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[links] Link salad corresponds from its bed of pain

29 Incredible Colorized Historical Photos — (Via Lisa Costello.)

What Happens in the Brain When Blind People Learn to See With Sound — (Via David Goldman.)

A Hole in Mars — A very cool photo.

Morpheus Shows NASA the Path

Portolan Charts ‘Too Accurate’ to be Medieval — Huh.

‘The wife is to voluntarily submit’ — Uh, yeah. I’m all for a little consensual submission play, but to make it a mandatory lifetime comment is more than a little sick. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

CPACer On Women’s Issues Panel: No Stupid Comments This Time Please — If you have make about a point out of telling people this, you have a serious problem.

CPAC Panelist: It Is ‘A Liberal Lie’ That States Ban Gay MarriageTo be clear: 30 states have banned same-sex marriage in their state constitution, usually by legally defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Because being a conservative means never having to tell the truth about anything you disapprove of. Once again the justly famed moral probity of Republicans is on proud public display.

Is there any super bad-ass Catholic weapon around out there? — Uh… (Via [info]danjite.)

Prosecutors balk at being told they have to be honestThey are saying that if you think prosecutors should be honest you are biased against prosecutors. Which may actually be true, since so many of them are dishonest.

How a Hacker Intercepted FBI and Secret Service Calls With Google Maps — (Via [info]danjite.)

The NSA Has An Advice Columnist. Seriously. — Ask Zelda.

Bill O’Reilly says Muslims will Diss Hillary; but 8 Muslim Countries Chose Female Leaders

ALEC is coming to a town near you — This is terrible news, assuming you don’t equate lunatic fringe right wing astroturfing with functional democracy. These are the people who legalized the murder of black teen agers by middle aged assholes through Stand Your Ground, after all.

Do Virginia students really need Terry McAuliffe deciding what to call the “Sea of Japan”?Virginia’s new Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is learning that campaign promises have consequences. He’s landed the commonwealth in the middle of a longstanding dispute over the Sea of Japan and the Korean Peninsula. In the process, he helped Democrats lose the moral high ground when it comes to education. Gee, thanks, Terry. Big help to the progressive cause there, moron.

Paul Ryan’s Free School Lunch Story Never Actually Happened — It is inconceivable that a prominent conservative representing the political party which most loudly stands for moral probity and personal ethics could possibly misrepresent the truth. After all, we have Ronald Reagan’s Welfare Queen speech as the gold standard by which such things should be measured.

Fuck Your Religious Beliefs, Sincerely — An Open Letter to Michele Bachmann — (Via Lisa Costello.)

Rep. Paul Ryan calls for cuts in anti-poverty programsIt is, in a way, nice to see the likes of Mr. Ryan at least talking about the need to help the poor. But somehow their notion of aiding the poor involves slashing benefits while cutting taxes on the rich. Funny how that works. Look, they’re Republicans. If aliens invaded and the Yellowstone supervolcano exploded, their first response would be a call for tax cuts on the highest-earning Americans. That’s not a policy position, that’s a fetish.

?otD: Good drugs or good sleep?


3/10/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 6.5 hours (very fitful and interrupted)
Body movement: 0 minutes (hall walking to come)
Weight: n/a
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching wives how to be submissive: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad goes on the needle today

The Conversation We Never Have — On being a writer, economically. (Snurched from Elizabeth Bourne.)

My Headline Was Stolen — Ah, ideas.

Needless 911: Can’t Get This Jacket Off and I’m Pissed About It! — This would be the Portland area. Be proud, Oregon.

Oscar Mayer Wants to Make Your iPhone Smell like Bacon — Well, okay then.

Beatles memorabilia — Talc? Really?

Measuring Atmospheric Pressure on Exoplanets — Because science!

Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court: Upskirt photos not illegal under state law — The law, in its majestic equality, permits the polite as well as the creepy to take upskirt photos in Massachusetts.

Oscar Pistorius’ ex-girlfriend says he fired from carOscar Pistorius’ ex girlfriend has told his murder trial he once fired his gun from his car sunroof after becoming angry with police. Because guns make us all safer. Ask any conservative.

Navy will deploy first ship with laser weapon this summerNavy’s LaWS will save bullets and missiles—and blind and burn drones and boats.

Flash WarRussian mystery soldiers invaded Crimea by covering up and keeping mum. That could work for us!

