18 March 2018

Link round-up for 18 March 2018

Worst pirate ever!  I wonder if anyone ever found all that dumped silver.....

This teacher may be a furry (found via Why Evolution Is True).

Cats confront snowDogs confront snow.  But the cold never bothered him anyway.

Not the switch!!!

Guess the answer.

There are no pictures of penises at this link.

Not everything should be defragged.

Rule 34 is apparently true (NSFW).

Mark Hamill went glam for German TV (here's the context).

Cool street art.

Here's the definition of the word "militant".

Be careful wearing this ring (found via Mendip).

Computer games must not contain unrealistic elements.

The enemy bitches and moans about The Shape of Water.  But Guillermo del Toro knows what a monster is.

Professor Chaos reviews NRO's review of A Wrinkle in Time.

Crazy Eddie observes St. Patrick's Day.

Rock = right-wingers, monster = Democratic party, castle = ideological purists.

Crime drops when a new violent video game is released, and the reason is obvious.  But one thing does correlate with increases in real-world violence.

You'll hardly believe this school mural is real.

I'm not quite forgotten on F169, apparently.

Come to Oregon -- it's almost like this.  Well, we do do freedom and democracy pretty well.

Legalize prostitution and to hell with the hypocrites.

The two books are not even comparable.

Don't apply for a job at this funeral home (found via Mendip).

Jeff Bezos makes as much money every 15 seconds as you do in a year.

If atheism is a religion.....

Stephen Hawking sings Monty Python (found via a comment by "Sirius Lunacy" on Mock Paper Scissors).  His last public statement was on robots and socialism (found via Miss Cellania).  Here's a little story showing something of his characterHere is another (from a comment by Shaw Kenawe).

Some Christians stick to their principles.

For the Ides of March, Crazy Eddie has songs inspired by Pompeii (the Roman city, not the new Secretary of State).

Opponents of the student gun protests cast themselves as cartoonish villains. And sometimes the crap runs in the family.  But maybe they should worry.

Perhaps the stupidest of all taboos is the one on masturbation.

This gay "conversion therapist" had a little secret.

West Virginia got it right (found via Yellowdog Granny).

I totally saw this coming:  Fundies gloat that Stephen Hawking is in Hell.  If you read only one link from this round-up, let it be this one, and spread it around.  Everyone needs to see the ugliness of these people and their beliefs.

Joy Behar's comment about Mike Pence's religion prompts a flood of hypocritical outrage.

Don't tell me not to laugh at them.

It's obscene to sympathize with the tormentor rather than the victim.

Some people hold self-contradicting opinions.

Least-surprising news ever:  blacks are leaving white Evangelical churches, especially since the rise of Trump.

Islam is like the 1950s (well, with more executions).

Steven Pinker states some obvious truths and everybody gets mad at him (I need to read this book).  Andrew Sullivan clings desperately to tired old bullshit.

Looks like God was giving them a sign.

The gun debate is a form of culture war.

What is Islamophobia?

It's OK to resist capitalism on an iPhone.

Bible fetishism is not good preparation for understanding US history.

"Ignorance is strength!"

Our leaders must not make nice with anti-Semites.

These people exist.  And these people exist.

Mock Paper Scissors looks at the new CIA director.

Stop pretending the wingnuts are arguing honestly.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

Are there more stars than grains of sand? (found via a comment by W Hackwhacker)

In Hildale, Utah, it's 2018.....BC.

Most of what's going around the internet about the long-distance effects of Fukushima is hugely exaggerated.

Yes we can, and no we shouldn't.

The US demand for commercial electricity is falling for the first time in a century.

Printed houses are getting better, bringing us closer to a solution for the insane cost of housing.

These people exist.

Despite differences over Brexit, the EU stands with the UK on the Skripal poisoning. The UK has already begun retaliating against Russia and protecting its infrastructure against possible Russian cyber-attacks (a striking contrast with US inaction on threats to our elections).

Australia, land of dinosaurs.

How many migrants have you resettled in the Vatican, you hypocritical shithead?

Support for Israel is increasing among Americans, both Democrats and Republicans.  The countries Americans like the most are Canada, the UK, and Japan.

Catholics cheer as the Polish government imposes one of their taboos on the whole country, including non-Catholics.

Schrödinger's human?  Constantin Reliu is biologically alive, but legally dead by court ruling.

This sour old asshole created a regime that arrests people for dancing.

Theocracy means prison if you don't dress the way the thus demand.  And it's getting worse.

This hypocrisy needs to stop.  Religion promotes sexual abuse on a huge scale -- notably if you refuse to convert.

The US-backed Turkish military commits ethnic cleansing against our Kurdish allies in Syria.  What is Trump going to do about this?

Getting justice for rape is difficult in a conservative society.

A religious leader presents an intriguing new hypothesis on the roots of homosexuality.

