31 January 2021

Link round-up for 31 January 2021

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

o o o o o

If you use a cornbread pan to make brownies, nobody will eat them.

A computer program can help find your cat.

Debra She Who Seeks does Scotland -- and the goddess Lakshmi.

Good work-from home tip.

Snow, snow, snow.....

You're not worth it.

Interspecies soccer game of the day (found via Crooks and Liars).

Put on a happy face.

Here's how the Dutch view other languages, apparently (found via Miss Cellania).

When you verb, are you etymologying correctly?

This cheap and simple device can enhance home security.

All bark, no bite.

Vibrators have their uses (found via A Tale Untold).

The time has come to weigh our penguins.

Tie your load securely in place.

Turn left at the dongsign.

Some nice tree photos here (click for bigger).

Margaret Atwood explains why the siren song always works.

Elephants can't jump, but they can handle sharp drops.

View the diatom art of Osamu Oku.

A Catholic priest is trying to exorcise Biden's election victory, which was apparently demonic.

And she just created a new "dumb blonde" joke (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Here's a pretty good standard response to dumbass comments.

If Trump starts a new party, what should it be called?

Wise words indeed.

Religion and counseling don't mix.

Here's how to photograph a snowflake -- apparently they're not really symmetrical.

Cas d'intérêt recounts the gripping finale of the Vendée Globe.

Annie Asks You investigates Jon Swift, the primordial blogger behind Vagabond Scholar's annual memorial blog-post round-up.

Eat the shoe, dammit, eat the shoe!

Why do novels rarely mention social media?

Counterweight is a new site promoting real liberalism as opposed to "woke" thought-policing.  More information here.

Some lose, others gain.

We're gonna be seeing a lot more articles like this.

At the doctor, be an empowered patient.

Marjorie Taylor Greene is the new face of the Republican party.  She once claimed that the 2018 California fires were caused by a giant orbiting laser (this is obviously absurd since if space lasers were doing things like that, the alien Satanic lizard people would put a stop to it).

Bruce Gerencser remembers the first time he met a gay person.

There's not much point in an English department that doesn't teach English literature.

Trump and the Republican party are now one and the same.  I endorse Tengrain's suggestion "the Coup Klux Klan" as the party's new name.  Yet another non-Trumpy member is censured.

It's easy to see that the Bible is a work of fiction.

Some "conservatives" are now openly nostalgic for a dictator (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

"As elected terrorists / Circumvent metal detectors, / Yowling threats....."

Don't let the internet become a place where survival depends on being bland.

What should be grounds for losing your job?

Don't listen to Bart Ehrman, you might, uh, actually learn some stuff.

My state's Republican party goes full wingnut.

What a deeply dedicated idiot (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Some parts of Mississippi haven't even gotten past Prohibition.

Here's what the wingnut movers and shakers have been up to this week, and here's what the wingnutosphere's "news" sites have been "reporting".  More insanity here.

Do something -- run for office.

The Lovejoy Surgicenter, a prominent Portland abortion clinic, has closed its doors (Lovejoy is where I was a clinic defense volunteer many years ago).  It will re-open in March at a new location.

Think times are hard now?  Mary K finds a relic from a time of real privation.

Biden and Democrats are ready to bypass Republican obstruction, rather than repeat the errors of Obama's first term.

Here's one kind of "fundamentalism" I'm proud to embrace.

Police forces are finally getting serious about rooting out right-wing extremism.

The biggest cemetery in the US is now freezing bodies because it can't keep up with all the covid-19 deaths.

The "stupid one-third" is trying to sabotage the vaccination effort.

"Why would anyone have any reservations about this form of activism?"  Also read comment #7 for an interesting point about domestic violence.

Biden has started a commission on court reform.  Let's hope this leads to some real action and not just talk.

Debate ideas, not identities.

There is no obligation to forgive abusers.

Republicans suffer from deficit attention disorder.

Jerry Coyne describes the experience of getting the covid-19 vaccine.

"A pseudo-official name for a type of fantasy."

Vagabond Scholar remembers Auschwitz and looks at latter-day Nazis.  A lot of people knew at the time.  This defiant gift survived.

Covid-19 denialists are harassing health-care workers in the UK.

London cracks down on a religious threat to public health.

This is not healthcare.

A remote French village receives a reward for its brave history (found via Butterflies and Wheels).

Russian intelligence has been cultivating Trump as an asset for forty years.

If you think American fake news is bad, check this out.

China's fascist regime is testing Biden by bullying Taiwan.

Uyghurs in exile struggle to help their wretchedly brutalized homeland.

People are fleeing Hong Kong while they still can.

Most complicated solar system ever -- six suns and the Devil knows how many planets.

Here's an easy way to cut your risk of stroke, diabetes, and heart disease.

"But, as always, it is science that is delivering the goods whilst religions stand by heckling from the side-lines....."

The 1977 "Wow!" signal might have been power leakage from a beamed-energy propulsion system.

