Monday, October 31, 2011

Daily Blend: Monday, October 31, 2011

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Orly Taitz
Orly Taitz

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

‘xkcd’ offers a literary homeopathy metaphor

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Today’s xkcd presents us with a clever little metaphor for the pseudoscientific racket that is “complementary and alternative medicine” (and one particularly insubstantial branch thereof):

Comic: Alternative Literature [by Randall Munroe @ 10/31/11 12:00 AM] | xkcd
My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

PERSON 1: [looking through library] All your books are full of blank pages.

PERSON 2: Not true. That one has some ink on page 78.

PERSON 1: [holding blank book] A smudge.


PERSON 1: There are no words. You’re not reading, there’s no story there.

PERSON 2: Maybe not for you. When I look at those books, I think about all kinds of stories.

Reading is about more than what’s on the page. Holding a book prompts my mind to enrich itself.

Frankly, I suspect the book isn’t even necessary.

The whole industry is evil. Greedy publishers and rich authors try to convince us our brains need their words.

But I refuse to be a sucker.

PERSON 1: [holding blank book] Who sold you all these blank books?

As if the point needed further clarification (or hammering home), check out Munroe’s message in the comic’s alt text:

I just noticed CVS has started stocking homeopathic pills on the same shelves with--and labeled similarly to--their actual medicine. Telling someone who trusts you that you're giving them medicine, when you know you’re not, because you want their money, isn’t just lying--it’s like an example you’d make up if you had to illustrate for a child why lying is wrong.

Ouch. Harsh, but true.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Daily Blend: Saturday, October 29, 2011

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Eric Bolling
Eric Bolling

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

USA: We’re #27! We’re #27!

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I believe this speaks for itself:

For my part, I’m somewhat disappointed with all the red Canada’s got, there … but then, you know you Yanks still wanna immigrate here, don’t you? (Come on, admit it. It’s okay, really.)

(via Joe. My. God.)

What’s wrong with (those who oppose) same-sex marriage?

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Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative logo

It looks like Peter LaBarbera of the contradictorily named Americans for Truth (About Homosexuality) has launched yet another anti-same-sex-marriage campaign, the Illinois Defense of Marriage Initiative, which is expected to suffer the same ignominious fate as so many others like it. It also boasts the below list, itself lifted from this longer and detailed flyer [PDF, 28.5 KB] from another religious-Right group, The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (and which I have exactly zero intention to read for the sake of not spending all night on this):

What is wrong with same-sex “marriage”?

1. It Is Not Marriage[1]
2. It Violates Natural Law[2]
3. It Always Denies a Child Either a Father or a Mother[3]
4. It Validates and Promotes the Homosexual Lifestyle[4]
5. It Turns a Moral Wrong into a Civil Right[5]
6. It Does Not Create a Family but a Naturally Sterile Union[6]
7. It Defeats the State’s Purpose of Benefiting Marriage[7]
8. It Imposes Its Acceptance on All Society[8]
9. It Is the Cutting Edge of the Sexual Revolution[9]
10. It Offends God[10]

How could I resist?

  • 1) You know, the logic behind “calling something by another name doesn’t change what it is” works both ways; you also can’t change something just by claiming that it isn’t what it very clearly is, no matter how loudly or often you screech it. Once again, marriage (at least in modern times) is an evolving social construct that was originally co-opted by (and is currently transitioning out of) religion, and these days, it is nothing more or less than a civil, usually state-sanctioned, union between two (or possibly more) people, mostly out of love. Whether or not these individuals have matching genitalia really is (or should be) of no concern to anyone other than themselves. That includes offended busybodies.

  • 2) There is no such thing as “Natural Law”. The fact that stochastic natural processes and non-sentient organisms behave and interact in various ways is no rational basis for deciding what intelligent and emotional beings such as humans should or shouldn’t be allowed to do. Nature is really more of a template; it gives us an environment to work with and operate within, but what we choose to do with it is entirely up to us. There really is no reason to attempt to derive right or wrong from the natural world alone; otherwise, we might as well start eating babies and killing everyone with have sex with. For starters. (Seriously, a thousand cookies to Jen for writing that post.)