Watching for a Crimean Cyberwar CrisisAn info-war is under way as websites are blocked and telecom cables to Crimea are mysteriously cut.

These 9 Maps Should Absolutely Outrage Southerners — Conservative governance, conservative results. These folks should be proud they’ve gotten exactly what they’ve voted in for. Increased poverty, decreased economic mobility, increased teen pregnancy, compromised healthcare outcomes: all utterly predictable results of GOP policies. What’s not to like?

Obamacare Effects Account for Most of Income, Spending Increases — This was published by The Wall Street Journal? The paper that abandoned its editorial integrity years ago in order to become the FOX News of the country club set? Wow… (Via David Goldman.)

Report: How GOP lost young voters“In the short term, the party ought to promote the diversity of thought within its ranks and make clear that we welcome healthy debate on the policy topic at hand.” Why in the hell are you a Republican if you believe diversity of thought and healthy debate are actually good ideas? Or have you never heard any single GOP political or media figure speak, ever? And you’ve obviously never read any GOP party platform.

?otD: Got infusion?


3/7/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 6.5 hours (very fitful)
Body movement: 0 minutes (hall walking to come)
Weight: 233.6 (hospital weigh-in)
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching wives how to be submissive: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad likes to get some sleep before it travels

SlushPile Hell — Hahahahahah. Sadly irregular, so I suppose it’s an occasional skim.

30,000-year-old giant virus ‘comes back to life’ — What could possibly go wrong!?

A Powerful New Way to Edit DNA — (Via David Goldman.)

LSD, Reconsidered for TherapyIn Switzerland, the first controlled trial of the drug in more than 40 years found that it eased anxiety in people nearing the end of their lives. Personally, given what’s inside my head these days, I’d be very concerned about a bad trip. (Via David Goldman.)

Toward an Extraterrestrial Paradigm

School releases pamphlet with sex alternatives — Because nothing says “young love” like a burping contest. (Via [info]danjite.)

IMF study finds inequality is damaging to economic growthInternational Monetary Fund paper dismisses rightwing argument that redistributing incomes is self-defeating. Clearly, the IMF are a bunch of Socialist moochers who don’t know anything about money, economics or job creators. (Via [info]danjite.)

The Cliches of “Leadership” and “Resolve”

And we will prove them herewith… — My friend [info]ericjamesstone with a Mormon perspective on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Since he’s primarily talking about his interpretation of Mormon doctrine, it doesn’t matter what my opinion is. I’m not a LDS member. But I’m glad he wrote this, regardless of my disagreements. Where I engage those disagreements is when doctrine leaves the church, any church, and enters the statehouse in an attempt to coerce non-believers according to church rules. Within their house of worship, according to our Constitution, people are free to believe anything they want. My opinions do not apply there.

The Forces Behind The ‘Religious Freedom’ Movement That Exploded Last Week — No vast right wing conspiracy here. Just lots and lots of conservatives and deep pocket donors working quietly to the same malicious ends. See the difference?

Handbook for HomophobesAdvice for those who are troubled by tolerance.

The Real Welfare QueensA new report shows corporations like Koch Industries have gotten billions in government subsidies. It’s not welfare if you give government money to rich people who don’t need it.

Right-wing columnist urges GOP to abandon outreach: ‘Colorblind conservatism’ is futile

Bill Kristol To Bill Maher: ‘Total Bullshit’ That The Tea Party Was About A Black President — Nice try, Bill. I know bigots don’t like to be called bigots, but too bad. “I totally believe that,” Maher said. “It happened a month after he took office. Suddenly white people were very upset about debt, even though Bush had raised the debt way more than Obama had.”

It’s not a messaging problemIsn’t it time for people to recognize that this isn’t a problem with the GOP “message?” It’s a problem with conservative philosophy. Also, this just in: sun rises in east.

Tea Party Might Just Fizzle In Ted Cruz’s Texas — America should be so lucky.

McConnell Vows a Senate in Working Order, if He Is Given Control“We are going to treat senators with respect — we are going to work harder and accomplish more,” said Mr. McConnell. Sure thing, Mitch. Given the behavior of the GOP majority in the house, and the Senate during prior periods of GOP majority, does anyone believe this crap besides the low information crowd watching FOX News and voting Republican? Plus, note the glaring hypocrisy on the question of the Senate filibuster, which was the worst Constitutional evil EVAR when Democrats changed it according to McConnell, but is a reasonable tactic for Republicans to keep on the table according to McConnell.

