30 June 2012

Video of the week -- gospel town

The animation came from this powerful little short.

28 June 2012

Dewey defeats Obamacare!

Check out these instant-classic reports on today's big news, from the MSM and the Tennessee Republican party:

[Found via Progressive Eruptions, Parsley's Pics, and Ramona's Voices.]

What's that we've heard so often, that you shouldn't waste your time reading blogs because they offer nothing but unreliable hearsay and opinion, while the MSM meticulously check their facts so you can be sure you're getting the real scoop?

Well, for news of a decision profoundly affecting millions of people, news which we've known since Monday would be announced today (so the timing was no surprise), news destined to evoke widespread joy and widespread fury however it came out -- it looks like you'd have been better off relying on your favorite little political blog than on Fox or even on CNN (CNN, for crying out loud).  If we can't count on them to get this right, what are they good for?



26 June 2012

Infidel interview

Grundy of Deity Shmeity has posted an interview with me.

Ode to orthography

Will the gods rein in this reign of rain?
Only if we write the right rite.
Flee, flea! Bye-bye! Buy by the sea you see;
The oarsman rows where the rows of rose rose.

At Yule you'll know no doubt
That you're your own hero of yore.
Hoard what the horde whored out
And we'll wheel out a way to weigh the whey.

So sew a veil for this vale of tears;
If no new gnu knew, wood would steal steel.
Let Hugh hew to his coarse course;
Let the foul fowl sip from the vile vial.

Don the bridal bridle, for four is two too many, to many.
Send a male to mail lyres to liars;
When they're there, their mite might tell
Which witch I eye, for its nose knows.

Was Abel able to cane Cain?
Test his mettle with metal, pluck a mote from the moat?
Should you bow to a yew bough, or a beach beech,
Pay a fair fare for the fairy ferry, as the gays gaze?

Let a dodo give a doe dough and not knot it up,
And she'll counsel the council to tax tacks.
On the isle I'll seek a Sikh, and cite this site on sight;
At least I leased it from a lesser lessor!

24 June 2012

Link round-up for 24 June 2012

Picture number 1, every time.

Yee-hah!  Cristina Rad ("ZOMGitsCriss") now has a blog!

When you rite, get it rite.

Here's a music review from a religious perspective.

Sports headlines can be funny.

Yep, Pat Robertson is bonkers.

Is this inter-species oral necrophilia or what (found via Mendip).

Here's a blog for those who wish to truly serve Jesus.

Most internet trolls are probably just as bad in meatspace.

Jolly Roger, as Diogenes, finds an honest right-winger.

Explosive outrage in defense of faith could mean the truth is starting to get through.

Dismissing real news with jokes and zombie references can have serious consequences.

Some Christians get it.

A Michigan town used creativity to beat the teabaggers.

After Seamus the dog there was Super Hit the horse.  The Romneys' tax deduction on this horse is more than your whole annual income.

Charles Johnson unearths more revolting racism on the right.

The Catholic Church is evil beyond redemption -- the only thing a decent person can do is leave (found via Republic of Gilead).

The more we learn about Romney, the clearer it is that he's been an economically-destructive parasite.

Per a recent court ruling, this was "improper"Improper???

Under Jindal's voucherization of Louisiana education, state money will go to the teaching of utter lunacy.

A new study confirms -- the Ryan budget would raise taxes on most Americans while cutting them only for the rich.

Christian hate has deep roots.

The Mormon factor could still be a problem for Romney.

Yet another religious thug reacts to free expression with threats of violence.

Bush had ample warning of the September 11 attack.

True Biblical scholars quickly find out that religion and the intellect just don't mix (found via Republic of Gilead).

Business pays the price for cutting corners on personnel (NSFW blog).  But consider who's in charge.

However loathsome gay-marriage opponents are, our side shouldn't sink to the enemy's level.

The Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain marks its fifth anniversary.  And yes, there's a reason for the "Ex".

German neo-Nazis helped out their spiritual brothers in 1972.

