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[links] Link salad dances by the laser light

Goodreads First Reads: Kalimpura by Jay Lake

Is This Grade School a ‘Cult’? (And Do Parents Care?)The Atlantic on Waldorf schools. [info]the_child has attended one since she was three and a half. (Via [info]tillyjane, a/k/a my mom.)

Crystals… made of timePhysicists: “Ignore the infinities and try this.” Universe: “Not likely.”

Teen bank robber from Nebraska brags about crime on YouTube videoThe self-described ‘Chick bank robber’ flashed her stolen loot on video – now she faces time behind bars. Welcome to crime in the age of social media. (Via [info]threeoutside.)

Senate Republicans Block Ratification Of U.N. Treaty On Rights For The Disabled, Citing Impact On Home-Schoolers — Stay classy, conservative America. It’s what you do best.

Congressman’s Restaurant Refused To Serve Muslim Couple — More class from Sarah Palin’s “real Americans”.

I think an awful lot of what passes for political discourse in this country these days works off that principle: There’s money in making stupid people mad. — Votes, too. Hence the perennial GOP electoral strategy of generating angry white men. (Snurched from Slacktivist Fred Clark.) Columnist Attacks Bob Costas For Correctly Drawing Connection Between Guns And Murder — From the “la-la-la-la, I can’t hear you” school of the obvious about the relationship between guns and violence. Why is the Second Amendment’s guarantees of freely available instruments of murder so absolutely sacred to conservatives while the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom gets constantly shredded by the very same people? Compensating much?

Anonymous, Karl Rove and 2012 Election Fix? — Did Karl Rove’s hack get hacked? A question I myself have asked. It would explain a lot about the last-minute expectations of the Romney campaign.

GOP’s McCain, Graham, Collins used same language as Rice to describe Benghazi attackBoth Rice and the Senators used the term “mob” to describe those who perpetrated the attack on our consulate and CIA station in Libya. None of them referred to terrorists, or Al Qaeda. Yet the Senators are now faulting Rice for not referring to Al Qaeda when the Senators themselves did not refer to Al Qaeda. More of that justly famed principled intellectual consistency from the American Right, I see.

In Search of a Gatekeeper. It eludes Welch that one of the long-term failings of the conservative movement has been its tendency to condemn former allies that it no longer found useful. As a political movement, it has been increasingly interested in heresy-hunting and not all that interested in persuasion in recent years. Perhaps that is in the nature of any political movement, but it has afflicted the conservative movement very much in the last two decades. Each purge simply makes the conservative movement and the Republican Party increasingly rigid, unimaginative, and oblivious to the world around it.

Republicans not handling election results well49% of GOP voters nationally say they think that ACORN stole the election for President Obama. We found that 52% of Republicans thought that ACORN stole the 2008 election for Obama, so this is a modest decline, but perhaps smaller than might have been expected given that ACORN doesn’t exist anymore. Yep, those finely honed minds on the American right.

?otD: Did I miss ruby Tuesday?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 9.0 hours (8.0 hours extremely fitful plus napping)
Body movement: 0.5 hours stationary bike ride
Weight: 219.0
Number of FEMA troops on my block teaching evolution to children and redistributing wealth: 0
Currently reading: The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks

[links] Link salad’s head is humming and it won’t go

Inclusion Linkfest — Jim C. Hines with some important links on diversity and inclusion in SF. And, I suppose, life in general.

Subterranean ProspectorHere are some pen and marker sketches for the cover of James Blaylock’s 1984 science fiction novel “Digging Leviathan.”

Former OED editor covertly deleted thousand of words, book claimsEfforts to rewrite the dictionary in the 70s and 80s to omit entries with foreign origins described as ‘really shocking’ by author. Oh, good lord almighty. Talk about a trust betrayed.

Five Leadership Lessons From James T. Kirk — (Via Dave Raines.)

Astronaut, Cosmonaut to Spend Year in Space

Aircraft Graveyard — God, do I love this image.

First Observation of Gravitational Waves Is ‘Imminent’Astronomers have underestimated the strength of gravitational waves, which means they ought to be able to see them now, say astrophysicists.

Namib Desert beetle inspires self-filling water bottleA US start-up has turned to nature to help bring water to arid areas by drawing moisture from the air.

Isolated patch of water, trapped under ice, sustains bacterial communitySalty, ice covered lake may help us model life elsewhere in the Solar System.

Traffic pollution tied to autism risk: study — I wonder if the anti-vax lunatics will pay any attention to this?

Fischer on Rubio: ‘Eyewitness account’ in Bible proves Earth created in 7 days — Not only is Fischer divorced from reality, he’s divorced from his own Bible. Pretty sure the competing and mutually-contradictory-but-literally-true-and-infallibly-correct creation stories in Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 are not eyewitness accounts, even when viewed from the internal perspective of Christianity or Christianism either one. Also, to state the obvious, this link contains more of the intellectual cesspool of the Religious Right, so be warned. (Snurched from Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Saudi Arabia implements electronic tracking system for women — This is what happens when you run your government on religious principles. And no, in this context there’s no difference between Christianity and Islam from a secularist point of view. Both are religious systems that in certain incarnations feel compelled to control all of civil society according to their parochial and potentially toxic views. (Via David Goldman.)

