Friday, August 30, 2013

To bomb or not to bomb

I don't know about you, but I'm not giving this US bombing mission my okay until I hear Colin Powell confirm that chemical weapons were used. Because he would never lie about something as important as this. We can trust him.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Religion shouldn't sully sports

This is the same thing as a pitcher praying on a baseball mound. The only difference is a matter of degree. Sports and religion have nothing to do with one another, and religion should be banned from all playing fields. Period.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Into Eternity

Yesterday I saw a documentary on Al Jazeera. "Into Eternity" chronicles the attempts of Finland to bury its spent nuclear fuel in a permanent underground bunker -- one that's way, way underground.

The documentary, which is an hour long, is similar to the French documentary called "Waste: The Nuclear Nightmare", which I wrote about here. Both are essential viewing. If you think nuclear power is "clean power", watch these documentaries.

It's a frightening topic. Both docs focus on how to keep future generations away from the permanent storage site. This stuff has to be protected for at least 100,000 years! Think how long human civilization has existed. We're a small blip on a 100,000-year span. The builders of the bunker can't even rely on civilization existing for that long a time.

Perhaps written language will fall by the wayside. How, then, can we effectively warn future generations to keep away from the site of this dangerous radioactive product? Pictographs? And how will these people of the future react to our cautions? Will they think the signs that say "Keep Out" are a scam, and there's really a treasure down there? Will they dig to get to it? It's an insane problem.

And this site will only address Finland's spent fuel. What of the spent fuel that litters our global landscape? Electricity and workers are necessary to keep the fuel rods constantly bathed in cool water. Will we be around to maintain those sites for the next 100,000 years? Doubtful.

"Clean" nuclear power is a misnomer. It's the filthiest and most dangerous thing we produce on this Earth. And yet new nuclear plants are being commissioned every day. We're killing the future.

You can see the whole documentary at the above link. Do watch it. We can't ignore this problem. We have to phase out nuclear power now, and begin to move the existing spent fuel into permanent storage -- unless we don't care about future generations, that is. I know we used to care about such things, but such sentiment is no longer in vogue. More's the pity. Because if we ignore this (and climate change, BTW) we truly are lemmings.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kerry's little Syria chat

I found it difficult to watch John Kerry emote yesterday on the subject of Syria.

The whole bit stank. See, you can't assume the high ground when you're not standing on it. His words could just as easily apply to things the US has done repeatedly:
"What we saw in Syria last week should shock the conscience of the world. It defies any code of morality. Let me be clear. The indiscriminate torture of random suspects, the launching of a pre-emptive war against the wrong country, the use of drones to attack people who may or may not be terrorists, and the consequent drone attacks on those who come to help the afflicted after such drone attacks, indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders by waterboarding, drone attack chemical weapons is a moral obscenity. By any standard, it is inexcusable."
Sorry, John. The US doesn't get to talk like that anymore. Tell you what, why don't you just go sit in a back room and listen in on some American conversations? Maybe it's best to let, you know, the other countries handle this one.

America's decline has real-life consequences. The US no longer has the right to pontificate to other countries. So get off the high horse, John. You can't ride it anymore.

A drone that's kind. I think I like it.

In Canada, they're trying to push a flock of geese out of an area that people use. And they're using a drone to accomplish this.
Canadian lawmakers have enlisted a drone to disperse a large flock of Canada geese at a popular beach this summer, pleasing swimmers concerned about water quality.

The remote-controlled vehicle flies with six rotating blades, spans about 26 inches (66 centimeters), and is outfitted with lights and audio recordings meant to frighten the geese without harming them. The recordings include sounds of potential predators, including owls, fox, wolves and eagles, and play at varying intervals to prevent the birds from becoming comfortable with repeating repertoires of empty threats.
I like this. Finally, a way to get rid of geese without killing them. I hope NYC tries this method. Right now, they're murdering geese on a regular basis. It's nightmarish.

Mind you, New Yorkers will shoot at the drone -- but that's just part of the fun. They'd better not accidentally hit a goose, though. Take careful aim, people.

Monday, August 26, 2013

But religion is a good thing

The NYT has an article about the latest moves of the Egyptian military. It doesn't sound good at all. (Paragraphing is mine.)
The Egyptian military has enlisted Muslim scholars in a propaganda campaign to persuade soldiers and policemen that they have a religious duty to obey orders to use deadly force against supporters of the ousted president, Mohamed Morsi. 

Indeed, after ousting Mr. Morsi in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness and an end to religious rule, the military is now sending religious messages to its troops that sound surprisingly similar to the arguments of radical militants who call for violence against political opponents whom they deem to be nonbelievers.  

Dr. Abdel Galil said...“to use weapons when needed” against such foes was the duty of the armed forces. “The heart is at ease about this,” he said.
Ah, sweet, sweet religion. Always going about the world, doing good. It's marvelous, isn't it? That "god" fellow must be really special.

