31 July 2019

Video of the day -- where religions come to die

Of all the videos I've posted over the years, this one is probably my favorite.  Posting again for newer readers who may not have seen it.

29 July 2019

Restoring democracy

If the Democrats win next year's election, then aside from "normal" legislation in areas like health care and taxes, it will be necessary to repair the damage the Republicans have done to American democracy and restore a level playing field.  This is what I believe will be necessary to accomplish that.  It assumes the Democrats hold the House and win the Presidency and a Senate majority.

1) Abolish the filibuster so legislation can be passed by simple majority in the Senate.  This will be necessary to get anything else done, since there's no realistic possibility of Democrats winning 60 Senate seats.  Allowing 41 Senators to block legislation that would otherwise pass is grossly undemocratic, especially when each state has two Senators regardless of population, so that those 41 may represent far less than 41% of the American people.

2) Pass legislation to enlarge the Supreme Court, and appoint and confirm non-wingnut judges to the new seats.  This is necessary to offset the effect of two judges (Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) having been appointed by a President illegitimately elected due to foreign interference and laws calculated to suppress the minority vote, one of those seats having been stolen from President Obama anyway by McConnell.

The objection was raised in a comment here that this "would make the Court look partisan", but in fact the Supreme Court already not merely looks partisan, it actually is partisan, with those two judges who are there only because of flagrant violation of democratic norms and the process by which such judges have always been selected.  One might also object that the Republicans would merely enlarge the court again and appoint more wingnuts as soon as they get a chance, but doing so would require a majority of both Houses plus the Presidency, a trifecta the Republicans would be very unlikely to achieve in the foreseeable future (see below).

3) Pass federal legislation sweeping away all state-level gerrymandering and vote-suppression laws.  The Republicans rely on gimmicks like these to keep political power beyond what the number of actual votes they get would justify.  Eliminating such gimmicks would restore the "one person, one vote" principle; the Republicans would need to either broaden the base of voters they appeal to, or see their legislative power shrink to what the size of their voting base justifies.

4) Pass federal legislation guaranteeing election security by whatever means are determined to be most effective -- mandating paper ballots, increasing security on computers that handle election-related data, or whatever else.  Yes, this would be legal.  Article 1, section 4 of the Constitution gives the states the authority to manage elections, but also gives Congress the power to "by Law make or alter such Regulations".  Congress has successfully intervened in corrupt state voting practices in the past.  It would also be a good idea to enact a nationwide version of the vote-by-mail system used here in Oregon, where it has proven highly effective at increasing voter turnout.

The Republicans would, of course, scream bloody murder, but they are pretty much guaranteed to crank it up to 11 no matter what the Democrats do.  Maximal outrage and hysteria is their default setting now.  Trying to make nice with them and cater to their frothing delusions doesn't do any good.  Obama spent eight years proving that.

The above program is actually doable by simple Congressional majorities plus the President.  It would do no more than restore effective democracy by canceling out the various schemes the Republicans have imposed over the years to tilt the playing field in their favor and entrench minority rule.  In fact, it still wouldn't level the playing field entirely, since the Senate and the Electoral College would still over-represent states with small populations, the majority of which lean Republican*.  So they would retain a small part of their unfair advantage, but there's nothing we can do about that, since changing those things would require a Constitutional amendment.

Enacting this program would require some boldness on the part of elected Democrats, but we need to be as ruthless in restoring democracy as the Republicans have been in undermining it.

[*It's still unlikely that Republican party as presently constituted will be competitive for the Presidency much longer, because demographic changes are pushing Texas toward becoming a swing state and eventually a blue state.  Eradicating vote-suppression laws would allow this shift in Texas to happen more quickly.]

28 July 2019

Link round-up for 28 July 2019

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

o o o o o

Does this mean they're engaged?

Two signs together tell a story.

Cute, but a tad sinister.

Holy crap!

Who the hell thinks up the names of birds?

Not sure I'd take a job in this office.

Sexual lubricants can present certain hazards (NSFW).

Bluebird of Bitterness has some bug cartoons.

