Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ayn Rand: the Tea Party’s Miscast Matriarch

Image via

Perhaps Rand’s brilliance and that of Greenspan elude the Objectivist-challenged among us. I decided to reach out to an expert on such matters. 
I emailed Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of the Humanities and English at Yale University. Professor Bloom did not mince words: “Ayn Rand was a writer of no value whatsoever, whether aesthetic or intellectual. The Tea Party deserves her, but the rest of us do not. It is not less than obscene that any educational institution that relies even in part on public funds should ask students to consider her work. We are threatened these days by vicious mindlessness and this is one of its manifestations.”
I'm not Bloom's biggest fan; his wouldn't have been the name that leapt to mind when I wanted to make an appeal to authority, but we're in agreement here.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tek To Retire

Jason Varitek To Retire:

Image via

Fifteen seasons and two World Championships later, Jason Varitek is calling it a career. The 39-year-old catcher will announce his retirement in Fort Myers this Thursday, Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe reports. 
I fully expect we'll seem him managing the Sox before long.

Walt Whitman's famous words leap to mind:
O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done; The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won ...

NC law already requires 'invasive' scan for many

NC ultrasound law requires 'invasive' scan for many ::

Image via

North Carolina’s ultrasound law, passed last year over the governor’s veto, didn’t provoke the same level of controversy. It doesn't include the words "trans-vaginal probe," either. But it effectively requires the procedure for many, if not most, abortions.

The new law requires an ultrasound before any abortion procedure. The woman has to be shown the image of the fetus, have the image described to her, and be offered the opportunity to hear the fetal heartbeat.

In early pregnancy—up until about 8 weeks—the only way a doctor can comply with those requirements is by using a trans-vaginal sonogram probe.

Rex Healthcare’s Rhonda Thomas is president of the NC Ultrasound Society. She says abdominal ultrasounds can’t see much before the two-month mark, especially if the patient has had prior pregnancies or is overweight.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Blogroll Addition: On The Devil's Wind, The Heavenly Aroma Was Wafted To Me

Was pointed today to a series of posts about bacon that awakened me to heretofore unconsidered possibilities:

Image via Devil's Wind

Friday, February 24, 2012

" ... [T]he movement of the mind through a sequence of words ..."

E-books Can’t Burn by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books:
Literature is made up of words. They can be spoken or written. If spoken, volume and speed and accent can vary. If written, the words can appear in this or that type-face on any material, with any impagination. Joyce is as much Joyce in Baskerville as in Times New Roman. And we can read these words at any speed, interrupt our reading as frequently as we choose. Somebody who reads Ulysses in two weeks hasn’t read it any more or less than someone who reads it in three months, or three years.

Only the sequence of the words must remain inviolate. We can change everything about a text but the words themselves and the order they appear in. The literary experience does not lie in any one moment of perception, or any physical contact with a material object (even less in the “possession” of handsome masterpieces lined up on our bookshelves), but in the movement of the mind through a sequence of words from beginning to end.

Sriracha Truth

via The Oatmeal

Internet-y things I'd like to be able to do but can't or don't know how to ...

While not a coder or a tech-guru, as far as users/readers/consumers of content go, I think I'm relatively sophisticated. If the solutions I'm looking for were out there, I'd hope that I'd have found them by now, but on the off-chance they are and I didn't, please let me know ...

  1. For sites that are clunky on my android phone and don't have a mobile versions or apps, I'd like to be able to make an app that strips those sites down to the essentials so I can just do what I want to do without the bells and whistles, or find some other way to get at them. For example, Empire Avenue's profile page is too sprawling and has too many elements that don't display easily in my little phone browser. I'd like to be able to see my notifications in a simple list and perform buy/sell actions from my Watch List. Also, when I go to, it's not easy to view the most recent songs in my phone's browser. I'd love to be able to just scrape the last five songs from the playlist and see them in an appropriately formatted list. (Ideally one that would also let me scrobble, tweet, or check-in to the song, depending on my mood.)  There are services that let you make simple android apps without needing to know how to code, but they're more for capturing RSS feeds and neither EA nor WKNC have feeds on the pages I'm looking for.
  2. I want to watch Game of Thrones, legally, right now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I bought a Zim Bear for Pedro Martinez; he grabbed it by its fat head and threw it to the ground.

I, Zim Bear: This Rays giveaway is terrifying | Big League Stew - Yahoo! Sports:

Bobbleheads beware: There's a new memorabilia item in town and it poses a risk to your status as the greatest of giveaways.