More links here.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted a poetic mingling of the personal and historical, a redneck close encounter, and observations on the end of the "Republican civil war".

[Image at top by Johnnyprofane1]

29 January 2021

The "Republican civil war" is already over

Many of us hoped that, especially in the wake of the January 6 lynch-mob attack on the Capitol, the Republicans would be crippled by a split between fervent Trumpanzees and those seeking to drag the party back to sanity and the real world.  I was a little skeptical of this, given that the latter group just didn't seem large enough to make a serious bid for control of the party, but the vigor we'd seen from groups like the Lincoln Project and the post-January-6 openness of major figures like Lynne Cheney and Moscow Mitch to a second Trumpeachment offered some basis for hope.

Well, forget it.  The "Republican civil war" is already pretty much over.  The winning side is just mopping up the last few pockets of resistance.

Wyoming is in an uproar against Cheney, who seems likely to face a serious primary challenge in 2022.  The Arizona Republican party has censured three prominent members who dared cross Trump, including the sitting governor of the state.  Other state parties are embracing QAnon qrackpottery and conspiratardia.  Fox News is purging staffers who aren't Trumpy enough.  A mainstream conservative group is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Josh Hawley, the flagship wingnut of the new insane Republicanism (after Trump himself).  The Republican rank-and-file is erupting in fury against party "leaders" who didn't do enough to help Trump overturn the election, and those leaders have gotten the message.  Some who criticized Trump are now reversing themselves, or announcing that they won't seek re-election.  It's becoming clear that the party establishment won't do anything about the deranged Marjorie Taylor Greene.  In the recent vote on the constitutionality of Trumpeachment engineered by Rand Paul, 45 of 50 Republican senators -- including McConnell -- voted against moving forward, strongly suggesting they'll vote against conviction too.

(It's now obvious that this impeachment is as big a waste of time as the first one.  Best to get it over with as quickly as possible so that Congress can return to its actual work -- of which there is certainly plenty to do.  Conventional prosecution for his financial crimes, and perhaps for sedition, has a very good chance of putting Trump behind bars for a lot more than just the next four years.)

So there will be no split on the right.  Trump won't establish a new wingnut party to rival the Republican party -- there's no need, when his followers are taking over the latter intact.  Trump is not dividing the Republicans, he's uniting them.  Leaders who challenge him are being driven out, marginalized, or scared into submission.  Even if Trump goes to prison, the dominance of lunacy -- QAnon, the "sovereign citizen" movement, and whatever other madness they come up with next -- is so entrenched that it will continue without him.  He might even become a more potent rallying figure as a martyr than as an active, blundering politician.  Hawley could step in as his avatar and prophet, carrying on the messiah's work.

We may still gain something from the Republicans' descent into madness.  There's some evidence of substantial party-switching in some states, as centrist voters who joined for the tax cuts and law-and-order decide they can't stomach all the sedition and conspiratardia.  Large majorities support Biden's most visible policy changes.  If even two or three percent of Republican voters abandon the party, that could make a difference in close states or districts.  If even one moderate Republican senator switches parties, it would increase the margin of error for passing urgent reforms.

But we need to stop thinking of the Republicans as divided in any meaningful way.  That's already over.  The party has chosen its path, and it's the path of Trump.

28 January 2021

Video of the day -- uh oh, it's those aliens.....

I think they're not friendly.  Or maybe a little too friendly.

26 January 2021

Meditation #11 -- spirit of the West

Close by the shore stands the city of lore,
Where the man of the ashes dreams;
Where music and art rise to nourish the soul,
Yet nothing is quite what it seems.
His journey, his vision, here shocked me awake
At the dawn of my newest life,
As the idol of old rose anew crowned with gold,
Coaxed him up from a world sunk in strife.

His dreams became mine, as remembered design
Made my marveling brain its new home;
I built Babylon, Egypt, the Persian domain,
And sowed glory in Greece and in Rome.
From the Indus to Gaul I lived free and lived true,
Countless lifetimes of wisdom and lust;
And I relished each sin that my treasures could win
In the empire of Aaron the Just.

But his dreams and my mind soon fell poisoned and blind,
As the crescent and cross rose to rule;
My libraries burned, and soon I did as well,
As new faith turned men zealous and cruel.
And the dreams became nightmares and I went astray,
And my homeland was sundered in two;
Through my warm central sea, by fanatic decree,
Battle-lines between brothers they drew.

Yet the ash-man's despair, as he dreamed in his chair,
Slowly yielded to visions of joy,
As his tale unending showed me and the world
Light anew that no priest could destroy.
Fantastic brave beauty, drawn dagger in hand,
Stern avenger with steel and stone;
While a song from the cold called the youth to be bold,
And proclaimed, you do not walk alone.

