30 September 2013

For Blasphemy Day

29 September 2013

Link round-up for 29 September 2013

Alleged photos of space aliens actually depict singers from the Dean Martin show (found via Mendip).

It's Cantonese, I assume -- absolutely positively the greatest rocker/album name ever (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Don't engage in class warfare (found via Squatlo Rant).

Here's a government shutdown we can all support (found via Politics Plus).

Why did medieval illuminated manuscripts depict knights fighting snails?

Computers will give reassurance.

Male swimmers of New Jersey, beware the bollock-munching kipper (found via Lady Freethinker).

Liberals and conservatives -- there's a difference.

Some nutty "people's court" has "convicted" Obama of some stuffThese people exist.

Don't be a jerk.

Wrong then, wrong now (found via Squatlo Rant).

Check out the great astronomical photography of Cristian Fattinnanzi.

Some of these travel posters are for places you'll never go (found via Mendip).

Green Eagle has plenty of material for his latest Wingnut Wrapup.

Here are the top 16 myths about Obamacare, debunked.  And shame on those who go along with the lies.  McCain pushes backPremium levels are out for 36 states, and the news looks good (found via Progressive Eruptions).  Vanity Fair has a brilliant essay on the Republican opposition; Booman Tribune dissects their response to the "it's settled law" argument.

Billy Graham's grandson says child sexual abuse among Evangelicals could be even worse than in the Catholic Church.  More here.

Republicans sink to silly tactics to sabotage Wendy Davis.

The media still push the California-is-a-failure meme, but the reality is otherwise.

This guy will vote next year.  Will you?

The teabag fringe plunges to new depths of Kenya-related crazy.

We haven't taken as much of the austerity poison as Europe has, but it's hurt us nevertheless.

Wall Street tries to talk sense to Republicans on the debt ceiling.  Michael Tomasky thinks they're finally self-destructing.

Well-meaning regulations make the porn industry more dangerous.

If there's a government shutdown, we need some moments like this.

Brad Paisley isn't a racist, but he doesn't quite get it about the Confederate flag.

Here's a case study of how the right-wing pseudo-media spread false information.

Bill Clinton turns vegan, loses 24 pounds, reverses heart disease, looks healthier than years ago.

NRA lobbyist travels to Botswana, shoots elephant in face, poses with corpse, celebrates with champagne.

Unconstitutional anti-atheist discrimination is still on the books in some states.

Support for the Tea Party is at a near-all-time low.

Pope schmope, the Catholic Church is still a reactionary bastion -- read the comments too.

Republicans oppose Obamacare, but still rely on the savings it will generate to make their proposed budget balance.

Don't be lulled by a few state referenda -- the utter madness of the war on drugs is still with us.

Irish children in secular schools will soon be taught about atheism.

Nitwits who can't tell cartoons from reality have screwed up Japanese agriculture.

Taiwan may soon become the first completely non-Western country to legalize gay marriage, but even there, religious nutters are on the warpath against it.

The religion of peace strikes again: shoppers taken hostage at the Nairobi mall were hideously tortured and mutilated by al-Shabab terrorists.

Just how huge can snakes get, anyway? (found via Mendip).

Here's what the ancestor of English (and hundreds of other languages) 6,000 years ago might have sounded like.

Maria Konovalenko thinks Google's Calico may not be such a great idea.

The sounds of some words may have a psychological connection with their meaning.

Here's a list of rebuttals to standard attacks on science-based medicine (found via Lady Atheist).

Stephen Hawking believes that mind uploading is feasible.

The image of this long-dead bee lives on only in a flower.

26 September 2013

Video of the day -- arrows away!

From blundering Republican circular firing squads to pinpoint marks[wo]manship -- found via Lady Freethinker.  Who hasn't wanted to do this to one of those pestilential paparazzi?

25 September 2013

Ready, fire, aim!

This time the Republicans' circular firing squad does, at least, have an actual target in the center -- Ted Cruz.  But that won't change the result.  The problem is that the room in which they're all blasting away is lined with barrels of nitroglycerin.

