31 October 2020

Videos of the day -- for Halloween

Performed by Broken Peach from Spain.

A brief history of the holiday:

I also posted here about the origins of Halloween -- the traditions trace back to several parts of the British Isles.

Finally, one must acknowledge that some people don't approve of Halloween:

(found via Ami)

30 October 2020

Videos of the day -- reading the political tea leaves

First up, a close look at Texas:

This may or may not be the year Texas finally flips, but it is getting there.  Certainly the early-voting figures suggest that the final voter turnout for the state will be sharply higher than usual.

Next, Trevor Noah looks at Democrats' responses to the confirmation of Coathanger Coney:

Forget about assembling a "commission" of dodderers to mumble and ruminate for six months.  If we flood our new House and Senate majorities with calls and letters and drive them to pass legislation expanding the Supreme Court, Biden will not refuse to sign it.

Finally, the Lincoln Project has a warning for Trump:

Five more days to vote.

29 October 2020

[Coat]hanging judge

The confirmation of Coathanger Coney to the Supreme Court by Moscow Mitch and his gang was so predictable that saying the Sun will rise in the east seems like a mere wild guess by comparison.  There was nothing the Democrats could have done to stop it.  Republicans remain almost totally unified in their subservience to Trump and McConnell and in their mania to cram the courts with as many wingnuts as possible while the cramming's good -- and no matter how you slice it, 47 votes is fewer than 53.

Since this could not be prevented, it must be undone.  Electoral-Vote suggests a range of options, of which enlarging the Supreme Court is the most-discussed recently and offers the most clear-cut remedy.  Vox and Crooks and Liars make the case.  Democracy itself is at stake.  Republicans will screech that we're "politicizing" the Court, but they themselves have already politicized it beyond repair.  The option of a non-political Supreme Court doesn't exist any more.  The Republicans have taken it off the table, probably forever.  And now they demand that we pretend to not notice they've done that.

If the Court is left as Trump and McConnell have re-made it, then the Republicans -- even after being massively repudiated by the voters -- will be left holding a power base from which they can block all efforts at reform and at repairing the massive damage the last four years have inflicted on the country.  Not only abortion rights and gay marriage but also medicare expansion, economic stimulus, any serious covid-19 response, DC and Puerto Rico statehood, action on climate change, separation of church and state, legislation to end gerrymandering and vote suppression -- all could be doomed at the whim of a Court majority put in place specifically to entrench minority rule and roll back progress.

It would be inexcusable for Democrats to allow this once they gain the power to stop it.  And that's why we, the majority of American voters, will still have work to do after the election.  To enlarge the Court, the House and Senate will need to pass legislation and Biden will need to sign it.  We all know some lawmakers will balk at what they see as radical action.  They will need to hear from us, vociferously and in great numbers, to encourage them to do their duty.  A theme to emphasize:  Don't worry about upsetting your Republican "colleagues".  Worry about upsetting us, your voters, the people who put you where you are and expect you to get this done.

(The same goes for abolishing the filibuster, which is necessary to avoid leaving the Republicans another base from which to block reform, including Court enlargement.)

But before we can tell Democratic legislators how to use their new power, we need to ensure that they get that power in the first place.  We've got six days left to do that.  We need to elect Biden by the largest Electoral and popular-vote landslide possible, to place the result beyond the reach of any Republican shenanigans, and we need to bring in the largest possible Democratic Senate majority, so that things can still get done even if one or two members balk.

Democracy or theocracy, individual freedom or life constrained by ancient religious taboos codified into law -- it's up to us to decide.

27 October 2020

Halloween is coming

Just four days until the big day.....

25 October 2020

Collection des liens pour le 25 octobre 2020

Various interesting stuff I ran across on the net over the last week.  The title today is in French as a small gesture of solidarity.

o o o o o

Even with covid-19, we can have a few laughs.

He's got fish and tape and he's not afraid to use them.

Read the gripping saga of the girl who cleaned the bathroom.

Which one refused the mailman?

See the dog that ate the lemon, and more.

Debra She Who Seeks shops for Halloween decorations, and there are plenty for sale.  You can even decorate your car antenna.  But the French may be a little too enthusiastic.

The people of Manitou Springs CO love their skeletonsMore here, and some golden oldies.

You know it's Halloween when even the cats are performing Satanic ritualsMore unholy manifestations here.  In fact, there's an entire coven.

