12 February 2019

The Infidel is [OUT]

There will be no more posts this week.  I have a very painful joint inflammation in the right hand and have to type everything left-handed only, and it's just getting too wearing.  It's something that afflicts me once every two or three years, and it takes a week or so to go away.  The next link round-up will likely be delayed.

Video of the day -- the "good news"

Christianity summarized in under two minutes by ex-preacher (now atheist) Dan Barker.  Found via Scottie.

10 February 2019

Link round-up for 10 February 2019

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

Cat time!

Re-think the font, indeed.

Has this actually been an issue in their library?

Now we know why he did it.

There's now a pin-up calendar of gods.

The Galactic Empire attacks a new target.

It's a "dead duck", or.....

A modern person finds something disturbing on his doorstep.

The snow fairy has arrived in Portland (brrrr).

Hey, no shit.

Voldemort was a pretty pathetic villain.

Church of what?

Check out this almost psychedelic cube.

They both recognized it.

Good summary here of human reactions to technology.

Keep this poison away from children.

Pelosi pulls the plug on Gohmert TV.

Marco Polo probably never got anywhere near China.

These are the real-world zombies.

Here's a richly-detailed discussion of the 1972 film Silent Running.

Humorists mock the SOTU speech.  Here's a more serious analysis.

John Dingell was skilled at Twitter pwnage (Tyson was right, though).

Never use your real name on social media.

A religio-nutball goes on a rant against "effeminate" men -- and plastic forks.

There really is a Lake of Fire, and it's in Turkmenistan.

Clash of the asshole titans:  it's America's sleaziest "newspaper" vs the boss of Amazon.

Incels psych themselves into being jealous of rats and fish (warning -- this is kind of gross).

This is a good overview of the attacks on internet free expression, though I find it too defeatist -- Google Blogger backed down from such efforts in 2015, and as I've discussed recently, user-funded platforms remain free of corporate power.

Lucky Otter worries about the coming end of Google+.  I've never been on Google+, so it's hard for me to say, but I don't see why this would have any effect on the Google Blogger platform.

No, Trump is not going to end AIDS.

You're not just imagining things, pop music really is getting worse.

There's more and more pushback against the tiresome and bullying "cultural appropriation" bullshit.

This epic tale of dumbth has it all -- bitcoins, drug culture, "anarcho-capitalist" Randroids, and endless business scams.  (Seriously, "John Galton"?)  Here's some more pwnage of bitcointards.

Hecate Demeter takes an unusual view of drag.

Trumpanzees fume at their idol as they fill out their tax forms.

This person is an asshole.  And this person is worse.

Monotheism is not better.  It's not even monotheism.

Powerful Texas landowners will oppose Trump's border wall.

It took long enough, but Fox News is going down the tubes.

What's religion worth?  The evidence is clear.

An overwhelming majority of Americans favor raising taxes on the rich (found via Mock Paper Scissors), and even more want Mueller's final report made public.

As the measles outbreak a few dozen miles north of me reaches fifty cases, some people are deciding vaccines are a good idea after all.

Two former RedState writers explain why they quit.

Too often, Christian homeschooling is a way of controlling and limiting children's minds.  Of course, they're trying to foul up the public schools too (found via Scottie).

The latest work of creationist propaganda looks dead-on-arrival.

Yes, there's value in learning higher mathematics even if you'll never use it.

Pygmy mammoths sound like a contradiction in terms, but they really existed.

The "replicator" is a new approach to 3D printing.

Compare the rotation speed and axial tilt of the various planets (but they left out Pluto😡).

We live in a warped galaxy.

2018 was officially the fourth-hottest year on record.

Americans tend to be utterly ignorant of how socialized medicine really works.

Even in Canada, there are a lot of bad cops.

In Germany, Merkel's conservative government has maintained a surprisingly backward abortion policy which is only now loosening a bit.

Let's hope this is no more effective than curses usually are.

The Catholic Church in India behaves just like it does elsewhere in the world.

No, the US is not the hottest economy in the world -- not even close.

Republicans' hypocritical weaponization of the law for partisan attacks goes back years before Trump, but it's getting worse.

This city did it -- yours could too.

Here is why Northam probably won't resign.

Stacey Abrams for President?  Some people are thinking about it.

Republicans don't understand Ocasio-Cortez, or much of anything else.

Some politicians find God, but it doesn't last.

Shower Cap reviews the Virginia mess and the SOTU speech.

[Image at top:  Pluto!  Yes, it is a planet, dammit -- it's got a Sailor Senshi named after it.]