Religio-nutters are lying about Stephen Hawking.

This really is a shithole country.

If true, this story of corporate crime sounds almost like an act of war (more details here).

The trend toward sclerotic autocracy will weaken China.

Countries worth living in don't do this kind of crap.

A new wave of racist violence is sweeping South Africa, and so far only Australia is taking any action.

In PA-18, Lamb showed how to win marginal Trumpanzees without sacrificing liberal values.  Republicans are suffering the effects of their disastrous mishandling of Trump.  They're also bad losersNRO is gloomy about the party's November prospects.  Apparently the "President" will spend campaign season publicly fighting with a porn star.

Here are three views on Democratic primary challenges (Kleeb's is the most realistic).  We need candidates who can not only win seats now but hold them in future elections.  Here's a case where a primary challenge makes sense, since there's no risk of losing the seat.  And Democrats may be less divided than some believe.

Trump (if he's still in office) probably won't face a primary challenger in 2020.

Different Presidents, different approaches (found via Yellowdog Granny).

At Shower Cap's Blog, it's just another week in Trump's America.

Republicans are just nasty.

Jasper Ward thinks he has an issue that can help Democrats win in red states.

Bob Felton thinks Trump is fatally dividing Evangelicals.

We're the real values voters.

Reminder:  Hillary would have gotten the nomination even without superdelegates.

House Republicans are realizing they blew it with their whitewash of Trump, and they're already backing down.

Worst political ad ever!

The enemy understands the importance of this year's election.  So must we.  Voting makes a difference.

Want more links?  Try Perfect Number, Miss Cellania, and Fair and Unbalanced.

[Image at top:  ruins of Pompeii]

15 March 2018


The death of Stephen Hawking yesterday left the world a less intelligent and less interesting place.  Few minds have achieved so much, even without considering the horrifying physical limitations against which he labored most of his life.

You can see an entertaining summary of that life here, in Hawking's own tweets (yes, he was born exactly 300 years to the day after the death of Galileo).  And there are many others better qualified than I am to assess his scientific achievements -- though not many truly well qualified, since his work was genuinely on the outer edge of human knowledge.  But he did emphasize making science, even the difficult and bizarre discoveries of modern physics, accessible to non-scientists; and he wrote one of the books which have had the most intellectual impact on me, The Grand Design.

In this book, Hawking explains how science has answered one of the fundamental mysteries which has long preoccupied human thought -- the origin of the universe, or the "why is there something rather than nothing" problem.  Right up front, on page 5, Hawking makes a blunt and startling assertion:

What is the nature of reality?  Where did all this come from?  Did the universe need a creator?.....Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.  Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.

Tough words, but the book more than backs them up.  Modern physics has changed our knowledge -- not just beliefs or mental models, but knowledge -- of reality itself.  This has reduced most of philosophy's traditional approaches to mere irrelevant word-games played in ignorance.  Unfortunately, this means that the real answers are not intuitively satisfying the way, say, evolution is.  But they're the truth; they describe what actually happened.  My own grasp of advanced physics is rudimentary, but Hawking's exposition enabled me to connect the dots and understand "the grand design".

Hawking was not afraid to dissent from popular mushy thinking even among scientists.  He strongly opposed efforts to actively send signals which would reveal humanity's existence to advanced alien civilizations (if they exist), arguing that if such aliens were hostile, they could threaten our very survival.  The efforts I have seen to refute this point never rise above the level of stringing clichés together.  Yes, it may be unlikely that advanced aliens would attempt to attack us, but as long as there's any possibility, we can't take the risk.

Humanity was lucky to have had Stephen Hawking for as long as we did.  We will always remember him as we continue the struggle for knowledge and understanding which he did so much to advance.

13 March 2018

Video of the day -- the unbelievable

It's just obvious common sense.  And here's what he meant about the banana thing.

11 March 2018

Link round-up for 11 March 2018

She's got plenty of space to pack stuff.

Not-very-good hacker gets pwned.

Fetch! (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

I can well believe this guy voted for Trump.

Anime stimulates philosophy.

Demons have horns.

Here's a guide to deciphering job ads.

Perhaps not the best option.

Choose a hotel that offers extra excitement.

You may need better friends.

The Shape of Water's Oscar triumph boosts sales of movie-related merchandise.

Imagine movies about ghosts of dinosaurs.

Mock Paper Scissors has the best Billy Graham obituary.  But should Graham get a national holiday?

Insanity is relative.

Some roosters are assholes.

OK, it's a larger-than average bug.

This is sand.

Make the world work however you want it to (I can't wait for virtual reality!).

Some very small cars have nice paint jobs.

See a beautiful dance with a deliberately-confusing weapon.

Here's a new Christian scheme of salvation for the Trump era.

Fiction can help keep the bad stuff out of reality.

