February 10, 2018 in 5,424 words


Highway BR-163 cuts a brutal path through Brazil’s conflicting ambitions: to transform itself into an economic powerhouse and to preserve the Amazon as a bulwark against climate change. Stephanie Nolen travelled 2,000 kilometres along the dusty, dangerous corridor, and found a range of realistic — and often counterintuitive — ways that the forest could work for everyone

Every single day, cameras on satellites 700 kilometres above the Earth sweep over the five million square km of Amazon rainforest in Brazil and record a series of images.

The pictures show the soaring trees that spike above the canopy…

…and the tangle of jungle below, threaded through with rivers, some swift and muddy brown, others nearly as green as the sea of trees.

They show the cities and the towns and the Indigenous aldeias that are home to the 30 million people who live within the forest.

And the pictures show the fires that rage across the Amazon, the bare patches of charred ground, the gouged raw earth of the mines, the speckled sprawl of hectares of grazing cattle, and the fresh scars where trees stood yesterday and have disappeared today.

As the satellites pass over the forest, they record its disappearance in real time.

CHECK OUT the interactive goodnesses at the link.

Facebook “likes” are a powerful tool for authoritarian rulers, court petition says

Pay For Play

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen.

A Cambodian opposition leader has filed a petition in a California court against Facebook, demanding the company disclose its transactions with his country’s authoritarian prime minister, whom he accuses of falsely inflating his popularity through purchased “likes” and spreading fake news.

The petition, filed Feb. 8, brings the ongoing debate over Facebook’s power to undermine democracies into a legal setting. The petitioner, Sam Rainsy, says that Hun Sen, the prime minister, “has used the network to threaten violence against political opponents and dissidents, disseminate false information, and manipulate his (and the regime’s) supposed popularity, thus seeking to foster an illusion of popular legitimacy.”

Rainsy alleges that Hun had used “click farms” to artificially boost his popularity, effectively buying “likes.” The petition says that Hun had achieved astonishing Facebook fame in a very short time, raising questions about whether this popularity was legitimate. For instance, the petition says, Hun Sen’s page is “liked” by 9.4 million people “even though only 4.8 million Cambodians use Facebook,” and that millions of these “likes” come from India, the Philippines, Brazil, and Myanmar, countries that don’t speak Khmer, the sole language the page is written in, and that are known for “click farms.”

According to leaked correspondence that the petition refers to, the Cambodian government’s payments to Facebook totaled $15,000 a day “in generating fake ‘likes’ and advertising on the network to help dissiminate[sic] the regime’s propaganda and drown-out any competing voices.”

Trump’s America will be saddled with debt – just like his bankrupted hotels

The Republican spending bill throws conservative principles – whatever remains of them – into the wind

‘Nobody but Trump could have sold the idea of debt so well to the very people who said they hated it.’ America’s Shithole.

Once upon a time, conservatives said they hated Barack Obama because of his budget deficits. They said he was destroying America and its future, which made them very angry indeed. They were so mad about all those Obama debts that they invented a new party, and named it after the revolutionaries who opposed a nasty British king.

The Tea Party was a collection of strange people, including one candidate who promised she wasn’t a witch. But the strangest thing happened after Obama moved out of the White House, and an orange man moved in. That was when conservatives all across America decided they didn’t actually hate debt and deficits after all.

That was just one of the many ways Donald Trump made everyone happy in America all over again. Another one was the stock market, which sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down. Everyone was happy when it went up, and nobody talked about it when it went down.

Donald Trump knows a lot about debt because he has created so much of it himself. He’s like a grand wizard of debt because he has magically escaped from several dark boxes of it. He also knows a few grand wizard types and thinks they are some very fine people.

Grand Wizard Trump first learned his magic debt spells when he built a palace called the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City. He called it the eighth wonder of the world, and it certainly was wonderful how the business went bankrupt a year after it opened. Five other Trump palaces went bankrupt the next year, but he waved his wand and everything turned out fine. For him.

1950s prosperity or 1970s crash? Two ways a US interest rate rise could go

An interest rates expert ponders outcomes for the US economy as the central bank looks set to end the era of cheap money.

‘From the early 50s, there was a gradual upward trend in interest rates that did not interfere with economic growth.’

Remember Quantum Leap? The sci-fi show where time traveling scientist Sam Beckett would wake up in another era and have to work out where he was in history before solving this week’s mystery. Well, that’s the position the world’s economists and traders are in this week.

