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[links] Link salad wakes up in its own bed for a change

Arriving late to the Sous-Vide partyJersey Girl in Portland on cooking.

The Singularity is Still Closer than it Appears — A response to Ramez Naam.

Effects of bullying may add up in kids: study — Also, this just in: water is wet! Bullying sure played a huge part in my 1970s childhood, and the adult response was largely what we would now call victim-blaming. It’s shaped my whole life. Luckily for me, I wound up in a high school where I could hold my own.

Twenty-five percent of Americans don’t know the Earth revolves around the Sun, survey finds — Sigh.

Following a long road to ancient DNASvante Pääbo, the man behind the Neanderthal genome, tells his story.

How Wolves Change Rivers — I’ve run into this before. It’s still damned cool. (Via David Goldman.)

Santa’s revenge: Arctic ice may be putting US in a long, deep freezeEvidence is mounting that a warming Arctic has set the jet stream loose.

Becoming A Moral MinorityJim Hinch tracks the decline of conservative religion.

Snake Salvation pastor dies from snake bite — Uh, yeah. That’s what happens when you convince yourself that faith trumps reality. Reality doesn’t care about your sincerely held beliefs.

Dear GOP: Top 5 Biblical Marriage Moments far worse than Gay Marriage — Ah, Biblical marriage. Conservative America really doesn’t read its own faith text at all.

Seriously, what is wrong with Kansas?It’s all about ginning up feelings of persecution among so-called “values voters” … over having to surrender the long-held prerogative to persecute. Lacking any grace or humility, these demagogues won’t leave the scene until they’ve discharged all their poison into our politics.

It’s the gunsHumans get into arguments, they get in each others faces and they sometimes come to blows. There is no way to ensure that will not happen. But these minor beefs — like texting in a movie theater — would very rarely be deadly if people weren’t packing heat! That’s the real issue here. The gun nuts like to say that an armed society is a polite society. That’s just another way of saying that if you are carrying a gun you can make people do what you want them to do — stop texting, stop playing music you don’t like, stop walking through the night with with some candy and a drink from 7-11, even “that’s my parking spot.”

Stand Your Ground is simply an invitation to more killing, not less crimeWe found that homicide rates in states with a version of the Stand Your Ground law increased by an average of 8 percent over states without it. Actual research, with actual “facts” and “data”, firmly backing what I and many other liberal-progressives have long thought about Stand Your Ground laws. This will of course mean nothing to gun rights enthusiasts, whose right to use deadly force at their sole discretion trumps my safety and yours.

White Men’s Freedoms and Black Men’s LivesThe research found that [Stand Your Ground] laws increase the likelihood that a homicide will be considered “justified,” but only in cases where a white person is accused of killing a black person.

A Bitter Valentine’s Day — A letter from inside Guantanamo Bay prison. Your tax dollars at work. (Via [info]danjite.)

?otD: Sleep well?


2/17/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (fitful and in pain)
Body movement: n/a (feeling poorly)
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block who aren’t descended from monkeys: 0
Currently reading: n/a

[personal] Five things make a post, I think

Let’s see if I can count.

1) Dad, Lisa Costello and I are flying home this afternoon. This because NIH pushed back the start date of my immunotherapy by about three weeks from what we originally expected. I can’t really complain, as the reason for this is the genetic selection phase they added to the protocol in order to leverage my Whole Genome Sequencing data and optimize the TIL cell infusion, but it adds another layer of financial cost and logistical complexity to the whole business. Frankly, instead of waiting here to start treatment, we’d have gone home two weeks ago if we’d understood the schedule. Such is personalized medicine in this age of miracle and wonders.

2) I am increasingly interested in seeing the The Lego Movieimdb ]. This film seems to fall into the category I call “movies which are much better than they have to be.” A good example of this is 2012’s ParaNormanimdb ], which was an animated kids’ comedy about a zombie attack on a New England town. But it had a clever, well thought out script with an ending far more humane than one would ever expect from a zombie movie, which made watching ParaNorman a much more rewarding experience than one would ever expect from the film’s subject matter, genre or marketing. So perhaps with Lego. Maybe this week.

3) The persistent pain knot in my chest has faded a bit. I have recently started taking gabapentin for it. I’m not sure if the connection is causal, as gabapentin has a titration period before it becomes effective. In reading up on gabapentin, I discovered that it can be recreationally abused. Which amazed me. I guess people really will try anything.