Mailbag: Christian tries to … convert me? (Or something)

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I’m not sure whether this was really meant for me or whether it’s just some copy-pasted spiel, but nonetheless, it found its way into my inbox. A fellow named Michael writes (all [sic]):

Dear friend
I admire your way of words and your liberal passione for equality
However i wuld love for you to seriously reflect on my message below and
keep an open mind...thats what its all about right?
Consider Dr. Martin Luther King, a pious man who led my race to equality.
Consider the very essence of racism and social inequalities. To say all of
this hardship and sorrow and pain comes around due to coincidence, is it
One night when i was 14, ( im 15 now) , it was nearing the anniversary of my
grandfathers death and i was in steep depression. I grabbed some rum and
drank myself to sleep. I nearly joined a gang, nearly murdered my
realfather...i love my stepfaher...and sank into darkness. Ive always been a
christian, but i started to doubt god existed. But somehow i read my bible
and i rehabilitated, and now those bad habits and vices are gone from me. To
be honest, if you read thebible( i truly encourage you to do so, if not in
religious terms as a motivTional tool.) It deals aboht grue aspects. Love,
latience, longsiffering. Where do evolutionest thonk love cmes from. And if
it was an evolutionary quality developed by humans, why is it now so easy to
turn back on. My friend consider this. If your right about evution, when i
die it wont matter, ill decay and soon be lonv lost. But if im right, then
when jesus comes abain, you would haveost everything.

Next time you see someone you care about, telll them you love thwm. And god loves you, and i look foward to meeting you in heaven. Thanks

Amazing in its nonsensicality, isn’t it? Nonetheless, in the spirit of not being overly harsh towards what appears to be someone with limited typing skills, there are a few things I thought I should address:

However, I would love for you to seriously reflect on my message below and keep an open mind...thats what its all about, right?

I’m always willing to hear anyone and anything out, though one should find it prudent not to open one’s mind too wide, lest one’s brain fall out.

Daily Blend: Friday, October 28, 2011

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James O’Keefe
James O’Keefe

Do our beliefs shape our values, or do our values bring about our beliefs?

  • Fundy Christians beat adopted daughter to death following teachings of fundy child-rearing book, then claim girl committed suicide. More info here.

  • Lawsuit: New York woman allegedly struck by stray bullet, arrested and detained by distrustful and abusive NYPD for five days before being released without ever being charged.
    (via @radleybalko)

  • Professional jizzstain James O’Keefe’s [pictured] latest scoop (amended): Lefty journalism professor tries refuses to discredit the Tea Party by passing along sensational footage to [the New York Times].
    (via @Frauenfelder)

  • Jen McCreight explains the obvious: An evidence-based worldview is not the same (read: the polar opposite of) dogmatism.

  • Am I the only one who finds amusement at Vox Day’s ongoing and bizarre attempts to debunk evolution using economic theory? (And his claim that evolutionary science should be able to predict what new species will evolve next – as if speciation were just some fancy equation scientists could plug into a computer – is just crank gold.)

  • Can you make it through a month on minimum wage? Find out. (A bit simplistic and limited, but interesting nonetheless.)
    (via @PersonalFailure)

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

Edit (10/29/11 4:10 PM ET) – Fixed some minor grammatical errors.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pew Research: Support for same-sex marriage by demographic [updated]

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The Pew Forum has a series of graphs reflecting the American public’s attitudes regarding same-sex marriage over the last decade, and the results are as always: predictable and encouraging.