All the clocks just moved forward an hour.  Why are we still doing this?  And what exactly did this person do?

The founder of "ex-gay therapy" gets pwned in death.

Bruce Willis is smarter than I realized.

Donna M has her say on trolls.  Here are some tips on spotting twitter bots (found via G'da's comment on Donna's post).

This absolutely is animal abuse.

An old propaganda ad gets an update.

God doesn't seem to do much, or understand much.

Prices are determined by whatever's convenient.

Books can help break down the sexism inculcated in kids.

Some Democrats are assholes too.

If you're anti-gay, turn off your computer.

Thuggish Trumpanzees menace a bookstore (do watch the video -- it's scary).

See the latest from around the wingnutosphere -- Green's response to Kurt Schlichter nails it.  There's a gross photo, though.

Here's a detailed guide to Teh Shrooms (found via Tell Me a Story).

"Dare to be stupid!"

Marriage alone isn't enough (found via 両刀使い).  The enemy will fight like hell for their "right" to discriminate.  They continue to insist that they're the ones being "persecuted" -- and don't miss that post's explanation of the Scarlet Beast of the Book of Revelations!

Are you being monitored by KeyWiki?

Liberal Christian Chris Kratzer has some questions for Trump-besotted Evangelicals.  Note especially this comment by Manny G.

The only acceptable answer is "yes in all cases".  Trends are in the right direction.

Sorry, a con man doesn't give refunds.

Billy James Hargis was a pioneer of wingnuttery as we know it today.

Milo Yiannopoulos cancels a speech in Arizona amid dubious claims of death threats -- so his fans plot revenge against liberals and even the police.

Here's why liberals won't win the gun-control debate -- or at least the sub-debate on broad public access to gun ownership.

Religions do pretty much the same things, just at different times.

If conservatism is fear-based, making people feel more secure may make them more open to liberal views.

If this is true, I may be the most creative person on Earth.

Trump's trade war serves only Putin's interests.  His threatened tax on European cars would have consequences he doesn't expect.

There are gays in the Olympics, and even in the family.

Be consistent.

The Trump Organization gets kicked out of Panama.

Turkey's authoritarian-religious ruling party has started attacking music.  If you think the arts don't matter, consider that the bad guys always want to censor them.

Saudi Arabia holds its first women's marathon, but the event just highlights how pitifully backward the regime still is.  Women's rights are making more progress around the region (found via Ahab), but there's a long way to go.

The thugs who rule China will never willingly give up power, even if they have to ruin the economy to keep it.  They're not keen on women fighting back against sexual harassment either.

Hackwhackers has photos from a colorful Indian festival (click for full-size).

The planned Trump-Kim meeting has a downside.  North Korea is becoming more conciliatory, but don't forget what the regime is really like -- and what life is like for women (found via Ahab).  Credit for progress belongs to South Korea and its President, not to Trump.

Another little piece of civilization dies.

David Atkins believes Trump will resign after the 2018 elections.  Well, we can hope.

Ted Cruz sees low turnout as a danger for Republicans.  We, too, must be wary of overconfidence.

It seems fitting that this person got her start in a film called Clueless.

Good quotes.

Mississippi Republicans observe International Women's Day by passing the country's worst abortion law.  Crazy Eddie looks at the surge in women running for political office, which may offer the best hope for rolling back this kind of shit.

Is Sam Nunberg crazy or just pretending?  And does it matter?

The Stormy Daniels fight is unwinnable for Trump (and this attempt to defend him misfired badly).  She may even have dick pics.  And here's a round-up of cartoons on White House madness.  Shower Cap blog (now added to my links list) continues to chronicle the administration.

We did OK, not great, in the Texas primaries.

What is this spectacle teaching Evangelical boys about maleness?  Their elders embody hypocrisy and hucksterism.  But this dog-whistling is an even bigger concern.

Republicans are canceling ads touting tax "reform" because they aren't working, even in a very red district.

Want more links?  Try Perfect Number, Miss Cellania, and Fair and Unbalanced.

[Image at top:  Seoul, capital of South Korea, metro population 25,600,000, at risk of massive devastation in the event of war]

08 March 2018

Are men necessary? (a semi-unserious thought exercise)

Within decades, humans will be using technology on a large scale to guide the development of our species according to our own will and desires, as opposed to being at the mercy of nature and biological evolution as we always were before.  I've already written about mind-machine integration (the integration of computer technology into the human brain to enhance human intelligence, memory, etc.), curing aging to radically extend the healthy life span, and so on.  But I sometimes wonder if other modifications to the species might be considered and adopted by people in the future.  Specifically, might they decide that the male gender creates more problems than it's worth and that the species would be better off without it?

