These Are Trump’s 7 ‘Forbidden Words’

Codifying Trumpian Newspeak, the administration has banned the CDC from using seven words, including “transgender,” “diversity” and “fetus.”

Leaving a meeting of top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, a CDC analyst in attendance who spoke anonymously to reporters described being briefed on a Trump administration dictum of “forbidden words” that the public health agency was told not to use in any official capacity in documents.

Both the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune reported on having spoken to the analyst who was briefed on the list of “forbidden words.” According to the Post, the forbidden list included the words “diversity,” “entitlement,” “evidence-based,” “fetus,” “science-based,” “transgender,” and “vulnerable.”

The Post reported that Alison Kelly, a CDC official who led the meeting, didn’t explain why these words were being banned, only that they were. Yet it’s easy to speculate about motive, given how politically loaded these terms are. Indeed, scanning the list, it looks like the administration is attempting to atrophy the CDC’s ability to wield the English language in order to promote a conservative agenda.

To wit: The word “fetus” is a more dehumanizing means of referring to a fertilized egg; banning it aligns with a conservative agenda of humanizing unborn fetuses to sway public opinion against abortion rights access.

And regarding the appearance of “transgender” on the list, the Trump administration has been outright hostile to trans people and on issues of transgender rights. In July, Trump announced that he intended to ban transgender people from joining the military “in any capacity.”  “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow [t]ransgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming [v]ictory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail,” Trump wrote on Twitter at the time.

Many experts pointed out Trump’s purported rationale for the trans ban was specious at best; the RAND corporation, a policy think-tank, studied the issue of transgender persons in the military and found that “allowing transgender personnel to serve openly” had “little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.” Likewise, Trump greatly exaggerated the medical cost to the military posed by transgender personnel. As Salon’s Amanda Marcotte wrote at the time:

The excuse that Trump used when he first announced [the transgender military ban] on Twitter, and the excuse he will almost certainly continue to use, is that medical care for trans people, such as hormone therapy or gender confirmation surgery, is too expensive. Not only is this another lie — it was widely reported that the military spends five times as much on Viagra as it expects to spend on gender confirmation treatments — but this excuse is in itself a form of bigotry, a way to demonize transgender people by stigmatizing the health care they need.

The appearance of the word “transgender” on the list of banned CDC words greatly suggests erasure is the administration’s intent. While the CDC is currently involved in research studies involving trans people — including studying HIV transmission diagnoses among transgender persons — an inability to name one’s object of study would undoubtedly make research more difficult.

Equally sinister is the inclusion of the verb phrases “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Just as the Trump administration has sown doubt in public opinion of journalists — by constantly questioning their trustworthiness and whether reported “facts” are true — his cadre has done the same with science and scientists, continuing a tradition passed down from the Bush administration. As the Post reported:

Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said. In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.

Whereas “science-based” implies a systematized form of reasoning and rationality based on measuring, hypothesizing and experimentation, “community standards and wishes” is a more wishy-washy phrase. Whose community and whose standards? There is a large degree of unmeasurable uncertainty introduced by swapping out these two phrases. You could justify virtually any political decision by chalking it up to “community standards and wishes.”

The Trump administration’s foray into linguistic decrees is not a new phenomenon among the American Right. One recent comparable instance of state-decreed censorship: John Ashcroft, a Christian fundamentalist and the first attorney general under George W. Bush, insisted on covering the breasts of a marble statue of the “Spirit of Justice” that stood in the main Justice building. This act of modesty reportedly cost $8,000 of taxpayer money.

 

 

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‘Whoa, Whoa’: Fox Panel Goes off the Rails After Guest Suggests FBI Plotted to Assassinate Trump

The right-wing media has lost its mind.

Fox News contributor on Tuesday said that it was possible that the FBI had plotted to assassinate President Donald Trump — although he quickly backed off when “Outnumbered” host Harris Faulkner expressed alarm at his baseless speculation.

Appearing on “Outnumbered,” guest Kevin Jackson said that Congressional Republicans need to get to the bottom of what FBI agent Peter Strzok meant when he said that there needed to be an “insurance policy” in the event that Trump got elected.

Even though the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday that Strzok’s “insurance policy” quote referred to his sincere belief in the need to investigate Trump because he was possibly compromised by Russian intelligence services, Jackson immediately went off the deep end and suggested much darker motives.

