22 April 2018

Link round-up for 22 April 2018

Define "alpha male".

Defeat patriarchy!

Right-wingers are actually a form of plant life (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Seriously?  Metal trees?  In a place with 118°F summers?

Just in case -- some tips for the post-net-neutrality age.

Check out these Soviet space posters (found via Calvin's).  Other Communist posters have a rather different appeal.

The world of football has its standards (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Here's what these buildings originally looked like.

This person could use some help.

I'll never understand why gay Republicans stay Republican.  They're like a repeatedly-kicked dog that keeps running back to its master, hoping for better treatment this time.

This fundie effort to exploit Mother's Day backfired spectacularly.

Right-wing pastor Frank Amedia once raised an ant from the dead.  I found this after I saw him described on Mock Paper Scissors as an "ant resurrectionist" and couldn't resist investigating.

David Futrelle looks at Alex Jones's meltdown after the attack on Syria.

Catholic doctrine has evolved into a maze of sophistry and legalistic dogma, and they can't blame the Devil for that.

Liberal Christian blogger Chris Kratzer denounces the Christian Right and its unlovingness and power-hunger, more vigorously than many atheists would do.

Please watch this important video featuring President Obama (sent by Burr Deming).

Maybe we should stop leaving medical research to capitalism.

The Philadelphia Starbucks incident exemplifies the effects of racism, classism, and gentrification.  Here's more on how gentrification harms neighborhoods.

Christians made a lifelong impression on this person (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Chuck Schumer takes a strong stand for freedom, and he's not alone in seeing the light.

Theocratic Republicans crusade fanatically against abortion, but the actual direction of policy is mixed.  And they've just been thwarted in Indiana.

The global-warming-denialist ignoramus Trump chose to head NASA is also a God-hates-fags type.

This is not progress.

Don't you dare contaminate our arbitrary nonsense with different arbitrary nonsense.

Anti-Trump Evangelicals are still our enemies on most fronts.

Wingnuts love to twist words, but their own actions reveal what they are.

Eleven Republicans in Congress try to start a real witch hunt.

We need to stop destroying our own activists like this.

Online news media depend on traditional newspaper-style reporting -- but it's dying out due to costs.

A classic Christian movie series deliberately terrorized children.

Shortly after the end of the Civil War, one former slave-owner invited his former slave to come back and work for him as an employee.  Here is the ex-slave's reply.

Clerical child abuse isn't just a Catholic problem.

The horrors of lynching in the old South show the hypocrisy of the white Christianity of the time. And this shit was recent.

The innate resilience of the US system of government is reasserting itself against Republican abuses.

This dude went astray even though they gave him his own stained-glass window.

In a time when government is based on lies and delusions, the March for Science demands a return to reality.

If another species on Earth had had an advanced civilization millions of years ago, we probably would never know about it.

Global warming is destroying the Great Barrier Reef.

The Trump administration is trying to push US fundies' sexophobia on the rest of the world (found via Miss Cellania).

Arab gays and lesbians are standing up to religious bigotry and repression in their countries.

Muslim regimes and thugs react violently to the rapid spread of atheism in the Islamic world.

Dark-colored cars are being impounded in Türkmenistan because its lunatic dictator considers white "lucky" (found via Mendip).  He's also trying to eliminate air conditioners and women drivers.

India tries to get tough on its rape epidemic.

Even in China, an anti-gay stance now provokes a backlash.

Before Trump, at least two Republican Presidential candidates conspired with hostile foreign regimes to influence US elections.

The nomination of Gina "Ve haff VAYS off making you TOCK" Haspel to head the CIA faces a possible obstacle.

Juanita Jean has the week in political cartoons.  Calvin's has a Trump image dump.

Shower Cap looks at Hannity, Giuliani, and the week in Trumpian madness.  Trump's Secretary of Education is literally a joke.  A wingnut lawyer claims the media are waging Satanic war against him.

Seriously, Trump is getting dangerously worse (found via Mike the Mad Biologist).  His reign of tantrums and incompetence have created a dysfunctional regime.

Republicans have given up on running against the ACA.  They hope running against impeachment will work.  It's a natural move for an ever-more-Trumpified party.

"Play dirty"?  I'd happily accept all of this as part of the official Democratic platform.

19 April 2018

Improving words (4)

Some more revised word definitions, based on what the words visibly should mean.....

