26 May 2022

Video of the day -- Night Land

From The Lone Animator, a poetic vision of the very distant future.  Not what I expect it will really look like, but a great chance for him to show off a few more of his weird creatures.

24 May 2022

Image round-up for 24 May 2022

A few more from my collection..... some slightly NSFW

Computer science textbook, 1969

.....or trying to stop them from being published at all

Yes, it's a chalk drawing

Sculpture representing the Thousand and One Nights, Baghdad

Ancient Alexandria

Eilean Donan, Scotland

Ancient Greek ruins at Ephesus, Ionia

Galileo's handwriting


22 May 2022

Link round-up for 22 May 2022

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

o o o o o

She really loves Jesus.

An evil wizard would make a shitty manager in the real world.

Undoubtedly, many guys have been photographed with this cactus.

Read the tale of the tall grave.

Other options exist for cryptocurrency bros after the collapse.

None of these people are having a good time.

How long are typical Scandinavian place names?

Working with horses carries certain risks.

Fireworks and dogs don't mix.

Kids go to the zoo and learn about animals.

Some just don't like rules.

You can have fun even on a minimum-wage job.

I never realized Barad-Dûr was in Pittsburgh.

Consider a challenging new job.

This house exists.

Small dog, big nuisance.

Chimpanzees discover capitalism.

A burqa can make it hard to recognize someone.

Validate her identity!

Some bloggers need this bracelet.

He did it with her doggie style.

A high-speed police chase is interrupted.

See a baby react to a waterfall.

It takes some thought to deal wisely with childhood fears.

".....The other catching a later train / Back to the stars."

Art pulls you away from the dreary and miserable routine of work-centered life.

Don't let bad people in your past force you to suffer in silence now.

Protect your brain from cognitive decline.

Every blogger has encountered this commenter.

Purity isn't a personality trait.

Feel motivated to work.

He decided his wife was a bad investor.

The internet is full of people like this.

Give yourself the childhood you never had.

This question is no more answerable now than in 1975.

What a %$#!@# stupid idea.

Everyone is an artist until the rent is due.

A truly great library.....

Here is the explanation (link from Mike) of that cat-stealing-a-dong picture I included in this post.

Marcel Proust's last party was an elegant, strained affair.

If you're interested in Celtic pagan mythology, be careful what sources you use -- the internet is full of misinformation.

No, there is not a "doorway" on Mars.

These are the lighthouses of Europe.

Here's an unusually-clear video of the effects of a tornado (in Andover KS).

Our growing knowledge of the Ediacaran period of life on Earth helps explain the subsequent "Cambrian explosion".

Hear a black hole sing.

Same psychology, different politics.

Different politics, same bullshit.

How do you feel about child-free people?

Watch out for job ads.

".....sanctimonious woke parents who think activism is virtue-signaling on Instagram."

Cristina Garcia gets things done.

SickoRicko captures capitalism in images.

Sorry, this is a dangerous mental illness.

Religion has utterly failed to make its case.

Banning things usually has the same result.

One gets the job done, the other doesn't.

This asshole will be no loss to Congress.

Some crimes can never be forgiven.

Idealists can learn a lot from the Fruitlands commune of the 1840s.

Find out if you qualify for $30 off your internet bill.

The eight-hour work day is not about productivity.

Autonomous robots in the streets pose a threat to disabled people.

This video from after the 2020 election has valuable advice for this year, which the activist/blogosphere element will dismiss because they'd rather lose elections than face reality.

Withdraw your implicit consent from internet ads and data mining.

Republicans in different states respond differently to the coming end of Roe (includes an interesting tip about Oklahoma tribal lands).

"Those who are determined to be offended will discover a provocation somewhere.  We cannot possibly adjust enough to please the fanatics, and it is degrading to make the attempt."

Intel's shift to accepting work-from-home will pressure other Oregon employers to do the same.

With such a dull and unimaginative world-view, and such transparent manipulative methods, it's no wonder that fundamentalism is losing members.

Detailed review here of a book by a Christian doctor who performs abortions.

This YouTuber's channel offers a case study on transitioning.

