20 July 2017

Free expression, even for the worst

Back in May I observed:  "If you claim to support free expression even for people you disagree with, but in every actual specific case that comes up you find some excuse for doing otherwise (calling it 'incitement' or 'hate speech' or whatever), then you are not a supporter of free expression."  It's an important principle.

One of the most disgusting and hypocritical obsessions to be found in our politics is hatred toward Israel.  Nearly every other government in the Middle East is guilty of worse human-rights violations than Israel, and many treat minorities worse than Israel treats the Palestinians.  During military counterstrikes against the terrorists who target its civilians, Israel has gone to almost absurd lengths to minimize civilian casualties on the other side, such as warning them of military operations in advance by telephone.  Yet it's Israel that is the target of protests, boycotts, disinvestment, etc.  The obsessives point to this or that Israeli leader or policy, yet the crusade against Israel remains the same even when leaders or policies change.  Why, it's almost as if the campaign against the Jewish state were actually just the latest incarnation of some sort of deep prejudice stretching back through almost 2,000 years of Western history.

All that being said, this is outrageous:

But now, a group of 43 senators -- 29 Republicans and 14 Democrats -- wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel, which was launched in protest of that country’s decades-old occupation of Palestine. The two primary sponsors of the bill are Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio. Perhaps the most shocking aspect is the punishment: Anyone guilty of violating the prohibitions will face a minimum civil penalty of $250,000 and a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

There's much more at the link.  See also this letter from the ACLU on the bill, which is causing at least one Congressman to reconsider his support.

Yes, the viewpoint to be criminalized here is morally bankrupt, hypocritical, and probably rooted in the oldest and ugliest bigotry of them all.  But freedom of expression must apply to every viewpoint, even the most repulsive, or it means nothing.  In a free society, the proper response to bad ideas is to refute them, not silence them.  Moreover, a free society must define free expression as broadly as it can -- even to include forms of expression such as boycotts, something the courts have already affirmed.

This law is such a flagrant attack on the First Amendment that it's unlikely to survive a court challenge even if it passes; recently the Supreme Court unanimously upheld freedom for even repugnant expression.  But Congress should know better than to pass it at all.

18 July 2017

Videos of the day -- a voice of reason

I discovered AronRa's YouTube channel over the weekend and have been spending a fair bit of my internet time there since then.  I find him refreshingly knowledgeable and blunt in taking on the fundie nonsense which has held us back for so long and which has been threatening to tighten its grip on the US since the current minority-rule regime came to power half a year ago.

AronRa was baptized Mormon, though he never considered himself a true believer.  He now lives in Texas, where he is the State Director of American Atheists.

Here he debunks a fundie "university" video on the Ten Commandments and the supposed divine origin of morality:


He has a whole series of videos on Noah's flood, discussing how various fields of science and history show that it could not have happened.  This one is about mythology across cultures, a field sometimes cited by fundies in support of their myth:

One of the striking things about this is the statistics he cites at the beginning, that strong majorities of US elected officials are creationists and believe the flood myth, but among the general population, only one-third to one-half do.  Is the government really more ignorant than the masses?  I hope a lot of those elected officials are just feigning belief for the sake of re-election.  But it's shocking that a third to a half of the people in an advanced nation still think mythology is literally true.

Check out the rest of the series too (playlist and dicussion here) -- especially on evolutionary biology and related fields, AronRa really knows his stuff.

Finally, he takes down Mike Pence (this was made before the 2016 election):

Remember that Pence will more than likely be President within a year or so.

AronRa also has a blog and a general website.

16 July 2017

Link round-up for 16 July 2017

After a long day of fixing computers, kittens go for a run.

Word gets around.

I'd have changed this license plate too.

Well, it's an eye-catching sign.

Fanciest bed ever.

Robot fish are all very well, but another type of robot has the enemy freaking out.

Would you?

Computers used to be.....this.

Here's why uptight people just can't stand other people's taste in fiction.