Author:  A golden Norse god (SK)

Bangladesh:  Resembling the sexual proclivities of a Catholic priest

Banking:  A monarch of prohibitions

Barbarian:  A non-Trinitarian heretic who carries quite a sting

Bottom:  A mechanical male cat (SK with a somewhat different interpretation)

Bullet:  A cross between a bull and a pullet

Caribbean:  A legume grown from chest bones in the Golden State

Definite:  A fervent believer in removing fishes' organs of locomotion

Galvanize:  To put someone in a young lady's box-like vehicle

Gambling:  Jewelry worn on the legs

Improving:  The wanderings of a small demon

Incarnation:  The land of people who never leave their automobiles

Ineffable:  Immune from being effed

Infidel:  Swallowed by a Cuban dictator

Malaysia:  Hey Oedipus, I've got somethin' to tell ya

Mistress:  Next time, aim more carefully at the hair

Molestation:  The train stop where small burrowing mammals get off

Mooring:  Your phone sounds like a cow

Pastoral:  Fondly-remembered blowjobs

Pirate:  Pricing based on the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter

Potion:  An atom stripped of some of its electrons by marijuana

Romania:  Fans' obsession with the Bajoran character from Star Trek TNG

Sinecure:  An immoral remedy delivered via the internet

Spanish:  Resembling a bridge

Subversion:  A special edition for use on undersea vessels

Tennessee:  Almost a dozen Scottish monsters

Underpants:  To make small insects renounce their stupidity

Washington:  Cleaning an enormous weight

[SK = suggested by Shaw Kenawe, a blogger enraptured by Barbie's companion.  The previous "Improving words" post is here.]

17 April 2018

On walking away

I assume many readers have read or heard of Ursula Le Guin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (summary and discussion here, full text here).  The story describes a utopian city whose continuing good fortune somehow depends on keeping a single child in perpetual misery.  Most of the inhabitants accept the situation rather than give up the happiness and prosperity this bizarre bargain affords them; others, unable to stomach it but apparently powerless to change it, simply leave Omelas -- walk away.

Most present-day humans live in Omelas.  Most present-day humans eat animal flesh in various forms, a practice important enough to them that they would not consider giving it up, even though they are at least vaguely aware that the industry which supplies this food inflicts enormous suffering on countless millions of self-aware creatures.

I started "walking away" almost a decade ago, starting with renouncing pig flesh after learning that pigs are much more intelligent (and in that sense more similar to humans and more capable of suffering) than the other animals we commonly use for food in the West.  Eventually I gave up eating meat entirely, motivated less by abstract moral arguments than by simple abhorrence.  Knowing that the differences between humans and other self-aware animals are quantitative rather than qualitative, I knew that their suffering also is fundamentally similar in kind to our own.  I've seen others come to similar conclusions.  I don't know much, nor particularly care, about all the arguments over whether animals "have rights".  I simply couldn't stomach continued complicity in a practice which doesn't actually benefit us humans much and is based on the infliction of endless misery on a colossal scale.

I know very well, of course, that my own decision not to eat meat any more doesn't do any actual good; it doesn't at all reduce the suffering of a single farm animal (similarly, those who "walked away" in Le Guin's story were not actually doing the tormented child any good), and is thus morally meaningless.  I've always been contemptuous of people who, in politics, seem to value their own sense of moral purity and non-complicity more than achieving practical results -- the kind of person who refuses to vote for a not-good-enough Democrat and thus contributes to the victory of a Republican who will inflict concrete harm which could have been avoided if the Democrat had won.  I don't claim that my refusal to be complicit in animal suffering is morally superior or significant, since it does nothing concrete to relieve that suffering.  For that reason, I don't "preach" at people who continue to eat meat (not that that would do any concrete good either -- scolding almost never works and is more likely to turn people off).  I'm simply responding to my own personal revulsion.

I do think there's value in trying to spread awareness of the issue, in a strictly educational and non-preachy way, including the benefits which abandoning meat consumption would have for humans (more efficient agriculture, for example).  Vegetarianism is spreading, little by little, at least in advanced countries.  When we reach the point that animal-abusive farming actually starts to shrink in scope because of decreasing demand, that's what will constitute moral progress.

15 April 2018

Link round-up for 15 April 2018

Librarians have a sense of humor.

Cool house.

"I like math."

Get some rest with synchronized napping.

Photos immortalize people dressed as chickens.

Maybe there's harvesting going on either way.

Let Scary Mary's Freebie Friday show you how to get free stuff (similar posts there each Friday).

Some people don't understand computers, some do.

.....and so blissful quiet was restored.

Oscar Wilde is still remembered.

Hot Satanic teen chicks tried to seduce Alex Jones.

Edith Vonnegut did a painting a day for each of Trump's first 100 days, excepting golf days (found via Perfect Number).

Communist-era hotels evoke their time (found via Miss Cellania).