Republican Lawmaker Apologizes For Saying Men Should Be Able To Rape Women If Abortion Is Legal — Are you proud of Your Republican Party?

Wisconsin GOP Seeks To Oust Majority Leader Accused Of Sexual Harassment — From the credit where credit is due file. Good for the Wisconsin GOP.

?otD: Has it been a long, strange trip?


3/4/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.25 hours (solid)
Body movement: 0 minutes (airport walking to come)
Weight: 234.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block unjustly vilifying Ted Nugent: 0
Currently reading: n/a (chemo brain)

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[links] Link salad carefully observes the First Law of the Sea

In defence of unnecessary words

An Animated Guide to the Economics of Sex

What all the stylin’ white boys were wearing on their heads in the 1950s — Is it wrong that these all look the same to me? And I am a white boy.

200-Year Old Douche Discovered Under NYC City Hall — I didn’t realize Mayor Giuliani was that old.

Star Wars actor dies: His ‘disturbing’ Star Wars role outshone a long careerStar Wars actor Richard LeParmentier died this morning in Austin. “Every time we find someone’s lack of faith disturbing, we’ll think of him,” said his family in a statement. Awesome quote in the subhead on this piece. (Via David Goldman.) ETA: While still amusing, it has been pointed out to me this is very stale news. My apologies, I did not check the date.

Comet Lovejoy over the Great Wall — The explanatory text includes some lovely poetic detail.

Old Arctic Ice Is Disappearing, and Taking the Rest of the Ice With ItIt’s not hard to see that over the past few years, the oldest ice has melted away, and over time the ice gets younger. That’s not good: Older ice is thicker and tends to hang around longer; young ice is generally thinner and melts away every summer. That means that the year-round amount of ice is dropping, and dropping rapidly. As the Arctic warms, its ability not just to form ice but to keep it wanes.

Politician wants to raise greenhouse gas limits, for the plants — The stupid, it burns. But it also gets elected.

Other Agendas “Frozen” Is Subtly Forcing Into Your Child’s BrainFeminist Mormon Housewives with a truly hilarious response to some criticism from another Mormon blogger who is deeply unhinged.

GOP Lawmakers Want To Define Anti-Gay Discrimination As ‘Religious Freedom’ — I have never seen a logical argument as to why barring discrimination compromises religious freedom.

Religious Liberty Or Anti-Gay Animus?For me, with devout Catholics, the acid test is divorce. The bar on divorce – which, unlike the gay issue, is upheld directly by Jesus in the Gospels – is just as integral to the Catholic meaning of marriage as the prohibition on gay couples. So why no laws including that potential violation of religious liberty? Both kinds of marriage are equally verboten in Catholicism. So where is the political movement to insist that devout Catholics do not have to cater the second weddings of previously divorced people? Yup. Nails it.

Homophobia Takes Years Off of Your LifeThat’s the conclusion of a new study that compares death rates with Americans’ attitudes toward gay rights. A small price to pay for being one of the GOP’s core of angry white guys, I am certain.

Arkansas man ‘shot dead cheerleader after prank’ — Because guns make us all safer. And you can’t make a safety omelet without breaking 30,000 eggs per year.

Social Identity Markers are NOT a proxy for left wing social policies — (Via [info]goulo.)

Racializing Politics: We don’t say “Slav” Democracy troubled in Ukraine, why Talk about “Arab” Failures?

Hyperlocal Neighborhood Maps Reveal the Chaos in Aleppo — Wow. I never would have thought of the bakery thing. (Via David Goldman.)

Let’s get straight who is paying for whom — More on the ridiculous belief among rural conservatives that they are somehow being bled dry by taxes to pay for the big cities. You know, those liberal “facts” and “data”. I especially like this bit: But it’s very, very tiresome to watch a bunch of delusional narcissists taking urban tax dollars to pay for their rural infrastructure and safety nets (most SNAP recipients are white, remember) elect a bunch of jokers to Congress who prevent the people who actually pay the bills from solving big problems like climate change, healthcare, privacy, wealth inequality, poverty, and financial corruption.

Watch This CNN Anchor Stop The Spin On The Minimum Wage — Every time we’ve tried to raise the minimum wage, conservatives have trotted out the same job-killing, anti-business opposition. Every time they’ve been wrong. Why would they be right this time?

?otD: Metalbeard? Is that you?