Fanart is an old concept.

Catholic extremists fume at the rank-and-file's tolerance for divorce (don't miss the nutty comments about giants).

What if Fox News had reported the story of Jesus?

Religion used to be.....different.  Maybe it was just part of the culture.

Sappho had a touch of modern sensibility.

The "Ravenna relief" illustrates the quality of ancient Roman sculpture.

Here's how freezers worked in 400 BC.

50 years after Loving v Virginia swept away the last legal barriers, interracial marriage has become commonplace.

A new comic, Calexit, envisages California's secession from a fascist US.

After Texas Republicans defunded Planned Parenthood, the state's teenage abortion rate predictably surged.  Texas has more bad legislation coming.  Nationally, the Republican minority-rule regime is trying to make data harder to collect.

See rare photos of famous people (it's a wingnut website, so if you browse further, be warned).

No, Wonder Woman does not indulge in sexploitation.

53% of Americans now support single-payer.

Not all heroes wear capes. And sometimes heroism is not rewarded.

The "tiny house" trend is aimed at helping the homeless, but might someday mean affordable housing for the broader public.

A vicious attack on New Atheism is exposed and debunked.

Republicans reject education, affirming themselves as the party of stupid.

Planned Parenthood has some basic facts on abortion.  And here's the opposition.

That Chicago "dyke march" lunge into anti-Semitism just gets worse.

It's not in the Constitution (found via Yellowdog Granny).

The good guys:  This post has a list of companies and groups that supported this week's protest for net neutrality.

Sometimes a photo is not what it seems.

Harvard is getting absurdly bossy.

The American prolongation of childhood reaches even more absurd extremes.

This guy wants to kill pretty much everybody.

If there's an intelligent designer, he's stupid.

Crazy Eddie looks at the birth of a trillion-ton iceberg.

100 companies account for 71% of global greenhouse-gas emissions.

General anesthesia can have an alarming side effect.

Here's an example of the harm done by not vaccinating.

The Juno probe delivers new imagery of Jupiter's Great Red Spot.

If you like cheese, you're probably white.

Trump hints he might reconsider leaving the Paris agreement.

Here's a map of policies on mandatory paid maternity leave.  An international look at healthcare is also informative.  But how much would universal coverage cost?

Malta, formerly dominated by Catholicism, legalizes gay marriage.

Some Europeans display Confederate flags, but the reasons vary.

That Afghan girl robotics team got into the US after all, thanks to protests.

A new study confirms Saudi Arabia as the main driver of Islamist extremism in Europe.

Here's the latest in stupid censorship.

Goddamn religion won't even let you post a video of your dog.

Wow, this guy killed Satan, but the government is unimpressed.

Remember Biafra?  It's ready to erupt again.

Hackwhackers has reactions to Trump's idea of a cybersecurity partnership with Russia.

This particular Republican move stinks worst of all.

The Trumplings seem unaware of just how much trouble they're in, what with Donald Jr's e-mails and creating opportunities for blackmail.  How did they get into this mess?

Wingnuts are being so wingnutty, Green Eagle needs two separate wingnut wrapups to keep up.

Republican Michael Steele is fed up with Trump's bullshit.  So is neocon Max Boot.

Trumpanzees weren't the only ones conned by Russia.

Trump may lash out at the Justice Department.  Or maybe he'll just trust in God.  He'd better not count on his social skills.

13 July 2017

Video of the day -- the "solar wall" and the con man


Claims that Trump's Mexican wall can be a source of solar energy are absurd -- but what else could we expect, given his record?  Note:  This was made by the same person who created my personal favorite among all the videos I've posted here.

12 July 2017

One day for the internet

Right now most of the US political blogosphere is understandably caught up in the latest revelations on the Trump-Russia issue.  But the enemy is active on many fronts, and so must we be.