Though a thousand dawns break, he can never awake;
For his sacrifice, vengeance is mine.
He was wronged, as was I, and no mercy I'll show,
Trampling crescent and cross in the slime.
The vision he followed will reign in his name
In the new world whose triumph now gleams,
And which bows every knee to the place by the sea
Where the man of the ashes dreams.

24 January 2021

Link round-up for 24 January 2021

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

o o o o o

Beware of exploding vagina candles.

How do people stay in the house all day?

I don't think this is how a beer garden works.

It's just a normal morning commute in Mongolia.

Stay one tiger apart.

Where are you from?

Confucius did not say.....

Best octopus ever.

Worst marsupial ever.


Lady M observes a delayed Creepmas.

Learn to stop worrying what other people think of you.

Covid-19 left this patient severely brain-damaged.

Apparently there's a new translation of the Bible.

What's the story with God and abortion?

Put Trump behind you!

Smiles are weird.

Modern problems require ancient solutions.

Whose side would Captain America be on?

Fresh food is best.

Guess what was in Trump's letter to Biden.

There's a pandemic of packaging.

They're all corrupt (found via Yellowdog Granny).

In this hopeful time, be open to optimism.

The "Biosphere 2" fiasco was a lot weirder than you think.

Trump's presidency ended with a shabby little act of pettiness.

What kind of non-believer are you?

On inauguration day, New York's state capitol was besieged by a massive crowd of one Trump supporter.

Blogger Annie heard, rather than saw, the inauguration.

Republicans call for unity.

QAnon qrackpots endure the stark horror of a peaceful transition of power.  All part of the plan.  But what's next?

The media stink, but there's some good news about Alex Jones.

Prison abolition is a dangerous concept.

Trump tried to sell oil-drilling rights in Alaska, but almost no one wanted to buy.  I guess even oil companies know fossil fuels are on the way out.

Academia should be about free inquiry, not ideological conformity.

Bullies and liars back down when firmly confronted.  One must call a lie a lie.

Some interesting discussion here on Jesus and insurrection.

What is eugenics?

Too many young people embrace a frighteningly authoritarian mentality.

Wingnuts bewail the impending reversal of the "progress" achieved under Trump.

Florida's Republican regime is massively bungling covid-19 vaccinations.

Yes, sometimes a wall is a good idea.

We've known the extent of the menace of right-wing terrorism since at least 2009, but.....

Parler is back, thanks to Russia.

Wingnuts desperately try to maintain their delusions after Biden's inauguration (this is hilarious and terrifying at the same time).

This person exists (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

What does the Constitution mean by misdemeanors?

The US military is trying to root out right-wing extremists.  But Fox News is purging staffers who aren't Trumpy enough, and the Arizona Republican party is censuring members who aren't Trumpy enough.

Mobs of thugs continue to rampage through Portland smashing things up, including Democratic party headquarters.

It's hard to "find common ground" with crazy people, and it's never time to make nice with de facto fascists.

Religionists hold a massive super-spreader event in Brooklyn.

This is a step toward abolition of women's sports.

David French explains why we must defeat Trump on every front (found via Nan's Notebook).  Letting earlier Republicans get away with things is how we got to Trump in the first place.

"Wokeness" is a reversion to tribal, medieval thinking.

Some interesting points here on government spending and the deficit.

The Capitol insurrection was anti-Reconstruction repeating itself, this time as farce.

World leaders welcome Biden; foreign newspapers report.

Britain's Trump baby blimp finds its final home in the Museum of London.

The Catholic Church in Ireland is trying to weasel out of paying compensation to abuse victims.

Australia's McIver Baths are the scene of male aggression and perverse bullying.

In Israel, too, religious nuts spread disease and conspiratardiaCovid-19 is spiking in the ultra-religious population.

Young South Koreans are dropping out of their high-pressure society -- and the economy is adapting.

Biden won't coddle China.

Here's a description of Halley's comet which you won't be able to read.

CRISPR looks like a good investment.

Blue whales are making a comeback.

Even after being vaccinated, you'll still need to wear a mask for some time.

DNA provides some clues about a little-understood ancient civilization.

More links here.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted a wake-up video for Republicans, on the end of the Trump era, and on life via computer during the pandemic.

22 January 2021

Isolation -- the world in cables

It's been over ten months now since I went into isolation to avoid the pandemic.  Unlike some people, I've observed it rigorously.  Death by covid-19 is an awful way to go, and I'm not young any more.  I can't take the risk.  And this is how I choose to pay tribute to the hard work and sacrifice of our health-care workers -- not by symbolic applause, but by being careful to avoid becoming one more burden upon them.

Occasionally there's a trip out to the grocery store.  I know exactly where everything in the store is, and I can run in, grab everything, and be out in a few minutes.  Then back home, hand-washing, and a careful procedure to avoid contamination by anything that came from outside the apartment.  It doesn't feel real.  Basically, I exist inside the walls of this one space.

