22 June 2021

Videos of the day -- songs for space

British band Public Service Broadcasting celebrates early pioneers of space exploration.

Valentina Tereshkova, first woman in space (1963)

Alexei Leonov, first spacewalk (which turned out to be more dangerous than expected)

Thanks to Hackwhackers for making me aware of this band.

20 June 2021

Link round-up for 20 June 2021

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

o o o o o

Never interrupt Brits at a drag show.

OK, you guys can just watch football, I'll find something else to do (seriously, this is cool).😈

Remote-working computer engineer is living the dream.

Even animals feel the heat.

Last week it was the gals -- this week Debra She Who Seeks focuses on the guys for Pride Month.

In fact, this vegetable was put to an even nobler use.

Get the correct freezer here.

It actually means "we're looking for you".

Our anti-missile defenses will protect us.

Not such a good deal from God, really.


Her boyfriend is faithful.

Sometimes you make a typo that will live forever.

Fish be high.

"Are you two friends?"

Australian newsreaders find Jeff Bezos's rocket curiously amusing.

It's not polite to interrupt an ogre at teatime.

Here are the most popular baby names of the last two years.

Self-serving blogger at work.

He couldn't visit Santorini, so he built it.

Refrigerators don't need philosophy.

This definitely sounds like a beneficial mutation.

Studio Ghibli is making 1,178 images from its classic movies freely available.

We just have to take it.

Colorful trees hereCool storm pictures here.

Buy real books.  You'll be able to keep them.

This is the East Frisian Islands.

It's only a lie if they have a right to know.

You go girl!💜

Some ancient Greeks buried their dogs with honor.

"Children have a vivid inner world that they do not have the vocabulary to explain to adults."

An author remembers the libraries of her life, with photos (found via By Hook or by Book).

His house is now cat-friendly.

Whatever this is, I hope I never meet one.

Not everybody should have kids.

We mustn't let the end of the pandemic suck us back into the cult of busyness.

Art remembers autistic people who fell victim to violence.

Ken Ham is seriously unhappy about younger Americans' indifference to religion (link from reader NickM), but he can't think of anything to do about it except the usual Bible blather.

Oh FFS, how do they explain ancient Greece then?

Don't do business with a company that charges you $1,200 to dump them.

Speculation here about Trump's alleged upcoming book.

There's one group that everybody is OK with oppressing.

Carol Seidl describes how a family member's mental illness (and abusive "treatment") devastated her father's family.  It's a harrowing story.

Make up your $%#@!# minds, wingnuts (found via Mike).

This has nothing to do with capitalism.

Pull yourself up, don't push others down -- wise words which can apply in many situations.

Travel broadens the mind, at least in some cases.

Arguing rarely serves any practical purpose and it's bad for your blood pressure.

Billionaire philanthropy is no substitute for equitable taxation.

Don't let the bad guys be the only ones armed.

Are humans naturally scavengers or herbivores?

"It didn't begin at Stonewall."

Hey Texans -- Big Brother is roasting you.

Baltimoreans need to make up their minds about the police.  Also, God destroyed Jesus in Ohio eleven years ago (more here).

Your entire economic ecosystem is a lie.

Karen Karen Karen!

Proud Boys?  More like whimpering little brats.

Octopuses and lobsters are self-aware too, and some governments are recognizing it.

Yes, cancel culture exists and is dangerous.  Any claim to the contrary is just willful ignorance at this point.  Read this too.  Disgusting.😬

Biden's success abroad suggests some tactics for dealing with the Republicans.  Is he senile?  Putin doesn't think so.

Even during droughts, California has plenty of water.  They're just using it wrong.

Must-read of the week -- if you spend any time on Tumblr, you know she's right.

Remember the victims of the Emanuel AME church shooting.

Nan's Notebook raises the idea of splitting the US into autonomous red and blue sub-nations -- discussion in the comments.

Dr Harriet Hall's review of Abigail Shirer's recent book Irreversible Damage, abruptly deleted from SBM, is now re-posted at Skeptic.

Cartoonists look at Obamacare repeal efforts.

Know the enemy -- you'll make more sense talking about them.

"What's bullshit is issuing death threats because you don't care for someone's point of view."

US Catholic bishops wallow in their usual hypocrisy with their condemnation of Biden.💩

When you know your life is coming to an end, you and only you have the right to say how you will feel and react.

Texas has peculiar priorities.  Such as protecting the "right" of churches to spread covid-19.

What's the right term for people who call gay men "faggots" and want them to be exterminated and go to Hell?

Support your local news media -- they do valuable work.

California's county-by-county vaccination rates highlight the toxic nature of modern US wingnuttery.

Religious nonsense is still being allowed to distort science.