The EU Commission is trying to get girls interested in science, a worthy aim, but its first music video is a horribly-embarrassing misfire.

From 2006 to 2011 the number of non-religious people in Australia increased by over a million.

Russia prepares a de-facto blasphemy law to protect religion from being called to account for its venality and hypocrisy.

This is going to mean trouble -- Turkey isn't going to take any crap from the two-bit gangster state in Damascus.

Religious logic:  The Taliban retaliate against US drone strikes by banning polio vaccinations for Muslim children.

Barbaric Saudi Arabia has executed a woman by beheading -- for the crime of sorcery.

There's a good reason why those Nigerian e-mail scams are so pathetically transparent (found via Mendip).

Gothic Atheist looks at the world's biggest parrot.

An unexpected element turns up in Iceland's gene pool (be sure to read Ed Skinner's comment).

A new find of ancient treasure in Germany reminds us that there's more to history than we know yet.

Some of our machines are now far beyond the home solar system, hurtling into interstellar space.

22 June 2012

Video of the week -- Bernie Sanders

Our country's (shudder) socialist Senator talks plain sense again.  Found via Ranch Chimp.

19 June 2012

Greek tragedy

Sunday's election outcome in Greece was as big a defeat for Europe as the Wisconsin vote two weeks ago was for our own country.  A divided leftist vote allowed conservatives to eke out a narrow win and commit the country to staying the (disastrous) course, guaranteeing that the people's misery will continue to deepen and nothing will get resolved, at least in the short term.

Background:  The two main traditional parties in Greece are the conservative New Democracy (ND) and the socialist PASOK, both steeped in Greece's long-standing culture of corruption and both more or less submissive to the EU's imposition of austerity policies which are wrecking Greece's economy and society.  An upstart far-left party, Syriza, wants to reject austerity, claiming that the EU is bluffing about cutting off Greece's bail-out loans if it does so.

A Syriza win would have had one of two results: (1) Greece abandons austerity, the EU cuts off the bail-outs, Greece defaults and abandons the euro currency for the drachma, confidence in the euro collapses and the euro-zone breaks up.  (2) Greece abandons austerity, the EU caves out of fear of the consequences of Greece abandoning the euro and continues the bail-outs, other countries in similar straits (Spain, Italy), abandon austerity having seen Greece get away with it, austerity policies are abandoned across Europe.

Either scenario would have put Europe on the road to recovery.  Austerity has locked Europe's weaker economies in a death spiral, driving up unemployment, wrecking welfare states, and worsening the debt / deficit problems they are supposedly meant to solve.  The euro currency prevents those same economies from restoring international competitiveness via devaluation.  Abandoning either would help; abandoning both would be best.

[Background on Europe's problems here, more here.]

But it was not to be.  ND got 29.7% of the vote, edging out Syriza with 26.9%, while PASOK came in third with 12.3%.  If a fraction of PASOK voters had opted for Syriza, the latter would have won.  But the EU's threats, and fear of having to abandon the euro (this would actually benefit Greece in the long run, but most Greeks either don't realize this or fear the leap into the unknown), apparently proved too much for some voters.

Challenges remain.  ND cannot form a government unless it forms a coalition with PASOK or with some combination of even smaller parties; PASOK says it won't join a coalition unless Syriza too is included.  But the most likely outcome is an ND-led government of some sort, submissive to the EU's will; austerity will continue its ruinous course, the economy will continue to shrink, jobs and the middle class will continue to be destroyed, and the best people will continue to emigrate.

Things can't go on like that forever, of course.  Even ND wants some alleviation of the austerity policies (it won't be easy for a party that won less than 30% of the vote to press on with policies hated by most of the public), and continuing with them may simply be impossible.  Staying the course will ultimately lead to total collapse and / or violence, anarchy, and perhaps a military coup to restore order.  With Spain, Italy, and the new French government now favoring growth policies over austerity, it's possible that the EU itself could change, especially if next year's election in Germany replaces Merkel's conservatives with a socialist government, as seems likely.  But for now, the architects of Europe's ruin remain firmly in the saddle.