It's not clear, and may never be, exactly why the Republican powers-that-be are so furious with Cruz.  Perhaps they realize that his efforts to turn the defund-Obamacare kabuki into the real deal, flirting with a government shutdown in the process, threaten electoral disaster in 2014 and beyond since Republicans will rightly be blamed.  Perhaps he (unknowingly?) dissed the Senate pecking order in some way.  But for whatever reason, the knives are out:  McConnell and Cornyn are openly opposing Cruz, and un-named "top Republicans" offered Chris Wallace dirt on Cruz before a planned Fox interview.  Firing back, commenters on hard-right sites like RedState and Hot Air side almost unanimously with Cruz against the "squishes" and "RINOs" (now defined as pretty much any Republican willing to compromise with empirical reality); even a guest post allegedly by Reince Priebus trying to re-direct teabagger rage against Democrats was contemptuously swatted down by commenters determined to keep not-insane-enough Republicans squarely in the crosshairs.  The Moderate Voice blog has an overview of the looming civil war on the right.

Cruz's pseudo-filibuster, by the way, ended in ignominious self-pwnage when he couldn't even get Dr. Seuss right.

OK, that was the fun part.  Now for those barrels of nitroglycerin.

Congress has less than a week to straighten this out before the threat of a government shutdown hits.  Despite Cruz's antics, the Senate will send a clean CR back to the House.  The question is what happens then.  Averting a shutdown depends on Boehner having the guts to face down the teabaggers, who these days are about as easy to deal with as a pack of demonically-possessed rabid pit bulls with their nuts caught in a mousetrap.  Assuming we avoid a shutdown, in a few weeks the debt ceiling will need to be raised again, and Boehner (in an act of blatant hypocrisy) has threatened to demand a one-year delay of the ACA in exchange for this routine and necessary action, raising the specter of the government being unable to pay its bills, endangering its credit, and sending shock-waves of uncertainty through a still-weak global economy.

Obama say he won't negotiate about the debt-ceiling hike.  That's a start.  And my guess is that big business (a constituency Republicans listen to) will be exerting pressure behind the scenes to avoid a disaster which would harm their interests too.  But even the threat creates dangerous uncertainty.

However this plays out, we need to make sure the whole mess doesn't keep repeating itself.  The goal should be to take back the House and get a filibuster-proof Senate majority in 2014.  Teabaggerdom will be helping us -- they're already threatening to primary the shit out of every non-flaming-nutball Republican they can, giving us more Mourdocks and O'Donnells to run against.  Even if our majorities won't accomplish much because they include more conservative red-state Democrats, the point is to get the Republicans out of any position of power.  We cannot continue to have the planet's largest economy threatened with destabilization every time these idiots decide to stage one of their feces-flinging tantrums about something or other that they barely understand.  Get them away from the nitro and put them in the playpen until they grow up.

22 September 2013

Link round-up for 22 September 2013

Matthew Cobb knows what the internet is really for -- funny cat pictures!

Mishka Henner turns Texas landscapes into surreal art.

What if the Borg were Canadian?

Magia Posthuma is an intelligent blog on the history of vampires and suchlike oddities (found via Mendip).

Check out the view from this house.

You have the right..... (found via Squatlo Rant).

Never mind the Palin reference, these must be the worst shoes ever.

How big would Google's datacenters be if they used punch cards?

Satan's creations have been pretty successful, apparently (found via Republic of Gilead).

The Miss America pageant triggers a moron pageant.

The precedent of Medicare Part D suggests that the ACA will rapidly gain in popularity -- read this too.

Latest Akinism:  male violence is caused by women having jobs. Oh, and Hillary's gay.

The Navy Yard shooting is already spawning the usual conspiracy rubbish.

Stop the food stamp queens living high on the taxpayers' dime!

Here's an example of why we need the ACA -- it could have helped this person too.  Ad wars are in full swing; some factual info here.

The Secular Student Alliance aims to create safe spaces free from religious bullying.

The US is becoming more liberal, but will political elites get the message?

Thinking of buying a house?  Read this first.

Obama lays it on the line about Republican blackmail efforts.  Charles Krauthammer, Karl Rove, the Chamber of Commerce, and even PJ Media try to talk sense to the teabaggers.  Is Boehner preparing to surrender or hoping the shutdown backlash will restore sanity?

Non-bigoted Christians, please click here (found via Republic of Gilead).

