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Worth Thinking About

The Adventures of Life

Month: November 2022 (page 1 of 6)

Jimmy Fallon responds to #RIPJimmyFallon with a gospel choir

A screenshot from The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon

Rumors of Jimmy Fallon’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Elon Musk’s disastrous changes to Twitter have transformed it into a dumpster fire full of impersonation and disinformation over the past couple of weeks, making the platform fertile with opportunity for pranks and trolling. One high-profile butt of said jokes was Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon, who some may have thought dead after Twitter’s chaotic denizens made the hashtag #RIPJimmyFallon trend.

Fallon is, of course, still alive and well, and demonstrated as such by bringing out a gospel choir to join him in a musical number.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been to the other side!” said Fallon, mimicking a charismatic Christian preacher. “I’ve seen the pearly gates! I paid eight dollars for that blue checkmark in the sky!


Speaker Nancy Pelosi will address political future after Democrats lose House majority to Republicans

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is “overwhelmed” by the reactions she has received from her colleagues since it was announced that Democrats will lose the majority in the House of Representatives to Republicans, her spokesperson said.

“Speaker Pelosi has been overwhelmed by calls from colleagues, friends and supporters,” said Deputy Chief of Staff Drew Hammill, hours after the 218th race was called for Republicans.

With Republicans winning a majority in the House, they now have an opportunity to elect their own leaders, including the Speakership, and will have full control over dictating the legislative agenda for two years.

The GOP will also be able to launch various investigations, which could potentially include looking into Hunter Biden, the Jan. 6 Committee or aspects of the Biden administration.


As for Pelosi, who will be without the Speakership when new members participate in the swearing-in ceremony in January 2023, Hammill said she will address her future plans on Thursday. 

“The Speaker plans to address her future plans tomorrow to her colleagues. Stay tuned,” he wrote. 

The GOP won its 218th seat after The Associated Press projected Republican Mike Garcia would win re-election in California’s 27th Congressional District.


Democrats, though, have already secured 209 seats and could pick up additional seats as eight are still in play. 

President Joe Biden congratulated Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., for his party’s victory.

“In this election, voters spoke clearly about their concerns: the need to lower costs, protect the right to choose, and preserve our democracy,” Biden said Wednesday. “I will work with anyone — Republican or Democrat — willing to work with me to deliver results for them.”

Pelosi, the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives, has been in Congress, representing California’s 12th Congressional District, for over 35 years. For 19 of those years, she has been in Democratic leadership. 

Pelosi was also the first woman elected to the Speakership in 2007.

She was re-elected to the post when Democrats retook the House majority in January 2019, when she remained defiant to then-President Donald Trump. 

The 118th Congress begins on Jan. 3, 2023.


People In Non-Traditional, Poly, And Open Relationships Are Sharing What They Think Everyone Should Know


NASA just blasted its new megarocket on historic journey to the moon

NASA SLS launching

Spearing the sky from a tiny spit of land in the Atlantic Ocean, NASA‘s 32-story mega moon rocket gleamed statuesque in the darkness.

Then as the countdown peeled to ignition, the towering monument topped with the new Orion spacecraft rumbled with a force equal to that of 160,000 Corvette engines.

The eruption shook miles of the Eastern Florida coastline, with toe-tickling vibrations.

At 1:48 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 16, NASA launched the Artemis I mission, its first deep space flight of a capsule built to carry astronauts in a half-century. If all goes according to plan, Orion will travel more than a quarter-million miles from Earth, including a 40,000-mile swing past the moon, on a whirling journey. Upon its Pacific Ocean return on Dec. 11, the U.S. space agency anticipates it will have put 1.3 million miles on the odometer.

No one is inside Orion for this ride, but a successful uncrewed test flight will clear the way for up to four passengers aboard the spaceship next time. Under the new program, NASA is preparing for a revival of human-led space exploration, an era that ended in 1972 with the final Apollo flight.

