30 March 2020

A few random observations on covid-19

Appreciate modern technology.  What we're seeing now is just the barest taste of what the world was like before vaccines and the rest of the tools and skills of modern medicine.

o o o o o

Last week's relief bill provides help to those who have lost their jobs.  But what of those who keep on working in suddenly-dangerous occupations which can't be done from home -- grocery-store workers, bus drivers, warehouse employees, and the like?  Those people are putting themselves at risk of infection to maintain the systems we all depend on.  I think the government should, at the least, be augmenting their meager paychecks with substantial hazard pay.  If we can afford a $500 billion corporate slush fund, we can afford a few billion for that.

o o o o o

The experience of Michigan and New York has shown that, to the blue states, the Trump administration is not a government -- it's more like a foreign occupation.

o o o o o

We need to be understanding of the doctors within the Trump regime, like Birx and Fauci, when they bizarrely praise Trump's handling of the crisis or fail to correct his obvious bullshit.  Their continued work as part of the national response could be the difference between life and death for thousands, perhaps millions.  And they know that standing up to Trump too openly could get them fired, leaving matters entirely in the hands of the hacks and toadies.  They're saying what they must, much as it must pain them, to stay where they can do some good.

o o o o o

Covid-19 originated in a market where live animals were being sold for the disgusting practice of meat-eating.  So it's fitting that "coronavirus" and "carnivorous", are practically the same word, with just a few letters re-arranged.

o o o o o

As for those who exploit the crisis to extort money from the desperate (for example, buying up supplies and then re-selling them at a higher price), that's essentially the same as looting.  People caught looting during a disaster are subject to being shot without trial.  Just saying.

o o o o o

Just think how much better we'd be managing all this shit if Hillary were president.  Elections have consequences.  Remember that, when November comes.  No one in 2016 foresaw covid-19, and we today don't know what the next four years will bring.

29 March 2020

Link round-up for 29 March 2020

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

o o o o o

Quarantine isn't much fun after all.  Even with cats.  But people find their own ways of coping.

This damn virus is making us cancel everything.

If you can't get a mask, improvise.

There's one advantage to social distancing.


"But China got it....."

View medieval art through modern eyes.

March 23 was National Puppy Day.

Springtime is rabbit time.

They picked the wrong train.

Check out these murals in DC (click to enlarge).

You can't have a house on Mars, but you can have one that looks like it came from there (found via Mendip).

This guy is not merely imitating Trump, but channeling him (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Amanda the Jedi recommends some movies to while away the hours in quarantine.

PotionSmith has eggs for our coronavirus Easter.

Hoarders are scalping thermometers, and Trump has always been an asshole.

We should have panicked earlier.

Don't call it salvation.

Yoshi went home.

This took two and one-third seconds.

Can you explain the Trump cult?

Here's what's in the relief bill the Senate passed.  And here's why Democrats opposed the original version.

Republicans were never the party of life.

Amazon still stinks.  And don't count on it to remain functional.

The time has come for basic income.

Trump's wall is an attack on the Texas borderlands.

Reality is still reality even if you refuse to believe in it.

Religion blocks you from seeing the good in people.

An Arizona man recently died after swallowing what was widely but erroneously reported to be chloroquine, one of the drugs now being tested as a possible covid-19 treatment.  It was actually chloroquine phosphate, a fish-tank-cleaning product which has the same active ingredient -- this is rather like swallowing hand sanitizer to get drunk because hand sanitizer and beer both contain alcohol.  It's important to get one's facts right.

Christianity requires Hell.

Throw the book at this piece of shit.

Thank Heaven Trump is president.

Here are some cleaning tips, including safety issues.

We're now seeing just how dangerous the religious denial of science is.

Don't yield to the right-wingers who are trying to exploit covid-19 to take away abortion rights.

Make them go first.

New York's hospital system is already being overwhelmed (found via Big Bad Bald Bastard).

Can your boss require you to come to work during the pandemic?

Darwinfish 2 settles down into life under quarantine.

For toilet-paper manufacturers, it's a weird time.

The FBI has thwarted a right-wing terrorist attack on a Missouri hospital.

Americans are mobilizing, except the stupid ones, who still think covid-19 isn't a major threat.

Texas is known for its rebel streak, but this is the wrong time for it.

Vagabond Scholar has a comprehensive overview of how Trump has bungled the covid-19 response.

The pandemic is sharpening class differences.

America is number one!  And Trump keeps bragging.

Some people think the rules don't apply to them.  An Arkansas church held a group event that infected 34 people.  Another in Illinois held a revival meeting which has sickened 43.  Five spring-breakers tested positive for the virus after ignoring social-distancing rules.  And more have been infected at a party -- at a Trump property.  Then there's this.