Ugly lawFrom the late 1860s until the 1970s, several American cities had ugly laws making it illegal for persons with “unsightly or disgusting” disabilities to appear in public. Ah, those good old days Republicans are always longing for. (Snurched from Daily Idioms, Annotated.)

Your daily stupid — In which many angry conservatives are too historically ignorant to know that the Pledge of Allegiance didn’t mention God until 1954, 62 years after its introduction.

Why Climate Deniers Have No Scientific Credibility – In One Pie Chart — Yep. Pretty much tells the story in one go. No one comes to climate change denialism on the basis of the evidence, any more than anyone comes to evolution denial on the basis of the evidence. Those are both faith-based delusions for which people madly search for post facto justification of in order to rationalize their position.

U.N.: Thawing permafrost to cause increased warmingThe United Nations is warning that a thawing in the permafrost that covers almost a quarter of the northern hemisphere could “significantly amplify global warming.” Amazing what those greedy liberal scientists will do to justify their lavish government grants. Actually arranging to thaw permafrost to keep their worldwide climate change conspiracy going. Thank God we have the Republican party and Rush Limbaugh to keep us straight in the face of those “facts” and “data”.

High Places, Low ExpectationsThese are two unrelated issues that illustrate how standard misrepresentations and ideological clichés get woven together into resentment narratives that are rarely challenged in the conservative media, and never in the conservative evangelical media. And very often, they’re the work of people who should know better. Yup. This. Conservatism thrives on resentment narratives — that’s the entire raison d’être of politicians like Sarah Palin, and is precisely how the GOP goes about generating those angry white men they need to keep Republicans in office. Not good ideas or constructive narratives or hope for the future. Resentment and fear. (Snurched from Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Former Florida GOP leaders say voter suppression was reason they pushed new election lawFormer GOP chair, governor – both on outs with party – say voter fraud wasn’t a concern, but reducing Democratic votes was. That’s why people vote Republican: for the principled consistency and unwavering commitment to the democratic process. Unlike the ACORN scandal, which never existed except in GOP fever dreams, this is real voter fraud, from the other direction. Too bad they’ll never be called to account for it.

The 47 Percent for Mitt RomneyOf the 10 states that receive the most federal spending relative to how much they contribute in taxes, Romney was the victor in all but New Mexico and Virginia, and in the end, he got his 47 percent. So the moochers did vote for Money Boo Boo.

Tom Ricks finally Tells Fox News (“GOP TV”) off on the Phony Benghazi “Issue” — More on why this nothingburger scandal is a nothingburger. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop the GOP, especially Senator John McCain (R-Palin), from wasting words, airtime and political energy. That worked so well for another nothingburger scandal called Whitewater, after all, that they just can’t help themselves.

?otD: Can you hear the wind blow?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (brain break after finishing “Rock of Ages” in first draft)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (30 minutes on stationary bike)
Hours slept: 8.0 hours (fitful)
Weight: 220.4
Number of FEMA troops on my block forcing people to accept healthcare and committing voter fraud: 0
Currently reading: The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett

[links] Link salad finds a bustle in its hedgerow

Mini-libraries have curb appeal

Who Made That Emoticon? — The history of a simple thing. I also like the list of Japanese emoticons. (Via my Dad.)

Mehrangarh Fort — More amazing South Asian architecture from BLDGBLOG.

Psoriasis drug ‘slows dementia’ mice study suggestsDrugs used to calm inflammation in psoriasis may also help to combat the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, a study on mice suggests.

Newly evolved gene may have changed humans’ brainsNot the only gene that separates us from other apes, but an interesting one.

Antarctic marine wildlife is under threat, study finds — This “science”, with it’s liberally-biased “data” and “facts”, can of course be safely ignored by the ideologically correct conservative. For the rest of us who actually live in reality, it’s scary stuff.

Boeing Said It Will Deny Equal Pension Benefits to Married Gay Couples — Classy move, Boeing. And this will save just how much for your bottom line and the benefit of your stockholders. How typically conservative, to trade away ethics for profit.

Susan Rice And The Power Of Postracial Thinking — Ta-Nehisi Coates on the nonsensical GOP attacks on Susan Rice.

Election Spurred a Move to Codify U.S. Drone Policy — This is the dreadful evil that we do in the world today, that most Americans are barely aware of. That we would never allow on our own soil.

Sale of Guns Soar Following Election — Because the Obama administration did so much to curb gun rights during his first term. Or not. This is another example of what I keep saying — liberal-progressives fear conservatives because of what conservatives themselves say they will do, conservatives fear liberal-progressives because of what conservatives themselves imagine those liberal-progressives might do. It’s just another facet of the endless GOP War on Reality.

