kmusser: (Buddy Christ)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments:, new since last week include Agriculture. Hearings are happening this week, though GOP is caving to pressure to delay some some of them (source).

Friday 1/13
  • Abortion ban introduced in Congress (source).
  • Congress threatens to cut security of embassies until Israel embassy moved to Jerusalem (source)

Monday 1/16
  • DJT describes NATO as obsolete, European leaders are concerned (source).
  • DJT claims to have Obamacare replacement plan (source).
  • Ethics chief threatened by GOP for doing his job (source).
  • DJT open to lifting sanctions against Russia (source).

Tuesday 1/17
  • Tom Price (health secretary nominee) accused of insider training, Betsy BeVos (education secretary nominee) hearing set to go ahead despite her not completing ethics review (source).
  • Betsy DeVos ok with de-funding public education, doesn't know anything about our education system, also kids might need guns because of bears (source).
  • UK sabotaging Middle East peace process to please Trump (source).

Wednesday 1/18
  • Congress aiming to repeal DC local laws including gun control, abortion access, and euthanasia rights (source)
  • Trump team planning some dramatic budget cuts (source)

Thursday 1/19
  • DJT wants military parades (source).
  • Transition team asking Virginia about potential toll roads (source)

Friday 1/20
  • Inauguration day - if Trump does a bunch of day 1 stuff I'll do a special update for it, otherwise see you next week.
kmusser: (bookpimp)
Covering the 2nd half of 2016:

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie - This book won a ton of awards and deservedly so, some great world building and the best revenge tale since the Count of Monte Cristo. The lead character is a spaceship AI that manages to survive the destruction of its ship and is on the hunt those that betrayed it. Highly recommended, even to people that aren't normally sci-fi fans.

Fix by Ferrett Steinmetz - Book 3 of his 'Mancer books and a great conclusion, this is a trilogy that ups its game with every book, the story goes in some unexpected, but very satisfying directions. As with the others recommended for urban fantasy lovers, though definitely read them in order.

Merchant Princes, books 1 through 6 by Charles Stross - Stross' series about alternate dimensions and a select group of people that can travel between them and our Earth, coming from a world with only a medieval tech level and ruling it by stealing tech from ours. Things start to get complicated when the worlds discover each others existence as well as a 3rd steampunkish version of our world. Very different from his Laundry series, they lack the humor, but add lots of intrigue and some fantastic world building - this series would make a great RPG setting. Whether you like/dislike the Laundry books not necessary a good indication of whether you'd like these or not. Recommended for folks that like fantasy or alt history with a lot of political intrigue.

Manleigh Cheese by James Crawford - some good urban fantasy set in DC as a food truck crew gets caught up in supernatural shenanigans involving fae. I like this more than Crawford's zombie books, the tone is a lot lighter and more fun and as a local I appreciated the local setting.

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson - I guess I been on an urban fantasy kick, this is another good one set in a not quite post-apocalypse Toronto as a poor Afro-Caribbean woman gets some supernatural assistance from the Loa in taking on the city boss.

Hamilton by Ron Chernow - yes, I've succumbed to all things Hamilton and that includes reading the biography that inspired the show. This is a big book, but still pretty easy reading, Chernow's style is very engaging - and since Hamilton is involved in nearly everything, this makes a nice review of the founding of our country, though I will say it doesn't paint a very flattering picture of Jefferson. Definitely recommended.

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson - a near-future sci-fi about a group of folks surviving in a space station as the Earth is destroyed, a interesting premise, but I found the writing to be very dry, more like I was reading a history about the events taking place than a novel.

Key Out of Time by Andre Norton - a time travel story in which agents get trapped in the past on an alien world and help rally the locals to fight an interstellar threat, feels a bit dated now, but still a fun read.
kmusser: (Angry God)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments:, new since last week include VA secretary and naming Kushner, Trumps son-in-law, as senior advisor. Hearings are happening this week, though GOP is caving to pressure to delay some some of them (source). So far most of Trump's nominees have sought to distance themselves from Trump.