Today, July 12, has been chosen as a day of action to support net neutrality, which the Trumpified FCC wants to destroy.  If the worst-case scenarios pan out, losing net neutrality would strangle the internet as we know it, crippling our ability to spread information rapidly and carry out mass actions (such as the campaigns to stop ACA repeal) on short notice.  That is, if we can't save net neutrality, we could lose much of our ability to save everything else.

Control over the flow of information would be effectively re-centralized, and de facto censorship would become even more pervasive.

Here's a comprehensive post about the day of action and why it matters.  Here's a petition to the FCC.  Here's the post where I found out about this, which has links to more resources.

Of course, the internet won't be truly safe until the technology has reached the point of being genuinely immune from such interference -- when governments and private entities not only refrain from restricting content, but can't.  However, evidently we are not yet at that point.

09 July 2017

Link round-up for 9 July 2017

Try to imagine the people who needed these signs.

Politics Plus has a fun collection of Christie on the beach images.  Here's one more (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Did somebody fart?

Moscow reels from the attack of the runaway toilets.  Perhaps they can be placated with a big enough offering.

This does not make anyone think of lipstick.

A health center in Canada is interestingly designed.

If you had only minutes to live, how would you spend it?

An iconic film star comes to a sad end.

Tremble at the tale of the megadildo menace.

Gosh, somebody is not happy with Tumblr.

Monsters, monsters!

Every picture has a story behind it.

Here are some impressive fountains (I've wandered around the Keller a few times).

The armor shown in Wonder Woman is based on ancient Roman armor.  It matters.  But what if a real-life heroine from Roman times got a movie?  (Actually, she did.)

A wingnut tries to debate clean energy.

Now the racists are in a snit about Star Trek.

An attempt to mock gay pride backfires on Twitter.

This quote has been making the rounds, but it's fake.

It's scary to think some people need this.

Here's the skinny on Roman underwear.

Catholic extremists whine that the rank-and-file are becoming supportive of gay marriage -- the comments vividly illustrate the mentality we're up against.  More entertaining is this freak-out over ecumenism, whose comments are full of childish sectarian bickering.

A victim of religious "education" assesses the damage (found via Tell Me Why the World Is Weird).

".....our roads and bridges look more like those in Thailand or Venezuela than the Netherlands or Japan."

Liberty Counsel is classified as a hate group.  Here's why.

A week after Nevada legalized recreational marijuana, its dispensaries can't keep up with demand.

This "ex-gay" writer seems oddly obsessed with "sodomy".  This lunatic is even more weirdly obsessed with porn.

No, this was never a "Christian nation".

Twitter promotes dumbth.

Do disability benefits really work like this?

Purity culture makes a mess of relationships.

These far-leftists support religious bigotry against gays.

Stuck on a sinking ark, Ken Ham rages at taxes and secularists. But even worse than faking antiquities is stealing them.

The wingnuts have a new hero.

The flat Earth movement (found via Mendip) is more sinister than you think.

Trump expounds on outer space (found via Fair and Unbalanced).  He wants to waste a lot of money on it.

Beware of falling rocks.

Arp 299 is a galactic goulash.

X-ray reverberation mapping shows us a star being torn apart.

Martian soil is saturated with chemicals lethal to bacteria. This seems to end any hope of terraforming Mars, since Earthly plant life depends on Earthly soil bacteria to survive, so any terraforming would have to start with establishing such bacteria before we could plant trees, crops, etc. If Earthly soil bacteria can't live in Martian soil, Earthly plant life can never grow there either.

This is Canada.

The Church of England forgets whose martyrs are whose.

Stop blaming the victim.

Volvo -- and the whole country of France -- are serious about phasing out fossil fuels.

Italian wingnuts fight gay liberation by mumbling to themselves in public.

A teenage rape victim gets a thirty-year prison sentence for a stillbirth.

A brazen racist wins an important post in Bulgaria.

Trump's travel ban keeps these Afghanis out.

Religious fanatics are boycotting Starbucks.

US, Japanese, and South Korean air power stage a show of force against North Korea.  Green Eagle argues that North Korea is mostly bark and not much bite.