The religious liberty right to believe that algebra is an abortifacientSay you have a public school student who is an observant Jew. That student has a reasonable religious liberty objection to being offered only school lunches containing pork. But what if this student were to refuse school lunches containing beef, asserting that he believes beef to come from pigs and therefore to violate his religious commitment to keeping kosher. Does the school have an obligation to accommodate the delusional belief that beef comes from pigs? Tyndale House says yes. The Christian publisher says it has a right to its own sectarian facts and sectarian reality, and that no such thing as objective truth exists that might constrain that. Slacktivist Fred Clark with more on the endless lunacy that is the Religious Right. And remember, these nuts are the backbone of the GOP. Every time you vote Republican, you’re voting to further empower this intellectual cesspool as a prime mover in American government and policy.

Why Marco Rubio Needs To Know That The Earth Is Billions Of Years Old[T]his economy, at its root, is built on a web of scientific knowledge from physics to chemistry to biology. It’s impossible to just cherry pick out parts we don’t like. If the Earth is 9,000 years old, then virtually the entire construct of modern science is simply wrong. Not only that, most of the technology that we rely on most likely wouldn’t work – as they’re dependent on science that operates on the same physical laws that demonstrate the age of the universe. Speaking of the intellectual cesspool that is the Religious Right. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Walter Russell Mead and the “Fretting” Realists — Conservative commentator Daniel Larison on Obama’s likely cabinet changes. [A]voiding groupthink and excessive uniformity [in the Cabinet] would be desirable no matter what the prevailing view happened to be. While quite true and to the point, this is an odd comment, to say the least, coming from a conservative. The Republican collection of intellectual and policy litmus tests, and their ferocious punishment of any of their own who stray, make the old bugaboo of “political correctness” look like a playground game. Thanks to figures such as Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist, as well the eternal pandering to their deeply irrational and paranoid base, the GOP is about nothing if not about groupthink and uniformity.

?otD: Are you alarmed now? Shouldn’t you be?

Writing time yesterday: 1.5 hours (2,600 words to finish “Rock of Ages” in first draft)
Body movement: 0.5 hours (30 minutes on stationary bike)
Hours slept: 8.5 hours (solid)
Weight: 219.2
Number of FEMA troops on my block shutting down Evangelical churches and closing gun shops: 0
Currently reading: Cryoburn by Lois McMaster Bujold

[links] Link salad knows we got so much power now

Must-Have Primary Texts for the Steampunk Scholar

How to Make a Book DisappearJonah Lehrer’s discredited Imagine has vanished from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and his publisher’s website. Why that’s bad news for readers. As tipster [info]corwynofamber says, “the future of censorship is digital”.

Doctors Sift Through Patients’ Genomes To Solve Medical Mysteries — (Via Ellen Eades.)

Anesthesia Method Suggests Possible Cure For Post-trauma Stress — This is the procedure that has been of such benefit to [info]kenscholes.

26 Ridiculous Sex-Ed Fails — This is what happens you let faith-based thinking interfere with reality. (Via [info]danjite.)

Justices will soon decide whether to take up same-sex marriage appeals — Who knows? The conservative Roberts Court might do the right and moral thing for the second time in its history. I’m not optimistic.

Mars Curiosity rover touches rock, ‘does a science’ Curiosity spent the past several days investigating a strange pyramid-shaped stone named ‘Jake Matijevic,’ testing out some of the gear at the end of its 7-foot-long arm.

Einstein’s Brain Goes Digital With iPad App

Google Street View maps the Great Barrier ReefWeb users around the world can now virtually dive on the world’s most beautiful reefs after a group of scientists map the seabed using special panoramic cameras.

Space shuttle over LA

Presidents—and would-be presidents—can’t resist meddling with NASA

Meeting A Troll… — This man is more merciful than I would have been. (Via [info]cypherindigo.)

‘Every Person Is Afraid of the Drones’: The Strikes’ Effect on Life in Pakistan — Feel safer now? We’re terrorizing an entire nation so you can.

In San Francisco, Prop. 8 backer to head Catholic ChurchThe pope’s appointment of Salvatore Cordileone has been called the ‘Bombshell by the Bay.’ Many gay and lesbian Catholics worry that they will be marginalized after his arrival. Yep, really got their finger on the pulse of America.

Ex-megachurch employee faces new charges as Tulsa police identify 4th victim of alleged abuse — This is why America needs more Christian values.

A Century of Voting Patterns — (Via Lisa Costello.)

Ohio Tea Partier attempts to intimidate student voters at OSU — Conservatives can’t win on ideas, so they try to win by cheating.

A Conservative History of the United States — Make your own facts! It’s fun! And much more satisfying that dealing with the messy nuances of the reality-based world.

Sandy Rios: Bush Gave Us Middle East ‘Peace for Ten Years’Rios blasted Obama supporters for claiming that George W. Bush left him an economic crisis while refusing to admit that Bush “left them peace, he left them peace for ten years,” and now “we are reaping the bitter fruits of chaos not only in the Middle East but in the world at large because we have not been dealing with them with strength” like Bush did. The conservative mind is so delusional. This is unhinged. (Snurched from Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Conservative Group Claims Obama Has ‘Communist Beliefs,’ Compares His Policies To Hitler’s — Talk about confused concerning 20th century history. But, hey, this is conservative America. Guys, listen up: You keep using those words. I do not think they mean what you think they mean.