“What was his intent, right?” Jackson asked. “Because that’s exactly what FBI Director, former FBI Director [James] Comey said when he was letting Hillary Clinton off the hook. And his intent, regardless of whether it was an assassination attempt or whatever, it was definitely something…”

At this point, a surprised Faulkner interjected and said, “Whoa, whoa!” Jackson then responded by toning his rhetoric down a notch.

“Well, I’m just saying, we don’t know what it was,” Jackson said. “When you say, ‘we’ve got to make sure that this guy doesn’t get in at all cost,’ what does that mean? So I’m saying there’s a spectrum of what does it mean, but one thing that we know for sure, is that he was plotting in an election against a candidate, and there’s FBI fingerprints all over this.”

Later in the segment, Jackson admitted that everything he has heard about FBI plots to kill Trump has come from social media accounts that were “nothing credible.”

Watch the video, via Media Matters, below.

 

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New Wall Street Journal Report Might Totally Destroy Republicans’ Favorite Anti-FBI Talking Point

The GOP still won’t shut up about a “Deep State” conspiracy though.

A new report from the Wall Street Journal adds some needed context to FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s text message about the Russia investigation being an “insurance policy” in the event that Donald Trump won last year’s presidential election.

According to the Journal’s sources, Strzok’s talk of an “insurance policy” against Trump’s electoral victory “was meant to convey that the bureau needed to aggressively investigate allegations of collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia,” and was not intended to “suggest a secret plan to harm the candidate but rather address a colleague who believed the [FBI] could take its time because Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was certain to win the election.”

In the original text message, which was sent to FBI lawyer Lisa Page, Strzok wrote of Trump that, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office — that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

The text message had been seized upon by Republicans who suggested it revealed an agency-wide conspiracy to bring down Trump in the event of his election. According to the Journal’s account, however, it seems that Strzok was sincerely concerned about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian agents, and wanted to pursue an investigation regardless of who won the 2016 presidential election.

Strzok was originally part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigative team, but he was removed by Mueller this past summer after the special counsel discovered that the FBI agent had disparaged Trump as an “idiot” in text messages.

 

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Ordered a new 3D printer

I’ve been using my XYZ da Vinci Junior 1.0w 3D printer for a year now. It is still working. However I have learned a lot during that year, I’m printing more complicated models now, and I’m reaching the limits of what the machine can do. I still think it is a great printer for a beginner, but now I want something much better. So I ordered a Zortrax M200 Plus. The “Plus” is important, as this is the brand-new and improved model of the M200, which is highly regarded but now 5 years old.

The first difference between the two printers is the price. The da Vinci Junior was 471€, the Zortrax M200 Plus is 2,369€. Obviously not the same league. The da Vinci Junior uses PLA, the Zortrax can use PLA, ABS, and some other materials. The old M200 was really best used with ABS, but the new Plus version has better cooling fans, so PLA should come out fine now as well. The main difference is that the XYZ printer was only able to use proprietary XYZ filaments, while the new Zortrax also works with filaments from other suppliers. That was a major point of annoyance for the old printer for me; the spools came with an RFID chip, and if the chip said your spool was empty, the printer refused to use the spool. As the chip counted loading, unloading, and failed prints as lost material even if there was no actual material lost, I always ended up having to throw away the last meters of the spool. And the material was far more expensive than it should have been. However at the start I’ll use Zortrax ABS, just because the software knows the best settings for that material.

Where the difference between the two printers is likely to be biggest is in the quality of the prints. At the shop where I ordered the printer they had sample prints of little miniatures similar to those I often make, and the quality was *much* better. On the best setting you don’t even see the layers any more with the Zortrax M200 Plus. Of course it remains to be seen how good it will work with my prints. But the experimenting and fiddling around is all part of the hobby, the resulting miniatures are more of a secondary benefit. 🙂

From what I see in reviews the main issue with the Zortrax is that the software is very slow. I saw a YouTube video of a guy using the old Zortrax M200 to print a Harry Potter wand, and the software took 25 minutes to slice that model. That has probably to do with the print being with rafts (mandatory with the Zortrax) and supports. I suspect the supports use a lot of slicing time, I’ll have to try with and without it. But from the video it appears that the supports are easy to remove, which could be a plus. Now I finally understand the models of Miguel Zavala: Many of them can’t be printed without those automatically generated supports, and the supports generated by the XYZ software are very bad. So up to now I had to fiddle around with the models a lot, disassemble them digitally, reassemble them digitally, and generate functional supports with Meshmixer. I might be able to just hit a print button in the future, which will be faster even if the slicing is slow.

