This is a scary development: MIT researchers have developed a "visual microphone system" that can reconstruct sound from silent video. Of course some things are better sound reproducers than others (foil chip bags are terrific, plants rather less so), but given that it essentially allows folks to listen to sound without actually capturing the sound on tape the traditional way, this is the kind of thing that could really do a lot of damage in the wrong hands -- and by "the wrong hands," I pretty much mean "our surveillance-happy government." (I will say that the comments, averse as most of them are to discussing the spying implications, are considerably more intelligent than in most comment sections.)
Ho hum, the newly-Trumpholed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has dropped an investigation into a lender charging triple-digit annual interest rates. Because BIG GUMMINT BAD!!!!!, I suppose. It gets better: the lender in question just so happened to give a few grand to CFPB director Mick Mulvaney's various re-election campaigns in the House, which suggests that Congressfolk really, really can be bought much too cheaply. Oh, and they're going to try to overturn the CFPB's payday lending rule; when I get action alerts, you'll get action alerts.
Consumer Reports instructs us that the Trump Administration's solar panel tariff shouldn't discourage folks from going solar. Regardless of how much money the tariff would cost consumers (Consumer Reports says not much -- it's not like President Trump can put a tariff on installation and labor!), and regardless of the fact that solar subsidies won't be around after 2022 (absent further action from Congress), this much is certain: now is always the right time to do the right thing.
We learn from Diane Dewar at The Conversation that "Medicaid Work Requirements Could Cost the Government More in the Long Run." Long story short: when folks can get coverage through Medicaid, they're more likely to go to the doctor before their health problems become intractable; with Medicaid work requirements shoving over 6 million folks off the rolls, our government will ultimately spend more money, as folks now without Medicaid forego medical treatment until it becomes an ER visit.
Michelle Nickerson -- author of Mothers of Conservatism, which I highly recommend -- interviews Stacie Taranto, author of Kitchen Table Politics, a book about conservative Catholic suburban women's activism in '70s New York state. The '70s saw the first Conservative Party U.S. Senator from New York (James Buckley, brother of William F., Jr.), as you know, so clearly these women had a significant effect on the times, and it's good to be able to understand why some women rejected feminism and the liberalization of the Catholic church. (As an aside, it's a damn shame folks ever thought lowering taxes would "make it less likely that a second income (their own) would be needed," since the two-income family has pretty much been a staple of America since the first Reagan tax-cuts-for-the-rich.)
Finally, former RNC Chair Michael Steele had this to say to "evangelicals" like Tony Perkins who keep giving President Trump "mulligans" and "do-overs" for his misbehavior: "Just shut the hell up and don’t ever preach to me about anything ever again. I don’t want to hear it...After telling me how to live my life, who to love, what to believe, what not to believe, what to do and what not to do and now you sit back and the prostitutes don’t matter? The grabbing the you-know-what doesn’t matter? The outright behavior and lies don’t matter? Just shut up." I recall Mr. Steele arguing against gay marriage in 2009, among other things, but even if his newfound fierce streak is as calculated as his appeasement of extremists was back in the day, his new posture might help awaken like-minded folks, and that wouldn't be a bad thing. There is really nothing "moderate" about letting extremists kick sand in your face, after all.