30 April 2020

Video of the day -- Walpurgisnacht

Song "Walpurgisnacht" by the German pagan/folk group Faun.  Worth using fullscreen.

Walpurgisnacht is a day significant to a number of pagan and Satanic traditions.  It falls on April 30 -- the point on the Earth's orbit exactly opposite Samhain (Halloween).  As with Samhain, it's a day on which the barriers between the real world and the "spirit world" supposedly become permeable.  The origins of Walpurgisnacht seem to be rooted in ancient pagan European celebrations of spring.

28 April 2020

The culture war turns hot

No, he is not my president, and no, this is not my government.

I've suggested before that there is no longer an "American nation", that the US is now two mutually-hostile nations superimposed on the same territory.  I emphasize the word "superimposed" because the division is not really geographical.  There is a strong urban-vs-rural element to it, and whole states are misleadingly called "blue" or "red" depending on which culture has the numerical majority, however slim, but in practice both "blue" and "red" cultures exist almost everywhere in the US.

For Blue America, the Trump regime is not a government but more like a foreign occupation.  Trump's bullying and threats toward the governors of Michigan, New York, and Washington, and his earlier malign neglect of disasters in California and Puerto Rico, reflects this.  So does the regime seizing medical supplies ordered by our governors and diverting them, and Moscow Mitch suggesting that "blue states" should declare bankruptcy rather than expect further help from the federal government -- which is primarily funded by our tax revenue, because our culture and the cities it dominates are the real engines of the economy, on which Red America has been battening like a lamprey for generations.

It is time to recognize reality.  The Bible-thumpers, reactionaries, racists, and miscellaneous paranoid morons comprising Red America are not our fellow countrymen.  They voted for Trump largely because he would "own the libs" and inflict pain on us.  They are our enemies, they hate us, and they are actively waging aggressive war against us.  I have nothing in common with this horde of gibbering barbarians.

This division didn't start with Trump.  It goes back at least to the Civil War.  We beat them then, at huge cost, and we should have completely crushed them and forcibly reformed their politics and culture, as we did with Germany and Japan after World War II.  Instead, over time the internal enemy gradually metastasized through the whole territory of the United States, bringing the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow and creationism in the schools and a bitter-end resistance to gay rights and women's independence -- and, in the last few decades, an infestation of increasingly stupid and deranged politicians culminating in Trump.

But even if the division has existed for generations, Red America's hysterical vilification of Obama during his presidency, and then their imposition of Trump on the country, have widened it into an unbridgeable chasm and destroyed whatever sense of common American identity did manage to exist before.

As I've pointed out before, partitioning the US is not the solution.  The two populations are too intermixed across its whole territory for any such division to be practical.  But we outnumber them, and the gap is widening as each new generation grows up more cosmopolitan and less religious than the one before.  They can only win on the national level by anti-democratic practices like gerrymandering, vote suppression, and an increasingly-open alliance with the Putin gangster-state.  Any Republican administration is a minority-rule administration.  If we win full control of the government this November, we need to be ruthless in restoring real democracy by eradicating these practices.  Red America's other device for inflicting minority rule, the Electoral College, can't be similarly abolished because it would take a Constitutional amendment -- but we are already undermining it by colonizing red states, and that will continue.

There must be no more self-delusion or mincing of words.  We will win in the end, but we need to accept the reality that we're in an all-out struggle with a real enemy that hates and despises us -- a continuation of the Civil War by other means and under new conditions.

27 April 2020

Video of the day -- nightmare factories

We're right to condemn China's wet markets.  But America's hands -- and food supply -- are far from clean.

26 April 2020

Link round-up for 26 April 2020

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

o o o o o

As some grow weary of quarantine, beasts roam the streets (skip the lamps, though).

Really?  To all a them?  What is it about wingnuts and spelling?

Disaster has a downside.

McDonald's offers a startling new option.

Twitter reacts to labradoodlegate.

Books tell a story.

Gou Tanabe produced a manga-style adaptation of Lovecraft's At the Mountains of Madness (link from Marc McKenzie).  It's for sale here; so is another Lovecraft adaptation.  Here are samples of the art.