2/20/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 9.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: 10 minutes (feeling poorly)
Weight: 234.4
Number of FEMA troops attacking religious liberty: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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[links] Link salad knows that everything is awesome when you’re part of the team

How my husband forgot sexWhen we were younger, he was the one who taught me to explore. Then he had cancer surgery — and came out a virgin. Sigh.

A Rainbow Pileus Cloud over Zimbabwe

Why Mount Hood’s next eruption will be like a big blob of toothpasteMixing of hot and cold magna can bring a volcanic eruption in as little as 60 days. Volcanic eruptions at Mount Hood occur when cold magma, stored like ‘peanut butter in a refrigerator,’ mixes with hot magma from deep within the Earth’s crust, say researchers. That would be Portland’s friendly neighborhood volcano.

Kitties teach scientists a thing or two about geneticsCats, the patron saints of the internet, are typically not thought of as being at the forefront of genetic research. Their lack of opposable thumbs really limits their ability to run a proper DNA sequence, after all.

Hole-y Phobia May Have Evolutionary Origins Images that induce trypophobia, the fear of holes, share visual features with images of certain venonmous animals, implying that the aversion has an evolutionary basis. Trypophobia?

After 400 years, mathematicians find a new class of shapes

“Don’t Buy Shirts in Herat”: the Lost World of the Hippie Trail — Oh, man, to have lived this.

Rethinking a Zero Tolerance Approach to “Female Genital Mutilation” — Wow am I having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

Drug site Silk Road wiped out by Bitcoin glitch

World’s Smartest Company: Illumina — These guys did my Whole Genome Sequencing.

Capital One says it can show up at cardholders’ homes, workplacesThe credit card company’s recent contract update includes terms that sound menacing and creepy. Not “sound menacing”. “Are menacing.” World’s creepiest company.

National clown shortage may be approaching, trade organizations fear — There’s always the GOP congressional delegation to draw from as deep bench. (Via [info]danjite.)

Who Believes that Astrology is Scientific? — A paper on the correlations between belief in astrology and political affiliation. Which, surprisingly, show liberals to be the bigger idiots. Just what this country needs: further validation of non-evidence-based thinking. (Via [info]ericjamesstone.)

Bill Nye Science Guy to Debate GOP Rep Gohmert on Gravity

Obama’s Tea Party Cousin Who’s Running for Senate Compared President to Hitler — Running on the Godwin ticket, I see.

The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality — Fascinating.

May a Man Marry a Man? A Medieval Debate — The alleged logic of opposition to same-sex marriage hasn’t really changed since. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Kansas Gets Their Hate OnBut don’t call it discrimination.

Noose tied on Ole Miss integration statueThe FBI on Tuesday was helping investigate who tied a noose around the neck of a University of Mississippi statue of James Meredith, who, in 1962, became the first black student to enroll in the then all-white Southern college. Stay classy, conservative America. It’s what you do best.

What Information Are Stun Guns Recording? — It’s sort of the equivalent of putting serial numbers on bullets. I wonder how long the reservoir of these tags lasts. (Via David Goldman.)

After background checks were scrapped in Missouri“This study provides compelling confirmation that weaknesses in firearm laws lead to deaths from gun violence,” Daniel Webster, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research and the study’s lead author, said in a news release. “There is strong evidence to support the idea that the repeal of Missouri’s handgun purchaser licensing law contributed to dozens of additional murders in Missouri each year since the law was changed.” Moar guns, to make us all safer!!

VW workers may block southern U.S. deals if no unions: labor chief — I find this whole ongoing VW-in-Tennessee story a little weird.

One-Percent Jokes and Plutocrats in Drag: What I Saw When I Crashed a Wall Street Secret Society

America’s First President Was The Tea Party’s Worst Nightmare — But, but, tricorn hats!

Remember that thing called the Unitary Executive Theory, Republicans? Obviously not.

UK Court: David Miranda Detention Legal Under Terrorism Law — A proud day for civil liberties.

?otD: Are you living the dream?


2/19/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 10.0 hours (solid)
Body movement: n/a (feeling poorly)
Weight: n/a (feeling poorly)
Number of FEMA troops attacking religious liberty: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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[links] Link salad has a full life, if a trifle banal

A Non-Binary Person’s Guide to Invented Pronouns

This Movie Works Whether You Play It Backward or Forward — A visual palindrome. (Via David Goldman.)