What will the end of the pandemic look like?

Die for the 1%.

We need to rely on science.  Not on talking to things that aren't there.

White nationalists scheme to use covid-19 as a tool of terrorism.

Paris's hospitals are strained to the breaking point.

No, Russia does not have the disease under control.

The Middle East is in bad shape to handle the pandemic.

India has gone on 21-day lockdown, but it may be too late.  Suddenly-jobless migrant workers are going back to their home villages, bringing the virus with them.  And harassment of medical workers isn't going to help.

A Sikh religious guru returned to India from Italy and immediately went on a preaching tour of 15 villages before dying of covid-19.  Now all those villages are under quarantine.

Taiwan's younger generation feels patriotic, fervent about democracy, and not particularly Chinese.

Widows in Nigeria are subject to degrading rituals.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, social distancing will be very difficult.  And this is going to be a problem.

Trump has failed us (found via Hackwhackers).

Spread this ad far and wide (found via Mock Paper Scissors). Trump really hates it.

This is not going to help Trump carry Michigan.

In November, remember what you're voting for (found via Octoberfarm).

[1,165 days down, 297 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]

28 March 2020

Bringing out the worst

It is often said that hard times bring out the best in people, and for many people, that's true.  For some, they bring out the worst.

Because covid-19 happens to have originated in China, a stupid and despicable minority of Americans have chosen to vent their fear and anger about the pandemic in the form of hostility toward people of visibly Asian descent.  Incidents of verbal aggression and even violence against Asian-Americans have been rising sharply.  Such thugs take encouragement, of course, from Trump's insistence on using such terms as "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus".

And these hateful names are embraced and amplified by his most fervent supporters -- the bigoted hard-core Christians.  For weeks, they've been used and defended aggressively on LifeSite and Church Militant, though in the last couple of days they seem to have toned this down.  Read Asian Evangelical pastor Eugene Cho's plea to his fellow Christians and Trump to stop calling covid-19 the "Chinese virus" -- then click the blue comments bar at the bottom to read the dismissive, contemptuous, and in some cases practically deranged responses from those fellow Christians.

If nothing else, one can hope that all this will convince Asian-American voters that right-wing ideology, the Trump cult, and the religion which buttresses both are no friends to them, but rather an absolute menace.  More importantly, all Americans need to speak out against such efforts to exploit the pandemic to fuel racism.

27 March 2020

The bookshop

So, you've been stuck at home almost all the time for two weeks now with no end in sight, knowing that those nasty coronaviruses are hovering outside your front door, waiting to pounce if you step outside.  Obvious time-killers like playing cards, watching online porn, and fuming about Trump have begun to pall.  You feel like something fresh to read, and with a $1,200 government check coming in the near future, you'd like to spend some money to help jump-start our stalled economy.  But you're afraid to brave the viruses for a trip to the bookstore, and you don't want to send your dollars to Amazon, which is already far too big and about which you've heard too many stories about less-than-stellar treatment of employees.

A few weeks ago I posted a link to Bookshop.org, which enables you to buy books online while still supporting small bookstores.  Here's their about page, and here's a longer discussion of how it works.  10% of every sale goes into a pool which is donated to affiliated bookstores, and they can get more revenue by selling their own books there.  There's also a local store locator for those who prefer to go out and do their own shopping when things get back to normal.

The site is still "in beta", but I ordered a couple of books there yesterday without any problems.  It's worth checking out.

25 March 2020

A deadly mistake -- but for whom?

Trump is talking about phasing out the current covid-19 precautions fairly soon -- perhaps by Easter -- in hopes of reviving the economy (and his re-election hopes along with it, though he isn't saying that part out loud).  This in spite of the fact that the epidemic in the US is still spreading at an explosive pace, something which the end of the current precautions would exacerbate still further.

This is madness, even from Trump's own selfish viewpoint.  If he thinks a recession will be bad for his re-election, that's nothing compared to the effect of vast numbers of dead and an overwhelmed health-care system which won't have the resources to take care of all the "normal" non-covid-19-related things we normally use it for.

Fortunately, the current shelter-in-place orders have been issued on the state and local level, and sensible governors will keep them in place no matter what Trump says.  Electoral-Vote points out the likely result:

The second, and more obvious, political problem is what happens if Trump encourages people to resume their daily lives, some of them do so, and then the epidemic gets noticeably worse. This is, in essence, what happened in Hong Kong. Indeed, one can very well envision a scenario where Trump gives the "all clear!" order, (some) red states play along while blue states ignore him, and all of a sudden there is a spike in infections in Dallas, Tampa, and Nashville, with no spikes in Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. It would be as close to a scientifically controlled experiment as you can get in politics. Those spikes would be (with good reason) laid at the President's doorstep.