Here’s same-sex marriage support in general:

Graph: “Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage, 2001-2011”: 2001/2011 = Oppose 57%/46%, Favor 35%/45%
Public Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage, 2001-2011:
2001/2011 = Oppose 57%/46%, Favor 35%/45%

Support by political affiliation:

Graph: “Support for Same-Sex Marriage by Political Party, 2001-2011”: 2001/2011 = Democrats 43%/57%, Independents 43%/51%, Republicans 21%/23%
Support for Same-Sex Marriage by Political Party, 2001-2011:
2001/2011 = Democrats 43%/57%, Independents 43%/51%, Republicans 21%/23%

The Path to War Soundtrack | Lone Wolf

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This entry has been removed from Preliator and can now be found over at Creativitas. (See here for more info.)

Friday Canine: Will he make it?

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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Daily Blend: Thursday, October 27, 2011

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Terry Jones (Pastor, Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida)
Pastor Terry Jones

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

‘The Daily Show’ reveals what science is really up to

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Last night’s Daily Show featured an awesome segment exposing the sort of narrow-minded (non-)thinking that fuels the anti-science sentiment that’s so prevalent amongst the Right (and also present, albeit much less overwhelmingly, in the Left). It’s all arrogance of ignorance, the bold certainty often held by anti-reality gomers that gut feelings and “common sense” should be trusted rather than the actual discipline of knowledge. They even brought in a Republican strategist who throws all this into sharp relief without even realizing how gob-smackingly retarded she sounds. The full segment, below:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

[my emphasis]

JON STEWART: Global warming real. You win this round, science. But what do you really want? What’s your endgame? Aasif Mandvi has more.


AASIF MANDVI [v.o.]: Science claims it’s working to cure disease, save the planet, and solve our greatest mysteries. But what’s it really up to? From global warming …

HERMAN CAIN [footage]: I don’t believe global warming is real.

MANDVI [v.o.]: … to evolution …

RICK SANTORUM [footage]: Absolutely not, I don’t believe in that.

MANDVI [v.o.]: … to the HPV vaccine.

REP. MICHELE BACHMANN [footage]: Her daughter suffered mental retardation as a result of that vaccine.

MANDVI [v.o.]: It seems science is up to something.

GOV. RICK PERRY [footage]: There are[sic] a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling in to their projects.

MANDVI [v.o.]: Could these Republican candidates be right? Tonight, we answer the question: Science – What’s It Up To?

To get the cold, hard facts on science, I sat down with Republican strategist Noelle Nikpour.

NOELLE NIKPOUR: Scientists are scamming the American people right and left for their own financial gain.

MANDVI: Now, do you have any – I don’t wanna say “evidence” – not “data” –

NIKPOUR: I think every American, if they really thought about it, would have a gut feeling that some of these numbers that the scientists are putting out are not right.

MANDVI: I knew it. I knew it! I – I mean, I didn’t know it … but I knew it!

MANDVI [v.o.]: One of the most notorious swindlers is Columbia biology professor, Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Martin Chalfie. I caught up with him in his luxurious palace of science.

[interview in small laboratory/office]

MANDVI: I’ll play along, here. What are you “studying”?

DR. MARTIN CHALFIE: I use the nematodes [???] to study nerve cell development.

MANDVI: So. The oldest grift in the book, right? The old nematode switcheroo.

DR. CHALFIE: That’s a funny grift. […] How come no other occupation has so many people questioning what they do all the time and demands that you confirm the experiments?

MANDVI [v.o.]: But even that’s a neat little trap.

NIKPOUR: Scientists are the only people qualified to comment on scientific theories. This is what raises doubt with not only Republicans, but Americans.

MANDVI: It’s like, why are surgeons the only ones allowed to perform surgeries, and other surgeons are the only ones who get to say whether or not this surgery is necessary or not? Right?

NIKPOUR: Absolutely.

MANDVI: Doesn’t make any sense.

NIKPOUR: It never makes any sense.

MANDVI: And the only other people that can check to make sure that they’re not manipulating –

NIKPOUR: Are other scientists.

MANDVI: They’re very smart, these scientists.