May 20 was Draw Muhammad Day.  "There are some actions which are unnecessary to do -- until someone tells you you can't do them."

Cryptocurrency is imploding.  A computer scientist explains why it was a terrible idea and needs to die as fast as possible.  It was basically a Ponzi scheme for Randroids.  No sympathy for the marks who fell for such an obvious scam (but take precautions if your spouse might be one).

Even when creationists use math, they don't know what they're talking about.

Sometimes the government really is just wasting our money.

Shades of Lysenko -- the ACLU chooses ideology over science.

Here's how the Bible respects women.

Republicans vie to impose the most cruel and inhuman abortion bans possible.

It's not normal to know, and worry about, every problem in the world.  For most of history there was far more horrible stuff going on all over the world than there is today, but people didn't worry about it because each person only knew what was happening in his or her own locality.

Classic example of bizarre religious logic here.

"You are trapped in the wilderness with a man who won't stop talking about his penis.  This is not good.  This is not normal."

An abundance of Muslim religious texts affirm that Islam has been, and should be, spread by force.

Markeda Ann Cottonham is a rather unusual Republican.

Don't let your family force you to deny your true self.

The 1965 Griswold ruling laid the groundwork for Roe v Wade (found via Miss Cellania).  It is interesting that, at that time, the strongest support for birth control was in the South -- rooted in fear of a rise in the black birth rate.  One wonders if the same fear may eventually lead to more support for abortion rights there.

The moderate conservative site The Bulwark argues that Republican primary voters' rejection of Madison Cawthorn isn't such a good sign as it appears.

Must-watch video of the week -- people have the right to challenge an ideology that promotes medical experimentation on children (link from SickoRicko).

Discover magazine is no longer trustworthy, at least on medical topics.

Never forget this vile sadistic monster who fooled the world.

A "nose-holding Trump voter" explains his position.

Remember the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire of 1911.

What a religion hates most of all is apostates.

Reject the religious totem of "holy lands".

Bruce Gerencser shows near-infinite patience with an obsessive troll.

The Supreme Court is now merely a political tool in the hands of the shrinking fundamentalist minority.

McConnell's visit to Ukraine threw down the gauntlet to the MAGA isolationists.  The issue is creating a split in the party.

The problem with Islam is.....Islam.

If you don't think women prison inmates should be locked in with male sex criminals, you're "human filth".

A feminist gathering in Manchester UK was attacked by menacing, masked thugs.  Police told one woman that if she got attacked again, she'd be arrested.  I'm not sure even Orwell anticipated that one.

"It is already too late for some. Right now, in Australia, there are children, teenagers and adults among us who have been committed to this lifetime of medicalisation. I want to make sure there aren't any more."

Even in Switzerland, support is growing for closer ties with NATO due to Putin's war on Ukraine.

These people actually threatened to burn down a bookstore because they objected to a book being featured inside.

Putin has destroyed any goodwill toward Russia that might once have existed in Ukraine.

Russian troops freed up by the fall of Mariupol may not be much help in Donbas.

A former spy says Putin needs constant medical treatment which is undermining his ability to rule.

Massive protests in Iran against rising prices are re-focusing on the country's hated theocratic regime.

In Afghanistan, secret schools continue to educate girls in defiance of the Taliban.

Muslims are far less numerous than they claim to be.

Here's what Islamists do when women are disobedient (disturbing images).

This couple in India is suing their son for not having children.

More here on the Nigerian student who was beaten and burned to death for blasphemy this month.

More links at Fair and Unbalanced and Miss Cellania.

o o o o o

My own posts this week:  a collection of cat pictures, some hopeful speculation on Ukraine, and how sex is being ruined by porn.

In these times, blasphemy is not a right -- it is a duty.

19 May 2022

The destruction of sex

Caveat:  because of the topic, this post will contain some fairly explicit references to sex acts, something which I don't often have on this blog.  Readers who are uncomfortable with such references may prefer to skip this post.

(What I say here applies to the heterosexual world.  I know very little about gay pornography or sexuality and thus cannot comment on it.)

