How Else Did They Think This Would Play Out?

Sometimes, it’s really hard to be sympathetic (boldface mine):

In the highly contentious battle to extinguish public worker rights, Iowa Republicans have attempted a divide-and-conquer approach to pit unions against each other. Their legislation splits public workers into two groups, one that’s “public safety workers,” and one that isn’t. The idea was to strip away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most public employees, but keep most of it for police and firefighters, who are politically more difficult to go after.

It didn’t work….

And several police officers and firefighters warned that Republicans’ plan to create a special “public safety” class for negotiations wouldn’t work in many cases. John Thomas, a police officer from Mitchellville, explained last week that some sheriff’s deputies wouldn’t get classified as “public safety” workers because there’s more jailers and clerks in the bargaining unit. The Republican bill only classifies workers as “public safety” employees if a majority of workers in a bargaining unit is made up of police or firefighters.

That has many police officer[s], who voted for Republicans in large numbers this year, particularly upset.

“It’s collective begging, that’s what it is,” Thomas labeled the bill at a subcommittee hearing. “Half of law enforcement folks I work with are Republicans. And we voted for Republicans because of conservative values. But we didn’t vote for Republicans to get stabbed in the back while we’re trying to dodge cars and bullets.”

…The Iowa House will hold what is likely the last full public hearing on the collective bargaining bill tonight. Republicans are likely to vote it through both chambers quickly this week, just six or seven days after it was officially introduced.

Republicans and conservatives have been vehemently opposed to unions, since, well, the New Deal, if not before. When they weren’t openly opposing unions, it was simple political calculation: there were so many private sector employees in unions, they couldn’t oppose them. How else did they think this would play out? After all, conservatives, as many authors have noted, have always placed capital and management before labor (sometimes Democrats do that as well, but this is a constant for Republicans for decades).

A final point: too often, conservatives rely on Democrats to save them from themselves. You can vote for Republicans because Democrats will block Republican stupidity. Until, of course, there aren’t enough Democrats to do anything about it.

You wanted conservative values in government? Well, now these bozos are going to get it good and hard. Maybe the time to consider this is when you vote.

This has absolutely no significance to national politics. None whatsoever.

Posted in Conservatives, Fucking Morons, Unions | Leave a comment

Links 2/18/17

Links for you. Science:

We now know why mosquitoes find malaria victims so tasty
EPA scientists held back from conference: Cost-cutting or something more?
He vowed to cure cancer. But this billionaire’s moonshot is falling far short of the hype
Donald Trump Just Broadcast a Dangerous Misconception About Autism Rates
What is your Scientific Alignment? (I’m true neutral)


The Confusion Candidate (excellent)
General Jerry Boykin for National Security Adviser?
White House dismisses 6 over failed background checks
Michael Flynn Resigned. Here’s Why He Still Needs to be Investigated.
What Trump Is Doing Is Not O.K.
Ecuador’s Left-Wing Success Story
The Leakers Who Exposed Gen. Flynn’s Lie Committed Serious — and Wholly Justified — Felonies
This is why Democrats lose in ‘rural’ postindustrial America
How the 4000-series, launched in the 1990s, became Metro’s worst-performing car
It’s time to start thinking about a realignment: 2 things for the left to do
Admit it: Trump is unfit to serve
Bannon in Washington: A Report on the Incompetence of Evil
Was Trump really a top student at Wharton? His classmates say not so much
PoP-Ed “Let’s Welcome All Neighbors” by Henri Makembe

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

Anti-Immigrant Sentiment Is Not A Trumpist Phenomenon

It’s a conservative one. I stumbled across an old post I wrote from 2007 about immigration, ““What Is The Real Beef With The Immigration Bill?”“. It could have been written today–nothing has changed. In other words, Trump has tapped into something that was there for a very long time, but this is not something unique to or resulting from Trump.

Anyway, here it is:

So asks Oliver Willis about the Republican base:

As I’ve noted before, I don’t have a really strong position on immigration reform. As the child of immigrants who came here the legit way, I’m troubled by giving a pass of any sort to people who “cut” in line, but I also know it’s kind of dumb to think we’re going to deport all of those people.

I do think its interesting that so much of the Republican elite really doesn’t care what their grassroots think and instead are more interested in giving big industries the cheap labor they want. It’s another version of their abortion and gay marriage strategies where they talk a good game up until election day then forget it all after that.

But why does the Republican base act with so much revulsion at any sort of immigration deal short of closing America?

a) They don’t like hispanics
b) They don’t like all immigrants
c) They’re afraid increased immigration means more Democratic voters?