No matter how hot it gets, don't do this (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

"I remember that sound -- that's a bad sound!"

Worst sign design ever.

Two cats, one robot.

Today we could fit all of this inside an object smaller than your finger.  Maybe much smaller.

That's a lot of jellyfish.

Somebody built a bridge just so that crabs can have sex.

Star Trek was on the sartorial cutting edge.

There is officially a bishop of the Moon.

What do all those dashboard lights mean?  (Seriously, I can't figure out half those stupid symbols myself.  Why don't they just put words on them?)

Spend one minute on the aesthetics of fluid dynamics.  Then check out this, uh, whatever-it-is.

Stupid stupidity is stupid.

The kids are all right.

You'll hardly believe the power of this rocket engine.

You may be able to claim $125.

The Bible-thumpers are in a snit about Disney.

Here's how you can prove to ICE that you're a US resident.

Some people take comic-book movies way too seriously.

No wanking allowed!  (Christ, these people are weird.)

If you refuse to vote, you're not rebelling -- you're being played.

Here's some legislation I think all sides can support.

This is one gutsy lizard.

A Congressman is sending the Pentagon on a wild goose tick chase.

Those GoFundMe doofuses who are building their own wall on the Mexican border have accidentally encroached into Mexico.

Bruce Gerencser is tired of "debating" people who won't listen and can't think.  He had a lot more patience than I did.

22% of Americans now accept the truth about human origins, up from 9% twenty years ago.

What if the authors of the New Testament had used a focus group?

Priorities, priorities.

Here's how to beat the heat.

Racist symbols are not good for business.

In the Know with RO posts a lot of fun stuff, including this site for finding work-at-home jobs.

Stores pushed self-checkout to reduce expenses by having fewer cashiers, but it's costing them by making shoplifting easy.

Evangelicals' fanatical support for Trump is destroying Christianity's credibility, though their hypocrisy predates him.  Baptist writer Jeff Christopherson goes into more detail.  His first paragraph is worth reading in a broader context -- it does reflect what I see on Tumblr, though I suspect stupid and tribal-minded people have always existed and the internet has mainly just increased their visibility.

I have a feeling Hertz is going to regret this.

Here's why the USSR never put a man on the Moon.  But what if they had?  (Thanks to Marc McKenzie for the second link)

Trump's ICE raids were an abject failure, thanks to community defense.

A church in Tennessee is refusing to host a man's funeral because his son is gay.

Foreigners react to the US healthcare system.

Must-read post of the week:  Evangelism has a purpose, and that purpose isn't converting people.

Oberlin College is trying to avoid paying the damages imposed in the Gibson's Bakery case.  This craphole institution need to be driven completely out of business.

Everyone remembers the Titanic; we should remember the Carpathia too.

Facebook's phone-number-based security is crap and is designed to target you with ads.

A plaque commemorates a former glacier.

Michigan confronts a crime wave.

"Uniquely American"?  WTF?

South Dakota wingnuts think the First Amendment doesn't apply there.

This school district threatened to have people's children taken away over lunch debt -- and refused an outside offer to pay the debt.  The Daily Irritant examines the case.

Read the actual news before coming to conclusions.

If you use FaceApp, your phone security is compromised.

Republicans have never had fiscal responsibility.

She made a bit of a mess while taking a bath, but the owner of the bathroom was in no position to complain.

"The rest of the world is not like this."

Green Eagle posts another Wingnut Wrapup and finds as much insanity as ever.

Al Franken's resignation was the right thing to do.  Quit bashing Gillibrand about it, and quit swallowing the myth.

Ruth Coker Burks brought empathy where it was in short supply.

Accusations of pedophilia have long been a staple of reactionary conspiracy-think.

A study on race and police shootings reaches some surprising conclusions.

The story of the Rat Park should update our understanding of addiction.

It took a lot more than a "small step" to land humans on the Moon.

Ten billion years ago, our galaxy absorbed another, but it probably didn't seem like a big deal at the time.

Next thing for the Catholic Church in Ireland to freak out over:  a new festival celebrating the pagan roots of Halloween (found via Mendip).