Sartre & Peanuts — Huh. (Snurched from David Wilford.)

San Francisco’s Class War, By the Numbers

A Winter Olympics Venn Diagram — Hahahahah.

How to Design an Interstellar Communications System If we want to communicate with other civilisations, it turns out that the laws of physics, the nature of interstellar space and a little common sense place surprisingly strict bounds on how this communication can take place.

SETI at the Particle Level

Satellites Spot Whales From SpaceThis new method could help researchers remotely count and keep track of whale populations. Mmm, space whales.

Giant leap for nuclear fusion as scientists get more energy out than fuel put in150 picoseconds of scientific breakthrough, though “ignition” remains a distant goal.

Probe to use Prehistoric Pigment Shield for Solar PlungeEuropean scientists designing the upcoming Solar Orbiter — a mission that will swoop deep inside the sun’s atmosphere (the corona) to carry out an unprecedented solar observing campaign — didn’t turn to science fiction for help, however. They’re using a technology that was available during prehistoric times to protect the spacecraft from the sun.

This is why we have two nostrils, rather than a single, large hole in the middle

Ancient native boy’s genome reignites debate over first Americans — And then there’s Kennewick Man.

Southeast U.S. Battered by Another Winter StormThis storm doesn’t disprove global warming any more than it getting dark at night disproves the existence of the Sun.

Planet, Oceans Burning Up: There is no “Pause” in Global Warming

Dear Creation Museum, all science is “historical science.” Here’s whyThe sort of selective reasoning—miracles don’t happen when there’s lab equipment nearby, but they have made anything more than a few centuries old completely inaccessible to scientific analysis—quite reasonably raises questions about whether researchers who hold this view can be relied on to do solid science, as does their lack of self-awareness that keeps them from recognizing that they are doing historical science. Their apparent willingness to throw the scientific method under the bus as soon as it conflicts with their personal beliefs is concerning as well.

Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse StudyFor decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners. Tell me again how atheists are immoral? Help me understand why this version of the Christian worldview is somehow better than simple, honest humanism? ‘Cause I’m really not seeing it here.

Kentucky must accept out-of-state gay unions“Assigning a religious or traditional rationale for a law does not make it constitutional when that law discriminates against a class of people without other reasons,” wrote Heyburn, an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. The very same people who threaten to take up arms over every perceived possible slight to their freedoms ought to understand that. But they don’t. Even so, another bigotry domino falls, another step forward for freedom, justice and American values.

U.S. Takes a Sharp Drop in World Press Freedom RankingsThe United States took a nasty drop in the World Press Freedom rankings, released on Wednesday by the media group Reporters Without Borders, falling 14 spots to the 46th best country for journalist freedoms. Of the 180 countries ranked, the home of the First Amendment now sits snuggled between Romania and Haiti.

How Obama Officials Cried ‘Terrorism’ to Cover Up a Paperwork Error — A crazy story about everything that’s wrong with our National Security regime. Headline is a bit misleading, as the problem started in 2004 in the Bush administration, but the Obama administration continued to cover it up. (Via David Goldman.)

How a Purse Snatching Led to the Legal Justification for NSA Domestic Spying — Because security! (Via David Goldman.)

Senate passes debt-ceiling plan in blow to conservatives — The profoundly unpatriotic nihilists in the House GOP caucus take on on the chin. A very modest victory for good government and good sense.

Rand Paul v Barack Obama: A prelude to 2016 — As much as Rand Paul is a profoundly unpatriotic nihilist as well, he’s got a point about the surveillance state. Not that moderates and progressives haven’t been crying foul.

Is one of “the crazy ones” behind a threatening email sent to House Republicans? What makes “the crazy ones” crazy, in fact, is that they genuinely believe the cynical lies — about government debt, global warming, taxes, healthcare, immigration, Democratic Party fiscal policies and so on — that the non-crazy ones have been feeding the rubes for years. Mind you, “one of the crazy ones” is a description by a House Republican of other House Republicans.

?otD: Have any Cardassian laundry lists?


2/13/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 9.5 hours (mostly solid)
Body movement: 20 minutes stationary bike (resuming exercise post-operative)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block who aren’t descended from monkeys: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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[links] Link salad is a Melkotian object

Green, Book Review — Not so much with the liking of my novel.

It’s happening again! — My dear friend [info]garyomaha talks about the costs of segmentation in media and society.