This was Halloween a century ago.

Oregon businesses get creative.

See how the relative importance of things has changed.

Strangers' names keep appearing in front of these people (found via Mendip).

A dog demonstrates the fluid dynamics of sheep

"Ghost crashes" look unsettlingly spooky.

Brass is better than steel for heavily-touched surfaces.

Here's how we know that Trump is a stable genius.

Crows are assholes.

An open mic proved a tad embarrassing for the archbishop of New York.

Bruce Gerencser explains how to expose the truth about "nice" Evangelicalism, and gives sixteen reasons why he's not a Christian.

Here's why video calls are exhausting.

Not all older people are Trumpanzees (found via Lo Imprescindible, which also recommends five gay movies to pass the time in quarantine).

Trump casts himself as the villain of Mutiny on the Bounty.

Here's what living by Biblical values would actually look like.

Jim Bakker whines and begs for money.

"You will burn in Hell for ever and ever and ever!"

There are people out there who really believe this stuff.

Trump is animated by the spirit of Norman Vincent Peale.

Rudy Giuliani is stupid.

When this is reality, there's no room for satire.

Losing the Postal Service would hurt the Republican base the most.

CNN answers your questions about face masks.

Americans married to foreigners won't get stimulus checks (update:  this does not apply in all cases).

If your landlord does this, it's illegal.

Here's an open letter to the anti-lockdown protesters.  And here's one addressed to Trump.

The US is awash in stupidity and it's the Republicans' fault.

A church goes to court to defend its right to spread the virus.  This fundie nutjob thinks that stopping churches from doing so is like the Holocaust.

Green Eagle plunges into the world of pandemic denialism.

Fatalism isn't just un-American, it's dangerous.

Cleaning-product manufacturers now need to issue warnings against Trump's stupidity.  There's been a spike in numbers of people ingesting them.

The backwardness of the US relative to other advanced countries means the pandemic could permanently damage our global standing.

Faith healing doesn't work.

If we're willing to sacrifice human life to help the economy.....

What is a "shithole country"?

Fundie leader Albert Mohler didn't support Trump in 2016, but after seeing his performance in office, he's now on board.

The coronavirus infestation in meat-packing plants is even worse than we thought.  This one in Iowa resisted closing until it was too late to avoid the damage.

Only 12% of Americans believe covid-19 restrictions have gone too far.

Trump is "the president of the Confederate States of MAGA".

Give your money to this bozo and receive magical protection from covid-19.

Wingnuts freak out as Cuomo affirms that human action, not God, is curbing the pandemic.

The South is vulnerable (Mississippi's rural infection rates are already higher than urban).  The virus is now spreading fastest there and in the Midwest.  And this is not helping.

Trump ignores science and acts on wishful thinking.  A strong leader can recognize a weak one.

A fundie pastor proclaims the good side of the pandemic.

Foot lesions could be a symptom of covid-19 (found via Billions of Versions of Normal).

Las Vegas's deranged mayor decrees the most reckless "re-opening" of all.

As if the pandemic weren't a big enough problem, religious taboos create ridiculous extra complications.

The 1918 flu disaster offers lessons about abandoning social distancing too early.

Even if you survive covid-19, it can cause several kinds of lasting damage.

Raw data from New York debunk the Santa Clara antibody study.

In Seattle, testing of a possible covid-19 vaccine shows encouraging signsMore vaccine trials are starting in the UK.

Friday was the 30th anniversary of the Hubble telescope.

Many of the countries handling the pandemic the best have something in common.

Medical workers in Mexico suffer violent attacks.

Under quarantine, Latin America is seeing a surge in domestic violence.

Egypt sends medical aid to the US.

Japan's northernmost island lifted its lockdown too early, and the resulting second wave of infections has now forced it to reinstate it.

The Beijing regime claims life in China is getting back to normal.  It isn't.  And the regime's totalitarian nature has only been strengthened.

Polling shows Trump slipping in the swing states.  Even Utah may be closer than you think.

"Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

As Trump flounders, Republicans ramp up efforts to steal the election.