Unfortunately, because of god -- as usual -- another country seems about to fall into a bottomless cesspool of hatred, brutality and murder.

But since it's religious in nature, it must be good.

Monitor lizards, oh my!

In a short AP article lacking crucial information, we learn that a monitor lizard has been stalking the farmyards of Connecticut.
Reports of a large reptile roaming an eastern Connecticut town over the past few months have turned out to be true: A police officer shot a monitor lizard to death as it was attacking chickens at a resident's home. 
What's lacking is any mention of the "large" lizard's size. It could be a foot long, it could be hundreds of feet long, as far as the article is concerned. AP doesn't bother to tell us.

The story caught my eye because I recently watched a NOVA episode about monitor lizards. It was called "Lizard Kings" and it was really interesting. They're apparently quite smart. One researcher went so far as to refer to them as the "primates of the lizard world". They can count. You can train them. And they even respond to affection, sort of like a dog. Amazing. Anyway, it's weird to hear about one of them roaming freely in the US. Undoubtedly a pet fiend bought one, got bored and at some point let it loose.

Don't let your pets loose, kids. Especially when they're dangerous, aggressive animals.

U.S. needs a name change

Now that the United States is anything but united, we need a different name for our country. Besides, that old monicker was created before the country was transformed into a paramilitary, terrist-fighting, citizen-surveilling, mass-torturing, black-uniform-wearing, corporate bully.

I suggest the name "United States" be changed to "Fear, Inc." Let's roll with the times and celebrate who we really are.

On the other hand, I'm willing to consider other good, appropriate names. Any suggestions?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

NYT covers murder of Indian skeptic

It was good to see an article in the NY Times today about the murder of Indian skeptic Narendra Dabholkar. He was the sort of man I admire.
PUNE, India — For nearly three decades, an earnest man named Narendra Dabholkar traveled from village to village in India, waging a personal war against the spirit world. 

If a holy man had electrified the public with his miracles, Dr. Dabholkar, a former physician, would duplicate the miracles and explain, step by step, how they were performed. If a sorcerer had amassed a fortune treating infertility, he would arrange a sting operation to unmask the man as a fraud. His goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs. 

That mission ended Tuesday, when two men ran up behind Dr. Dabholkar, 67, as he crossed a bridge, shot him at point-blank range, then jumped onto a motorbike and disappeared into the traffic coursing through this city. 
He was a good man who spoke the truth, so the fools killed him. In every religious country, there are rational people fighting the woo. It does my heart good to know this. We'll win in the end, though it may take several generations. Dr. Dabholkar, you led an admirable life. I salute you.

Friday, August 23, 2013

IOC "comforted" by Russia's "assurances"

The members of the IOC seems to be mushy dunderheads. Today, they've come out with a new, asinine statement.
International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge said Friday he is "comforted" that Russia has agreed to respect the Olympic Charter's ban on any kind of discrimination following its adoption of a law against gay "propaganda" that has sparked an international backlash. 
Well, isn't that special? I dare say no one else is "comforted" by Russia's threatening statements -- and that's been the only kind they've uttered. Russia keeps saying that it will enforce the law. That's exactly what we don't want to hear. But the IOC is "comforted", so that's all that matters.
"We have received strong oral but also written reassurances that there will be no discrimination for the people who will attend the games in Sochi," Rogge told several reporters after addressing the U.N. General Assembly...
Um, would you mind sharing those reassurances with us? Because we haven't heard anything that could be characterized as an assurance that discrimination against gays won't occur at the games. And note the phrasing: "no discrimination for the people who will attend the games in Sochi". What about the competitors?

Rogge then offers this:
"We are going to inform now all the national Olympic committees, and all the athletes who want to have clarity," he said.
Indeed. We all want clarity. And where would we find that, exactly? Certainly not in your remarks, nor in the statements of Russian bureaucrats. I'd like to hear more about this "clarity" of which you speak.

These are going to be interesting games. There's no doubt about that. And who the hell are these IOC people? This is a group that needs to be thrown out and replaced.

Matsuzaka? Really?

I was appalled to hear that my main local team, the NY Mets, just put Daisuke Matsuzaka on the roster. In fact, he's pitching tonight.

As a former Red Sox fan who lived through many, many terrible starts by this fool, I am not amused. He is a terrible pitcher. I will never watch a game that he pitches. Never.

