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“Donald Trump is the literal opposite of Fred Rogers.”

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I posted that earlier to my facebook feed, and I’ll be honest…  When I did it I was kind of hoping it would encourage my friend who studied the life of Fred Rogers extensively to chime in because I knew he would have something pertinent to say.  I was not wrong.  


“Fred Rogers had such a huge problem with both Regan (who he programmed his show against) and Bush Jr. (The latter of which is much more complicated as they had a relationship that tested Fred’s boundaries.) that I can’t say “I can’t imagine how Fred would react” I know how Fred would react based on his interactions with the lesser evils of Reagan and Bush:

1. Had he not been retired, he would have themed weeks specifically against what Trump was putting in the news cycle. When Trump mocked a disabled reporter he’d have a week on disability and inclusion, when Trump promoted sexual assault, he’d program a week on respect and physical boundaries, when he bad mouthed women he’d have strong women on for a week. Fred would have travelled to do a week on Mexico and he would have moved in an Islamic neighbor.

I know this for a fact because these are the actions he took with Regan both with his “conflict weeks” and his traveling to Russia for remotes during the Cold War.

2. Fred would have attended events Trump invited him to but he would do so on his terms. He would participate in these events as well as long as it was on his terms. Because Fred would rather speak truth into those spaces then avoid them. But Fred would not accuse, he would just bear truth, refuse to be seen as supporting an evil and exit.

This is what he did to respond to the love the Bush family had for him and his work. He even offered prayer at one of their fundraisers: but it was a challenging prayer, one insisting that those in power and privilege use that for the least of these and especially children. After delivering that prayer Fred exited the building and sat outside like a kid after soccer practice waiting for his ride, spurning the thousands of dollars a plate dinner not even gladhanding with the bushes after.

When asked why he said he had reached the limit of what he could do before becoming an accuser. He wanted to challenge but never accuse as accusation was what Fred associated with the devil.

3. Fred would accept invitations to news programs when those programs allowed him to educate parents on countering the negative things coming from the president for their children. He knew those things affected children so he wanted to spread tools on helping them reject war, violence, hatred, oppression and racism.

He did this during any presidents term if it didn’t prevent him from meeting an obligation to children (he once turned down a spot on Nightline to talk about violence and children, one of his main causes, because he had a visit to an elementary school that same morning and knew he wouldn’t be mentally present for it if he was planning for Nightline in the afternoon.)

So we need to be like Fred. Getting in between children and any normalization of Trumps ways or words. Fred would have been diligently working on how to handle Trump in the land of make believe. Just like when King Friday started building nuclear bombs with money he promised to schools. Yeah Fred wasn’t subtle.” - Rev. Kevin Ireland

So much love for the people who share my love for Mr. Rogers, an actual saint among us for as long as we were blessed to have him.

I don’t believe in angels but I do believe in Fred Rogers.

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6 days ago
Such a valuable story of acting on principal
San Rafael, CA
26 days ago
28 days ago
Providence RI USA
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3 public comments
25 days ago
I sure miss Fred Rogers.
26 days ago
27 days ago
"I don’t believe in angels but I do believe in Fred Rogers."
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Temperature in Oklahoma reaches 99 degrees in mid-February

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A heat-wave hit Oklahoma, sending temperatures into the high 90s. Norman, Oklahoma was 99 degrees F (37 C) on February 11.

From ThinkProgress:

Many people may welcome a temperate day in February, but warm weather in normally cold months disrupts ecosystems. Trees may bloom after an unseasonably balmy spell — and then suffer frost damage when cold weather returns. Flowers may blossom and shed their petals before bees arrive to pollinate them. These minor destabilizations have a ripple effect, impacting flora, fauna, and the industries built around them.

In Oklahoma, the spike in temperature is particularly ironic, given the state’s political climate. [Sen. James "Snowball" Inhofe (R-OK)] is Washington’s most vocal climate denier, having published a book alleging that climate change is a hoax while serving as the ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment Committee.