Since the end of the last recession interest rates have been historically low. Now with wages rising and the global economy booming central banks look set to end the era of cheap money. As stock markets panic about the short term impact on share prices, Richard Sylla, the co-author of the seminal A History of Interest Rates, and the authority on the subject poses a longer-term question: where are we? The 1950s or the 1970s?

“We are certainly at a turning point,” says Sylla, professor emeritus of economics at the history of financial institutions and markets at the Stern School of Business in New York. According to Sylla’s studies, interest rates have trended in 20 to 30 year cycles and we are overdue a sustained period of interest rate increases.

The end of flat: interest rates have been close to zero since the recession. History shows that’s not normal

“Interest rates have been abnormally low and for the first time in a long time every economy in the world is expanding. So everything tells me the trend is going to be up. The question is, what sort of trend will it be?”

Sylla offers two relevant historical models – the 1950s and the 1970s – periods with starkly different economic outcomes.

Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality

Executive summary

Demographics, automation and inequality have the potential to dramatically reshape our world in the 2020s and beyond. Our analysis shows that the collision of these forces could trigger economic disruption far greater than we have experienced over the past 60 years (see Figure 1). The aim of this report by Bain’s Macro Trends Group is to detail how the impact of aging populations, the adoption of new automation technologies and rising inequality will likely combine to give rise to new business risks and opportunities. These gathering forces already pose challenges for businesses and investors. In the next decade, they will combine to create an economic climate of increasing extremes but may also trigger a decade-plus investment boom.

In the US, a new wave of investment in automation could stimulate as much as $8 trillion in incremental investments and abruptly lift interest rates. By the end of the 2020s, automation may eliminate 20% to 25% of current jobs, hitting middle- to low-income workers the hardest. As investments peak and then decline—probably around the end of the 2020s to the start of the 2030s—anemic demand growth is likely to constrain economic expansion, and global interest rates may again test zero percent. Faced with market imbalances and growth-stifling levels of inequality, many societies may reset the government’s role in the marketplace.

The analysis and business insights in this report can help leaders put these changes in context and consider the effects they will have on their companies, their industries and the global economy.

Trump signed a bill that gives millions to the US agency in charge of climate and weather science

Moar Satellites

NOAA satellites are the reason we have weather forecasts.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency responsible for weather predictions, ocean science, and climate research, has been threatened with major budget cuts by the Trump administration over the last year. But it got a nice chunk of funding today (Feb. 9) when Trump signed a stopgap government spending deal passed by Congress.

The spending deal is intended to keep the government running until March. It includes various special sections, like one devoted to disaster relief for the three devastating hurricanes that struck the US last year.

Within that special hurricane relief section, NOAA was allocated some serious money for its core science priorities. These funds are not part of NOAA’s overall budget for 2019, which will come out later.

NOAA receives funding for the things typical of disaster relief that fall under its purview—$200 million to mitigate “fisheries disasters” caused by the storms, $18 million for marine debris removal, and money to repair their instruments and federal property damaged in the storms.

But also included in the spending bill are are funds for the agency to get better weather satellites, improve hurricane intensity forecasting, and enhance their supercomputing infrastructure. John Culberson, the Republican congressman who runs the appropriations process in the US House of Representatives where the bill originated, is from Houston. The city was badly hit by Hurricane Harvey in August.

The rapidly-thawing permafrost is full of mercury

Mercury In Retrograde

As the permafrost thaws, it often forms “lakes” of meltwater like these in Siberia, which accelerate the thawing further. Now we know there is lots of mercury in there too.

As the Frozen North becomes, well, less-frozen, plenty of ancient and unsettling things could emerge from the great permafrost thaw, like giant viruses and vast stores of greenhouse gases. Apparently we need to add the neurotoxin mercury to that list.

The biggest continual human source of airborne mercury emissions is from small-scale gold mining, followed closely by coal-burning in power plants. After spending some time in the air, that mercury falls to earth, contaminating soil and water, and ending up in our food chain. Mercury is a neurotoxin known to cause cognitive dysfunction and other ailments. Even small amounts can affect a developing fetus in utero.

But mercury is also naturally occurring, like the kind that’s been locked away for millennia in the ancient frozen soils of Arctic permafrost. And there’s a lot more of it there than we realized.