In other words, natural selection in action, with (in many cases) the death penalty for going along with Trump's stupidity.  The same is true of his expressed desire to see "packed churches" by Easter -- which would lead to a surge in infections among devout Christians.  It's almost as if he's trying to spread sickness and death among his own supporters.  If he starts holding mass rallies again, that will create yet another cauldron of infection for Trumpanzees.

Electoral-Vote is, by the way, right about the example provided by Hong Kong.  The pandemic appeared to be subsiding (something which is decidedly not the case in the US yet), and precautions were relaxed too soon -- allowing it to flare up again.

In the name of safeguarding his re-election, Trump is pursuing a course which will actually hurt his chances.  In fact, his whole strategy of downplaying this was a mistake.  He'd have been smarter to play it up, yammer about impending catastrophe, emphasize the "foreign virus" angle, claim we need to build the wall and keep out all foreigners and ban everything or we're doomed.  Then if the actual epidemic turned out to be less serious than he had portrayed it, he could claim he saved everybody.  That would have been smarter.  The guy can't even get selfishness right.

Don't listen to him.  Stay safe.  Stay home.

23 March 2020

Video of the day -- Trump vs. the Texans

Trump's wall is not popular among those who live on the lands across which it would run.  From Samantha Bee's channel.

22 March 2020

Link round-up for 22 March 2020

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

o o o o o

Just keep washing your hands.

Even amid the pandemic, we need to be able to laugh.

There's a new use for Ikea bags.

This cow is tired.

Debra She Who Seeks surveys the toilet paper crisis.  And this Mexican product should become popular in the US.

Things are easier for us introverts.

Lady M sculpts plants with a difference.

Don't touch, please.  And no more shaking hands.

Celebrate the Irish heritage.

Blogger Arkenaten presents Covid-19 -- the album.

In the long run maybe some good will come of this.

Keep the birds away.

They're messing with Oprah now -- big mistake.

It's socialism!

Marco Rubio, king of typos.

I couldn't help snickering at the headline "Catholics in the United States have no Mass". So why don't they just drift away into space?

Behold the crab.

Who wore it better?

That's big.

Covid-19 is about to come to an end, or maybe it never existed at all.

From a lot of places in my city, you can see this (click to enlarge).

Murrmurrs confronts the plague with equanimity.

It's all just bumps and grooves.

Censored writings are available to read at The Forbidden Library -- and you'll never guess where it's located.

Dogs don't belong everywhere.

It's a world of empty spaces (and irresponsible elephants).

Only some people die.

This is what it feels like to be an American.

Do it for them.

Are you a ragweed or a magnolia?

Part of the appeal of quackery is that it offers a certainty that can't really exist.

Here's why slowing down the virus matters, and why washing with soap is so effective.

No, self-driving trucks (and cars) won't be practical anytime soon.

Vultures hover around pandemic-stricken humanity.

Mary Edwards Walker was the only woman ever awarded the Medal of Honor.

This is the nightmare fate of a grocery-store worker in the time of covid-19.

The IFB church movement is too extremist to reform.

Of course they did.

How can we pay for the huge cost of helping victims of the pandemic?

At last, it is truly the Trump economy.

The best way to fight covid-19 is by walking around in funny clothes while carrying a cracker.

People who use threats and intimidation are showing they can't win the argument.

Trump is still bullshitting.  And Republicans generally are carrying bullshit to new heights.

A judge of the Supreme Court Bar calls out John Roberts (found via Bruce Gerencser).

Religio-nutters are vectors of the plague.

Militant racism is still on the march, and growing.

The airlines don't deserve a bailout.

The coming job losses will be beyond what we've ever seen before.

In some ways, things will never go back to "normal".

Republicans must be held accountable, and the media aren't going to do it.

Go ahead and die, it's "healing" the country.

The banks will be fine.

Green Eagle reviews the wingnutosphere so you don't have to.

The US healthcare system suffers from a disastrous shortage of basic supplies.

Burr and Loeffler face calls to resign over their stock sales -- including from Tucker Carlson.  Crooks and Liars argues that what Feinstein and Imhofe did isn't in the same category.

A new religious movement wants to kill people for having abortions.

We can't allow mobs of thugs to determine what can be said or what's allowed in libraries.

Can computers achieve consciousness?  It may depend on giving them sensory input.

No, the virus was not made in a lab (found via Earth-Bound Misfit).

25,000 years ago, somebody built a huge building out of the bones of 60 mammoths.  Nobody knows why.