"Get back to the office or else" -- fuck you.  Wall Street's obsession with this risks driving its best employees away to more flexible venues like Silicon Valley.

Electoral-Vote has more analysis on Manchin's game.

Sometimes an asshole gets what he deserves.

Accept reality.  The alternative doesn't work.

Texas is facing another electricity disaster this summer.

Here's some valuable advice from rapists (yes, really).

The right-wing internet is still full of conspiracy rubbish.

Don't call people "cis".

The EU parliament has voted to prohibit caged animal farming.

Despite variants, the UK is well on the way to beating covid-19 due to vaccines.

Remember the Dutch freedom fighters Willem Arondeus (found via Yellowdog Granny) and Hannie Schaft.

The German army needs to get its act together (found via Earth-Bound Misfit).

Estonia's early embrace of the internet, and the Putin regime's threats, have made it a leader in cybersecurity expertise.

The entire blue region has fewer homicides than the red region.

Saudi Arabia takes a small step out of the Dark Ages.

Many Chinese young people are trying to drop out of the country's intense work culture.  Here is what "996" refers to.

As the US reclaims its place among the world's democracies, the Chinese regime starts feeling the heat.

Hello from Porto Novo! (scroll down).

Dietary change can fight diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Bacteriological warfare shows success in defeating disease-spreading mosquitos.

Jupiter's biggest moon looks rather like ours.

The proposed NEO Surveyor telescope would be a major addition to Earth's anti-meteor defenses.

More links (mostly politics) at Fair and Unbalanced and Off the Kuff.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted a set of humorous images and a debunking of the claim that the US will become "majority-minority" in a few decades.

18 June 2021

No, the US is not going to become "majority-minority"

For some years now it's been a common claim that the US, within a few decades, will become "majority-minority", meaning that whites will be outnumbered by non-whites.  The idea persists because it's useful to elements on both sides of the political divide.  For many on the left, who view practically all issues through the prism of race and racism, it provides a reassurance that the Republicans are ultimately doomed because non-whites mostly vote Democratic.  For the fear-mongers on the right, it helps inflame their voting base with anxiety and hysteria about being reduced to a minority, fueling support both for draconian limits on immigration and for laws to obstruct voting by non-whites.

Well, this shift to a "majority-minority" country is not going to happen, and moreover it's foolish and counterproductive for the left to keep claiming that it is going to happen.  I've been meaning on and off for years to write a post about this, but never got around to it.  Now an article in The Atlantic has appeared which makes makes somewhat the same case, though I believe there are actually two reasons why the majority-minority idea is a fallacy, and the article emphasizes only the one I consider the less significant of the two.

(Yes, I'm fully aware that talking about race at all makes some people uncomfortable, but obviously it's impossible to discuss this issue in any detail without doing so.)

To start with the more important point, which the Atlantic article does not emphasize:  Most people in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA*), and a large part of the population of Latin America -- two of our country's major sources of immigrants -- are actually white, and Americans think of them as non-white only due to cultural differences which have nothing to do with race (it is in this sense, and only in this sense, that the "race is just a social construct" nonsense has some truth to it).  Most people in MENA are racially indistinguishable from most southern Europeans, and it was only when the rise of Islam divided the Mediterranean basin into two mutually-hostile occupation zones that the basin's inhabitants started thinking of themselves as two sharply-distinct groups.  Much later, in the time of colonialism, Europeans re-interpreted this distinction as MENA people being "non-white", like most colonized peoples elsewhere in the world; the modern liberal heirs of colonial racial thinking have substituted the term "people of color" for "non-white", but the error is the same.  What differences in physical appearance exist between people in MENA and in southern Europe are mostly a matter of different traditions in clothing and facial hair, and as immigrants from MENA in Europe or the US become assimilated and lose these cultural differences, in most cases they register as "white" by all the same visual cues by which people of southern European ancestry do.

The same applies to some of the population of India, though India is far more racially diverse than the Middle East.  Nobody would look at, say, Nikki Haley and think "not white" if they were unaware of her ancestry.

(As a further example of this point, modern genetics has recently confirmed what historians always knew -- that most of the population of Turkey is descended from the original Greek and Greek-related population of ancient Anatolia, who adopted Turkish language and culture and the Islamic religion after the Turkic conquest in medieval times.  We think of Greeks as "white" and Turks as "people of color", but the differences are purely cultural -- the actual racial stock is the same.)