More links here.

[1,193 days down, 269 to go until the inauguration of a real president.]

24 April 2020

The art of righteous anger

And as for what happens to them -- "I really don't care, do U?"

"Twitler Smears the WHO" created by Nonnie9999.  Most other images found via Hackwhackers, Octoberfarm, and Making Donald Drumpf Again at various times.

22 April 2020

Video of the day -- The Liar Tweets Tonight

21 April 2020

Bringing on the second wave

We're number one!  With over forty thousand dead, the US is now the world leader in covid-19 mortality, having probably overtaken China's actual death toll, never mind the absurdly-low figures admitted by the regime there.  Some countries such as Italy and Spain have had more deaths relative to population, but at least they've managed to "flatten the curve" and bring the pandemic under some degree of control.

But haven't we?  Probably not, and there's no way to be sure.  The amount of testing being done in the US is so grossly inadequate that the official figure for total infections -- about 800,000 as of today -- is completely meaningless.  There could be millions.  There probably are.  In a few locations where social distancing has been extremely strict, the rate of deaths (somewhat easier to measure accurately) appears to be slowing, which suggests that the tough measures are working there -- but for the country as a whole, we simply don't know.

And even though the first wave of the pandemic is nowhere near being under control, a combination of mass public stupidity and Republican malevolence is already about to trigger the second.

Trump has repeatedly minimized the problem and ignored the experts to insist that precautions need to be relaxed so the economy can start growing again.  Republican state governors have followed suit by rolling back such precautions or, in some states, not implementing them in the first place.  Many churches around the country have defied closure orders and made themselves into amplifiers for the pandemic.  The spring-breakers who flooded Florida's beaches before they were closed seem to have started several outbreaks of infection in the places they went back home to.

The latest wrinkle is a series of small, astroturfed protests in the capital cities of states with strong lockdown policies.  Given the crowded conditions at these events, they'll likely lead to new infection clusters in the places these wingnuts go back home to, just as the spring-break crowds did.  And the intent is to create the illusion of a wave of mass support for relaxing precautions, even though in fact Americans overwhelmingly oppose doing so.  It's a massive slap in the face to the health-care workers whose hard work and sacrifice have managed to achieve whatever progress has been made.

At least a third of our country's population labors under the mental sway of decades of militant anti-intellectualism and science-denial emanating from fundamentalist pulpits and right-wing fake-media propaganda outlets.  With their president, their red-state governors, and their pastors all chivvying them along, they are not going to listen to Dr. Fauci or the scientific establishment.  They'll go back to church, back to the beaches, back to everything else they're so furious about having to stay home from.  It's already starting to happen.  And among those populations, the pandemic will explode.

Most other advanced nations don't suffer from this problem to anything like the same degree because, to be blunt, they have less religion, better education, and a greater deference to expertise.  I know it's contrary to the American character to be deferential to anything, and by and large this is a positive trait -- but in dealing with a biological crisis, it's just a matter of common sense to recognize that people with years of medical or scientific training and experience understand the problem better than preachers, politicians, or businessmen.

This must-read post by David Frum lays out the Republican strategy.  Their hope is that they can re-open the economy (and thus improve their chances in this year's election) while mostly limiting the resulting rise in deaths to the poorest working-class element of the population whose jobs put them at the most risk of infection -- people who don't vote Republican anyway, largely belong to minority groups, and are deemed expendable.  Those workers, after all, will be the easiest to force back to work because they have the least resources.  Limit the benefits available to the unemployed, and they'll have no choice.

It won't work.  First, if these wealthy parasites think that a bunch of janitors and meat-packers and warehouse workers aren't smart enough to figure out they're being sacrificed on the altar of the stock-market Moloch, they've got another think coming.  They will figure it out right away and there will be strikes and mass demands for safer conditions.  It's already happening at places like Amazon.  Normally, in a time of high unemployment, such workers would simply be replaced -- but that's going to be harder when the job comes with the serious risk of a horrible death by disease.