Texas blogger Ranch Chimp looks at a possible Wendy Davis run for Governor (she's already attracting attention in Washington).

Police seize a terrorist arsenal in Ireland.

Germany is holding a national election today -- live-blog in English here.

Iran's new President Rouhani gives an encouraging interview, though with some hedging. Also read his Washington Post op-ed.

Young people in Turkey become politicized from fear of an authoritarian party dominated by the religious right (gee, sounds familiar).

Even after the Egyptian coup, the Muslim Brotherhood had clung to power in the town of Delga until this week, terrorizing the Christian minority.

The religion of peace strikes again, in Pakistan.

Elif Bilgin invented a way of making eco-friendly plastic out of banana peels.  She's 16.

An increased prevalence of older people in the Upper Paleolithic may have helped humans become the dominant species.

Google opens a new front in the fight against aging.

Inadequate US regulation of meat-industry use of antibiotics may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

Switching to a healthier lifestyle can fight telomere shortening, a contributor to the aging process.

A new study on pigs and genetically-modified foods has some alarming results.

Glacier National Park will soon lack glaciers -- read this too (both found via Lady Atheist).

Carbon dioxide and acidification are killing the Pacific (there's a huge picture at the top of the article -- scroll down to start reading).

20 September 2013

What's this colorful canyon?

Can you identify this picture?
Click "comments" below for the answer.

18 September 2013

Obamacare will be a disaster -- for the Republicans

It's a curious point about extremists that, however much they hate the perceived "enemy" group, what they hate even more is those members of their own group who aren't quite so ready to hate the enemy group.  These days, on right-wing sites like RedState or Hot Air, most of the vitriol isn't being aimed at Democrats.  By far the greater part of it is aimed at Republicans who aren't fighting the Democrats fanatically enough.

What's going on?  Crunch time is approaching for the implementation of Obamacare, the right wing's latest candidate for Satan incarnate.  Exchanges will open next month and people will be able to get actual coverage starting in January.  The fire-breathers of teabaggerdom are desperate to stop it by any means necessary.  Normal options for doing so are exhausted -- the law was passed by both houses three years ago and has been upheld by the Supreme Court, and everyone knows that the 40-odd repeal votes staged by House Republicans were just empty posturing.  Teabaggerdom is pinning its hopes on legislative hostage-taking -- using upcoming votes on a continuing resolution on routine spending and on raising the debt ceiling to force defunding of Obamacare by threatening disaster (a government shutdown or a default on the national debt) unless Democrats cave.

Saner and more experienced Republicans know that such schemes would fail and backfire.  Obama will not back down and let them destroy the defining achievement of his Presidency, and Democrats know they have the upper hand since the public would blame Republicans for the shutdown or default; they would simply wait for Republicans to blink first.  Not only would hostage-taking fail to stop Obamacare, but voters fed up with Republican histrionics and brinkmanship would punish them in the 2014 election.  Old-line Republicans like Boehner and McConnell will make a few rhetorical and procedural gestures toward defunding-by-blackmail, but balk at actually strapping on the suicide-bomber vest.

The fire-breathers will have none of that.  To them, any compromise with the Democrats or with reality itself is an outrageous betrayal.  They hardly have any energy left over to attack Democrats after all their fervent denunciation of McConnell, Boehner, RINOs, "squishes", etc.  If, as now seems likely, Congressional Republicans brush aside the efforts of the teabaggers in their midst (like Cruz and Lee) and let the continuing resolution and the debt-ceiling rise go through without kamikaze attacks on Obamacare, then I shudder to contemplate the reaction.  The crazies have worked themselves up into a conviction that Obamacare taking effect is the end-game, the death of the Republic, the annihilation of mom and apple pie.  This isn't an argument about a law, it's an epic battle between good and evil.  And whoever allows the demons to defeat the angels might as well be a demon himself.