07 February 2019

The Virginia mess (updated)

It's a bizarre and alarming situation.  Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is under fire after a photo from his 1984 yearbook surfaced showing a man in blackface and another in a KKK outfit (it's not yet established whether either figure was Northam).  Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of a sexual assault in 2004.  And Attorney General Mark Herring has admitted to wearing blackface at a party when he was 19.  All three are Democrats; if all three leave office, the next in line for the Governorship is the Speaker of the House of Delegates, a Republican.

This certainly looks like an unfolding disaster, but I don't think any one of these men can be written off just yet, much less all three of them.

First off, I reject the view that Northam's photo can be dismissed as meaningless youthful stupidity because it wouldn't have seemed all that bad by the lower standards of the time.  I can remember 1984 (I was 24 that year) and it was certainly recognized that blackface was offensively racist -- and a KKK outfit far, far more so.  Choosing such a photo for a yearbook would not have been a mere act of harmless thoughtlessness, even then.  It's a serious issue, and the calls from many prominent Democrats for Northam to resign reflect that.

(For another view of this question, see Bluzdude.  I disagree with the thrust of his post, but he's always worth reading and this is a discussion that we as a party need to have.)

Of course, people can change over decades (I certainly believed in some cringe-worthy things that far back).  The question is, has Northam changed?  His adult political career doesn't suggest racism, but if his views have evolved, he needs to convincingly explain how and why, and completely repudiate the mentality shown by the 1984 photo, not try to minimize how bad it was.  Otherwise he can never regain the confidence of the non-white members of his state's population, or of whites who abhor racism.  So far, he hasn't done this.  But it's possible he may yet rise to the occasion.

The accusation against Fairfax is by far the most serious.  A person can repudiate offensive attitudes over time, but a violent crime must be punished, if proven, regardless of how the perpetrator's views of it have evolved.  However, Fairfax continues to flatly deny the accusation, insisting that the encounter in question was consensual and that the accuser showed no sign of discomfort with it at the time.  I'm inclined to give more credibility to him here than to other similarly-accused figures of recent years, because there is only one accuser.  Sex abusers, whether they're cold-blooded predators or horny frat-boy types who genuinely don't recognize the seriousness of what they're doing, tend to rack up multiple victims -- Moore, Kavanaugh, Franken, Weinstein, and others all faced multiple accusers.  So I'm not prepared to judge Fairfax as probably guilty yet, as I do those others.  If more women come forward to accuse him, of course, it will be a different matter.

Finally, Herring's situation differs from Northam's.  There was no KKK outfit involved, and what he confessed to was gross behavior at a party -- a semi-private setting -- not choosing a photo to represent himself in a yearbook.  It's at least possibly more analogous to telling an offensive joke among friends which one wouldn't repeat in public.  Even more than with Northam, he deserves the chance to repudiate his past racist stupidity and explain how and why he's renounced such attitudes since then.

So don't write off Virginia to the Republicans just yet.

But W. Hackwhacker makes a solid point here.  We'll have a lot less of this kind of headache to deal with if we run more women for office.

Update (Friday afternoon):  There is now a second accuser against Fairfax.  If this is indeed "ratfucking", it's a highly professional job.

05 February 2019


Well, that was a day.

It started with doing my taxes, always a thrill.  I should have done that over the weekend, but I tend to forget such tasks when involved in something more interesting, like the link round-up.  So I finally got it done this morning.  It's always more mentally draining than one expects, especially since they've redesigned the 1040 this year.  Getting a refund, by the way, is not actually a good thing as most people think it is.  It merely means you've been making an interest-free loan to the government all year.  Still, if I've got one coming, the sooner the better.

Then there was the snow.  Many of you who live in colder climates are used to the Devil's Dandruff, as I call it, but Portland only gets the damn stuff every two or three years and we are not geared for it.  What we usually get is an inch or so which melts when driven on and re-freezes into a thin layer of slippery ice which is hard to see -- and I leave for work about three-quarters of an hour before sunrise.  Today I started ten minutes early to allow time for cautious driving and a diversion to the post office to get those tax forms in the mail.

Things went fairly well to begin with -- the main roads had seen enough traffic that morning to wear away the ice in most places.  I had almost reached the post office and was just slowing down to let a bus pull out into traffic when there came a loud BANG and my car jolted forward about a foot.  The car behind had skidded on the ice and run into me.  There was no damage -- the speed of impact must have been pretty low, and the bumper did its job -- but it did not exactly contribute to a sense of tranquility.  That's the problem with situations like snow days -- no matter how careful you are, you're at the mercy of how careless everyone else is.

And they are.  Even on this icy morning, there were cars racing and weaving in and out, trying to get a few positions ahead at any cost.   I believe the technical term for this is "natural selection in action".  Or perhaps "please do that shit as far away from me as possible".