According to a study published Monday (Feb. 5) in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the Arctic permafrost, which, combined with permafrost in the Antarctic covers roughly 20% of the Earth’s surface, holds an estimated 15 million gallons of naturally-occurring mercury. That’s roughly 10 times more mercury there than all the mercury humans have pumped into the atmosphere over the last 30 years, according to National Geographic. It’s also almost twice as much mercury contained by all other soils, the ocean, and the atmosphere combined, according to the paper, which is the first to quantify how much mercury is trapped in the permafrost.

‘The training stays with you’: the elite Mexican soldiers recruited by cartels

Last year, Mexico’s murder rate reached the highest level on record – and years of military defections are fueling the violence.

Delfino specialized as a sniper in the Mexican army and is now a member of the Knights Templar cartel.

Delfino was handpicked twice. At 18, he was chosen by the Mexican army to join its elite unit, the airborne special forces group known by its Spanish acronym, Gafe, where he specialized as a sniper.

Ten years later, he was recruited again – this time by the very people he’d been trained to kill.

Nowadays, the only outward sign of his military background is the camouflaged hat on his head, and the Panther .308 sniper rifle slung across his back.

Delfino belongs to what remains of a cult-like drug cartel called Los Caballeros Templarios, or the Knights Templar, whose original leaders blended extreme violence with pseudo-religious teachings and claimed a mandate from God.

Once a dominant force in the rugged western state of Michoacán, the group is now locked in a bitter war for survival with rival crime factions.

But Delfino describes himself as an instrument of divine justice.

“God has his will,” he said. “But he still needs people to do his work here on Earth.”

5 Awesome Sci-Fi Movie Technologies That’d Suck In Real Life

Why are we still driving non-flying cars to our non-space workplaces while fantasizing about our merely two-boobed prostitutes? Where are all the snazzy gadgets and awesome technologies movies promised us? In many cases, they’re right here. We just don’t use them because, well, they kinda suck. Like how …

#5. Controlling Computers With Hand Gestures Is Awful

In Minority Report, Tom Cruise plays a future cop who tries to warn everyone that Max von Sydow is evil, but no one will believe him, even though he’s clearly Max von Sydow. But what most people remember best are the scenes wherein Cruise controls his futuristic crime lab computer by waving his arms around.

How cool is that? Instead of having to say “enhance” and then clicking a boring old mouse, Cruise picks up files and videos from the air itself, and explores them using simple gestures. Soon, other movies were jumping in on this hot futuristic action. From Iron Man 2

… to Prometheus

Spoilers: This movie will show up a lotin this article.

… to Star Trek Discovery.

Thank you in advance for the 100 comments about how this one’s not a movie.

Why We’re Not Using This Today:

As everyone who has ever owned a Kinect knows, this crap gets old fast. The biggest issue is that your arms get tired very quickly if you hold them up for even a short period of time. If you make that a long time, the feeling gets absolutely excruciating. Engineers actually identified this problem in the ’80s, and even gave it a name: the “gorilla arm” effect. You know, because your arms get “sore, cramped, and oversized,” and you end up looking and feeling like a gorilla. Not even a cool sci-fi cyborg gorilla like in Congo.

Behold, the world’s most expensive Oxford comma

Comma Courtesy

Case closed.

Last year’s great comma debate, in which millions of dollars hinged on a missing piece of punctuation, has been resolved.

In a 2014 case that should have been called Nitpickers v. Nitpickers, a group of delivery-truck drivers sued their employer, Oakhurst Dairy, for unpaid overtime and lost wages. They lost, but appealed in March 2017. A court of appeals sided with the drivers, and on Thursday, the company settled with the drivers for $5 million.

The case came down to a set of clauses in Maine’s overtime laws—and to the ever contentious Oxford (or serial) comma, an optional piece of punctuation used just before the coordinating conjunction (such as “and,” “but,” or “or”) in a list of three or more things. Its proponents say it provides clarity, while its detractors argue it’s redundant.

In the state provisions that list which activities did not qualify for overtime, there is no comma between “shipment” and “or.”

The canning, processing, preserving,
freezing, drying, marketing, storing,
packing for shipment or distribution of:
(1) Agricultural produce;
(2) Meat and fish products; and
(3) Perishable foods.

In the drivers’ view, that meant the entire clause “packing for shipment or distribution of…” was one activity, not two separate ones, exempt from overtime. They argued that since they had distributed, but not packed, the products, they were owed overtime wages. The appeals court agreed, ruling the passage ambiguous.

Lady Doritos – a tragicomedy of outrage in four parts

While Doritos consumed an inordinately large chunk of this week’s online indignation, the internet still found time to get upset about other things. Here’s a round-up.