It’s “a.” From the archives, here’s why:

There are some serious economic concerns about immigration. But let’s not kid ourselves: most of the anger stems from anti-Latino hatred. This weekend’s march for immigrants in LA makes that painfully apparent. Pam at Pandagon does a heroic dive into the shallow end of the gene pool that is the Free Republic commentariat. I went to the site and found some very nice things said about Latinos (Pam has the link; sites with hate-filled bigots should have as few links as possible):

  • Encircle the rally. Move the herd back to Mexico.
  • One thing about being packed in like that in a crowd, ya never know what kind of communicable diseases you are exposing yourself too.
  • It’s officially an invasion now. They’re getting snippy.
    If Americans can’t see that we are being invaded, they’re either blind or don’t care anymore.
  • They weren’t rallying for immigrant rights. They were rallying in favor of anarchy.
  • Today we walked out of a restaurant after a non-speaking illegal came to our table before we did we all told the manager we will NOT be back till all illegals are GONE out of this restaurant!

    We called our lawn service and told them they better not dare send any illegals to work on our lawn.

    We called a foundation company and told them we better not see any illegals working on our foundation or they are so out of here.

    Americans need to take a stand and if you go to a hotel and you see a non english speaking person cleaning your room callthe manager and front desk and have them remove the person immediately.

    Take a stand, boycott all mexican destinations like cozymel.

    If our politicians wont help lets show them where they can work in another country since they decided to insult every American today by waving their flag.

  • Sexual deviants would love for us to become part of Mexico. That way they can watch donkey sex shows and sleep with 12 year old prostitutes.
  • ..I think you can declare it official–California is lost…
  • Initial reports I read said 100,000.
    I don’t know what the right number is, but that picture is downright scary!
  • Invasion? Yup. We gonna do anything about it? Nope.
  • Right there is the cure for the housing crunch and over-crowded schools…

    send’m back across the border.

  • you better believe that. Our problem is that we sit silently and expect our government to do right by the ones who pay our taxes and follow the rules. Meanwhile, this trash bangs a bunch of pots and pans and all of a sudden you have Hillary the bitch Clinton saying that the measures in Congress are anti-whatever. I think until we as American citizens flex our muscles in a serious way, we’re doomed to be on the short end of the stick.
  • I am here in LA waiting for a race riot… Scares the living hell out of me… I am appalled at seeing the sea of Mexican flags… They are very bold and emboldened by their current status… almost entitled… we must stop this and make them respect our country and this must be rammed down the throats of all of the politicians in this country or there will be another civil war..
  • Aliens, waiving the Flag of their country, “demanding to be heard!” Demanding their “Rights!” Wait till ‘Glorious Leader’ arises among those people and ‘demands’ a greater share of the wealth. Closer ever closer comes the Social War. The so called leadership of this country is bankrupt.
  • With all those Mexican flags flying over California today, I’d say the battle is lost.

    Agreed. We’re thinking about relocating to West Virginia and hiding in the mountains. So far, there doesn’t seem to be too many illegals there, from the websites I’ve seen. Anybody know any different?

  • Our Country is crawling with them. Our Mountains here in NC fly so many mexican flags we look like mexico. I got a neighbor 2 doors down who has frikkin roosters in his yard. Disgusting.
  • I am here in LA waiting for a race riot… Scares the living hell out of me… Keep your weapons handy. You may need them. This has all the trappings of 1992 all over again.
  • The late great State of California … drowned in a sea of brown
  • Go the website of the Communist party – USA. They are the biggest boosters of illegal immigration.

    Locally it’s the (CC) Chamber of Commerce acting as liaision between businesses expressing a desire to subvert the law and the citizen’s desire (dare I say “right”?) to have our laws enforced.

    Most recently, we have CP organizers as well, and I’d best leave that crew for another post.

  • Homeless can even register to vote. All they need to do is identify their street corner/location.

    This is NOT an exaggeration–I was amazed when I viewed the official form. [Mad Biologist: Ah, yes. The property requirement for voting…]

  • “I’d just like to say thanks to the illegal alien appologists on this forum. Thanks a whole helll of a lot for helping to make it an iffy situation whether our nation will remain unified.”

    I agree. I wonder what will happen to this country since I see so many people on a CONSERVATIVE site divided on this issue. If they aren’t convinced that this is just the beginning of the end of American life as we used to know it and needs to be stopped ASAP, I don’t hold out hope for the liberal nuts out there either.