Damn fools. Really pisses me off. The Mets have been coming back, steadily and nicely, from the brink of ruin -- and now this.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

PZ does the Washington Post

Seriously, it's downright weird to find something by PZ Myers in the Washington Post. In an article in the "On Faith" section, he tells religious people what they can toss in the trash. Here's an excerpt from the article:
The imaginary threat of hell and promise of heaven aren’t needed to keep us in line. We do good because we’re happy to help our communities and see our fellow human beings thrive. Telling us we’re going to be set on fire by a malicious god if we don’t behave isn’t just unbelievable, it’s insulting — we don’t need extortion or offers of imaginary paradise  cookies to do the right thing. Why do you?
I love it. Go read the whole thing.

You know what cheers me up?

One great thing about the battle between rational, thinking people and braindead religious zealots is the difference between the two groups.

I enjoy looking into the empty, dead eyes of those on the wrong side of history. I mean, they look awful. There's no one inside, nobody home in their heads -- and it's apparent to (almost) everyone.

I love that everything they say sounds so stupid to intelligent people, that they don't know how to mount a rational argument, and can't see how hollow their beliefs are.

I love that the enemy doesn't understand the internet. I love that they try to ensure that people in need don't get help. I love that they're obviously hateful gits who wouldn't get into heaven, if heaven was real.

I love the fact that they're dead inside. It gives me uncontrollable giggles.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Manning sentence

Updated to reflect correct gender.

It's depressing. Bradley Chelsea Manning got 35 years, supposedly in Leavenworth, not the most pleasant prison.

Unfortunately, there's no way to get him her out in the near future. Hillary won't offer any hope. She loves authoritarianism. Remember, this is the lady who gave us a flag burning amendment. Thanks, Hillary! And with the Supreme Court leaning right, there's no hope there either.

I think we should start to demand that high schools around the country be renamed "Pfc. Bradley Chelsea Manning HS". And streets, too. Let's name at least three streets after him her each month. Let's also "adopt" stretches of highway in his her name. What we can't do is forget about him Chelsea and let him her languish in that hole.

Probably his her jailers will torment him her, because they have little nit brains. If that happens, I hope he she finds the moxie to say, "You've accomplished nothing in life. I changed the world."

Poor Bradley Chelsea. I'm going to write him her a letter this evening. You should too. (If a new mailing address is assigned to him her, I'll update this post.)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TV duh

Isn't it embarrassing to watch the attempts of TV news to incorporate the internet in broadcasts? They invariably sound like they've never even encountered the internet.

For instance, one local news show in NY has a segment called "The Trend". Trendy, huh? The guy who does the segment says things like, "So, what's trending on 'The Trend' today?" And then he shows us stuff we saw last week. Duh.

I was particularly horrified by a clueless segment on the news yesterday. It was about crowdsourcing, which the female broadcaster kept referring to as "crowdsurfing". Duh.

Seriously, if they don't know what the internet is and have never used it, they shouldn't try to talk about it. They look like fools.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Drunk Russia "assures" athletes once again

Why is it that every story that cites "reassurance" from Russian officials regarding the safety of athletes at Sochi contains a paragraph like the following:
But Vitaly Mutko's comments on the final day of the athletics world championships leave it open as to whether Olympic athletes and fans could be subject to prosecution if they make statements that could be considered propaganda.
Totally reassuring, right?
In a news conference on Sunday, Mutko appeared to liken homosexual relations to substance abuse

"We want to protect our children whose psyches have not formed from the propaganda of drug use, drunkenness and non-traditional sexual relations," Mutko said. 

"I can say once again that the freedoms of Russian and foreign athletes and guests who come to Sochi will be absolutely protected from drunken Russian officials," Mutko said.

"In my view, Western media, media outside Russia, give more attention to this than we drunks do in Russia," Mutko said. 
No one does reassurance quite like the Russians. So that's it. Everyone will be perfectly safe at Sochi. Feel better?

Style, and all

Now that I own a derby, my life has turned around. The great thing about wearing a derby, of course, is that you're making a statement.

And that statement is, "I am wearing a derby." It's very powerful.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Pantry moths, evolution and natural selection

Note: update at end of post.

You knew those three things would be combined in a headline one day, didn't you? I've been thinking about this lately because my house is plagued in the summer months by pantry moths. They seem to arrive in foodstuffs, though I've never been able to pin down the exact source. In any case, they arrive in Spring and try to live with me until Autumn. (However, I have a BugZooka so the moths end up living outside after I catch and release them.)

Longish post after the jump...

Friday, August 16, 2013

The crazy "praying mom"

I assume you know about the woman who regularly stood on the steps of a public school preaching to the children about Jesus' wrath, as they entered and left the building? Now she's suing Concord, New Hampshire for banning her from this activity. I found this quote from her lawyer on Ed Brayton's blog this morning.
“We think the facts in this one really matter,” Sharp said. “She was (praying) passively. I think she was providing a great example there of just a mother that is passionate about wanting what’s best for her kids.”
Uh, no. She was actually acting like Carrie White's mother in the movie, "Carrie". But then, many Christians act like this so I guess it can seem normal to them. But this isn't a "praying mom". It's a "crazy mom". She needs a psychiatrist, not a lawyer.