One of the dominant features of late capitalism is the spectacle of brands getting into sassy spats with random people on Twitter.’

This week the stock market crashed, the US government shut down for the second time in three weeks, and Trump continued his valiant efforts to slash Medicaid and purge America of its poor. But by far most important story of the week was Lady Doritos: a tragicomedy in four parts.

Part one: Indra Nooyi the CEO of PepsiCo, Doritos parent company, did an interview with Freakonomics in which she mentioned that the company would be launching a range of female-centric snacks which were cleaner and quieter than traditional Doritos. The rationale for this being research which showed women don’t like to crunch loudly in public or “lick their fingers generously.”

Part two: The internet discovered this interview and had a collective conniption fit.

Part three: Having spent 24 hours locked in a boardroom staring at Twitter and sobbing, Doritos executives sent out a carefully-worded tweet basically denying all knowledge of Lady Doritos.

Part four: Doritos executives suddenly realize that everyone is talking about their brand and what they thought was a disaster is actually a marketing coup. They go from pretending they had no idea about Lady Doritos to explaining that they were the ones responsible for this genius guerilla PR idea and the whole debacle was actually a highly strategic exercise in outrage economics.

Admittedly, part four is purely my own speculation but the data would seem to bear it out. I asked YouGov to (quietly) crunch some numbers and look at people’s attitudes to Doritos – YouGov has an online community of four million people who they poll daily about their attitude to different brands.

Unsurprisingly, women are talking about Doritos a lot more than they used to; on the 7 February 27% of women polled were talking about Doritos while the previous week only 18% of women were. Meanwhile both women and men seem to have a favorable impression of Doritos. I guess all publicity is good publicity!

While Doritos consumed an inordinately large chunk of this week’s online indignation, the internet still found time to get upset about other things. I’ve helpfully summed these up for you so you can make sure you’re not squandering any opportunities for outrage this weekend.

The woman battling Putin for Russia’s presidency made a curious trip to America

Ms Sobchak Goes To Washington

Sobchak unveils her 123-step policy program.

Normally, a presidential candidate polling at just over 1% with six weeks to go would be campaigning hard across the country, in a desperate effort to drum up support. Not Ksenia Sobchak.

Last night, the 36-year-old Russian socialite, journalist, opposition activist, and now politician appeared in New York City, in front of a packed audience of students and assorted Russophiles at Columbia University. Tim Frye, Columbia’s political science chair, seemed suitably confused to be sitting down with her. “We’re very glad that you’re here, we’re very honored that you’re here, but why are you here?” he asked.

The reasons, it seemed, were many. Sobchak wants to show Americans that Russian president Vladimir Putin “is not Russia.” To show the Kremlin that “a responsible president should not be pushing relations with a world power towards a deadlock.” And to show ordinary Russians that America isn’t an enemy, that talking to foreigners and being an internationalist shouldn’t be stigmatized.

Many analysts believe Sobchak, whose father was mayor of St Petersburg and Putin’s political mentor, might be a Kremlin stooge, selected to “run” against the president in a charade of democratic process both at home, and abroad. But whatever the reason, the opposition candidate found a much more admiring audience in the US than she’s used to in Russia. Her “it girl” reputation aside, the former reality TV star is a smart analyst with a ready wit, who hosts a compelling political interview show on Russia’s only independent TV channel. Speaking in fluent English, she rolled off a list of observations and policy prescriptions that find a perfect home among coastal Americans: Russia should liberalize the resource curse-spoiled economy, she said. Institute rule of law. End Putin’s cronyism. Guarantee full rights for LGBT Russians. Erect walls between business and government. Welcome back foreign investors. Even recognize that Crimea belongs to Ukraine.

“You know,” one academic commented admiringly after the talk. “I didn’t expect to like her.”

It’s Time for the Pop-Up Olympics

The venues of the Pyeongchang Games, held in a remote and impoverished corner of South Korea, are not built to last. That’s probably for the best.

A temporary fix: The $60 million stadium that will host the Olympic opening ceremonies in Pyeongchang will be dismantled after the games.

When athletes gather in the Olympic stadium in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Friday for the opening ceremonies of the 2018 Winter Olympics, they will experience a quarter of the lifespan of the $60 million stadium.

The 35,000-seat pentagonal Olympic Stadium is an extreme example of pop-up architecture, a mega-event venue with a planned lifespan shorter than the career of an aerial snowboarder. The stadium will be used four times in all—for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Winter Games and Paralympics. Then it’s slated to be torn down.