As for Latin America, the original colonizers who gave the region its dominant languages and cultures were from Spain and Portugal.  Today the region's population is a mix of descendants of immigrants from many areas, plus descendants of the original Indians, in varying proportions in different countries.  A large part of it is still of mostly Spanish or Portuguese or other European (or Middle Eastern) ancestry, who are thus "white" by any reasonable definition.  Again, it is culture and geographical origin which leads Americans to classify very racially-diverse immigrants from Latin America as an undifferentiated "non-white" or "of color" category, ignoring whether their ancestors were mostly Maya, mostly Spanish, or anything else.

The US Census Bureau, by the way, acknowledges these facts.  It defines "white" as "having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa" and recognizes that "Latino" or "Hispanic" do not refer to a race and that people who self-identify by those terms may be of any race.

The significance of all this for the "majority-minority" delusion is that Latinos are the largest "minority" in the US, and among the fastest-growing.  It's largely the growth of the Latino population that fuels the claims that "people of color" will outnumber whites in the US in two or three decades.  But a huge part of the US Latino population, probably the majority, actually is white, and as Americans of Latino ancestry assimilate generation by generation, they more and more come to self-identify simply as "white" and also to be perceived as such by other Americans.  I've known people who had distant Mexican ancestry but knew no Spanish and registered visually and culturally as entirely "white".  The same process applies to descendants of immigrants from MENA over time.

This is just a continuation of what has been happening throughout American history.  In the nineteenth century, immigrants from Ireland, Italy, and eastern Europe were widely perceived as racially inferior and as threatening to overwhelm the "superior" Anglo-Saxon dominant population of the US.  Today the descendants of those immigrants think of themselves as "white" and are seen as such by everyone else.

One can even see the same pattern in some other countries.  In the British Isles, for centuries, many of the English viewed the Irish, Welsh, and Scots as inferior peoples and subjected them to horrific bigotry and brutality.  Modern genetics has shown that all four peoples are actually of the same ancestry.

If you look at the Census Bureau's 2019 estimated racial breakdown of the US population, the category "white alone, not Hispanic or Latino" is 60.1%.  This is the number people have in mind when they claim the US is going to become "majority-minority" in two or three decades.  But the figure for "white alone" -- the actual racial category -- is 76.3%.  A majority that large is not going to become a minority by 2050, and probably not ever, especially since immigration from Latin America actually contributes to it.

This is politically significant for two reasons.  First, the "majority-minority" myth is a powerful force driving white voters toward the Republican party and right-wing views generally.  If they realized that it is just a myth, many of those who now vote right-wing might be less inclined to do so -- which is why liberals' triumphalist embrace of the myth is foolish and self-defeating.  Second, the myth fuels a dangerous complacency on the left, because of their perception that minorities overwhelmingly vote Democratic.  This is not even universally true, but my point is that as white Americans of Latino or MENA descent merge indistinguishably into the broader white population (as Italian- and Irish-Americans did generations ago), their voting patterns become more similar to those of white Americans generally.  Please read this, and prepare to be a bit shocked if you're on the left.  We cannot count on a shift in the country's racial make-up to overwhelm and defeat the Republicans, because that shift is not happening the way liberals believe it is, and even the country's racial make-up itself is not what liberals believe it is.

So that's one of the two main flaws in the majority-minority myth.  The other, to which the Atlantic article devotes the bulk of its attention, is that racial differences -- real or perceived -- are becoming blurred over time due to intermarriage:

In reality, racial diversity is increasing not only at a nationwide level but also within American families -- indeed within individual Americans. Nearly three in 10 Asian, one in four Latino, and one in five Black newlyweds are married to a member of a different ethnic or racial group. More than three-quarters of these unions are with a white partner. For more and more Americans, racial integration is embedded in their closest relationships.

Both right-wing racism and the left-wing obsession with race share the error of thinking of races (and pseudo-racial categories like "Latino") as sharply-bounded, immutably-distinct groups, like separate species.  Even mixed-race people are perceived as a new group or lumped in with one side or the other of their ancestry.  The reality is that all humans are of the same species, and intermarriage and blurring of racial distinctions is inevitable as the cultural taboos against it erode away.  In fact, the US of 2050 will not be a country with a clearly definable percentage of white vs non-white people at all, but rather one which can no longer be fully described by such categories, however much the racial essentialists of all political stripes will still struggle to do so.  And that, as those of us who are not racial essentialists must surely recognize, will be a good thing.

[*This abbreviation is widely used in academia.  Sorry if it looks odd, but repeatedly typing out "Middle East and North Africa" gets a bit cumbersome.]

16 June 2021

It's a funny world (2)

In some Asian countries, shirts with English words on them are popular, but many people neither know nor much care what those words mean.

13 June 2021

Link round-up for 13 June 2021

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

o o o o o

Banana table lamp?  Who comes up with these things?

Lots of reptile cartoons here.

Asians dress up for "mundane Halloween".