Let me be clear here -- I'm not complaining.  I never much cared for socializing or going outside anyway.  And it's a pretty big apartment for one person.  It's been a huge relief not having to go to the office every day, dealing with the noise and distraction and people's irritating habits.  To say nothing of the traffic.  I don't think about the traffic any more.  It's outside.  It's not real.

There are windows through which I could look out at the street outside, and the building across the street.  However, I don't care about the street outside or the building across the street, so I just leave the blinds closed.  The sunlight is annoying, anyway.  The windows aren't real.  The cables are.

At the back of this desk stands a black plastic box with some blue lights on it and some cables and wires attached to it.  One of those cables runs to the computer on which I'm typing this (I don't trust wireless connections).  Through that cable, not through the windows, I can see the world, reach the world.

Through that cable come pictures, information, ideas -- everything, displayed on the computer screen.  News of what's happening in the world.  The thoughts and creativity of the bloggers I read.  Messages from people.  Life.  Similarly, everything I write on this blog, all the comments I post elsewhere, everything I do that in any way manifests my existence to the outside world.  All of it flows in and out, at unimaginable speed in coded pulses of electricity, through that dull grey cable snaking across the desk.

It's a kaleidoscope, ever-changing.  So-and-so has a new post up, or a new poem, something I need to think about.  There's a new video of something intriguing, or a piece of music I hadn't heard before.  There's news of some event on the other side of the planet, complete with images awesome or horrific.  All displayed on the screen.  That's the world.  That's what's real.  The street and the building outside the windows haven't changed since I moved in here nine years ago.  They might as well be a big painting a couple of feet beyond the glass.

A few feet away on the desk, at the end of another cable, sits another, much smaller computer which is the property of the company.  Through that cable flow other coded pulses of electricity which that computer deciphers into the problems which, for eight hours each weekday, I need to solve, information to be manipulated in various ways.  These, too, appear on the screen as messages and images -- rather dull ones, unlike the ones on the main computer, and dealt with out of duty rather than interest.  There are "meetings" (far too many), the screen split into several rectangles, each with a person's face, talking, nodding.  I suppose those people must actually exist out there somewhere, beyond just being small images on my screen.  Until ten months ago I used to see them every day, in person, but I hardly remember that.

Every payday I use the main computer to look at the bank website and make sure that certain numbers on the screen have changed as they are supposed to.  This enables me to type things which cause the numbers to change again, in accordance with yet other numbers transmitted to me by credit-card companies and various other entities, all through that same grey cable.  I'm acting on the assumption that all these numbers actually mean something.  In the case of one number I receive every month, I know that if I didn't make the corresponding change in the number on the bank website, the black plastic box with the lights and cables and wires would stop working, and then I'd be entombed, sealed off from the world.  So that one is real.  As for the monthly rent payment, it's automated so I won't need to worry about it if I slip up and get hospitalized with covid-19.  It's just another number to check each month and make sure that it has changed in the correct way.

I can see why living this way bothers a lot of people.  It doesn't particularly bother me.  I do want the pandemic to be over so I don't need to be afraid any more.  Plus, I want to go to Italy someday.  I'm fairly sure Italy is still real.

20 January 2021

The end of an (unlamented) era

In just a few more hours, Biden will be inaugurated and the hideous absurdity of Trump's presidency will finally be over.  He will shuffle out of power and onto the pages of history most-wanted list for financial crimes in New York state.  I'm very much looking forward to never again needing to give any thought to him, or to the passel of scammers, bunglers, and creeps he imposed on our government and consciousness along with himself.

To be sure, the most deranged Trumpanzees still haven't accepted reality, insisting that Trump has a secret plan to defeat all his enemies and remain in power, or that God will step in at the last moment to keep him in office.  Green Eagle blog has a wide-ranging round-up of direct quotes from these delusional souls, lest you still harbor any doubts about the sheer depths of madness to which the wingnut fever dream has sunk.  How these people will react when Trump is finally out of power (and facing prosecution) is anyone's guess.

Herewith, a few images to commemorate the era we are now leaving behind.

And a final point from me:

Soon the Democrats will be back in control of both the White House and Congress.  Our expectations will be high -- mine certainly are.  I voted not just to get rid of Trump, but to get a real covid-19 response, real help for the unemployed, a $15 minimum wage, a rollback of the decades of tax cuts for the wealthy, a revival of jobs, DC and Puerto Rican statehood, an end to religionists' exemptions from the laws everyone else has to follow, Medicare expansion or some other kind of public option, federal legislation against state-level vote suppression and gerrymandering, a strong stand against China and Russia and the other gangster-states Trump coddled, and restoration of a relationship of mutual respect with the world's other democracies.  I'm sure any reader could add a few items of their own to the list.