Image: Mesonet

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9 days ago
Weather is not Climate. But still.
San Rafael, CA
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Trump’s anti-H-1B order won’t be what it seems

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Immigration policy and trade protectionism play large roles in the new Administration of President Donald Trump. With the goal of Making America Great Again the new President wants to more tightly control the flow of goods and labor into the USA. Over the last week this has taken the form of an Executive Order limiting travel from seven specific Muslim countries. That order wasn’t well done, wasn’t well explained, has caused lots of angst here and abroad and is at this moment suspended pending litigation. That order is supposedly about limiting terrorism. It will be shortly followed, we’re told, by further Presidential actions limiting abusive labor imports using, specifically, H-1B visas. This time, depending again on how the actual order is interpreted, it might be the right thing to do, because H-1B visa abuse is a very real thing that has hurt American workers.

Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day.

The point of this column is to look at this promised Executive Order (a draft of which can be read here), discuss how it might be misinterpreted by the general media, and decide whether it has a chance of actually accomplishing Trump’s stated goal of increasing employment of qualified American citizens.

The draft doesn’t really say anything specific about the H-1B program. Instead it orders a study of all worker visa programs (this is key as you’ll see below) and directs appropriate agencies to work on changing those visa programs to benefit U.S. employment and economic productivity, which aren’t always one and the same.

I’ve written quite a bit about H-1B abuse and don’t want to have to repeat all that so here are links to my old columns about it no particular order. The short version is high tech employers say there is a shortage of good technical workers so they want to hire from abroad. The truth is that there really isn’t such a labor shortage, it’s all a scam on the part of employers to keep wages and benefits down (there’s a shortage of cheap labor, not labor at a fair price) and the worst part is the foreign workers brought in under H-1B are often worse at their jobs than workers who could have been hired locally. The whole program is a disgrace and Trump was smart to go against it.

But when Trump’s H-1B Order is finally announced, it is doubtful that the information in my last paragraph will be part of the story because much of the press has bought into the company line that there’s a national tech labor shortage. Last week, for example, I heard a Bloomberg News reporter say on TV, “we all know there’s a terrible shortage of technical workers in this country.”

Actually “we all” don’t know that, yet if the idea is laid-down without question or qualification in the lead of a Bloomberg TV story, then that means an Executive Order targeting H-1B abuse is likely to be seen in the wrong light, too. If it seems to be opposing free immigration (being protectionist) then the same people who are (probably rightly) criticizing the current seven country travel ban are likely to see this next Order as doing essentially the same thing. But this time they’ll be wrong and it is important for us to know that.

If you are going to march in support of H-1B visas, at least be informed about the subject of your march, because Bloomberg sure the heck isn’t.

Now the cynic in me just has to speak up, wondering aloud how President Trump will actually spin these changes in employment immigration to somehow benefit both the workers/voters to whom he has made promises and their Big Business bosses, who presumably have somewhat  different objectives?

Channeling President Trump, I think Trump IS going to wack the H-1B program, which will affect mainly Indian IT consultancies, but he’ll leave unchanged the L-1B visa program that allows American companies to shift their employees to America from abroad.

Think about it, in this case with IBM as an example. IBM Global Services sees itself as competing with big H-1B users like Tata and Infosys and an H-1B ban or severe limitation would give IBM — or any similar U.S.-based multinational — an advantage, especially if the L-1B visa program is left untouched. With L-1B, IBM can use its own Indian employees MAKING INDIAN PAY AND BENEFITS to do the work here in the USA. No need to pretend you can’t find an American worker as presently required by H-1B. No need to advertise. No need to pretend you are paying a locally competitive wage.

L-1B visas are hardly ever mentioned in the press yet they are even bigger than H-1B already. It’s worse for American workers than H-1B, too. So what if Trump cuts back or freezes H-1B numbers without touching the (presently unlimited) L-1B program? He’ll still be keeping a campaign promise, yet also working to enrich Big Business at the expense of the very people who voted for him.

We’ll just have to wait and see which way it rolls.

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9 days ago
I'd like to see Cringely's data on H1B abuse. In my experience as a hiring manager in the USA (video games) we couldn't find enough qualified technical candidates period. We had to rely on immigration to supplant the US employee candidates. But that's anecdotal -- I want to see more evidence.
San Rafael, CA
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Spectacular Blade Runner fanfilm, made for less than $1,500

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Julio writes, "Writer and director Christopher Grant Harvey has shot Tears in the Rain, a stunning fan film set in the Blade Runner universe with just a $1,500 budget." Goddamn, that's some badass fanfilm. (more…)

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20 days ago
Good little film. But saying it cost $1500 is a lie. What about all the equipment?
San Rafael, CA
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Every Trump lie will be instantly laundered as headline news

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Yesterday, Donald Trump claimed to have gotten Sprint to bring 5,000 jobs back to America. This claim is false; the jobs have been coming for months. But a lot of media instantly published Trump's claim, many with Trump as the sole source and no reporting or fact-checking whatosever.