No, seriously: What you're looking at is the "Zim Bear" that the Tampa Bay Rays plan to hand out to fans attending the June 29 game against the Detroit Tigers at Tropicana Field.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ten Years Later: I Was Right (That One Time)

cryptonaut-in-exile: Fearless Prediction:
Maybe it's because it was Senior Night. Maybe it's due to my forbidden love of Sue Bird . Maybe it's because I'm slightly loaded. Maybe it's the way Bonedaddy made an inspired pick of the Patriots weeks before their Superbowl win. Whatever it is, I'm predicting now that UCONN will go 39-0 and win the National Championship in San Antonio this year.
They did. I guess you didn't exactly have to be "fearless" to make that prediction though.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Suggest some puppy names?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

World's Happiest Onion Ring

Hannah Kelly dies after freak Fla. church shooting

Woman, 20, dies after freak Fla. church shooting - Yahoo! News:

Ms. Kelly via Grace Connection Church

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office says 20-year-old Hannah Kelley was pronounced dead at about 10:20 a.m. Saturday at Bayfront Medical Center. An autopsy is pending. 
Kelley had been hospitalized since Feb. 12, when she was struck in the head by a bullet at Grace Connection Church in St. Petersburg, where her father Tim Kelley is pastor. 
Investigators have said Moises Zambrana was showing his gun in a small closet to another church member interested in buying a firearm. The St. Petersburg Times reports ( ) that the other church member, Dustin Bueller, was Hannah Kelley's fiancée.
via Robert's facebook 

Trying to get at the root of the problem ...

Is Our Republic Lost? | John Battelle's Search Blog:

Despite Lessig’s avowed liberal views (combined with his conservative, Reagan-era past), I could imagine that Republic Lost could as easily be embraced by Tea Party fanatics as by Occupy Wall Street organizers. He focuses chapters on how “so damn much money” defeats the ends of both the left and the right, for example. And at times the book reads like an indictment of the Obama administration – Lessig, like many of us, believed that Obama was truly going to change Washington, then watched aghast as the new administration executed the same political playbook as every other career politician.

In the final section of his book, Lessig offers several plans to force fundamental campaign finance reform – the kind of reform that the majority of us seem to want, but that never seems to actually happen. Lessig acknowledges how unlikely it is that Congress would vote itself out of a system to which it is addicted, and offers some political gymnastics that have almost no chance of working (running a candidate for President who vetoes everything until campaign finance reform is passed, then promises to quit, for example).

Productive Praise

Teaching Self-Control, the American Way -
More effective is to praise a child for effort. “You’re so smart!” doesn’t suggest what to do next time; “Wow, you kept working on that math problem until you got it right!” carries a clear message about the desired behavior. Communicating high but achievable expectations confers tools for real success — the best route to true self-esteem.

An internally motivated approach to building self-control plays to traditional American strengths. Being self-motivated may lead to other positive long-term consequences as well, like independence of thought and willingness to speak out.

How history works

Kim Stanley Robinson chapbook: how history works explained in fiction and essay - Boing Boing:

Stan is one of the nicest, smartest and best writers I know, and that shines through in this volume. At just over 100 pages (plus bibliography), this is a perfect quick introduction to his work -- or a great way to refresh yourself on why it matters so much.

Miniature donkey farm is #Fuquay's Outback (This one is a little redonkulous.)

Apex Herald - Miniature donkey farm is Outback:

Image via Apex Herald

[When] someone mentions the Outback, most people wouldn’t think of Fuquay-Varina. Ron and Linda Nabors have owned a miniature donkey farm called The Outback for 16 years. They have had more than 20 miniature donkeys at one time, but now they have eight.
I had no idea.  

The Abbey That Jumped the Shark

The Abbey That Jumped the Shark by James Fenton | The New York Review of Books

Ethel, an unwelcome addition.