Trump is eroding the US image globally, which creates an opening for China.  He's also likely to drive entrepreneurship away from the US.  Don't miss this Australian journalist's assessment.  But remember, he doesn't represent what our country really is.

Republicans need more women candidates, but the reason why is depressing.  Also, they need fewer crooks.

Trumpanzees' "Confederate worldview" venerates an ugly past.  Conservatism works like an addiction.  Red-state governments are rolling back progress.

Are these voters worth getting back?  Could you persuade this guy?  Would you bother listening to these guys?

Trump resembles another historical figure.

A Republican call to share "Obamacare horror stories" backfires spectacularlyBob Casey reviews the Senate repeal bill.

[171 days down, 1,291 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]

04 July 2017

Independence Day

It may seem that there's little to celebrate today.  I don't deny the gravity of the threats we're facing.  I do want to offer a few reminders.

1) This country is now 241 years old.  It has been through a lot.  It has faced evils and threats much worse than anything we face now.  Evils such as slavery, the expropriations and massacres of the Indians, the disenfranchisement of women until 1920, Jim Crow, the criminalization and persecution of gays up to (in some states) 2003.  Threats such as the Confederate secession, German and Japanese fascist imperialism, McCarthyism, the rise of the Christian Right.  Through it all, the country has remained and the Constitution has remained, and inch by inch freedom and social equality have been expanded.  We will get through this too.

2) The current regime is a minority-rule regime -- Americans did not vote for it.  Not only did three million more of us vote for Hillary than for Trump, but eleven million more voted for Democratic Senators than for Republican ones.  The empowerment of the Republicans is an artifact of vote suppression, an archaic and unrepresentative electoral system, and Russian interference.  It does not represent who we as a people are.

(I hope that Americans will finally unlearn the habit of treating every foreign country as a homogenous monolith defined by its government.  When the news says "Iran did X" or "Germany did Y", that means the government in question did something, which may not reflect the real will of the people there, any more than Trump's actions reflect yours.)

3) The real people of our country have responded with mass popular resistance in the form of huge demonstrations, raucous town halls, and wave after wave of messages to Congress.  These actions, combined with the enemy's division and ineptitude, have stymied most of their agenda.  They are so scared of us that the Senate version of ACA repeal was written in secret and sneaked out in the hopes that it could be voted on before the public knew what was happening and started putting pressure on its Senators -- and even that gambit has failed so far.  They have all the power on paper, yet they have to skulk and hide and smuggle their agenda under the radar in hopes of getting something done.  They are cowards and they are not as powerful as they seem.

4) As always, the threat within the gates is cynicism and defeatism.  No problem has ever been solved by declaring that it is insoluble and that the situation is hopeless.  No enemy has ever been defeated by deciding that it has already beaten us and that all is lost.  The suffragettes and the early civil-rights fighters and the first gay-liberation pioneers all faced dauntingly strong and terrifyingly ruthless opposition, yet they fought on.  What would they think of those today who are ready to declare defeat and give up after just a few months, especially after the successes we've had?

5) If you fear that the impeachment of Trump will rob the resistance of its energy and leave the enemy free to push through their agenda under President Pence, remember that the biggest issue firing up popular pressure on Congress hasn't been anything to do with Trump at all -- it's been ACA repeal.  When people understand what the Republicans' plans would really mean for them, they are energized to fight back.  That will remain true as long as those plans remain what they are, even with a different President.

6) When this is over, all the Republicans who defended and excused and normalized Trump's endlessly disgusting and moronic behavior will be saddled with that for the rest of their careers.  They'll be on record as insisting that Twitter tantrums, misogynistic vulgarity, stygian ignorance, and unimaginative insults -- to say nothing of flagrant efforts to shut down investigations of possible misdeeds in his inner circle -- are normal and acceptable in a successor to Lincoln and FDR and Eisenhower.  Eventually Trump will be gone, but the stench of what they had to wallow in for his sake will never fade.