The liftoff comes 2.5 months after NASA waived off its first launch attempt with just 40 minutes remaining on the countdown clock. Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, the agency’s first female launch director, made that call on Aug. 29 as the team unexpectedly encountered a sensor that indicated an engine wasn’t chilling down properly.

Following the “scrubbed” launch and an investigation into the engine issue, mission managers tried again five days later on Sept. 3. NASA felt confident the problem was an inaccurate sensor, not inadequately cooled fuel. But the second attempt resulted in another scrub after the team wrestled with an unrelated, large hydrogen fuel leak.

Then, Hurricane Ian forced the ground crew to haul the towering rocket back to its hangar. While in storage, the crew made repairs, replaced critical batteries onboard, and hoped for the best, come mid-November. The historic launch in the shadows of night proved the third time’s the charm, following last week’s decision to bump the attempt from Monday because of Tropical Storm Nicole. The 322-foot rocket was forced to weather high-velocity winds at the launchpad, which many feared could damage the vehicle.

This launch had its own challenges, too. After hours of smooth, uneventful fueling, engineers detected a leak on the Mobile Launcher, the giant gray platform that holds the rocket. But a specialized team drove out and stopped the problematic hydrogen leak. Then, the Space Force, which oversees rocket launches from Kennedy Space Center, had a somewhat bizarre tech mishap (an ethernet issue) that required replacing so they could send critical signals to the rocket. The obstacles were overcome.

Orion flying by the moon

The new Orion spacecraft will make a couple of close approaches to the moon during the Artemis I flight.
Credit: Illustration by NASA / Liam Yanulis

With NASA’s new Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft, the agency wants to one day build a lunar-orbiting moon base, see the first woman and person of color walk on the moon, and spend long stretches conducting research and gathering samples on its surface, all while keeping one eye fixed on the red planet some 140 million miles in the distance.

“I have never met someone who doesn’t get excited about space, when you talk about what it is we’re doing, and that’s because we are pushing what humans are capable of,” Jeremy Parsons, deputy program manager of NASA’s exploration ground systems, told Mashable. “Something the size of the Statue of Liberty is going zero to 18,000 mph in about eight minutes. It is absolutely mind blowing.”

“It is absolutely mind blowing.”

A crucial 25-day mission

The $4.1 billion mission is meant to demonstrate whether the vehicles are safe for sending humans on long expeditions and getting them home. NASA wants to use the moon as an astronaut testbed for future voyages to Mars.

For the Artemis I moonshot, Orion will fly a total of 1.3 million miles, including a trip of 40,000 miles past the moon, traveling the farthest any spacecraft for passengers has ever flown. Over those three-plus weeks, the spacecraft will try out various moon orbits. When the capsule returns, it will splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of San Diego, California.

The mission duration was shortened from the first attempt’s 45 days to 25 days this time around. That length isn’t arbitrary. NASA looks at the date and the timing of the sun, Earth, and moon’s alignment to determine the schedule. Forces of gravity and conditions in the atmosphere influence when Orion can return. Namely, the team looks for a plan that provides daylight for when the capsule splashes down to aid its water recovery.

Engineers testing a heat shield

Orion’s heat shield must protect the capsule from a fiery reentry through Earth’s atmosphere.
Credit: NASA

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The primary objectives of the flight include getting the spacecraft to orbit and recovering it. But another major purpose is to see how Orion’s heat shield holds up to the searing temperatures created when the spacecraft plummets through Earth’s atmosphere. Orion will come home faster and hotter than any spacecraft has before, traveling at 24,500 mph in 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Lockheed Martin, which built the spacecraft, used new manufacturing methods and made the shield 30 percent larger than previous hardware, said Kelly DeFazio, director of Orion production.

“That heat shield on the back end is going to show us how we’ve taken that material from the Apollo days and brought that into the 21st century,” she said.

A decade in the making, the Artemis program, named after Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, has familiar echoes of the past. A second space race, this time with China, has provided a sense of urgency in Congress to get back to the moon — to stay. For many politicians, returning is not just a point of pride but a matter of national security.