For more background, see Paul Krugman's debunking of popular myths about Greece, and a couple of videos with Britain's straight-talking Nigel Farage from earlier this year -- here addressing a Greek youth group:

and here interviewed on Russia TV:

More from Farage here.

17 June 2012

Link round-up for 17 June 2012

From Britain, a classic police cock-up.

Fedex mechanics are cool.

Here's the funniest Prometheus review on the net.

That "overly attached girlfriend" thing that's all over the place originated with this video, which is actually a lot cleverer than most of the posters (or whatever you call them).

Russian dashboard cams capture some dramatic moments.

Take that, Merkel.

In a real apocalypse, a bunker wouldn't save you.

How big is Los Angeles?

Orwell knew what journalism is (and this goes double for Danish cartoons).

Union leader, tax-raiser, abortion-legalizer, amnesty supporter -- Republican hero.

Alvin Plantinga's bleatings against the New Atheists fall flat.

"Leave it up to the states" -- we already tried that.

This list of degrees least likely to get you a job doesn't bode well for our future as a country.

Republicans have changedThis essay pretty much sums up what they are now.  This guy gets it.

Mormons pioneer a whole new style of confusion about sexuality.

Virginia Republicans, like those of North Carolina, think reality will go away if they ignore it (I keep wanting to make a King Canute joke, but he actually knew he couldn't stop the sea from coming in just by saying so).

The Obama campaign failed us in Wisconsin, and now the chickens come home to roost.

What group founded over 40% of Fortune 500 companies?  The answer might surprise you.

Brown Man has some choice words for the Republicans harassing Eric Holder.

The younger generation turns away from ancient superstition.

Ramona's Voices looks at Michigan Republicans' pearl-clutching fit over the word "vagina".  Romney too once had a problem with words.

Back in December Ashley Miller took a good look at Ron Paul.  Here's some of the response she got. Read this too.

If you're old or expect to become old someday, read this.

Don't let Jeb fool you -- the right wing is still bonkers, and losing in November won't improve things.

Religious leader Peter Lucas Moses thought his son might be gay, so he did the logical thing.

Obamacare drives a wedge between pragmatic Republicans and the utter loons.

US crime rates are lower than ever.

Republicans support the troops, unless they get raped.

A British former Prime Minister says Murdoch lied under oath.

The Falklands, once again under threat from Argentina, will hold a referendum.

Amnesty International says Europe is too tough on illegal migrants -- but Russia is about to get even tougher.

These Russian ladies have seen a lot.

Even for an anti-smoking campaign, the Islamotards just can't leave out the Jew-hating.

Egypt's interim military regime dissolves Parliament, thwarting the Islamists but also democracy.

The Japanese may finally be turning against the loathsome practice of killing whales for meat.

In Africa, Christian and Muslim leaders unite in hatred of gays.

This history of hysteria is hysterical.

The biology of the naked mole rat provides important clues to why aging happens.

Some of the ancient cave art in Europe may be the work of Neanderthals.

16 June 2012

Obama's illegal-alien initiative

While I've always been opposed to any amnesty for illegal aliens, it's hard to see much downside to this proposal.  The only people able to take advantage of it would be those who were brought into the US illegally as children by their parents, and who grew up here, knowing the US much better than their country of origin; realistically, this is not a group that was ever going to be deported anyway, nor leave voluntarily due to employer sanctions.  Concerns about a "magnet effect" -- encouraging more illegal immigration -- carry more weight, but the recent decline in illegal immigration to the US is probably due mainly to improving conditions in Mexico, and a fairly marginal change in US policy, vulnerable to reversal by a future President, seems unlikely to have much impact.

Politically, I think it's much less risky than it appears.  True, a hard line on illegal immigration is broadly popular (Arizona's tough 2010 law drew 51%-to-39% support nationwide), but those who feel so strongly about this as to actually vote against Obama over a move to stop deportations of people who came here as children and grew up here -- well, those voters were no doubt in the Republican camp already.  This isn't going to cost us any votes we could otherwise have won.  But it could boost Hispanic turn-out, which has historically been low, and thus help Democrats, especially in certain states critical to Obama's re-election.