Poor, misunderstood Yelena

Today we're told that "Russian pole vault great" Yelena Isinbayeva didn't mean those nasty things she said about gay people yesterday. Heaven forfend! She loves the gays!
"English is not my first language and I think I may have been misunderstood when I spoke yesterday...I respect the views of my fellow athletes and let me state in the strongest terms that I am opposed to any discrimination against gay people."
Sure you are. That must be why you said, just a day ago:
"If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people. We just live with boys with woman, woman with boys."  
The poor thing. This was obviously just a translation problem. Reading those words (which she doesn't say are incorrect), how could anyone think she hates gay people? I mean, really, her words speak of true Christian love.

And now, Yelena, if I may speak for all the non-standard people in the world, piss off, you hateful creature. And know that for the rest of your life, you'll be remembered -- on a global basis -- as the woman who hates gay people. In real countries, (i.e., countries other than Russia), we see you clearly for the pig you are.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Apostrophe exotica

Note: For punctuation wonks only. If that's not you, skip this one.

I just came across a sentence that does something I've never seen before. Note where the apostrophe appears in the bolded section:
Forget "Mad Men" modernism. This season's style is all about "Downton Abbey'' 's Edwardian opulence.
(I put a space between the final quotation mark around Downton Abbbey, and the apostrophe that follows it. Otherwise, given the limits of web typography, you couldn't tell which is the quote mark and which the apostrophe.)

Kinda weird but it seems correct to me. There is no apostrophe-s in the official title "Downton Abbey", so you can't put the apostrophe within the quotation marks. Therefore it must go after. But I've never seen this before. Kinda fun.

More of this, please

At least two Swedish athletes at the world championships in Moscow competed with rainbow-colored fingernails Thursday, showing support for gays and lesbians in contrast to Russia's new anti-gay law.
Things are looking up for Sochi. In fact, I think these are going to be the gayest, proudest Olympics evah.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

About those badly-drawn swastikas

There is a class of people who think it's the height of humor to paint swastikas on the homes, cars, buildings and memorials of Jews. It's of course a hateful, ugly act but these people will never grasp this fact. They are beyond comprehension, living in a tiny, suffocating space defined for them by Fox TV, Republican politicians, religious leaders, and their hateful parents (dad, really).

But that's not what this post is about. Have you noticed that these nitwits almost always paint the swastika backwards? I mean, if this symbol is meaningful to you in your miasma of a brain, shouldn't you know which way it goes?

I've decided that there are two possible causes for this. Either it's a pictorial version of the right wing tendency to capitalize odd words, write in ALL-CAPS, and misspell every other word. Or it's caused by dyslexia. The latter could be true. After all, letter-flipping is one of the symptoms of dyslexia. But I think it's just the nitwit tendency to mash up anything that's written. I guess "written" is the same as "drawn", at least in their misshapen brains.

Any other opinions out there?

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Falling off the manic wagon

It was fun. For about two weeks I was wildly manic. Mania is never a bad thing, at least for me. In fact, I spend my down time waiting for the next manic wave. And drat, one just ended.

You know what's weird? I often fail to notice that I've gone manic. It takes days before it dawns on me. You'd think it would be easy to spot mania. I mean, you're suddenly interested in everything and multi-tasking your way through the day -- and you feel grand. But the strange thing is that it isn't obvious at all. I need clues to tip me off.

The first clue is that I order things online (stuff I don't need, usually). A steady stream of UPS packages always tips my sister off (and me, too). She'll say, "He's flying again." And she's right. The last manic wave caused me to buy a bunch of hats. PS: I don't wear hats. Doesn't matter. I bought about seven of them. Weird hats, too. I got a derby, a top hat and a faaaabulous fedora, among other things. Mania makes me buy things.

But I noticed another clue during this episode. When I played my usual computer word games, I got all-time high scores -- again and again. This joins the pantheon of clues, alongside random purchases. (My vision gets better, too, but that's hard to notice.)

And now it's over. I've fallen off the manic wagon and I'm exhausted. Mania uses up a ton of energy. I hardly eat, hardly sleep and I'm always busy. It's just like being on speed. And I crash at the end, just like speed freaks do. So when I say I'm beat, I mean it.

If and when the next wave arrives, I'll try to produce a few entertaining posts. For now, nada. Can't wait till the hats arrive!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Another transgender murder

AP, of all sources, has a good write-up of the horrible murder of a transgender teen in Jamaica, where homophobia is the norm. The idea of being killed by small-minded sociopaths is something that strikes close to the heart of every GLBT person. This poor kid deserved better, way better.