From last week

Tuesday 1/10
  • Anti-vaxxer put in charge of "vaccine safety" (I could not make this shit up if I tried) (source).
  • Intelligence agencies investigating reports that Russia has blackmail material on Trump (WP, NYT) - Full text of the allegations - note these are unconfirmed, it could very well be fictional, but that's some impeachment level material if true. 4chan users are claiming credit for making up the "golden showers" story (source). Allegations are of course denied by both Trump and Russia.
  • GOP plan to repeal Obamacare immediately not going so well, Ryan changes plan and now says repeal will be paired with replacement (source)
  • Summary of Jeff Session's Attorney General hearings (nothing too surprising here).

Wednesday 1/11

Thursday 1/12

  • GOP moves to de-fund the U.N. (source).
  • Despite link from Tuesday, Senate goes ahead and takes next step in Obamacare repeal without a replacement, passing budget resolution (source). (Only Rand Paul breaks ranks, thank you Rand).
  • Tillerman lies in hearings about never lobbying for Russia. (source).
  • NSA relaxes rules for data sharing (source). (note this will get flipped if Congress does their reverse all regulations from the last 60 days trick).
  • U.S. intelligence officials tell Israeli's to be careful what they share with us as it might get leaked to Russia and Iran (source).
  • Paul Ryan waffling on immigration (source)

Maps of the week:
kmusser: (V)
Just going with bullet points this year:

  • I mostly failed to come out of hermit mode, will keep trying.
  • The finances have mostly recovered though, only travel out of state was a jaunt up to the Finger Lakes and one Chicago trip, but I'm hoping this year will have more.
  • I did succeed in reading more, will do a book update soon, but currently on Chernow's Hamilton biography which is great.
  • The year was obviously dominated by the train wreck of an election, the effects of which are just getting started, I'll be keeping up my little news summaries.
  • In gaming still addicting to EU IV, Stellaris and Civ failed to de-throne it. For board games, most played new game is probably Orleans.
  • So many celebrity deaths - first up on this years see them before they leave us list is Aretha Franklin.
  • Cubs win!
  • Faire without Pyrates :-(
  • Brunswick gains its own brewery!
  • Changes at work as my boss has been busy fighting cancer, the rest of us have had to pick up some of the slack, still going good though and hoping work can survive the Trump years as we did the Bush ones, just laying low and keep collecting data without calling too much attention to ourselves. On the plus side did a handful of freelance projects, so might increase that if thinks turn south.
  • A lot of change and 2017 promises more, one thing reading history has taught me is that our country has faced worse and survived, just hoping it can do so again.
kmusser: (Info whores)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments: - hearings begin this week, before background reviews are complete (source) Hearing schedule is here, note many are simultaneous to make following them more difficult.

Friday 1/6

  • All U.S. ambassadors being withdrawn by inauguration day (normally they stay on until their replacements are approved) (source).

  • Congress looking to get started on that wall (and shockingly it would be U.S. taxpayers, not Mexico paying for it) (source)

  • Full report on Russian interference in the election.

  • House passes REINS act which would require congressional approval for all major regulations, act is unlikely to pass senate though (source)

Sunday 1/8

  • WP article on Trump's non-cabinet advisors, who are not subject to conflict of interest laws (source)

Monday 1/9

  • If Trump signs that bill rolling back the last 60 days of regulations the House passed last week, he'll also be signing away a chunk of his executive power to Congress (source).

  • Major Senate votes planned for Wednesday (simultaneous with cabinet hearings), mostly on the stuff the House passed last week, including Obamacare repeal. (source).

kmusser: (Londo)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments: - updates from last week include the U.S. trade representative, SEC. Hearings to begin next week (more on the hearings schedule).

Monday 1/2
  • House Republicans vote to downgrade Ethics Office, placing it under the (GOP controlled) Ethics committee rather than an independent bipartisan office and stripping it of most of its power (source). DJT and Paul Ryan criticize move. House Republicans reverse course the next day (source).