See an absurdly-complex squirrel feeder.

Perhaps stores should do maintenance on their signs more often.

Her profile picture got deleted?

Even for the therapy dog, it's too much.

Maybe fake news, maybe not (for zebras).

"You do know what a cat is, right?"

Finally, a good use for an oil pipeline.

Who borrowed the car? (found via Funny Links).

An unexpected effect of Ovaltine, "fingering and praying for the Lord", and more.

Astral sex is not always hassle-free.  Some people prefer aliens, apparently.

Here's the password for free wi-fi.

It's just an ordinary Canadian town.

Nice arching.

Some cool nature pics here (click for bigger).

Libraries need your support.

Don't leave your dog out in the cold.

Don't treat an individual as a mere member of a category.

Flip your phone over (seriously, gawking at that thing while on a date is an insult -- I wouldn't even have it out or switched on).

More than half of Oregon's population is now fully vaccinated against covid-19, but 98% of new cases are among the unvaccinated.

Be careful not to access free academic stuff.

Perhaps the Iliad is too sophisticated for modern readers.

Observe 2,000 years of Christianity being stupid about homosexuality.  But the results aren't actually funny.

Blogger The Wheelchair Teen explains how to avoid discrimination and insensitivity to disabled people.  More here on the term "disabled".

For wingnuts, "socialist" and "communist" are now just meaningless terms of general disapproval.

Multi-billionaires waste the money they save in taxes on silly fantasies and a dong rocket.

Here are some tips for improving your privacy online.  It's not easy.

Portland's once-vibrant downtown is now so trashed and unsafe that hardly anybody wants to go there, even when the pandemic is over.

Many employees have relocated away from big cities while working from home.  Just try dragging them back to commuting/office hell.

The Oregon legislature has expelled a member who helped a mob of armed thugs enter the state capitol building in December.

A Texas bakery is overwhelmed with local support after getting hate for its pro-gay stance.

56% of lesbians surveyed report being "pressured or coerced" to accept biological males as sex partners.

Sorry, Trumpanzees, the data show that masks help stop the spread of covid-19.  And if you do get the disease, it's far less likely to be severe if you're vegan.  More on that here, and note that low-carb diets actually seem to make it even worse than the standard American diet does.

West Virginia's Republican governor may have a special reason for trying to cut unemployment benefits and force people back into crap jobs.

An anthropologist responds to an attack on Darwin.

Some Oregon businesses have been flagrantly ignoring rules designed to protect employees from covid-19.

Darwinfish 2 is getting pessimistic about the US political scene.  Our democracy will not be safe until the Republican party is crushed.  Electoral-Vote looks at what Manchin is really up to (maybe it's just about money?).  A new report warns that Democrats risk defeat unless they can decouple from the extreme left.  But a form of identity politics can still help if used properly.

Here's why they call it the American dream.

The bluer the state, the better the vaccination rate.

"This is exactly the tactic that cults use."

Support for gay marriage in the US is higher than ever, with even a majority of Republicans now approving.

Let this e-mail from Florida (scroll down) serve as a rallying cry.

The FDA may have made a politics-driven mistake in approving a new Alzheimer's treatment.  At least three members of an FDA expert panel have resigned over the decision.

This is intolerable -- no one should get death threats for expressing opinions, however repugnant.

Christian pastor John Pavlovitz explains why evangelicals must be defeated.

A North Carolina woman was raped for working at an abortion clinic.  Then the harassment started.

Large majorities of US voters support the integrity of women-only spaces, including single-sex prisons.  Yes, the bathroom issue is a problem.

Manchin needs to listen to his constituents.

Super-spreader pastor Tony Spell isn't done being an asshole -- and the law isn't done with him.

Even with Congress paralyzed, the executive branch is taking action to defend voting rights.

Wingnuts go berserk about abortion (and rape).

Book publishers must learn to defy the mobs.

A journalist embedded with US troops in Afghanistan comes back with some surprising revelations.

Relations among the democracies are returning to normal.

Stop willfully misrepresenting non-Western cultures to legitimize Western fads.

Objecting to sexual assault is now un-woke, apparently.

Scottish activist Marion Millar has been charged with a "hate crime" and risks six months in prison for posting a picture of a suffragette ribbon.  Lots more insanity at the link.

The verdict in Forstater v CGD is a major victory for free speech in the UK and against cancel culture

Medical workers in Scotland push back against ideological pressure in the workplace.

Germany has finally got its per-capita covid-19 caseload down to the UK's level.

There are two options, but only one is safe.

Response here to Scientific American's op-ed on the Israel/Hamas conflict.