4) I have been trying to compose a post about Kansas House Bill 2453, which is a profoundly senseless, cruel effort to enshrine wholesale persecution of gay and lesbian citizens into law, masquerading as a defense of religious freedom. I just can’t figure out what to say that doesn’t make me sound so shrill and angry that I can’t even stand to read it myself. This is the apotheosis of the Republican religious-conservative axis into Poe’s Law, in which their extremism has transcended even self-parody. I have only one question for the religious conservatives of Kansas: “Would you do as you would be done by?” Sadly, we already know the answer to that one.

5) After that number four, I don’t have the heart for a fifth. I guess I can’t count.

[links] Link salad jets back across the continent

Linguistics Jobs: Interview with a literary agent

41 Things You Need To Know Right Now, For No Reason In Particular — Pretty hilarious stuff, for the most part.

How To Poop At Work — Pure genius. Of a sort. A compendium of important safety tips. Be warned, pretty much what it says on the tin. (Thanks to someone who would almost certainly prefer to remain nameless in this case.)

Dorion Sagan on the First Ejaculation in Earth’s History — To be more accurate, the first documented ejaculation… (Via Lisa Costello.)

The Strange World of Bug Sex, in Pictures — I’ve been on dates like that. (Via David Goldman.)

8 Celebrities Who Got It Right About Gay Marriage — Uh, yeah. It’s what you might call a non-invasive issue. No social cost, no damage, substantial benefit. Bigot fee-fees are not a proper concern for legislation.

Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein: The Different Body Types of Olympic Athletes — (Via [info]willyumtx.)

The Best Report on Bullying I’ve Ever ReadThe NFL’s amazing investigation of the Miami Dolphins locker room. Cruelty and abuse by the strong, established players against the newer and weaker, endorsed by authority figures. Not much different from the sports culture of my school days. Just higher stakes. Why is anyone surprised by any of this? (Also a big part of why I am not and never will be a sports fan. As a humane person, I simply cannot stomach the attitudes and behaviors that come with the thrill of the game.)

Race Inequality in America by Graph, from Crime Sentencing to IncomeSo if an African-American male had fired ten shots into the SUV of some white suburban kids playing their music too loud, killing one of them, I think we all know there would have been a murder conviction and almost certainly a death penalty imposed.

On the Killing of Jordan Davis by Michael Dunn — Ta-Nehisi Coates is bitterly powerful on this.

Red Scarer: 1953 — A photograph of one of the truly vile figures in 20th century American history, Senator Joe McCarthy. Him and Roy Cohn.

?otD: Ever flown through a storm?


2/16/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 9.0 hours (mostly solid)
Body movement: 30 minutes stationary bike
Weight: n/a (traveling)
Number of FEMA troops on my block who aren’t descended from monkeys: 0
Currently reading: n/a

[links] Link salad has a feeling it gets when it looks to the west

Avoiding the goober — The linguistics of the word “gubernatorial”.

Rubber-Duck-Race Bill Expected to Pass in Wisconsin

Cat parasite found in Arctic Beluga

Made in Maine scent makes farmers more attractive to livestock — Because, uh. Nope. I got nothing. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Breast Milk Varies for Males, Females — Uhh…

Skeleton Typogram, A Human Skeleton Illustration Made Using The Words For Each Bone — (Via Lisa Costello.)

Mystery of ‘jelly doughnut’ Martian rock solvedNASA said Friday that a wheel of the rover Opportunity broke it off a larger rock and then kicked it into the field of view.

We Aren’t the WorldJoe Henrich and his colleagues are shaking the foundations of psychology and economics—and hoping to change the way social scientists think about human behavior and culture. This is pretty damned interesting, but be aware it’s a longish read. (Via [info]danjite.)

Why AIs Won’t Ascend in the Blink of an Eye – Some Math — My friend Ramez Naam is smart.

BART riders get measles scare from UC Berkeley studentHealth officials say that thousands of San Francisco Bay Area residents may have been exposed to measles recently when an unvaccinated UC student attended classes and used the BART travel system. Because some people are fucking morons. I hope they charge that student, and their parents, with several thousand counts of reckless endangerment.