7) Demographic changes continue to work in our favor.  Among the most important of these is the inexorable decline of religion (now that Republicans are the anti-secular and anti-science party, and will become even more so under Pence), which cannot be stopped by immigration controls or racist vote-restriction laws.

8) The US is not the whole world.  While we are dealing with this temporary reign of malignant clowns, the rest of the world continues moving forward on issues like global warming.

This is a setback.  We have had setbacks before.  We will still win.

02 July 2017

Link round-up for 2 July 2017

Finally -- a TV show with balls!

Radiohead fans applaud a new composition (story may not be true -- see comments).

"Is this real?"

Here's a Tumblr observation on pigeon sex.  And this chicken provokes varied interpretations.

I found this short tale of sorcery devilishly entertaining.

He who can't be laid, must be paid!

Bloggers, watch your trolls -- they'll do this (found via Yellowdog Granny).

Capybaras radiate friendship.

That's a big bird (found via TYWKIWDBI).

Pyrosomes beswarm our coast.

These tiny fish resemble living suction cups.

Let him swim.

Crops rot in the fields as illegal-alien labor grows scarce.

"Friendly" Christianity is not the answer.

Single women often have a pretty good life except for pestering by family members.

God hates fags, his people hate America (found via Mendip).  Hardly surprising when they take innocuous symbols as evidence of Satanic dominion.  One pastor gets it.

Anti-Semitism is gathering strength around the world -- even manifesting itself at a Chicago gay pride event.

An abomination against the Constitution is cast down.

These people exist.

Take a balanced look at Seattle's minimum-wage hike.

Ivanka Trump is accused of stealing something hardly worth having.

Colorado Springs tried libertarianism, with disappointing results.

This is Bible morality.

Nevada joins the recreational marijuana revolution.

Missouri legislators vote to let your employer fire you for using birth control (found via Mendip).

Wingnuts sabotage solar power in Montana.  In fact, in the USA, global warming will hit red states hardest.  Already Arizona's summer heat is literally melting everyday objects.

Disasters provoke cooperation and stronger social feelings, not dog-eat-dog chaos.

Scientists offer competing views on how far life extension can go (I don't take either side as definitive since the arguments are based on past lifespan trends, not on analysis of potential technology).

Justin Trudeau is the coolest world leader.

The British people overwhelmingly reject austerity, and are moving left more generally -- as this massive demonstration illustrates -- and the Scots are turning against another independence referendum.

No matter how conservatives protest, the Grenfell Tower fire is political.

Misogynistic Twitter trolls plague the UK too.

Germany joins most of the West in legalizing gay marriage, provoking a debate in Australia, one of the few remaining holdouts.

The number-three man in the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, has been charged with sexual assault.

Don't forget what's going on in Russia.

The Saudi regime's effort to shut down Al-Jazeera shows fear of free expression.  The network speaks out for itself.

Having apparently learned nothing from 1953, neocons push regime change in Iran.

Hysterical Raisins offers another Time cover for Trump.

Planned Parenthood flexes its muscles in Washington.

When Republicans demand civility, here's what they mean.

A conversation with two doubting Trumpanzees offers hope for 2020.  Here's another view.

What would Hillary have done?  And should we dump Nancy Pelosi?

Trump's scam vote-fraud commission is DOA with the states.

The New Republic makes the case for radical liberal federalism.

This is what Trump's great-again America would look like (found via Yellowdog Granny).  A simple graph shows what ACA repeal would mean; and the Huffington Post gives more detail.  Luckily, repeal is proving difficult and even RedState says the Republicans have blown it.  In fact, they're failing at pretty much everything (found via Hackwhackers).

The super-rich pressure Republicans to get their dirty work done.

Sydney Schwab debunks political both-siderism.

Green Eagle gives his views on where all this is heading.

