31 March 2024

Link round-up for 31 March 2024

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

o o o o o

Cats keep active.

It's an effective defense against a sneak attack from behind.

Always make sure your paint cans are closed properly.

Sometimes you just need to sleep in a bit longer.

The hunting dog lets the wild pig go free, in exchange for.....

Whatever the hell that is, don't try to eat it.

When you are fishing, there may also be crabs in the water.

See some lucky survivors.

A priest is a pious and holy man, uninterested in worldly things.

Here's a short (under three minutes) horror film with a simple but disquieting premise.  How the hell would you escape from this situation?

The best slave is one who is well trained for it.

These kids deserve better than bacon.

Why do some American houses have razor blades in the walls?

Workers celebrate after the final revolution.

What did ancient Romans really look like?

Animals learn to fear the sounds of predators.

Astronomers are reconstructing how the Milky Way galaxy was formed.

Humans aren't the only species who practice slavery.

The history of the Catholic Church is a history of invention.

The crucifixion of Jesus as described in the Bible is completely unlike how crucifixion was actually done.

Yes, popular music really is getting worse -- "simpler, more repetitive, angry and self-obsessed" compared with the eighties.

Take the Easter challenge.

This man is not normal (found via Progressive Eruptions).

How big was the ship that hit the Key bridge?

My city is banning gas-powered leaf blowers, one of the worst sources of urban noise pollution.

What an idiot.

It won't stop with porn.  It never stops with the first target.

American workers are forgoing $52.4 billion worth of PTO a year, largely because of asshole bosses who make them feel guilty about using it.

Sadistic child abuse gets a light punishment when religion is used as an excuse.

The dead of the Key bridge collapse exemplify the reality of most immigrants.

Fight political polarization by remembering to think of opposite-"side" people as individuals rather than just representatives of a group.

The bosses are losing the battle to drag employees back to offices, and undermining their own authority in the process.

Learn to lose gracefully -- to cheatersMore here.

Christianity makes marriage scary.

"Don't say gay" is still a real threat.

Annie Asks You blog assesses this week's special-election landslide in Alabama.

Right-wing blogger Darrell Michaels asserts that US society is now irredeemably polarized between political extremes.  Debate ensues in the comments -- see what you think.  As long-term readers know, I disagree and am hopeful that the noisy extremists can be overcome.

After a mere three years, Oregon politicians want to give up on drug decriminalization, driving the problem back underground and out of reach of regulation and constructive solutions.  The success of Portugal shows that Oregon's approach, not the decriminalization itself, is the problem.

Stanford university has become a cesspit of belligerent intolerance and intellectual cowardice.

Texas Republicans discuss imposing the death penalty on women who have abortions.  Several county-level party chairmen were present.

He won an award for being a monster.

Corporate tax dodging and skyrocketing executive pay continue to drive the growth of our country's oligarchy of the obscenely wealthy.

At UC Berkeley, Nazi scum heckle an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor for speaking in favor of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  This is where I studied and I can't believe it has sunk to this.  Again I am thankful that I got out of academia when I did.

Here are the top fifty corporate donors to those who promote Trump's "stolen election" lie.

Westerners are profoundly confused about what hard-line Islamists really believe.

The British authorities use harassment and theft to suppress freedom of speech.  Read the "Screechy Monkey" comment too.

A Jewish child was allegedly grossly abused by anti-Semitic staff at a British hospital.

With this one simple gimmick, a sports team can cheat and injure their opponents, and anyone who complains is accused of "discrimination".

Ireland's turn against Israel reflects misunderstandings of history.

Will Slovakia follow the Orbán path?  Maybe not.

The Crocus terrorist attack in Moscow undermines Putin's authority, though probably not enough to pose a serious threat to his regime.

Israel continues to set a standard for avoiding enemy civilian casualties that no other country can match.

Turkey's religio-nationalist president Erdoğan firmly supports Hamas, and anti-Semitism is rampant in the country, but trade with Israel continues to grow.

In Afghanistan, defiant women keep girls' education alive despite Taliban repression.

The US is strengthening military cooperation with Japan to deter the threat from China.

More links at WAHF and Fair and Unbalanced.