We Are the 96 Percent[N]early all Americans have used government social policies at some point in their lives. The beneficiaries include the rich and the poor, Democrats and Republicans. Almost everyone is both a maker and a taker. The difference is that conservatives don’t count government social programs that apply to them. Only help for others they find less deserving.

Movement Conservatives Conveniently Forget Their Role in Making Romney Viable

?otD: Do you know how many time zones there are in the Soviet Union?

Writing time yesterday: 0 hours (post-chemo recovery)
Body movement: 0.5 hours stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 8.5 (interrupted, with napping)
Weight: 229.4
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

[links] Link salad recovers from surgery

Now Begins Operation Jay — Scott Lynch is generous and slightly scary. Thank you.

My short story “Spendthrift” will be in the forthcoming anthology Coins of Chaos

Surviving the World on steampunks

Top Ten Likely Consequences of Muslim anti-US Embassy Riots

Occupy movement turns 1 year old, its effect still hard to defineSince Occupy Wall Street sparked a nationwide movement, no broad tangible result has emerged. To stay relevant, must it involve politicians?

O’Reilly’s Accidental Support For Planned Parenthood Funding — More of that justly famed conservative intellectual consistency.

Kansas Goes Birther: State Board Considers Removing Obama From Ballot — The unswerving conservative commitment to representative democracy, political fairness and intellectual honesty continues.

Obama by the Numbers — Some serious neepery about the metrics of the current presidency.

Joining the Reality-Based Community My old Republican worldview was flawed because it was based upon a small and particularly rosy sliver of reality. To preserve that worldview, I had to believe that people had morally earned their “just” desserts, and I had to ignore those whining liberals who tried to point out that the world didn’t actually work that way. I think this shows why Republicans put so much effort into “creat[ing] our own reality,” into fostering distrust of liberals, experts, scientists, and academics, and why they won’t let a campaign “be dictated by fact-checkers” (as a Romney pollster put it). It explains why study after study shows … that avid consumers of Republican-oriented media are more poorly informed than people who use other news sources or don’t bother to follow the news at all. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.)

Mitt Romney’s Best-Known Mormon Critic Tells it All. One Last Time.

Erasing the Iraq War from Republican Party History — Amazingly enough, most conservatives seem to have forgotten that their party leadership launched a trillion dollar way of choice on knowingly false pretenses. Or else they blame it on Obama. This is akin to thinking that the Bush administration “kept us safe”.

?otD: Cut up much?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (surgery)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 7.75 (interrupted)
Weight: 236.6
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

[links] Link salad sings “Hold me closer, Tony Danza”

SkiffyandFanty Episode 112 — An Interview w/ Jay Lake — A podcast interview with me, by Skiffy and Fanty. Covers the release of the Endurance trade paperback edition, as well as a fair amount of discussion of my cancer.

2012 Hugo voting analysis — Apparently I missed the Best Novelette ballot by one vote. Sigh.

How copyright enforcement robots killed the Hugo Awards — Sigh.

Beyond the MatrixThe Wachowskis travel to even more mind-bending realms.

Couple discover 33ft deep hole built in middle ages beneath their living room after spotting bump in the floor

Tracking a Subtle Scent, a Dog May Help Save the Whales — (Via Dad.)

Tigers change behavior to live near peopleTigers don’t necessarily need huge dedicated reserves, say scientists, but can accommodate themselves to patterns of human activity by becoming more nocturnal.

Researchers ponder what’s next in volcanic YellowstoneCaldera isn’t ready to erupt, but we might have little warning when it is. If this doesn’t concern you, you’re not paying attention.

Spacecraft to starship? 35 years after launch, Voyager 1 is barreling toward the stars

Aliens at the Vatican! A History of the Vatican Meteorite Collection — Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., the Vatican Astronomer, will be speaking at the Cascadia Meteorite Laboratory fundraiser on Saturday, September 15th. Check it out and support an important Northwest science lab.

Smoke and mirrors‘Agnotology’, the art of spreading doubt (as pioneered by Big Tobacco), distorts the scepticism of research to obscure the truth. See also evolution denial, climate change denial, supply side economics, and very nearly every other core conservative belief. (Via Scrivner’s Error.)

Climate report: “Almost no chance” of less than 3½°F (2°C) rise; 50-50 chance of 5½°F (3°C); headed for 9°F — Darn that liberal bias in reality. Good thing conservatives aren’t part of the reality-based community.

Holder Announces Impunity for Torture-Homicides — (Thanks to [info]danjite.)

QOTD: Gloria Borger — France? Really? This is what makes it so hard to respect so many of the most hardcore American conservatives — their endless self-serving hypocrisy.

As Republican convention emphasizes diversity, racial incidents intrude — Gee, the party that’s having trouble because they can’t generate enough angry white guys isn’t communicating well across racial lines? No one could have predicted this!

Romney & Bush Disappearance — Hahahahahah.