India's divisive, religio-nationalist prime minister Narendra Modi is the object of a bizarre personality cult, but mishandling of covid-19 is eroding his support (sounds oddly familiar).

Overwhelmed by the pandemic, India's doctors also face violence on the job.

China's one-child policy and misogynistic culture led to horrific abuse of girls.

Buzzfeed has won its first Pulitzer for exposing China's mass detention of Uyghurs.

Microsoft grovels before the fascists.

WTF?  The Chinese regime condemns Japan for offering covid-19 vaccines to Taiwan.

More military cooperation between democracies in the western Pacific against the Chinese threat.

Local militias with primitive rifles are proving surprisingly effective against the regime's army in Myanmar.

This year's drought in the western US is the worst in a millennium.

Here's why mRNA vaccines will be a revolutionary new weapon in the fight against disease.  The covid-19 ones have proven far more effective than anyone expected.

Soon we'll be checking out our solar system's real water world.

How many people would have sex with an attractive stranger, and why?

More links at Off the Kuff, mostly about Texas politics.

3 2 2 2 5

In case you missed it -- this week I posted a question on a diabolonian story and videos on cancer resistance and longevity.

10 June 2021

Videos of the day -- food for survival

Eating properly for just two weeks can hugely boost the cancer-fighting power of your blood.

What do the longest-living human populations on Earth eat?

08 June 2021

Satan's nightmare

Many years ago, I read an odd little fantasy story which has stuck in my mind ever since. I can't remember the author or the title or where I read it, but the basic theme was unforgettable.

The story was about Satan. Satan, of course, according to Christian mythology, has resided in Hell ever since his unsuccessful attempt to overthrow and replace God as ruler of the universe.

In the story, Satan went to sleep one ordinary night in Hell, and he had a dream.

In Satan's dream, the great war in Heaven went the other way. He succeeded in overthrowing God, and in seizing the grand throne of omnipotence. He became the absolute ruler of the universe, taking God's place.  And in his dream, he saw his subsequent reign unfold.

He saw himself, not God, creating the Earth and mankind. He -- Satan, not God -- created man as an utterly innocent creature, without the knowledge of good and evil, and then planted the Tree of Knowledge in the midst of the Garden of Eden, and commanded man not to eat of it, presenting the newly-made innocent creature with a temptation far beyond its power to resist.

Satan saw himself, not God, casting man out of the Garden of Eden as punishment, condemning him to mortality and suffering and toil for the sin he himself had made man scarcely able to avoid.

Satan saw himself, not God, raging insanely at the cruelties and sins of the race whom he himself had made unable to do any better, finally sending a vast flood to drown the whole Earth, slaughtering the guilty and innocent alike, even children and babies, even the bewildered and terrified animals who knew nothing of the concept of sin.

Satan saw himself, not God, testing the faith and devotion of Job with torments that no remotely moral being would visit upon his worst enemy; he saw himself, not God, similarly test Abraham's faith by commanding him to sacrifice his own son.

He saw himself, not God, send his own son to Earth to preach and then be killed by excruciating torture in a bizarre and convoluted scheme to offer redemption, via this revolting sacrifice, to only those human individuals who managed to believe in its power; when of course he, Satan, as omnipotent ruler of the universe, could easily have granted salvation to as many humans as he felt deserved it, by a simple act of choice.

Awakening at last from this hideous nightmare of unrelenting cruelty, Satan understood its meaning immediately. If he had indeed won that battle in Heaven, he thought to himself, then the absolute power he would have gained would have ruined him. He would have become just as evil and sadistic and corrupt as God, and would have perpetrated all the same horrors and insanities.

No, Satan thought to himself, it is better to have been defeated than to have become like that. And so, despite his situation, he achieved a certain contentment.

I would be curious to know whether anyone else has read the same story and recognizes it.

06 June 2021

Link round-up for 6 June 2021

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

o o o o o

Flavors for a range of Trumpanzee tastes.

Russian drivers.....

Even a monster's home isn't safe.

Excellent example of karma here.

See a dead hippo fart violently in a lion's face.

Primeval myths get the wacky treatment.

Exceptional zoological skull sketch here.

Even in June, Las Vegas gets a little relief from the heat and glare (click pics for larger).

Check out these beach illusions.

Here is the Martian night sky (found via Hackwhackers).  Update: this may be a fake -- see comment from "MJ" below.

#@$%^# great, we have woke ants now.

"I feel happiness when I eat a him."

Who should go to Hell?

This restaurant in France keeps customers entertained while they wait for their food (found via Hackwhackers).

Love wins, on paper.

Esme's Cloud poetically plots a revolt.

Old land, old song.

If you have "Amazon devices" (whatever the hell those are) in your home, you need to read this.  You have till Tuesday to fix the problem.