These incidents always remind me of Tracy, a "drag queen" I knew when I was about 20. Today, I'm pretty sure she'd be trans. She looked every bit the woman to me. In the phrase of the day, she was "black and beautiful". Every Saturday night, we'd dance our heads off at the Gay Activists Alliance Firehouse. It was all smiles and glitter and rhinestones on this one, safe night of the week. We felt so protected there, all of us, in those very early days of the push for gay rights. But we also knew that Tracy faced a tremendous amount of hostility on the streets, much more than was ever directed our way. Sometimes she'd show us the sledgehammer she carried in her purse. She said she needed it for defense. That idea sent a chill through me.

Then one day she disappeared. Some time later, we learned from the grapevine that she'd been murdered. It was so sick, so wrong. She was a darling, and someone murdered her for being who she was. Though I've known many transgender people since that time, I can't forget Tracy. Each time I hear about one of these senseless murders, I see her dancing her heart out at the firehouse, a huge smile on her face. She was terrific.

More than 40 years later, this sort of thing still goes on. It's monstrous. Every. Damn. Time.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Electricity is all

As I mentioned in a comment yesterday, I lost power. 4.3 inches of rain fell in a two-hour period and everything flooded. My house and my sister's house were inundated -- but only I lost power.

What a modern nightmare that is. I had no TV, no computer, no modem and no phone. This also translated baseball games! Horrors!

I survived by jumping onto a neighbor's Wi-Fi with my iPad. That made a huge difference. It gave me light (from the screen) and connectivity. I was able to watch the local news and follow the night's games on almost-dead baseball sites. (They can't show actual baseball because MLB, which is really just one big, fat old man who stinks of cigars, won't let them.) So I watched an animated scoreboard. Hey, it was all I could get and I was happy to have it. I am a baseball fiend. (I sometimes feel like the only gay baseball fan in America, but that's another post.)

This morning, I thought I was waking up to a world without electricity. I could hardly get out of bed, but when I did I learned that the power was back on! The pumps worked all night and my trusty brother-in-law trekked into my basement and flipped the circuit breakers. Power! It felt so damn good.

Loss of electricity is the ultimate modern nightmare. Admit it: we internet types can't live without it. It's like oxygen. Anyway, the nightmare is over.

Zinnia Jones on Bradley Manning

I had never been to Zinnia Jones' blog at FTB (FreeThoughtBlogs) until yesterday. This woman can write! (FYI, Zinnia Jones seems to be her blogging name. Her posts use the byline Lauren McNamara. Same person.)

Here's the thing: she had to testify at Bradley Manning's trial. Apparently they had several internet conversations before Manning sent the packet to WikiLeaks. By way of background: she's trans, and we've heard that Manning was moving in that direction. I only mention this because it comes up in her long post about the experience of testifying at Manning's trial. It's great. Grab a cup of coffee and read it. Here's an excerpt:
It’s easy to forget that at the center of all this furor is one person – a person like us, who thinks like us and feels like us and hurts like us. Having seen Manning in that room, I can never forget this. Before, he was just a name to me, one of thousands that have crossed my screen. But Bradley Manning is not, and never will be, just a name.

In that room, I saw a person who was in more trouble than I had ever seen another person be in, someone who had suffered and was still suffering the full wrath of an enraged, unforgiving American government. And that scared me, and I wanted to help him, to do anything I could to get him out of there, and I couldn’t. And that hurts beyond any words.
I'm going to put Zinnia Jones' blog on my list of sites to visit daily. Amazing post.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Mizulina, mezzaluna, bippity-boppity-boo

Yelena Mizulina is Russia's dour lady. According to the NYT, she's "Vladimir Putin's new morality crusader, spearheading efforts to curb gay rights, punish online cursing and impose a tax on divorce." Here's a bit more from the story:
Yelena Mizulina, a member of parliament, has used her position as the head of the Committee on Family, Women and Children to author increasingly conservative laws, including a ban on homosexual "propaganda" that went into force last month.
Her pearls, bland blazers and matronly mien belie a fierce fighter who is ready to take her loudest critics to court. In turn, they have labeled her the "Inquisitor" and ridiculed her online. One recent blog posting shows her gritting her teeth with the speech bubble: "You will behave yourself while on My Internet." 
It's a strange world. Speaking of which, I had an encounter with her tool twin, the mezzaluna, yesterday. But as one Amazon commenter said: "It's too sharp!" I was chopping onions last night when they suddenly turned bright red. I didn't feel any pain; it's that sharp. (Don't worry; I'm fine.)

Mizulina, mezzaluna -- they do the same thing.

Headline of the week

Yup, it's over at HuffPo. Here it is, in all its glory:
Mystery "angel" priest allegedly performs "miracle", disappears
It never gets any better, does it? American nitwits love their angels and miracles. It's like they're brain-damaged.