Berlin commemorates gays murdered by the Nazis.

Europe is in the middle of a record-breaking heat wave.

Violent religious thugs attacked a Pride parade in Poland last week, and now a magazine there is distributing "LGBT-free zone" stickers for businesses to display.

55% of Mexicans support deporting Central American migrants passing through Mexico (see page 8).

Young women farm workers in India are being scammed into having hysterectomies to boost productivity.

As the trade war bites, China struggles to find new markets.

Botswana has decriminalized homosexuality; Kenya has declined to do so.

The Texas State House is important, and winnable.

Florida cities are fighting back against the latest Republican vote-suppression scheme.

Some good discussion in the comments here about Mueller and what to do about Trump.

Only 21% of voters support impeachment, and the number is dropping rapidly.

Wisconsin is "a progressive state in right-wing handcuffs".

Frida Ghitis argues that Trump will lose despite the good economy, because he makes people feel awful.

Martin Longman declares that Mitch McConnell is a traitor.

The Mueller testimony drew 13 million TV viewers, with a surprisingly high share at Fox.

Marianne Williamson has long propounded dangerous bullshit.

Don't overestimate Trump's base (found via Hackwhackers).  But Democrats need to be careful.

Shower Cap keeps us up to speed on all the political madness.

More links here.

[920 days down, 542 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]

26 July 2019

A problem we need to confront

[Trigger warning:  This post uses the words "male" and "female" and third-person pronouns the way they have always been used in English and are still used by the vast majority of native speakers.]

Feagaiga Stowers is a young woman weightlifter from Samoa who recently competed at the Pacific Games.  She had survived an abusive childhood and trained hard, to the point where she was expected to win the gold medal, as she had done at some earlier events.  But she lost that prize to another competitor, Laurel Hubbard of New Zealand.

Hubbard, whose original name was Gavin Hubbard, self-identifies as female.  The Pacific Games disregarded the fact that, until recently "transitioning", Hubbard was unambiguously male.  Indeed, previously he had competed as a man in male weightlifting events.  At the Pacific Games, Hubbard was recognized as a woman.  The question is whether this was fair to biological women such as Stowers who were competing there.  Transitioning, even surgically, does not remove all of the advantage in physical strength built up over decades of life as a male.

An analogous situation arose earlier this year in Connecticut, where two transgender students took first and second place at the State Championships in Girls' Track, outrunning biologically-female students who would otherwise have won.  One of those girls, Selina Soule, has been outspoken about the unfairness of competing under these conditions, and has filed a Title IX complaint.  For this, she has been vilified in the media and allegedly subject to retaliation by school authorities, though a few journalists have taken a more even-handed view.

The standard response on the left to such cases has been to ignore them or, when individuals refuse to be ignored, to try to silence them with name-calling.  A good example is the reaction faced by Martina Navratilova, an early pioneer of lesbian visibility in sports, when she dared call attention to the issue late last year.  Despite making more effort than most people would to sympathize with the views of the people vilifying her, she was effectively denounced as a heretic and several LGBT organizations severed their ties with her.

The issue extends beyond the world of sports.  The insistence on recognizing biologically-male transgender people as women in all situations often includes giving access to women's restrooms and locker rooms.  An unambiguous man entering those places would instantly register as a potential threat.  Women and girls who are not up to speed on the latest mandatory ideological contortions naturally react to any biological male the same way in that context.  In some countries children who believe they may be transgender are being given "puberty blockers" to disrupt their natural biological development (see multiple links here).  Young people who are probably simply normal homosexuals are being encouraged to consider themselves transgender and undergo physical mutilation in what amounts to a new form of conversion therapy.

In Canada, a transgender activist has exploited that country's oppressive "hate speech" laws to harass and silence people who failed to ignore biological reality and accept him as a woman; an equally absurd "publication ban" law helped him conceal his history as an abuser until recently.  In Britain last year, a convicted rapist who claimed to be transgender was sentenced to a women's prison, with predictable results.  Feminists who object to such practices, called "TERFs" ("Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists") are routinely vilified and subject to horrifying calls for murderous violence.