The Political Overconfidence of Republican Hard-liners

?otD: Who’s the boss?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (running on Con time)
Body movement: 60 minute suburban walk
Hours slept: 6.0 (interrupted)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

[links] Link salad heads for Maryland

Reality vs. Screen IllusionThat emotionally tinged version of reality is what moviemakers need to bring to life if they want to create convincing illusions. The same general principle applies to painting. Often it’s necessary to go beyond optical or photographic realism in order to achieve psychological realism. It’s the difference between mere accuracy and true believability. Think about how this applies to writing fiction.

Sutter Buttes, CaliforniaSometimes called the “smallest mountain range in the world,” the Sutter Buttes rise almost 610 meters (2,000 feet) above the flat agricultural fields of the Great Valley of central California.

Curiosity’s nuclear power source

Three Questions with George WhitesidesThe Harvard chemist talks about the problem of solving problems.

A Superstar Televangelist in Pakistan Divides, Then Repents — Note the deliberate distortions of truth, abusive manipulations, and serial lying. No different from American religious broadcasters. Speaking as an atheist, I far prefer my ethical framework to the alleged moral compass granted by this kind of faith.

The man with his name — Roger Ebert on Clint Eastwood’s bizarre behavior at the Republican National Convention. It takes brass balls to ad-lib for 12 minutes in front of 30 million people on live TV, just working with yourself and an empty chair.

Tutu: Bush, Blair should face trial at the HagueTutu, the retired Anglican Church’s archbishop of South Africa, wrote in an op-ed piece for The Observer newspaper that the ex-leaders of Britain and the United States should be made to “answer for their actions.” The Iraq war “has destabilized and polarized the world to a greater extent than any other conflict in history,” wrote Tutu, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 1984. We’ve already established that none of the American political leadership will ever bear any domestic accountability for a trillion dollar war of choice launched under knowingly false pretenses, so I don’t see why anyone should expect international accountability. (Via [info]danjite.)

?otD: Baltimore or Baltiless?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (running on Con time)
Body movement: 60 minute urban walk
Hours slept: 5.0 (solid)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

[links] Link salad blinks at Sunday

Black Gate on Tales From the Fathomless Abyss — In which I have a story.

Let’s have a meeting — Roger Ebert on “lip flap”. Hilarious and to the point.

The Tacky History of the Pink Flamingo

Striper[A]rtist Simon Rouby became fascinated by the ongoing painting and repainting of traffic lines on the freeways and streets of Los Angeles, like some vast and unacknowledged readymade art project.

Martians, flying saucers discovered on Mars, report extremely unreliable sources

PhoneSat Flight Demonstrations — Cellphones in satellites? Really? Wow, the future, she is here.

Syracuse makes real lava in parking lot for kicks (and science)

Nikola Tesla gets some of the recognition he deserves, thanks to The Oatmeal’s internet campaign

The dark side of light: negative frequency photonsThe impact of something we thought couldn’t exist has now been detected. I’ve been on dates like that.

Why It Pays to Submit to Hackers

US nurse throws away kidney from living donor, ruins it

Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews — Hahaha. (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

Plot to Provoke war with Iran thwarted by Navy analyst — In case you were still under the delusion that the Bush administration acted either morally or in the national interest.

Political Chat: Missouri Comments Echo In Northwest Politics

Tea party lawmakers torn between ideology, reality — This just in: reality fails to conform to rigid ideological preconceptions. I’m sure Rush Limbaugh could explain how simple this all really is.

Republican Convention Delayed As Isaac Approaches — Isn’t this where Pat Robertson comes out and tells us that God is punishing the affected event? I guess God doesn’t punish conservatives, though.

?otD: Sunday morning again?

Writing time yesterday: 1.25 hours (1.0 hours of WRPA, 0.25 hours of revisions on Other Me)
Body movement: 60 minute urban walk
Hours slept: 5.0 (interrupted)
Weight: n/a
Currently reading: Heartland by Mark Teppo

[politics] Flinging poo from the top of the progressive ladder

Sometimes people question why I bark so loudly at American conservatives. Yesterday I was asked on Facebook:

And yet, honestly, Jay, I like you. You’re a nice guy, but you’re pretty ruthless in the criticisms you make of anyone who’s not Liberal or progressive in ways that I’d have to wonder if you’d really say to someone’s face. I’ve had a hard time with posts of yours on FB and your blog to the point I’m very careful what I read.

To which I responded in part:

You’ll note that most of my criticisms of conservatives and the religious are rooted in responding to their own words and deeds. In other words, I’m not sitting on some progressive ladder flinging poo, I am looking at what people actually say and do, and being astonished.

Which got me to thinking about what it is that causes me to respond so viscerally to conservative rhetoric. I mean, really, liberal-progressives get it wrong a lot of the time as well. People from all walks of life and perspectives say stupid things to themselves and each other every day.

The problem, I think, is that the modern conservative position has become unreasonable, in a most literal sense, founded on a combination of willful ignorance and deliberate intellectual dishonesty. Many of the things conservatives say and do don’t arise from honest differences of opinion about the world and how it works and should be run. This isn’t about divergent views of policy or preference of philosophy. These issues don’t have two sides in any rational world, any more than a dispute about the existence of gravity has two sides. No, these foundational conservative opinions arise from flat-out lies. And based in lies, the conservative worldview then generates more lies in a vicious downward spiral of destructive feedback.