As of 2013 at least 23% (and perhaps far more) of Americans had abandoned religion, up from 16% just six years earlier.  We are the fastest-growing demographic group in the country.

The Bitcoin bubble is bursting.

Pat Robertson feels dominated by evil homos.  More modern haters have their own fear and loathing of evil penises.

Restoration of paintings is an art in itself.

God hates organ transplants, apparently.

Crazy Eddie looks at the decline of meatspace places -- shopping malls and iconic chain stores.  Not only are Americans migrating to the internet, but there's a natural tension between the demands of capitalism and the nature of public space.

Devout Catholics are horrified at the thought that unbelievers might not be tortured for all eternity.

I have a right to hate that which hates me.

A dozen thinkers offer plans for reducing inequality (found via Miss Cellania).

Bruce Gerencser looks back on his career as an asshole street preacher.

Elites are wrong about public opinion, sometimes in surprising ways.

The Christian Right's goals would make this routine in the United States.

The "Red Letter Revival" wants to separate Evangelicalism from Trumpism.  Good luck with that one.

The Vietnam war helped unite and intensify today's white-power movement.

Yet another wingnut goes down after making a vile verbal attack on David Hogg.

Why did white Southerners fail to see the obvious similarities between lynchings and the crucifixion of Jesus?

No surprise -- anti-science trolls exist.

Harris is right, Klein is wrong, and Carpenter makes a good point.

Here's some new technology for protecting internet privacy.

Birds can (sort of) see the Earth's magnetic field, which helps them navigate.

Religious parents brainwash their children with horror and murder videos.

If you really want to help the Palestinians, here's how.

The rise of Islam was basically a step backward for women, even in those days.

That woman wearing a veil may be an atheist.  Atheism is on the rise in Islamic countries, despite official persecution.

Now this is what I call an omen.

You've heard of that anonymous Republican Congressman's tirade against Trump -- here's the whole thing.

Only the dregs want to work for Trump now.

Here's what Hecate Demeter hopes a Democratic supermajority will bring.

The raid on Cohen shows that the investigations of Trump could still bring him down even if Mueller is fired -- which wouldn't be simple.  One way or another, the law is coming (found via Miss Cellania).  The Stormy story matters, and there's likely much more behind the raid.

"Have you read it?" (found via Hackwhackers)

Nonnie9999 is back online and can hardly wait to hear the tapes! Cohen apparently made.

Trump's "business empire" was a shabby, sleazy little family racket.

Republicans may have to sacrifice the House to save control of the Senate.  House Republicans are retiring in dramatic numbers.

Trump's Libby pardon was a giant insult to the intelligence community.  His trade war with China will devastate his rural loyalists.  But his bombing of Syria was relatively by-the-book.

Ricardo Rosselló plans to mobilize Puerto Rican voters in the mainland US.

Trump's most enthusiastic voters were white, ignorant, and rich.

Hackwhackers and Mock Paper Scissors contemplate the legacy of Paul Ryan.  Shower Cap also takes note, during his regular round-up of wingnut madness.

The waters are rising.

11 April 2018

Video of the day -- forbidden love


08 April 2018

The "blue wave" is just the beginning

It's long been obvious to me that the "culture war" in our country (and elsewhere) does not allow the possibility of permanent compromise or negotiated peace.  The gulf is too wide and too deep.  In the end, one side must achieve total victory over the other -- and of course I want the winning side to be ours.  We can perhaps tolerate enclaves of fundamentalism here and there as long as they renounce all efforts to interfere with our culture and personal freedoms, but ultimately it's either our world or theirs, and theirs could only really be established by rolling back all the progress made since the time of Galileo.  It must be, and ultimately will be, our world.

This article by Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira convincingly articulates the same view of the Democratic-Republican divide which is, to a great extent, our country's political expression of that culture war.  "There's no bipartisan way forward at this juncture in our history  -- one side must win," the authors declare.  They argue that the country will ultimately follow the path shown by California, where the Republican party has been effectively wiped out except at the local level in peripheral areas, and policy debates take place within the framework of the Democrats' consensus.  A similar seismic shift at the national level would leave the Republicans relegated to just a few states and localities, with the federal government and most states under solid Democratic control, at least for several decades.