The Democrats hold razor-thin margins in both the House and the Senate.  They inherit a federal government in shambles, a nation devastated and paralyzed by covid-19, a population tens of millions of whom are in the grip of paranoid delusions (and heavily armed), a court system packed with ideological wingnuts, and a Congressional opposition consisting largely of lunatics, or of cowards in thrall to lunatics.  They will, at times, fall short and fail to get things done, at least at first.  They will sometimes go in objectionable directions, because the Democratic party includes constituencies with goals different from yours (or mine), and with such narrow majorities they can't afford to alienate any faction.  So, yes, be prepared to push them to do what's right, but at the same time, resolve to be as supportive as you possibly can, through whatever happens.  Because if we don't support them, well, we know what the alternative looks like.  We've seen it in action for the last four years.

19 January 2021

Video of the day -- wake-up call

Of course, those who most need to hear this are least likely to listen.  Still worth spreading around.  Suggested by Mike.

17 January 2021

Link round-up for 17 January 2021

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

o o o o o

Beakers perform a classic.

Getting a bit of a mixed message here.

Let's re-define some words.

Dogs, dogs, dogs.....and a few reptiles.

What's that, up ahead of the train?

He showed us the way.

Amazon's delivery service is awful, apparently.

One works, the other does not.

Observe National Hot Tea Day.

Cas d'intérêt reviews a massive French cookbook.

What did he want all those shoes for?

Help find a missing person.

You can't trust e-books.

Lies are dangerous.

Republicans can live the good life.

Hallelujah!  Trump is going to win a second term!

No, there isn't a higher purpose behind things.

How do you deal with your inner critic?

Using threats to stop a book from being sold is thuggery crossing the line into fascism.

America's enemies enjoy the show (found via Hackwhackers).

Communists, communists everywhere!

"When President Tiffany activates the Doomsday Machine after misinterpreting a TikTok, all that'll survive is roaches and Rudy, stumbling through the charred remains of Four Seasons Total Landscaping, demanding 20 grand a day from the molten dildos."

This person exists.

Here's a preview of Trump's farewell address.

Yellowdog Granny gives us the (mostly political) week in images.

Gotta catch 'em all!

Name this band.

Actions have consequences even if you whine about it.

Women on dating sites help hunt down the Capitol terrorists.

I Should Be Laughing has a round-up of quotes on the attack.

There's an increase in Republicans leaving the party, though it's not clear how big the trend is nationally.

Green Eagle reviews the madness of the wingnutosphere, with a couple of examples of what passes for right-wing "humor".

"We were just playing, having fun."

They're resorting to animal abuse now.

Many mainstream, "normal" Republicans attended and supported the capitol attack (found via Silverapplequeen).

This is how the terrorists became so gullible.

It was a Christian insurrectionAll the signs were there.

When a Republican says "impeachment is divisive".....

Yes, you can legally be fired for participating in a lynch mob.

The authorities are not open to making deals with the terrorists.

Franklin Graham compares pro-impeachment Republicans to Judas.

The Republicans are now a dangerous cult, not a political party.

Blogger Helen Philpot has a message for Trump.

"It can't just be that you're a willfully ignorant bum with anger management issues. It's always someone else's fault."

The wingnuts are really struggling to avoid seeing how outrageous the Capitol attack was.

Sedition makes a poor investment.

The authorities are finally taking QAnon seriously.

Trump must be prosecuted, whatever the consequences.  Or maybe everything will be fine if he's pardoned.

The Republican civil war is on.  Let's hope both sides lose.

In the Capitol as elsewhere, conservatives are the dirty germ-spreading rats and fleas of the pandemic.

We're starting to understand what went wrong with polling in 2016 and 2020.

Here's why Trumpanzees didn't see many Biden supporters (must-read).

Biden will elevate the position of science adviser to cabinet level.

There's a new fund to protect women's freedom of speech.

Bernie Sanders will have real power in the new Senate.

Biden can increase revenue, even a lot, without raising taxes.

Businesses of every kind are rushing to cut ties with Trump.

Keira Bell speaks for those who regret being drawn into the trans cult.

Want to get the covid-19 vaccination in New York city?  Tough shit.

The consequences of all that holiday travel are starting to hit home.

Disagreeing with my opinion makes you a bigot.

They protected the vote.

Don't use "people of color" when talking about non-Western countries.

It's not only Christian fundies who lie to children.

Standards of consent must be high for use of puberty blockers.

Sorry, religion is a form of ideology.

The truth is coming out about the Catholic Church's atrocities in Ireland.

The Greek Orthodox Church defiantly helps spread the coronavirus.

Iran pushes ahead with military technology in the face of Trump's saber-rattling.

India, the world's largest vaccine manufacturer, will help ensure that poor countries have access to covid-19 vaccines.  Internally, the country has launched a massive vaccination drive.

Wealth can make people less compassionate.

Brown dwarfs are an odd class of object intermediate between stars and planets.

More links here.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- this week I posted on technological and cultural power and on the limitations of the wingnut mind (among my better political pieces, if I do say so myself), as well as another Trumpling music video.

To whoever sent what I received on Monday morning -- thank you.  Please get in touch.