After reading through 200 comments, I found eleven that were not bigoted. What I have shown you is a fair sampling of the comments. I posted this vomitous bile to illustrate just how much the Republican Party, despite its protestations to the contrary, relies on unadulterated hatred for political victory. Keep in mind that the Free Republic website receives 100,000 hits per day-this is not some pissant website with ten hits per day.

We can have serious discussions and disagreements on the best immigration policies, but not with hatemongers like these.

Posted in Conservatives, Immigration, Racism | 2 Comments

Links 2/17/17

Links for you. Science:

Sea Turtles Are in Much Worse Shape Than Previously Thought
The anti-vaccine movement is growing dangerously stronger
Broad Institute prevails in heated dispute over CRISPR patents
How the New Climate Denial Is Like the Old Climate Denial
Robert De Niro and RFK Jr. have joined forces to push vaccine nonsense


Is Trump a Populist?
Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists
A last chance to add life to Seaport
The Christian woman who defended Obamacare says she actually wants a single-payer system
“Not Wanted” Jason Chaffetz
Senate Doesn’t Have Plans To Block D.C.’s Death With Dignity Law
President* Trump Can’t Escape This Time
Just Elect Keith Ellison Already
Trump voters deserve understanding and consideration — but not more than any other Americans
The Washington National Cathedral Was Lit Last Night
Democrats bracing for town hall protests directed at them ask Bernie Sanders for help
“Civil Rights Groups” Throw Public Under the Bus on Net Neutrality for Their Big Telco Donors
In California Farm Country, Trump’s Deportation Threat Looms Large
Feds cite D.C. charters for high suspension rates, particularly for black students
Theresa Kereakes’ Intimate Portraits Capture Punk’s Latino Roots in 1970s LA
Republicans Must Own Trump; “Reformers” Must Own DeVos
Can “institutional inertia” save the EPA?
Beauty and the Beast: Donald Trump as the Interior Decorator in Chief

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

PacBio Finally Makes A Move It Desperately Needed To Make

While everyone hunts for the Holy Grail of human genomic sequencing (and other large genome critters), I’ve noted before there’s an obvious, if less sexy, market:

…microbial genomes are cheap, fast, and you can provide epidemiological relevant information to clinical laboratories, hospital networks, and public health departments. I’m not arguing that we will or should sequence everything–and today that’s not feasible–but in two or three years, I don’t see any technical hurdles to routine microbiological surveillance in hospitals. This is something already being done, just with mid-20th century technology.

And I wrote that four years ago, before programs like GenomeTrakr (genomic food-borne microbial surveillance) really got off the ground. We’ve arrived. While Illumina sequencing is very cheap (though the price versus the cost depends greatly on your cost structure model), it’s not likely to get that much cheaper or faster–right now, the major costs are personnel, DNA preparation, and the machine itself. Illumina-sequenced genomes also have problems with contiguity: that is, it’s often hard to tell if genes are linked to each other, especially the clinical relevant stuff, like virulence and antibiotic resistance genes, which are often found on plasmids* that are hard to assemble (#NotAllResistanceGenes…).

However, PacBio is very good for bacterial genomes. Compared to Illumina, it doesn’t produce very much sequence–a problem for large genomes (like boring humans). But bacterial genomes are small, so the technology produces enough sequence per run (we’ll return to this in a moment). PacBio’s large read size means that it’s very possible to assemble bacterial chromosomes and plasmids in their entirely–or at least in a very small number of pieces. The problem, until now, is that, for a single bacterial genome, PacBio produces too much sequence, to the point where the reagent cost (‘the sequencing cost’) is very high per bacterial genome (>$1,000 per bacterial genome).

So PacBio finally released a protocol that enables multiplex sequencing–the ability to sequence multiple bacterial genomes at one time:

This document describes a procedure for multiplexing 5 Mb microbial genomes up to 12-plex and 2 Mb genomes up to 16-plex, with complete genomes assemblies (<10 contigs). The workflow is compatible for both the PacBio RSII and Sequel Systems. 10kb SMRTbell libraries are constructed for each sample through shearing and Exo VII treatment before going through the DNA Damage Repair and End-Repair steps. After End-Repair, barcoded adapters are ligated to each sample. Following ligation, samples are pooled, treated with Exo III and VII, and then put through two 0.45X AMPure® PB bead purification steps. Note that size-selection using a BluePippin™ system is not required. SMRTLink v4.0 is utilized to demultiplex and assemble the genomes after sequencing….