".....but maybe people are just sick and tired of this absolute world of shit."

Class enemy pwned.

Here's what happens when ketogenic diets are subjected to scientific scrutiny.  On so-called "paleo" diets, the picture is murkier but doesn't look good.

It's the right wine for the occasion.

"What's difficult is sharing the fact that you do actually care."

This sign needs to be de-assholized (found via Hackwhackers).

Sometimes it's good to be just a little intimidating.

Employees are quitting rather than submit to bosses' demands that they return from work-at-home to offices.  To quote a typical clueless CEO, "yes, people don't like commuting, but so what" (found via Miss Cellania).  Fuck him.

Republicans have the same answer to every problem.

One of the hardest things is losing a family member to crazy ideology.

Is incest a sin or isn't it?

Green Eagle once again plumbs the depths of the wingnutosphere's insanity -- and has a serious concern about the next few months.

Don't trivialize a solemn occasion.

Two cities, two prices.

This person apparently believes in every bad thing at once.

Stop using insults like these.

What was wrong 2,000 years ago is still wrong now.

A precedent from 1965 suggests a possible strategy against vote suppression.

California, too, is now putting male sex criminals in women's prisons, endangering women inmates.  If you can read this and still not get it, you're beyond hope.  In Canada, women inmates are being punished for objecting to the same situation.

The atheist blogosphere has lost many blogs, but it's up to those who remain to persevere.

Catholic leaders are deploying exorcism rituals to purge America of liberals (found via Miss Cellania).  Yeah, that should work.

Some responses here to common arguments attacking freedom of speech.

A recent troll comment attacked me for considering trans ideology a "menace to women" -- which means it's time to re-post this reminder and this reminder.

Racists tried to silence a veteran for speaking about the black roots of Memorial Day.

Wingnuts practice lying and whataboutism.

A new study highlights the damage done by climate change.

A victim of gender "transition" describes the nightmare he went through.  Haters don't want detransitioners to tell their stories.

An oil-pipeline project in Minnesota brings a wave of sexual assaults.

An activist frees inmates from America's modern death camps.

Here's an exhaustive discussion of the history and nature of QAnon.

Pride month is marred by threats of violence.

A Texas valedictorian speaks out against the state's attack on abortion rights.

The ancient evil of anti-Semitism is back in a new form.

Gender ideology is creating dangerous confusion in medical schools.

This Scottish island gets too much of the wrong kind of attention.

No, there's no "menace to women" here.

Ireland's adoption of the "Nordic model" for handling prostitution had the usual disastrous results for sex workers.

The bizarreness of the anti-Semitic mind:  Israelis have been accused of racism for not raping Palestinians.

Here's what one couple did on 600 hectares of land in Brazil.

Islamic terrorists have just murdered over 130 people in west Africa.

Messenger RNA vaccines, now shown to be so effective against covid-19, will have many other applications.

Monarch butterflies in Mexico are among the victims of the Texas freeze and the pandemic, somewhat indirectly.

It's a tried-and-true design, fifty thousand years old.

More links at Fair and Unbalanced.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted Rowan Atkinson's defense of free expression, my own pursuit of health in a land of sickness, and a Whitney Avalon video on comparative religion.

[Image at top found via Hackwhackers.]

04 June 2021

Video of the day -- that doesn't make sense!

I congratulate this kid for discerning the one true religion from among all the frauds, even if she's a little off on the details.  And you can't go wrong with Whitney Avalon.

03 June 2021

Pursuing health in a land of sickness

It started with the pigs.

For most of my life I ate pretty much like a typical American. That included eating meat, with little or no thought to what meat is or where it comes from. But due to a long-standing interest in evolutionary biology, I steadily learned more and more about animals -- including how similar they, especially other mammals, are to humans in many ways. For example, the other great ape species have the same blood types as we do -- A, B, O, etc. In the case of chimpanzees the blood chemistry is close enough that transfusions between species would be possible, with individuals of the same blood type.

Around 2008 my reading made me aware that pigs, in particular, are at least as intelligent and emotionally sophisticated as dogs. This made me uncomfortable with the thought of eating their meat. Most people, at least in the West, would not be comfortable with eating dog flesh because we think of dogs as quasi-persons. But I realized that eating pig meat was no different -- so I stopped doing it.

Over time, as I slowly learned more, I extended the same principle to mammals generally. Cattle and sheep are not as intelligent as pigs, but they're also self-aware creatures, and I could simply no longer blank out the knowledge that what I was eating was part of the corpse of a conscious being. Finally I gave up meat altogether. Even animals like chickens and fish seem obviously self-aware to some extent, and they certainly have the capacity to suffer.