NIKPOUR: That’s what I’m saying!

MANDVI [v.o.]: It’s all too obvious once you know the scam.

DR. CHALFIE: It’s not really a scam. All that we do in science is subjected to a process called peer review.

MANDVI: But who are your peers?

DR. CHALFIE: The peers are other scientists.

MANDVI: Bingo. It’s like you went on trial for rape, and the jury is full of rapists. I mean, how are you different from a rapist?

DR. CHALFIE: Definitely not a rapist.

MANDVI: That’s what a rapist would say. Tell me how you are not a rapist.

DR. CHALFIE: [looking to the side] Am I really supposed to answer this?!

MANDVI [v.o.]: The worst part is, the rapists are coming for your children.

DR. CHALFIE: Thousands of elementary school students, high school students, do science fair projects, and they do a spectacular job.

MANDVI: You’re a sick f[bleep]ck. You’re not gonna get away with this.

MANDVI [v.o.]: With our most vulnerable at stake, I went undercover to a national science fair to try and save them from science.

VALERIE DING: I investigated LED materials using quantum physics.

MANDVI: Jesus, what have they done to you?

MANDVI [v.o.]: I needed to open their eyes.

NATHAN HAN: I did a computer simulation of dark matter effects on galaxy rotation.

MANDVI: I know. You’re just a bright-eyed kid, stepping off the school bus, just wanted to know how the universe works, right?

HAN: Yeah.

MANDVI: [to Justin Barber] Who told you that this data is true?

JUSTIN BARBER: My brain got me these results and this conclusion.

MANDVI: Stop listening to your brain. Start listening to your heart.

MANDVI: [to Valerie Ding] Years from now, a video of this pops up on the Internet, and you’re gonna break your parents’ hearts.

DING: My parents support me. They think science is good.

MANDVI: [to Nathan Han] Pretty soon, you’re hooked on that grant money, looking for the next big score. That’s how it works. Is that what you want?

HAN: Yeah.

MANDVI: Sorry, what?

HAN: Yeah, this is – taught me a lot.

MANDVI [v.o.]: What I witnessed was heartbreaking. And sadly, whether science is peddling quantum physics or evolution, the corruption of our children happens every day right under our noses.

NIKPOUR: It’s very confusing for a child to be only taught evolution, to go home to a household where their parents say, “Well, wait a minute, you know, God created the Earth.”

MANDVI: What is the point of teaching children facts if it’s just gonna confuse them?

NIKPOUR: It confuses the children when they go home! […] We, as Americans, we are paying tax dollars for our children to be educated. We need to offer them every theory that’s out there. […] It’s all about choice. It’s all about freedom.

MANDVI: I mean, it should be up to the American people to decide what’s true.

NIKPOUR: Absolutely! Doesn’t it make common sense?

MANDVI [v.o.]: Tragically, the future offers little hope.

MANDVI: [to little boy] You wanna be a scientist?


MANDVI: This country is in big trouble, and it’s all because of people like you!


MANDVI [v.o.]: “Sorry” is not good enough.


STEWART: Aasif Mandvi. We’ll be right back.

Science denialists: It’s all about truthiness. If it feels true, then Gawd-dangit, don’t you let no scientificians ever tell you diff’rent!

How can it be that troglodytes like these still exist in such an age of scientific accomplishment and enlightenment?

Daily Blend: Wednesday, October 26, 2011 – Late (again), I know!

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Tony Perkins (President, Family Research Council)
Tony Perkins

I make the effort of turning this into an evening feature and I still keep forgetting to post it. Gah.