This is madness.  It is unsustainable because it requires constant and energetic reality-denial; it is being propped up by name-calling and shouting down anyone who dares call attention to the absurdities it creates.  The extension of full equality, including equal marriage rights, to gay men and lesbians had no real costs to anyone else; transgender ideology inherently requires manifold incursions into women's long-established separate zones in every area of life, from athletics to public bathrooms.

This issue will not go away.  The more transgender ideology becomes generally accepted, the more cases like those linked above will arise.  And this is a problem for the left, as long as it continues to treat people like Soule and Navratilova as it has.  As you can see from the links I posted above regarding her case, Soule has fallen in with some pretty unsavory right-wing characters.  But who can blame her, when the left will not give her a hearing?  If we refuse to listen to the victims in these situations, they will turn to those who will listen.  Denunciation will drive people away, but will not silence them.  And ignoring the issue and refusing to talk about it isn't good enough.

We have a choice.  We can keep trying to hand-wave away cases like those I've raised here so as to re-affirm commitment to the existing ideological response to this issue, ignoring and silencing victims and giving the rightists a lever which will enable them to pry away growing numbers of women voters in the future.  Or we can figure out a response to the claims of transgenderism which will be fair to everybody.  I don't claim to know what such a response would look like.  I just know that what we're doing now is not going to get us there.  Quite the opposite.

[Some of the links used in this post found via Aunt Polly.]

24 July 2019

Like tears in rain

Dutch actor Rutger Hauer, who contributed so much to making Blade Runner the greatest science fiction movie ever, has died.  He was 75.

In Blade Runner (1982), Hauer played Roy Batty, a "replicant" (android) manufactured to serve as a soldier in space warfare, who is marked for death because he has illegally come to Earth.  In this immortal scene (use fullscreen), knowing his end is near due to his built-in fixed lifespan, he saves the life of the agent assigned to kill him, then ruminates briefly on his imminent death -- Hauer ad-libbed Batty's final speech:

Almost as powerful as his soliloquy, to me, is his opening line to the human master:  "Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it -- that's what it is, to be a slave."

A lesser-known Hauer performance I can recommend is Ladyhawke (1985), a supernatural romantic fantasy which I consider underrated.

23 July 2019

Dream world (4)

Oh, the visions some people entertain (note -- a couple are slightly NSFW).....

[Previous "Dream world" post is here.]

21 July 2019

Link round-up for 21 July 2019

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

o o o o o

They should have been more careful with the paint job on this airplane.

Some people are just not very smart.

It's a cat planet.

This is cute.

Best paper airplane ever.

Only in Japan.

If you suffer from thrombozytenaggregationshemmung, you may need to use this medication.

Find the cats.

England could have had a different name.

Hoist the pirate flag!

All cats are playful sometimes.

In its own way this song is actually kind of catchy.

A British country house is haunted by a masturbating ape ghost (found via Mendip).

Least-qualified sex-education teacher ever.

American school years are confusing -- then there's France.

It's borrifying.

This tree photo seems almost otherworldly.

What a beautiful wedding picture.

Here's a look at a couple of early SF films that influenced Alien.

I don't know what the upcoming anime Tenki no Ko is about, but it at least looks visually interesting.

A blogger reacts to the Cats 2019 trailer.

Yastreblyansky explains why The Lion King is bullshit.

This hotel has a few issues.

It's getting too hot.

Interesting church design here.

You're fine the way you are.

Debra She Who Seeks remembers the Apollo 11 mission -- and the first woman in space. Crazy Eddie looks at the astronauts' memories.

Here's a treehouse you can rent.

This is Norway.

If you don't like it, don't read it.

Here's one group that's willing to "go back where they came from".

Electric bills in New York city are weird.

Student loan forgiveness isn't all that radical.

"Keep pushing."

Restoration of old paintings is a complex matter.

The "foundational principles" of the US are cowboy TV shows, apparently.  Professor Chaos takes a closer look.

Be as cruel and racist and thuggish as you want, but don't disrespect my imaginary friend.