Red Hong Yi renders Chinese scenes from makeup — Impressive. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Lego Hell — Oh, wow. Hahaha. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Chandre Oraon, Man With Tail, Worshipped As God (But Not By His Wife)

33 Powerful And Creative Print Ads That’ll Make You Look Twice — Some of these are amazing. Some are questionable. They’re all worth looking at. (Via [info]willyumtx.)

Wildly detailed drawings that combine math and butterflies — Amazing stuff.

Photos by Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji in Iran of mosque art — (Via Lisa Costello.)

Genome Surgery — Here comes the future.

NASA Mars Orbiters spots clues to possible water flows

Star Wars planets migrate into position around stellar pairsTatooine orbited two stars; now researchers believe planets like this actually exist.

Australian researchers say they have found the oldest star in the known universe, 6000 light years from Earth

Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex? — Wow are there a lot of unexamined cultural assumptions embedded in this article, especially around the supposed natural inviolability of monogamy.

NRA Board Member: Bullied Children Commit Suicide Because Young Boys Have Been “Neutered” — Ah, the magical sense of social responsibility that comes with gun ownership.

My Baby and AOL’s Bottom LineThat “distressed baby” who Tim Armstrong blamed for benefit cuts? She’s my daughter.

Greenland glacier sets glacial speed recordWater pressure greases the skids for Jakobshavn, clocked at 2 meters per hour.

Business as usual + sea level rise = losses of up to 9% of global GDPBut losses should be less if we’re not dumb enough to keep building on coasts.

Sowing Seeds: An Ex-Christian’s Thoughts on the Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debateee, there’s this stereotype in Christian culture (and elsewhere) that atheists are joyless, unhappy God-haters with hearts full of anger and lives devoid of purpose. That makes loss of faith a scary prospect, because who wants a life like that? Just by being himself, letting his love of science shine through, Nye demonstrated how joy, wonder, excitement, passion, and purpose — all things religious people tend to associate with service to God — can be a part of an atheist’s life. (To be fair, I don’t know for sure what Nye’s beliefs are, but Creationist fundamentalism does rather tend to lump together evolution belief and atheism, along with homosexuality, Communism, and baby-eating.) Yes, this. Atheists can be and often are moral, ethical, joyful people. Just as with any group of human beings. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

I’m a Member of the American ‘Used-to-Haves’Watching John Boehner and the Republican Congress during the past few years has been a stunning confirmation of their seeming disregard for the “Used-to-Haves.” As they pull down salaries of $174,000 a year, unparalleled benefits and the option of voting themselves a raise, their selfishness is unrivaled as they barricade health care reform, knowingly shut down the government, cut SNAP benefits and eliminate extended unemployment payments.

A commentor responds to my post on the 1% and hard work — Worth the read, as he has personal experience at multiple levels of the economy, unlike myself. I’ve never held those hard, low-end jobs, not even in my student job days. My first paid jobs were as a government clerk, then as a bank courier.

Tree Lobsters on economic inequality — Be sure to read the mouseover text.

Chastened G.O.P. Tries to Foil Insurgents at Primary LevelOne of the biggest challenges for Republican leaders in the 2014 midterm elections will be how to hang on to the Tea Party support that has been so instrumental to the party’s growth, while winning back voters alienated by hard-right candidates. I dunno. Maybe by not taking hard-right positions? Confidential to GOP in America: Try the evidence-based worldview for a change. You’d be amazed how differently things look when you factor in facts, data and actual history instead of an “unskewed” ideological narrative.

Tea Party Ain’t Over Yet: How Conservatives Still Control Congress — It seems like not so long ago that people in my end of the blogosphere were angrily defending the Tea Party as an independent, non-partisan grass roots movement. How’d that work out?

Leave The Poets AloneTrey Gowdy is a member of the Republican leadership of the House of Representatives. As such, Trey Gowdy is dedicated to working the job of governing the country as little as possible. When you elect people who think government is a failure, is it any surprise when they work for the failure of government? That such nonsensical thinking has achieved such political prominence in America is one of the great shames of our time.