Of more value, it will deepen splits among Republicans, by agitating and energizing the foaming-at-the-mouth far right just as Romney is trying to pivot to the center (and to make some appeal to Hispanics).  Romney somewhat reassured the Morlocks during the primaries by talking tough on illegals, even managing to get to the right of Rick Perry on the issue during the debates.  He's doubtless hoping the general electorate has forgotten this, but Obama has now reminded them.  Romney's now making moderate noises, but it won't be enough to reassure the center, and the Republican rank-and-file will soon be back where we want them -- at each other's throats (sample comment thread here).

The right wing in this country is saddled with a large extremist fringe which is dogmatic, paranoid, ideologically purist, and further subdivided into several factions (teabaggers, Paultards, theocrats, etc.).  This makes the right as a whole vulnerable to fragmentation and destructive infighting.  We'd be wise to do everything we can to attack that weakness.

12 June 2012

Video of the week -- the transit of Venus

This video was made from images captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory at several different wavelengths, mostly ultraviolet, which is why the Sun looks so different in each section.  The film is greatly speeded up since the transit actually takes several hours.  Note that Venus -- the black circle -- is similar in size to Earth, and is much closer to the camera than the Sun itself is.

11 June 2012

Link round-up for 10 June 2012 (delayed)

The man we lost last week was unbelievably prolific.

Ladies!  Sign up for the Reddit island utopia!

You could own this magnificent painting of Andrew Breitbart for a mere $3,995, except, uh.....

Instead, here's a painting of some real heroes (found via Deity Shmeity).

What would Jesus do?  Probably not this.

Here's philosophy, metaphysics, and theology defined.

Don't annoy this guy.

Limbaugh inspires a movement.

Behold the otherworldly nightmare that was Pittsburgh.

Pennsylvania activist Steve Smith should go far in the Republican party of today.

Not even Ron Paul himself can make the Paultard cult face reality -- more here and here -- the comment threads are more revealing than the posts.

If you need motivation to vote in November, consider this.

Has California hit on a cure for teabaggerdom?

The parasite class wins, workers lose.

Christian moralists teach children to kill me.  And it gets worse.

The gateway to idiocy is open wide in Louisiana.

In today's economy, education is more important than ever.

Hate goes viral on YouTube (found via Republic of Gilead), but it's in retreat in society as a whole, and Obama deserves some credit.

Global-warming denialism is in retreat, but retains its grip on the Republican party.

Romney talks bullshit on the stimulus.

Yes, Wisconsin was a terrible defeat for unions -- but don't forget Ohio.

Shakespeare's Curtain Theatre has been found.

The "guilty men" who created the euro currency are now wrecking Europe to save it.  But the Socialists have won big in France's Parliamentary election, boosting Hollande's fight against austerity madness.

Israel now has submarine-based nuclear missiles -- courtesy of Germany.

As the Syrian regime resorts to mass murder, soldiers desert in droves.

There's now only one top al-Qâ'dah leader left alive.

As the Arctic warms, forests spread -- but it's not a good thing.

There is one way that works, and only one.

Harvard scientists are making remarkable progress in mapping the brain.

The Pentagon has plans for robots remote-controlled by human minds -- but Dmitry Itskov has a more ambitious idea.

09 June 2012

Prometheus -- fighting back against the gods

After months of anticipation, Prometheus is finally here.  I've made no attempt to avoid "spoilers" in this review, so if you haven't seen the film yet, be warned.