Tuesday 1/3
  • House votes in rule change to value all Federal land as $0, making it easier to sell off (source)
  • House approves rule allowing bill that would undo all Federal regulations done in the last 60 days en masse and proceeds immediately to pass said bill (source).
  • Full text of rule changes including the ones above and the ethics office business are at, also includes the rule forbidding any photography or video from the floor of the House and a bunch of rules limiting government spending, with explicit exceptions if that spending is somehow related to repealing Obamacare or the regulations mentioned above.

Wednesday 1/4

Thursday 1/5
  • House approves rule that would allow representatives to withhold pay from individual Federal employees (source).
  • Hearings on Russian hacking begin today, Trump still in denial. (source)
  • Trump plans on shrinking intelligence agencies (source)

Maps of the week:
  • Since we visited Mt. Vernon last week. Here's a map drawn by the General himself during his surveying days.
kmusser: (Vader)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments: - updates from last week include HHS, homeland security advisor.

Saturday 12/24
  • Trump's charity to shut down (source)

Sunday 12/25
  • Merry Christmas

Thursday 12/29
  • Obama issues sanctions against Russia, Trump still skeptical, but will meet with intelligence officials (source). Russia declines to retaliate.

Maps of the week:
  • Click for larger version, this is one of my own maps, which should be on display in the Old Post Office observation tower whenever they finally finish renovations.
kmusser: (Freedom)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks and other appointments: - updates from last week include OPM, CIA, White House Counselor, National Trade Council, press secretary, and an advisor on regulatory reform.

Saturday 12/17
  • Followup on drone taken by China and negotiations for its return (source) and it is resolved (and was before DJT tweeted out his insults, which he would've known if he bothered to receive his intelligence briefings).

Monday 12/19
  • Electoral college makes Trump's win official

Thursday 12/22
  • DJT tweets support for Israel's west bank settlements
  • DJT tweets that he wants more nukes
  • Trump team asks State dept. to turn over all "gender-related staffing, programming, and funding" information (source)
  • Trump team gathering information about where to put their Mexico wall (or maybe just a fence) (source)

Maps of the week:

kmusser: (Cryptic Bastard)
And the evening commute, just to keep things even:

I'd Still be the Same - Dulaham
Further on up the Road - Eric Clapton
Whip It - Devo
Born Under a Bad Sign - Koko Taylor & Buddy Guy
Leaving on a Jet Plane - Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
Lots of Drops of Brandy - The Chieftains
Pick a Bale of Cotton - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Balto - Enter The Haggis
Heist - Lindsey Stirling
Rescue Me - Bell Book & Candle
Our House - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Over the Mountain - The Glengarry Bhoys
Putting the Damage On - Tori Amos
Crawling King Snake - The Doors
The Saga Begins - Weird Al
One Small Girl - Once On This Island London Cast
The Abduction from the Seraglio - Mozart
Let It Go - The Piano Guys
I Shot the Sheriff - Eric Clapton
I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash
If I Could Reach Your Heart - Cirque de Soleil
Kilted Yaksmen Anthem - Ren & Stimpy
Circle - Sarah McLachlan
kmusser: (Cryptic Bastard)
This morning's commute:

Delirious - Prince
Boyko Dream - Scythian
Trust in Me - Etta James
Lancaster Gate - Enter the Haggis
Can't Help You Anymore - Sugar
You Spin Me Round - Dead or Alive
Love Shack - The B-52's
Tell Mama - Etta James
Miss Gordon of Park medley - Bonnie Rideout
Galway Girl - Brian Gaffney
Cruel - Tori Amos
Quicksilver - The Cruxshadows
Boozin' - John DuRant
Beaver Slide Rag - Slimpickins
I'm Not Your Stepping Stone - The Monkees
Running Two - Franka Potente (Run Lola Run)
So This Is Love - Disney (Cinderella)
Told You So - Barenaked Ladies
The Longships - Enya
Dean Cadalan Samhach - Capercaillie
Virus Alert - Weird Al
500 Miles - Peter, Paul & Mary
kmusser: (Info whores)
Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks: - updates from last week include Secretary of State, Energy, Interior, White House Counsel, ambassador to Israel

