Friday, March 18, 2016

Friday Water Cooler

27 Large, Profitable Companies Paid No Taxes Last Year ( This needs to end. But it never will if people keep voting for corporate-lobbied incumbents and GOP oligarchy shills.

Donald Trump's volunteer contract forbids all criticism of Trump for life ( "In addition to forbidding volunteers from disparaging Trump, the contract also includes a sentence that demands volunteers prevent their employees from criticizing Trump, thus making volunteers responsible for the free speech of others for an indeterminate amount of time."

Why Trump's Endorsements Should Scare Your Pants Off ( By Matt Taibbi.

Noam Chomsky on the 2016 Republicans: 'I Have Never Seen Such Lunatics in the Political System' (

The 23 cities with the best quality of life in the world ( Not a single one in the U.S.

The Very Existence of the NSA Is Illegal (

Hillary: the Poison Pill (

Measuring Trump's Mammoth Advantage ( "Over the course of the campaign, he has earned close to $2 billion worth of media attention, about twice the all-in price of the most expensive presidential campaigns in history." Except, wait a minute. Earned? Why do articles like this always say earned?

The U.S. cities luring millennials with promises to pay off their student debts (

From Notes on a Dismal and Delightful Campaign (
Amid all the accusations that Hillary Clinton is not an honest or authentic politician, that she’s an endless shape-shifter who says whatever works to get her to the next primary, it’s important not to lose sight of the one truth she’s been telling, and will continue to tell, the voters: things will not get better. Ever. At first, I thought this was just an electoral ploy against Sanders: don’t listen to the guy promising the moon. No such thing as a free lunch and all that. But it goes deeper. The American ruling class has been trying to figure out for years, if not decades, how to manage decline, how to get Americans to get used to diminished expectations, how to adapt to the notion that life for the next generation will be worse than for the previous generation, and now, how to accept low to zero growth rates as the new economic normal. Clinton’s campaign message isn’t just for Bernie voters; it’s for everyone. Expect little, deserve less, ask for nothing. When the leading candidate of the more left of the two parties is saying that — and getting the majority of its voters to embrace that message — the work of the American ruling class is done.
Common Antibiotics May Cause Delirium, Confusion And Hallucinations ( I didn't know Forbes reported on medicine, but this is quite a good story, actually, recapping the results of a study (paywalled) in Neurology on "uncommon" side effects of antibiotics, which are actually more common than previously thought. Bottom line, you'll want to avoid quinolones (e.g. Cipro) if you have a history of certain psychiatric ailments or are taking psychoactive meds. You'll also want to be alert for psychosis-like symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) when taking sulfonamides, quinolones, macrolides, or penicillin procaine. Read the story (written by a researcher, not a journalist) for more insights.

Corporations Killed Medicine. Here’s How to Take It Back. (

Newly discovered bacteria can eat plastic bottles ( Bullshitty triumphalist headlines like this are designed to make you go "Great! Now I don't have to worry about the environment any more!" In point of fact, the bacteria (isolated from environmental samples at a bottle recycling plant) are not making bottles disappear in the real world, and can't be expected to do anything at all about plastic in the ocean. These are naturally occurring bacteria (not some genetically engineered super-strain). It's not at all surprising that they exist (many plastics-eating bacteria have been discovered before) and it remains to be seen whether they can be made to digest plastic on an industrial scale. Tracy Mincer, who studies oceanic plastics pollution at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, commented: "When I think it through, I don't really know where it gets us. I don't see how microbes degrading plastics is any better than putting plastic bottles in a recycling bin so they can be melted down to make new ones."

Israeli hiker discovers 2000-year-old coin ( Laurie Rimon, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Blum in northern Israel, was with a group of hikers in Galilee when she noticed a shiny object in the grass near an archaeological site. The coin (right) dates to the year 107.

Fukushima 'decontamination troops' often exploited, shunned ( Got a bad resume? No experience? Sketchy skillset? Come shovel radioactive crap into bags. Then be shunned by the rest of society.

How to detect a credit-card cloner at the gas pump ( The "liability shift" involving chip cards had a deadline (in the U.S.) of October 2015 for most retailers, but not for gas pumps, which don't have to use EMV-compliant hardware until October 2017. As a result, blackhat devices (known as skimmers) that steal your magstripe data are now cropping up at more and more fueling stations. This article talks about that, but it's not really a very good article, IMHO. (Disclosure: I work in the payment industry, for a company that makes card readers.) The real answer is to walk into the store, pay for your fuel-up ahead of time using an in-store card reader, and walk back out to your car. That's the only real way to cut your chances of getting skimmed at the pump to near-zero. The odds of your being able to detect a skimmer yourself, with the naked eye, are low, and going lower by the minute.

Surprise! NSA data will soon routinely be used for domestic policing that has nothing to do with terrorism (WaPo). The genie is out of the bottle.

Capitalism not always route to democracy ( To the contrary, capitalism must often be imposed on people against their will, a recurring theme wherever IMF or World Bank have done their dirtiest dirty work. (For a deep dive on this, read Naomi Klein's classic, The Shock Doctrine.)

Another Dead Russian in Washington ( Former Putin insider was bludgeoned to death, autopsy shows.

Thanks for visiting. Be sure to check out prior weeks' Water Coolers (see links at right).

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