Second, it's not going to be possible to confine the rising death toll to those groups.  It's the fundie and Trumpanzee masses who genuinely refuse to recognize the reality of the covid-19 threat and refuse to take precautions against it.  They're the ones who are behaving in ways that will expose them to infection in the second wave, and will grow more emboldened to do so by the rhetoric and actions of Trump and other Republican leaders -- and the rural population skews older and less healthy than the urban.  Given the incubation period of the virus, they will spread it among themselves for some number of weeks before the resulting rise in symptomatic infections becomes visible enough to warn them of the danger -- and by then it will be too late.  Especially if they continue to resist social distancing and lockdowns out of stubbornness, covid-19 will "wash over" the deep South and rural America, while the blue cities tighten up their precautions to minimize viral spill-over from the affected regions.  The death toll could even reach into the millions as earlier worst-case scenarios projected.

Frum says that Trump's fall-back plan for this eventuality is to inflame the culture wars so as to re-direct his followers' anger toward his opponents.  I don't think that will work either.  It's true that Trump's talent for blame-shifting, and the stupidity of fundamentalists, have both tended to exceed expectations at every turn -- but the second wave in red America will simply be too devastating, and too obviously linked to the premature relaxation of precautions, for the usual bullshit to work.  Yes, the Trumpanzees have stood by their man through endless outrages, but those outrages have almost all involved inflicting pain on somebody else -- immigrant children, gays, minorities, women who need abortions -- and, if anything, they voted for him because they expected him to hurt the people they hate.  They haven't yet been through a situation where they themselves suffer mass misery and death because of his incompetence and cruelty.

And as icing on the cake, all of this will not do much to re-start the economy.  The stupid people may be a third of the population, but they don't generate anything like a third of the economic output.  The mostly-blue cities are the engines of the economy, along with the states they dominate politically.  If the west coast and the northeast, Chicago and Dallas and Atlanta and Miami, remain locked down, the national economy is not going to recover.  If anything, as Dr. Fauci recently warned, premature relaxation of precautions will delay economic recovery.  Certainly the cities will not re-open as long as the second wave of the pandemic is on the rampage outside the gates.

Natural selection still works -- on people stupid enough to let it.

19 April 2020

Link round-up for 19 April 2020

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

o o o o o

I'm leaving, on a jet plane (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

This cat is smarter than a lot of fundies, plus commemorative jewelry and bad haircuts.

Will he see his shadow?

Football, tennis, golf.....

Aidan Wolfe is on target, and you can protect your horse from the virus.

Put on a happy face.

Pandemic or no, you wouldn't go out in public in these masks.

Don't go shopping for pastries here, plus a few more oddities.

You know you'd watch it.

"That's because of the walls, Phil."

A baby kangaroo attempts his first hop.

Lady M makes chocolates for the pandemic.

A stingy visitor gets a whole town out of debt.

Check out this stunning art for Cthulhu Wars.

Here's how wingnuts measure the death toll from various disasters (found via Electoral-Vote).

There's a bird in her kitchen.

The cats are getting fed up.

People are managing to keep occupied during lockdown -- well, some are re-creating great art.  Read a diary of quarantine.

Nonnie9999 is unimpressed with her state's governor.

Cool house.

Eventually it's gonna come to this (found via Jerry Coyne).

Sixpence Notthewiser practices aquascaping.

A shut-in blogger uses telemarketers as therapy.

The quality of our nutcases is really going down -- meet an anti-Alice-in-Wonderland terrorist.

Take a virtual train ride.

This is Socotra.

Native English speakers don't realize the advantage they have.

There is no city in this picture.

The Daily Irritant entertainingly dissects an amazingly stupid idea.  I Should Be Laughing finds an amazingly stupid quote.

This guy's God didn't do jack for him.

Losers celebrate losers.

See the distribution of covid-19 cases in the US, by state and county.

Why bother following Jesus when you can just put him on a T-shirt?

Nietzsche remains the philosopher who won't go away (I wrote about his sister's role here).

"Praying away the gay" doesn't work -- you're better off ditching religion.

Locked-down cities present a sad and creepy spectacle.

Trump's taste in movies is revealing (scroll down a bit).

