an internal discussion among the campaign personnel, including Trump.

Both of these men are blowhards and morons.

This raises one historically interesting question.

Giuliani is well known for having successfully carried out one of the most difficult and intense investigations and prosecutions ever, shutting down powerful NY mafia families. But looking at his recent incriminating bloviating, one has to wonder. Was Giuliani taking credit he did not deserve? Has he lost part of his self control or reasoning, lowering his capacity to think and communicate to Trumpian levels?

No matter, really. We should probably not be looking a gift horse in the mouth. Long live Rudy Giuliani as Trump’s lawyer!

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Tina Liebling Endorses Rebecca Otto for Governor

Liebling calls Otto “bold and progressive,” says she “can go toe to toe” with any Republican

SAINT PAUL – In the first endorsement of a DFL gubernatorial candidate by a former candidate for the office, State Representative Tina Liebling (DFL-26A) today endorsed State Auditor Rebecca Otto for Governor of Minnesota.

“For too many Minnesotans, opportunity seems out of reach. They know that the economy is rigged against them, and they are looking for a leader who will stand up to the special interests and fight for them,” Liebling said in making the endorsement. “Rebecca Otto is that leader. She has a bold, clear, progressive vision for Minnesota with ordinary people at its center.”

Liebling also said she believes Otto is the strongest candidate electorally. “She can go toe to toe with any candidate the Republicans put forward and will give Minnesotans a real choice in November,” said Liebling. “Campaigns can’t be won without money, but money will not win the campaign. For that we need a candidate who is both progressive and bold. I believe that Rebecca Otto is both, and I am pleased to endorse her candidacy for Governor of Minnesota.

“I have always had great respect for Tina as a smart, progressive leader who is not afraid to tackle issues of great importance,” said Otto. “I am very honored to have her support. Having Tina on our team will be critical to securing the DFL endorsement at the State Convention in June.”

Otto said she appreciated Liebling’s policy expertise on issues she has heard about repeatedly in listening sessions and on the campaign trail. “Representative Liebling has important health care expertise and has worked for years to move Minnesota to a Single Payer health care system,” Otto said. “She will be a great partner in moving Minnesota to a more efficient, cost-effective health care system that is no longer tied to your job – a system where everyone receives high quality health care, where we remove administrative burdens for our doctors and medical professionals and allow them to focus back on our health.”

Otto also acknowledged Representative Liebling’s work and advocacy around the legalization of marijuana. Last session, Liebling introduced a bill that would legalize and regulate personal use of marijuana.

“I respect Tina for leading this important discussion. We need to move away from the failed criminal justice approach to drug use and focus on a public health approach,” said Otto. “Prohibition of cannabis does a lot of harm to our state and disproportionately impacts people of color. As governor I would support decriminalizing marijuana and expunging criminal records for those convicted of non-violent marijuana-related offenses. We need to have a thoughtful, open, evidence-based conversation as a state about how to reduce the harm of addiction while respecting the autonomy of Minnesotans.”

Rebecca Otto was first elected Minnesota’s State Auditor in 2006, unseating a high-profile Republican incumbent by the largest margin in 112 years for a seat that had been Republican for 90 percent of state history. She is the first woman Democrat to be elected State Auditor, and the only Democrat to be re-elected to the office. Prior to that she served as a State Representative from the St. Croix Valley area, and before that as a School Board Member in the Forest Lake Area school district.

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Book deals including Paul Offit and Doris Kearns Goodwin!

You may remember that last May, I reviewed Pandora’s Lab: Seven Stories of Science Gone Wrong by Paul Offit, and around the same time, interviewed him. My original post and a link to the interview are here. It is an excellent book, and the kindle version is now on sale for $1.99, so now’s your chance to find out bout the seven cases of science going badly wrong!

You might also want to check out Walter Tevis Sci-Fi Novels: The Man Who Fell to Earth, Mockingbird, The Steps of the Sun

Periodic Tales: A Cultural History of the Elements, from Arsenic to Zinc by Hugh Aldersey-Williams is also available for two bucks.

Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin is a must read, and cheap in Kindle form right now.

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I knew it, I saw this coming! (Microsoft-Linux)

Some time ago it dawned on me that a future Microsoft operating system, a version of Windows, would be based on Linux. It only makes sense. There is no better operating system to base a desktop, server, or other specialized OS on, for normal hardware. Eventually, this would dawn on Microsoft. I thought it might have a few years ago when Microsoft went from being openly aggressive against Linux and OpenSource, to being neutral, to being nice, and eventually contributing.

And now… Continue reading I knew it, I saw this coming! (Microsoft-Linux)

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