Beware: There is an autoplay video at that link. That's another brain-dead thing: autoplay. Sheesh.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Even Sanjay Gupta likes weed now

I won't paraphrase because Gupta says it well. This is his mea culpa for coming out against medical marijuana in the past. I've never thought much of the guy, but good for him for coming clean.

God is good: the morning edition

  • A bomb planted in a graveyard in rural eastern Afghanistan killed 14 members of a single family on Thursday as the country's president urged the Taliban to lay down their arms.
  • A suicide bomber attacked a funeral for a policeman in southwestern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 25 people, including a senior police officer, and wounding over 60, police said.
  • Assailants on the East African island of Zanzibar threw acid on two British women volunteering at a primary school on the Tanzanian island, police said Thursday.
  • Millions of Muslims began celebrating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan on Thursday with morning prayers followed by savory high-calorie feasts to mark the holiday, amid concerns over violence.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Jerry Coyne is multi-talented

My favorite blog is Why Evolution Is True, which is written by Jerry Coyne. Not only is he a terrific biologist and atheist -- he can write. This morning I found this on his blog:
While the caravan of science moves on, the dogs of theology bark but don’t tag along.
How can you not love a guy who writes sentences like that?

What got into Frothy Mix?

What is Ricky Santorum talking about? Seriously, what could have been going on in his little-nit brain to make him say this?
...Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into "every aspect of their life." He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an "uncomfortable" prospect for students. 

"They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a Young Men's Christian Association, YMCA, gym, because they live it," he said. "Because they live it. They're passionate, they're willing to do and say uncomfortable things in mixed company.
I honestly have no idea what he's talking about. He was probably just trying out some words that he doesn't understand, because this makes no sense at all.

A note to all of you out there. Live it!

Roundup of Sochi failures

A NY Times story comes down hard on the International Olympic Committee -- and others -- for failing to address Russia's anti-gay law when they had a chance. Some excerpts:
Before the law was passed, the I.O.C. could have pressured Russian officials, saying it would not support the Sochi Games under such conditions. Instead, the Olympic Committee acquiesced. 

“There should have been early, alarmed communications by the I.O.C. in relation to the law,” said Minky Worden, the director of global initiatives and an Olympics expert for Human Rights Watch. “As far as we know, there weren’t.” 

Olympic sponsors like Coca-Cola and McDonald’s also have been publicly muted. In effect, they are underwriting the Games in Sochi that contradict their own corporate policies against discrimination. 
Failure all around. The IOC always seemed to me like a bunch of distant one-percenters. That vision is confirmed. There's one hopeful note in the story, and it's from NBC:
Recently, Mark Lazarus, the chairman of the NBC Sports Group, told television critics, “If it is still their law and it is impacting any part of the Olympic Games, we will make sure that we acknowledge it and recognize it.” 
They'd better. And if they're smart, they'll have Rachel Maddow as the NBC voice of the Sochi Olympics. She'll knock it out of the park. 

I wasn't going to watch the Olympics this year. But now I'll have to. In closing, a special boo for the IOC: You people stink.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The scope of the coming apocalypse

An abrupt halt to fossil fuel use at current levels would limit the period of future climate instability to less than 1,000 years before climate largely returns to pre-industrial norms. But, if fossil fuel use stays on its current trajectory until the end of this century, then the climate effects begin to resemble those of the PETM, with major ecological changes lasting for 20,000 years or more and a recognizable human "fingerprint" on Earth's climate lasting for 100,000 years.
The article has one semi-bright note. It suggests that 56 million years ago, in the PETM (which stands for Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum), life in the oceans was hit hard -- but there were few extinctions on land. First time I ever heard that. So maybe we'll live while the ocean dies off. In other words, the ocean's food web will be the first to collapse.

To be clear, this is no reason to get happy. The sea plays a huge role in our food web. I wish people cared enough to do something about this. If the climate could restore itself within 1,000 years, as suggested in the article, humans might actually survive in the long run. But we'll never get it together. Humans are lemmings. Sorry to be so negative, but you know how we are. Anyone know where I can get some good donuts?

Synthetic meat "disgusting"?

I saw a newscast about the new synthetic meat last night. As a vegetarian, I was amused to hear eaters of dead flesh refer to the idea of synthetic meat as "disgusting". Ironic doesn't quite cover it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Manning verdict is "Obama's defining injustice"

So says Spiegel Online. Here's an excerpt:
By using the Espionage Act to punish Bradley Manning, the Obama administration has shown how far it will go to intimidate leakers. His sentencing is a stain on the president's legacy and on America's global reputation. 
It seems that outside the United States, people see Manning's brave act as the whistleblowing that it certainly was. It would be great if Americans could see things as clearly. But that would require an honest, vigilant media -- something we lack entirely.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I saw "Europa Report" yesterday

I think it's great that you can rent a movie before it hits the theaters. It seems iTunes makes you pay 6.99 for a pre-release rental, just a bit more than their typical price. Fine by me.