If all those Tumblr twits do try to storm Area 51, here's what they'll encounter.

Microsoft is giving away free software to improve election security (found via Crooks and Liars).

They can't plan for the future.

No, war is not Hell.

Are the poor today better off than the rich 100 years ago?

Here's a response to a libertarian on the Nike / flag kerfluffle.

This shows that the meat industry is running scared.

Online losers harass and threaten sex workers.

Martina Navratilova looks back on being gay in the sports world in less-tolerant times.

Yet another (probably) Trumpanzee acts like an asshole and gets fired.

Ken Ham freaks out over honest reporting on the Ark Encounter.

This newspaper column from 1969 is topical again today.

Who gives a shit exactly how rich Epstein is?

The opioid Reefer Madness hysteria is taking an increasingly horrifying toll on chronic-pain patients.

7% of millennials self-identify as gay or bisexual, twice as many as in the general population.  I think that many gay and especially bisexual people in earlier generations didn't self-identify as such due to the stronger taboos of the time, and that the real underlying percentage is likely substantially higher than 7%.

Whatever Trump says, Republicans will fall in line.

Atheist Revolution looks at how Twitter's new rules will affect atheists.

Here are four economic myths which have been disproven by experience.

"The Jeffrey Epstein case is an asteroid poised to strike the elite world in which he moved."  There is far, far more to come.

Some TSA screeners don't know DC is part of the US.

It can happen here.

This is "sophisticated" theology.

McDonald's has issues with machines -- be sure to read the notes about Australia and Germany at the end.

Robert Reich calls out the four main conservative lies about inequality.

The Kentucky economy is no advertisement for Trump and McConnell.

Sonny Hernandez exemplifies the arrogance of the "true Christian".

We have too many prisoners.

The Trump regime is suppressing scientific information farmers need to help cope with climate change.

BDS is explicitly anti-Jewish, not just anti-Israel.  And the Democratic party has a problem it needs to address.

Planned Parenthood will give up federal money rather than comply with Trump's abortion gag order.  The state of Illinois is similarly defiant.

Republicans have turned their base into a weapon of mass destruction which now threatens the whole society.

People are voluntarily installing Amazon spyware on their computers.

Christianity teaches self-loathing.

Liz Crokin struggles to reconcile the Epstein arrest with the QAnon qrackpottery.

Jerry Coyne posts a rejected comment from his blog.  And here's another.

The horror of family separation has been used in this country before.

The judge who ruled leniently for an accused rapist because of his "good family" has agreed to step down.

Here are some responses to Trump's "go back" tweets.  Trump's Evangelical sycophants are disgracefully silent.

Islamists couch their anti-Semitism in a "victimhood narrative" (I cringe at how easy it is to manipulate Westerners this way).

The migrant border camps have their own commemorative coin now (found via Shower Cap).

What does the Apollo 11 landing site look like now?

Alan Turing, who cracked Nazi codes during World War II and pioneered the development of the computer, but was later arrested and hounded to suicide for being gay, will appear on the new British £50 note.  It's a way to preserve the memory of the evils of the past.

They claimed taxes "are against God's will", but it didn't work.

A diplomat worthy of the name does not cheer for an attack on soldiers of a friendly country.

Read this final letter from a woman murdered in Auschwitz.

A record number of women are running for office in Japan this year.  Advanced as Japan is, its political system is still more male-dominated than is typical of Western countries.

Dozens of companies are pulling production out of China, mostly moving it to Southeast Asia.

It's not just South Africa -- "corrective rape" happens in India too, often solicited by parents.

A pastor who evaded security measures has helped the Congo Ebola epidemic spread. It has the potential to become much worse.

Biden and Booker release their healthcare proposals, while Harris has an aggressive plan for prescription-drug prices.

The Democratic debates need to be run differently.  Already we're pretty much down to four serious candidates.

Here's why the House is moving so slowly against the Trump regime.

Warren has a plan for cracking down on parasite capitalism.

Collins looks vulnerable for 2020.