It's been reported for quite a few years that sex is on the decline in the US; young people, especially, are having less sex than people in the same age range did a generation ago (example).  At first glance, this seems mystifying.  Since the sexual revolution more than half a century ago, most of the taboos which discouraged mainstream sexual behavior or restricted it to marriage have lost their grip on most people, while the laws and social conventions which enforced those taboos have fallen away.  Sex is a strong and innate biological drive, especially in young people.  Since the drive remains constant from generation to generation, shouldn't less inhibition mean more activity?

I think that a major factor in this decline is that sex has become less appealing because it has been rendered disgusting.

A few months ago I posted about how almost all the pornography easily available nowadays depicts sex in ways that are ugly, formulaic, dull, unrealistic, disgusting, devoid of affection, and sometimes cruel.  Even depictions of what purports to be normal, mainstream, "vanilla" sex are full of choking, ass-slapping, hair-pulling, deep-throating, anal, and suchlike degrading and painful practices.  Before writing that post I watched a few videos on various mainstream porn sites, to verify that porn really is as bad as I remembered; but I found this stuff to be so repulsive that it was actually very unpleasant to watch, and I didn't keep watching any given video any longer than needed to confirm that, yes, it really is that bad.

But what about younger males today, who are just becoming interested in sex and have easy access to the internet?  Since our country remains unusually prudish by developed-world standards and in many areas doesn't provide clear and explicit sex education, they naturally turn to the internet to satisfy their curiosity.  And what they find there isn't loving or healthy sex or any remotely realistic depiction of how female sexuality works.  It's -- that stuff.  And it shapes their sexuality because it's pretty much the only influence available to do so.

This situation has actually been a reality for a couple of decades now, and over the years it's become apparent that many younger males are indeed getting their sense of what sex is supposed to be like from internet porn (see for example this post and this comment, but I've seen a lot of such observations in many forums).

I can just imagine what it must be like for a girl or young woman nowadays who starts exploring sex.  She gets to know a guy she likes, their relationship progresses to the point of having sex -- and suddenly he turns into an alien.  He wants to slap or choke her.  During oral sex, he tries to shove his penis down her throat.  He wants anal.  Depending on how assertive she is, she tries to refuse the worst of it (but young men can be very insistent) or endures it as best she can; eventually she realizes he isn't going to change, and moves on.  But the next guy is the same.  And the next.  So she gives up.  Who would want to have a sex life at all if it's going to be like that?

The guy, meanwhile, finding that most women are repulsed by or flat-out refuse what he has been deluded into believing is normal sex, decides they're "lame" or "boring" or whatever the current applicable epithet is.  It's all too easy to just go back to masturbating to porn, as he's been doing for years anyway.  In the worst cases, this leads to the "incel" phenomenon, males with irredeemably repulsive habits and personalities who marinate in a festering resentful hatred of women and congregate together in online forums of their own to reinforce each other's delusions of victimhood (sometimes culminating in actual terrorist violence).  More commonly, it just leads to isolation and a crippled capacity to form normal relationships.

Not everybody is like this, of course.  Many young people still form lasting sexual relationships and even get married.  Likely the males in such cases had less exposure to internet porn for whatever reason, or were viscerally repulsed by it from the start, or were smart enough to realize it bore no resemblance to actual normal sex, or had parents who were fully engaged in their lives and were able to counter its worst influences by educating them about reality, or were rescued from those influences by women in their lives who wouldn't put up with such crap and cared enough to educate them.

This suggests, though, that American society is splitting into sexual haves and have-nots -- a "privileged" class engaged in healthy sexuality within stable monogamous relationships based on strong emotional commitment, vs the deprived who exist in a chaos of shallow transient hook-ups, "kink", and anonymous encounters, disdaining those who live stable lives ("lame" and "boring"), and eventually sinking deeper and deeper into a morass of ever-weirder perversions in pursuit of the inchoate something that they know, deep down, is missing -- never realizing that their way of life is dragging them inexorably further and further away from it.  I don't even want to think about what their old age will be like.

