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20 Questions With Jess Phoenix, Actual Damn Scientist

Back off, man. I'm a VOLCANO scientist.

I had the privilege of interviewing Jess Phoenix, the politically active volcano scientist who I mentioned to you in this AMAZING piece of journalism. Read below and get her thoughts on science, politics and candy corn.

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Science

Brian Kemp Knows Who The Hackers Are, And It's The Democrats Who Warned Him About Hackers

There IS a hack here, and it's Brian Kemp.

Georgia's Republican candidate for governor, who also happens to be in charge of running Georgia's election, announced Sunday that he was "investigating" Georgia's Democratic Party for supposedly trying to hack the state's election systems. (Those would be the computer systems he has previously said couldn't possibly be compromised, at least if Russia were doing it.) Now, if you want to get all picky about it, the reality is that Democrats alerted Kemp's office to a security problem in his computer systems, and then he turned around and accused them of "hacking," which really is some impressive fuckery, isn't it?

Kemp's office announced the alleged investigation with a very subtle all-caps headline: "AFTER FAILED HACKING ATTEMPT, SOS LAUNCHES INVESTIGATION INTO GEORGIA DEMOCRATIC PARTY." And then of course the office briefed the press on all the evidence that would warrant such a serious accusation two days before the election, haha we are kidding of course.

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Science

Trump's Spy Machine Stalking Twitter For 'Insurrection'

There's a military social media spy machine, and the Trump administration hid it.

The Trump administration is scraping social media in order to spy on anti-Trump protests, but that's not all! Curiously vague updates to the new defense doctrine give the military more authority to act in the event of "emergencies," like an insurrection or an invasion of taco trucks. With such broad tools you'd think a definitely not racist person like Trump might find a way to stop a mass murder or two.

Motherboard reports that when the Trump administration took office it inherited a fancy new computer to spy on the social media of Not America. It didn't take long for someone to wonder if it could be used to spy on all the communists who didn't vote for Trump. The Army cut some nerds a check to follow the 2016 post-election protests, like at the inauguration, the airport protests, and the Women's March. They found that whenever people wear their pink pussy hats and march in the streets they usually post a lot on social media. The report concluded that by cyber stalking social networks, you can predict the likelihood of violent protests.

After realizing what neat little toys the Obama administration had been cooking up, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) took its social media spy machine, called Embers, and moved it to the private sector. Safely hidden from the prying eyes of pesky FOIAs, the Trump administration can simply pay someone else do the legally dubious and dirty work of spying on Americans.

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Science

The Eight Best Science Horror Movies!

Why eight? Because that's how science works!

1. The Thing (1982)

https://www.deviantart.com/3-dmonster

This is not only my favorite horror movie of all time, it's my favorite movie, full stop. Smart, funny, scary and with practical special effects that look better than most CGI these days. Set in the South Pole, where a shapeshifting alien has awoken after thousands of years in the ice, this movie will have you scared but also laughing at the dialogue and cheering the visual craziness. A bunch of scientists fighting an alien with Kurt Russell leading the charge? What ELSE do you need? Even without the horror aspect it works as a cold war thriller with no one trusting each other. If you're a horror fan, you've probably seen it, but if not, know that it's pretty gory.

2. Pontypool

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Science

Arizona Vaccine Education Program Dead Of Stupid People, Also Polio

Seems like a rash decision.

In a move that doesn't surprise this former Arizona resident in the least, health officials in Arizona have killed off an online vaccine education program after some anti-vaxxer parents complained about its very existence. The state that brought us the political careers of Evan Goddamned Mecham, Joe Arpaio, Jan Brewer, Kelli Ward, and Congressman Paul Gosar, DDS, has once again lowered the bar and is now looking at Florida, Texas, and Idaho, just daring them to try something even more craven. Sad thing is, someone's bound to top this almost immediately.

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Post-Racial America

The Andrew Gillum/Ron DeSantis MURRRRRDER Debate, Pt. Deux!