Total global confirmed covid-19 cases have passed the 300,000 mark.

Italy's death toll has surpassed 4,000.

There are escalating calls for violence against feminists in France and Spain.

There hasn't been much news of covid-19 in India -- but there will be.

Compare the US response to the plague with South Korea's.

Li Wenliang, the hero doctor who defied the regime to try to warn the public about the new disease, deserves to be remembered.

What did they expect, eating these disgusting things?

No, authoritarian regimes do not deal with epidemics better than democracies -- in fact, it was Trump's authoritarian tendencies that led to the bungling of the early US response.

Covid-19 hasn't reined in the Beijing regime's bullying of Taiwan.

Voting is like riding the bus.

Never let people forget what Trump said.

The primaries technically aren't over, but it's time to unite.

Crazy Eddie looks at Gabbard's withdrawal from the race.

No, Trump cannot delay the election, and even if he could, it would just mean Pelosi would become president.

21 March 2020

Science to the rescue -- an elaboration

In my previous post on the testing of certain drugs as possible treatments for covid-19, I said:

Ignore what the politicians and political commentators say about this.  That's just background noise.  If there is to be any chance of mitigating the disaster now looming over the world, it is science, and only science, that will provide it.

This could use some elaboration to make the point clearer.

It's not just that most politicians and political commentators are completely unqualified to evaluate a scientific hypothesis, such as the potential of a medical treatment which is still undergoing testing.  The more important point is that they tend to slant whatever they are discussing to make it fit whatever their preferred narrative is.  This tendency is not confined to those on the right.  If Trump describes something as a hopeful development, for example, there is a tendency of commentators on the left to try to downplay and discredit it, because that fits their preferred narrative that Trump is usually wrong.  Now, Trump is usually wrong, but he's also the supreme example of a person who is unqualified to evaluate a scientific hypothesis.  His assertions about the potential efficacy of an untested medical treatment simply tell us nothing about it, one way or the other.

Science is unique among human strategies for analyzing reality in that it assumes that all humans, specifically including scientists, have biases which can distort their interpretation of their data.  Because of this assumption, it includes rigorous methods for filtering such biases out of its analyses.  The double-blinded controlled experiment (of which clinical trials for new medical treatments are an example) is probably the most effective such filtering method possible.  Repeatability -- the requirement that an experiment must be described in enough detail that other scientists can independently run a similar experiment and see whether they get the same results -- is another.

It is this diligence in filtering out human bias that has enabled science, and only science, to give us a rigorously accurate picture of reality, including accurate knowledge of which treatments for illness are effective and which are not -- unlike religion, folk wisdom, anecdotes, ideology, tradition, and what have you.

At this point, we do not know whether losartan or hydroxychloroquine will prove effective against covid-19.  There's some evidence that losartan blocks the process by which the virus attaches itself to cells and attacks them -- but we don't know yet whether this will actually work inside living humans to protect them from infection.  In testing in France, 75% of patients given hydroxychloroquine became virus-free after a few days -- but the tests were not double-blinded and the number of test subjects was too small to be conclusive.  Only by rigorous clinical trials can we find out for sure.

It doesn't matter what Trump says about these drugs, and it doesn't matter what other politicians and pundits say about them.  The only thing that matters is the outcome of the clinical trials.

That's what I mean when I say that if there is any hope of beating covid-19, only science can provide it.  Because only the process and methods of science can give us the truth about what works and what does not.

19 March 2020

Science to the rescue?

Scientists at the University of Minnesota are now testing two drugs as possible treatments for covid-19 -- hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, and losartan, a blood-pressure medication.

These drugs have been in widespread use in humans for years and are already known to be safe, so the current clinical trials will need to test only for effectiveness against covid-19, not for safety.  This will make testing go much faster.  The two drugs are also fairly inexpensive.

The US trials follow tentative but promising test results in France and China.

Ignore what the politicians and political commentators say about this.  That's just background noise.  If there is to be any chance of mitigating the disaster now looming over the world, it is science, and only science, that will provide it.

Know hope.

18 March 2020

The long haul

Our Earth is in the grip of pestilence -- but is there anywhere to flee?

There is no escape to be had by running to some more favored country.  The virus has spread almost everywhere, and what few places are free of it will be infected soon enough.  Further, the least-affected countries are not likely to welcome refugee hordes from less fortunate lands, for obvious reasons.

