Share Illustration by Anthony Truong-NguyenThis president casts a big shadow.Donald Trump’s popularity with Texas Republicans could buffer any midterm election blues; if you’re with him and he’s popular, you’re in good shape. If he’s not popular when it comes time to vote, of course, a lot of Republican candidates could go down on Election Day.That said, Texas Republican voters overwhelmingly approve of the job he’s doing now — Democrats, by similar margins, overwhelmingly disapprove — and Republican candidates up and down the state ballot take sides against Trump at their peril.But the president’s shadow is bigger than that.Everybody else in Texas politics is having a hard time getting and keeping the public’s attention. What is ordinarily a three-ring circus is often more like a one-man show.It’s not just a matter of what’s in your Twitter feed. The president is the political equivalent of must-see TV. The little folk down here in the provinces — the governors, legislators, mayors and whatnot — are small beer. It’s always true on some level: the 2010 mid-terms, dominated by the then-new Tea Party, were partly a backlash against Barack Obama’s politics. But Trump is something else entirely, dominating the news, the civic conversation, the public imagination.Everybody and everything else are side dishes, Tom Sawyers to our Becky Thatchers, showing off to try to get our attention.Gov. Greg Abbott got unintended attention this week by tweeting a quote he attributed to Winston Churchill. Sir Winston never said it. Abbott got embarrassed. The grackles on social media had a big day. But look: This started with a governor using social media to get your attention — a “hey, look at me” moment.Anybody else see Trump’s shadow in that?How about this one: State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, facing a tough reelection race this year, took off for Moscow this week with U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and a small group of other pols to tell the Russians to stop messing with American elections. Got your attention?At this point on the calendar two years ago, Texas Republicans had locked in a number of the issues they would pursue in the 2017 legislative session. They were, as they are now, getting ready for a general election. And many of them were nervous that the presidential race between Trump and Hillary Clinton could change things for the small fry on the ballot.They were worried, in the traditional way, about the coattail effect of the candidates at the top.This year, there’s no presidential race. But they’re thinking about the same coattail effect.Trump’s shadow is important in an election in Texas that has so far been — with the notable exception of the race for U.S. Senate — relatively low-key. In fact, it’s a two-coattail ticket, with a race for U.S. Senate that looks competitive and interesting and a race for governor that, so far, doesn’t. Candidates running for Congress — behind the Senate race, ahead of the race for governor — will be somewhat dependent on what’s happening above them. In fact, the Houston Chronicle quoted Ted Cruz this week saying he hopes and expects the president to help him and other Texas Republicans with pre-election visits.Meanwhile, the contest for governor could — if summer polls hold — be a different story, with candidates below more dependent on that outcome than on anything that happens in the top race for Senate.Except for Trump. His shadow might just overwhelm everything else.If Republican voters are out and about in this general election, enthusiastic and defensive of their man in the White House, Democrats’ hopes that the midterms go their way could be wrecked. If he’s doing poorly — that is, if it’s the Democrats who are stirred and motivated and Republicans who suffer the doldrums — the president’s situation could overshadow worries about Lupe Valdez’s strength against Greg Abbott and the effect that could have on candidates down the ballot.Straight-ticket voting accounted for 64 percent of all voting in the state’s ten largest counties in the 2016 general election. If that holds in 2018, almost two-thirds of the vote will be cast with more attention to party than person.No offense to Ted Cruz or Greg Abbott, or to Beto O’Rourke or Lupe Valdez, but the straight-party vote in Texas this year is likely going to be an up-or-down referendum on the most dominant and attention-gobbling figure in American politics right now.Trump’s shadow is the biggest coattail of them all.
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If you’ve ever wondered how solid state drives (SSDs) are made, then your wish will be answered over the course of the next 243 seconds. Semiconductor manufacturer Crucial has put together a video explaining just how SSDs are made, complete with some excellent visuals of the process.Here is the basic outline, from the design through packaging:Design the flash storage (Unlike many SSD vendors, Crucial actually does this)Measure memory circuitry, down the the billionth of a meter (a nanometer)Create very tiny paths on wafer (the circuits), just like on a processorOnce the wafers are finished (Crucial skipped a number of steps here) they are cut into individual chipsThe chips are put on circuit boards. They are affixed with gold wires by a very cool machine (1:29 if you want to see it in action)After inspection a protective piece of plastic is molded around each chipFlash memory chips are similarly cut and then tested.After passing testing chips are laser etched with their informationWith the components assembled, actual SSD production begins on a PCB (which Crucial also makes)Flash memory and other components are mounted on the PCB with pick-and-place machinesSSDs are inspected, by computer and visually, before they are separatedThe boards are then put into their 2.5-inch protective housings (this is what see when looking at an SSD)The information sticker is attached and the firmware is installedSSDs are tested for up to 60 hours to ensure stability and performance. Some drives are further tested with a variety of actual computers (not just huge, multi-drive testing machines)Drives are places in their retail packaging and shippedAt the core, building an SSD isn’t too different from a processor, SoC, and other any number of other semiconductors. There are a few extra steps, such as the protective packaging and the installation of firmware, but if you’re familiar with how CPUs are built then most of the scenes from this video were probably quite familiar to you.In case you were wondering, Crucial noted that the majority of this video was shot at the company’s factories in Singapore and China.And that’s how an SSD is made! It’s a very cool process and we’re glad Crucial gave us a bit of insight into its facilities, technology, and wonderfully clean rooms.More how it’s made articles at Geek.com
Contiki is giving agents the chance to win VIP tickets, for themselves and an agent mate, to this year’s sold-out Splendour in the Grass at Byron Bay, NSW, July 20-22 2018.For your chance to win, sell two Contiki trips between 14 and 31 May 2018, and jump on the Contiki Agents Aus Facebook page to say what your ideal winter getaway with Contiki would be, and why.Contiki will cover you for the ultimate festival experience – a tent pre-set up so it’s ready when you arrive, a location right near the main festival area, breakfast on festival days, a Contiki hang-out tent and an exclusive performance at the campsite by a surprise Splendour artist. With your special VIP tickets, you’ll also score Gold Bar access – the ultimate Splendour in the Grass experience!CLICK HERE for more information and full T&Cs.IMAGE: @ Splendour 2017 with Contiki agentsContikiIncentivemusicSplendour in the Grass