I’ll let you know how the new printer works out once it is delivered and installed.

YouTube TV app for Apple TV and Roku to launch Q1 2018

  • The YouTube TV app will be launching on Apple TV and Roku in Q1 2018.
  • The app was originally supposed to be out by the end of the year.
  • Older Samsung and Sony smart TVs will also see the app early next year.

One of the limiting factors when choosing an over-the-top streaming service is the ability to stream the content to your TV. Most services allow some sort of casting from your phone or tablet, but that’s not a perfect solution. To do this, you’re relying on multiple pieces of hardware that could fail at any time. Additionally, some programming like the NFL don’t currently allow mobile streams of their content.

That’s why, when YouTube TV started to roll out its standalone app, I started doing a happy dance. I can now use the app on my smart TV or Xbox, and the experience is great. It saves me on Sundays and allows me to watch my beloved (but terrible) Bengals.

Editor’s Pick

Unfortunately for some users, they’re still lacking the app. Users with Apple TV and Roku devices were slated to get the app before the end of the year. Now, with only 12 days left in 2017, we’re getting word the apps are being pushed back to Q1 2018. In addition to Apple TV and Roku, the YouTube TV app will also come to older smart TVs in the first quarter. These TVs include some Samsung sets from 2013 and 2014. Older Sony TV’s that use a Linux-based OS instead of Android TV will get the app too.

Most of YouTube TV’s competitors like Sling, Hulu, DirecTV Now, and PlayStation Vue are all on numerous platforms. YouTube TV lags a bit behind the others as they’re all on Apple TV and Roku already. Where you won’t see YouTube TV is on Amazon’s Fire TV or the PlayStation 4. Google and Amazon have had very public battles (although things do appear to be getting better) and Sony refuses to let other streaming services on its gaming system while its pushing PlayStation Vue.

Despite all of that, YouTube TV is one of the popular options for cord-cutters right now. The lineup of channels is fantastic, and at just $35 a month, it’s very affordable. The service initially rolled out to only a few cities in the US when it first launched, but that number has recently pushed past 80.

Gardmore Abbey 5E rerun – Session 2

On the second session of my 5E rerun of Madness at Gardmore Abbey, the group (still just 3 players because of the same 2 absences) further explored the extra-dimensional watchtower. While that struck them with some minor madness effects, they did arrive at the top of the tower and encountered the beholder. Just like the previous group they negotiated a truce with the beholder and helped him (and them) to escape from the tower. While that is a somewhat selfish act to let loose this force of chaotic evil on the world, this second group had a better excuse: In 4E the beholder on top of the tower is designed to be tough but beatable. In 5E it is a standard beholder from the Monster Manual, with a challenge rating of 13, and thus near impossible for 3 level 5 players to beat.

With the beholder were a group of dazed zombies, one of them an elf zombie. They recognized that one as the lost father of Berrian Velfarren, and could thus finish a quest. Another quest done was scouting the layout of the abbey and number of orcs from the top of the watchtower. So they first passed by the elves, and then from there went back to Winterhaven, to hand in their quest and recover from the madness effects.

Berrian gave them another quest to explore the wizard’s tower. Lord Padraig had another quest to negotiate peace with the elves. And in Winterhaven they encountered a paladin of Bahamut called Sir Oakley, who asked them to accompany him to the temple on top of the abbey to purify it from evil. With thus lots of options they decided to pass by the elves for the peace negotiations, which were easy with them having already done so many quests for the elves. From there they went up to Dragon’s Roost and entered the temple. In the temple were two very strange angel-like creatures, which turned out to be harpies gone mad. Unlike the beholder before the harpies stats were changed to adjust the difficulty of the fight to make it interesting, as standard harpies are only challenge rating 1. With modified abilities causing some nasty effects in a zone around them through singing the fight was quite interesting.

Besides the card they started with, in this session they received 3 cards from the beholder, and 1 card from the harpies. They still haven’t really found out how to control the magical effects from the cards, but then there was only one real combat this session.

Is Sea of Thieves an MMORPG?

Sea of Thieves wasn’t high on my radar until its release this week. But the headlines of servers crashing due to too many players strongly reminded me of, well, every MMORPG launch ever. So I was wondering whether the description of “multiplayer action adventure” meant that it was something completely different than a MMORPG, or whether Sea of Thieves basically is a MMORPG and they just changed the label because MMORPG isn’t fashionable any more.