In February Harris called for decriminalization of sex work.  That took some guts; this issue today is roughly where gay marriage and legal marijuana were a decade ago.

House Democrats try to present a united front.  Let's keep it that way. Trolls, probably Russian, are already trying to divide us.

Trump may believe being called a racist will help him win next year.  He may be right; if the whole white blue-collar population feels they're being called racist by proxy, it will be disastrous.  But Republicans are getting nervous about the "send her back!" issue.

Schumer sounds ready to get tough.  More of this, please.

Arizona Republicans are plagued with infighting.

Turnout may not favor Democrats next year, but it may not matter.

Population shifts will have a huge impact on the 2020 House races -- especially in Texas.

Harris is being the adult in the room again.

Here's why Al Green's effort to rush impeachment failed.  Pelosi has her reasons for holding back.

Shower Cap examines Trump's racism and various governmental goings-on.

More links here.

19 July 2019

The vastness

The photo above (taken by the Hubble space telescope) is of NGC 3147, a typical spiral galaxy considered a fairly close neighbor of our own galaxy, being only 130 million light-years away.

To get a sense of how far that is, consider this.  Light travels at 186,282 miles per second, so that, for example, it takes one and a quarter seconds to cover the distance from the Moon to the Earth.

When the light that formed the above image left NGC 3147, the Tyrannosaurus rex did not yet exist on Earth.  By the time the T-rex evolved, that light had already been traveling through space toward us for almost fifty million years, and still had eighty million years to go before reaching the Hubble telescope.

That light was only halfway along its journey here when the K/T meteor impact wiped out the dinosaurs and cleared the stage for the age of mammals.

The New Horizons space probe, moving faster than a bullet, took nine and a half years to travel from Earth to Pluto, the outermost (known) planet of our solar system.  NGC 3147 is more than two hundred billion times further away than Pluto.

Yet by intergalactic standards, it's considered a close neighbor.

[Image found via Hackwhackers.]

17 July 2019

Miscellaneous observations for July 2019

Don't hold allies to a higher standard than enemies.  It's allies who deserve the benefit of the doubt.

o o o o o

How did a "buttload" come to mean a large quantity?  Are there people who carry large quantities of stuff in their asses?

o o o o o

If people respond only when they disagree, there will be nothing but arguments.

o o o o o

I'm a free-expression absolutist.  "Hate speech"?  The Bible and the Koran are full of more "hate speech" than any other books in the world.  Incitement to violence?  The Bible and the Koran have incited more violence than anything else in history.  Promotion of dangerous ideas?  Fanatics dedicated to the Bible and the Koran have devastated entire civilizations.  Yet I would fervently oppose any effort to ban those books.

o o o o o

Knowing only one language must be a bit like having only one eye -- you still perceive everything, but a lot of the depth is missing.

o o o o o

Especially on politics, beware of posts containing a lot of swear words and emotionally-charged language.  The state of mind those things imply is not conducive to accurate assessment or strategic thinking.

o o o o o

Libertarians are useless for actually solving problems.  For any problem you have, there is a libertarian somewhere to "explain" why it's your own fault and you don't deserve any help with it.

o o o o o

If someone responds to an argument by saying "you're a [label]" or "this is [label]ism" or the like, he hasn't really said anything.

o o o o o

Cynics are among the most gullible people of all.  They always believe the worst, regardless of the evidence.

[For previous miscellaneous observations, see here.]

15 July 2019

Epstein's web

I can't remember exactly when I first heard about Jeffrey Epstein and his "parties", but it was many years ago, long before Trump ran for President.  I always found it bizarre that Epstein has managed to get away with this stuff relatively unscathed for so long, given that his behavior is widely known.  I suspect he "has the goods" on so many powerful men who have indulged similar predilections at his parties or in his company, that he's been practically untouchable.  The absurdly-light sentence and non-prosecution agreement he received in 2008 in Florida, shutting down an FBI investigation into his activities, strengthen this impression.