One can see signs which future hindsight will deem unmistakable.  With its rejection of science and objective reality, and its embrace of bigotry and religious fundamentalism, the Republican party would, in any other Western democracy, be a lunatic-fringe minor force; even in the US it can only win national elections by exploiting factors like gerrymandering, vote-suppression laws, and the anti-democratic effects of the Electoral College and the distribution of Senate seats.  Even with such unfair advantages, it is likely to lose control of Congress this year.  Trump and the party's embrace of him have brought things to the brink by stripping Republicanism of its last threadbare rags of sanity, and mobilizing an awakened populace against the madness.  To Leyden and Teixeira, the Republican losses in various red districts so far this year are harbingers of a total implosion.  Trump's win was a dead-cat bounce, a final thrashing paroxysm before the collapse.

They argue that this year's blue wave, however massive, must and will be only the beginning.  It will take at least one further election cycle to completely drive the Republicans from power -- but remember that 2020 will be a Presidential year, with far more Republican Senate seats at risk than this year, and that state governments elected in 2018 and 2020 will control the next round of Congressional redistricting.  A crushing victory is within reach.

Please read the article -- its inspirational and explanatory power will make you glad you did.

Link round-up for 8 April 2018

There are spies everywhere.

The stairs go down and down and down.....

He's just feeding the fish (found via Miss Cellania).

Sofa geometry is hard.

Hawaiians express themselves through license plates.

History matters.

This is not the educational system of an advanced country.

Multnomah county (which is mostly Portland) is pretty advanced, but apparently we've got at least one backward judge.

Even back then, they saw both points of view.

Christian love:  church leaders fight each other over which people the church should shun.

Fox decides that Ingraham's attack on the Parkland students is worth fighting for.  But her right to free speech doesn't include a right to have advertisers keep funding her program.  See a lesser Hogg hater get pwned here.

Religion keeps a tenacious grip on its captives.  It also gives them weird sexual obsessions.

The Trump regime compiling a database of friends and enemies in the media is totally nothing to worry about.

Bruce Gerencser continues his story of a Christian marriage.

Wingnuts rally around Kevin "first, hang all the women" Williamson.

Motherhood is terrible because that's the kind of culture we have (found via Miss Cellania).

The truth offends me, so shut up.

Here's some background on the Roseanne Barr / Hitler photos.  The idea that anyone found this funny is nauseating.

A veteran speaks out on the gun debate.

Maddow pwns Hannity.

Prominent wingnuts love The Camp of the Saints (see my review of it here).

Hate-crazed fanatic gets banned from YouTube, throws hysterical tantrum.

Shooting kids is totally no big deal.

If Christians' lives are ruled by God, why doesn't he stop them from doing evil things?

David Futrelle has a round-up of readings on the collapse of the Alt-Right.

The fact that some cultures believe in something doesn't mean it's real (and activists are often misunderstanding those cultures, anyway).

The gripping story of the El Faro exemplifies how small mistakes can add up to disaster.

Don't mock Plan Bee.

There is already technology to fool face-recognition software.

The white rhino is the latest victim of human stupidity.

This mysterious galaxy has something missing.

We are all neotenic.

There's no longer a "leader of the free world", and maybe there shouldn't be.

Trump needs to do these things in the Baltic region.  He won't.

Mexican voters are choosing better than ours did.

Dâ'ish (ISIL) is beaten, but Syria is still divided.

Abandoned by the US, Syria's Kurds turn to France, prompting a Trumpish outburst from Erdoğan.

Racist fake history gets squelched by genetics.

Trump's trade war with China will inflict heavy economic casualties -- among his own supporters.  It could finally overcome Congress's reluctance to impeach.

On many issues, the leftward shift of the Democrats is in line with what the public wants (found via Miss Cellania).  The party must also work to mobilize Asian voters and young voters.

Evangelical Trumpanzees have no choice but to embrace hypocrisy.

A Pruitt miasma has settled over the EPA.

Like olden-day gangsters, Trump and the Trumplings are engaged in a tit-for-tat war with the law.  All Trump's bullshit will come to a head right before the election.  Here's what it means to say he's a "subject" rather than a "target" of Mueller's investigation.  And Mueller may have found that witch Trump claims he's hunting.

As Republicans realize they can't win on tax "reform", they'll resort to bigotry and division.

Democrats need unity and solidarity, not ideological purity.  More great political art here and here -- and the ultimate Chris Christie portrait.

Mass culture has primed young people to fight Trump.

Shower Cap reviews the Scott Pruitt scandals and the rest of the Trumpworld lunacyMore madness here.

For more links, see Miss Cellania, Perfect Number, and Fair and Unbalanced.

