Well, that kinda is what they look like, part 5

When Stephen Colbert shows a photo of someone in the news, he routinely gives an alternative description based on how they look in the picture, as in "White House spokesperson and angry woman behind you at Target Sarah Huckabee Sanders." Here's another collection of them running two minutes:

Link: https://youtu.be/N5TojV-qu9I

You can find the previous collection at this link.

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Atlantic winds and weather in motion during the 2017 hurricane season

Another one found on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) blog, from Monday:

Link: https://youtu.be/h1eRp0EGOmE

What we have here are smoke, dust, and salt spray as tracked by satellite, which shows wind patterns including the formation of hurricanes. A suspension of particles or fine droplets in a gas in an aerosol, hence the reference to "aerosols" in the video. (The fact that spray cans often emit aerosols leads to a common misconception that "aerosol" means something like "spray can.")

The link to the APOD page in question is here, and for APOD images in general, the URL is easy to remember: https://apod.nasa.gov

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A chicken at the drive-thru (ordering chicken)

Yet another prank from Rahat, this one featuring a screaming chicken. At one point the chicken screams chicken noises into the ordering speaker and the person on the other end apparently thinks she understands what the chicken is saying. This may explain a lot about the drive-thru experience.

Link: https://youtu.be/qtid-l8uKsw

Rahat's YouTube channel can be found at this link, and a list of previous posts referencing Rahat on this blog can be found here.

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The history of everything in one minute

This was highlighted yesterday on NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day blog. It's a one-minute animation of where we came from starting at the Big Bang and continuing to the present. Details can be found in the YouTube description at the link below.

Link: https://youtu.be/ZSt9tm3RoUU

Sorry I've been neglecting this blog of late. I'll have more soon, I hope.

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In South Africa, a parallel to the Confederate statues debate

In parallel with the recent debate over Confederate statues and other memorials in the U.S., South Africa has its own debate about memorials to the colonial and Apartheid eras. This 9-minute segment from PBS Newshour (broadcast November 10) presents multiple viewpoints, including efforts to relocate and replace older statues but also connect them with a broader set of memorials to the past.

Link: https://youtu.be/sGXmQrJ4GFg

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Jimmy Kimmel tells Trump supporters to sign up for "Trumpcare"

Jimmy Kimmel has lately been urging Donald Trump supporters to sign up for health insurance through Trumpcare, which offers comprehensive coverage at affordable prices. Moreover, it's insurance through private companies, not the government. A lot of Trump fans have taken to Facebook and Twitter to praise Kimmel for finally seeing the light on what a great president Trump is and what a good job he's doing with health insurance, saving people from the evils of Obamacare.

Of course, what Kimmel is doing is sneakily rebranding Healthcare.gov insurance as "Trumpcare" even though it's exactly the same as "Obamacare," though a lot of people seem not to realize this. It's tricky, but if it gets Trump fans to sign up their families for good health insurance, in the end they benefit.

Incidentally, one of Trump's attempts to sabotage Obamacare unintentionally ended up making cheaper and even free policies available to a lot of people. This came as a surprise, but maybe Trump ought to get credit for it anyway. (Hey, penicillin was discovered by accident.) It has to do with something called cost-sharing reduction (CSR) payments. Basically, the Affordable Care Act includes two types of subsidies, one to lower monthly premiums and the other to help with out-of-pocket spending in the form of deductibles, coinsurance, and co-pays, collectively known as "cost-sharing" because the individual pays a share of the cost of medical care.

The Affordable Care Act says insurance companies have to cover some of the cost sharing for working people earning up to 250 percent of the poverty level, provided they have a "Silver"-level policy, and it also obligates the government to reimburse the companies for that. But while the ACA requires the reimbursements, it doesn't unambiguously authorize them, at least as some lawyers read the bill. (There's a lawsuit working its way through the courts about this.) Trump used this unintended legal loophole as an excuse to stop making the payments, even though they had hitherto been made since the ACA went into effect.

But this doesn't let the insurance companies off the hook. They still have to reduce cost-sharing for the lower-income insured. So to make up the difference they raised premiums on Silver policies. But remember, premiums are subsidized for about 80 percent of people getting coverage from Healthcare.gov and the state-operated marketplaces. The amount of the subsidy is calculated by taking the cost of second-lowest-cost Silver policy available to the individual or family in question and subtracting it from a percentage of their income. (The exact percentage varies by incomes level.) That subsidy then applies to any policy you sign up for, no matter what the level.

The result is that many people can now get a cheap Bronze policy for free or just a few dollars, or even get a Gold policy (without cost-sharing reductions) for less money than a Silver plan. And the way this works out mathematically, the government is spending a lot more money on subsidies than it saved by ending the CSR reimbursements.

Anyway, here are some examples of Jimmy Kimmel's promotion of the Affordable Care Act as "Trumpcare":

Link: https://youtu.be/vuXwD0NWixM

Link: https://youtu.be/mlZNmtZdTlg

Link: https://youtu.be/zKVxC3sy9Dg

Feel free to share those YouTube links with any Trump fans you know who need health insurance.

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Veterans Day

Depending on whether you observe it on a weekday (as government offices do) or on the traditional November 11, today or yesterday is Veterans Day.

It started as Armistice Day, commemorating the armistice that ended the fighting in World War I, then called the Great War. The armistice went into effect at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Today we use the date to honor all veterans, and especially war veterans.

I'm a veteran myself (U.S. Navy 1973-1977, plus a little time in the reserve after that), but I was never called upon to fight in a war or suffer more than minor hardships. I salute those who faced danger and sacrifice, including those serving today and those no longer with us. They and their families deserve our gratitude.

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As you're probably aware, the partially autonomous Spanish region of Catalonia has voted in favor of independence and the Spanish central government has intervened to block it. I don't know enough to have a strong opinion either way. On principle I like the idea of self-determination, but I'm also skeptical of fragmentation, and I'm glad the Confederacy lost the U.S. Civil War.

I found Stephen Colbert's November 3 commentary below interesting and thought-provoking, especially for something on a late-night talk show:

Link: https://youtu.be/jyHNcTS_LBo

For something non-political from Catalonia, see this truly entertaining flash-mob-orchestra performance of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" from the city of Sabadell back in 2011.

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