I am wondering if this is something I should buy. However the game is not on Steam, and as we all know, PC games that are not on Steam basically aren’t real. 🙂 And buying a game at full price at release when everybody is complaining about overloaded servers and lack of content doesn’t feel like a good idea. I’d really like to have a better idea about the gameplay first: How necessary is PvP? How twitchy is the gameplay? Et cetera, et cetera.

Anybody here playing who can give me advice?

Dungeons & Dragons today

Dungeons & Dragons is over 40 years old, and I have been playing it for over 35 years. So what is the most surprising aspect of D&D today for me is how popular the game has become suddenly. A streamlined 5th edition and good use of social media, including celebrity support, has moved D&D into the main stream. People now actually watch other people play D&D on Twitch, and not just when it is Vin Diesel or Wil Wheaton. “D&D player on Twitch / YouTube” is now actually a method to become “internet famous”.

I liked 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons. It is a great combination of role-playing game with a balanced tactical combat game for experienced players. But it is not a suitable game for a mass market, it is far too complicated for that. The much less balanced, much quicker, much easier 5th edition is far more suitable for mass popularity.

It also helped that the makers of Dungeons & Dragons stopped shooting themselves in the foot with their internet policy. In the early days of the internet, TSR was notorious for going after fans putting D&D-related materials on the internet. It took a change of owner in 1997 to Wizards of the Coast and then Hasbro in 1999 to get the company to realize that fans on the internet are free advertising. With a game that is hard to explain to somebody who has never played it, a Twitch / Youtube video of interesting people like Chris Perkins running a game with Acquisitions Incorporated at PAX might actually be superior advertising to anything else.

The only people somewhat unhappy by the current popularity of D&D are the makers and fans of Pathfinder. Pathfinder had shoved D&D off the throne of top pen & paper roleplaying game for several years during 4th edition, only to be left in the dust by 5th edition. Now they are planning a comeback with Pathfinder second edition, with a playtest starting in August.

Here is how tech companies are responding to the repeal of net neutrality

Save the Internet

Unless you’ve been in living under a rock the past several months, you knew that a vote on net neutrality was coming. It played out just as everyone suspected and the FCC voted to reclassify internet service providers like Comcast, Spectrum, and Verizon. The vote removed restrictions on the companies that many felt were vital to an open and fair internet.

Here are how some large tech companies are reacting the vote.

Google

Google is a proponent of net neutrality and has repeatedly voiced its support of it in the past. In a statement released to news organizations after the vote, Google pledges to continue to follow the policies of net neutrality. Here is its statement in full:

We remain committed to the net neutrality policies that enjoy overwhelming public support, have been approved by the courts, and are working well for every part of the internet economy. We will work with other net neutrality supporters large and small to promote strong, enforceable protections.

Facebook

Facebook is another company that voice support for strong net neutrality regulations. Many fear that with the repeal of net neutrality, world-changing companies like Facebook may never be able to sprout up. Facebook’s COO released the following statement after the vote:



Netflix

As the largest video streaming service on the internet, Netflix has a vested interest making sure people are able to stream their content. Even though the company has seemingly waffled on its net neutrality, it came out with a firm statement stating, “We’re disappointed in the decision to gut #NetNeutrality.” Here is the company’s full statement:

Amazon

Amazon is another of the tech giants that stood behind net neutrality. With its repeal, Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer took to Twitter to share his statement:

Microsoft

Microsoft is a staunch supporter of net neutrality, saying earlier this year, “Without an open internet, broadband internet access service providers gain the power to outright prevent edge content and services from reaching their customers, levy tolls on edge providers and customers for access to edge content and services, and pick winners and losers in the internet economy, thus subjecting edge provider success to the control of broadband internet access services providers rather than the forces of customer demand.” After the vote, its Chief Legal Officer made the following statement:

Reddit

Reddit bills itself as the “Front Page of the Internet”. It’s another company like Facebook that was started by a couple of kids and turned into a phenomenon. If you’ve used the site any time in the last few weeks, you’ll know that the site and (most of) its users are strong supporters of net neutrality. In a statement today, Reddit CEO Steve Hufmann (Spez) said in part:

It is disappointing that the FCC Chairman plowed ahead with his planned repeal despite all of this public concern, not to mention the objections expressed by his fellow commissioners, the FCC’s own CTO, more than a hundred members of Congress, dozens of senators, and the very builders of the modern internet.

Nevertheless, today’s vote is the beginning, not the end. While the fight to preserve net neutrality is going to be longer than we had hoped, this is far from over.

You can read the statement in its entirety here.