Is it here, then, that the series may be said to have jumped the shark—to have taken that crucial, unforgivable step into cheapness and desperation?
I'll leave it as an exercise for the reader to ascertain the exact moment the Fonz-piloted motorcycle reached the apex of its arc over the cartilaginous fish.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Finnishing School

Schools We Can Envy by Diane Ravitch | The New York Review of Books:

Image of a Helsinki school via NYRB

No nation in the world has eliminated poverty by firing teachers or by handing its public schools over to private managers; nor does research support either strategy.2 But these inconvenient facts do not reduce the reformers’ zeal. The new breed of school reformers consists mainly of Wall Street hedge fund managers, foundation officials, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers, but few experienced educators. The reformers’ detachment from the realities of schooling and their indifference to research allow them to ignore the important influence of families and poverty. The schools can achieve miracles, the reformers assert, by relying on competition, deregulation, and management by data—strategies similar to the ones that helped produce the economic crash of 2008.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Emperor of Ice-Cream Cakes: Poems Are Jokes: POEM FOR J FRANZ:

And they cried for it was called a Kindle,
and they cried for it came to burn books,
and burn all books like a first-growth
.........forest. Made by wizards! And full,
they claim, of magic e-ink, that assembles
itself in the dark like crowds ...

Long time #RedSox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield to announce retirement later today

Wakefield to announce retirement:

Wakefield via

Tim Wakefield, the longest tenured pitcher in Red Sox history, will announce his retirement at a press conference Friday at 5 p.m., according to a Red Sox press release.
At times his place in the heart of Red Sox Nation may fluttered a bit like his knuckler, but it's a testament to his long years of yeoman service that, even after delivering the pitch that Aaron F*cking Boone sent out of Yankee Stadium to end our 2003 season, I never heard anyone talk about running him out of town. Like they did Clemens, like they did Nomar ...

I have to admit I once groaned when a rain out meant my tickets to see Pedro pitch at Fenway meant I'd be seeing a Wakefield start (again) instead.  Not because I didn't like Wakefield, but I *really* wanted to see Pedro. Everybody did..

Here's hoping the Red Sox put him in their team Hall of Fame as soon as possible.

Best wishes, Tim. We know you pitched your heart out for us. It won't be the same without you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

You eat Cheetos this way too, don't you?

Eating Cheetos like a boss.

News, Plutocrat Style

Yesterday, the Pope-funded Carolina Journal misreported that
A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because a state employee told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious.
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the agent who was inspecting all lunch boxes in her More at Four classroom that day.
Meanwhile the Pope-funded Civitas Institute added, "A state inspector assessing the pre-K program at the school said the girl also needed a vegetable, so the inspector ordered a full school lunch tray for her."
One teensy-weensy problem though--the state employee made no such statement to the girl and ordered no such meal. It's doubtful that the state employee "inspected" the girl's lunch at all.
Mr. Pope, ax to grind much? Maybe you could invest in a few fact-checkers for your "newspaper."

The brass section needs a fat bottom, Holmes. (Rash of tuba thefts hits L.A.) » Hold On To Your Tuba: Brass Bandits Hit L.A. Schools:

Via NPR's Krissy Clark

It sounds like the punch line to a bad joke, but security cameras confirmed it with grainy footage of three guys in hoods lugging away two concert tubas and a sousaphone on wheels under cover of night. A couple months later, thieves broke into Gonzalez's classroom again, stealing two more. Amazingly, that's just the tip of the tuba-theft iceberg.

Mormons apologise for baptising Simon Wiesenthal's Jewish parents

Mormons apologise for baptising Simon Wiesenthal's Jewish parents | World news |

The Mormon Church has apologised after its members performed posthumous baptisms into Mormonism of the long-dead Jewish parents of famed Nazi hunter and Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal.
First, you said you'd stop doing it in 1995. You didn't.

Second, you promised again to stop doing it in 2010. Again, you lied.

Third, the whole idea ... WTF?

Y'know, it's no skin off my back and, at first, it's hard to see why anybody would care. It's not like the dead care; they're dead. If you're not LDS, you probably think they're just weird fools for doing this anyways; but, I can see how you might also feel like they're deliberately disrespecting you by disrespecting your wishes and what the wishes would be, we presume, of your ancestors if they knew what was being done with their names. I wonder, too, in the back of my mind, if a member of my extended family converted to LDS, and started making my ancestors LDS posthumously, and they start breeding like rabbits, filling up the family tree going forward with indoctrinated church members if, a generation or two down the line, does it look like all my family is/was LDS? Will some historian using the LDS genealogical record somehow get the idea that I was a Mormon? (Ewww.) Google, again, please don't let Blogger disappear from the web. Ever.