This offends me intellectually and morally, and it creates an enormous problem for government and politics in the United States.

To get to specific examples…

Evolution denial. 58 percent of Republicans believe that God created humans in their present form within the last 10,000 years. (To be clear, so do 41% of Democrats, but the resulting social agenda has little sway within the Democratic party or liberal-progressive politics.) In order to hold the majority Republican view on evolution, you have to believe that 99% of the biologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, science teachers and science journalists are all engaged in a century-long conspiracy to cover up and obscure the Biblical truth with falsified evidence and slanted classroom instruction and biased journalism. You have to be willing to disregard the absolutely overwhelming web of interlocking physical evidence that supports the theory of evolution. In order to hold that worldview, you have to train yourself to habits of thought that are literally paranoid and delusional. These habits of thought in turn influence the rest of your worldview. And through conservative dominance of the public school system via school boards and textbook selection committees, evolution denial itself has direct, destructive consequences for education of all people everywhere, not just the children of religious conservatives. Not to mention fostering a profound distrust of science that colors all other opinions and decision making. All of this to support a minority viewpoint of one particular religious faith?

Global warming denial. 47% of Republicans deny the evidence of global warming. (Fewer than 20% of Democrats do.) Much like evolution denial, in order to hold the majority Republican view on climate change, you have to believe that 99% of climate scientists, atmospheric physicists, meteorologists, geographers, and science journalists as well as governments, research authorities and colleges and universities the world over are all engaged in a decades-long conspiracy to cover up and obscure the truth with falsified evidence and slanted classroom instruction and biased journalism. Again, though the scientific case for anthropogenic climate change is not as profoundly overwhelming as it is for evolution, you have to be willing to disregard the extremely substantial web of interlocking physical evidence that supports the hypothesis. Again, to support that worldview, you have to train yourself to habits of thought that are literally paranoid and delusional. These habits of thought in turn influence the rest of your worldview. Conservative control of the balance of power in American public policy means that climate change denial risks direct, destructive consequences that could range from trillions of dollars in property loss due to rising sea levels all the way to species extinction. All of this to support an anti-environmentalist political agenda?

The Iraq War. 63% of Republican respondents still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when the U.S. invaded in 2003. (Again, to be fair, 15% of Democrats believe this.) This is flatly counterfactual. A blatant lie. There isn’t even the tiny amount of wriggle room that climate change denial has for intellectual skepticism. There were no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq. There weren’t when we invaded. There aren’t now. No one has ever found meaningful evidence to the contrary. Yet a majority of Republicans believe this. That completely false viewpoint causes them to see President Bush’s Iraq War as justified for America’s national security, and to see anyone who opposed or still opposes the war as obvious traitors working against the national interest. To hold this completely false viewpoint against all evidence is again paranoid and delusional. To hold this completely false viewpoint generates profound distrust of those who don’t.

President Obama’s religion. 45% of Alabama Republicans think Mr. Obama is a Muslim. In Mississippi, the same poll showed that a majority of Republicans, 52%, believe this. There’s never been a shred of evidence to back this up. Yes, he had a Muslim step-father. Yes, he lived in Indonesia as a child. I lived in Taiwan as a child, this didn’t make me a Buddhist or a Confucian. The president has a lifelong record of church attendance, one that become a significant campaign issue in 2008 due some of the pronouncements of his long-time pastor Jeremiah Wright. To believe that the president is a secret Muslim requires faith in an assertion with absolutely no objective evidence. That is again a paranoid, delusional worldview that endorses other paranoid, delusional worldviews about the president, and about liberal-progressives in general.

Taxes. More than 70% of Republicans believe that the tax burden on middle-class Americans has increased since Barack Obama became president. (20% of Democrats believe this.) In fact, taxes on the middle class have decreased during the Obama administration. The 2009 stimulus bill offered substantial tax cuts, including expanded tax credits for workers, people with children, college students, home buyers, and the unemployed. In 2010, a temporary reduction in the payroll tax was passed, and recently extended through 2012. To believe that the president has raised the tax burden on middle class requires a complete rejection of actual hard data in favor of an assertion which is another flat lie.

Guns. In a slightly less objective arena, that of Second Amendment rights, there’s a widespread belief among conservatives that Obama wants to take away their guns or restrict their gun rights. Yet Obama hasn’t proposed any anti-gun legislation in his first term, and has rarely mentioned the topic at all.

That doesn’t even get into the swamp of misrepresentations and flat-out lies that conservatives buy into on everything from healthcare reforms (Death panels? Really?) to women’s health (Blood spattered clinic floors?). Those areas aren’t as readily argued objectively, so while the conservative view seems just as insane to me as everything else cited here, the rebuttal is not quite so amenable to hard data.

Taking all this together, from a liberal-progressive perspective, half this country is literally nuts. Nuts in a way that leads to such arrant nonsense as the Texas GOP party platform opposing the teaching of “higher order thinking skills” — a curriculum which strives to encourage critical thinking — arguing that it might challenge “student’s fixed beliefs” and undermine “parental authority.” What sane person of any political persuasion wants to live in a society where imparting critical thinking skills to our children is seen as a bad thing?