Combine this with the widespread conviction that the defeats of 2008 and 2012 stemmed from nominating moderates instead of True Conservatives, and the stage is set for a real split next year.  The fire-breathers are threatening more primary challenges of the kind that delivered O'Donnell, Angle, Akin, Mourdock, etc. and cost the Republicans seats they could otherwise have won.  Winning against Democrats hardly seems to be on their mental horizon at all.  The battle-cry is: Get the RINOs out.  Even where primary challenges fail, willingness to stay home or vote for third candidates seems higher than ever.  Republican Congressional leaders have apparently decided this is less of a risk than further alienating the mainstream is, and in the long run they're right -- the party must appeal to voters beyond the base in order to remain viable.  But the shorter term -- which won't be all that short -- looks rocky.

Another factor at work is that many Republicans (not only the extremists) are so convinced that Obamacare will be a disaster that they think they can sit back and watch public backlash against the law do the heavy lifting for them in 2014 and 2016, sweeping Democrats out of office.  In fact, while polls show "Obamacare", so designated, to be fairly unpopular (hardly surprising since Republicans have put so much energy into spreading misinformation about it), the individual specific actual things that it does are polling much better.  Inevitably, implementation glitches have happened and will continue to do so, and Republicans are doing everything they can to sabotage the law in states they control -- but when Obamacare has been in effect for a while and the public has seen its actual results, and the expected backlash doesn't materialize, Republicans will be left scrambling for an alternative strategy.

We shouldn't be complacent about 2014.  Off-year low turnouts favor Republicans, as we saw in 2010.  But if this mitigates or cancels out their losses, it will simply embolden the crazies to continue their anti-moderate rampage in 2016.  If they nominate a passel of Akinesque bunglers to carry on a quixotic crusade against what by then will be a normal part of the social safety net like Social Security and Medicare, they'll find out that things can go even worse for them than in 2008 and 2012.

Update 1:  Hah!  Mere hours after I finished writing this, Boehner appears to have opted for a kamikaze attack after all, while Democrats don't seem inclined to give in.  Keep your eye on news sites like TPM, Crooks & Liars, and Daily Kos for analysis.  My overall point is, if anything, strengthened -- teabaggerdom's obsession with destroying Obamacare is pushing Republicans into a destructive adventure for which voters will punish them severely.

Update 2 (Sept. 19):  On closer examination, I'm not convinced that Boehner's ploy amounts to any more than the "rhetorical and procedural gestures toward defunding-by-blackmail" I anticipated above.  With Boehner's original statement that the Senate is "where the fight is" and now Cruz's retort that "House Republicans must stand firm" when Reid sends back a clean CR, the whole thing has the appearance of House and Senate Republicans tossing a hot potato back and forth, both knowing they don't dare bring a shutdown, but both desperately hoping to avoid being blamed by the lunatic base when the effort collapses.  Bring on the popcorn.

Update 3:  Holy $#!T, look at this comment thread at RedState.  Until this morning, Cruz was the shining hero of the wingnutosphere, leading the charge to destroy the ACA.  Now he's being called a coward, a blowhard, "nothing more than a hairdo", etc., all for simply acknowledging that Senate Republicans can't sustain a filibuster of a clean CR since a few Republicans will side with the Democrats.  How fast they turn on their own, even for being unable to do the impossible!

[Image at top by Mario Piperni.]

15 September 2013

Video of the day -- we're right, they're wrong

Link round-up for 15 September 2013

It's time to hit Syria hard (found via Brains and Eggs).

Here's the Bible summarized in just a few words.

A map shows where in the US marijuana is easy to get.

Deity Shmeity has a tweet round-up.

This book actually exists.

Where there are suckers, there will be con artists to fleece them.

I won't be getting one of these truck decals.

World Net Daily offers intelligent analysis about Obama.

Brain damage can take different forms.

Meat-eaters read this: deregulation is about to make the hygienic standards of US meat even worse than they already are.

Krugman looks at the Republican expertise deficit.

The world must not tolerate rogue states that use chemical weapons.

Teabaggerdom's campaign to destroy viable Republican candidates rages on in West Virginia.

Generational change, properly understood, is reviving the real left -- and perhaps opening the door for a Warren Presidential run.

A new book purports to explain why xenophobia and sexual intolerance naturally go together to form the conservative mentality.

What would Reagan think?  The US right embraces Russian dictator and former KGB officer Vladimir Putin (found via Republic of Gilead).  Oh, and these people exist.

Here's a good examination of dishonest right-wing "news reporting" on global warming, specifically on Arctic ice.