Mock Paper Scissors posted a speculative piece last week focusing on the huge quantities of photographs of underage girls which Epstein kept, which have now been seized as evidence:

Why would he keep vast quantities of incriminating evidence?.... Epstein did not blackmail anyone, he doesn't need the money.  But what if the pictures are insurance policy of a sort?  What if he had a sort of "Dead Man's Switch" set up that if he gets caught, the pictures would be found, so better not to try to catch him. It's a dumb QED, but he got arrested and this cache of documentation instantly is found.

This makes a lot of sense.  The photo collection might be only part of the evidence Epstein has that would incriminate others, and even just his testimony that other men had engaged in child rape could lead to charges against them or at least ruined reputations.  So whenever Epstein was in trouble, as in 2008, powerful figures have pulled strings, made threats, done whatever they had to do to get him off the hook -- because they didn't dare let him go down and take them down with him.

But this time, it's not playing out that way.  For one thing, the photographs are already in the hands of the authorities, so even if the men incriminated by them (if any) could get Epstein off the hook, it wouldn't save them.  And the case has received so much publicity this time that it's hard to imagine prosecutors offering him another easy deal.

As the investigation continues, it's likely that any other evidence Epstein kept will also be unearthed.  If so, we'll see charges brought against powerful and prominent men, charges which will be extremely hard to deny in the face of photographic evidence.  Speculation has focused particularly on Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

Now, it has to be emphasized that both Trump and Clinton are fully entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until they are actually proven guilty of something.  That being said, it wouldn't be terribly surprising if evidence against Trump did surface.  He has already been sued twice by a woman who claimed he raped her at one of Epstein's parties when she was 13 (she dropped the case, citing death threats as the reason).  If irrefutable evidence is found that Trump did indeed commit such crimes, it could well be the end of his Presidency.  I've long opposed impeachment on the grounds that we could never get 20 Republican Senators to vote for removal, allowing Trump to claim vindication and whip up his base, thus actually strengthening his position in advance of the 2020 election which is our real chance to remove him.  But if it's proven that he's a child rapist?  Getting those 20 votes would become a lot more plausible, especially if the evidence leaks and actual photos start circulating on the net.

As to Clinton, frankly the very fact of his close association with Epstein arouses dark suspicions.  Epstein's predilections and behavior have long been an open secret -- his private plane is even known as the "Lolita Express".  Why would any decent person choose such a man as a friend?

(As an aside, if the 2016 election had not been stolen and this scenario were happening with evidence surfacing against Clinton, we would now be facing a huge scandal involving the husband of the President.  It's an interesting exercise in alternate history to consider how that might play out.)

Again, of course, remember that both Trump and Clinton are fully entitled to the presumption of innocence unless and until they are actually proven guilty of something.  I'm speculating here.

My point is, even all that might be only the beginning.  Epstein kept company with a lot of prominent people, and there have probably been others who took care that their activities and association with him didn't become publicly known.  Don't be surprised if the months to come see the disgrace and arrest of some of the biggest names in politics, entertainment, and other fields -- including some we would never have suspected of such crimes.

14 July 2019

Link round-up for 14 July 2019

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

o o o o o


Soft landing?

Have some cartoons while living in the modern world.

Whoever designed this packaging knew exactly what he was doing.

Time for some religious humor.

Captain Kirk sometimes got a little over-the-top.

Who the hell thinks up the names of fish?

To drink from the bottle, unscrew the cap first.

If I tried to do this, I'd give myself a concussion in about three seconds.

Here are some kites to scare the shit out of people.

One rarely sees such an enthusiastic product review (NSFW).

This is built-in recycling.

It's time to get tough on crime.

Make sure you understand what people mean by "respect".

Follow the Bible, sometimes.

Do you believe this is art?

Get ready for Saint Fulton.

Stephen Jennings had some interesting things in his car.

Interesting discussion here on The Andromeda Strain, one of the great real science-fiction movies.

If you interact with bloggers on the net, would you be interested in meeting them in person?

I'm not sure how authentic I'd want this experience to be.

A 2-terabyte flash drive for $8?  Well, no.

The crackpots behind that fake Noah's ark in Kentucky are now running a school.

What you choose to read is your own damn responsibility.