Trump and Sprint simply put out PR and everyone rewrote it. Sprint ignored inquiries from reporters who figured it out, only admitting that the jobs were "previously announced" after the company became the story and things started getting hot.

When I reached out to a Sprint spokeswoman asking if the announcement was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal, she copy and pasted the press release I'd sent along with my first email. I responded saying I already had the press release and asked again if this was a direct result of working with Trump or part of a pre-existing deal in place. I tagged Sprint in a tweet about the situation, and it wasn't until after that started getting retweeted that the spokesperson responded.

"This is part of the 50,000 jobs that Masa previously announced," she said. "This total will be a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S."

This is how it's going to be: he lies, and reporters instantly launder the statement into impartial-sounding headlines in the rush to be first. The excuse will be that stenography is journalism.

Get used to this sort of thing:

The New York Times:

Trump Takes Credit for Sprint Plan to Add 5,000 Jobs in U.S.

USA Today:

Trump: Sprint moving 5,000 jobs back to US


Trump Declares Victory: Sprint will create 5,000 U.S. jobs

The New York Times is the only one with a fig-leaf ("takes credit") whose wording winks at the fact that it's hogwash. Some, such as CNN and WaPo, use language that implicitly validate Trump's claim.

Fox News and the Daily Mail do their thing:

Trump announces 8,000 more jobs for American workers
Trump announces 8,000 new jobs for Americans
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57 days ago
So here's the thing. In way this is good. Bear with me here. "Journalists" have been doing this for years, maybe decades, maybe forever. Now that it's so blatant can we hope or expect that some people will start to see through this hogwash everywhere? (Not just with Trump "news"?) What I mean is, could this lead to some more critical thinking en masse around the world?
San Rafael, CA
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Security Risks of TSA PreCheck

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Former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley wrote an op-ed pointing out the security vulnerabilities in the TSA's PreCheck program:

The first vulnerability in the system is its enrollment process, which seeks to verify an applicant's identity. We know verification is a challenge: A 2011 Government Accountability Office report on TSA's system for checking airport workers' identities concluded that it was "not designed to provide reasonable assurance that only qualified applicants" got approved. It's not a stretch to believe a reasonably competent terrorist could construct an identity that would pass PreCheck's front end.

The other step in PreCheck's "intelligence-driven, risk-based security strategy" is absurd on its face: The absence of negative information about a person doesn't mean he or she is trustworthy. News reports are filled with stories of people who seemed to be perfectly normal right up to the moment they committed a heinous act. There is no screening algorithm and no database check that can accurately predict human behavior -- especially on the scale of millions. It is axiomatic that terrorist organizations recruit operatives who have clean backgrounds and interview well.

None of this is news.

Back in 2004, I wrote:

Imagine you're a terrorist plotter with half a dozen potential terrorists at your disposal. They all apply for a card, and three get one. Guess which are going on the mission? And they'll buy round-trip tickets with credit cards and have a "normal" amount of luggage with them.

What the Trusted Traveler program does is create two different access paths into the airport: high security and low security. The intent is that only good guys will take the low-security path, and the bad guys will be forced to take the high-security path, but it rarely works out that way. You have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to take the low-security path.

The Trusted Traveler program is based on the dangerous myth that terrorists match a particular profile and that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we only can identify everyone. That's simply not true. Most of the 9/11 terrorists were unknown and not on any watch list. Timothy McVeigh was an upstanding US citizen before he blew up the Oklahoma City Federal Building. Palestinian suicide bombers in Israel are normal, nondescript people. Intelligence reports indicate that Al Qaeda is recruiting non-Arab terrorists for US operations.