Are You Smarter Than a Nuclear Launch Officer?Here’s the type of questions Air Force missileers are cheating on…and why. (Snurched from Daniel Larison‘s weekly roundup.)

Who’s the judge who ruled on Va.’s ban on gay marriage? A seeker of ‘more perfect’ freedom.

How Same-Sex Marriage Opponents Are Trying to Defend Their State BansThis line or reasoning serves two purposes. First, it’s meant to refute echoes of Loving v. Virginia, charges that the state acting in a bigoted manner by trying to discriminate against LGBT people or preserve heterosexual superiority. These are distasteful things to be accused of, so those defending the bans are trying to minimize the characterization that they’re on the wrong side of history. And water can try to minimize the characterization that it’s wet, but bigotry is bigotry, no matter how nicely it dresses up to go to church.

Tom Perkins’ big idea: The rich should get more votes — Ok, now he’s just trolling. Either that or he’s the most ignorant, self-involved example of financial entitlement that ever walked the earth.

We Did the Math on Tom Perkins’ Vote-Buying SchemeGuess who wins? Almost certainly not you.

New Jersey lawmakers cause international stir with bill to rename ‘Sea of Japan’ — Proof positive that Democrats can be utter morons, too. Sigh.

?otD: Is your spirit is crying for leaving?


2/15/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 10.0 hours (mostly solid)
Body movement: 30 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

[links] Link salad didn’t know you were looking for more than it could ever be

“Hemingway” on Hemingway — Who the hell would use an app to evaluate their writing quality?

1966 Batman Valentines — Hahaha.

Compulsory Coupling: Fit In By Finding Someone — Yeah, this.

Snow Bird: 1922 — Some photographs defy explanation.

Austin’s Moon Towers, Beyond ‘Dazed and Confused’ — I lived in Austin 18 years, almost all of them in the old part of town where these towers still stand.

Frozen Venice – in pictures — (Via Lisa Costello.)

Bobsleds in ManhattanWhy NYC Should Host The Winter Olympics. Hahahah.
Global Geologic Map of Ganymede — In case you need one.

A little ass music: Hieronymus Bosch’s 500-year-old butt song from hell — This is so weird. (Via Lisa Costello.)

248-Million-Year-Old Fossil Shows Oldest Reptile Live Birth, Chaohusaurus Was Born ‘Head First’

The Rise of the Crazy Ants — Fire ants were bad enough. Now this? (Via David Goldman.)

The French way of cancer treatment[T]he French system is basically like an expanded Medicaid. Pretty much everyone has insurance, it explained, and the French get better primary care and more choice of doctors than we do. It also turns out, as has been much commented on, that despite all this great treatment, the French spend far less on healthcare than Americans. But Socialism is evil! No matter that people live longer, with better quality of life, for less cost. (Snurched from Alexander Unwyn Cherry.)

Cartoon: The truth about numbers: Bible Math! — Snerk. The dangers of literalism.

Kansas’ Anti-Gay Segregation Bill Is an Abomination — Wow. It’s very, very hard for me to read about something like this and not reach some very harsh negative conclusions about the intelligence, morality and basic human decency of American conservatives. (Via John Sapienza.)

Herpin: ‘A good thing’ that James Holmes had 100-round magazineRepublican state Sen. Bernie Herpin raised the ire of an Aurora theater shooting victim’s father when he claimed that it might have been “a good thing” that gunman James Holmes had a 100-round magazine when he opened fire and, ultimately, killed 12 people. I cannot even bring myself to snark about this.

Schofield man who advocated for open carry jailed, accused of making gun threats — Because guns make us all safer, and every American who carries deadly force can absolutely be relied upon to use that threat of deadly force wisely under all circumstances.

Doctors: Abortion laws carry riskEven those who oppose abortion say that before giving their best medical advice, they may need to call a lawyer. All in accordance with that bedrock conservative principle of not letting the government come between you and your doctor.

[Conservative activist] Brent Bozell urges liberal media to ‘tell the truth,’ while he fibs about writing a column — “Forced ghostwriting”?

Sen. Bob Corker can’t stand the United Auto Workers: An annotated interview — I wish more journalists would do this when interviewing politicians: annotate the lies and misrepresentations. (Snurched from John Sapienza.)

[New York Republican state legislator] Thomas Barraga: No one ‘should ever ride a bicycle’ in Suffolk County — Because freedom, I guess.