First, I'll get the film's one major flaw out of the way.  The basic premise -- that the Engineers created humanity and that's why our genome is identical to theirs -- is impossible.  The human genome shows us to be members in good standing of the Earthly biosphere of millions of species -- our genome differs only slightly from that of our fellow great apes, by a bit more from that of other primates, by a bit more from that of other mammals, etc.  If, as the film implies, life on Earth was "seeded" by an alien visitor, the vicissitudes of natural selection would not, billions of years later, produce one species genetically identical to the original.  Alien intervention in human evolution is a plausible SF premise, but humans being genetically identical to aliens is not. In fact, if we discovered extraterrestrials genetically identical to ourselves, the only possible conclusion would be that they were somehow an offshoot of Earthly humanity, not vice-versa.

That being said, it's clear that this film, like the original Alien, can't be taken entirely literally.  If you look at it as an exploration of mankind's relationship with its creator (assuming the existence of such a creator), it becomes much more interesting.

The question the expedition sets out to answer is why the Engineers created us.  In one of the film's better exchanges, the android David (the most interesting character, despite Peter Weyland's pointed comment that he lacks a soul) asks Holloway, "Why did your kind create me?"  Holloway shrugs, "Because we could."  David replies, "Imagine how disappointed you'll be if that's the only answer they have for you."  The religious premise that, if a higher intelligence created us, it must have done so with benign intentions, is thoroughly eviscerated here.

Shaw's religiosity didn't bother me because she never lets her superstition get in the way of her humanity and pragmatism.  She's on her way to meet, for all practical purposes, God -- humanity's creators.  But when she finds that those creators are militaristic brutes with a huge arsenal of thoroughly nasty weapons of mass destruction, she doesn't offer bovine pious acceptance, she declares "We were so wrong!" and starts fighting back.  In the film's most gut-wrenching scene, she emphatically refuses to serve as Mother Mary to one of the nastier creations of the "god-like" Engineers, using every ounce of her ingenuity and endurance to abort the monstrosity.  When the last surviving "god" sets out to bring Judgment Day to mankind, it's Shaw who urges Janek to thwart him.

Indeed, the theme of humans fighting to the end for human survival repeatedly recurs.  Holloway, at first a rather bland character, willingly invites a horrific death to avoid infecting the rest of the crew.  Captain Janek is a jokester and a flirt, but when called upon to give his own life to save the whole Earth, he rises to the occasion, grimly at first, but without hesitation.  Even Weyland's quest for personal immortality is noble by contrast to the thuggish "superior" being that casually murders him.

The Engineers, in fact, are the real monsters here.  Once one gets over the massive disappointment of their human form, they actually embody the ugly side of humans -- brutal and muscle-bound, cold and indifferent.  It's not surprising that they set out to destroy humanity.  It's more surprising that they created us in the first place, but the Engineer who did that might well have been a dissident from his own kind (recall that Prometheus was a god who brought down fire to humanity in defiance of the other gods).  My guess is that when Shaw reaches their home planet, she'll find that there, too, they long ago wiped themselves out; after all, the military base shown in the film had lain undisturbed for two thousand years after the Engineers there were destroyed by their own creations, which makes little sense unless their species as a whole had suffered a similar fate.

There are (what I interpreted as) nods to other SF works.  In particular, the mechanism that enables the explorers to see images of events from the distant past, guiding them to the actual corpse of a being whose death they "witnessed" in that fashion, reminded me of the "spieltier" in Barton's Alpha Centauri.  Better-read viewers will doubtless spot further allusions.

Yes, there are some minor flaws.  It's not clear how Shaw and Holloway deduced from the pictograms that the Engineers created humanity, as opposed to merely visiting.  Some characters are oddly careless around nasty-looking alien creatures.  Vickers is arrogant but not stupid, and I couldn't believe she would die simply because it didn't occur to her to run sideways as Shaw did.  The scientists don't really act or talk like scientists -- but movie scientists rarely do.

Set against this, there is great visual spectacle, real drama, and real ideas.  Prometheus has the spirit of Alien and Aliens in this sense -- our species is capable of greatness and beauty, but so far from seeking out a benign Heavenly father, we must struggle and sacrifice for survival in an ugly and hostile universe.

Some other worthwhile reviews:  Roger Ebert, Glenn Kenny, Chris Picard.  Film discussion site is here.