Welfare StateWashington’s Republican counties depend on Western Washington’s money. How can they survive the state budget cuts they demand? Welcome to conservative America, where evidence-based thinking is proudly rejected. And yes, this phenomenon of rural conservatives opposing the very tax structure that benefits them most based on counterfactual ideological beliefs about the direction in which the money flows repeats within many states across the US, as well as at the state/Federal level. As the article comments, The irony here is not that those who benefit most from state spending are paying the least; that’s kinda the way these things are supposed to work. No, the irony is that those rural communities that are most dependent on the state—whose roads and schools and other essential public services couldn’t possibly be maintained without generous state subsidies—are also those least likely to vote for the tax dollars necessary to sustain these services. (Via David Goldman.)

CBO: Guys, We Didn’t Say Obamacare Would Cost 2.5 Million Jobs — Hmm. Unthinkable that the GOP should substantially misrepresent an important ACA point in a way that casts an unfavorable light on the president. Conservative intellectual honesty and moral probity would never permit such a thing.

?otD: How many to beam up?


2/11/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 15 minutes stationary bike (resuming exercise post-operative)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block who aren’t descended from monkeys: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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[culture] Pointing back to my 1% post

I don’t normally signal boost myself, except for occasional event promotion, but I made a post on Saturday that my larger weekday audience might have missed, and I think it’s important.

In a post entitled [culture] The 1% and hard work I talked about the basis on which people are compensated in American economy and society. I’m neither attacking nor defending the current system, just pointing out that to an important degree, I believe we’re having this discussion on the wrong foundational terms.

As it happens, even though I am quite privileged in the social justice sense of that term, my sympathies lie strongly with the 99%, the 47%, and the people who work harder than ever to make ends meet. But wherever one’s sympathies lie, however one views the “makers and takers” dialectic and all the analogous debates, I think it’s import to be talking about the right things.

So if you didn’t see it over the weekend, take a couple of minutes and go read. I’ll be interested in what you think.

P.S: If you have a comment, best to comment there to keep the thread going. I’m taking the very unusual-for-me step of closing comments here in order to encourage that.

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[culture] The 1% and hard work

Last night on social media, I made this observation:

Someone who believes the 1% are wealthier because they work harder has never met a migrant farm worker, a janitor or a single mother.

That provoked quite a bit of commentary, sharing and reposting on both Twitter and Facebook.

I wanted to expand on that a little bit this morning. If you’re not sure what I’m referring to in the first place, see the recent discussions in the online and print media world about the public defensiveness of the 1%. This piece from Talking Points Memo is a good place to start, as it links to a number of other pieces.

Basically, there’s a self-valorizing myth among the wealthy in America that they got to their current situation due to their exceptional hard work. (I’m ignoring inherited wealth for the purposes of this discussion.) That same argument is used to justify high salaries in the legal profession and elsewhere. I am not saying that the wealthy don’t work hard, but it’s a ridiculous claim that hard work is the causal difference between wealth and lack of wealth.

That was my basic point. Poor people in general work much, much harder than rich people, for far less reward. It’s something many people of wealth are either unaware of or have long since forgotten.

I’m not throwing stones at the Bastille here. Prior to my own going on disability, my annual income put me in the top quartile of American wage earners. A proud member of the 25%, I suppose. I have absolutely benefited from the privileges of my birth and social class, and from being a white collar knowledge worker. And I have worked pretty damned hard over the years.

But I’ve never, ever had a job where I worked as hard as the custodial staff who cleaned the buildings I worked in at night. Or where I worked as hard as the people who picked the tomatoes that I could find in my salad at lunch every day.

Though I have been an exceptionally hard worker, I never confused my economic success with exceptionally hard work.

It’s not about working smarter, either, which is one of the fallback positions in this argument. Yes, knowledge workers can be highly paid. Ask any successful attorney or senior IT person. But teachers work smart every day, and so do emergency responders, while neither of those professions is highly paid. Likewise anybody in the lower end of the advertising world. And those are just lines of work that leap to mind in the first moment’s reflection.

Though I have been an exceptionally smart worker, I never confused my economic success with exceptionally smart work.

As my mother, a/k/a [info]tillyjane, explained to me once when I was a young man, in our society we don’t pay people according to how hard they work, or how important their jobs are. If we did, teachers would be at the top of the pay scale. In our society, we pay people according to how well they can make the money move.

The examples easiest to perceive are top-tier athletes and actors. Because a big name star can increase the take at the gate or the box office, they’re paid more. Essentially, it’s a form of commission. Likewise people who work in high end sales, or Wall Street level finance. They’re commissioned, either directly or indirectly, because of the financial transaction volume they generate. Likewise C-level officers of major corporations, who are compensated as highly as they are because they are supposed to be able to influence corporate revenue.