[1,459 days down, 3 to go until the inauguration of a real president.  Almost there!]

15 January 2021

The wingnut mind and its limitations

A striking feature of the wingnut mind is its lack of imagination.  As I've noted before, for weeks now far-right blogs and sites (especially their comment threads) have been awash in fantasies of violence and slaughter, of shooting and hanging liberals, showing us who's boss when we "come after" them and try to take their guns or round them up or whatever they think we're going to do.  The expected circumstances are vague -- it's the thought of using their guns to take us out that they relish, in sharp relief.

They expect us to come down to their level and engage them in some kind of physical confrontation in which their guns will give them the upper hand, because guns are what they have and what they know.  That's not how it works.  When humans set out to cull wolves from an area, they don't do it by coming down to the wolves' level and fighting them physically so that the wolves have a chance to rip them to pieces.  They do it with high-powered rifles from a distance, preferably from helicopters, or use poison.  We're not going to deal with our current wild-animal problem in ways that play to their strengths, either.  As I suggested here, we're already fighting them by focusing on the areas where we have the advantage -- propaganda, technology, culture, communications, economic power.

Especially given their inflamed rhetoric, I'm sure a few groups of wingnuts here and there will shoot a few individuals or attack a few pieces of infrastructure that support our cities (another vivid fantasy I've seen on their blogs).  But they won't do enough damage to "win" or affect the long-term trajectory of the country -- not even close.  I doubt they'll ever again accomplish anything as spectacular as their raid on the Capitol, which was scary enough but lasted only a few hours and achieved nothing except to turn a certain number of Republican politicians against them.  And as with the Capitol raid, the individual perpetrators of violence will be identified, tracked down, and arrested, while those who support it too heatedly with rhetoric will be fired, ostracized, and rendered unemployable.  Such people will be left physically unharmed but financially ruined -- crushed by forms of power against which guns are useless.

I keep calling them "the stupid one-third", and the stupidity matters.  It's not just a matter of two opposing but basically comparable world-views.  People whose thinking is so limited operate at several critical disadvantages.  For one thing, as I explained in the earlier post, our world-view is mostly consistent because it's based on reality, and reality is consistent and objectively knowable.  Theirs is prone to fragmentation because it's based on delusions, and delusions vary from person to person and can change randomly.  (The left is prone to factional splits too, but these are usually over real policy differences, not over whether Satanic lizard people from outer space exist.)  Also, they lack any nuanced sense of history (their constant invocations of the Founders are clichéd, trite, and ignorant), any deep sense of how the world actually works, or any ability to think multiple moves ahead or to accurately anticipate the actions of their opponents.

The storming of the Capitol is a case in point.  They had no soberly-considered set of objectives which they reasonably expected this action to achieve.  At best there was some idea that if they could stop the electoral-vote count and perhaps murder some number of Democratic and "RINO" politicians, this would somehow nullify the election result, intimidate the political establishment, and allow Trump to remain in power (this is a bit like believing that burning your credit-card bill will make the debt disappear).  They had no grasp of the resilience of institutions and procedures in a quarter-millennium-old democracy, or of the fact that when enormously-powerful people are temporarily scared out of their wits by a threat of personal violence, they tend to strike back, not back down.  They didn't seem to understand that threatening Republican leaders or beating and killing police officers would profoundly alienate people who have shown at least some sympathy for their cause.  They turned the colossal might of the federal government against their movement, while inflicting no substantial damage on their enemies at all.

And so it goes.  As I said, I expect occasional further violent incidents, followed each time by ostracisms, firings, and arrests and prosecution.  It's the furious lunges of a cornered animal against the practiced and skilled responses of an experienced hunter.  The animal may be big and noisy and scary, but you know who's going to win in the end.

The "soft power" arena, too, illustrates their mental limitations.  I've written a lot on the subtle role of popular movies, TV, and suchlike in driving and normalizing the kind of cultural changes that so upset the fundies and wingnuts.  The occasional efforts of the enemy to produce analogous counter-propaganda (the "Christian movie" industry comes to mind) are invariably clunky, preachy, and lacking in any appeal except to those who already believe.

But the same seems to apply even with much less demanding works.  For example, the Trump era has provoked a great abundance of liberal satirical music videos mocking the enemy's pomposity, blundering, and stupidity (see for example here, here, and here).  But despite the range of right-wing blogs and sites I read, I've never seen any analogous right-wing musical take-downs of left-wing figures or movements, and I really doubt they exist.  The humor, imagination, and skill to produce such things (however modest) just aren't there.

They are fanatically invested in keeping Trump in power because, in spite of experience, they believe that political power is the prime mover that determines everything else.  On our side, at least a significant number of people realize that politics is only one arena among several, and that political wins and losses are much more the effect than the cause of deeper cultural tendencies.