My posts this week:  some truths and inspirations, and the Alabama special election.

If any links in this round-up are paywalled or require a log-in to view, please let me know so I can avoid linking to that site in the future.  To suggest an item for inclusion in the next link round-up, you can use the e-mail address in my profile, or if you don't want to use e-mail, leave it in a comment to the previous link round-up.

o o o o o

It's pointless to try to explain anything to a person who interrupts.

It's possible to take offense at absolutely anything, if you try hard enough.

"International law" is a contradiction in terms.

The same world could be Heaven or Hell to you, depending on who you are.

27 March 2024

A startling win for freedom in Alabama

In general I'm actively avoiding electoral-politics-related topics these days, but what happened in Alabama yesterday was too significant to ignore.

In a state House district in which both parties are usually pretty evenly matched (Trump carried it by 49% to 48% in 2020, for example), Democrat Marilyn Lands won a special election by 63% to 37%, a crushing margin.  Her campaign emphasized reproductive freedom -- preserving the right to access IVF treatment and repealing Alabama's draconian forced-birth law, which has no rape or incest exception.  The fact that this campaign produced a result so stunningly atypical for this district shows that these issues still carry massive weight at the ballot box -- even though this one result will not bring down the evil laws, since Republicans still have a huge majority in the legislature.  Almost two years after the fateful Dobbs ruling, there is no reason to believe that the political salience of reproductive rights is fading.  If anything, it may well be intensifying.

Also of interest is that polling before the vote showed a close race -- that is, it utterly failed to predict the blowout which actually happened.  This suggests that there's some aspect of the reproductive-freedom issue's impact that polls are not capturing.  It might be that the issue is bringing out voters who don't usually vote, thus rendering the pollsters' turnout models useless.  It might be that many people who normally vote Republican (especially women) are telling pollsters they intend to do so again, but then changing their minds at the last minute in the voting booth as the horror of draconian forced-birth laws really sinks in.  It might be something entirely different.  But the pattern is there.  Not only have abortion rights won big every time they've been on the ballot since Dobbs, even in red states, but they've done substantially better than polls predicted.  Now we see that the same effect can appear with candidates as well as single-issue referenda.

(No, it's not just "rigged polls" or polling in general being unreliable.  Serious analysts know which polls are politically skewed and which are honest, and serious election forecasting is based on the latter.  There's something more fundamental going on.  And to Republicans who think that any time they lose an election the voting itself must be crooked, if you believe the electoral system in Alabama is rigged to produce fake Democratic wins this huge, then you're even more delusional than I thought.)

Based on this repeated pattern, I'm beginning to think this November's election might actually be a landslide, not the close race that the polls currently suggest.  Of course a national election is affected by many major issues and is less susceptible than a local one to being upended by one single issue.  But if the Democrats are smart enough to go all-out in making this election about reproductive freedom, they'll be able to tap into a massive groundswell of public feeling which is clearly very real and very powerful.

The odds generally favor Biden's re-election (Trump's legal problems and general assholery will torpedo him with voters outside his core cult once people start paying attention in September or thereabouts), but the margin -- and mandate -- may be a lot bigger than anyone is now expecting.  It will be astonishing if the Democrats don't win the House, after all the Republicans' blundering and backstabbing through the current term, but if the impact of reproductive rights is anything like it was in Alabama yesterday, it will be a huge wipe-out.  Conventional wisdom holds that Republicans are certain to take the Senate, since Democrats have several red-state seats to defend and no Republicans now look vulnerable -- but maybe the reproductive-freedom issue will overturn that conventional wisdom even there.  And the landslide will probably be even bigger on the state level, since that's where most decisions about abortion laws are made.  Certainly if all this happens, everyone will say that in hindsight it was foreseeable, given election results since Dobbs.

Freedom matters -- and politicians and judges who try to take it away will face the wrath of the voting masses.

26 March 2024

Truths and inspirations for 26 March 2024

If something's hard to see or read, click to enlarge.

(For the link round-up, click here.)

Most of the world is now fully electrified!

This would actually be an improvement.

I haven't looked up and verified the numbers in this specific case.  But this has been typical corporate behavior in recent years.

Nor a working-class white criminal.  Trump has class privilege.