How do you reason with people who insist on being so literally unreasonable? How do you have a useful debate on policy with people who simply reject out of hand the reality of the world around us all? Why should anyone take any conservative anywhere seriously, or extend intellectual credibility to them, when their worldview and their political fortunes are based on fostering and extending wholesale denial of reality? How is it possible for me or any other reasonable person to see these positions as anything but willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty?

When liberals and progressives are wrong or misguided, it’s for a host of reasons, but it’s not usually because of profound bias in the foundational assumptions of their worldview. It’s because they’ve made a mistake about something. A reality-based error, if you will. The nice thing about reality-based errors is that they are amenable to correction through new evidence or logic. Faith-based errors (i.e., errors of thought which explicitly deny data or external reality in favor of a presupposed conclusion), the type which conservatives have committed themselves to whole-heartedly, are self-reinforcing and resistant to evidence or logic. Proof to the contrary of the erroneous position is just seen as further evidence of the conspiracy against the cherished truth. At this point, conservatism is so overwhelmed with faith-based and systemic errors that it’s impossible for someone outside their frame to distinguish what is sensible from what it is not within their worldview.

In other words, I don’t bark at liberals and progressives, because there simply isn’t the wholesale denial of reality in that wing of American politics and culture that there is on the Right. (With the partial and bizarre exception of vaccine denial; which I also bark at fairly often for the same reasons cited in this post.) People being wrong or believing me to be wrong or holding positions I disagree with is part of life. People being willfully ignorant and intellectual dishonest on a wholesale scale is another problem entirely.

Do I believe that individual conservatives are ignorant and mendacious? No, not in the slightest. At least, not those outside of the conservative political and media elite who create and foster these lies for partisan gain. Without exception, all of the conservatives I personally know in real life are kind, thoughtful people that I’m proud to call friends and relatives. But the beliefs they espouse and the evidence they refuse to examine about those beliefs is toxic to their worldview, and to the body politic as a whole. We all have to live with the consequences of distorted conservative thinking.

Like I said, I’m not sitting on some progressive ladder flinging poo, I am looking at what people actually say and do, and being astonished.

[links] Link salad goes hiking

Fanboy squee: The ebook ARC of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance is now available at Baen for $15.00 — (Shamelessly stolen from [info]oracne.)

Colecção Argonauta — Some awesome 1960s Brazilian SF covers. (Snurched from @jeremiahtolbert.)

Mapping Your End-of-Life Choices

Meditation found to increase brain size — Now if this only applied in other areas of life… (Via Lisa Costello.)

Google launches Endangered Language ProjectGoogle tries to promote info exchange on the world’s 3,000 endangered languages.

Lidar map shows path of Missoula floods that shaped Oregon’s backyards — Cool stuff. (Thanks to Dad.)

Planets worlds apart orbit one distant star

New passenger service to the Moon for $100M — Hmm. :: wants ::

What to make of the Chinese space effort? — In related news, Language Log comments on the term “taikonaut”.

Pope Jim Garlow I joins the Münchhausen martyrdom brigadeSlacktivist Fred Clark on the self-valorizing persecution fantasies of American Christians.
‘Bible Believers’ who do not know, or care, what the Bible says — Because for far too many Americans, being a Christian isn’t about religion or faith, it’s about tribalism and a smug justification for their private bigotries.

Congress Joins List of Things Romney Thinks Don’t ExistThe general theme of Mitt Romney’s campaign is that President Obama is 100 percent responsible for everything that has happened since he took office, including not only worldwide economic events but decisions of the Republican Congress.

The Consequences of Believing Nonsense — The current crop of conservatives will have a great deal to answer for to future generations. So will the rest of us who have let the GOP get away with politicizing utter nonsense and mortgaging the planet’s future for the sake of a few votes.

Yes, Iraq Definitely Had WMD, Vast Majority Of Polled Republicans Insist — Speaking of believing nonsense. This is flatly counterfactual. Untrue. A lie. Yet close to half of America’s voters believe that Iraq had WMDs. This is what comes of the GOP deliberately enabling nonsense, and co-opting Your Liberal Media to spread it. The people who started all this — Atwater, Ailes, Rove, etc. — they know better. They’re just cynical, opportunistic bastards. But they’ve created going on two generations of politicians and voters who are true believers, because listening to your own fears is a hell of lot easier (and more emotionally satisfying) than considering the nuances of things you don’t understand and don’t want to hear.

?otD: Been out to the Rising Gorge?

Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (brain break)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride, hiking to come
Hours slept: 7.0 (solid)
Weight: 238.8
Currently reading: Shattering the Ley by Benjamin Tate

[links] Link salad dispatches war rocket Ajax to bring back his body

What appears to be a Korean review of Green — Even with Google Translate, I can’t figure out if this is positive or otherwise.

Dorothy Parker in the Twitter Age — Ta-Nehisi Coates quotes Dorothy Parker on how writers should live.

The 18 rules I learned in my 1st year as a full time writer — Myke Cole is funny.

Shall we gather at the river? — Roger Ebert on the iconic John Wayne. I love the way this man writes.