With its simple structure and open roof, the temporary structure was designed with demolition in mind—a technique that has been employed before in previous Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, in 1992. Given the sub-freezing temperatures expected, the unheated and roofless facility is perhaps less than ideal.

But the alternative—a more costly permanent structure—is probably an even worse idea, experts say. Pyeongchang is a rural outpost of around 45,000 people in one of the poorest areas of South Korea, a country where winter sports have a small following. If the stadium isn’t torn down, it would likely be fated to join a mighty herd of white elephants from Olympics past—infrastructure that has gone unused decades after the athletes went home, yet continue to drain public money in upkeep costs.



Some may say that cheesecake is food of the gods—those people include the ancient Greek Olympians, who feasted on a flour cake filled with cheese and honey after their pentathlon competitions. The ancient Greeks were already aware of the connections between physical aptitude and lifestyle choices—and the athletes engaged in a variety of restrictive diets believed to enhance their performances, such as xerophagia, a diet consisting of dry foods. Like the modern-day cheesecake, the ancient Greek version was an indulgence, something you pair with your wine at the end of a languid feast.

Terracotta pelike

In 250 BC, the Greek poet Archestratus wrote a gastronomic travel guide called Life of Luxury that is only preserved in fragments. In one piece that has survived, he makes mention of the dessert: “Yet accept a cheese-cake made in Athens; or, failing that, if you can get one from somewhere else, go out and demand some Attic honey, since that will make your cheesecake superb.” But, alas, he did not include any recipes.

As with the classical sculptures we now find in museums, we can thank the Romans for preserving the Greek cheesecake into posterity. De Agri Cultura, Cato the Elder’s 160 BC farming manual, is not only the earliest example of surviving Latin prose, but a glorified food blog—it includes not one but several recipes for cheesecakes.

CLICK THE LINK for the gastral goodnesses.

Ed. Yes, gastral is a word tht I didn’t make up.

And, I’m not solely responsible for making the word goodnesses up.

Though, continuing my soapboxesque errant ramblings ‘er, barely uninteresting at all thing, someone was responsible for making every word up in the first place.

Therefore, I conclude we’re all free to make up as many words as we wish.

Urban Foxes and Coyotes Learn to Make Nice

Researchers are finding that the two predators, historically enemies, may be learning to get along in the big city.

Under a dim streetlight in Madison, Wisconsin, a woman witnessed a standoff between a fox and a coyote—two predators that have made the city their home. In an email to David Drake, a wildlife researcher at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she described the brief (and, quite frankly, anticlimactic) interaction: For about 15 seconds, they stood face-to-face, about 10 feet apart. They then turned around—and sauntered off in opposite directions.

Since asking the public to help track Madison’s wildlife in 2014, Drake and his team at the Urban Canid Project have received similar anecdotes, with coyotes and foxes coming near each other, but without any incident. Perhaps nothing remarkable to the average observer, but as Drake will tell you, “There’s something unusual going on here in the city.”

In the wild and in the countryside, coyotes are not only bigger than red foxes, but they’re also higher up the food chain. They tend to push weaker competitors out of their territories and will even kill to protect access to limited food sources. So while red foxes exist in the same general area and may even establish homes at the periphery of where coyotes live, they rarely venture into the other predators’ domain.

In cities, though, it looks like they’re learning how to get along. That’s according to Drake’s latest study published in the journal PLOS One. Over the years, foxes and coyotes, like so many other wild species, have settled in the city, and they’re inevitably here to stay. Some animal species have adapted to thrive amid the human-dominated landscape of high-rises, fragmented green space, and heavy traffic. Now, at least in the case of these two wildlife predators, they may be changing their behavioral instincts to coexist with each other—thanks in part to the abundance of food.


Life Lessons

Solitude—being alone—has long been praised as a necessary condition for creativity.

In today’s world, loneliness seems to have reached epidemic proportions. Countless studies have highlighted the serious and negative impact that loneliness has on our health, our sense of well-being, and our ability to thrive in an increasingly chaotic world. Most recently, the urgency of the problem led the UK to appoint a minister for loneliness. Here in the US, winter is a particularly lonely time for elderly Americans.

But loneliness (feeling alone) and solitude (being alone) are not the same thing. And lessons can be learned from those who have found solitude essential for inspiration.