Sorry guys, even Obama makes mistakes sometimes.

Compare a conspiracy theory with reality (found via Squatlo Rant).

Three American teenage girls set out for Britain on a mission to make idiots of themselves (found via Lady Atheist).

Cornwall's humble Cornish pasty scores a surprise win across the Channel (found via Mendip).

British unemployment is so bad, even wasps are getting laid off.

Holy water in Europe is full of crud (found via Lady Atheist).

A global education group ranks the world's top 20 universities.  11 are in the US, 6 in just one other country.

There's a difference between socialism in the US and in Europe.

A German report indicates Asad didn't order that chemical-weapons attack.

Here's a look at the Syrian rebels.

Not all Iranians are happy with their government's embrace of Asad.

India doesn't quite get secularism.

Bangladesh confronts scary criminals.

Muslim Mauritania practices de facto slavery.

Pat Robertson raised money to help Rwandan refugees, then diverted it to invest in diamond mining.

New excavations provide new insights into Stonehenge.

Evolution invented mechanical gears before human engineers did.

Jellyfish are taking over the world, apparently (seriously, read this -- it's scary).

12 September 2013

Video of the day -- Nigel Farage on Syria

11 September 2013

On September 11

On that day in 2001, as the worst terrorist mass murder in history was taking place, I never imagined that twelve years later our country would have just narrowly avoided intervening in a foreign civil war on the side of the very people who attacked us.  Well, let's be grateful for such favors as there are.  With both houses of Congress now leaning against authorizing a military strike, and with the Russian disarmament initiative having perhaps resolved the chemical-weapons issue and, at worst, muddied the waters for a while, the option of the US plunging its hand into the Syrian bucket of scorpions seems to be off the table for the foreseeable future.

However, there's no telling how the situation will develop in the weeks to come, so it's worthwhile to keep its true nature in mind as best we can.  It has been said that Middle Eastern politics is a subject comparable to quantum physics in its complexity and to sewage in its charm, and Syria fits that assessment particularly well.  I've already posted on the daunting complexity of Syria's ethnic and religious diversity, on the character of the anti-Asad rebels and the likely results if they win, and on the implications for US domestic politics.  On that last point, American public opposition to intervention is actually increasing.

Cutting right to the heart of what we're told is the key issue here, remember that it is still not at all established that the Syrian regime was responsible for the chemical-weapons attack in Ghouta near Damascus, which was the whole basis for the now-probably-aborted missile strike against the regime. I ask you to imagine the result if Obama struck at Syria and it was later shown that the chemical-weapons attack was a rebel trick designed to manipulate him into doing that very thing.  He'd probably have to resign, especially if US forces had suffered casualties during the attack.

As a further illustration of the character of the rebels, here's a report on their recent capture of a Christian village near Damascus (I actually visited this village very briefly in 1979):

One resident said the rebels — many of them wearing beards and shouting, "God is great!" — attacked Christian homes and churches shortly after seizing the village. "They shot and killed people. I heard gunshots and then I saw three bodies lying in the middle of a street in the old quarters of the village," the resident said by telephone. "So many people fled the village for safety." Now, he said, Maaloula "is a ghost town."..... A third resident reached by phone said he saw militants forcing some Christian residents to convert to Islam. "I saw the militants grabbing five villagers Wednesday and threatening them: 'Either you convert to Islam or you will be beheaded,'" he said.

These people are jihadists, not Jeffersonian democrats.  And remember that there are actual al-Qâ'idah affiliates among them.

In case it needs to be said yet again, I'm in no way a supporter of the ghastly and blood-soaked Asad regime.  It's a horror.  But however bad things are in the Middle East, there's always a way for them to get worse.  Replacing a murderous fascist dictatorship with an even more murderous (potentially genocidal toward religious minorities, in fact) jihadist theocracy would be worse, both for the Syrian people and for the West.  And just imagine how much the already-massive US public opposition to an intervention would grow, if people clearly understood that we would be fighting on the same side as the very organization that brought down the World Trade Center twelve years ago.

08 September 2013

Link round-up for 8 September 2013

Some PUA/MRA type calling himself LaidNYC wrote an unbelievable rant in praise of his own sperm.  Here's commentary by David Futrelle and a hilarious dramatic reading.