[Image at top:  Berlin's Brandenburg Gate illuminated in rainbow colors after the German gay-marriage vote]

30 June 2017

Video of the day -- farmers


This is agriculture, by any reasonable definition.  Since the fungus has adapted under cultivation and is now different from its "wild" ancestor, actually dependent on the ants' care to survive, it probably even qualifies as domestication.  So agriculture -- the prerequisite for human civilization -- was achieved millions of years ago by animals which, as far as we can tell, don't even have self-awareness.  Video found via Crazy Eddie.

27 June 2017

Random observations for June 2017

Being rich doesn't usually mean you can do anything you want to do.  It does usually mean you can avoid doing what you don't want to do, which is actually more valuable.

o o o o o

Too much immigration can be worrisome, but the time to really worry will be when nobody wants to immigrate here.

o o o o o

I've almost always done the cautious thing, the proper thing, the unselfish thing.  It has not made me happy.

o o o o o

Most religious people are not the enemy.  Religion is the enemy.  It's an infection that religious people are suffering from.

o o o o o

Put yourself first.  Nobody else will.

o o o o o

Any shouting person is boring.

o o o o o

"Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" is a quote I've always hated.  The state exists for us; we do not exist for the state.

[For previous random observations, see here.]

25 June 2017

Link round-up for 25 June 2017

People interact with statues.

Heh.  And heh.

"You gay people have a lot of drama," says drama queen.  This principal doesn't get it either.

With ads, placement matters.

These people exist.

Too much politics -- time for puppies and baby seals.

Stupidest rape attempt ever (found via MendipNote: may not be true -- see comments).

A classic race is run.

Cats are an evil conspiracy.

Welcome aboard.

Pastor John Hagee wants to prosecute women for.....well, see for yourself (found via Mendip).  But how would the police monitor for occurrences of this crime?

Pagan Egypt had the best mythologyMore here.

Wonder Woman is an inspirational movie, but it could have been very different, and much worse.

Is America great again yet?

Appreciate the laundry-folding machine.  And show a little respect for the peanut worm.

Sleep under starry skies, indoors.

Crazy Eddie recognizes World Giraffe Day and National Seashell Day.  He also takes a look at icebergs and ants.

Millennials are killing everything, but maybe they just have better ideas.

Avoid polarized thinking about other people.

We'll kill you, but.....

Don't be fooled by fake news, even (especially!) when it's something you want to believe.

Evangelicals have lost their way.

Can't find good employees?  Here's why.

Read a debate on seat belts.

Here are reasons why some Christians don't proselytize.  But here's someone with no self-awareness.

Vampires are taking over the Republican party from zombies.

Texas enacts a new discriminatory law.

"Neocrusaders" agitated about Sharî'ah law have a lot in common with those they condemn.  (In case you missed it, the same blogger left an info-filled comment here about the actual Crusaders.)

The Alt-Right is divided and quarrelsome.

He hides, then punishes those who don't see him.

Three cheers for a unanimous Supreme Court ruling upholding free expression.

Follow these laws and everything will be fine.

Here's a warning about yeast infection cream.

The Bible condemns many.

See what the wingnuts have been up to lately.

Senators ignore women's testimony about religious violence.

One group that should have spoken up for Philando Castile is oddly silent.

Christian hate doesn't end even when you're dead.  Christian love is even worse.

NOM has lost, but vows to keep slogging on.

Extremists are extremists -- including these.

The end of slavery began a desperate effort for family reunions.  And remember the story of Ruby Bridges from a century later later.

The fight against global warming continues, even without the US.

Hemp plastic can help save the environment.

Cultural diversity enriches university life.

Hot weather inspires an unusual school protest in the UK.

After their election disappointment, Britain's Conservatives back down on some of the nastiest austerity stuff -- but some very nasty stuff remains.  Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn becomes a thing on the internet.

The Church of England shielded a molesting bishop for 20 years.

The people in the Grenfell Tower died because.....

Afraid of turning gay?  Grow a beard.