Bureaucratic red tape and escalating costs have delayed NASA’s schedule, pushing the first moonwalk, part of the Artemis III itinerary, out to no earlier than 2025. By then, the agency will have spent perhaps $93 billion on Artemis.

Inspector General Paul Martin, the federal watchdog over the space agency, called out the elephant in the room this March, saying that the SLS, an extremely expensive single-use rocket, would “inhibit, if not derail” getting to the moon and Mars.

At Cape Canaveral this week, though, politics and economics seemed far from the minds of mission managers, who celebrated the accomplishment as one of the finest moments in the agency’s history.

“I’m a product of the Apollo generation and look what it did for us,” said Bob Cabana, a former astronaut and associate administrator of NASA, at an earlier news briefing. “I cannot wait to see what comes from the Artemis generation because I think it’s going to inspire even more than Apollo did.”

“I cannot wait to see what comes from the Artemis generation because I think it’s going to inspire even more than Apollo did.”

About 1.5 hours after the launch, inflight engines will give the spacecraft the boost it needs to perform a translunar injection, a maneuver that will guide Orion to a precise target so the moon’s gravity can reel it in.

As Orion continues on its journey, a service module provided by the European Space Agency will perform a complicated engine firing into a distant lunar orbit. That maneuver will send the capsule well beyond the moon, breaking Apollo 13’s record for the farthest distance traveled by a passenger spacecraft. This will give Orion an intimate brush with the lunar terrain as it hugs the moon’s curves just 60 miles above the surface.

After the flyby, Orion will use the moon’s gravity to swing out and make a half-lap around the moon over the course of two weeks. On its way back, the spacecraft will get another gravity boost from the moon and then slingshot back to Earth.

The final test will observe how well the spacecraft’s heat shield can block the punishing temperatures of reentry as it plunges at 32 times the speed of sound.

The entire unprecedented mission will be risky, said Jim Free, who heads NASA’s exploration systems development. He has emphasized the extraordinary challenges that lay ahead to manage public expectations.

“We’ve seen challenges just getting all our systems to work together,” he told reporters one week ago. “That’s why we do a flight test. It’s about going after the things that can’t be modeled, and we’re learning by taking more risk on this mission before we put crew on there.”


Political insiders explain what happened on election night, how Democrats avoided a ‘red wave’

The 2022 midterm elections — both in the House and the Senate — did not go as planned for several Republican candidates seeking office, leaving voters to question how some Democrats survived tough elections and avoided the “red wave” that many within the GOP had predicted.

The Republican Party is favored to win a slim majority in the House, but it will likely be far smaller than many prominent party members and leaders anticipated ahead if the Nov. 8 elections — predicting that a “red wave” would dominate the midterms.

In the Senate, however, things do not look so bright for the GOP. A closely contested race in Georgia between incumbent Democratic Sen. Raphael Walker and his Republican challenger, football star Herschel Walker, is headed to a December runoff election. Should Walker come out on top in that election and match the Democrats’ 50 seats in the upper chamber, the Democrats will still have control of the Senate due to Vice President’s ability to cast a tie-breaking vote.

While several political insiders from across the spectrum believe issues like abortion and former President Donald Trump’s negatively impacted the GOP’s chances, others insist candidate quality played a role as Republicans hammered down on inflation and crime in the final days leading up to the elections.


Even though several Republicans fared well in their elections, Ben LaBolt, who served as the national press secretary for former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign, told Fox News Digital that “MAGA aligned” and “election denying extremists” did not perform well because their “radical” beliefs failed to resonate with persuadable voters.

“While relatively moderate Republican House candidates performed in line with expectations, MAGA aligned, election denying extremists lost nearly all of their tossup races,” LaBolt said. “Their beliefs were simply too radical for persuadable voters. President Biden and Democrats beat expectations by nominating mainstream candidates, passing a popular agenda to bring down costs for working Americans, and serving as a bulwark against extremism.”

Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster said he believes the Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn federal protections for abortion, as well as endorsements made by Trump, were among the reasons why Republicans faced difficulty this cycle.

“Republicans should have run away with this election,” Ayres, who serves as president of North Star Opinion Research, told Fox. “They did not because the Dobbs decision energized many women and younger voters, and because Trump endorsed numerous weak, first-time candidates who won primaries but could not win in a general election.”

Similarly, Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster, told Fox that women and young voters made their voices heard in the elections as they distanced themselves from GOP candidates.

“Women and young people spoke,” said Lake, the president of Lake Research Partners. “They rejected Trumpism and division.”


Christy Setzer, a Democratic strategist, said the GOP’s downfall in several elections was because “people are tired of the crazy.”

“At least in blue and purple states, voters sent a strong message that they don’t want to hear any more about transgender kids in sports or Big Lies about stolen elections; they want normalcy in their politics and they want to affirm respect for democracy,” said Setzer, president and founder of New Heights Communications. “The culture wars worked in red states, some of which only got redder, but Republicans deeply underperformed with the same groups that united for Biden’s victory in 2020: young voters, women, people of color, and independents. Inflation is temporary, but authoritarianism can last forever.”

For some, “candidate quality” that stifled the Republicans’ chances of widening the margin for its expected majority in the House and gaining back control of the Senate is an issue that needs to be addressed by the party moving forward.

“It’s pretty clear candidate quality matters and cost the GOP several winnable races,” Chris Wilson, a pollster and the former director of research and analytics for GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s unsuccessful campaign, told Fox in a statement. “It’s equally clear that allegiance to Donald Trump should no longer be the deciding factor in Republican primaries. Further, it’s important GOP candidates have a forward-looking vision that deals with important issues such as inflation, crime and values. The time for relitigating the 2020 election is past and needs to be buried on the ash heap of political history.”


Lis Smith, a Democratic strategist who served as a senior advisor for Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential campaign, told Fox that Republicans should “dial back the crazy” if they want to win elections in the future.

“Democrats were able to defy historical trends in the midterms and over-perform largely because the Republican nominated people who were way outside the mainstream,” Smith said. “It turns out that independent voters and a significant number of Republican voters simply will not vote for candidates who oppose abortion in all instances and who deny the results of the 2020 election. If the Republicans want to course correct, they need to dial back the crazy.”

Tommy Garcia, a spokesperson for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the GOP’s lackluster performance in the midterms came after Democratic candidates drew comparisons between themselves and Republicans who “pose a real threat to reproductive freedoms, democracy, and everyday people’s pocketbooks.”

“While Kevin McCarthy and Tom Emmer were busy measuring their drapes and boasting that they would flip 60 to 70 seats, Democrats worked and drew a clear contrast between results-oriented Democrats who are working to lower costs and keep communities safe, and extreme Republicans who pose a real threat to reproductive freedoms, democracy, and everyday people’s pocketbooks,” Garcia told Fox.

Prior to the midterm elections, conservative firebrand Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas predicted in a Fox News interview that he believed the outcome of the 2022 elections would be “not just a red wave, but a red tsunami.”

Despite many losses in key elections, including Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s defeat of Republican Mehmet Oz in the Keystone State’s Senate election, the GOP was able to maintain control of several seats that Democrats had placed focus on for the midterms. Republican JD Vance defeated Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman in Ohio, while GOP Rep. Ted Budd defeated Democrat Cheri Beasley in North Carolina.

In the House, Republicans also flipped numerous seats that were held by Democrats in an effort to increase GOP strength in the chamber.

“House Republicans delivered a check on Biden’s disastrous agenda, picked up seats for the second straight cycle and flipped the House for just the third time in 68 years,” National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Michael McAdams told Fox News Digital.

Notable victories include Republican Jen Kiggans’ defeat of Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria, a member of the House Jan. 6 committee, to represent Virginia’s 2nd District, as well as Lori Chavez-DeRemer’s election win over her Democratic challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, to represent Oregon’s 5th District.