This wouldn't be as difficult to do as one might think.  Sex-selective abortion has already led to a shortage of females in places like China and India.  Choosing the gender of children before conception is already technologically possible.  Once the decision was made (by a future world government, or by women collectively, or whatever), the eradication of the Y chromosome from the species would be a straightforward process.

Viewed dispassionately, it's not hard to see how the arguments would go.  The overwhelming preponderance of violent and aggressive behavior is committed by males, and this is not just a matter of enculturation -- it's true in virtually all human cultures, the hormonal and genetic basis for it is well understood, and gender differences in violent behavior run closely parallel in most primate species.  Most men are not violent, but most violent people are men.  It's intuitively obvious that an all-female environment would be much safer than a mixed-gender environment, and some countries have begun to experiment with small-scale things like women-only cars in commuter trains to reduce the incidence of harassment.  For most of human history the male propensity for violence did serve a purpose -- defending communities against outside aggression.  But that outside aggression mostly originated with males of rival communities (technology long ago reduced non-human animal predators to a negligible threat), and today defense and deterrence are achieved with high-tech weaponry which women are just as capable of operating.  In the modern world, it's difficult to see that male violent tendencies have any value at all to offset their enormous cost.

It could be argued that males in the mass are a drag on progress in other ways.  Males are far more likely to vote for reactionary political forces, for example, to the extent that those forces would hardly even be viable if only the female vote were considered -- our own 2016 election being an example.  Most militant religious extremists are men, as are social totalitarians generally -- among the fundamentalist Christians in the US who obsess about limiting women's access to birth control and abortion, the most aggressively determined of them are mostly male, and the pattern is similar in other religiously-conservative areas like Latin America and the Middle East.  Almost no women seem to have any interest in restricting men's reproductive choices in an analogous way.  It's true that some women are hostile to abortion and birth control, but in most cases they are acting under the indoctrination of patriarchal religions, without which it's unlikely that they'd hold such attitudes.

Again, it could be argued that some of this tendency is socially inculcated and not innate -- but when we see a pattern replicated across a wide range of cultures, and almost no cultures in which the pattern is absent, we're justified in at least a strong presumption that its roots are genetic.  Most primate social groups are characterized by a male dominance hierarchy in which males compete to rise in status and power, with females mating mainly with those who achieve the highest dominance level (thus unwittingly selective-breeding males for dominant behavior).  It's not hard to find examples of the same pattern in human societies.  Despite our higher intelligence, biologically we're just another primate species.

Humans will soon be using genetic engineering to eliminate genetic disorders from the species.  One could imagine a future society viewing masculinity as just one more such defect, best eradicated.

Aside from occasional tongue-in-cheek suggestions, the concept of an all-female society has sometimes arisen in science fiction, most often in the form of a trite variant on the harem fantasy (male astronauts or whatever, ecstatic at finding a whole planet of "available" women), or sometimes depicting such societies as being like regimented ant colonies, although there's no reason to think women have a particular preference for such systems -- if anything, historically it's been highly militaristic societies (which are usually heavily male-dominated) that show the most insect-like regimentation.  A more serious effort is the fictional planet Whileaway created by author Joanna Russ for her 1972 short story "When It Changed".  After humans initially settle the planet, a native plague wipes out the male colonists; the female survivors go on and build a viable society, and after several centuries the situation comes to seem quite normal to them.

Would anything essential be lost by eliminating males from the species?  To address the most obvious point, gender differences will soon cease to be necessary for reproduction.  Work is already being done on enabling individuals of the same gender to combine genes to produce offspring.  Admittedly this would make reproduction dependent on advanced technology, thus risking extinction if civilization ever collapsed to a primitive level in the future -- but such a collapse seems vanishingly unlikely, and with radical extension of human lifespans, reproduction will become less critical to survival anyway.

There's no reason to think that men have any special abilities that women inherently lack, aside from physical strength (perhaps an all-female world would suffer greater wastage of food due to all the jars that nobody could get the lids off of).  Women have shown the ability to achieve as much as men in intellectual fields, once the barriers to participation are removed -- indeed, in many advanced countries more women than men are pursuing higher education.  Even in science and mathematics, areas still widely believed to be a basically male preserve, women are making inroads.

There's some evidence that males show a greater deviation from the average, a wider and flatter bell-shaped curve -- so that most of the great geniuses of history have been male, as are most of the severely mentally retarded.  But science today is increasingly advanced by large-scale cooperative projects rather than by individual geniuses, though the latter still do make their contributions.

In trying to come up with reasons why a future society might not decide to eliminate males from the species, I'm really left with only one objection that might carry the day.  If the opposite proposition were being considered -- eliminating women from the species -- everyone would immediately point out that men would not want to do so because most men are heterosexual and would feel sexually and emotionally deprived in an all-male world.  In an all-female world, heterosexual women's sexual and romantic drives would similarly be left without an object.  Not being a woman, frankly I'm completely unable to judge how important a consideration this would be.  Would it outweigh all the problems the existence of males creates?  Would sufficiently-realistic virtual reality provide a satisfactory replacement for actual sexual experiences?  Would women in different cultures come to different conclusions?  Remember that the majority of the population lives in non-Western countries where male dominance still takes harsher and even murderous forms, which would still be a recent memory when the question was being considered.