So, Keith, how was the movie? You know, I was disappointed while watching it. I wanted "more", whatever that might mean. But a day later, my reaction is kinder. It wasn't bad at all.

The best thing is that it seemed real. The scenes looked like something out of a real mission to Jupiter's coolest moon. Since the story is told through the ship's camera system, there are many split-screen images, which isn't a bad thing. In fact, it adds to the realism.

Europa, Jupiter's icy moon, looked terrific. I felt like I was there. And the story they laid out, while not great, is adequate. It paints in extraordinary detail what it might feel like to be so far from Earth -- and the possibility of help. I certainly wasn't bored.

On the other hand, the script and character development were a bit absent-minded. When you watch a movie like "Alien", you know those characters. That's not true of this movie. In fact, I hardly cared about the characters. And as for the script, there were things they should have skipped because they weren't essential to the plot.

But hey, it was a realistic-looking sci-fi movie -- and you don't see many of those anymore. Out of 5 stars, I'd give it about 3.4. Did you see the movie? What did you think?

Dog will save us all

That's Dog in the photo at left. (See the image on my main blog here.) He appeared to me last night, in his second dogly Visitation to my humble home. What can I say? Dog loves me. (Don't worry. Dog is omniloving. He loves you, too.)

As you know, there is no god. But there is Dog. He is not an omniscient, all-powerful being like the nonexistent god. He's just Dog, the most insightful creature ever to visit the Earth.

A note about the above image. Dog is notoriously camera-shy. Because I knew this and was hoping he'd visit, I had a camera set up behind a two-way mirror. Sneaky, huh?

See, Dog likes to look in the mirror. During his last visit, he told me (in his charming language of barks) that there are no mirrors in the Realm from Whence He Comes. So it's a novelty for him to see his reflection and he gets a real kick out of it. (Apparently, only Earth creatures look at themselves in mirrors. Dog says that on all the other inhabited planets, nobody cares what they look like.)

Because Dog knew I had a mirror, he wore that cross around his neck. He thinks it's hysterical, as you can see from the smile on his face. In fact, right after this photo was taken he fell to the floor in a fit of giggles. Dog says religion is the funniest thing about humans. Apparently, no other intelligent race in the universe has come up with such a silly idea. Just us. It gives earthlings a certain...reputation.

Anyway, all this is by way of saying "I bring you good tidings." I will deliver Dog's Suggestions for Humanity in an upcoming series of posts. For now, know that dog is here -- for you and for me. Always remember: In Dog's love, there is salvation.

Stay tuned. Arf!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Make Olympics in Russia the Gayest Ever

That's the headline of an opinion piece at CNN today. Here's an excerpt:
[L]et's turn the Winter Games into the gayest games in history. Let the Russian police, if they want, arrest every athlete, every coach from Europe, North American, Australia and other forward-looking countries -- that includes you, Uruguay, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa. The teams should march during the opening ceremonies brandishing rainbow flags, holding hands, proclaiming that every one of them supports equal rights for gay and lesbians -- in Russia and everywhere else. Make it an "I am Spartacus" moment for the world.
I think the Sochi Olympics may end up being the biggest gay party ever. Russia is a pig sty and everyone's going to realize this by the time the games are done.

PS: Remember, the excerpt is from an article at CNN, not at Joe Jervis' blog. The world is with us on this one.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Today in our cartoon Congress

For the 40th time, Republicans were pushing legislation through the House targeting President Barack Obama's health care overhaul on Friday, this time a bill preventing the Internal Revenue Service from implementing any part of that law.
Way to go, guys. Zillions of Americans are out of work, and this is what you spend your time on. You are Nero, fiddling our lives away. Thanks ever so much for your "service", you damned idiots.

Another view of the pope

Spiegel Online has an interview with a gay theologian named David Barger. The interviewer asked Barger how he viewed the pope's recent pronouncements about gays. I was surprised by a few things he said. Here are the relevant excerpts from Barger's response:
[Pope Francis] didn't say anything revolutionary. The notion that gays shouldn't be discriminated against is already in the catechism. But when Francis says in the same breath that gays should please not advertise their sexual orientation, he puts himself in a category with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who supports laws against "homosexual propaganda."
Francis said gays shouldn't "advertise their sexual orientation"? I never read anything about that. You'd think the American media would have jumped on this statement, if those were the pope's words. And here's something else:
Francis's statements often contradict each other. So he first said that atheists are devils, only to say shortly later that they are just as good as Christians. Then it was up to his spokesman to correct the statements and put them into perspective accordingly.
Here we go again. When did the pope say "atheists are devils"? I never heard that, and googling it got me nowhere. Can anyone direct me to those statements?