In New York, a state which largely votes for Democrats and mostly favors left-leaning policies, Republicans flipped four House seats.


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Amazon will reportedly lay off 10,000 employees

Amazon logo seen at the entrance to Amazon's Shannon Building on Burlington Road in Dublin.

The big tech layoffs are continuing apace, and it seems nobody is safe. Following this month’s massive staff cuts at Twitter and Meta, the New York Times reports that Amazon is now planning to let go of approximately 10,000 employees. Happy holidays, I guess.

Amazon’s upcoming job cuts will reportedly impact its corporate employees, specifically its retail division, human resources, and the team working on the company’s devices (which includes voice assistant Alexa). 

Considering that Amazon employs over 1.5 million people across the globe, 10,000 workers laid off may not seem like a significant percentage from the company’s perspective. It amounts to about 0.7 percent of Amazon’s employees, which is a considerably smaller relative reduction than Twitter’s Elon Musk-induced layoffs that cut its workforce by around 50 percent. 

But Amazon is also a much bigger company, with its planned layoffs eclipsing Twitter’s entire employee headcount even before Musk began burning everything to the ground. No matter how you slice it, 10,000 is an awful lot of people out of work just before the holidays.

Amazon’s cuts will reportedly occur in small waves, rather than replicating the lawless chaos of Twitter’s mass layoffs. Still, this is cold comfort to those potentially on the chopping block.

Mashable has reached out to Amazon for comment.

Amazon more than tripled its income during the COVID-19 pandemic, as shoppers turned to home delivery more frequently and smaller businesses struggled to stay afloat. However that boom has since subsided, plunging Amazon’s stock by 42 percent this year and knocking the company’s valuation back below $1 trillion. This downturn has practically returned Amazon to the position it was in before the pandemic began — which, while certainly not as high as its pandemic-fueled peak, still isn’t really anything for it to complain about.

This week Amazon founder and executive chair Jeff Bezos said he intends to donate the majority of his wealth to charity before he dies, after CNN directly questioned him on the matter. Perhaps he could start by distributing a few of his literal billions to Amazon’s workers, or at least hand out some generous severance packages. With a current net worth of over $121 billion, the fourth richest man in the world would just have to relinquish his grip on less than 0.09 percent of his wealth in order to give all 10,000 of his soon-to-be former employees $10,000 each.


Eric Swalwell’s ‘stupid’ education tweet may cost Democrats in 2024

The fault lines for the 2024 elections are already taking shape with the two parties in diametrically opposed positions and there is no greater divide than over parental rights. That stark difference was no more evident than in a tweet from Rep. Eric Swalwell who mocked the notion of parents making major decisions in the education of their children. 

The California Democrat insisted that it is akin to “putting patients in charge of their own surgeries? Clients in charge of their own trials?” Swalwell declared: “Please tell me what I’m missing here … This is so stupid.”

What Rep. Swalwell, a lawyer, is missing is called informed consent.

Since he asked for assistance, let’s deal with each in turn.


American torts have long required consent in medical torts. Indeed, what Swalwell seemed to suggest would be battery for doctors to make the key decisions over surgical goals or purposes. Indeed, even when doctors secured consent to operate on one ear, it was still considered battery when they decided in the operation to address the other ear in the best interests of the patient. Mohr v. Williams (Minn. 1905).

In Canterbury v. Spence the court rejected claims that a physician can make key decisions given “the patient’s right of self-determination.” Thus, doctors in the United States do have to secure the consent of patients in what they intend to do in surgeries or other medical procedures. (There are narrow exceptions such things as “substituted consent” or emergencies that do not apply here).

Ironically, California has one of the strongest patient-based consent rules. As the California Supreme Court stated in Cobbs v. Grant (1972): “Unlimited discretion in the physician is irreconcilable with the basic right of the patient to make the ultimate informed decision regarding the course of treatment to which he knowledgeably consents to be subjected.”