I don't know what should be done about this.  Censorship is not the answer -- it never is.  The fact that so many people still emerge from adolescence sexually normal shows that it is possible.  Better sex education in the schools, designed to explicitly counter the influences of online porn, would probably help (it would be interesting to know if countries which have better sex education have less of a problem with porn-warped male sexuality), but would encounter strong resistance from the shrinking but politically-powerful fundamentalist minority.  There's no substitute for strong and self-aware parental involvement, but this is difficult when our modern capitalist peon-wage economy so often requires both parents to work outside the home, and one wonders how many parents are fully aware of this problem anyway.

In my original post on pornography, I expressed bewilderment at why pornography is like this.  Surely there would be a bigger market for more realistic, less degraded depictions of sex?  At the risk of sounding paranoid, I'm starting to wonder if the warping effect on actual male sexuality was foreseen and intended all along.  At least as far back as Orwell, it's been understood that unrepressed sexuality is a problem for authoritarian regimes, which prefer the masses to be in a constant state of agitation and dissatisfaction, easily whipped up into unhealthy hysteria.  But one could argue that it's a problem for capitalism too; it enables people to achieve a profound feeling of satisfaction without spending money.  The system wants a dissatisfied population whom it can persuade, via advertising and marketing, that whatever expensive thing it's selling at the moment will finally bring them fulfillment.

Returning American society to a Victorian state of sexual repression is probably impossible, and would strengthen the "forbidden fruit" appeal of sex anyway.  But if sex can be made so ugly and degrading and disgusting that millions don't even want it, then that will achieve the desired effect just as well -- perhaps better.

17 May 2022

Ukraine -- light at the end of the tunnel?

A week short of three months into the war, there are some hopeful and intriguing developments.  Russian military bloggers with hundreds of thousands of followers have begun openly criticizing the military's incompetence, while this startlingly candid assessment of the war and the international situation was allowed to air on Russian TV (both links found here).  Either the regime is now losing control of the narrative domestically, or the public is being prepared for the shock of a more realistic picture of the crisis.

Even more startling, Putin seems to be backing down on his threats against Finland and Sweden for their efforts to join NATO.  Russia has allowed hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from the Azovstal steel plant to be evacuated, a break from its previous pattern of "agreeing" to such evacuations and then opening fire on those trying to flee.

Then there are the persistent stories that Putin is seriously ill with cancer.  Green Eagle suggests that this might be a ploy to legitimize removing him from power so that the disastrous war can be ended.

All this suggests it is just possible that Putin, or other forces in Russia who aspire to replace him, are trying to de-escalate the situation with an eye to eventually ending the war.  Anyone with access to unbiased information can now see that it is unwinnable.  The Ukrainians have pushed the Russians back from Kharkiv to the border.  The Russian offensive in Donbas is making little or no progress, displaying the same incompetence and logistical problems as earlier Russian efforts.  The regime has the power to drag out the war for months longer, but doing so would mean only more defeat or stalemate, more humiliation, more international isolation, more ongoing losses of troops and equipment (disastrously eroding Russia's military power) with no realistic hope of conquering Ukraine and a real risk of being driven out from the eastern and southeastern territory Russia has managed to occupy -- and more risk of a nuclear escalation which would wipe out Russia along with the West.  Finding a way out is clearly the only sane course.

After the war ends -- whether soon or months from now -- the West will need to continue providing aid on a large scale.  Two thousand high-rise buildings have been destroyed in Kharkiv alone, Mariupol is largely in ruins, and there is tremendous destruction all over the country.  The Ukrainians will have won a major victory for the whole democratic world, at enormous cost, and will have earned whatever help they need to rebuild.  Tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian citizens have been abducted and forced to settle in Russia, for reasons still unclear; the sanctions should not be relaxed until they are allowed to return.  If isolationist or Putinist Republicans become dominant in the US government again, other democracies will have to step up and support Ukraine's recovery.  The important thing is that this devastated but heroic country not be abandoned after the fighting stops.

16 May 2022

Getting catty

It's been a while since I last paid tribute to the flagship animal of the internet, so.....

You can generally tell when they're pleased.....

.....and when they aren't.

Cats even sometimes act for the greater good.

I'm sure there's a story behind this drawing, but I can't imagine what it might be.

Sorry, we all know that was you.....

Preferred habitat

Extra-strength catnip?

Blogging takes energy!