The Southern Baptists are losing their own younger generation, big time.

Sixty years ago, Casa Susanna served as a refuge and social space for cross-dressers (link from Nonnie9999).

Virginia has decriminalized marijuana.

Someone needs to explain to Trump that the US isn't an absolute monarchy.

Even if Jesus really existed, we know almost nothing about him, and never can.

Your bank can seize your stimulus check for certain kinds of debt (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

Blogger Oblio has a lot to say about the Mexican heritage of many Americans.

The rules at this fundamentalist college are a monument to control-freakery.

Don't buy sex toys on Amazon (these issues probably apply to a lot of other products too).

I'm glad I wasn't working for this guy.

It's a miserable and degrading existence.

Learn how Facebook tracks you and what to do about it.

One man took a stand against fake-debt bullies.

Don't diss Social Security -- you don't know what the future will bring.

Hackwhackers has some incisive coronavirus cartoons.

A simple graph predicts the wingnut reaction to "flattening the curve".

I suspect Tom Wolf will lose his next election.

We know Trump can't "re-open" the economy, but neither can the states (see my comment too).  Trump and Pence offer misleading data to support their case.


Rural America is ill-prepared for the coming of the virus.  States without lockdown orders are getting a surge in infections.

Idaho wingnuts nominate themselves for Darwin awards.  The anti-lockdown protesters in Michigan and Texas are basically lunatics.  And you know who else was probably there.

I'm not sure how much good online petitions do, but here's one to save the Postal Service.  It is worth saving.

We can't afford Christian privilege in the time of covid-19.

The pandemic is having some unexpected effects.  It may eventually break down the business world's stodgy resistance to large-scale telecommuting.

A member of Tony Spell's church has died, almost certainly as a direct result of his defiance of social distancing.

More than 60 congresspeople call for a global ban on "wet markets" -- but the Western meat industry poses a threat as wellMore here from a somewhat surprising source.

Trump and his toadies go into action against the virus the media.

This is not freedom.

Amazon is still being terrible.  Some employees have had enough.

Here's how to make a CDC-approved mask.

The US covid-19 death toll is probably far higher than the official figures.  If not for Trump's incompetence, it would have been far lower.

Green Eagle reads the wingnut internet so you don't have to.

Illinois buys medical equipment in secret so Trump won't steal it.

Social distancing is working -- barely -- but there's a long road ahead.  We may be stuck with it for two years.

Liberty University students are suing Falwell for exposing them to covid-19.

Hospitals are now piling dead bodies in any available space (found via Crooks and Liars).

Evangelical help comes with strings attached.

The governor of Arkansas is resisting issuing a stay-at-home order.  The experience of South Dakota suggests that's unwise.

"We're constantly underestimating the centrality of Christian nationalism to Trump's presidency."

Covid-19 survivors often suffer from delirium.

Remdesivir looks hopeful as a treatment, but hydroxychloroquine has some worrying side effects, and one study has concluded it's not effective against covid-19More on remdesivir here.

Israeli technology shows the way to cope with water shortages.

An experimental process to exterminate disease-bearing mosquitoes looks promising.

British researchers use chemistry to rejuvenate senescent cells -- in hours.

No, science does not depend on "faith" the way religion does.

As Trump cuts off US funding of the WHO, other countries rally to support it.

At a British women's prison where men were among the inmates, even female prison officers were raped.

Cardinal Pell isn't off the hook yet.

Here's more on the Evangelical worship-fest in Mulhouse that spread covid-19 across France and beyond.

49% of Italians now support leaving the EU, up 20 points from a year and a half ago.

A Swiss artist projects global solidarity against the virus.

The birthplace of democracy is beating covid-19 so far.

A mysterious accident in Russia suggests that the Cold War arms race is back on.

India is seeing a wave of organized, violent religious vigilanteism.

Social distancing is a real problem for sex workers.

The pandemic is starting to overwhelm Japan.

China is a little behind the times.

The Chinese regime is censoring scientific research on the origin of the new coronavirus.

Republicans will double down on vote suppression.

Karofsky won quite a few counties outside the blue cities.  Republican election sabotage has led to a predictable uptick in infections in Wisconsin.