And suffer they do. Most meat now is produced on factory farms, where doomed animals are kept in horrific conditions of overcrowding and immobility, constantly dosed with antibiotics to suppress the infectious diseases which would otherwise run rampant under such conditions (and even so, disease is often widespread). Unlike many vegetarians, I don't really like animals -- they're unpredictable, generally not very clean, and in many cases dangerous; I don't like having them around me. But I don't like the thought of them suffering.

But I still hadn't grasped the implications of it all for human health. If anything, I worried that eliminating meat might lead to malnutrition. I was still eating things like eggs and cheese, as well as the wide range of processed junk that makes up so much of the "normal" American diet.

By the beginning of 2020 I knew I needed to do more. I had lost some weight, but at 225 pounds and 5'11" I was still clinically obese, and I was about to turn sixty. That put me in the express lane to a stroke or a heart attack. I started educating myself more about health and came to realize that animal by-products like cheese and eggs are probably even more toxic to the human system than meat is.

The pandemic was the final straw. It soon became clear that if you catch covid-19, overall health has a lot of impact on how badly it harms you. I observed rigorous isolation to avoid the virus, but I knew I could not totally eliminate the risk of getting it. So I cut out all the remaining animal products and most of the junk food. It was, I suppose, partly a way of feeling proactive and taking action rather than being passive in the face of the viral threat.

I also became something of a fanatic for learning as much as I could about the effects of various kinds of food on the human body. Human anatomy and biochemistry are those of a herbivorous animal, not an omnivorous one, and our pervasive problems of obesity, diabetes, arterial damage, and a dozen other scourges, are simply the kinds of things that happen to an animal when it eats the wrong kind of food. Such problems have historically been rare in populations which traditionally ate a mostly starch-based diet with very little meat, as in much of Asia -- but as prosperity brought American-style eating to those cultures, American-style health problems have quickly followed. Conversely, among Americans, it's vegans -- those who eat mostly vegetables, fruit, nuts, and legumes, eschewing animal products and keeping processed stuff to a minimum -- who statistically suffer least from such ailments. All this self-education helped me stick to the new path.

The results far exceeded expectations. By the end of 2020 I had lost thirty pounds, and the joint inflammation flare-ups and chest pains which had plagued me for most of my life had almost disappeared.

This isn't a "diet" in the sense of a temporary program to be followed until its goals are achieved. It's a reversion to what should be the norm. I consider it analogous to quitting smoking -- except that no will-power is involved.  The thought of eating any kind of meat now absolutely disgusts me.  There's no temptation to be resisted.

In terms of popular thinking and moral consensus, I think meat-eating today is about where slavery was around 1800. Most people still accept it as a normal part of life without giving it much thought. Only a small minority recognizes that there's a serious moral problem there, to say nothing of the health issues. But that minority is growing with time. There is, at least, fairly widespread awareness of how much animal farming contributes to global warming. But that issue is only the tip of a very large, ugly, and dangerous iceberg. Over time, I hope and believe, the reality of the problem will become widely understood despite the dense fog of misinformation, propaganda, and wishful thinking that now obscures it. Until then, at least I personally am no longer implicated -- and no longer harming myself.

[This essay originally appeared as a guest post at Happiness between Tails blog -- slightly edited.]

02 June 2021

Video of the day -- defending free speech

Rowan Atkinson is keenly aware of the importance of fighting for free expression -- he's known for mockery and ridicule of religion to a degree that Americans would find jaw-dropping, in a country which has no First Amendment to protect words which someone chooses to find offensive.  This speech, delivered in 2012 at the launch of the "Reform Section 5" campaign against an especially nasty and restrictive law (which led to absurdities like a threat of prosecution for calling Scientology a cult), clearly sets forth principles which still need to be defended.

In the UK, Section 5 was reformed in 2014 to make mere "insults" no longer legally actionable.  But other threats against free expression continue -- and not only in the UK.  There are still several Western countries where telling the truth about Islam, as I routinely do on this blog, could get me in serious trouble.  Even in the US, where the First Amendment remains a robust bulwark against government censorship, there are plenty of people who want to see certain opinions silenced and certain types of artistic expression banned -- and they are all too energetic at finding ways to do so.  The struggle against such enemies is never-ending, but the noblest battle of all.

30 May 2021

Link round-up for 30 May 2021

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

o o o o o

Bugs Bunny has too much power and should be feared.

Best internet comebacks here (found via Mike).

Better living awaits -- on Mars.

Just great, I'm sure.

The plan has succeeded -- time for the harvest.

Cryptocurrency traders turn honest in the end.

Watch a prehistoric cave man try to invent the toilet.

Sounds like an insurance scam indeed.