Last week

  • Bipartisan board overseeing Voice of America and related stations to be dissolved and replaced by a president appointed CEO. (source, WP explanation)

Friday 12/9

Monday 12/12
  • Insults between DJT and China continue (source).
  • via twitter, DJT delays promised press conference on finances, restates that he'll leave business to children (who are on the transition team), but not do a blind trust

Tuesday 12/13
  • In depth Newsweek piece connects DJT's foreign policy calls and his international business interests (source)
  • DJT wants to fire NATO official (source).
  • Scientists are copying their data to non-government computers so that the administration can't delete it (source and yes, I've done likewise).
  • DJT threatens the careers of any electors that defect (source)

Wednesday 12/14
  • NYTimes in depth article on the Russian hacking, if you are unsure of what exactly was hacked, how, and how we know it was Russia, read this (source).

Thursday 12/15
  • GOP Freedom Caucus release a hit list of specific regulations they are targeting to get rid of (source, go directly to the list - I won't lie to you, it's pretty horrifying, the WP article only scratches the surface and missed little things like removing Net Neutrality - I have my paraphrasing of the full list at the bottom of this post).
  • Not really related to Trump/Pence, but in NC the GOP is stripping the governor's office of much of its power since a democrat won said office. (source)
  • DJT tweets continued denial of Russian involvement in the election
  • DJT wants to create "safe zones" in Syria, unclear what he means by that

Friday 12/16
  • Congressman floats idea of national surveillance program targeting Muslims after meeting with Trump (source)
  • China seizes U.S. vessel in South China Sea (source)

Non-U.S. news
  • Aleppo has fallen to the Syrian government, before the civil war Aleppo was Syria's largest city, its loss is a major blow to the Syrian rebels and a big win for Assad and Putin.

Map of the week:

Full GOP hit list )

kmusser: (Info whores)

Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks: - updates from last week include Defense, HUD, EPA, Labor and the theme of choosing people opposed to the basic mission of the agencies they are to lead continues. (WP noticed that too). Dems concerned about how many are military (source). What a Trump cabinet interview is like.

Saturday 12/3
  • DJT has made a series of flippant phone calls to world leaders, NYT round up, Chinese protest call from Taiwan (source)

Sunday 12/2
  • DJT tweet support for 35% tariff, GOP and Pence not exactly on board (source1, source 2)

Monday 12/5
  • DJT tweets more insults at China in case they didn't get the message.
  • Obama leaves Trump a book entitled "Using Military Force for Dummies" (source).
  • Trump team forming a pro-Trump lobbying group (source).

Wednesday 12/6
  • Union boss factchecks DJT on Carrier deal, gets threats in response (source).

Thursday 12/8
  • GOP to investigate Russian tampering with elections (source)

Maps of the week:
CIA released a batch of declassified maps from over the decades
NYT summary about a new app mapping global water change

kmusser: (Info whores)
Stickied until the inauguration: Status of cabinet picks: (note, except for Bannon and Priebus, picks are unofficial until the inauguration, and afterwards will require senate approval before going into effect)

Last week
  • Trump is ignoring intelligence briefings (Pence is not) (source)
  • GSA is looking into issues with Trump's DC Hotel lease regarding conflict of interest (source)
  • FEC reports campaign finance violations (source)
  • NYT documents Trump's financial conflicts of interest internationally (source) BBC has more (source) WP has more on his stock holdings (source)

Sunday 11/27
  • DJT tweets baseless allegations of widespread election fraud.