As a personal aside, the first time I ever heard about this practice was when my wife and I were dating and she told me how, as a young girl growing up in Salt Lake City, she had been a proxy in these ceremonies. I'm extremely glad she recognized how bizarre the practice was, refused to go along with church's definition of femininity, and left it all behind.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Jeremy Lin diagnosed (by me) with Tebowitis #atheism #Linsanity

Jeremy Lin says his storybook run with NY Knicks is ‘a miracle from God’ - NY Daily News:

via NYDailyNews
TORONTO — Jeremy Lin is calling his rags-to-riches NBA story "a miracle from God", adding that it is more than just a coincidence that everything is suddenly breaking right for him.

"Anytime something like this happens, a lot of stuff has to be put into place, and a lot of it is out of my control," the Knicks phenom point guard said on Tuesday. "If you look back at my story, doesn't matter where you look, but God's fingerprints are all over the place where there have been a lot of things that had to happen that I couldn't control.
Right. Because some omniscient, omnipotent being decided it was more worth its time to make you play NBA basketball well for a few days than heal an amputee or some shit like that.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Shadrack's Furnace

It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s ‘Bible Man’: Alabama School Board Makes Super-Bad Decision | Americans United:

Shadrack McGill, Anti-American  Religious Extremist
Image via's blog.
According to The Huntsville Times, Jackson County Schools Superintendent Ken Harding said, “We know it’s going to be a fight. But our constituents are pretty adamant about what they want for their children. Hopefully we can meet the law and keep the [Bible Man], too.”

State Sen. Shadrack McGill (R-Woodville) decided to weigh in as well. He said anybody who doesn’t like Bible Man should consider homeschooling and that the board’s decision is supported by a majority of the parents.

McGill also said that religion belongs in both public schools and other agencies of government.

“We were established to be a godly nation, a Christian nation,” McGill said, according to the Times. “We need God in government. We need God in the public school. The more we trend away from God, the more we suffer – morally and spiritually.”
"Hopefully ... "?! How about you "meet [sic] the law," first and let the churches worry about indoctrinating children for those parents who want their kids indoctrinated, that's what they're for.

" ...  [C]onsider homeschooling"?! No. Fuck you, Mr. McGill. Public schools are paid for by tax payers. We pay property tax, sales tax, state and federal income tax so our children can be educated, not so you can have some fuckwit preach at them. Imagine, Mr. McGill, if the school mandated kids were preached at from the Koran and indoctrinated into Islam. How pissed off that would make you, that's how pissed of I get when when people in authority in public institutions try to use their position to establish religion, any religion, on my dime. I can't believe someone so unfit for public office managed to get elected as a State Senator; you clearly aren't fit to be elected to pooper-scooper duty in the public parks.

"[R]eligion belongs in both public schools and other agencies of governement"?! Again, you are unfit for public office, Mr. McGill. I don't even ... I'm so frustrated ... I mean, we really need to stop having this argument. Your side lost. Forget about our history, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and two hundred thirty or so years of court rulings (Engel v. Vitale, for instance), as if I need to tell you to do what you've already done, and just look around the world at how nation states fare under religious rule. Is that what you really want to do to here? Damn, why do you hate America so much?

Update: the more I read about that McGill character, the more my head hurts.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Just what you needed, another social network?

cdogzilla invites Cryptonaut-in-Exile readers to check out Zurker

I like to try new services, and this one has a bit of an intriguing premise: users are owners. I'm only just starting to test drive it myself ...

Table tennis team trials

I took Blake and a friend from work to the U.S. Olympic Table Tennis team trials held at Bond Park in Cary, NC today. Saw some great play and am more eager than ever to get a table to put out in the garage.

Playing on the wii is fun, too. But it's not the same.

Pictured below are 7th ranked Peter Li (in dark blue with back to camera) out of Maryland and (I think, we missed introductions) 10th ranked Chance Friend from Texas Wesleyan University.

None of pictures turned out great, and videos got to flickr on their sides, but they're there for the viewing.

How I came to give up on Downton Abbey ...

TV: Newswire: Shirley MacLaine brought in to fight Maggie Smith on Downton Abbey

Image via

I adored the first season of Downton Abbey. But, four episodes into the second, I quit on it. Not to say I won't watch again, but it rounded the bend and I won't expect anything more of it than I would ...

... And I'm going to stop here to admit something painful, and so shameful I must -- for the first time -- utilize a "hide my shame" barrier ...

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Once a year ...

It's that time again. Shamrock shake time.

Linsanity was foretold?

Friendfeed's Jimminy has prompted me to break out the ff embedder after a long hiatus:

Losers losing. (Insert 'Nelson laugh' here.)