[444 days down, 1,018 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

05 April 2018

The great wall -- a modest proposal

Trumpanzees' gullibility and imperviousness to evidence can be maddening to deal with.  Tell them anything they don't want to hear and they'll just say "fake news", no matter how solid your sources of information.  This is really the natural culmination of a trend which has been part of the right-wing mentality for decades.  People who reject evolution, global warming, Keynesian economics, etc. need to develop the ability to ignore mountains of evidence while believing only what their trusted puppet-masters tell them -- and eventually they'll start applying that ability everywhere.  It's no wonder right-wing sites are festooned with ads of the "dermatologists HATE this man" and "INSANE credit card" genre.  Scammers know just where to find the kind of easy marks who think they're "standing up to the experts" when in fact they're just being conned.

Yes, it's frustrating to deal with, but what if we could turn the tables by treating this Trumpanzee attitude as a resource to be exploited for positive purposes?

If there's one campaign promise they have their hearts set on, it's the wall.  Trump himself seems to realize this, repeatedly insisting that the wall is in fact being built, or is about to be built, even though it isn't.  The thing is, though, the Trumpanzees believe it.  On the far-right discussion site F169, since the inauguration, I've sometimes seen liberals taunt the regulars about the wall not getting built.  The regulars have responded by insisting that it is, posting links to stories about fencing construction that have nothing to do with Trump, random pictures of sections of wall that were built years ago or aren't even in North America, whatever they can find.  They stubbornly refuse to admit the stupid thing just isn't being built.  (A lot of them are similarly convinced Mueller is soon going to indict Hillary.  I'm not kidding.)

I say we go with it.  Trump should simply announce, one day, that the wall has been built and is now complete along the whole border.  Nobody has to so much as put one brick on top of another -- just make the announcement.  Once Trump says it, in the Trumpanzee mind, it will become true.  Anytime they see a news report mentioning that there's no wall, they'll dismiss it as fake news.  If you tell them it's not there, they'll call you a "dumbass libturd" who watches CNN and MSNBC.  If sites like Breitbart fail to play along, they'll start losing viewers (this has happened a few times when they deviated from wingnut "reality").  The 'zees will get their beloved wall (in their own heads).  Trump will get credit for keeping a major campaign promise.  The government will save the $30 billion or whatever that it would take to actually build the damn thing.  Americans will avoid having a huge permanent standing insult to our neighbor and second-biggest export market.  Everybody wins!

In fact, this approach could solve a lot of problems.  If Trump announced that North Korea had caved and given up its nukes, Iran had been bombed into oblivion, almost all illegals had been deported, Europe was paying tribute, everyone had switched back from solar power to coal, and Christianity had been made the US official religion -- the 'zees would believe him.  He'd be acclaimed everywhere he went, which is what he really craves.  Maybe we could even get him to resign, if certain wingnut news outlets could be persuaded to keep on reporting that he was still President and still winning bigly every day.  He could spend all his (non-golfing) time attending rallies as "President" without the hassle of actually running anything or worrying about Mueller.  The real media could still report on what the actual President and government were doing.  There'd be no risk of the 'zees catching on -- it would all be "fake news" to them.

Wouldn't it be dangerous, you might ask, to have one-third of the population of a superpower living in a world of total self-delusion unmoored from objective reality?  Well, hasn't that been the case since the rise of Fox news, if not the Scopes trial?  We might as well make the best of it.  And if their delusions keep sloshing over into the real world the way they've been doing under Trump, we probably won't remain a superpower much longer anyway.

[Image at top by Mario Piperni, whose blog is sadly long-defunct, though he occasionally posts on Twitter]

03 April 2018

Improving words (3)

Some more revised word definitions, based on what the words visibly should mean.....

Artisanal:  I suppose it is, if you paint with shit

Carbuncle:  Your mother's brother who likes the sweet stuff

Copulate:  Officer, I expected you a lot earlier

Democrat:  To rescind one's ridicule of a rodent

Detergent:  To scare away an honorable man

Discuss:  To retract one's profanity

Godspeed:  He's taken a leak for forty days and forty nights

Homophone:  A telephone reserved for gay people (suggested by Shaw Kenawe)

I Ching:  What happens when you use that ancient Chinese gag item, the i ching pao da

Important:  A small insect bought from another country

Investigator:  A capitalist animal related to the crocodile

Leonard:  The most effective place to kick a lion

Napkin:  Relatives you take brief sleeps with

Panama:  To give a mother a negative review

Plaintiff:  A quarrel, but not a fancy one

Prosecute:  An adorable piece of writing

Redolent:  To repeat a Catholic observance

Sinister:  An immoral river comprising the northern border of the eastern Roman Empire

Truculent:  The hauling vehicle I borrowed from you

Previous "improving words" posts here and here.

01 April 2018

Link round-up for 1 April 2018

Design your vanity license plate carefully.

Here's an example of innovative transport.