Anyway, I got to work without further collisions and settled in for eight hours of the usual charms of the modern office environment.  Half the people there do that thing where they lick their fingertip before leafing through a stack of papers -- some of which they then hand to you.  This has been the case at several companies I've been at.  Aside from being disgusting, it can't be hygienic.  No wonder colds and flu proliferate through these places like indictments through a Republican administration.

There were, of course, some people missing -- presumably stymied by more severe ice around where they lived -- and so I spent the whole day far busier than usual because I had to cover for one of them.  My arthritis seized the opportunity to stage a terrifically painful flare-up in my right hand, adding to the fun.  I survived the day by dint of as much ibuprofen as I could reasonably get away with (trading the pain for an upset stomach), finished what needed to get done, and set off for home.  The Devil's Dandruff, at least, was mostly gone.

A few minutes from the building there is a railway crossing which is very rarely in use.  Today, of course, it was down and flashing, stopping traffic for the passage of a freight train of exasperating slowness and unconscionable length.  On and on it flowed, car after car, like an endless industrial cosmic megaturd issuing eternally forth from some vast and unseen Gigeresque primordial anus.  There's no alternate route available which doesn't waste even more time, so I settled in to contemplate the passing glacier of rusted steel and graffiti.

But all bad things must come to an end, and eventually the train did, and I made it back home without attracting any meteors.  But, long story short, I am decidedly not in the mood for watching or analyzing whatever inane drivel Hair Furor Agolf Twitler flatulated out in his big speech today.  I'll be relaxing with a few art sites and Whitney Avalon videos and then going straight to sleep, and frankly I've earned it.

Trump speaks!

Advance video of Trump's big speech today:

03 February 2019

Link round-up for 3 February 2019

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.

o o o o o

"Rise of the machines....."

They tamed the gargoyles.

Oh, dear.

Oh, fuck.

What kind of service does this business provide?

Jenny_o posts more than you thought possible about socks.

Don't try to get this cat out of his cardboard box.

Who you gonna call?

Illinois cops make a chilling arrest.

Rocks, rocks, rocks!

Librarians enjoy their work.

Here are some reactions to the Gillette ad reactions.

Steve Ruis looks at capital letters.

Humorists sharpen their claws on Howard Schultz's fatuous Presidential aspirations.

Deck chairs, deck chairs.....

Read this touching story about a very minor god.

Yet another factory is moving to Mexico.

Not reality TV, but rather.....oh, he's just an idiot (both found via Calvin).

We must build a fence on our southern border to stop these filthy swine from entering our country.

Here are 55 sites where you can legally download free literature (found via Mendip).

I really like most of Bill Maher's commentary, but Catherynne Valente has some good points here.

Guess where this is going.

Why is health care in the Star Wars universe so backward?

536 was the worst year ever.

The "silent majority" is silent because it doesn't exist.

Houston has all kinds of people.

Ignorance of dialectology undermines the justice system (but I would argue this really shows the need for schools to make sure all Americans can speak standard English).

Winning the minimum wage took a fight; raising it will take another.

Work is work.

Some companies actually have decent values.

This person is an asshole.

The wallnuts want to use Coulter as a lever to force Trump to build the wall.

Declining birth rates and hostility to skilled immigrants will ruin your retirement.

MAGA hats are the new white hoods.  Fragile, stunted masculinity leads to violence.

Religious crazies object to the idea that schools should, you know, actually teach stuff.

Wingnuts have gotten very good at not learning from their mistakes.

We've come so far -- and progress will continue.

Here's how to come up with place names for an asteroid.

Long-term science experiments pose unusual challenges.

Jerry Coyne posts photos from Auschwitz.  Grim, grim material.

Blogger Arkenaten remembers the quaint, deeply-religious era of apartheid.

Yes, the world is getting richer.

Iranian atheist blogger Kaveh Mousavi recommends a Presidential candidate.

Some Republicans worry that Trump could cost them Texas.  Well, he's not the only dumb one.

Don't be a dumbass.

Rich asshole (found via Scottie) has second thoughts.

To Republicans, restoring democracy is a "power grab".

Shower Cap reviews the week in his inimitable style.

[745 days down, 717 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

02 February 2019

Video of the day -- Dorothy vs. Alice

Two classic characters face off in a rap battle.  How could I resist?  Found via Bluebird of Bitterness.  (Some mildly NSFW language, but hey, that's rap for you.)

01 February 2019

Time to get catty

It's a truism that the internet is used largely to propagate pictures of cats -- and it's only right that I should do my share.

Don't miss that classic tale of horror, The Catte of Amontillado.  And there's a big new Hollywood movie reboot coming up.....