And make no mistake, the United States is going to be one of the worst-hit places, because we are among the least-well-equipped to cope with the problem.  We are the only advanced nation with millions of uninsured people.  We are the only advanced nation with no laws mandating paid sick leave for all workers, forcing millions of people in shit jobs to keep going to work no matter how sick they get.  Our present leadership is of unparalleled incompetence.  We have only three hospital beds per thousand people, compared with eight in (for example) Germany.  The Trumpnotized third of our population has been refusing to take the threat seriously or take basic precautions, an attitude many seem to be clinging to even while Trump himself begins to accept reality.  The creation of super-concentrated crucibles of infection at our major airports is just the current example of the kind of gross stupidity and blundering that has marked the administration's response and will continue to do so.

If there is any silver lining to this disaster, it's that it may finally force us as a nation to confront the pitiful rotted-out reality behind America's truculent Potemkin rhetoric about "the greatest country on Earth".  Read this -- it's important.  The coming tsunami of misery and death will be all the more tragic if we fail to at least learn from it, and from those who handle the onslaught better than we do.

Fortunately the private sector and some of the states have stepped in.  More and more employers (including my own, as of this week) are implementing work-from-home.  Large gatherings are being prohibited and venues closed -- although we as a society must provide some relief for the restaurant, hotel, etc. employees whose livelihood is now threatened due to no fault of their own.  Some areas are "locked down", under more or less permanent curfew except for essential outings.

That's the only place to flee.  Your home.  And be prepared to stay there.  Almost all the time.  For a long time.

For make no mistake, this is going to continue for months, not weeks.  If these stringent precautions are relaxed while the virus is still in circulation, the same pattern of exponentially-spreading infection will just start up again.  It may not be possible for normal life to resume until a vaccine is generally available, which could easily take a year.

And a lot of people won't be able to do it.  As people go stir-crazy sitting at home surrounded by mountains of toilet paper, wishful thinking and self-deception will set in.  Some will turn to quack remedies or religious gobbledygook to gain a false sense of protection. Some will persuade themselves that the problem is exaggerated or it's all a sinister plot of some kind (crank conspiracy theories are already spreading among the mental-bottom-of-the-barrel population).  Some will abandon cause-and-effect thinking for irrational fatalism ("if I'm gonna catch it, I'm gonna catch it").  The point is, people will want to evade precautions and will find rationalizations for doing so.  And such cases will keep the epidemic going.

It's going to get ugly in other ways.  Religious ravings about sin and divine punishment will get louder and crazier.  Problems like domestic violence will increase among cooped-up people.  Some will channel their anger and frustration into scapegoating minorities or other unpopular groups.  Authoritarians will seize on the crisis as an excuse to impose censorship or grab guns or whatever other kind of control-freakery they've been yearning to impose all along, no matter how irrelevant it is to the problem.

But we're in this for the long haul.  It's not a few weeks of crazy.  It's a new normal.

Update:  A new scientific paper projects US deaths as high as 2.2 million if stringent precautions aren't maintained until the vaccine is available.  On the likelihood of the whole country observing such precautions, see the comments on this Christian site's report on the paper.  Fundie churches are likely to be infection vectors.  Congress's new bill mandating paid leave excludes millions of workers.  The impending disaster makes a mockery of politics-as-usual.

15 March 2020

Video of the day -- public service announcement

Found via Mock Paper Scissors.  Made by Juice Media in Australia.

Link round-up for 15 March 2020

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

o o o o o

These trucks just belong together.

"Please wait here....."

Whoever attached this sticker knew exactly what he was doing.

Look at classic art with a modern eye.

It's a revolution in cat transport.

The world is in the grip of the Pandumbic.

He can fight with lies.

Have some quotes for International Women's Day.

RO looks at waitresses, birds, Pez dispensers, sports shirts, and more.

Judith Hope's puppets make the microscopic visible.

Remember Rosalind Walker, the original "Rosie the Riveter".

Medieval art depicts sex with demons (found via Miss Cellania).

It's a barrage of Trump dumbth, with a brief inspirational message from John Lewis.  If we couldn't laugh at Trump, we'd go mad.  None of this bullshit is remotely normal.

Buttigieg's run was a game-changer for gay Americans.

These women were pioneers in their fields.

Alexandra Rowland pwns the pearl-clutchers, and it's a beautiful thing to behold.

What if religio-wingnuts decide the covid-19 vaccine is the Antichrist?

Every woman in the Utah state senate walked out in protest against this abortion bill.

Steve Ruis takes a close look at Pence's prayer circle.

Assholes exploit covid-19 for profit.

"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

Must-read of the week:  a detailed discussion of how the covid-19 epidemic is likely to play out.  You need to start social distancing now -- don't wait even until later today.  Per the CDC's worst-case scenario, covid-19 could kill 1,700,000 Americans.  That's four times the total US battlefield deaths in World War II.  Stop comparing this to the flu.  Our country may be on the brink of literally the worst disaster in its entire history.