This is how creative people see the world.

We have the Easter egg, Scandinavia has the Easter chick.

Look into this if you're very keen on movies.

It's nice having a pal to hang out with.

"Yes, we know it's a stupid law."

Here's a round-up of Easter oddities.

A would-be clam molester gets pwned (found via Mendip).

He found some backbone.

Here's the DC weather forecast in one cartoon (found via Hackwhackers).

It's what Jesus would have done.

Looks to me like a cotton tree.

Professor Chaos fisks Santorum.

The latest Nibiru nutcase believes vampire stars are eating the Sun (found via Mendip).

Keep up the good work.

Explore the dark world of rabbits in the movies.

Rocky Horror was a lifeline to many in its time.

The Shape of Water has some surprising fans today.

I don't open unless I know who it is -- how about you?

The internet was cool before the shitheads glommed onto it (found via Fair and Unbalanced) -- I think most of it's still pretty cool.

Murrmurrs has a few questions for a wingnut.

The times have been changing since 1964 and it's not going to stop.

Two marches, two reactions.

It's the latest innovation in Christian education.

Here's how badly Facebook and Google invade your privacy -- though not mine, since I don't use Facebook or most of the stuff mentioned -- and here's Facebook's feeble attempt at damage control (both links found via Mendip).

Bruce Gerencser looks back at the beginning of a Christian marriage.

Please read this with an open mind.

In the war on science, Democrats and Republicans choose opposite sides.

A fast-growing new minority is making its influence felt in the South and Texas.

The "Mike Pence rule" is for weak men with shallow lives.

Best sign from the Boston March for Our Lives (found via Progressive Eruptions).  National march photos here.  In general the right-wing response has been to wallow in pitiful personal attacks.  RedState is so desperate that they want the activists' parents to shut them up.

Green Eagle looks at early Christian Right fanatic Father Charles Coughlin.  The video in the post has been taken down, but here's another version of it -- it will definitely remind you of someone.

It's not ideology, just ugliness.  Absolute ugliness.

If there is ever a real holocaust in the US, people like these will be the willing executioners.

"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

This is how you become a "shithole country".

Laura Ingraham fought the Hoggs, and the Hoggs wonTwitter reacts.  More on Ingraham hereOther haters such as Ted Nugent are sounding like frothing morons.

Americans are almost evenly divided on guns, but that means gun rights have much more support than at any time in the first decade of this century.

Shitty "comedian" puts on Hitler face, trashes Israel -- here's the photo if it doesn't appear in the post for you.  What is wrong with people that they can find this funny?

Even NRO sees that the war on gays in government is over.

Teenage behavior is improving, for a stunningly simple reason (found via Mike the Mad Biologist).

It's big and red and full of metal, which means it's very, very old.

They've tainted Germany's beer -- this will surely mean war!

The Pope won't apologize for generations of child abuse in Canada.

Iran has intelligent plans for responding to a US attack, based on asymmetric warfare intended to maximize casualties.  A 2002 military exercise suggests that such tactics could be devastatingly effective.

Sorry, it's fine with me if the Arab countries hang all these shitheads.

Theocratic oppression is driving millions away from Islam, especially in Iran.  Interest in atheist ideas and writings is growing in many nations dominated by Islam.  (Recall that almost a decade ago I wrote that "Islam's grip on its adherents may be far more fragile than it appears".)

Don't put ideology over people.

The omnibus bill fully funds a border wall, but not the one the Trumpanzees want.

As I've long observed, Pence isn't as popular with the Christian Right as many believe -- they consider him a weakling for backing down in Indiana.

Electoral-Vote.com analyzes the Stormy Daniels interview.  Crooks and Liars has a round-up of reactions.

This is how to hire the best people.

Without Dowd, Trump's interview with Mueller is gonna be epic.

Many US voting machines are sitting ducks for hackers.

Here's how Bolton may trick Americans into a war we don't want.

The enemy is bitterly divided.  Let our side not follow their example.

This year's blue tsunami will meet a red wall of gerrymandering -- here's a look at the numbers.  We need to mobilize popular enthusiasm and not deaden it with outdated leadership.

Trump doesn't want to talk about police shootings of blacks, for some reason.

Shower Cap's blog reviews the insanity of the last few days.

Wnat more links?  See Perfect Number, Mike the Mad Biologist, and Fair and Unbalanced.  The Debate Link has links on Jewish news.