Crippled by its delusions, the wingnutosphere exists in a sustained state of tedious rage and pitifully-transparent efforts to sound frightening.  It's a self-created prison of cramped minds unable to escape, not because they're locked in, but because they're unable to conceive of the world beyond the cage of their own limitations.

14 January 2021

Video of the day -- trial by combat!

"Explosions of bullshit" indeed.  Found via Miss Cellania.

12 January 2021

Technological and cultural power

It's an ongoing source of frustration that, due to the Electoral College and the way states are represented in the Senate, the religious-fundamentalist and generally right-wing and reactionary element of the US population controls far more political power than its numbers warrant.  But political power is not the only kind of power within a society, as events are now illustrating.

There is also technological power.  Amazon is kicking Parler off its hosting service and Apple is dropping its app, which apparently will pretty much shut Parler down.  There are no right-wing high-tech companies on which any liberal sites are similarly dependent -- in fact, there are no major right-wing high-tech companies, period.  Twitter has even kicked Trump off now, and there's nothing he can do about it.  Despite all his money and (until January 20) power, he himself won't be able to set up a viable rival system because it would be dependent on technology which is controlled by people no longer willing to support what he's doing.  Even before November, YouTube was removing extremist videos, though somewhat sporadically.  They could do the same with evangelical and right-wing rabble-rousers more generally, if they chose to play hardball.  The fundie/wingnut subculture will never produce its own Amazon, Google, YouTube, etc.  The necessary skills, knowledge, and tech culture don't exist in a population which has made disdain for expertise and education part of its very identity.

(The wingnuts are, of course, complaining bitterly about these moves, but think of it this way.  Their blogs and sites since the election have been wallowing in a morass of violent fantasies about shooting and hanging liberals, assassinating leaders, and armed revolt against the government.  Essentially, they consider this a war.  OK, so it's a war -- and our side is destroying the enemy's communications infrastructure.  That's the kind of thing people do in wars.  They can't declare a war and talk about killing us and destroying our culture and then expect us to play nice and not use every weapon in our arsenal to defeat them.)

Many people, even on the left, are alarmed at the power of the tech giants to control modern communication, and perhaps eventually there will be government regulations to force them to operate in a more content-neutral way, which would give the wingnuts a reprieve.  But they'd still be dependent, then, on the very government they consider illegitimate and want to overthrow.

Then there's cultural power.  An ongoing theme on this blog has been the power of mass entertainment to guide and shape the culture and values of society (if you're not familiar with what I mean, read this, this, and this).  Liberals tend to downplay this effect, while right-wingers are actually more aware of its importance, since it works against their values.

But there's more to cultural power than that.  Notice that most employers these days have explicitly gay-friendly, anti-racist workplace policies.  Only a few companies like Chick-fil-A have explicitly right-wing policies, and even they won't endorse the more crazy Trumpist delusions or acts like the Capitol attack.  All over the country, people who participated in the attack are being fired from their jobs when they're identified.  45% of Republicans, which translates to 21% of Americans generally, approve of the storming of the Capitol -- but aside from perhaps a few tiny businesses in the remote red hinterlands, there's no corresponding sector of the economy in which having been part of the attack or supporting it is good for one's job security.

(This isn't because all the people who run big companies are liberals.  It's because they've crunched the numbers and figured out that failure to endorse the liberal world-view is bad for business, and that the fundie/racist/anti-gay element of the population isn't a market worth catering to.  Their goal is to make money, and that means adapting to the culture the way it actually is.)

We have an advantage because our world-view is based on reality, and reality is consistent and objectively knowable.  The wingnut world-view is crazy, and the practical problem with that is that there's no logical or objective way of agreeing exactly how crazy to go or in what directions.  I read right-wing sites and blogs regularly, and right now, in the comment sections of some of them, they are bitterly divided, quarreling with each other and denouncing each other.  They all believe that Trump actually won the election and Biden stole it through fraud, but some are still fervent QAnonists who expect Trump to somehow vanquish all his enemies and emerge triumphant before January 20, while others are starting to realize that nothing else QAnon predicted ever actually happened, and that the whole thing is a scam.  Some are saying the Capitol attack mob were patriots "taking back" the seat of government, others say they were antifa disguised as Trumpists to make Trumpists look bad.  Some want Trump to run again in 2024, some think voting is useless because of "vote fraud" and the only option now is violent revolution, some think all is lost and they're doomed to live under liberal rule forever, some are saying wait for Jesus to come back and straighten everything out, etc.  Having abandoned evidence-based and reality-based thinking, they have no objective way of deciding between these conflicting delusions.  They can't agree on a common fantasy world-view to put up against our reality-based world-view, and given how paranoid they tend to be, they easily start seeing those on their own side who have different views as enemies and traitors to the cause.

