09 August 2015

Link round-up for 9 August 2015

Somebody is really into Taylor Swift.  And dominoes.

Kaveh Mousavi has posted a response to my request for travel info about Iran.

Trump would approve -- Bulgaria is building a border wall to keep illegal migrants out of Europe.

The city of Bath, UK, has this unusual work of 18th-century architecture.

Rosa Rubicondior, a blogger on my must-read list, has an e-book out.

Christians seek money to put up 1,000 anti-gay billboards, because apparently God needs help (found via Republic of Gilead).

This schoolteacher displays the full ugliness of religious bigotry.

A new book dissects the anti-New-Atheist crusade (link from Shaw Kenawe).  Here's New Atheism in a nutshell.

The Donald is pugnacious as ever, and he still has plenty of fans.  Here's how one of them thinks.  His battle with Megyn Kelly is empowering misogyny.

Tim McGaha has some informed speculation about the loss of Malaysia's flight MH370.

Here's something of the philosophy that led Obama to make the Iran nuclear deal.

Maybe Putin shouldn't have attacked a country his military depends on for parts.

The Czech Republic's famous "skull church" well reflects the morbidity of Abrahamic religion.

Israel is cracking down on Jewish religious terrorism.

Responding to China's bluster, India is launching a military build-up.

Democrats relish Republican chaos.

Conservative P J O'Rourke explains why Huckabee is an embarrassment.

Hillary basks in some surprising endorsements.

Horizons sees the Republican crusade against Planned Parenthood as a recipe for disaster.  McConnell has pretty much pre-emptively surrendered -- the trouble is, the rage-right knows itHillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren forcefully push back.  Here's why it matters to people of color.

This week many bloggers noted the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing.  Here's another viewpoint.  Read Earth-Bound Misfit too.

Scott Lively's endless bitching about gays tries out a new angle (found via Republic of Gilead).

North Korea pointlessly starts its own time zone -- well, what can one expect from a country with the only world leader whose hair is worse than Trump's?

DNA reveals the true origin of American Indians, but a few mysteries remain.

Progressive Eruptions brings us a horrid little hexapod.  Actually, wasps in general are disgusting.

What would you see, falling into Jupiter?

NOM isn't dead -- it's going global (found via Republic of Gilead).

The Republican debates were a train wreck.  Brains and Eggs says nobody won, Politics Plus shows why they all deserved to lose, Republic of Gilead excerpts some scary quotes (Walker's is the worst if you pay attention), Ramona's Voices saw an empty reality show, Lady Freethinker catches some fibs, and Green Eagle found the whole thing a meaningless bore.  But check out these cool caricatures (found via Crooks and Liars).


Blogger Ahab said...

Thanks for the shout-outs, as always.

I'm pleased that Kaveh Mousavi provided a detailed answer to your questions about Iran. Safe travels, should you decide to visit.

Regarding Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I make no apologies for my so-called "hand-wringing". Atrocities perpetrated by Japanese soldiers in no way justified atrocities against Japanese civilians. Two wrongs do not make a right.

Second, the bombings were not essential to ending the war -- meaning that thousands of Japanese civilians died just so the U.S. could flex its muscles. The 1946 U. S. Strategic Bombing Survey made it clear that the U.S. was aware of Japan's willingness to end the war before the bombings:

"It cannot be said, however, that the atomic bomb convinced the leaders who effected the peace of the necessity of surrender. The decision to surrender, influenced in part by knowledge of the low state of popular morale, had been taken at least as early as 26 June at a meeting of the Supreme War Guidance Council in the presence of the Emperor."

The Czech "skull church" looks like something H.R. Giger would build if he found religion. Harrowing and unforgettable.

I think the latest right-wing crusade against Planned Parenthood has galvanized anti-abortion folks, but will fail to sway most of the public. If anything, it will also galvanize pro-choice activists and foment an even stronger defense of PP.

09 August, 2015 09:44  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Ahab: Thanks. I still haven't decided which country to visit, but this is a long way off yet, anyway.

It's hard to see how a crusade based on gotcha videos can work when it's been well publicized that the videos were deceptively edited. Even most right-wingers have to be aware of that on some level.

The point of my link about Hiroshima was that it can be valuable to see where the perspectives of people in other countries differ from ours, and why. It never seems to occur to American liberals that most people in Asia would find their moral objections to the atomic bombing to be bizarre and offensive.

But beyond that, I've never understood why the atom bombs were considered any more of an "atrocity" than the conventional bombings of cities like Dresden or Tokyo, which actually killed more people in equally horrific ways. War with primitive technology is ghastly and there's no way around it. Historians seem to be all over the map about whether Japan would have surrendered without being invaded if we hadn't used the atomic bombs. Considering they didn't surrender even after Hiroshima, but held out until the second one was used on Nagasaki, I don't find the idea plausible.