This purports to show examples of ad censorship in the Middle East, but I'm suspicious -- almost none of the images have any text in a Middle Eastern language.  (For comparison, here's an actual Arabic ad image for Frozen).

A President re-elected in a landslide takes on an unelected theocrat.

Iran's retaliatory missile strike against Dâ'ish (ISIL) sends a broader message.

Kaveh Mousavi suggests how to respond to a jihadist attack.

Enraged at looming defeat, Dâ'ish destroys a venerated 800-year-old mosque.

Religious nut attacks woman for wearing shorts.

The Saudi regime demands that Qatar shut down Al-Jazeera.

Eqbal Dauqan had to fight hard to become a scientist.

Trump is useless, so foreign leaders are working around him.

TPM and Electoral-Vote.com look at the special elections.

This is Ben Sasse.

Trump has now admitted that Russia interfered in the election, and the CIA has learned that the orders came from Putin himself.  Dallas county (a blue county in the red sea of Texas) was a hacking target.

Electoral-Vote.com has a comparison of the House and Senate ACA repeal bills.  Don't assume that Republican defections will stop the Senate version.

If Trump fires Mueller, what happens next?

21 June 2017

Video of the day -- Exodus


An evocative short film from France (no dialogue, so you don't need to know French).  Comprehension note:  the dying animal at the beginning is bigger than you think.

19 June 2017

The common threat

Britain has suffered yet another terrorist attack.  A driver deliberately plowed his van into a group of Muslims leaving a mosque in London, injuring ten; there was also one death, although it's unclear whether it was actually caused by the van attack.  The driver, who has been arrested, was heard yelling "I want to kill Muslims".

As national leaders have pointed out, this event was not qualitatively different from the jihadist terrorist attacks which have happened in the UK and elsewhere.  The only difference was the choice of target, and in a truer sense that was not different either.  Like the Manchester attack and the earlier London vehicle/knife attack, this was an assault by a violent extremist against peaceful citizens.

It's often said that terrorism seeks to divide people.  An essential step in defeating that aim is to recognize who the two sides in this conflict actually are.  It's not Muslims against the secular community (I call it that rather than "Christian" since most people in the UK are non-religious).  It's the violent extremists of whatever stripe against the whole general public, secular or Muslim or Christian or whatever.

The UK is perhaps well-positioned to grasp this due to a comparable conflict which plagued it a few decades ago -- Northern Ireland.  Catholic and Protestant extremists each carried out terror attacks against people of the other religion, and in the case of the Catholic extremists, sometimes in England as well.  So long as Protestants in general thought of Catholics in general as the enemy and vice versa, the conflict was insoluble.  In fact, of course, the real enemy was both groups of extremists, who were waging a war against the general population of Northern Ireland.

(Note also the recent Dâish (ISIL) terror attack on Iran which, like France and the UK and the US, has been active in helping the Arab and Kurdish forces fighting Dâ'ish.  This attack is hard to square with the naïve view that Dâ'ish and Iran are both part of some homogenous terror-supporting Islamic bloc at war with the West.)

We in the US need to grasp this too.  There is a developing tendency here to compare lists of Islamist terror attacks with those carried out by right-wing extremists and bigots of various types, as if these were two separate and contrasting phenomena and we had to decide which of the two is worse so as to decide which one to fight the hardest.  That's the wrong way to look at it.  The jihadists and the gay-bashers, KKK, abortion-clinic bombers, and people like Dylann Roof and the Portland MAX knifeman, are far more alike than different.  As violent extremists, they are all waging war against peaceful people and against the core Western values of pluralism, freedom, and the rule of law.  They are all the enemies of the rest of us.

18 June 2017

Link round-up for 18 June 2017

Enjoy some amusing cats, some baby hippos, these pesky pandas, and this honkin' huge fish.

Ken Ham blames atheists for his "Ark Encounter" scam's utter failure (both found via Mock Paper Scissors).

It's not a good day for these two.

Star Wars, religion style!

A centuries-old relic is discovered.