Biden and the Democrats need to get better at using the internet.

Stand with Bernie.

More than 70% of Americans in battleground states now support voting by mail.  Honor the brave voters of Wisconsin by protecting democracy.

The Republicans have become a religio-death cult.

It's either Biden or more of this.

[Image at top found via Hackwhackers.]

18 April 2020

Video of the day -- batshit crazy

I've already explained why we shouldn't use terms like "Chinese virus" or "Wuhan virus".  But aside from that issue, Maher makes some points here that are worth listening to with an open mind.  And yes, there will be a "next one", and it may well be even worse.

16 April 2020

The land of my ancestors

I've sometimes used that phrase to refer to Britain because both of my parents were immigrants from England, and we traveled back there several times when I was a child.  Despite being born in the US, I grew up in a somewhat culturally-mixed household -- tea instead of coffee, more British TV than American, and suchlike -- I even still have a trace of the accent.  So I have a stronger sense of connection than is probably the case for most Americans whose ancestors came from another country several generations ago.

There's another reason, though -- a consciousness of the tremendous depth of time during which my ancestors lived there.

According to the long-accepted traditional version of British history, during the fifth century (after the withdrawal of Roman rule), the part of the island of Britain which is now called "England" was invaded by Germanic tribes, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, who pushed out or killed off the Celtic population which had been living there during Roman times and before.  These invaders were the ancestors of the modern English people.  According to this version of things, the English have been living on the territory of England for about 1,500 years -- a length of tenure far greater than what most of today's US population can claim.  An American who can trace his ancestry to the Pilgrim settlers of 400 years ago is felt to have primordial roots in this country; but almost any Englishman could say that most of his family has lived in England for nearly four times that long.

It turns out there's more to it than that, though.  That traditional version of British history is wrong.

Recently a research team from Oxford University carried out a genetic survey of the British Isles, taking DNA samples from 10,000 volunteers across England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.  For the latter three countries, the results were as expected -- their modern populations are mostly descended from the original people who migrated there around 12,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age.  But in the case of England, the results didn't fit the accepted story of Germanic invaders displacing the natives during the post-Roman chaos.  The DNA of England looks pretty much like the DNA of the rest of the British Isles.  Genetic markers typical of northern Germany (and of Scandinavia) are found in some areas of the eastern half of England, but their limited distribution suggests that even in those areas, the Germanic invaders contributed no more than 10% to 20% of the gene pool of the present population.

The invasion certainly happened, accompanied by considerable brutality, as chroniclers of the time attest.  But there weren't enough Germanic invaders to displace the existing population.  They settled among that population as a ruling minority, and over time their language displaced the existing Celtic languages.  This would explain some of the differences between English grammar and the grammar of most other Germanic languages, differences which in some cases actually reflect the influence of Celtic grammatical features -- a mostly-illiterate population absorbing a new language from similarly-illiterate conquerors tends to learn it imperfectly, and to carry over features of their original language into the way they speak the new one.

DNA doesn't lie.  The English people of today are mostly descended from the population which has been living on that land for twelve thousand years, just as the people of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland are.

(In 1903 a 9,000-year-old skeleton was found in a cave in Somerset county in southern England.  Recently, DNA extracted from the skeleton was compared with that of modern residents of a village less than a mile away, identifying one person -- a schoolteacher -- as almost certainly a direct descendant of the ancient man whose skeleton it had been.)

This imparts a terrible irony to the vicious and sometimes murderous racism which the English have displayed toward the Welsh, Scots, and Irish during some periods of history, with nineteenth-century pedants even declaring those Celtic peoples to be inferior races who ought not to be allowed to intermarry with the English.  They were from the same ancestral stock all along.

But to return to my original point, most of my own ancestors have been living in what is now England for 12,000 years, probably largely in the same localities that my parents' families live in.  That's about as long as the ancestors of American Indians have been living in the Americas.

For anyone interested in the subject, the Oxford genetic survey and its results are described in detail in the book Saxons, Vikings, and Celts by Bryan Sykes.  On the peculiarities of the English language and the Celtic origin of some of those features, read Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John McWhorter.