And even if the bombs shortened the war by only a week, how many more Chinese and Koreans would the Japanese have brutalized and murdered in one more week?

Germany and Japan made the decision to launch a global war of conquest and to pursue it by utterly barbaric and vicious methods. They were in no position to complain if the people they attacked responded in kind.

09 August, 2015 10:03  
Blogger Rosa Rubicondior said...

Thanks for the promotion.

I'm quite excited about my first foray into serious publishing. The book's production has been a bit stop and start over the past couple of years but I finally got down to it in earnest a few months ago.

Probably have much to learn still.

09 August, 2015 14:15  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

Thanks for the shout-outs. All the links were a great read.

10 August, 2015 14:16  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

There's a version of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers made in the 1990s (and directed by Abel Ferrara) which contains a memorably chilling scene. A little boy from a family that's just moved into the town that the titular monsters are taking over goes to the local pre-school, where one of the things the children are asked to do is make a finger-painting. When the teacher calls an end to the exercise and asks the children to show what they've done, each of the local kids reveals exactly the same (somewhat creepy-looking) picture, leaving the new kid to sheepishly reveal that his picture looks nothing like any of the others (at which point everyone else tries to get him to take a nap, so he can be taken over by the pod people himself). Where am I going with this? Well, that scene was the first thing I thought of when I read that story about the 7 year-old boy who was ostracized by his teacher and classmates for not believing in God. Pretty disgusting stuff, although I have a depressing feeling there'd be more than a few people who'd secretly approve of what happened to him (such as the shitheels I've encountered online who seem to think that bullying is all hunky dory when it "enforces social norms", or the scary fundamentalist Catholics who're fond of saying, "Error has no rights").

The story from the same article about the two children with ADHD being restrained with handcuffs was pretty shocking too. One horror story I remember hearing myself, a while back now, about a teacher who imposed cruel and unusual punishments on their pupils involved a teacher who had various pieces of girls' clothing on hand that she apparently forced the boys in her class to wear whenever they misbehaved. Not exactly something that was likely to instill a healthy attitude towards girls and women in her male students!

11 August, 2015 10:58  
Anonymous Zosimus the Heathen said...

The things Kaveh Mousavi told you about Iran echoed some of the things I've read myself about that country, in a couple of travel books written by people who have been there themselves. I'd heard, for example, that people there are very friendly to Westerners, possibly to the point that it can be a bit overbearing (I'd imagine I'd find it a bit difficult to handle myself, as I'm very much an introvert)! Re your question about why Tehran is a place to avoid, while I can only answer that based on what I've read about the city, I'd imagine that part of the reason, at least, would be that it's apparently very large, very crowded (with terrible traffic congestion!), and quite polluted. I may be wrong, though!

I'd have to say that both the books I read on Iran left me with a very positive impression of the place. One of them, Two Wings of a Nightingale, was written by a woman from New Zealand, and was quite engaging, though could be a little twee at times (and also contained an unforgivable number of typos). Funnily enough, the author and a local man who acted as her guide for the entirety of her stay there ran into someone who sounded a lot like an Iranian guy I used to know (he even revealed to them that he'd lived and worked in Australia for a time). "What if it really was him?" I found myself thinking. "What are the chances?"

The other book, Iranian Rappers and Persian Porn, was written by a British guy who decided to go to Iran for a holiday after realizing that he hadn't saved up enough money to go to China, which was where he'd originally intended to go. He, too, seemed to really like the country, although the blurb on the back of the book admitted he'd been banned from going back there (probably because he revealed that while the common people there are great, no-one has much time for the ayatollahs any more!). He only had two hairy experiences during his trip: the first, which occurred while he was hitch-hiking across Turkey, had me Googling "Turkish serial killers" after reading about it(!), while the second involved some very polite, well-dressed people who came over to him while he was having breakfast one morning just a few days before he was due to leave the country, and asked him some uncomfortably probing questions about his trip. Oh yeah, and he and another backpacker who travelled with him for part of his trip got burned by someone who promised to take them to a good hotel, but ran off with the money they paid him for his services, after leaving them in an unfamiliar part of town (so the place evidently has its share of con artists that you need to be wary of).

11 August, 2015 11:28  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Rosa: I hope you'll post if it becomes available in conventional book format too.

Shaw: Thanks!

Zosimus: I've concluded myself that religion is a kind of mental parasite that exists to spread itself from brain to brain. It does behave like something out of a horror movie. I didn't see that version of the film but I can imagine how effective the scene must have been.

It had occurred to me that Tehran is large and relatively recent in origin (thus not as interesting from a history viewpoint). It probably does have some impressive architecture, although of course it's Isfahan that is most renowned for that. In any country there are too many places of interest to see in one trip!

I'd probably be spared some of the bad experiences since I would never go by hitchhiking or backpacking. I've never had the slightest interest in "roughing it", and anyway, I'm 54 now.

Thanks for the comments!

12 August, 2015 04:20  

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