08 June 2012

Stagnation inexorable?

To many, the parasite class's victory in Wisconsin this week was all about Citizens United -- the new power of big money, completely unfettered, to manipulate the political process (as the saying goes, "The Republicans did not steal this election -- they paid good money for it!").  Others blame a lack of resources and commitment from the national Democratic party to a fight where the enemy had all the out-of-state help it needed.  To me, it exemplified the "divide and conquer" (to use Walker's own phrase) tactics which have served the parasite class so well for decades -- by keeping working people divided against themselves on whatever basis is available (white vs. black or, as in this case, non-unionized against unionized) they can keep those working people fighting each other over the crumbs instead of seeing their common interest.

There's value in all these perspectives, but we also need to be looking at the unexamined assumptions about reality which form the backdrop against which these battles take place.  This article from The New Republic will show what I mean:

.....at a time when resources flowing into state coffers are limited and demands on the public sector are rising, the salaries and benefits of government workers are bound to come under pressure.....

.....Curbing wages and benefits rather than services is often the most attractive political choice.....

.....As defined-benefit pensions and generous health insurance plans have become scarcer in the private sector, the more generous plans in the public sector have become especially vulnerable politically. Workers in the private sector..... are unwilling to pay higher taxes to sustain better benefits for public sector workers than they themselves enjoy.....

.....Those days are over, and the risks of depending on the good will of hard-pressed middle class taxpayers are becoming more apparent.....

Notice the backdrop assumption:  we 99% had better get used to fighting over an ever-diminishing supply of crumbs because we've entered an era in which that's all there can be.  Something must be cut, it's just a question of what. Stagnation and decline -- shrinking government revenues, shrinking or stagnant incomes for the non-wealthy, ever-more-meager pensions and other benefits, cuts, cuts, cuts -- those things are just there, they're an inexorable fact about reality or about the present era or whatever.  Our thinking has been carefully framed to avoid considering or even imagining that those trends are, in fact, the result of policies designed and implemented by specific people with the specific aim of bringing about precisely this result -- that, in fact, it doesn't have to be this way at all.  The article does cite the intensity of international competition, but it is possible to succeed in that competition while defying the laissez-faire paralysis of "inevitable" stagnation for the 99%.

The enemy has convinced us that, even if we can fight, the fight must be waged within a context of overall decline because that's the only framework that can possibly exist.  In fact, the framework is of their own construction, and the barrier to replacing it with something else exists mainly in our own heads.

05 June 2012

Videos of the week -- Nigel Farage

Telling it like it is, again.  I think of him as Europe's Barney Frank.

Basics on the crisis here, more here.


I can't help it -- I'm hanging on whatever crumbs of news I can find around the net.  Yes, the polls have shown the recall losing, and yes, the MSM have been full of stories writing the effort off as doomed, and yes, the Republicans out-spent us almost ten to one, and yes, the national Democratic party has been AWOL (a terrible mistake given what an important constituency the unions are), and yes, the Republicans are up to their usual dirty tricks -- but by all accounts turn-out is shockingly high, and that normally favors our side.  I can't give up hope that, after all, we can take Walker down.

Update:  A bitterly disappointing result, especially after things looked so hopeful earlier today.  The negative fallout will likely include anger toward the national party, which failed to commit resources that could have made a difference.  But let this serve as a reminder for November -- no matter how good things may look at any given time, we can't afford complacency.

03 June 2012

Cartoons again, mightier than the sword

Germany's new anti-Islam political party, Pro-NRW, had a problem -- how to get attention for itself in an already-crowded political arena?  They hit on an idea which, given their focus, was as arresting as it was obvious: a cartoon contest.  It worked.  Pro-NRW got plenty of entries, and plenty of media attention.  Much of the latter consisted of the usual pearl-clutching and name-calling ("far right!") that follows whenever anyone dares twist the tail of the Religion of Perpetual Outrage, but hell, all publicity is good publicity.