What if LOTR was like modern politics?

This was a library, long ago.

We could really use Wonder Woman right now, but watching the movie may have side effects.  Here are a few behind-the-scenes pics (click to enlarge).

Here's a photo of Melania Trump's father.

Microsoft is still trying to push Windows 10 on us.

If you think shoplifting is OK, read this.

See what a bullet does to a block of gel.

This phone app sounds good for personal security.

A pastor explains why he reads ex-Christian Bruce Gerencser's blog.  Here's another reader who just can't let go of the arrogance.

Old pallets can be useful.

Stop coddling net Nazis.

What is the "war against religion"?

Hadrian did mourning on a lavish scale.

Karen the Rock Whisperer remembers growing up Catholic, and escaping.

12 June marked two very different anniversaries.

A California woman demonstrates faith-based parenting.

It's really true, a higher minimum wage is good for business.

Finally, a little justice for Flint MI.

"Pro-life" legislator kills thing.

Wingnuts launch yet another ineffectual boycott.

Salvation by grace alone is a morally-incoherent concept.

A Texas Alt-right rally attracts some wacky characters.  These didn't attract much of anybody.

Denounce homophobia wherever it appears.

Here are some resources for learning stuff for free.

Privatizing air-traffic control?  Not so fast.

Religio-wingnuts bewail re-paganization of Western culture -- and you ain't seen nothin' yet, you turkeys!  Speaking of paganism.....

Ranch Chimp has some tough questions in the wake of the Scalise shooting.  Progressive Eruptions has some reminders.

David Clarke's jail has something of a history (found via Mendip).

Andrew Breitbart left a legacy.  NBC is about to destroy its reputation.

A Republican says other Republicans are eating shit fish, or something like that.

The Dunning-Kruger effect has been known for a long time.

Ignorance of science is frighteningly pervasive in our country.

This person wasn't vaccinated.

Even in the US, clean energy is booming beyond expectations.

Consider how arrogant scientists really are (found via Yellowdog Granny).

It may be that stars normally form as binaries.

There aren't reptiles.

It has arrived.

The conventional wisdom that Jeremy Corbyn was too far left for British voters has been shattered.

The Grenfell Tower fire, rooted in "free market" mania, is Theresa May's hurricane Katrina -- and popular fury is still growing.

The Irish potato famine was caused by capitalism.

Here's how voting works in Australia.  And just offshore, there's a gay island kingdom.

Assimilation in action -- Germany gets a gay-friendly mosque.

Moan, whine, sin, penance, blah blah blah.....

I would board this flight without hesitation.

Follow the example of the perfect man.

The ghastly sentence of blogger Raif Badawi shows that the Saudi regime isn't so different from Dâ'ish (ISIL).

Muslims are the main victims of Islamist extremism.

A hacker is giving Dâ'ish (ISIL) a gay make-over on the net (found via Mendip).

Women in Iran and Afghanistan used to dress differently.

Chinese investment creates jobs in Ohio, but there are problems.

Trump and his gang are trying to discredit Mueller.

Only mass deportation can save America (found via PM Carpenter).

Hard-core Trumpanzees vote by tribe, not interests.

A fight is brewing in the Senate over medical marijuana.

Bernie would have won, except for.....

Hysterical Raisins looks at Sessions's testimony and Trump's "praise me" cabinet meeting. Even RedState is nauseated by the latter event (but they still don't know the difference between "reign" and "rein").

Karen Handel is against LGBT civil rights because religion (of course).  If she loses, it will be despite admitted Republican gerrymandering.

Trump's abandonment of the Paris agreement is a big steaming pile of (redacted).

Rural Americans resent minorities, and me.

When Republicans demand respect from us, remember this.  Then go read this.

RedState bemoans the divisions Trump has wrought among wingnuts. The Guardian celebrates the rising tide of anti-Trump activism.

Tweet!  Tweet!

[150 days down, 1,312 days to go until the inauguration of a real President!]