?otD: Do you have to stay?


2/14/2014
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

[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

[politics] The absolute privileging of ideological conviction

My online friend [info]chris_gerrib was riffing on irrational thinking, drawing an analogy between SFWA’s current issues, and the very consistent rural conservative misperception of tax burdens and budget allocations. I made this comment:

It’s a common trope among rural and exurban conservatives that the big cities are bleeding them dry with taxes. That’s flatly counterfactual, and evidence to the contrary is widely available, but the entire conservative project of the post-Nixon era can be summed up as an effort to absolutely privilege ideological conviction at the expense of evidence-based reality. Hence everything from evolution denial to birtherism. Why should awareness of the tax structure be exempt from carefully fostered wholesale willful ignorance?

This is precisely why I argue so hard and bitterly against evolution denial as a conservative social trope. To my view of recent political history, Republicans fostered that issue among southern religious conservatives to split the old Democratic coalition. One of several culture wars and race/class issues that were deliberate inflamed for reasons of GOP electoral gains as an extension of Nixon’s Southern Strategy. But in privileging evolution denial as a legitimate viewpoint subject to legal and regulatory support, conservatives opened (or more accurately, re-opened) the door to an entire culture of proudly anti-intellectual denialism.

This explicit endorsement that an individual’s beliefs, ideological conviction and personal judgment were more valuable, more truthful, more American than any objective proof to the contrary is one of the deep and abiding poisons afflicting our current society. (See, for example, the 2012 Texas Republican Party platform plank against the teaching of critical thinking in schools, because such intellectual skills can result in “challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority”.) It insulates the believer from any responsibility for trying to understand changing conditions or correct simple misapprehensions of fact. Such as, in the case under discussion on [info]chris_gerrib’s LiveJournal, tax policy in states with a deep urban/rural divide. But also everything from gay marriage to supply side economics to foreign policy.

Likewise, that explicit endorsement of ideology over objective reality insulates the believer from even having to account for contrary evidence. That’s the whole point of FOX News, which conceptually originated as a political tactic in the Nixon White House. (This has has been well documented.) Dismissing insufficiently conservative information sources as biased or distorted means never having to pay attention to the information they provide. Hence the also well-documented phenomenon of conservative epistemic closure.

As a result, we don’t have political and cultural debates on mutually understood terms about issues where progressive and conservatives rightly have different views. Things like tax policy, defense, unemployment, healthcare, where our political philosophies ought to compete on the merits of their position and the value of their goals in terms of the republic as a whole. Instead we have a progressive and centrist view that tries to articulate from an evidence-based position and seek middle ground, and we have a conservative view that demonstrably has been increasingly dominated by radical denialism and ideological insularity. So we get conservative voters who honestly believe that the duly elected president of the United States is a radical socialist working to undermine this country, and Republican congressmen who do things such as engage politely over the suggestion that the president should be executed as an enemy combatant.

This is not a basis of reasonable political disagreement. This is open lunacy. Knowingly enabled and fostered in order to keep conservative voters coming to the polls.

That politics of resentment, that divide-and-conquer strategy, has bought the GOP a lot of votes over the past decades. It stands at the core of the Republican party’s self-articulated “generate more angry white guys” strategy. But it does the country no good, and ultimately does the conservative movement no good either. We’ve allowed one political party to act upon an overt goal of making half our country ill-informed and angry in order to troll for votes.

That is uncivil in the most literal sense of the term, not to mention profoundly destructive to our national fabric and unpatriotic as hell.

[links] Link salad has got bananas, watermelons and peaches by the pound

Photographer Gets A-List Celebrities To Reenact Stunning Scenes From Disney Movies — Annie Leibovitz with some amazing stuff. (Via Lisa Costello.)

An open letter from a Death Star architect — Hahaha. (Via Lisa Costello.)

Agloe, the Paper Town Stronger than Fiction — An odd twist on a well-known story, for you map geeks.

Researchers Watch As Our Brains Turn Sounds Into Words — Ok. This is cool.

Seattle construction workers unearth mammoth tusk

Good luck trying to escape a hungry crocodile by climbing a treeResearchers discovered that four crocodile species climbed trees.

The Archaeology of the Stars — More on hunting for very ancient stars. (Thanks to Dad.)

4 Crazy Gay Marriage Predictions That Never Came TrueIt’s time to take a look at some of predictions and see if any have come to fruition. Guess what?