Comcast

Comcast is one of the companies that could seemingly benefit from the net neutrality changes. Many fear that companies like Comcast could wield its power to prevent users from reaching sites or streaming video content to benefit its own platforms.

But, According to a blog post by Senior Vice President David L. Cohen, Comcast believes that Congress should move to enact net neutrality laws. Its stance is that the rules enacted by the FCC were just governmental overreach, but it really supports net neutrality. Whether you believe that or not is up to you, but you can read the full blog post here.

Charter/Spectrum

Charter is the second largest ISP in the country and obviously had its eye on the FCC’s meeting. After the vote, the company released a statement on its website that read in part, ” Charter has been consistent and clear: we support a vibrant and open internet that enables our customers to access the lawful content of their choice when and where they want it. We commend the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their action today that re-establishes the light touch regulatory framework that had been in place for decades when the Internet took root and grew into an important tool for daily life and a major engine of economic growth.”

You can read the rest of its comment here.

AT&T

AT&T repeated many of the same sentiments as Comcast and Charter. AT&T’s Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, Bob Quinn, took to the web to express that the repeal of net neutrality laws isn’t that big of a deal.

In the post, Quinn states, “AT&T intends to operate its network the same way AT&T operates its network today: in an open and transparent manner. We will not block websites, we will not throttle or degrade internet traffic based on content, and we will not unfairly discriminate in our treatment of internet traffic (all consistent with the rules that were adopted – and that we supported – in 2010, and the rules in place today).”

You can read the full post here.

Verizon

Verizon hosts a Broadband Commitment website that states, “Verizon supports the Open Internet, and is committed to offering services that allow our customers to take full advantage of all of the lawful content and services that the Internet has to offer.” Speaking to Inverse yesterday, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young backed up that sentiment with this statement, “Verizon fully supports the open Internet, and we will continue to do so. Our customers demand it and our business depends on it.”

T-Mobile

T-Mobile released a very short statement after the vote. It reads, “We always have and will support an open internet that enables us to provide new and innovative services to our customers and keep them first! We will continue to provide amazing service and support to our customers each day!”

Sprint

Sprint’s statement on the repeal of net neutrality is longer than T-Mobile’s, but says just as little. It reads, “Sprint applauds the FCC’s efforts to simplify a complex and challenging issue, while balancing multiple stakeholder interests in this important proceeding. Our position has been and continues to be that competition is the best way to promote an open internet. Complex and vague regulations previously created uncertainties around net neutrality compliance. The Commission’s decision today eliminates those uncertainties and appears to allow Sprint to manage our network and offer competitive products.”


Which company had the best response?

Out of the mouth of babes

For a president, Trump is remarkably unguarded in his speech. In absence of a teleprompter he talks stream of conscience with no regards for the party line or the politically correct. So when presented with a clip of footage from several modern games, his reaction appears quite honest: “This is violent, isn’t it?” and then “I’m hearing more and more people say the level of violence on video games is really shaping young people’s thoughts. And then you go the further step, and that’s the movies. You see these movies, they’re so violent and yet a kid is able to see a movie if sex isn’t involved, but killing is involved.”.

Now video gamers are as partisan as the next guy and quick to dismiss any criticism as just being motivated by a desire to distract from the NRA. But can’t you just step back for a moment and read these quotes above at face value? Aren’t they fundamentally true? We do have a “violence in entertainment” culture. We do have systems in place that prevent movies and video games from displaying sex, but not from displaying gore. And it would be extremely callous to assume that a kid’s mind is in no way affected by seeing that sort of stuff. That doesn’t mean that there is a direct causal link between playing video games and school shootings, or that gun control wouldn’t be a better option than games control. But there is also a lot of very visible denial from the games media, which shows you that Trump’s remarks have hit close to home.

The violence is frequently gratuitous, games like Splatoon prove that you can take the same genre and cartoonify it into something much less violent. Nintendo makes a lot of great games with minimal violence. And it isn’t just the graphical display of violence in video games, it is also the gameplay. Multiplayer shooters or games like Fortnite Battle Royale with its last-man-standing victory condition are inherently teaching a very wrong message of hate. There are a large number of games out there which I simply can’t play because I am too disgusted by both the violence and the toxicity of the players.

I have zero trust in Trump coming up with a viable solution (he appeared muddled on the existence of rating systems). But his gut reaction that this stuff is violent and potentially a problem is right. Gamers need to overcome the denial step and face the truth. If the industry doesn’t change voluntarily, politicians are going to intervene at some point.