Protect your bananas with these colorful carrying cases (found via Mendip) -- don't miss the comments.

Dang, we can't drench university freshmen with urine any more?

Dan Savage urges gay-friendly Christians to speak out, and the unfriendly ones freak out -- read the comments too -- these people exist.

When the religious crazies aren't obsessing about fags, they're fretting over getting raped by demons.

A married man with children makes a startling discovery (how often does this happen but the people involved never find out?)

Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it isn't there (found via Squatlo Rant).

Check out the spooky art of Allen Williams (click on pictures for full-size versions).

Here's an interactive map comparing New York city of today with 1836 (found via Mendip).

According to a Kaiser Foundation analysis, Obamacare will lower premiums even more than forecast.

Can we ring in the guillotines, or at least Elizabeth Warren?

Genesis raises a few questions.

Georgia Republicans openly gloat about sabotaging Obamacare.

A lawsuit challenges the factory-farm industry's efforts to hide the truth.

This Maine conservative insists he's not racist.

Dangerous medical quackery in the name of feminism is nothing to celebrate.

The myth of the Fall colors fundamentalists' view of the world.

Scalia is astonishingly ignorant about science.

Media coverage of global warming is improving a little.

The Republican party of 1956 was very different from today's.

Ah, yes, the good old days, when discipline was firm.

Notorious extreme-right police chief Mark Kessler calls for a military coup.

Investors, get your money out of this dying industry.

Burr Deming looks at Republican obfuscation about Martin Luther King and his legacy.

Careful where you park your car in London -- it might get attacked by a skyscraper.

Lee Beaumont of Leeds, England, brilliantly pwns annoying telemarketers.  Anyone know if this could be done in the US?

There's value in European countries having their own spy satellites.

Back when the West was actually religious, it was like -- well, kind of like Syria is right now.

Would you have the courage of these Bangladeshis?

Here's one of those Syrian rebel groups we're supposed to start helping.  Putin is upping the ante.  It's still not certain who launched the chemical-weapons attack.  Why can't the Arab countries deal with it?  Finally, watch out for Syrian hackers.

Tim McGaha looks at aircraft escape systems.

Sleep helps the brain repair itself and even add new cells (found via Lady Atheist).

Here's a comparison of Mars today and billions of years ago.

07 September 2013

Video of the day -- McNugget mania

Some people just gotta have their fast food.

05 September 2013

Striking at Syria -- the politics

Last week I looked at Obama's proposed Syrian intervention from the viewpoint of the situation in Syria itself.  Today I want to look at the domestic political implications.

That discussion must start with the fact that the American people overwhelmingly oppose intervention.  A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week showed 19% in favor, 56% opposed, with Obama's efforts at persuasion having had no effect.  Other polls show similar results.  The public also doesn't believe the proposed strikes will have much impact on Asad's future willingness to use chemical weapons (and in fact they probably wouldn't); further, voters believe the strikes are very likely to get the US bogged down in wider intervention with no clear end in sight, ending up like the Iraq quagmire.

In short, this proposal is a massive political negative, and if it goes forward, it's going to be attached primarily to Obama in the public mind.  Primarily to Obama, and secondarily to Democrats in general.  Some bloggers have claimed that, by asking for authorization, Obama has cleverly implicated Congress in the decision to strike, so that blame will be diffused.  However, what information we have about voting intentions shows that Democrats are more supportive of intervention than Republicans are.  See for yourself -- by every analysis, in both the Senate and the House, Democrats outnumber Republicans among "yes" votes, while Republicans outnumber Democrats among "no" votes.  In the one vote that has actually been held so far, in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, 7 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted yes, while 2 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted no.

If the intervention goes forward, Republicans will have no difficulty pinning it on the Democratic party as a whole in 2014 and 2016.  If the intervention begins and ends with limited missile strikes and has no effect on the Syrian civil war, the impact on the US elections will be small, but still not good for us.  If it escalates into larger-scale US involvement and/or leads to retaliation against US targets and/or succeeds and brings a Sunni-extremist / al-Qâ'idah-affiliated regime to power in Syria in Asad's place, the effect on the election outcomes could be disastrous.  Hillary Clinton, our most likely Presidential nominee, favors intervention; if it goes ahead and the outcome is bad enough, that could cripple her in the general election, or even enable a damaging primary struggle.