$300,000 hardly seems like enough for this kind of harassment.

The "prepper" nutjobs probably wouldn't do very well in a real apocalypse.

Getting rid of a computer hard drive can be difficult.

When racists are so dumb they carry smartphones, they're not much of a threat.

Quacks and mystics chant "quantum mechanics" like an incantation to legitimize their bullshit.

This is Trump's maturity level.

Here's a way Megan Rapinoe might go to the White House.

Priorities, priorities.

Floods in Texas are caused by.....everything that somebody doesn't like, apparently.

Over the last decade the non-religious percentage of Americans has grown dramatically in almost every state; confidence in religion is at an all-time low.

Darwinfish 2 debunks some more wingnut propaganda.

A recent "study" claiming that "gay conversion therapy" works has been unmasked as a fraud.

Vaping is safer than smoking, but it's still not safe.

"We're losing an entire generation.  They're just gone.  It's one of the worst things to happen to the Church."

It's not immigrants who take jobs away from Americans.

This fairy tale is badly written.

Don't believe everything you read.

I just knew some asshole was going to do this in response to the Epstein arrest.

Americans' support for abortion rights is at the highest level in a quarter-century.

Bruce Gerencser, who has been tracking clergy crime for years, has some observations on the subject.

Non-religious Americans are the most accepting of refugees.

This fanatically anti-abortion pastor had a dark secret.

A shortage of adulation gives Trump withdrawal symptoms.

Someone's been scrubbing incriminating posts from that "10-15" Facebook account now that it's been exposed, but The Intercept has preserved the evidence.

The spirit of the time of Trump is captured in one image.

Obsolete fundies yammer impotently as the culture moves on without them.

Google Maps is being honest (the link in the post is real -- go ahead and click it).

Religious control freaks, like racists, hate intermarriage.

There's a new contender for most corrupt state in the US.

Sometimes Nazi comparisons are unavoidable.  No one can tell me this kind of thing is acceptable.

Epstein is a monster, but he has some "oddly useful" friends.  Here's what's inside his creepy house.  Be prepared for a cover-up using Machiavellian tactics.

Save the world by breeding cows that burp less (found via this post at Nan's Notebook, which has some good discussion in the comments).

University of Washington scientists have built the first human brain-to-brain interface with more than two people (found via Mendip).  They demonstrated a two-person interface in 2013.

Desalination is booming, now supplying water for more than 300 million people.  Yes, it has some negative environmental effects, but so does everything humans do on a large scale -- technology will likely resolve those problems in the future.

We're looking for city lights, very far away (found via Mendip).

The Voyager probes are still sending back data after 42 years in space.

Quebec has passed Bill 21, a law prohibiting bureaucrats in positions of power from wearing religious symbols.  All the usual religious cults and freaks bitched up a storm, as did the Canadian federal government; kudos to Quebec for sticking to its guns.

A sunken submarine is leaking radiation into the Norwegian Sea.

It's not safe to use Office 365 or Windows 10 even if the servers are in your own country.

Greece's church-supported fascist party got crushed in the latest election there.

She was arrested for singing in public.

The Saudi regime uses cell phone data to track down women who flee the country.

India does a much better job than the US of ensuring that every eligible voter can vote.

Bangladesh is seeing a rise in sex crimes.

Chinese manufacturing is suffering from the trade wars.

The Democratic nomination race is pretty much down to five people.

Warren's campaign is genuinely different.

In the Senate races, we have a secret weapon -- terrible Republican candidates.

The House is trying to rein in Trump's skullduggery in the Middle East.

The "Justice Democrats" are getting in hot water with the Congressional Black Caucus. And they shouldn't be conducting their squabbles on social media.

Never assume the election is in the bag.

Trump's cave on the census citizenship question is not playing well out in wingnutland.

The only way impeachment could succeed:  keep digging and hope something comes out that sways public opinion enough to get us those 20 Senate Republican votes for removal.  It's gonna be a tall order.

Shower Cap looks at Epstein and Gorka and the rest of the madness.

[906 days down, 556 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]