Barger is not at all pleased with this pope. He said Francis' remarks provide no real change. Let me leave you with his final statement:
Francis's remarks may well bring about improvement in the predominantly Catholic countries. But in Germany we are having this discussion on a different level. As a gay man in Italy, you are satisfied just to get the crumbs that fall from the table of the lord. There, gentle discrimination is already a step forward. It's completely different in Berlin or in Cologne: We have no need to eat the crumbs. Either we sit at the table or we will not take part in the dinner.
I love that ending. And as for Francis, who knows? But no matter what, he's lightyears better than Ratzi. At least, I think so. Time will tell.

Support Bradley Manning

Apparently we can write letters to Bradley Manning. Something tells me he might need a cheerful letter or two right about now. I'm definitely going to write him many letters of support. I found the following information on a web site. Here's the address:

Commander, HHC USAG
Attn: PFC Bradley Manning
239 Sheridan Ave, Bldg 417
JBM-HH, VA 22211

I was surprised to find this information so easily. I just googled "how to write to Bradley Manning". It seems we could have been writing him all this time. Drat. But now I'll make up for lost time. I hope you will, too.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

IOC needs to cancel the Sochi Olympics

Russia will enforce a new law cracking down on gay rights activism when it hosts international athletes and fans during the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the country’s sports minister said Thursday, appearing to contradict assurances to the contrary from the International Olympic Committee.
As I said yesterday, there can be no Olympics in Sochi. Russia is far too barbaric. The more savage members of its population are running amuck now that the government is encouraging sociopathic behavior against gay people.

But should the lilly-livered IOC foolishly decide to hold the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, I hope Russia is ready to arrest all the American athletes. Because I suspect they'll trot onto the field wearing pro-gay "propaganda" slogans. If they don't, I'd be shocked.

Once again, for the record: Russia is a pig sty.

Piggy Timmy drops another turd: Pope was "high"

Cardinal Timmy Dolan is an ugly man. And he has a blog. In a post called "What the Holy Father Said", he further "clarifies" the pope's kind words toward gays. I guess Timmy didn't say enough nasty shit on TV, so he moved to the internet to let loose. Here's how he begins his post:
Well, since everybody else is talking about it, I guess I should.
Timmy, you haven't shut up about it since it happened. He goes on (and on, and on):
I’m speaking about, of course, the Holy Father’s remarks to the journalists on the plane returning from World Youth Days in Brazil. For one, the Pope was visibly “on a high” from his first international pastoral visit in Rio.
So the poor pope didn't even know what he was saying? Cuz he was too high from all the adulation? Apparently, at least according to Timmy.
Two, mercy is the word that seems to summarize Francis’ talks...Three, mercy was not just the theme of those radiant World Youth Days in Rio, but also of his now renowned hour-and-twenty minute comfortable conversation with the press on the plane.
So that explains it. The pope was just feeling too merciful when he said those kind words about gays. Cuz he was too "high" from his trip. Ah, now we see.
So, his brief remarks on homosexuality were about mercy...No change in Church teaching here . . . or no intended “correction” to a more “dour” approach by his predecessors. 
He's referring here to Benedict's dyspeptic remarks about gays. We all know how hateful closet cases can be, and Benedict was a major closet case. But according to Timmeh, the new pope's kind words do not erase the old pope's hateful words. (Benedict said those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" shouldn't be accepted for the priesthood, and it is he who invented the tag "intrinsically disordered" for gay lives.) Sweet, sweet man, that Benedict. Kinda like Timmy Dolan, come to think of it. But no, Timmy assures us the new, kind words mean absolutely nothing. Gay is still very, very bad. Thanks, Timmy!

Then he veers aside for a moment to take a gratuitous stab at women priests, saying women "hardly need a Roman collar to lead and serve in the Church."

Ah, so the church won't ordain them because they "hardly need a Roman collar", eh? Sweet, Timmy. Just like everything you say. And it's very "catholic" of you to take the time to stab women when you're mostly knifing gays.

Then he wonders if the "Holy Father is frustrated" by all the coverage generated by his remarks about gays.
But, as usual, the press predictably brought these weary issues up, and have given them more ink than any of the other noble themes that rang through Copacabana Beach.  It’s not the Church that is obsessed with those topics, but the media!
Yes, Timmy. And that's why you spend 80% of your time fighting gay marriage. Because the media is "obsessed" by these topics. But not you. You're a rootin', tootin', prayin' man made in jeebus' image. How lucky for you. If you'd been born a girl, you probably would have become a waitress -- because it would allow you to flap your mouth at the customers all day long. But jeebus had a plan for you. That's why he gave you a penis. God sure knows what he's doing, huh?

Go away, Timmy. Just go away. All you do in these appearances is flaunt the rotten state of your soul. Then again, your remarks probably push more people away from your evil church, so I guess it doesn't matter. But you sure are sickening.