Solitude—being alone—has long been praised as a necessary condition for creativity. Author Virginia Woolf, in her book A Room of One’s Own, offered an extended meditation on the writer’s need for solitude. So did many poets. In their writings, May Sarton (“alone one is never lonely”) and William Wordsworth (“the bliss of solitude”) were especially eloquent in their praise of solitude. Poet Marianne Moore has even argued that “the cure for loneliness is solitude.”

My research on the history of religious hermits shows that there have long been individuals who seek solitude in remote and silent places, and there are many lessons to be learned from them. The etymological history of the word “hermit” is itself telling: “Hermit” comes from an ancient Greek word, “eremos,” that means both a desolate and lonely place and a state of being alone.

Hermits exist in many of the world’s major religious traditions: They are individuals who choose temporary or permanent solitude in remote and isolated locations, such as mountains, caves and deserts. These locations are frequently depicted as sites for revelation and transformation.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

The University of Pennsylvania invented a network of drones that can magnetize themselves to each other and arrange themselves mid-flight to form patterns and structures.

There are few things as “USA, USA” as the jets screaming overhead at the start of the Super Bowl. But making that happen at exactly the climax of the national anthem is a pretty complex logistical challenge, particularly when the formation has three generations of air power flying together: an F-16, an A-10, and a World War II-era P-51.

I wanted to find out how this works first hand, so we headed to Minneapolis and linked up with the Air Force team getting ready to do the flyover of Super Bowl LII from Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station.

It turns out the toughest part of the stadium flyover is the timing. My pilot, Maj. John “Rain” Waters, explained how the process works. Basically, the jets take off early and circle a 12 mile radius around the stadium. The team knows how long it will take to fly to the stadium, and the team inside the stadium Super Bowl knows how long it will take Pink to sing the national anthem.

The trick is to start the approach so you’re flying over just as the singer is belting out “home of the brave.”

Lt. Col. Chris “Nike” McAlear was the Air Force lead inside U.S. Bank Stadium, where the Super Bowl was held. His job was to keep the pilots aware of any schedule changes inside the stadium to make sure they can adjust in time.

It turns out the flyovers have a real military training purpose. Close air support missions require perfect timing on the battlefield, otherwise you might bomb the wrong troops. Stadium flyovers offer the opportunity for pilots to train how to be at a given place at an exact time, a situation that is hard to simulate outside combat conditions. “What this does is forces our pilots to go up there and recalculate speeds and routes,” Waters said.

The Air Force wasn’t able to tell me the exact cost of the flyover, but they did explain that flyovers are typically at no additional cost to the taxpayer (other outlets have estimated the cost of previous flyovers at $450,000) as the funds for the flights come from training budgets.

Donald Trump has many rhetorical tics: insisting that “nobody” can surpass him, reliance on the onomatopoeiac “bing,” and a penchant for saying “billions and billions,” to name just a few.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

e’ve entered an alternative universe where Former President George W. Bush is right about things.

Gloria Copeland, a member of Trump’s evangelical advisory board, says that God is the reason for the (flu) season.

‘Last Week Tonight’ host John Oliver gets a moment alone with Stephen thanks to the Late Show’s ‘personal space’ box.

THANKS to CBS and the Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

Bill recaps the top stories of the week, including White House domestic abusers and President Trump’s desire for a military parade.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) joins Bill to discuss his actions as Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and President Trump’s refusal to release the Democrats’ memo.

In his editorial New Rule, Bill argues that Donald Trump’s illiteracy isn’t his shame – it’s his bond with America.

THANKS to HBO and Real Time with Bill Maher for making this program available on YouTube.

特製の跳び段ボール箱とまる。Maru challenges to the specially made vaulting box.

Max is back to his weaving and destruction.


Cat Bombs: Maybe The Dumbest Idea Of The Middle Ages?

It may look like those animals are wearing jetpacks, but the truth is considerably grimmer. The history of warfare is rich with terrible ideas, but perhaps none are as out-the-gate disastrous as strapping an incendiary device to an enemy house cat and just praying it dutifully runs headlong back to your foe’s fortress.

Instead of plopping down in front of you and licking its butthole until you’re both swallowed by hellfire.

That’s precisely the tactic offered by the author of the 16th-century German manuscript Feuerwerkbuch (Firework Book), who optimistically assumed a cat will sit still long enough to allow you to attach a flaming bag of doom to its back. German artillery specialist Franz Helm described such a tactic in 1530 (translation via The University of Pennsylvania):

If you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well, and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited.

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?