While obviously a patient cannot direct an operation itself, the doctor is expected to explain and secure the consent of the patient in what a surgery will attempt and how it will be accomplished. That is precisely what parents are demanding in looking at the subjects and books being taught in school. Moreover, that is precisely the role of school boards, which has historically exercised concurrent authority over the schools with the teachers hired under the school board-approved budgets.

Swalwell is also wrong in suggesting that clients are not in charge of their own trials. Not only must attorneys secure the consent of their clients on what will be argued in trial, but they can be removed by their clients for failure to adequately represent their interests. It would be malpractice for a lawyer to tell a client, as suggested by Swalwell, that they do not control the major decisions in their own cases.

Ironically, the informed consent under defined in the Model Rules of Professional Conduct as the “agreement by a person to a proposed course of conduct after the lawyer has communicated adequate information and explanation about the material risks of and reasonably available alternatives to the proposed course of conduct”).

Obviously, lawyers must follow their own ethical and professional judgment in trials, and tactical choices are generally left up to the lawyers. However, the main objectives of the trial remain for the client to “knowingly and voluntarily assume” Metrick v. Chatz (Ill. App. Ct. 1994).

Much like the claim of parents, clients demand the right to reject a plan for trial and the arguments or means to be used at trial. This right of consent is ongoing and can be exercised at any point in the litigation.


Of course, the key to informed consent is that parents are given the information needed to secure their consent. School districts have been resisting such disclosures and pushing back on parental opposition to major curriculum or policy decisions.

What is most striking about Swalwell’s reference to patients and clients is that they, under his educational approach, have far more voice in a wart removal or a parking ticket challenge than the education of their children. If anything, his analogies support the call for greater parental knowledge and consent.

In other words, “what is missing here” is that Rep. Swalwell’s interpretation could constitute both medical and legal malpractice. It may also constitute political malpractice as both parties now careen toward the 2024 elections.



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Elon Musk’s SpaceX has reportedly bought ads on Elon Musk’s Twitter

Elon Musk's Twitter profile on a smartphone. The Twitter logo is in the background.

I know you’re all sick of hearing about Elon Musk. I’m sick of writing about Elon Musk. But the world is full of disappointment, so here is yet another article about him. 

Elon Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has reportedly purchased a large advertising campaign from Musk’s social media company Twitter. According to CNBC, the campaign will promote SpaceX’s internet service Starlink, targeting potential customers in Australia and Spain.

This deal could inject over $250,000 into Twitter’s coffers, which isn’t much in the grand scheme of things. But considering Twitter’s rapid descent into a blazing garbage fire since Musk took over, every little bit counts.

CNBC reports that SpaceX’s Twitter ad campaign is scheduled to begin in the next few days, and will likely involve placing Starlink on top of Australian and Spanish users’ Twitter timelines for 24 hours. Users in the impacted countries will also be shown ads for Starlink the first three times they access Twitter during the campaign.

This is apparently the first time SpaceX has bought significant advertising on Twitter, with Musk generally getting all the attention he needs from articles such as the one you’re reading right now.

Musk has been frantically trying to make Twitter profitable after sinking $44 billion into buying the microblogging platform just over two weeks ago, and having to sell almost $4 billion in Tesla shares as a direct consequence. The billionaire’s deluded and draconian methods have included immediately firing Twitter’s top executives, conducting mass layoffs of approximately half its workforce and 80 percent of its contractors, and selling blue tick verification badges for $8.

This has predictably led to what could be politely described as complete chaos, with countless users buying badges to impersonate others — and Twitter’s remaining staff too stretched thin to quickly respond. Some fired workers were asked to return almost immediately, though many likely won’t if given absolutely any other option.

Twitter’s advertisers have understandably paused their spending during its ongoing implosion, which no doubt influenced SpaceX’s decision to cough up some change. But if Twitter keeps crumbling at this impressive rate, SpaceX’s business may not be enough to save it.

Mashable has reached out to SpaceX and what’s left of Twitter for comment.

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