Speaking of retaliation against US targets, Andrew Sullivan has an overview of how all this is playing in Iran, the Asad regime's main patron.  Moderates within the regime there seem willing to act behind the scenes to curb Asad's atrocities, but the extremists are quite likely to lash out at the US if we strike Syria -- in part, with the aim of undermining those moderates in their own country.  If we get dragged into a conflict with Iran -- a far larger and more powerful state than Syria (or Iraq or Afghanistan) -- then there's no way this can fail to become the dominant issue in the coming US elections.

Finally, Bernie Sanders has some worthwhile insights.

From a domestic political viewpoint (and, really, from the viewpoint of events in Syria), the only way to salvage the situation is to prevent the intervention from starting in the first place.  Fortunately, there is time before the full Senate and House vote.  Look again at those preliminary counts of votes -- the Senate is leaning in favor of intervention, but the House is leaning against it.  We have a real chance to stop this.  Contact your Senators and Representative, regardless of party, and urge them to vote no.  The best outcome for the Democrats is that the intervention be stopped, even if it's Republicans who stop it.  If it is stopped, the issue will be mostly forgotten by November next year.  If it goes ahead, Democrats will be blamed for anything from a serious mistake to an epic-scale disaster.

(If you harbor hopes that the intervention will somehow turn into a success and thus a political positive for the Democrats, forget it.  That won't happen.)

With enough of a public outcry, we can stop this.  Do it for the Syrians, and do it for ourselves.

01 September 2013

Video of the day -- Bück dich!

This video is dedicated to all those who freaked out at Miley Cyrus's VMA performance.  You wusses.  I'd like to see this band live someday -- not sure whether I'll sit near the front, though.

Link round-up for 1 September 2013

Murr Brewster's funniest post yet looks at bad English and terrorism.

For geeky kids too, it gets better.

Is there hope of bringing back extinct species?

Burning Man is in full swing in Nevada.

The saggy-pants fad can trip you up.

I normally avoid celebrity "news", but this post on Miley Cyrus makes some good points.  I suspect that the pearl-clutchers' predictable screeching will just boost Cyrus's cred and commercial success.  Meanwhile, here's a really weird form of celebrity sabotage.

Those silly Europeans have strange priorities.

What's the most popular type of porn in your state?

A police sting thwarts a terrorist plot in Nevada.

There's now one less school teaching bullshit in place of science.

Here are some honest shoppers in New Jersey.

Atlanta now has what may be the country's first science fiction strip club (found via Mendip).

A Tennessee policewoman won health benefits for her same-sex partner -- so the church they attended kicked out her entire family (found via Republic of Gilead).

Fox News discovers a non-mysterious mystery.

Karoli at Crooks and Liars fact-checks the IRS / teabagger scamdal.

Amanda Marcotte looks at the Christian Right's delusions of persecution (found via Republic of Gilead).

That story about a large group being asked to leave a South Carolina café?  There's another side to it.

18% of US scientists are seriously considering leaving the country because of shrinking funding.

 A Harvard study shows that gun control doesn't reduce crime, and may do the opposite.

Yes, Keystone XL would contribute to global warming.

Cute little houses are under attack from heartless bureaucrats, in Wales and Texas.

Ania Lisewska has found a worthy mission in life.

Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted a rise in violence.

Fukushima is worse than you think, and if you eat seafood, it affects you.

Kim Jong-un's treatment of his ex-girlfriend seems a tad harsh.

Here's a collection of photos from Afghanistan of the 1950s and 1960s.  The years have not been kind.

The CIA bears some responsibility for the persistence of polio in Pakistan.

Booman Tribume looks at the do-something impulse on Syria.  Stonekettle Station reviews the options and concludes that none of them are good -- not even staying out.

Here's a solar eclipse different from any you've ever seen before.

Poverty damages decision-making ability.

Mother birds password-protect their babies.

The distributed nervous system of the octopus apparently means a distributed mind.

The latest weapon against arthritis is green and tasty.

There's new research supporting the idea that life on Earth originated on Mars.