RO is back with some money-making tips, weight loss, and potatoes.

Do not try to deprive this English village of its dalek (found via Miss Cellania).

Huge collection of random images here.

Put your pants on.

A naked Finnish man explains gin and whiskey.

Have some new words for pandemic times.

This person exists.

No destiny is foretold.  And you are more than what they tell you to be.

Raistlin0903 offers up some unusual musical choices.

Beware, beware of the homosexual menace.

If you have noisy neighbors, check this out (I don't personally know whether it works or not).

The Nasir al-Mulk mosque in Shiraz is a masterpiece of Iranian architecture.

See stunning and colorful Mexican pageant costumes (found via Miss Cellania).

What an astonishing thing a book is.

Trump calls his lawyer, and.....

Another grand libertarian project implodes entertainingly.

Some of those "cute" animal pictures reveal abusive treatment.

Giuliani represents a tradition of inappropriate dong behaviorDon't fall for his baloney.

Time to go.  Stinque blog reviews possible retirement destinations for Trump (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

Fundies expose the insidious lesbian Oreo agenda.

It was an easy job for Satan (found via Silverapplequeen).

If Trump wants to play Superman, here are a few suggestions (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

Planned Parenthood saves lives.

Listen to Stephen King, and the rest.

Five states are voting on marijuana legalization, and chances look good.

Be hygienic.

Deep down, Trump is shallow.  He epitomizes defective masculinity.

You cannot claim to support women's rights if you deny them the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies.

The Lincoln Project responds to petulant Jared and Ivanka.

The lessons of the Kitty Genovese case aren't what you think.

The more you know.....

After the election, Democrats will face a fundamental choice.  And we'll need to kill the filibuster because the Republicans will be even crazier.

If there is a divine plan, it's a nasty one.

Moscow Mitch has written off Trump and is already plotting against Biden.

GAWD hates FAY-yugs, no matter what the Pope says.

Learn the five traits that make a Trumpanzee.

You have been brainwashed.  People don't just "slip into poverty".

Lack of sexual attraction is not an indicator of bigotry.

QAnon is a revival of anti-Semitic blood libels and the Satanic panic.  They claim to care about kids, but not these.

It is insane to treat this kind of thing as normal.

The problem with the "punch Nazis" mentality is that the definition of "Nazi" too easily expands to include anyone whose opinions you find obnoxious, until you're effectively saying you can go around using violence on any category of people you don't like.  Which is pretty much what Nazis say.

The Hunter Biden laptop story is utterly ludicrous, but the enemy's "news" sites are taking it seriously -- disgustingly so.  Even Trump is desperate enough to endorse the smears.

Beware "the encroachment of the unsayable".

A business will fire you rather than risk the wrath of ideology-deranged mobs.  More details here.

What can we do to improve morale?

See how red states rose to the top of the covid-19 league (found via a comment at Professor Taboo).  The virus is now out of control in 70% of rural counties.  Competent leadership and a less-stupid population could have saved 130,000 to 210,000 of the dead.

Twitter covers the final debate.

For an American military college, this is a disgrace.

Trumpanzees just get worse and worse.

Ammon Bundy is building a religio-militia to defend the spread of covid-19.

Republicans are going all-in on the QAnon qrackpottery.  Even if some leaders want to reform the party after Trump, the base won't let them.

Without government action, the US will suffer a huge wave of apartment evictions just as the pandemic is flaring up again.

There's a fast, reliable, cheap, and unobtrusive way of testing for covid-19, but hardly anybody is using it.

Here's another view on GMO seed patenting.

The Catholic Church in Ireland succeeds in hiding evidence of some of its crimes for another thirty years.

It's time for Germany to stand up to fascist China's bullying over Taiwan.

Reminder:  Shower Cap has a comprehensive guide to House and Senate races.  He also has a few words for Giuliani.

Watch out for voting misinformation.

Trump "poses the greatest threat to American democracy since World War II."

There are good guys in Iowa and even North Dakota.

Trump plots revenge against fellow Republicans who aren't toadyish enough.  I am totally cool with this.  Let them put as much as possible of their post-defeat rage energy into fighting each other instead of us.

More links here.

24 October 2020

A warrior for truth and sanity

I just learned of the death this week of James Randi.  A stage magician by trade, he became internationally known for his decades of tireless work to debunk psychic powers, faith healers, "ancient astronauts", superstition, and supernatural claims and scams of every kind.  The world will be a duller and less rational place without him.  He was 92.