It's a special Florida gov debate Sunday Rundown!

Hello Wonks! Welcome to a very special Sunday Rundown as we cover some moments from the CNN's "The Florida Governor's Debate." Did Stephen already write this up? Well you can't over-cover a MURRRRDERRRR.

Moderated by Sunday Rundown favorite Jake Tapper, the debate was the very definition of contrast, from the calm and precise demeanor of Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum to the more frantic and misleading nervousness of Congressman Ron DeSantis. It was a debate in which Andrew Gillum showed why he should be the next governor of Florida. You know besides that WE LURVE HIM and RON DESANTIS SUX GOATBALLS. Highlights forthwith!

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National Politics

Trump Unpersons Transgender Folks

Oh, so NOW Trump gives a damn about somebody's transition.

Just in time to whip up culture war fervor among rightwing voters, the Trump administration is looking at a little change in administrative rules to define transgender people right out of existence, the New York Times reported yesterday. After all, if "sex" is defined very narrowly to mean only male or female, as written on a birth certificate, then there's no way any trans people could ever be discriminated against, you see, because there'll be no need to recognize their existence at all. Heck, it's only the civil rights of about 1.4 million Americans, and there are a lot more fundagelical voters than than, so that's just how rights work these days.

The proposal, which is still in draft form, comes from a Department of Health and Human Services memo obtained by the Times, and seeks to assuage rightwing fears that Barack Obama's administration was allowing too much freedom from discrimination for people God wants to be discriminated against. Those monsters in the Obama administration said that federal laws barring discrimination on sex applied to transgender people, so HHS would like to please just redefine "sex" so there's no way trans people can be protected.

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Science

For F*ck's Sake! Get Your Damn Flu Shot, You Stupid Baby!

Seriously. I'm a scientist. Do as I say.

No, the flu vaccine doesn't cause autism. It doesn't cause the flu either. Oh, you're worried about the "mercury" (thimerosal, actually, not pure mercury, but just being a science dick) or the formaldehyde in the vaccine that will end up being injected into you? Let's take the scary mercury one first. That's used as a preservative for multi-use vaccine vials. If you get a single shot vaccine, it won't have it. If you get one that has it, it is in really small amounts, you nervous Nelly. You'll get the same amount of mercury in one shot as there is in three ounces of tuna fish. If you eat any tuna at all this year, you're getting more mercury in your sandwich or spicy tuna roll than in the one vaccination that might prevent you ACTUALLY DYING from the flu. Yes, healthy people die too. More on that in a bit, but back to formaldehyde. That chemical is used during manufacture of the vaccine in the process to kill the virus, and YES they kill the virus and NO you aren't getting live virus which is why the shot can't give you the flu. The level of formaldehyde in the shot you get is less than the naturally occurring amount of formaldehyde you ALREADY have in your body. Ah, you didn't know you have formaldehyde naturally occurring in you? Now you do, bitches! Okay, so lead paragraph complete and we can check off "safety covered," right? Paragraph two is the scare campaign, so let's get to it.

How many people die from the flu each year in the USA? Well, we don't know for sure, but the CDC estimated 10,000 to 14,000 people died in the 2015/16 flu season with ~60% of those being 65 or older, but that still leaves some 4000 to 6000 younger folks with mostly preventable flu related deaths. Does that seem like a lot? Yes, it does, but last year the estimate was ~80,000 dead due to the flu, the deadliest year since 1976, or basically since we started counting. You don't REALLY want to help break the record again this year. Get your damn shot.

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Russia

Ecuador Tells Julian Assange To Get Off The Couch, Or They're Taking His Cat

Clean up your shit, or find a new place to live, Julian!