[Image at top from NASA, Ingraham gif found via Mock Paper Scissors]

30 March 2018

End of a blog

Today marks one year since the last post on the blog Republic of Gilead.  I've seen many blogs disappear or go dormant over the years, but this one is particularly missed.  Its subtitle "Warily Watching the Religious Right" summed it up perfectly, and the watching was both diligent and insightful.  Author "Ahab" wrote very detailed, link-rich analyses of Christian Right events, speeches, movies, and other assertions and manifestations of their twisted goals for American society.  No other source I know of covered the subject so thoroughly.

Ahab is still on the net, on Twitter, and in his final blog comments he said that he had simply become too busy for blogging.  I suppose it's still possible he'll return -- perhaps if Pence becomes President?

29 March 2018

Random observations for March 2018

No matter how popular something is, there are people out there who haven't heard of it.

o o o o o

We recoil in horror from the mass insanities that gripped society in the past, and admire the brave few who stood against them. At the same time, we double down on the mass insanities which possess us right now, and rage with righteous fervor against those obstinate few who dare question our mania.

o o o o o

There are two kinds of people -- those who always have a reason why they couldn't do what they promised, and those who do what they promised.

o o o o o

How limited the existence of the ancients must have been! We feel deprived when forced to do without electricity for a day -- no computer, no proper lighting, in most cases no cooked food, while the stockpile in the refrigerator threatens to warm to blah-ness and ultimately spoil. Yet for thousands of years everyone had to do without electricity all their lives.  Think of the Romans after sunset, squinting over their parchments by the dull glow of oil lamps! How many conveniences we take for granted which they could never have imagined! All the more remarkable that they accomplished as much as they did.

o o o o o

The defeat of aging isn't going to take the form of some one discrete, miraculous breakthrough that can be banned without affecting "normal" medical technology. Instead, there will be incremental, but increasingly rapid, advances in many areas. It will be impossible for the deathists (those who oppose curing aging) to draw a clear line between the technology which ends up staving off aging permanently and that which simply continues to keep people healthier as they age.

o o o o o

It's hard enough to build a relationship that's satisfactory to just yourself and the other person in it, never mind also worrying about it being acceptable to all the prigs and bluenoses out there who object to one thing or another.

o o o o o

I don't regret the "bad" things I've done. I regret all the "bad" things I was too ignorant or timid to do, and for which it's too late now.

[For previous random observations, see here.]

26 March 2018

The worst that could happen

The recent elevation of John Bolton is a sobering reminder of what remains by far the biggest threat posed by Trump in the Presidency.

We can hardly keep up with the whirlwind of lies, insults, blunders, gaffes, adultery, resignations, lawsuits, emoluments, firings, golf, racism, Russian spies, FBI investigations, Putin-coddling, and what have you.  Our capacity for shock has been bludgeoned into numbness and this travesty of a government is coming to seem more tragically ridiculous than anything else.  But this is a deadly serious game.

Just before the election I wrote about the danger of giving control of the US nuclear arsenal to a man as belligerent, impulsive, and morally blind as Trump:

What if Trump lost his temper and acted on impulse during a future feud with Iran, for example?  The Tehran metropolitan area contains about sixteen million people.  A single act of rage could produce a death toll two and a half times that of the Nazi holocaust.  And the very name "American" would then be branded with that act for generations.....Electing Trump would mean creating an intolerable risk of an act of mass murder to which we as voters would all be accessories.

More recently Trump's belligerence has been more focused on Korea.  The situation there is more complex; even a non-nuclear act of US aggression could trigger a North Korean attack on South Korea or even Japan, and the conflict could quickly become nuclear.  Trump would be responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent people (yes, North Koreans are innocent people -- they have no say at all in the actions of their ruling junta).  It would be mass murder on a Nazi-like scale, a horror a thousand times more terrible than the worst things we fear Trump might do within our own country.  And again, the stain of this crime would define the United States in the eyes of the world for generations to come.

Having Bolton as National Security Advisor hugely increases the danger that something like this could actually happen.  Trump is notorious for being easily swayed by whoever was the last person to talk to him, and the presence of military leaders such as Mattis and McMaster, who really understand war, in Trump's inner circle may well have prevented disaster(s) over the last year.  With the notoriously bellicose Bolton now replacing McMaster, one of the main voices outside Trump's head will now be egging on, not restraining, the worst of those inside it.  In the past Bolton has called for war with both Iran and North Korea, and Trump has repeatedly shown an inability to grasp that nuclear weapons exist for deterrence, not actual use.  And many think he's looking for a "distraction" from the ever-deepening tar pit of scandals and the coming showdown with Mueller.