Our side dominates culture, which is "upstream" from politics -- that is, culture ultimately shapes politics, but there's very little politics can do to affect culture.  This is why the wingnuts have almost always felt angry and frustrated and besieged even when their side is in power in the government.  Political power can hurt people they hate, and Trump has been very good at that, but it can't stop the wingnuts from being culturally marginalized.  We're going to win out in the long run, and deep down they know it

10 January 2021

Link round-up for 10 January 2021

Everybody said 2021 should be less crazy than 2020.  So far, I'm not favorably impressed.

o o o o o

Every picture tells a story.

Always send thank-you notes for Christmas gifts.

Animals are silly.

"Hey Debbie?  It's me, the Lord."

Miniature birdhouses!

We're book addicts.

Bumbling burglars accidentally call the cops on themselves.

Well, she did ask.

Have some scary refined sugar.

This guy can tell you exactly how smelly you are.

Four days?

Satanists don't believe, but.....

Here's how to cosplay the "QAnon shaman" of the Capitol attack.

The truth comes out!  Yeah, Antifa did it.

Bruce Gerencser reveals his dark side.

A car becomes a rolling art gallery for a trip through Mexico (link from Carol A Seidl).

You'd think Jesus would have known whether Noah's flood really happened or not.

Psychic fail!

We know what birds dream about.

At the start of the pandemic, a Portland strip club had to adapt to new conditions.  More business creativity here.

There are things we are, for now, powerless to change.

"His shadow spreads... America is diminished."

Art helped Catherine Meurisse go on with life after the Charlie Hebdo massacre.

Pundits make predictions for 2021.

We are lowly worms, worthless sinners.

My precioussss!

On the Nashville bombing, wingnuts have too many delusions to choose from.  Also, lots more random nonsense from around the right-wing internet.

"You cannot protect morons from their own stupidity, and you shouldn't try; it's a waste of energy and emotionally burdensome."

Turns out "Trump toady" doesn't look so good on a résumé.

Warren pwns DeVos.

We're lucky Trump is so stupid.

Shower Cap assesses the state of Trump gang lunacy the night before the Capitol mob attack.  Here's his report from afterwards.

In his regular Monday post, Darwinfish 2 focused on the Raffensperger call.  Extra post on the Capitol attack here.

Remember the victim.

"They’re shooting at us. They’re supposed to shoot BLM, but they’re shooting the patriots" (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

Cartoonists weigh in.  And here's how foreign newspapers reported it.

FFS these people aren't even toilet-trained.

"It's Orwell's boot stamping on a human face forever."

Evangelical delusions played a role in the madness.

One guy was specifically planning to shoot Pelosi.

All the Republican leaders who enabled and protected Trump for the last four years are complicit.

"Wednesday's mayhem is who the Evangelical Right really is. They are not part of the decent, educated world; they are who the decent, educated world has been fighting for uncountable millennia."

They were prepared to take prisoners (found via Hackwhackers).  Murderous violence was openly planned in advance.

There are signs that some Capitol police, and even higher-ups, were complicit.

Here are two eyewitness reports from the attack.

"Not this time, assholes. There is no unity with seditionists."

Identified rioters are getting fired (and arrested), to the surprise of someCitizen experts are helping to find them.

45% of Republicans approve of the attack.  The party is confronting the fact that its voters are crazy.  And they're just getting crazier since the attack.

"There is no reasoning with conspiracy theorists. There is no negotiating with extremists. The President's lies unleashed this mob. Responsible Republicans need to condemn it clearly -- or own it forever."

Annie Asks You:  What do we do now?  Time for Reconstruction 2.0.

A lot of the media still don't understand the problem.

Bob Felton reviews his predictions about the Trump years.

The future belongs to the left -- that's why Republicans are afraid of it.

RedState worries about divisions among wingnuts.

Murkowski considers leaving the party.

How did this country get to be such a mess?

Video of the Capitol clean-up evokes thoughts on racism.

Angry Bear considers the pros and cons of another impeachment.

Corporate leaders are abandoning Trump (way, way too late).

Here's a way Biden can unilaterally stimulate the economy.

Parler may be doomed.

Feminism isn't defined by menMore here.

A lot of companies still aren't prepared for the work-from-home future.

Georgia Republicans are plotting even more vote suppression.

Covid-19 is killing off Navajo elders, and much of the culture with them.

The Wisconsin pharmacist who sabotaged 57 vials of covid-19 vaccine was a believer in various crackpottery which has been spreading around the wingnutosphere.  Lies are not harmless.

It's the meat industry that's wrecking the planet, and human health.

India's ruling religio-nationalists try to distort history to fit ideology.

Religion sponsors a major super-spreader event in Manila.

I already linked to this post on CRISPR two weeks ago, but there are now a couple of exchanges in the comments between Annie and me which are also worth a look.

The alphabet was likely invented by people who were nearly illiterate (found via Miss Cellania).

Watch the worlds go by.

More links here.

o o o o o

In case you missed it -- last week I posted my best posts of 2020 list, an observation on Republican self-destruction, and a video from The Liberal Redneck.

[Image at top found via Octoberfarm]