I wrote much the same thing in 2007:

Background checks are based on the dangerous myth that we can somehow pick terrorists out of a crowd if we could identify everyone. Unfortunately, there isn't any terrorist profile that prescreening can uncover. Timothy McVeigh could probably have gotten one of these cards. So could have Eric Rudolph, the pipe bomber at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. There isn't even a good list of known terrorists to check people against; the government list used by the airlines has been the butt of jokes for years.

And have we forgotten how prevalent identity theft is these days? If you think having a criminal impersonating you to your bank is bad, wait until they start impersonating you to the Transportation Security Administration.

The truth is that whenever you create two paths through security -- a high-security path and a low-security path -- you have to assume that the bad guys will find a way to exploit the low-security path. It may be counterintuitive, but we are all safer if the people chosen for more thorough screening are truly random and not based on an error-filled database or a cursory background check.

In a companion blog post, Hawley has more details about why the program doesn't work:

In the sense that PreCheck bars people who were identified by intelligence or law enforcement agencies as possible terrorists, then it was intelligence-driven. But using that standard for PreCheck is ridiculous since those people already get extra screening or are on the No-Fly list. The movie Patriots Day, out now, reminds us of the tragic and preventable Boston Marathon bombing. The FBI sent agents to talk to the Tsarnaev brothers and investigate them as possible terror suspects. And cleared them. Even they did not meet the "intelligence-driven" definition used in PreCheck.

The other problem with "intelligence-driven" in the PreCheck context is that intelligence actually tells us the opposite; specifically that terrorists pick clean operatives. If TSA uses current intelligence to evaluate risk, it would not be out enrolling everybody they can into pre-9/11 security for everybody not flagged by the security services.

Hawley and I may agree on the problem, but we have completely opposite solutions. The op-ed was too short to include details, but they're in a companion blog post. Basically, he wants to screen PreCheck passengers more:

In the interests of space, I left out details of what I would suggest as short-and medium-term solutions. Here are a few ideas:

  • Immediately scrub the PreCheck enrollees for false identities. That can probably be accomplished best and most quickly by getting permission from members, and then using, commercial data. If the results show that PreCheck has already been penetrated, the program should be suspended.

  • Deploy K-9 teams at PreCheck lanes.

  • Use Behaviorally trained officers to interact with and check the credentials of PreCheck passengers.

  • Use Explosives Trace Detection cotton swabs on PreCheck passengers at a much higher rate. Same with removing shoes.

  • Turn on the body scanners and keep them fully utilized.

  • Allow liquids to stay in the carry-on since TSA scanners can detect threat liquids.

  • Work with the airlines to keep the PreCheck experience positive.

  • Work with airports to place PreCheck lanes away from regular checkpoints so as not to diminish lane capacity for non-PreCheck passengers. Rental Car check-in areas could be one alternative. Also, downtown check-in and screening (with secure transport to the airport) is a possibility.

These solutions completely ignore the data from the real-world experiment PreCheck has been. Hawley writes that PreCheck tells us that "terrorists pick clean operatives." That's exactly wrong. PreCheck tells us that, basically, there are no terrorists. If 1) it's an easier way through airport security that terrorists will invariably use, and 2) there have been no instances of terrorists using it in the 10+ years it and its predecessors have been in operation, then the inescapable conclusion is that the threat is minimal. Instead of screening PreCheck passengers more, we should screen everybody else less. This is me in 2012: "I think the PreCheck level of airport screening is what everyone should get, and that the no-fly list and the photo ID check add nothing to security."

I agree with Hawley that we need to overhaul airport security. Me in 2010: "Airport security is the last line of defense, and it's not a very good one." We need to recognize that the actual risk is much lower than we fear, and ratchet airport security down accordingly. And then we need to continue to invest in investigation and intelligence: security measures that work regardless of the tactic or target.

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59 days ago
What if this project isn't about security, but rather gathering information about people?
San Rafael, CA
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2 public comments
49 days ago
I was frustrated when I found that there was a non-trivial fee for getting PreCheck certified. I'm going to take measures to provide extra information and you're going to charge me for it? No thank you
51 days ago
Not to mention that Hawley's suggestion would nullify the whole reason that people sign up for pre-check. I've been "randomly selected" for a more thorough search about two out of the last five times of using pre-check and it's quite annoying
San Diego, CA, USA
51 days ago
In terms of airport security if we return to a pre-9/11 system and just added cockpit doors that lock the whole country would be better off, I think
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