Nevada Officials Won’t Defend Gay Marriage Ban“After thoughtful review and analysis, the state has determined that its arguments grounded upon equal protection and due process are no longer sustainable.“ Another bigotry domino falls in the face of personal freedom and American values.

Now They’re Making the Homeless Freeze to Death in PensascolaPensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has reversed positions on a city ordinance that makes it a crime for the homeless to sleep on public property with a blanket. I’m pretty sure the Bible has something to say about this in Matthew 25:36. I realize Jesus wasn’t up on current American conservative thinking when he talked about clothing the naked, but the principle seems clear. (Via David Goldman.)

GOP Report Acknowledges That The U.S. Military Couldn’t Have Changed Benghazi Outcome — Republicans formally acknowledging in writing that neither Hillary nor Obama did anything wrong in the Benghazi matter? Yeah, that will be all over Your Liberal Media.

?otD: More better than in town?


2/12/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 9.0 hours (multiply interrupted)
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

[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

[links] Link salad yawns, mumbles

Dear lung cancer patient who smoked

Historically Accurate Disney Princess — This is depraved. And remember, this is me talking.

Verifying images: why seeing is not always believing — Sorting out the provenance of Internet photos. (Via David Goldman.)

How Science Turned a Struggling Pro Skier Into an Olympic Medal Contender — (Via David Goldman.)

Anybody who doesn’t support LIHEAP funding is a big ol’ jerkThat’s one of the weirder aspects of the bitter teavangelical politics of resentment: It’s constantly condemning what it calls “socialism” because it’s not socialistic enough. Once everybody gets something, regardless of need, then it’s fine (“Keep your government out of my Medicare!”). Yes, that’s dumb, but sitting in a corner nurturing every tiny molehill of resentment into a mountain of indignation isn’t a promising way to make yourself smarter.

Republican Jesus says… — They left out the adjective “smug”. Otherwise, this is awesome. (Via Lisa Costello.)

8 Unsustainable Delusions of the American Way of Life — An interesting list. The presentation is a bit more leftie and shrill than even I’m comfortable with, but the points are worth considering.

Top 10 Reasons Rand Paul’s Lewinsky Gambit Can’t Obscure GOP War on Women — Well, all that, and the fact that desperate nastiness doesn’t sell well outside those predisposed to the politics of resentment.

?otD: Got sleep?


2/10/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.5 hours (solid)
Body movement: 12 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

[links] Link salad doesn’t know why they changed it, it cannot say

Come Support the Jay Lake Auction at RadCon, Sunday at 1pm! — That’s today, in Pasco, WA.

The 2014 Sony World Photography Awards — (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

This goat simulator looks like maybe the best video game ever — Uh…

This Crow Is The Smartest Bird You’ve Ever Seen — (Thanks to Lisa Costello.)

How the vastly improbable has determined what animals got where — Personally, I’ve always wondered why the North American bird census is so different west of the Rockies.

Deep sea (mesopelagic) fish biomass 10 times more than previously thought

ICE/ISEE-3 to return to an Earth no longer capable of speaking to it — This is poetic and strange.

Young American adults abandon religion in record numbers

Understanding Polygamy — The comment thread on this Feminist Mormon Housewives post is very strange and difficult to read if you don’t share their Mormon faith framework.

Pat Robertson begs Ken Ham to shut up“Let’s be real,” Robertson begged, “let’s not make a joke of ourselves.” Uh, Pat, the reality-based community appreciates the sentiment, but you’re way too late for that.

Babylonian Tale of Round Ark Draws Ire From Christian Circles — Ah, literalism.

Three endangered whooping cranes shot in US — See guns make everything better! And everyone who carries deadly force is socially responsible, and so completely trustworthy.

Justice Department To Launch Push For Full Recognition Of Same-Sex Marriage — Another push on the row of bigotry dominoes. Just as with evolution denial, this is a one-sided “issue” without a credible argument against.

Republican Official Says Gays Should Be Purged From GOP, Blames Homosexuality On Satan

8 Former Republicans Who Ditched the Extremist GOP

?otD: Did people just like it better that way?


2/9/2014
Writing time yesterday: 0.0 hours (chemo brain)
Hours slept: 7.75 hours (fitful)
Body movement: 10 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

[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