What are the risks of using public transit?

Turn your Evangelical teens into annoying phonies.

Fake museum gets pwned by fake ancient relics.

"This only works if you add....."

Congress is ill-prepared for the impact of covid-19 on its aging membership.

It's absurd that anyone still pays attention to Ayn Rand.

Expertise is back in style and fundamentalism is imploding.

"Reverse freedom rides" were once a tactic used by segregationists.

Trump's covid-19 speech was a fiascoHackwhackers (see here too) and Electoral-Vote round up more commentary.  Here are a few specific lies.  In case you'd forgotten, this is what a real president sounds like.

Target has developed a new system for shitting on its employees.

Fox News viewers are not taking covid-19 seriously, and many of them will probably die for it.

One cruise line is telling lies to sell tickets.

Warren could still become president.

The whole Republican party shares the blame.

You'd think a law protecting girls from religious genital mutilation would be a no-brainer, but not everyone agrees.

Right-to-repair is a rising issue in farm country, one which Democrats ought to get behind.

The human mind is ill-equipped to understand exponential growth.

Colossal turtles once roamed South America.

Abortion patients in Nova Scotia will no longer need to face screaming religious nutjobs on the way in and out of the clinic.

This Australian church is setting itself up to be a textbook case of natural selection in action.

Yeah, yeah, blame the gays.....shit, these guys are monotonous.

Covid-19 poses an existential threat to the Iranian theocracy (yes, it's NRO, but the article makes some solid points).

Don't forget the women's rights activists imprisoned under the world's most misogynistic regime.

There are reasons why new diseases tend to emerge in China.

Covid-19 is already a global disaster.

Vagabond Scholar looks back on Warren's campaign.

The media's obsessions led them to miss the roots of Biden's resurgence.

10% of Trump's 2016 voters may dump him this year.

If you have reservations about Biden, read this.

Intrepid hog-castrator Joni Ernst is in trouble in Iowa.

Some Republicans -- well, one Republican -- says Trump's covid-19 blundering has doomed his presidency.

That guy really was full of shit, and Biden's got what it takes.

[Image at top found via Crooks and Liars]

13 March 2020

A reminder to atheists who "debate" religionists

We don't need to convince them of anything.  They are the ones who need to convince us.  Our side is already winning this argument.  Year by year far more people abandon religions than join them; each new generation is less religious than the previous one; and the non-religious percentage of the population grows inexorably.  Even in the places where religion seems most entrenched, it's actually in rapid retreat.

So there's no point in religionists demanding that we prove anything.  We have nothing to prove.  They need to prove their case, and the hard data on declining religious affiliation show that they're utterly failing to do it.  If they keep on using the same old apologetics and clichés to defend their beliefs, those beliefs will simply continue on down the road to extinction.  We don't need to address their "arguments", most of which were refuted centuries ago and, more importantly, are abjectly failing on the real-world battlefield of winning hearts and minds.  They need to address ours, on our terms.

Ball's in their court.  I'm not holding my breath.

[Note:  This is not an invitation to rehash all those same tired old arguments in the comments here.  It's just a reminder to atheists who for some reason feel obligated to engage in "debate" with ancient nonsense.]

12 March 2020

Video of the day -- know the enemy

They know exactly what they want, and whom they support, and who their enemies are.  We need to be equally clear, determined, and single-minded about winning this.

(I'm not singling out Catholicism specifically.  Fundies and hard-line Catholics like Voris have pretty much the same mentality -- but the latter tend to be a lot more articulate about it.)

10 March 2020

The coronavirus and America's two nations

It seems clear that this pandemic will be the dominant event of 2020.  It's continuing to spread quickly, almost explosively, and the fact that many cases are asymptomatic will make its path hard to trace or predict.  There's no way of knowing how many will ultimately sicken and how many will die, either globally or within the US.  The stock market is imploding and there is more economic damage to come.  Even if a vaccine is developed sooner than expected, testing and mass production will take months.

And as we've grown used to seeing over the last three years, our two nations are reacting differently.  Democrats and sane people generally are believing what scientists and doctors say.  Trumpanzees are..... believing what Trump says.  Trump is refusing to take even basic precautions to protect himself or his followers.  The stage is set for a display of natural selection in action.  Because, you see, there really is such a thing as objective reality, which doesn't give a fig for what people believe about it -- and people who deny that, tend to end up getting kicked in the teeth by it.

(Source, found via No More Mr Nice Blog) -- and these individuals are political activists, probably rather better-informed than the average Trump-besotted Deliverance mutant or religious wackjob.  The wingnut masses are practically declaring open season on themselves.