I have no idea whether this will ever actually happen, or even ever be seriously debated as an option for the world.  It's a concept which has intrigued me on and off for years, though.

06 March 2018

Improving words (2)

Back in December, I suggested (inspired by this) that our language would be much better if words simply meant what they appear to mean, and modestly proposed a few re-definitions to improve things.  Since then, a few more have occurred to me:

Bipolar:  Attracted to polar bears of both genders

Bishop:  A store for bisexuals

Cistern:  A non-transsexual bird

Console:  To swindle a specific type of fish

Contest:  The final exam at scammer school

Contraband:  A Nicaraguan rebel music group from the eighties

Contract:  A scam religious booklet

Current:  Lease payments on a nasty dog

Debunk:  To throw someone out of bed

Delay:  To stuff an egg back into the chicken

Design:  To remove an indication (SK)

Dim Sum:  Calculator batteries running low

Drag race:  An entire race of men who wear women's clothing

Exuberant:  A small insect which formerly provided transport

Fasten:  To speed something up

Grimace:  A bleak playing card (SK)

Hosting:  A police operation to entrap prostitutes

Increment:  The opposite of excrement

Madagascar:  A rage-fueled automobile

Pillage:  The medication era (SK)

Polygon:  You can't find your parrot

Protestant:  A small insect who objects to things

Relay:  What a chicken will do after you delay its egg

Spartan:  A sunburn suitable for a boxing match

Template:  That short-term employee is never on time

Thorax:  I thought he carried a hammer

Vanish:  Resembling a box-like vehicle (SK)

Oh, and is it any wonder that Thailand gets so many sex tourists when the country's name looks like it should be pronounced "Thigh-land", the capital is Bangkok, the main tourist island is called Phuket, and so many women's names end in "-porn"?

(Items marked SK were suggested by Shaw Kenawe in a comment on the original post.)

04 March 2018

Link round-up for 4 March 2018

Crazy Eddie has an overview of all the speculative-fiction films nominated for Oscars; Vox looks at the case for and against each best-picture nominee.  2017 had two real masterpieces, The Shape of Water and Get Out -- I'm glad it's not up to me to choose between them!  But the Academy truly blundered by shutting out Wonder Woman.

Fear the power of the elf jihad donut.

Tortoise pwns wall.

This dude doesn't play by the rules.

A neighbor helps tidy up the trash.

This tree makes の sense.

A Shrek fan looks at Trump.

"I'm not a robot."

Gold smugglers resort to an unusual tactic.

Must be a scary movie.

Nice try.

You guys are eating your crackers wrong!

South Texas Republicans get big-bucks donations.

Learn the dark origin of Cookie Monster.

There must be a contest going on to design the most ridiculous clothes.  I mean, good grief.

Ballistic gel can be repurposed, apparently.

What's the point of going through life with this big of a chip on your shoulder?

We might be useful rodents.  If so, we should stop wearing polyester.

They're watching you.

Gross behavior leads to serious self-pwnage.

Put the needle on the record (if you're under 30, ask an old person to explain what that means).

A Texas church inadvertently makes the case for Satan.

Whenever gays win a court battle, wingnuts start ranting about "tyranny".

Apparently God granted a special right to Americans (found via Hackwhackers).

"To hell with the pearl, give me the healthy oyster."

Neil Carter looks at the latest godawful fundie movie.  A Christian discusses why Christian movies are so bad (and some of them are really bad).  Speaking of Christians and movies, they're freaking out over one of ours that hasn't even been made yet.  But Black Panther may have been precedent-setting.

Art collectors are a bit like vultures.

An Alabama Republican calls for decisive action to stop school shootings.

Substitute Jews, blacks, atheists, etc. for Geminis, Leos, Cancers, etc., and you'll see why I consider astrology disgusting.

Stupid people are stupid.  At least this one's honest.

Coal baron sues comedian, gets pwned by squirrel.

See Green Eagle's comment on farming in the 1920s -- some interesting history.

There's a double standard in police responses.

"The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in partnership, man is a slave."

Trump has benefited one disfavored group -- sharks.

School massacres are God's way of saying he doesn't like gay marriage.

They didn't know any better.

Sorry, Wakanda isn't really plausible.

The NRA gets on board with Ajit Pai's divide-and-conquer tactics.  If we can't save net neutrality, we can document the abuses.  My city is considering municipal broadband.

Ex-fundies face a huge battle just to be normal.