Earlier this week, the Ecuadorian embassy in the UK told Julian Assange that it would evict him if he didn't stop being a slob and start taking care of his cat. Assange responded today by announcing he is taking legal action and claiming Ecuador violated his human rights by making him do his own laundry and pay rent. (He is reminding us of THIS awesome dude, who sued his parents for refusing to live anymore with a dude as awesome as he.) Pretty soon they're going to tell him to do things like "get a job" and "move out." GAWD, parents and embassies offering asylum to scumbag freeloaders are just the worst!

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Russia

GOOD MORNING MONTANA. Wonkagenda For Fri., Oct. 19, 2018

Trump tries to change the story, Zinke gets caught grifting, and Nikki Haley's got jokes. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Culture

North Carolina Conservatives Saw Their Homes Washed Away, Now They're Almost Climate Change Believers!

A slow, stupid march to the acceptance of science.

I'll say one good thing about conservatives -- literally one good thing: They are certainly willing to take a serious issue to heart as long as it is specifically their own heart at risk. Lately, you can't go a few months without a hurricane slapping you in the face, and a lot of the folks getting slapped upside the head are formerly climate-change-denying supporters of Donald Trump.

The Washington Post had a piece today about residents of North Carolina, who are dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence and possibly reconsidering their obstinance in the face of decades of compelling science.

"I always thought climate change was a bunch of nonsense, but now I really do think it is happening," said [Margie] White, a 65-year-old Trump supporter, as she and her young grandson watched workers haul away downed trees and other debris lining the streets of her posh seaside neighborhood last week.

Yes, White, who holds several doctorates in head-up-her-ass-ology, thought climate change was "nonsense." Krypton was just settling in its orbit. Stop shooting off babies in rockets and chill out. But she's recanting like Galileo because her "posh" seaside neighborhood now resembles one of those "hippety-hop" clubs after last call. Why did Al Gore bother making An Inconvenient Truth when he could've just knocked over some power lines in nice neighborhoods?

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Science

Facebook Forgot To Carry The One, Killed Journalism. ALLEGEDLY.

A new lawsuit claims Facebook knew damn well what it was breaking, and didn't care.

Recently unveiled documents suggest Facebook was blowing smoke up everyone's ass when it was bragging about the "pivot to video" back in 2016. A small group of advertisers, who already filed a suit against Facebook for unfair business practices, have added a claim of fraud now that internal documents show how badly Facebook was screwing its customers. They accuse Facebook of a "mentality of reckless indifference" that caused businesses to spend more money based on phony reports, even after Facebook's own engineers knew something was broken. It's too bad Facebook already cashed their checks.

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Science

Donald Trump Warns California: Stop Burning, OR ELSE

It's not global warming. It's OLD TREES.

Donald Trump had one of his periodic temper tantrums at nature yesterday, telling California at a Cabinet meeting it better stop catching fire so much or consequences will never be the same, because he's had it with all the fire. In a sequel to his fanciful belief that this summer's wildfires were the result of the state allowing rivers to flow downhill instead of damming them all, the very smart man explained the catastrophic fires happened because of "old trees" the state refused to remove, because a years-long drought and a warming planet certainly have nothing to do with it.

After Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue told Trump about the Forest Service's efforts to prevent wildfires, Trump veered off into a rant about how California refuses to pick up its tree litter, possibly because they're all Gaia-worshiping heathens who won't let industry log wherever it wants:

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2018 State and Local Elections

'Guilty Until Proven Innocent.' Wonkagenda For Wed., Oct. 17, 2018

Trump does more interviews, voter suppression is already happening, and Canada legalized weed. Your morning news brief.

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Russia

Facebook Finds The Trolls Are Coming From Inside The House

Russia taught conservatives to be grifty internet trolls so Putin could build his own Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook just unsheathed its banhammer and started bashing hundreds of accounts and pages for breaking its rules. Facebook says most of the accounts came from US-based spam networks that were pushing political agendas, just like Russia did in 2016. What Facebook didn't say was they also kicked out several dozen accounts from a Russian data firm that was scraping profiles, just like Cambridge Analytica, except for the Russian government. It sounds really bad, but Facebook says it makes the world a better place.

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