So stay away from Trumpanzees (good advice in most circumstances, actually), and wash your hands if you touch one.  The bill for their militant stupidity is coming due at last.

08 March 2020

Link round-up for 8 March 2020

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

o o o o o

Faces, faces everywhere!

There are some wise guys in offices.

That's too drunk.


This is not the future of fashion.

Look, but don't touch.

The romance/porn genre has finally gone completely bonkers.

Don't you hate seeing a brawl on the subway?

Waterbeads are apparently a weapon of mass destruction.

Here's a true tiny house -- a rather spooky one.

Meet Matt Gaetz, the latest loony Florida Republican.

People used to love maps of Hell (found via Mendip).

Mad Mike Hughes failed to prove that the Earth is flat.

John Oliver is in fine form on the coronavirus outbreak.  Here's the full version of that Vietnamese song.

Some nice sunrise photos here.

Wingnuts don't get to define "socialist".

This is "sea glass" (I suspect a lot of it is bits of man-made glass objects, heavily worn down).

She isn't nostalgic, but still.....

Christians are protected from the "Satanic" coronavirus -- if they pay their tithes.

Lo Imprescindible and Michael in Norfolk assess the impact of Buttigieg's campaign.  We'll probably be seeing more of him in the years to come.

Bertrand Russell got it right about religion.

Sage is of Satan, apparently.

Jim Bakker's latest scam has run into a snag.

Sometimes compromise is impossible -- and the wrong side is being asked to compromise.

No, Romney is not a good guy (found via Hackwhackers).

This is the wrong kind of "innovative and dynamic" company.

We need to be honest about the biggest threat to freedom in the US.

This asshole was lucky he only got kicked out.

Some Catholic hierarchs encourage believers to bathe in filthy water because of medieval superstition.  But others are more realistic.

Science wins one in Maine.

With religious fanatics, even friendship is phony.

Why are so many Christians fascinated by Hell?

Trump has no clue about vaccine development, or viruses, or much of anything.  His stupidity paved the way for the coronavirus, almost as if he were on the virus's side.

High-school students do not have a legal right to privacy from the opposite sex in restrooms, lockers, and showers, according to this judge.

Yes, protect American troops, but first protect Trump's narrative (found via Hackwhackers).

Most Democrats don't want a revolution, they just want Trump out.

If only this man who was a fundamentalist for half a century would just read the Bible -- oh, wait.

Our country's lack of policy on paid sick time makes us especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.  How many people serving you are working sick?

A hard-line Catholic site tries to make excuses for medieval anti-Semitism.  Yes, really.  In 2020.

No, the coronavirus is not an escaped bio-weapon.

Don't invest in fossil fuels.

Trump will stop at nothing to silence experts on the coronavirus (found via Fair and Unbalanced).  We need to understand how it spreads.

Small farmers are turning to a new cash crop -- solar panels.

This once, the tables were turned on the bullies.

Germany cracks down on the anti-vax insanity.

Italy is shutting down schools due to the coronavirus.

Yes, this is looking like a pandemic.

AO3 has truly arrived -- the Chinese regime is censoring it.

Common humanity trumps religious bigotry in Kenya.

Democratic turnout surged massively on Super Tuesday -- but not among younger voters.

Texas polling-place closures caused long lines in minority areas, though extra voting machines helped a little.  But many were determined to vote regardless.

Vixen Strangely looks at the vanishing chance for a woman president this time around.

The enemy is determined to fight -- we must be also.

"Vote blue no matter who" applies to everyone (found via MBRU at Crooks and Liars).

Colbert looks at Warren's withdrawal.  One Warren supporter embraces Biden.

Russian trolls are already targeting progressives.

Take the money and do the right thing anyway.

Here's why Biden is winning.  If that's too long to read, here it is in one cartoon (found via Hackwhackers).

This primary season, thuggery backfired.

Texas suburbia is gradually turning the state blue.

[1,144 days down, 318 to go until the inauguration of a real President.]

05 March 2020

Video of the day -- how they do it

This video is from 2017, but its message is newly relevant as another election season approaches.  The enemy got Trump elected last time by getting us to fight against each other instead of against them, and they're ready to roll out the same tactics this year, taking advantage of certain innate weaknesses in American culture.

03 March 2020

Super Tuesday reminder

Today's voting may well shape the rest of the race for the Democratic nomination.  It may give some one candidate a crushing advantage, effectively naming the nominee here and now.  It may produce a clear front-runner whose lead is nevertheless small enough to be beatable in the following contests.  Or it may yield an inconclusive jumble of results.  Nobody really knows.  The withdrawal of Buttigieg and Klobuchar has changed the game; recent polling is no longer very informative since so many voters will be deciding at the last minute which candidate should now receive their support.