Raccoons make shitty pets.

This person exists.

This person..... ewww.

No diving!

No asses!

Save me from this dangerous monster!

Gorilla pwns lion.

Yeesh, she's not wasting any time.

Get some dating advice and puns from a cat, if you dare.

The item arrives.

Must've been quite a bug.

Maybe phones should just be for phone calls again.

Snowmen contemplate eternity.

This may not have been part of the competition (found via Hackwhackers).

Two guys watch a caterpillar.

Don't do that!

You know it's getting hot when the animals are melting into puddles.

Fear not, you will be re-educated.

Debra She Who Seeks looks at some vapid celebrities.

Murrmurrs reports on postal esoterica.

God?  What God?

Sometimes birds are good for business.

If you've been getting cialis/tadalafil spam, here's what to do.

Arabic words become graphic art.

Carol Seidl continues her report from the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

The Southern Baptist Convention is suffering a dramatic membership decline.

Here's a biker gang with a difference.

Biden reaches out to a gay influencer to promote covid-19 vaccination.

Conspiracy bullshit isn't even funny any more.

Cas d'intérêt reports on Napoléon's legacy, a new strategy against art theft, and more.

A Moonie gun cult in Texas is preparing for war.

If a fetus is a person.....

Bruce Gerencser fends off yet another Christian who won't listen, or understand, or tell the truth.

Trae Crowder looks at Biden's crimes.

Corporate-speak is gibberish.

Here's how Santorum was wrong about Indians and US culture (scroll down a bit).

Stephen Fry contemplates meeting God.

In 2008, Debra She Who Seeks visited desecrated ground and honored its original deity.

Annie Asks You has a poetic rumination on family memories.

This long-vanished bee left a strange relic of itself.

Pyramids are found all over the world (but look different everywhere).

Men and women have distinctly different skeletons.

Geology evokes haunting thoughts of ancient life we will never know.

Fact-check some common beliefs about heart attacks.

Women were second-class citizens in the US just half a century ago.

No means no!  Unless.....

The internet has developed a culture of personal attacks.  Don't contribute to it.  It's usually best to not even respond.

We don't need any more celebrity politicians.

Abusive behavior comes from abusive beliefs, not from repressed feelings.

The Green New Deal will destroy the energy industry!

He didn't want the vaccine (found via Hackwhackers).

Here is what it was like when abortion was illegal.

Connecticut girl runner Chelsea Mitchell writes about having to compete with boys, and predictably gets bullied for thoughtcrime.  Even at the Olympic level, women who speak out on such issues are told to shut up.  If the left refuses to listen to the victims in such cases, they naturally turn to whoever will listen.

Covid-19 infection numbers in the US are dropping despite our numerous missteps -- but not among those who refuse vaccination.

In case you need it explained why Marjorie Taylor Greene's Nazi analogies are bullshit, here you go.  Oh, and this person is an asshole.


"It's one extreme or the other.....No space for normal human behavior."

Democrats need to go big -- people won't turn out in 2022 for a party that didn't deliver.

Trump will be prosecuted, and the country needs to be prepared (found via Miss Cellania).

Follow the money.

Overturning Roe v Wade could backfire on the Republicans.  I'm not quite convinced, but there's a case to be made, and here it is.

Some wingnuts are now comparing vaccines to street drugs.  Anti-vaxxers are a plague on American society.

Madness tends to turn dangerous.

Good discussions here and here about the Democrats' "wokeness" problem.  This issue has the potential to cause us serious electoral damage.  It's no wonder the Republicans talk about it as much as possible -- it's a winning issue for them.

The air pollution alone from animal farming kills 13,000 Americans per year, almost as many as shootings do.

We need to talk about Kevin (McCarthy).

There's no limit to how low wingnuts will sink.

"I think any rational Jewish person didn't like what happened in Nazi Germany" -- "didn't like"???

John McWhorter's upcoming book looks like a must-read.

Here's a look at the black community of Greenwood in Tulsa which was destroyed in the 1921 racial massacre there.

This person exists -- and apparently works for the media.

A Canadian library stands up to the book-burners.

Unmarried mothers in the UK suffered brutal official abuse well into the 1970s.

Keira Bell, the girl at the center of the Tavistock ruling in the UK, tells her own story.  It's gripping and disturbing.

Interesting discussion here on the French approach to race and racism.

Germany has acknowledged its crimes in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 as a genocide.

India's media are finally standing up to Modi's religio-nationalist government.

NASA plans a new series of missions to help fight climate change (found via Hackwhackers).

More links at Fair and Unbalanced.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted a video on hoarding gasoline, some amusing images, and a discussion of how the "self" is a set of processes, not an entity.