The 1% are where they are not because they work harder, or because they work smarter, but because they are able to influence the flow of money.

Note that I am neither defending nor attacking the system. I’m merely pointing out that the current argument being advanced by some among the 1% is specious and self-serving, designed to appeal to the American archetype of the self-made success and the idea of class mobility.

The reality is much, much tougher. Me, I’ve never been poor. Sure, I’ve been student-poor. I’ve been lower middle class-poor. I’ve lived paycheck to paycheck. I’ve been financially distressed by a real estate bankruptcy (in the 1990s) and by extraordinary medical expenses (these past six years). But I’ve never in my life had to choose between feeding my kids and paying the heating bill. I’ve never broken my back working two and three jobs while trying to figure out how to pay $1,000 worth of bills with $600 worth of income, and no way out.

Those people, who are millions of Americans, work much, much harder than Sam Zell or Tom Perkins can ever imagine. Those people, whose lifetime earnings will be less that the monthly cash flow of the household of someone in the 1%, work much, much harder than almost any of us who are not also that poor can admit to.

Because there is your injustice. Not the paranoia of the extremely wealthy who realize they are at the top of a dangerously unbalanced pyramid. But the work of millions that keep all our floors clean and all our salad plates stocked.

Me, I’m close enough to being one of those wealthy that I’m probably standing on the ethically challenged side of this divide. But even I can see the strains in the system.

Should it be this way? I’m honestly not sure. That’s the way our system works. Rightly or wrongly, that’s the way our system is designed to work. I’m not advocating revolution here. But I am advocating honesty, rather than self-valorizing paranoia and class-based whining about the class-based oppression allegedly suffered by the privileged.

Because in honesty, we can define our problems. And in defining our problems, we can solve them. And frankly, Perkins and Zell et alia are right about one thing. Hard work should be rewarded. So let’s recognize who works hardest in our society, and let’s have an honest discussion about how to reward them.

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[links] Link salad can’t sell you what you need

TOC: The Mammoth Book of Steampunk Adventures — In which I have a reprint novelette, “Benedice Te”.

Worst Day of the Year Ride Canceled Because of Bad Weather — Ah, Portland. (Via my sister.)

Put a monocle on anything and it looks classy — Mr. Peanut, is that you?

That’s “Heavy”: The Mind-Body-Metaphor Connection — This is fascinating. In English, and several other languages as well, weight is used as metaphor to signify importance. The authors hypothesized that this abstraction can be triggered by concrete experiences of weight, like holding something heavy. They call this “embodied cognition.”

Can tumors be transplanted? — Uh…

Why do Americans spend so much on pharmaceuticals?

The Evidence Piles Up: Antioxidant Supplements Are Bad For You — Ooops. (Via David Goldman.)

Crowdfunding’s Effect on Venerable Nonprofits Raises ConcernWebsites now let people ask for charitable support for their own causes, but some fear that such sites will drain donations from established nonprofits. (Via Dad.)

Plate tectonics set the thermostat for early animal lifeSwitch from snowball to hothouse conditions driven by continental collisions.

Mechanism Important for Photosynthesis was Present in Ancient Microbes 2.5 Billion Years Ago

Earth’s Oldest Land Predators Had ‘Steak Knife’ Teeth

Glimpsing Heat from Alien Technologies

What Noise Does the Electric Car Make? — I was nearly struck by an electric scooter in China, the rider moving fast at night with his headlight off, presumably to conserve battery. Fast and all but noiseless.

Hamline professor’s post on student loan debt goes viral — When I started at the University of Texas at Austin in 1982, tuition and fees for a full 18 semester hour load were about $360. When I graduated in 1986, thanks to conservative-driven cuts in subsidies for higher education, it was well over $2,000 per semester. Costs have soared many times over since then, because we as a society have explicitly chosen to make higher education less and less accessible to each succeeding cohort of youth.

(GOP) Rep. Has Cordial Chat About Whether Obama ‘Should Be Executed’ — This piece is just creepy. Now try imagining the firestorm in Your Liberal Media if a Democratic congressman had had this conversation about Bush or Reagan.

?otD: Did buy it off the shelf? Did you grow it from the seed?


2/8/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (fitful)
Body movement: n/a (post-operative)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block who aren’t descended from monkeys: 0
Currently reading: n/a

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