It's the only way to fly -- not.

Texas anti-abortion nutbars are busy squabbling with each other (found via Susan of Texas).

This is what the effects of a bomb cyclone look like.

Guns have always been part of the black political struggle.

It must be cool, being able to commit a crime and have the victim face charges.

I'll never understand this stuff -- why do these people think making themselves miserable will please God?

These businesses are attacking your right to repair your own property.

Here's what it looks like when people think bigotry is acceptable because it's rooted in religious taboos.

Sometimes the good guy wins.

Bruce Gerencser looks at the misery wrought by the war on opioids.

Hecate Demeter has a few words for the people who are trying to push Dianne Feinstein out.

Members of the Country Music Association don't want a bigot on the board of directors.

The Republican tax "reform" is full of weird glitches.  But as intended, most of the benefits are going to rich investors (found via Hackwhackers).

This editor thinks you're so dumb you should embrace bullshit if it makes you feel good.

A work requirement for Medicaid is much worse than it sounds.

"Thank God for slavery....." (found via Mendip).

Knuckle-draggers are sending death threats to Parkland survivors.  Breitbart settles for insults.  Then there's Erick Erickson.

Don't let the enemy divide us by generations.

Choose gobbledygook over science, pay the price.

A tragic "experiment" sheds light on the development of gender roles.

The AR-15 inflicts devastating injuries (found via Lady, That's My Skull).

A theocratic bigot and reactionary gets an undeserved honor once denied to a worthier man.

These people exist (scroll down a bit).  And these people exist.

Santorum is a complete and utter asshole.

Trump may soon start cutting government spending -- especially on science.

Yes, there is a consensus.

This isn't a technology problem, it's a shitty-employer problem.

Ideology must never limit scientific inquiry.  Universities are plagued by enraged science deniers.

We're not dumb, but a lot of us are ignorant.

Different cultures are different.

We need to listen to these people's experiences.

The Icelandic language is under pressure from the internet (found via Earthbound Misfit) -- in fact this is happening with small languages all over the world.

Finland isn't really called Finland (found via Miss Cellania).

Putin's tinpot fascist regime is a menace to democracy and freedom everywhere, and the US needs to act -- of course Trump is doing nothing.  As for Putin's recent speech on nuclear weapons, there's less there than meets the eye.  (And what planet is that from 0:24 to 0:31?)

There's a quiet but growing minority in the Arab world (found via Snowflake Collections).

An American girl faces, then escapes, the nightmare of forced marriage.

If you think I'm too hard on the religious nuts, here's how some of them talk about people like me.

The US supports Saudi aggression in Yemen, but some Senators are trying to end that.

De-nuclearizing North Korea is not worth a war.  The Kim regime's new conciliatory stance may be based on realizing it's doomed if a war starts (found via Earthbound Misfit) -- which greatly improves the odds of a peaceful resolution if Trump will just STFU and let South Korea handle things.

Chinese censors go nutzoid, even temporarily banning the letter N.

South Africa's parliament votes to copy the policy that caused agricultural collapse in Zimbabwe.

Trump's wall has become Schrödinger's wall.

Shower Cap blog amusingly surveys the wacky world of Republicans (found via Roosterville).  Corporations are Marxist, etc., etc., etc.  Seriously, CPAC showed what they've become.  Millennials are turning away in droves.

Almost everybody hates Trump's tariff plan.  Europe plans targeted retaliation.

Democrats will put up a fight for Texas this year.

A law professor argues that Trump can, in fact, be indicted while in office (found via Green Eagle).

Even when Republicans win, they lose.

Here's a story illustrating the depth of Trump's narcissism (found via Progressive Eruptions).

I can hardly remember not being sick of it.

Want more links?  Try here and here.

[409 days down, 1,053 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!] 

List of "meditation" posts

Meditation #1 -- grey now, bright future

Meditation #2 -- K K M

Meditation #3 -- the bond of fire

Meditation #4 -- self-awareness

Meditation #5 -- the city at night

02 March 2018

Videos of the day -- the joy of mockery

One of the best weapons for dealing with pompous, self-important, and humorless enemies is mockery.  Like the Wizard of Oz, much of their power depends on a façade of gravitas, solemnity, and even sanctity with which they hypnotize us into ignoring the shabby and manipulative little men behind the curtain they really are.  Wherever the enemy is firmly entrenched in power, they use threats such as blasphemy laws to take the weapon of mockery away from us, because the bare substance of their ideology is so shoddy and rickety that the barest breath of a snicker could shake it to its foundations.  Ridicule is poison to the ridiculous.  And to free minds, it's a revivifying breath of fresh air, the true opposite of groveling to the enemy's arrogance, an affirmation that we reject any supposed duty to "respect" the inherently absurd.