Of course, the hard-line Islamists who make up a small but vocal minority of Germany's Muslim population reacted the way mouth-foaming religious thugs are wont to do, and attempted violent attacks on Pro-NRW rallies where the cartoons were on display.  Several police officers who were in the mobs' way have been injured.

Which, of course, highlights Pro-NRW's point -- Islam, at least of the true-believing sort, is violent, barbaric, hostile to free expression, and ill-suited to fit in with a modern pluralistic free society.

[My favorite cartoon from the contest is above.  The banner reads "No mosque."  The dynamite-wielding Islamist is saying, "Pardon, have you got a light?"  The Bible-clutching priest is replying, "Naturally, my son!"  You can see more of the cartoons here, though I don't endorse the site.]

Link round-up for 3 June 2012

Where did we come from?  There are different views.

Have your picture taken with a horse.

Romney voter!

Animals see things differently.

A zombie apocalypse could have significant tax implications.

Add a touch of eldritch horror and madness to tea-time with the Cthulhu tea cozy (found via Mendip).

Here are ten health benefits Santorum wants you to deny yourself.

Pentecostalism:  Natural selection in action.

North Carolina: If you ignore reality, it will go away.

Believe in the Bible?  Try actually reading it.

They chose the job that suited them, just like anyone else.

The DNC may be AWOL in Wisconsin, but Bill Clinton does his part.

Leuser is 13 years old; he's blind, he's been shot 62 times, and his home is being destroyed.  Here's more on his story.

Don't panic about the bad jobs news -- instead, point out where the responsibility lies.

The Komen Foundation is still paying for its attack on Planned Parenthood.

The enthusiasm gap is now in Obama's favor.

Yes, the internet is relentlessly destroying religion.

A valid question -- does Romney believe all this?

Fracking comes to the city, at least in Texas.

Obama has seen the error of his earlier "post-partisan" fantasies and will fight like hell to beat the Republicans.  Some analysis here.

Blacks, like other Americans, are becoming more accepting of gay marriage.

Republicans hope that Hispanics will eventually lean their way, but it won't happen as long as they blatantly try to disenfranchise them -- a deep-rooted practice in Florida.

Don't believe religious bullying of atheists is a problem?  Try this.

Right-wing demonization of Obama is part of a tradition.

Some Mormons renounce their church's gay-hatred.

Romney won't distance himself from the nastiness on the right.

Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan denounces gay "immorality" while paying off pedophile priests.

Where can the righties flee if Obama wins?  Not Canada.

The euro currency was born of shady politics, and the business world is now preparing for its demise.  But the elites retain their arrogant disdain for democracy.

Greeks work much longer hours than Germans, even if no one else believes it.

Don't just look at Greece -- Portugal shows the failure of the whole right-wing economic package.

Austerity drives the best and brightest to emigrate.

As the Arctic ice retreats, resource-hungry Americans and Russians stake their claims.

Language is a hotly-contested issue in some places.

Putin wants to take over the internet (if you think this is at all benign, I have a series of tubes to sell you).

Some Saudis apparently think Ghostbusters was a documentary.

Six Pakistanis have been sentenced to death for dancing at a wedding.

Religious thugs force Lady Gaga to cancel her show in Indonesia -- but kudos to her for refusing to compromise and "tone down" her act.

The global economic slow-down endangers the stability of India (but in the long run I'd still bet on India to out-perform China -- totalitarianism is a crushing disadvantage in the information age).

Unmask the truth, go to prison.

Don't buy your high-tech in China.

Is the brown recluse coming to your town?

Some "beliefs" are the same everywhere.

Here's what the Sun does to your skin.

Was the domestication of the dog the key to our ancestors' victory over the Neanderthals?

Global-warming denialists resort to a campaign of threats to silence scientists, but more and more companies are distancing themselves from the lies.

Despite all that humanity has learned and achieved, some people just prefer rubbish.

Swiss researchers achieve full recovery for lab rats with spinal-injury paralysis.

01 June 2012

Video of the week -- Téir abhaile riú

Irish ensemble Celtic Woman performs in Atlanta.