For this procedure, the required total mass of DNA, after pooling, is 1 – 2 μg. Therefore, the required amount of sheared DNA, per microbe, going into Exo VII treatment is 1 μg divided by the number of microbes. For example, in a 12-plex library, 1 μg ÷ 12 microbes = 83 ng of sheared DNA is needed for Exo VII treatment.

Translated into English, you can sequence 12 E. coli at once, or 16 Camplyobacter. This makes the sequencing cost per bacterium very affordable. The quality of these genomes, if they’re similar to previous PacBio bacterial genomes, is quite high, both in terms of contiguity (figuring out where the genes are relative to each other) and sequence accuracy (the latter, as best as I can tell, is still a problem for Oxford Nanopore).

This is a good move for PacBio, and a pretty interesting development for bacterial genomics, especially if you’re interested in plasmids and genome architecture.

Plasmids are small, ‘mini-chromosomes’ that often can move from bacterium to bacterium, and which can also carry antibiotic resistance genes–making them medically important (though other plasmids are equally cool). Like bacterial genomes, they are a circle of DNA (in most cases…)

Posted in Genomics | 3 Comments

Links 2/16/17

Links for you. Science:

Scientists discover pollution 10,000 meters below the ocean’s surface in the Mariana Trench
5 possible futures for the EPA under Trump
How a minor committee became a ‘weapon’ of the climate wars
A millionaire’s mission: Stop hospitals from killing their patients by medical error
This Beetle Bites an Ant’s Waist and Pretends to be Its Butt


As a Christian, I defended Obamacare. But I really support single-payer.
Self-Described Liberals And Democrats Had Lots of Gay Friends
The DNC road show came to Baltimore
The Forgotten History of U Street
Universities didn’t “turn left”; they stayed committed to rational thought. It was the right which turned imbecile.
From a friend in Texas, the real results of anti-immigrant policy
A Political Opening for Universal Health Care?
This Is Not America
House committee moves to block D.C.’s assisted-suicide law (when you make Rep. Issa look good, you’re doing something very wrong)
This is what school buses looked like in 1934
Hundreds Of Washingtonians Plot To Keep Meddlesome Congress’s ‘Hands Off D.C.’
Sympathy For The Staff
Management team at Kramerbooks quits as new owner’s changes take hold
Mass sexual assaults by refugees in Frankfurt ‘completely made up’
Trump, asked about anti-Semitism, brags about election victory
Should Democrats team up with Wall Street to fight Trump? Hell no.
Some are wondering why historical comparison this cartoon tries to make is so wrong-headed. Let me try to explain.

Posted in Lotsa Links | Leave a comment

A Small Example Of The Scientific Infrastructure Crisis: The Karst Edition

Despite what is commonly depicted in books, television, and movies, the state of much of our scientific infrastructure is threadbare:

One of the ridiculous things about many depictions of science in TV and movies is the notion that there’s this huge infrastructure: shiny labs (which are always neat and spacious), high-tech this and that, and an army of workers to solve a problem. The reality is that much of our scientific knowledge in any subdiscipline is held by a few people who are operating on shoestring budgets with inadequate resources. To put it bluntly, we often lose considerable knowledge and materials when an older faculty member or researcher dies or retires (in my own subdiscipline of microbiology, there are several valuable collections that would be lost if a single freezer broke for an extended length of time).

Today’s example has to do with the unique and rapidly vanishing limestone karst habitat in Cambodia (boldface mine):

Cambodia has almost no botanists and the study of plants in the country came to a standstill from 1970 to 1992 during an extended period of war and unrest punctuated by the trauma of the Khmer Rouge takeover from 1975 to 1979.

The country’s main herbarium is a single room at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. It houses about 12,000 specimens, many of which have not been inventoried and are simply piling up on shelves. They are meant to be kept cool and dry by two air-conditioners, but one air-conditioner is broken and there is no money to fix it.

“You talk about a herbarium in another country and it should be very big, but this is just one room,” said Ith Saveng, who runs the university’s Center for Biodiversity Conservation. “We hope to expand to another room within the next two years.”

Rare plants found in karsts have to be shipped to Vietnam so better-trained scientists can do the precise work of matching species to species.

A small amount of money could very easily have a huge effect on our understanding of biodiversity. But, as we’ve noted many, many, many times, much of our scientific infrastructure is very fragile.

And we are long gone and forgotten, it’s these sorts of facilities that are future generations’ patrimony.

Posted in Funding, Museums etc., Plants | 2 Comments