I've posted a few video examples earlier, such as this and this.  Here are some more:

Monty Python does religious law:

(At that time, speaking the name "Jehovah" aloud was considered blasphemy.)

North Korea:

(If Trump holds his own parade, just imagine the possibilities.)

Story time, with an old folk tale (slightly NSFW):

And an old favorite, for anyone who hasn't seen it:

27 February 2018

On pa-troll

The rising political passions of an election year tend to bring an increase in trolling, though it can happen at any time, and the craziest and most hateful trolls operate purely based on the random neuron-firings of their own scrambled brains, with little reference to current events.  Here's how I deal with them.

First off, there's no freedom-of-speech or censorship issue involved in moderating or deleting comments.  This is a blog, not a discussion forum -- it's my space.  Freedom of speech gives a person the right to put a political bumper sticker on his car.  It doesn't give him the right to put that same bumper sticker on my car, not unless I choose to let him.  It's amazing how many people don't grasp this point.

Not everybody who disagrees with me is a troll.  I almost never reject a comment just because of disagreement.  It's when somebody adopts a rude or hectoring or superior tone, or a particular person never comments except to criticize and attack, or they hijack a thread off-topic -- well, it's obvious when you see it.  I know that rudeness is pervasive on the internet, to the extent of being accepted by many people as part of the norm.  I don't care.  I won't put up with it here.

One common type of troll, what I call the "change the subject" troll, is actually pretty similar to a spammer.  Such a troll starts with "This is just an attempt to distract from....." or "This is ignoring....." or simply goes off on a tangent, telling me what he thinks I should be writing about instead of what I actually did write about.  Sorry, no.  If he wants to discuss something else, fine -- but on his own blog.

Another type which has been growing more common lately is the "time-waster" troll.  His gambit is to post a quite short comment, usually only a sentence or two, at minimum cost to himself in time and energy.  His comments are often full of typos and grammatical errors, since he doesn't bother to proofread them.  They're often barely related, or unrelated, to the post topic.  Their purpose is not to make a coherent point but to get others to waste time and energy responding -- which they often do, to the tune of full paragraphs of argumentation, which the original troll seldom even bothers to read.  At the cost of less than a minute of his time, he's made you waste twenty or thirty minutes of yours.  He wins.

All this being said, again, it's pretty rare that I delete a comment from a real person.  But I've seen what happens to bloggers who let trolls comment freely.  Once allowed to take root, they settle in and multiply, and comment threads turn into an interminable, exhausting mess of back-and-forth bickering.  In the case of right-wing political trolls, it's been credibly claimed that this is a conscious strategy.

As for the real psychos, the ones Cristina Rad (amusing video below) calls "haters" -- the kind of people who develop a weird obsession with you and harass you for, in some cases, weeks or months -- I've had at least two of those target this blog, both several years ago.  One was a Christian fanatic, the other was an atheist with serious mental issues.

What I've learned from experience is that trying to reason with psychos does not work.  Trying to debate them does not work.  Telling them to go away and leave you alone does not work.  Their whole purpose is to get a rise out of you.  If you give them any sort of reaction at all, especially if you're spending substantial time and energy on them and/or getting angry and frustrated, you're feeding them.  And they will not go away.

So I give them nothing.  I delete their comments in moderation, I don't reply to them, I don't answer their e-mails, I don't write cryptic-sounding posts obliquely referring to them, I don't give them any response at all.  Once I get their schtick, I don't even bother to read their comments before deleting.  Eventually, un-fed, they go away.

I've seen what happens on other blogs when bloggers don't get this.  I've seen bloggers write paragraphs meticulously correcting some troll's distortions of what the blogger said (the Christian psycho mentioned above was quite good at deliberately twisting things I'd said in hopes of goading me into replying to correct him).  I've seen them beg and plead with trolls to stop commenting, while I'm rolling my eyes and thinking "just delete the damn comments and save your time and energy".  I've seen them responding with debate or with anger or with ridicule or with whatever, but still responding.  And the troll never goes away.  He knows he's getting under their skin.  He's being fed.

Predictable as the pattern is, it's not normal behavior.  If a blogger were to tell me that my comments weren't welcome, I would immediately stop commenting there.  Why not?  There's more interesting stuff on the internet than I could ever possibly have time to read.  Why waste time on a blog where I'm not wanted?  But the hard-core, obsessive troll is a mental parasite.  He gets his jollies from inflaming you.  I don't play that game.  You probably don't.  But be aware that some people do.

[Re-posted from September 2012 with some modifications.]

25 February 2018

Link round-up for 25 February 2018

This person is dangerously close to inventing the Dalek.

Cat plays with kitten.

A time traveler reveals the dildo metropolis of the future.  Perhaps this insurance company will be thriving at that time.

Is there some sort of contest going on to design the most ridiculous clothes?

He whipped it out and busted a nut right in front of the customer.