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality

The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: An Interview with Alex Rosenberg | Talking Philosophy:
Reality, notes philosopher Alex Rosenberg, is “completely different from what most people think… stranger than even many atheists recognize.” And having spent some 40 years trying to work out “exactly how advances in biology, neuroscience and evolutionary anthropology, fit together with what physical science has long told us” Professor Rosenberg seems well placed to judge. Thinking seriously and unsentimentally about the nature of reality and life’s ‘persistent questions’ has led the R. Taylor Cole Professor of Philosophy at Duke University to some striking, disconcerting and far-reaching conclusions. In The Atheist’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life Without Illusions, Rosenberg aims to stretch out just what the atheist’s attachment to science really commits him to.

"[T]he rest of the world can kiss my everloving ass, because I’m innocent." | 1992: Johnny Frank Garrett, “kiss my ass because I’m innocent”

Johnny Frank Garrett
via Executed Today

“It was a system-wide failure that caused this kid to die. It wasn’t just the legal system,” Quackenbush said. “The media played a part. The governor was looking more to her own re-election hopes ... The Supreme Court wasn’t morally deep enough to realize that executing 17-year-olds and ‘mentally retarded’ prisoners was wrong. There’s the system in Texas that allowed the prosecutors to hand-pick the pathologists to provide junk science."

Friday, February 10, 2012

"Make it so," and "Geronimo!" rhyme.

Cross-posted from G+

A lunch box is not a latrine.

Tests find mold, fecal bacteria in children's lunch boxes:

image via

Parents wouldn’t serve their children peanut butter and jelly with mold or a ham sandwich with a side of fecal coliforms, but those combinations are popping up in lunch boxes, according to a 5 On Your Side investigation with North Carolina State University.

I'm having flashbacks to how awful my Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine lunch box smelled after a school year of  use ... in the 10th grade!

Either don't include Fugazi, or put the song at the top of the list where it belongs.

Boston Phoenix ranks the 100 best emo songs

This is a picture of Emo Philips. Your argument is invalid. [via]

Waiting Room at #85?! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Piltdown Man: British archaeology's greatest hoax | Robin McKie | Science | The Observer

Piltdown Man: British archaeology's greatest hoax | Robin McKie | Science | The Observer

Detail from Cooke's painting via the guardian

[M]ore than 30 individuals have been accused of being Piltdown hoaxers. Charles Dawson, the archaeological enthusiast who found the first pieces, was almost certainly involved. But many scientists still suspect he had the backing of experts who were the true guilty parties. Candidates include Arthur Conan Doyle, who played golf at Piltdown and had a grievance against scientists because of his spiritual beliefs; the Jesuit philosopher, palaeontologist and alleged practical joker Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who lived in Sussex at the time and who actually helped Dawson dig at Piltdown; Arthur Smith Woodward, the Natural History Museum scientist, who accepted Dawson's finds as genuine and argued they belonged to a new species of early human; the anatomist Arthur Keith, who also passionately endorsed the discovery; and Martin Hinton, another museum scientist, whose initials were found, in the mid-70s, 10 years after his death, on an old canvas travelling trunk, hidden in a museum loft, that contained mammal teeth and bones stained and carved in the manner of the Piltdown fossils. When it comes to suspects, the Piltdown Hoax makes Midsomer Murders look restrained.

Get ready for the whining about how we shouldn't inconvenience people (who want to buy guns with which to shoot other people).

Rossen Reports: Anyone Can Buy Guns, No Questions Asked |

Some say it's a major loophole in the law. At gun stores, you have to get a background check before you can buy a weapon. But online in most states, anyone from law-abiding citizens to dangerous criminals - even terrorists - can get just about any weapon they want, no questions asked. Our hidden camera investigation shows the deals going down in broad daylight, in suburban mall parking lots.

Dewey belongs in the Hall.

An open letter to the MLB Hall of Fame about Dwight Evans' rightful place in Cooperstown - Grantland:

Evans via Boston Sports Then and Now

But of the three, it is my opinion that the most worthy Hall of Fame candidate was Dwight Evans. With a career won-lost contribution of 323-183, Dwight Evans is comfortably above the Hall of Fame line. He contributed to his team in more ways than either Parker or Cedeno, and he had more good seasons — and fewer bad seasons — than either Parker or Cedeno.
I've said it before and I'll say it again ... Dwight Evans has been criminally short-shrifted [tangential etymology] in these discussions.