Rock of ages: 40,000 year-old musical instruments the world’s oldest — Keith Richards also has been carbon dated, apparently.

To Save Some Species, Zoos Must Let Others Die

‘Mermaids: The Body Found’ On Animal Planet Argues Mythical Sea Creatures Are Aquatic Apes — Speaking as an East African plains ape, hello, cousins.

Radioactive bluefin tuna are likely to decrease over time

Sentinels of the Arctic APOD with a gorgeous photo of strange snow formations in Lapland.

Looking Back at an Eclipsed Earth — This is cool.

Soviet Moon Lander Discovered Water on The Moon in 1976The last Soviet mission to the moon, Luna-24, returned to Earth with water-rich rocks from beneath the lunar surface. But the West ignored the result.

The Secret Army inside the Army — The growth of Special Forces. Wasn’t this a Rumsfeld initiative as well?

Hundreds of words to avoid using online if you don’t want the government spying on you (and they include ‘pork’, ‘cloud’ and ‘Mexico’) — Because pork is a threat to our nation’s vital security interests. Feel safer now? (Via [info]danjite.)

Romney’s run evokes pride, fear in Mormons — Actually, when the LDS inserted itself so heavily in the Proposition 8 vote in California, they opened themselves to the kind of politically-oriented criticism this article says adherents now fear from the Romney run. In this context, once you make someone else’s morals and private behavior an issue, you make your own an issue. Since Prop 8, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the Mormons undergoing critical public review.

Amercia! Epic Mitt Romney App Gaffe Goes Viral Online — Now, imagine the reaction from Your Liberal Media and the conservative commentariat if the Obama campaign had done this.

What The Pushback On Obama’s Spending Claim IgnoresOn the campaign trail, President Obama has touted recent data that dispels the notion that he has embarked on a spending binge — and his Republican opponents, citing various fact-checks, are aggressively pushing back. Part of the pushback, it turns out, inadvertently proves Obama’s larger point. Ya think?

?otd: Who is the savior of the universe?

Writing time yesterday: 1.75 hours (WRPA)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.25 (solid)
Weight: 242.4 (!)
Currently reading: Shattering the Ley by Benjamin Tate

[links] Link salad can dance if it wants to

Special Needs in Strange Worlds | Jay Lake – Cancer and Writing — A weekend reacharound repost, because I think this is important. In which I guest blog at Bookworm Blues.

Behind Every Great Novelist — Oh, how true… (Thanks to [info]goulo.)

Fantasy Philately: Collecting Stamps from Tatooine and Alderaan? — (Thanks to [info]scarlettina.)

Women are better than men — Roger Ebert is, as usual, interesting.

Radioactive man? Milford resident pulled over by state police — Weird. (Thanks to my Aunt M.)

Human-Caused Lunar Methane — Hahahaha. (Via [info]threeoutside.)

It’s Not So Lonely at the Top: Ecosystems Thrive High in the Sky — The Amazon tepuis. I would love to go see these. (Via my Dad.)

Capitalists and Other Psychopaths — More on the psychopath ratio on Wall Street. Language Log injects a note of reality into the discussion.

“At a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me, personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”Pharygula takes issue with Obama’s comments on gay marriage.

Top GOP Pollster to GOP: Reverse On Gay Issues — I’d love to see this happen, but it isn’t going to. The GOP is enslaved to its base, which continues to slaver for an ever more closed and intolerant society. And a lot of Republican figures would have to eat a hell of a lot of crow to walk back their stance on gay marriage. (Via my Aunt M.)

Evangelicals Unhappy With GOP’s Gay Marriage Strategy — Huh. Whaddaya know?

U.S. Ranks as 25th Best Country to Be a MotherA woman in the United States is more than seven times as likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause in her lifetime than a woman in Italy or Ireland. Gee, I wonder which political movement in this country is dedicated to undermining women’s health at every turn, and fiercely opposed to ay efforts to rationalize and improve the healthcare system. We’re number 25! Thanks, conservative America.

Romney, bullying, and me [ | LiveJournal ] — Another weekend reacharound repost, because I think this is important, and the comments I got on both sides of the blog are also important.

Republicans only interfere with moralsRepublicans claim to be the party of small government, but the reality is that they’re the party of using government when they see fit. When dealing with religious beliefs, Republicans talk about government staying out of the way. When it comes to personal choices dealing with relationships, what religion others follow, or choices about a women’s body, small government rhetoric is pushed aside and intrusive government arrives with a vengeance.

Bush Convicted of War Crimes in Absentia — Unfortunately, here at home we will never see any review of the Bush administration’s conduct concerning the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. As any conservative can tell you, blow jobs are much more important than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people on knowingly false premises. So is Kenyan Muslim socialism. (Via [info]danjite.)

?otd: Can you leave your friends behind? (Note the importance of proper apostrophe placement, or lack thereof, in that question.)

Writing time yesterday: 1.0 hours (Kalimpura copy edits)
Body movement: 30 minute stationary bike ride
Hours slept: 6.75 (solid)
Weight: 244.4 (!!!)
Currently reading: Light Breaker by Mark Teppo