Monday 11/28
  • DJT tweets threats at Cuba because reasons
  • DJT and team continue to simultaneously argue there was widespread voter fraud and that recounts are unnecessary. (source)
  • Dems call for investigatations into DJT finances (source)

Tuesday 11/29
  • DJT tweets shit on the 1st amendment, floats idea of stripping people of citizenship
  • SPLC documents post-election hate incidents (source)

Wednesday 11/30
  • DJT announces news conference for 12/15 to discuss his business arrangements
  • Trump/Pence bribe a factory in Indiana to stay put with tax breaks. (source)
  • Supreme Court hearing arguments on whether immigrants can be detained indefinitely/ have due process rights (source)
  • FBI gets expanded hacking abilities (source)

Thursday 12/1
  • DJT issues vague threats at companies that attempt to offshore (source).

Map of the week:

from Their algorithm did a few weird things, but still a cool looking map.

What is this?

This is the first of what will be a weekly post summarizing news about the Trump/Pence administration. My goal is to post only news/investigative journalism pieces, no op-eds, the only opinions/snark here will be mine (you’re welcome to post your own in the comments, though note that insults at your fellow commenters will be summarily deleted). I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up, but I hope to at least make it through the first 100 days, speaking of which I’ll specifically be on the lookout for actions related to implementing Trump’s 100 day plan. If you feel I’ve missed some important news, by all means let me know and I’ll add it (provided it follows the news, not opinion, rule and comes from a reliable source). Sources I check regularly include New York Times, Washington Post, BBC, Al-Jazeera, Trump’s twitter, and my own social media feeds.
kmusser: (V)
Ok, I've had a few days to think about the election.

To anyone who says it's going to be ok - maybe, but I doubt it. Part of the fear is having no idea what Trump will actually do since almost everything he says is a lie, but a bigger part is knowing that if at this point he decides to go full fascist1 there is no one that is going to stop him, and so far he appears to be following in Mussolini's footsteps.

I've seen a lot of posts pointing blame. Third party voters are not to blame, about 2% of the electorate votes third party every election, and despite the added press they got this time around, they did not get significantly more votes - there's no reason to think those voters would vote anything other than third party. The electoral college is not to blame, our presidential elections have never been a straight popular vote and both sides know the rules our elections operate under - at any rate the electoral college is not going anywhere. It boils down to we lost because we didn't convince enough voters that electing a racist, sexist, fascist asshole with poor impulse control was a monumentally bad idea. That should have been an easy sell, but Trump proved the better salesman.

I think a big part of that failure is that we don't talk to people that don't already agree with us. I've seen a lot of people asking for anyone who voted for Trump to leave their lives, I think that's a mistake. We need to convince more folks. It's hard to convince anyone that fear and anger aren't the answers or that immigrants and minorities are not the causes of their troubles if we don't talk. I refuse to tar all Trump supporters with his sins. I don't think most of them are really Trump fans, but they feared Clinton more, or just wanted to send a "fuck you" to Washington. I think they made a big mistake, but they're never going to see that if they are ostracized. Note this is not a call for unity (fuck appeasement) or a call to ignore bigotry, it absolutely should be called out whenever we see it - and if Trump supporters want us to believe they're not all bigots they need to join us in denouncing it. You don't need to be friends, this is simply a call to keep the lines of communication open2 3, even with people who disrespect you, because if we don't, how is that ever going to change? Some of my friends are literally in fear for their lives, either because the ACA could be repealed and they'd be denied health care, or from hate crimes from bigots that feel they don't have to hide any longer (a lot of specific incidents being passed around on facebook are false, but yes this is happening). Trump supporters need to know this, they need to see and hear about the consequences of their votes.

What to do next? Those of us with privilege enough to do so should help protect those most likely to bear the brunt of Trump's presidency, give to organizations that help immigrants, minorities, and women; support their businesses, bear witness and help if they're attacked. Don't be silent. To that end know that my house is a safe haven to anyone that should need it. Watch this administration, don't let our rights disappear without notice, a free press will likely be one of the first to go. Hope that none of this will prove necessary, but prepare in case it is.