Now that's compassionate conservatism

Words Of Wisdom of the Day:

Walsh of Walla-Walla.
Via Washington House Republicans.

“My daughter came out of the closet a couple of years ago and you know what I thought I was going to agonize about that. Nothing’s different. She’s still a fabulous human being and she met someone she loves very much. And some day, by God, I want to throw a wedding for that kid. And someday I hope that’s what I can do.”

I guess "Oil Can" sounded better than "Suitcase Full of Cocaine"

Former Red Sox pitcher Boyd says he used cocaine (AP) 

"Oil Can" via

And lots of it.

Good times.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

"Karate fight me, Dad."

The Importance of Roughhousing With Your Kids:

Roughhousing Time!
via bullwinkler's flickr
Roughhousing requires your child to adapt quickly to unpredictable situations. One minute they might be riding you like a horse and the next they could be swinging upside-down. According to evolutionary biologist Marc Bekoff in his book Wild Justice, the unpredictable nature of roughhousing actually rewires a child’s brain by increasing the connections between neurons in the cerebral cortex, which in turn contributes to behavioral flexibility. Learning how to cope with sudden changes while roughhousing trains your kiddos to cope with unexpected bumps in the road when they’re out in the real world.

Speak, Memory.

The Me Who Knew It | Jenny Diski | LRB | 01 February 2012:

Image via

Fiction takes a non-specialist and usefully cavalier interest in the more intriguing arguments of science, and the dangers of remembering and forgetting are staples of science fiction. The identity terrors in much of Philip K. Dick’s work and the movies based on it (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? – Blade Runner; We Can Remember It for You Wholesale – Total Recall), and Pope’s ‘eternal sunshine of the spotless mind’ revisioned by Charlie Kaufman for the cinema, celebrate the humanity of human beings as the accumulation of their experience.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Of courage and cowardice.


Every morning, Brittany Geldert stepped off the bus and bolted through the double doors of Fred Moore Middle School, her nerves already on high alert, bracing for the inevitable. 
Pretending not to hear, Brittany would walk briskly to her locker, past the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders who loitered in menacing packs. 
Like many 13-year-olds, Brittany knew seventh grade was a living hell.
Bullies are cowards. The kids that killed themselves were not; they were brave as long as they could stand it, and that was longer than any bully ever showed courage (or any other laudable character trait) in his or her life.

As it was before the beginning, so shall it be in the end.

On The Meaning Of Life | HL Mencken | Letters Of Note | 01 February 2012:

What the meaning of human life may be I don’t know: I incline to suspect that it has none. All I know about it is that, to me at least, it is very amusing while it lasts. Even its troubles, indeed, can be amusing. Moreover, they tend to foster the human qualities that I admire most—courage and its analogues. The noblest man, I think, is that one who fights God, and triumphs over Him. I have had little of this to do. When I die I shall be content to vanish into nothingness.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose!

Atheism in America -

There is still, however, a reluctance for many to come out. “Other than [Stark] we know of at least two dozen other atheists in Congress that just aren’t willing to admit it,” says Speckhardt, a number almost identical to that given to me by Silverman. “They feel that it will be political suicide for them, that they wouldn’t get re-elected or they couldn’t get any of their bills passed. We’ve got to work hard to change that feeling out there.”
Article includes comments from atheists who feel isolated in their communities, who were not judged as harshly for things you might think society in general would be less tolerant of (deservedly or not), and is a reminder that we are still a reviled minority. (On the internet, it's much easier to feel like a part of a large community of compassionate, clever comrades.)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Is there anything whinier on the face of the Earth than a theist who is not, but imagines he is, persecuted?

The Conscience of an Institution | Hullabaloo:
After all, the religious institutions have one very special privilege: they pay no taxes, unlike their followers, who are required to pay for many things they disagree with. Apparently, that isn't enough, however. The Church wants to pay no taxes and be exempt from the costs of living in a pluralistic society. Sweet deal. 
People are getting very confused on this issue. We ostensibly believe in rights and liberties in America and have a set of rules in our constitution guaranteeing them. But lately, we've decided that these phony constructs of institutional rights and liberties --- "corporate personhood","conscience of the church" --- actually supercede individual rights and liberties. I don't mean to evoke the sacred founders here, but I'm afraid they would say that idea is, in their words, total bullshit.
This is in response to recent whining about DHS guidelines mandating Catholic institutions require health coverage, including birth control, to employees. Not mandating that Catholics use birth control, mind you, not telling any individual they have to do anything against their conscience (unlike all of us who oppose unjust wars and torture yet are forced to support with the taxes we pay, by the way), simply mandating employers practice fairness in dealing with their employees.