Arming teachers could have interesting results.

This blogger is a dragon, apparently.

Ancient images preserve memories of the primordial internet.

Hmm, what character is she playing?

These people are just cool.

Outdated artifacts can be adapted for new uses.

Here are some things you shouldn't do with e-books.

This teacher is quite the artist.

Some politicians shouldn't attempt pop-culture references.

Otters float affectionately.

This is a serpent of color.

Satan is hot as Hell, apparently.

Just how smart were the monsters from the Alien films?

If this bird were a human, he'd be a Trumpanzee.

Here's a cool two-minute dinosaur film.

Trump has his own stages of grief (found via Hackwhackers).

Who would win?

Yet another Lost in Space reboot is coming.

Snob gets pwned.

If you're a writer or artist who is considering using "Underlined", read this (found via 両刀使い).

Respect is a two-way street.

Capitalism comes in the mail.

Fiction serves as a place for things that shouldn't be real.

How rich are the rich?  Here's a look at some of them.

The more we learn about the Sweet Cakes by Melissa story, the worse it gets.

I'm glad my car is old enough to not have this stuff.

If you're running a social media service, don't annoy Kylie Jenner.

There's now a dating site for Trumpanzees, and it already has a PR problem.

Think of clothing as prosthetic fur.  It matters.

Here's an editorial that truly is fake news.

This church will bless your guns (straight couples only).  Other fundies use the Parkland massacre to push their tired old arguments about morality being rooted in religion.

As Mueller closes in, wingnuttery escalates.

This person started the wrong argument, and lost.

Atheists have good reasons to be angry.

Be honest -- which path would he take?

Here's the latest potential American workplace nightmare (found via Lady, That's My Skull).

Condemned to a grisly death to satisfy the depraved appetites of others, she fought back hard, and won.

Our country's devaluation of teachers is a national disgrace.

Two misogynist organizations have been officially designated as hate groups.

I posted a hypothetical question on the far-right forum F169 -- if the Second Amendment were repealed and guns banned, how would gun owners react?  Some of the replies are of interest, especially the one by "Duckford" on page 2.

Rational Nation has a good blogger discussion on gun control.

Will the Parkland students make a differenceTwitter reactions here.  The enemy is attacking them for their activism, though this guy went too far even for a Republican.  YouTube also has its limits, though apparently this guy is OK.  RedState tries to go classy on Dinesh D'Souza, but its commenters don't cooperate.  The Florida legislature has taken decisive action.

Even Scalia didn't support the NRA's maximalist position.  The left, too, must avoid being stampeded to extremes on guns (found via a Rational Nation comment at Progressive Eruptions). Banks have some power to impose controls on unregulated gun sales.  Here are some options for applying pressure, which has worked in one case.  But many companies have ties with the NRA.

Are guns being used to resist tyranny?

The FBI's history illuminates why it didn't act on tips about the Parkland murderer.

It's already possible to make a working AR-15 at home.

My state is trying to restore net neutrality (found via Alle Tanzten mit dem Tod).  This Tuesday is an internet day of action to push Congress to restore net neutrality nationwide -- sign up hereThese are allies.

Expect more of this kind of propaganda as the parasite class tries to phase out retirement as a concept and persuade ordinary people to literally work until they die.

Trumpanzees ooze slime at an Olympic skier (found via Fair and Unbalanced).

We must never accept this kind of brutal and cowardly shooting as normal.

There's less to these reports of violence at Black Panther showings than meets the eye (when you see "hater of sodomy", you kinda know).

Anthony Borges became a hero at 15 -- and he needs help.

Ex-Muslims of North America saves a life.

Here's what our five most vulnerable states are doing about election hacking (not much).  But what did Obama do about the problem?

No matter what, vote against the racist.

I never knew they grew this big.

Universal basic income is a fair way to distribute the benefits of technology.

Some girls can do math.

Jupiter is the slow-moving shepherd of the asteroids.

A treasure trove of ancient fossils has been found in an area Trump just opened up to mining.

The US far surpasses the rest of the developed world.

Ireland has the best curses.

A new form of discrimination rears its head in Australia (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).

Scandinavians master the power of gayness to deter war.

The Dutch parliament defies Turkish government thuggery.

France starts confronting the problem of religious extremists.  When will we?

Trump is trying to bully Mexico again.

We could take as many as 18 Governorships from the Republicans this year.  The country's slimiest Governor is already going down.

Baby-sitting Trump is an exhausting job (found via Mock Paper Scissors).

A few feathers just got ruffled at CPAC.

Romney's Senate run has an endorsement problem.

What would a real President do?

Ideological purists aren't just destructively stupid, they're hypocrites.

Trump supports chain migration in certain cases.

A set of long-shot lawsuits aims for Electoral College reform.

Want more links?  See here and here.