1 I'm not using fascist as an insult here, if you don't know what fascism actually is I suggest you read up on it, because that is what we are facing.
2 oh lord, I'm agreeing with Glenn Beck, shoot me now.
3 and I know we need our safe spaces too, I'm not saying every channel should be open, just that if you close your bubble completely, no one will hear you.
kmusser: (weird map)
The book on the Trans-Siberian Railway which features a bunch of my maps has been released. Should you have any interest in such a thing you can buy it at Sample maps under the cut (and I think they came out very nice if I do say so myself).
Maps! If you want more than this, than buy the book. )
kmusser: (Cryptic Bastard)
If you grew up in Chicago then Mike Royko was a household name, he was a daily columnist for various Chicago papers, writing from 1963 to 1997 - that's a lot of columns, over 7,000 in all. I've been reading a collection of his best columns and find it fascinating, it's like diving into a time capsule, having the same person writing about seeing Jackie Robinson play up to criticizing the Gulf War. His early columns especially were new to me and I had not realized how early he started calling out racism, reading those were reminders of both how far we've come and how far we still have to go. Also interesting to see his writing change, those early columns often contained casual misogyny which mostly disappeared in the later ones. Anyway, definitely recommended, there are some excepts online at, the 2nd one there is the Jackie Robinson one, which was one of my favorites.
kmusser: (bookpimp)
Almost a year since my last book post, so time to update you on what I've been reading, lots of good stuff, starting with the most recent:

magic and science and time travel, new and old under the cut )

And the ridiculously long to be read list, what should I read next? )
kmusser: (V)
So sometime, back in the middle of our moving attempt, I lost much of my music collection due to two hard drives failing. It's been a slow process of re-building it, re-ripping most of my CDs, but it's finally done - and then the ipod died, but that's been fixed too. Today I got to listen to my own music collection on my commute for the first time in over a year (very thankful I had Hamilton to tide me over in the meantime). Today's random playlist:

Kepplehall/25kts - Capercaillie
Captain America - Ashley MacIsaac
Fonn - Salsa Celtica
Evil Hearted Me - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Jump at the Sun - Scythian
Red House - Buddy Guy
Let My Love Open the Door - Pete Townshend
Jacobites - Scythian
What Child is This - Rowan and the Rose
Full of Grace - Sarah McLachlan
Mi Secreto - Leonardo Paniagua
Sanctuary - Alan Menken
The Leaving of Liverpool - The Hooligans
Idiot Boyfriend - Jimmy Fallon
Kokomo - The Beach Boys
The Dusty Miller - The Chieftains
My Back Door - Melissa Etheridge
Almost the Ocean - Kat Savery
No Title Boogie - Hubert Sumlin
She Moves On - Paul Simon
Wicked Ways - Garbage
Dance the Cultists - HP Lovecraft Historical Society
Temperance - Roosevelt Dime
kmusser: (V)
Prince is dead. That sentence doesn't even make any sense. Yesterday it simply did not compute, there is always Prince. Since I started being aware of pop music, sometime in the mid 80's, anyway (thanks to MTV). Then I went to college. I'm pretty sure going to college in Minnesota in the early 90's and being a Prince fan is synonymous. For parties Purple Rain was the traditional closing song. For the long drive to and from Chicago I played Graffiti Bridge on repeat. I have many fond memories of First Avenue. His music is such a staple of my life, I can't imagine it not being there. He was on my bucket list to see live and I figured I had plenty of time. Today has been a little better, I've been able to watch some of the tributes being shared without being a complete mess.

1991 Video Music Awards

1997 Prince with the Muppets

2004 Acoustic set

2004 While My Guiter Gently Weeps

2004 Chapelle's "Basketball" skit

2005 NAACP Award

2007 SuperBowl

2016 Hamilton tribute

2016 Minneapolis tribute


kmusser: (Default)

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