There's some basis for hope that Bolton, like so many others in this administration, will be a short-timer.  But the fact that Trump chose him is a bad sign for the future.  Trump must be removed from the Presidency, whether by impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or pressure from saner people; and while he remains, he must be restrained by whatever means are available.  If the worst happens, everyone who had any power to prevent it and failed to do so -- Congress, the generals, the Electoral College, the voters -- will go down in history as accessories to atrocity.  And they will deserve it.

[Image at top:  Tehran]

25 March 2018

Link round-up for 25 March 2018

These are the commonest breeds of cat.

People in movies act weird (found via Miss Cellania).

Now this is Lego.

I see a shark.

Albino vampire trees exist.

Jellyfish meets ring bubble, wishes he hadn't (found via TYWKIWDBI).

They're watching you.

Check out these marionettes from Montreal.

The Earth is round, mammoths had shitty genes, feminism is evil -- all in one Tumblr post.

Visit the Seven Wonders!  Ah, Alexandria.....

Curious clouds.

Pamukkale is an exotic-looking spa.

There is now a Satanic tampon prison charity in Arizona.

English has evolved, and continues to do so.

Here comes another godawful fundie movie.

Lived once, buried twice.

Make your ancestors proud by abandoning religion (the point applies just as well to most Christians).

A Christian says Stephen Hawking was a tool of Satan (I like the comment by "Howitis").  Oh, and so are the Girl Scouts.

Change the future.

Planning to fly?  Here's where the germs are.

Let's hope the trade wars don't threaten this vital US export to Brazil (found indirectly via Green Eagle).

How long does a severed head remain conscious?

San Francisco's airport will honor one of the city's martyrs.

Sorry, this stuff is just random gibberish.

What have unions ever done for you?

A Christian extremist group is compiling an enemies list.

There's a difference between racism and cultural influence.

Stop pushing homosexuality in public.

Be honest about what you oppose (found via Perfect Number).

New legislation will endanger sex workers by taking away their safest option for connecting with clients.  As usual, the assholes supporting this law are ignoring the voices of those who will be hurt by it.

Green Eagle has the week in internet wingnuttery, and a painting of Trump that's just bizarre.  Update:  Here's the post on the painter he mentions in the comments.

It's not only gays who can be murdered for their sexuality.

The Tennessee legislature says it lacks the "expertise" to condemn Nazis.  Ohio Republicans have no such qualms about banning abortion.

The Great Mills school attack exemplifies how an armed guard with proper training (not armed teachers) can stop a would-be mass shooter in his tracks.

Court precedent is clear -- religion does not legitimize breaking the law.

The Toys R Us bankruptcy illustrates the nature of capitalism.

The case of Gerald L. K. Smith illustrates how religious intolerance has been part of American conservatism for generations.

Just when sanity was dawning in the War on Drugs, Trump opens a new front with opioids.

Religion isn't morality.

The fossil-fuel industry is about to abandon global-warming denialism, but the damage is already done.

Norwegian scientists claim there's a way to prevent hurricanes.

Stephen Hawking will be buried in Britain's highest place of honor, in Westminster Abbey next to Isaac Newton.

Understand what science is, and what it isn't.

Racism works differently in Europe.

Syria's Kurds put their trust in the US as they fought against Dâ'ish (ISIL).  Now Trump is betraying them.

What can we do about the threat posed by Russia?  International solidarity helps.  And mafia regimes like those of Russia and China are unstable in the long term.

Nobody -- not even the Chinese regime -- really knows what's going on in China.

Sexual initiation camps for girls are a centuries-old tradition in Malawi.

Shower Cap can hardly keep up with Trump's bullshit, but he's inspired by Bolton's second chance.  Bill Maher has some choice words too.

Some Democrats are already hitching their wagons to yesterday's huge gun marches.  However, these people exist.

Here's why Trump hasn't fired Mueller yet.  Here are several views on what the consequences could be.  One option, replacing Sessions with Pruitt, has its own difficulties.  Congressional Republicans' position is ambiguous.

NRO is unhappy with the spending bill passed this week.  So are the religio-nutters.  Some Trumpanzees are turning against their idol.  Democrats got a pretty good deal.  Here are some winners and losers.

Trump isn't funny any more, if he ever was.

The choice is clear, but we came so close to having a better option.

Hillary was right about the Trumpanzees.

Democrats had good reason to block the "right to try" law.

What if Trump's Evangelical supporters had lived at the time of the mythical King David?

A shorter round-up than usual, I know.  For more links, see Perfect Number, Miss Cellania, and Fair and Unbalanced.

[Image at top:  Westminster Abbey, London, built 1245-1517]

23 March 2018

Video of the day -- scary Mary

Music has a huge effect on how we perceive visual images.  Movies would literally not be the same without it.