Photo of the day

From an In Focus post on caves and tunnels.  I love tunnel boring machines.  So cool.

The cutting head of “Bertha,” the massive tunnel boring machine currently stopped underground near downtown Seattle while waiting for repairs, at the bottom of a 120-foot access pit after a 270-ton section of the front shield was removed and lifted to the surface with a crane on March 19, 2015. The piece is the first of several big crane lifts that will be needed to bring the cutting head and other parts to the surface to complete repairs on the machine, which was digging a 1.7-mile highway tunnel as a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

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Quick hits (part II)

1) Dana Milbank on just how radical Republicans have gotten and how quickly it’s been happening.

2) One way I end up with quick hits is by often having 20+ browser tabs open Chrome.  Sometimes when the wrong tabs are open, the whole computer slows to a crawl.  Now I understand why, and even better, Google is fixing the problem.  Also no more ads just randomly playing when the tab has been sitting open for hours.  Already installed the Beta..

3) Yes, Ted Cruz is an idiot, but unfortunately, politicians all too rarely make the straightforward and sincere apology when they screw up, as Cruz has done in the case of Joe Biden.

4) Some great satire from the New Yorker on (fictitious) Republican attempts to use a toddler’s temper tantrum in the Oval Office for political gain.

5) Steve Benen on a Congressional hearing this week and the phony Republican arguments on King v. Burwell.

Just once, I want to hear an ACA critic admit what is plainly true: King v. Burwell is a brazenly stupid con, but they’re playing along with the charade because they really hate the president and his signature domestic policy initiative.
Pretending the case is anything but a laughingstock is, at this point, simply impossible.

6) Best way for doctors to be sued less for malpractice?  Be more open with and talk to their patients more.  Of course, I’ve known this for years ever since reading The Medical Malpractice Myth upon Kevin Drum’s recommendation of it.

7) Yet more on the state of Kansas reaping the fruits of its tax cuts.  Of course, now they are looking to raise taxes in the most regressive manner possible via increased sales tax.  That’s some redistribution for you.

8) Really enjoyed this Monkey Cage piece on political fact-checking and when it works and when it doesn’t:

What fact-checking does best is reduce or prevent inaccurate political rhetoric and may be most effective during primary races. The growing effort is helping to shape what politicians say and whether their partisans take those statements on faith or with facts.

Political fact-checking can’t do everything. The old line “I know what I believe, don’t confuse me with the facts” accurately sums up how stubbornly people can hold onto their most cherished convictions.

9) Given the choice, chimpanzees prefer cooked food.  And on a tenuously related note, I really enjoyed finally seeing “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” yesterday.  Andy Serkis is awesome.

10) Do feminists need to take women’s sports more seriously?  Maybe.  Though, I’m not sure I buy the premise that America’s sports fans would love women’s sports more if they just got more media coverage.

11) Fascinated by this story of the first ever skull and scalp transplant.

12) So, the main point of this essay was about teaching your kids to support causes even if you don’t believe in the cause.  But I was floored to learn that many people oppose Autism Speaks because they are trying to end autism.  That’s nuts!

13) Why America never adopted the metric system (or at least why not when everybody else first did it).  And I’d never heard this part before.

14) Interesting piece on why Obama should offer Snowden a deal:

Did he expose violations of law? Check. Last month, a federal appeals court held that the phone records collection program was illegal. Did he reveal abuses of authority? Check. The NSA’s inspector general has acknowledged dozens of incidents in which employees tracked phone calls and emails of former girlfriends, objects of romantic interest, or in one case an “unfaithful husband.” Did he point out gross mismanagement? Check. The mere fact that Snowden was able to walk out with a treasure trove of top-secret information more or less proves the point. Did Snowden bring to light the waste of public funds? Quite possibly, check again. The government has provided no evidence that the costly program has prevented a single terrorist attack.

Unfortunately for Snowden, the Whistleblower Protection Act contains a major exception: It does not apply to people who work for intelligence agencies, including the NSA. The Justice Department maintains that Snowden’s actions fall under a very different kind of law, the draconian and anachronistic Espionage Act of 1917. The Whistleblower Protection Act protects you as long as you believe you are doing right in leaking information about government wrongdoing to the press—even if you are wrong. The Espionage Act treats you as a traitor even if you acted with patriotic intent, as Snowden convincingly claims to have done—and even if you are right.

The chasm between the government’s encouragement of some whistleblowing and its severe punishment of other whistleblowing constitutes the limbo in which Snowden finds himself.

15) Scientists can calculate your risk of dying in the next five years based on 13 questions.  I’m as likely to die in the next five years as a British (that’s the population studied) 16-year old.

16) Woman almost dies from a broken bat.  I don’t go to baseball games much anymore, but when I do, you better believe I sit behind the net or well clear of the area quick-flying foul balls and broken bats go.

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