14 April 2020

Quote for the day -- a fettering of the free intelligence

"We want to stand upon our own feet and look fair and square at the world — its good facts, its bad facts, its beauties, and its ugliness; see the world as it is and be not afraid of it.  Conquer the world by intelligence and not merely by being slavishly subdued by the terror that comes from it.  The whole conception of God is a conception derived from the ancient Oriental despotisms.  It is a conception quite unworthy of free men.  When you hear people in church debasing themselves and saying that they are miserable sinners, and all the rest of it, it seems contemptible and not worthy of self-respecting human beings.  We ought to stand up and look the world frankly in the face. We ought to make the best we can of the world, and if it is not so good as we wish, after all it will still be better than what these others have made of it in all these ages.  A good world needs knowledge, kindliness, and courage; it does not need a regretful hankering after the past or a fettering of the free intelligence by the words uttered long ago by ignorant men.  It needs a fearless outlook and a free intelligence.  It needs hope for the future, not looking back all the time toward a past that is dead, which we trust will be far surpassed by the future that our intelligence can create."

-- Bertrand Russell (found here)

12 April 2020

Link round-up for 12 April 2020

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

o o o o o

Have a few religion cartoons, and a few cats.

Debra She Who Seeks goes to the grocery store.

Grow a new cash crop, how to bribe a police officer, and other tips.

Here are some song jokes, plus Trump as captain of the Titanic.

Locked-down Australians dress up to take out the trash.

Easter is canceled in Germany, but they still have snark.

Even covid-19 has its lighter sideMore here.  And here.

Everybody is working from home now.

Nice and peaceful.

Easter eggs?  These are Easter eggs.

Violating quarantine is a mistake.

It's a different kind of treehouse.

When you make a mask, make it with style.

Home and garden.

Why waste a band-aid?  I just use a small square of cardboard and some tape.

Ole Phat Stu has some unusual clocks.

Halloween 100 years ago was a bit different.

Tim Klein creates bizarre art from jigsaw puzzles (link from Nonnie9999).

Some movie posters kind of miss the point.

Here's why Namibia is shaped like that.

Do your online shopping intelligently.

It's a versatile article of clothing.

It's hard to imagine these magnificent places devoid of visitors.

Plans are under way for a Frankenstein museum (found via Mendip).

Editors saved Star Wars.

Don't push people too far.

From the air, a city under lockdown looks eerily almost deserted (this is Johannesburg).

Turns out that nobody really misses John Galt.

Why bother "fighting, warring, struggling and scheming" to get what you want, when all you need to do is ask?

Read a survivor's memories of Christian homeschooling.

The end of the world is near, just as it has been for 2,000 years.

"It is the theodicy of a sadist."

A well-known quote from Ursula K LeGuin needs to be put in context.

Chelsea Clinton pwns Jared Kushner.

"How do you get from here to the rest of the world?"

Some sports organizations are waking up to the unfairness of allowing males to compete in female events.

Here are some worthy groups to donate to.

A covid-19 vaccine hasn't even been developed yet and already the religious nuts are thinking up objections to it.

The winner of the Wisconsin primary thanks his campaign team (found via Hackwhackers).

Pornhub helps, fundies bitch.

We could have had a real president.

Mississippi's governor celebrates racism.

Stopping food intake and mumbling to yourself won't solve anything.  Viruses aren't afraid of swords and old bits of wood, either.

A protest gets some new supporters (found via Hackwhackers).

Stupidity has consequences.

The Devil is in the Church.

Some try to help.

History tends to repeat itself.

Totally contained, this is fine (found via Hackwhackers).

Volunteers answer a hospital's plea for the protective equipment the government won't supply.

This nutcase wants a global Catholic theocracy -- and he's a Harvard law professor.

Here's why covid-19 is more dangerous to diabetics.

Read this memo from a grocery-store manager.

Wonder why some Instacart shoppers are on strike?  Maybe it's because of shit like this.

The Rude Pundit seems rather unimpressed with Jared Kushner.