I Stand With Planned Parenthood

Support Planned Parenthood | Racialicious:

The right wing has taken pains to paint Planned Parenthood as some sort of ghoulish “Abortions R Us” factory. And yet, little is mentioned of Planned Parenthood’s extensive counseling services, particuarly for women who are on the fence about their pregnancy. A close friend of mine visited the clinic for an abortion, at the urging of her mother. Her mother, a teen parent herself, told my friend she would be ruining her life if she moved forward with the pregnancy, and that she would be forced to move out if she chose to keep the child. My friend later told me she began to cry when the clinicians prepped her for the sonogram. The staffers asked if she was sure, and she said to them “I can never really be sure about something like this.” They sent her home.
This link has been sitting in my Starred items list in gReader for a long time; recent events prompted me to go looking for it and finally share it. The pull quote isn't why I support PP, thought it's a reason anti-abortion noisemakers should be noting well, it's all sum total of the services they provide to women (and men) who would not otherwise have access to the care and referrals they provide.

Labor history is the peoples' history.

Patience, mon petit chou-chou.

Why French Parents Are Superior by Pamela Druckerman -

Children at a Puppet Theatre, Paris
Parisian children via flickr's BellaLunaToys
Yet the French have managed to be involved with their families without becoming obsessive. They assume that even good parents aren't at the constant service of their children, and that there is no need to feel guilty about this. "For me, the evenings are for the parents," one Parisian mother told me. "My daughter can be with us if she wants, but it's adult time." French parents want their kids to be stimulated, but not all the time. While some American toddlers are getting Mandarin tutors and preliteracy training, French kids are—by design—toddling around by themselves.

I'm hardly the first to point out that middle-class America has a parenting problem. This problem has been painstakingly diagnosed, critiqued and named: overparenting, hyperparenting, helicopter parenting, and my personal favorite, the kindergarchy. Nobody seems to like the relentless, unhappy pace of American parenting, least of all parents themselves.

The (Predictable) Tragedy Of Allen Iverson

The Tragedy Of Allen Iverson -

His aging body needed a nuanced game that he hadn't picked up. His ego needed to be commensurate with his diminishing skills to find a place. And he needed to see, clearly, that he was losing basketball, which was the linchpin that held together everything he had. 
Now, it's gone. So are his wife and family and, apparently, much of his money. He's no longer a star, not even at the Atlanta watering holes he frequents. We only hear about him when the cops are impounding his Lamborghini or creditors are beating down his door. After being so much, good and bad, to so many, Allen Iverson is a 36-year-old retiree. He is a nobody.
I wonder if he'll ever think back on the soundbite he's best known for, "Practice?! We're talking about practice?!" and decide practice might have been good for him. Maybe bought him another year or two in the league? Maybe a work ethic would have helped him value the fortune earned and, evidently, squandered before it was too late.

Can you imagine earning the kind of money he did, from salary and endorsements, only to blow it all?

Friday, February 3, 2012

New Hampshire bill would mandate Bible study in public schools

Co-sponsor Rep. Sue DeLemus ... said schools need a requirement from the state "so it's safe for all schools to feel comfortable offering this course ..."  
"It's the foundation of our republic. The Bible. It's as simple as that," [Rep. Bergevin] said.
You want "schools to feel comfortable," indoctrinating children with your brand of hocus-pocus?!  I want my kids, and every family that sends their children to public schools, to feel safe from your barbaric and immoral superstitious claptrap. I want them to study literature, science, history, math, social studies, art, music, philosophy, social studies, home economics, industrial arts, and a foreign language (like Spanish).

Must we have this argument over and over and over again? Fucking drop it already, assholes. Shove your Bible down your own kids' throats in your churches, private schools, and in the privacy of your homes, if you must, but don't you dare push that crap in public schools.

This. Is. A. Secular. Nation.

What kind of person tries to cut the drive-thru line? Someone who's going to be stunned by the consequence..

Woman stunned when McDonald's won't take her order:

"Sometimes you got to tase a bitch."

HOPE MILLS, N.C. — Authorities had to use a stun gun Friday on a woman who cut the drive-thru line at a Cumberland County McDonald's and became argumentative when employees wouldn't take her order.
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