His books on these matters, including the "powers" of Yuri Geller in which I had actually half believed for a time, played a role in forming my own convictions on the importance of confronting and exposing such popular nonsense -- especially medical quacks and faith healers who do immense harm by luring sick people away from real medical treatment which could actually help them.  Most vile of all, and another perennial target of Randi's, are the cynical con artists who claim to be able to speak with the dead, and pocket hefty sums from grieving families in exchange for the phony "service".

He went into painstaking detail to explain exactly why such drivel didn't hold up in the real world, especially in cases where psychics and similar scammers claimed "scientific" vindication for their alleged powers -- which fell apart pathetically under his no-nonsense dissection.

Religion wasn't Randi's main focus, but this video is a favorite of mine:

23 October 2020

Video of the day -- being nuts is relevant

If a Supreme Court nominee's religion is likely to influence how he or she would decide issues that affect our rights and freedom, then it's a relevant consideration.  The same goes for any person being considered for a position that holds power, such as candidates running for office.

22 October 2020

A murder in Paris

Last Friday Samuel Paty, a French middle-school teacher, was murdered in a suburb of Paris.  He is the latest victim of religious bigotry and hate and of the fanatics' determination to impose their ridiculous and barbaric taboos on entire societies.

A few days earlier, Paty had been teaching a regular class on freedom of expression as part of the standard French school curriculum.  As part of the class he showed his students two of the now-famous Muhammad cartoons which were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005 and reprinted in Charlie Hebdo in 2015, leading to murderous violence by Islamist thugs in both cases.  The Muslim father of one student complained to the school and on Facebook.  A local mosque posted a video on the internet containing threats against Paty.  Finally, last Friday, a Muslim fanatic murdered him outside the gates of the school and sawed his head off with a knife.

If there is any positive side to this sickening story, it's the vigor with which French society and the French leadership have responded, upholding the values of free expression and secularism.  Thousands turned out at rallies in cities across the country in honor of Paty and in defiance of the Islamists.  President Macron posthumously awarded Paty the Légion d'honneur, describing him as "the face of the Republic" and those involved in his murder as "cowards" and "barbarians".  The government has closed down the mosque which posted threats against Paty, and has arrested about a dozen people, including students who identified him to the murderer (the murderer himself was shot and killed by police minutes after he killed Paty).

Most Muslims in Europe are assimilating into mainstream European culture and becoming more secular, but there remains a minority of true believers who are Europe's nearest equivalent of the bigoted, dominionist fundamentalist Christians of the US.  Their numbers in Europe are too small to hope for political power, but they are more willing to resort to violence to terrorize people who don't kowtow to their taboos.  And don't forget that the same mentality holds sway, to varying degrees, over the vast belt of territory from Pakistan to Morocco, using force and fear to impose medieval rules and restrictions on hundreds of millions of people, growing numbers of whom are themselves secular and even non-religious but know all too well how dangerous it is to speak or act in ways that the devout bigots and thugs might disapprove.

This is war.  Freedom of expression, an essential part of democracy and the free way of life, is under threat, and all of us must be ready to stand up for it as the French are doing, without any "but, however, on the other hand" or any compromise with the apologists for murder and terror.  Anyone who uses violence to suppress a dissenting opinion is evil, and anyone who tries to justify or legitimize doing so is evil.  And that's all they are.

20 October 2020

Two more weeks

No, not two more weeks until the election.  The election has been under way since early voting began.  It's two more weeks until the end of the election -- so make sure your voice is heard, if you haven't already.

I've already voted -- dropped off my ballot at the official drop box on Sunday morning.  Others, I know, live in states where voting is made more difficult.  But the very fact that the Republicans are fighting tooth and nail all over the country to discourage people from voting shows how important and effective it is.

People understand this.  Early voting turnout has been massive in state after state, most recently Texas.

We can do this.  We are doing it.

Yes, even if we win, we'll need to keep up the pressure on those we elect -- to abolish the filibuster, enlarge the Supreme Court, make DC and Puerto Rico states, enact federal prohibition of gerrymandering and vote suppression, and many other things.  But only if we make Biden president and get the biggest possible Senate and House majorities will there be any chance at all of getting those things done.

Make it happen!