Senate Democrats propose hazard pay for essential workers (as I suggested here).

Trump and his cronies can't address the pandemic because they lack basic humanity.

A doctor reports from the front lines of the pandemic.  Here's one of the many heroes we've lost.

Is this a rational system?

Tony Spell, rapidly emerging as the "poster pastor" of Evangelical refusal to abide by social distancing, says "true Christians" see death as a "welcome friend".

Trump's self-interest is at odds with public health.

Some banks stand to make a ghoulish profit off the pandemic.

The US death toll is probably much higher than official figures indicate.

There are now mass graves in New York city.

"The Trump administration's incompetence is so staggering, so jaw-dropping, it would have been rejected as implausible in fiction not long ago."

It's not just Republicans' incompetence that will kill people, it's their determination to keep the churches packed and the gun shops open.  Kansas Republicans have overturned the governor's order limiting church gatherings.

"This is Trump's fault" -- David Frum chronicles the failures and bullshit.

Some of the plans for "re-opening the economy" sound scarier than the pandemic.  Relaxing the lockdowns too soon would actually wreck the economy even more.  We need large-scale testing first, but Trump is cutting federal funding for that.

The pandemic has exposed conservative ideology as a delusion (found via Michael in Norfolk).  Government should not be run by people who don't believe in government.

The PPE shortage has consequences -- over 700 healthcare workers have tested positive for the coronavirus in just one Detroit hospital system.  Hospitals throughout the country are beset by crippling supply problems.

With the federal government AWOL, state governors must lead -- and most of the Republican ones are too scared of Trump.

There has been a "horrifying surge" in domestic violence under lockdown conditions (as fellow blogger RO anticipated two weeks ago).

The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses of the US economy and of the trans-national world order -- and the dangers of dependence on fascist China.

Some people who recover from covid-19 are left with permanent lung damage.

Here's an overview of the drugs currently being studied as possible treatments for covid-19.

Our technology is now good enough to measure the wind speed on a world two hundred trillion miles away.

This tiny creature may have been the ancestor of almost all modern animals (found via Notes to Ponder).

Any relaxation of the present precautions will lead to a resurgence of the pandemic.

Here's what Europe's busiest shopping street looks like now.

Several of the doctors who died fighting covid-19 in Italy were Arab immigrants.

Spanish police have no patience with virus-spreading church gatherings.

Malta has seized almost €30 million from the Vatican's bank after the latter tried to weasel out of a deal.

Near-deserted cities and roads in Israel dramatize the impact of the lockdown.

The ultra-religious Haredim are 10% of Israel's population but have over 50% of the covid-19 cases, due to their leaders' initial disregard of the government's public-health orders (found via Earth-Bound Misfit).

"It’s a divine punishment against homosexuality."

Lift the sanctions on Iran so it can fight the pandemic -- also, cartoons celebrate the heroes of the struggle.

Covid-19 hasn't hit Russia hard yet -- but it will, for reasons that suggest Putin isn't as smart an operator as we tend to think.

India uses light to express defiance of the virus.  The country is perhaps two weeks away from the kind of disaster now engulfing the US.

Japan is pulling production back home out of China.  When will we wise up?

Last week I noted that Japan wasn't acting fast to forestall the spread of covid-19; now it's facing the consequences.

Even South Korea faces a second wave of the virus.

The pandemic reveals the stupidity of excluding Taiwan from international organizations.

As the virus's second wave takes off in China, Africans residing in the country face hostility (the regime is attributing the new wave of infections to people entering China from outside).

There's a little good news from South Africa.  The country is seeing a slow-down in infections, but it may not last.

If we vote Trump out, we get rid of all these turkeys as well (found via Octoberfarm).

Don't get complacent because of Biden's lead in national polls -- the swing states are a lot closer.  But Trump may be sabotaging himself in Michigan and Florida.

Americans want a public option, not single-payer.

Remember how much is at stake.

Worst president ever.

Here are some of the dirty tricks Republicans will use.

The path to control of the Senate runs through Georgia.

Spread these ads around.

[1,179 days down, 283 to go until the inauguration of a real president.]