But one thing we do know.  Whatever the result, Republican/Russian trolls will be out in force, trying to stir up division and conflict among us.  They'll be on social media, in the comment sections of news sites, perhaps even insinuating themselves onto our humble blogs.  They'll be posing as allies, posing as us.  Their goal will be to convince you that your preferred candidate was cheated, treated unfairly, that that group of Democrats or liberals or progressives over there is the enemy (distracting you from the real enemy, Trump/McConnell/Putin and their allies and toadies), that the eventual nominee is not worthy of your support in November because of blah blah and blah blah.  There will be a variety of rhetorical tricks, and sometimes even some truth mixed in with the rabble-rousing, but the goal of all of it will be the same -- get Trump re-elected.

In a few cases the same kind of rhetoric will be spouted by people who really are Democrats, not Republicans or Russians.  It doesn't matter.  They will be serving the Republican/Russian cause in practical effect, whatever their intentions.  In November, either our nominee will win or Trump will win.  Those are the only two possibilities.  The conscious motives behind individuals' behavior do not matter.  All that matters is which one of those two possibilities their actions and words make more likely.

Get Trump out in November.  Get as many Democrats as possible elected to every office -- state or federal.  That is what is important.  Whatever happens at the ballot box today, and whatever divisiveness the trolls try to waylay you with, remember that.

01 March 2020

Link round-up for 1 March 2020

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

o o o o o

Jenny_o has puzzles and animal puns.

It's a shoe -- really, it is.

Natalia Taylor took a fake vacation to expose her fans' gullibility.

Time for some pigs.

Debra She Who Seeks looks at leap day.

This is not the future of fashion.  And neither is this.

Before you pop that bubble wrap.....

A reverse Medusa is creepy in its own way.

Have a dollhouse ouija board.

Crazy Eddie has a round-up of video responses to the coronavirus (don't miss the Pence PSA at the end).

Matthew 19:21.

Trumpanzees abuse pigeons to make some sort of point.

Why stick with Christianity when they've thrown out all the good parts?

If only there were some way for this mother to protect her child.

Make a godawful racket unto the Lord.

Cartoonists look at the coronavirus.

Win or lose, Buttigieg's candidacy has had a great psychological impact.

Evangelicals offer lousy advice on marriage.

The "Kecksburg UFO" illustrates the wild distortions at the heart of most flying-saucer tales.

Trump hands out pardons like Papal indulgences, while Columbia wallows in hippo turds.

Mike Pence's record shows that he's the wrong guy to manage the coronavirus crisis.  And I loathe face-touchers.  But he'll control official information on the outbreak.  And yes, there's plenty to worry about.

Stop making threats.  Only assholes make threats.

Religio-wingnuts don't understand the First Amendment, and it's costing them in court.  It's the same with Trump.

"Intersectionality" is destroying gay liberation.

Liberals get things done.

Coronavirus is strengthening the work-from-home movement.

A feminist event in Seattle was disrupted and threatened by a menacing, mostly-male mob.

Matt Shea is a Christian supremacist with a bizarre obsession with guns.

The FBI arrests a terrorist gang after a campaign of intimidation against journalists.

A male rapist was incarcerated in a women's prison and raped a female inmate -- who says prison officials covered up what happened.

This is the religious mentality -- you are unworthy, no matter how good you are it's never good enough, moan, groan.  Millions are still enslaved to it.

There was no curse on King Tut's tomb.

If you catch the coronavirus, your odds of dying vary by age and gender.

The body that oversees rugby is meeting to reconsider its policy on male players on female teams.

Generations ago certain territories would proudly declare themselves judenrein ("Jew-free").  Nowadays.....

Iran's authoritarian regime makes it especially vulnerable to the coronavirus.

New Delhi has been racked by days of anti-Muslim mob violence, some committed by gangs linked to the ruling religio-nationalist party (found via Crooks and Liars).

China's unaccountable fascist system means the rulers probably don't even have accurate information about the coronavirus outbreak.

Two Kentucky polls show Amy McGrath with a real shot at defeating Moscow Mitch this November.  Know hope.

Sanders is positioned to win big in California and Texas on Super Tuesday.  Electoral-Vote assesses the "socialist" issue.  Vox debunks the centrist freak-out over Sanders.

Democrats don't need advice from failed Republicans.

Even Fox polling has Trump losing to every major Democrat.

If Trump could do it, Sanders can do it (found via By Hook or by Book).

Stephen Colbert and Noah Trevor assess the South Carolina debate.  Darwinfish 2 looks at the Nevada one.