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rick Mercer rants against anti-gay bullying

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Seeing as I don’t exactly keep track of Canadian pop culture much, all I know about Rick Mercer (who’s show I caught once or twice some years back) is that he’s something of our version of Stephen Colbert, though with a bit less persona. But one gimmick of his I do still enjoy now and again is his recurring “Rick’s Rant” segment, and this recent one on the subject of gay teen suicide and homophobic bullying is definitely worth sharing around:

My transcript: (click the [+/-] to expand/collapse →) []

Every year in this country, 300 kids take their own lives. It is a mind-boggling number, and this past week, one of those kids was Jamie Hubley. He was 15, he was depressed, and he happened to be gay. And because this is 2011, we just don’t read about a kid like Jamie; we can Google him. And then, the next thing you know, you’re sitting at home, watching his videos on YouTube.

And he was gay, all right. He was a great, big, goofy gay kid singing Lady Gaga on the Internet. And as an adult, you look at that and you go, ‘You know what? That kid’s going places.’ But for some reason, some kids, they looked at that, and they attacked. And now, he’s gone.

And because this story is all too familiar, we know exactly what’s gonna happen next. Grief counselors will go into the school, as they should. But what about the old-fashioned assembly? You know, where the cops show up and there’s hell to pay, and they find out who’s responsible? You know, like when the lunchroom is vandalized? Because the kids who bullied this boy, they know who they are, and more importantly, other kids know who they are.

It’s no longer good enough for us to tell kids who are different that it’s gonna get better. We have to make it better now. That’s every single one of us, every teacher, every student, every adult has to step up to the plate. And that’s gay adults, too. Because I know gay cops, soldiers, athletes, cabinet ministers; a lot of us do. But the problem is, adults – we don’t need role models. Kids do.

So, if you’re gay and you’re in public life, I’m sorry, you don’t have to run around with a pride flag and bore the hell out of everyone, but you can’t be invisible. Not anymore. Three hundred kids is 300 too many.

I think he makes an excellent point: As an adult, even if you don’t go around participating in pride parades (which I personally find rather silly and even somewhat counterproductive, anyway), the very least you could do to make this a better world for LGBT youths is to not remain invisible and silent when injustice is taking place. You don’t have to launch a blog to speak out against homophobia. Who knows how much harm could be prevented if only bullies were told to knock it off every now and then, rather than being allowed to run around with impunity under the false and destructive notion that bullying is just a normal part of childhood. It fucking isn’t. Bullying is abuse, and as long as people actually defend it, nothing will ever change.

Every step in the direction of acceptance and equality is one that’s needed.

(via Joe. My. God.)

Daily Blend: Tuesday, October 25, 2011 – Late, I know!

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National Organization for Marriage logo

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

You might be batshit insane if you think liberals believe this

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Barbara Curtis
Barbara Curtis

I make it no secret that I detest the modern neoconservative agenda and I probably take a bit too much pleasure in snarking at Rightists, but I believe I can safely say that I have never gone as far as to tar them all with the same brush as their looniest fringe-dwellers. Granted, I may blow a gasket every now and then when I come across something so despicable that it makes even my long-desensitized blood boil, but the day where I unequivocally declare that all conservatives are racist/anti-choice/anti-gay/misogynistic/treasonous/liars/cowards/hypocrites/<etc.> is when I want you all to delete this blog from your readers and whatnot, because I will have lost my marbles.

(Quick notes, though: Jokes and sarcasm, by definition, don’t count. And nor does stating that conservatives are generally against abortion/same-sex marriage/etc., since these are actual and verifiable neoconservative tenets.)

At any rate, it seems rather disturbing how rarely far-Rightists seem concerned with extending this courtesy (and far from an overgeneralization, this is a fact that can be established at any time by comparing blog posts and reader comments at mainstream Leftist outlets like Daily Kos and ThinkProgress to their Right-wing counterparts, such as RedState and Free Republic). And now, courtesy of the superhumanly tireless PersonalFailure, comes this latest example from Barbara Curtis at Mommy Life of a mind tragically rotted out by rank ignorance-fueled hatred [transcribed as-is from original image]:

You might be a Liberal, IF…

1. You want to "Save Darfur" but aren't willing to do anything more than slap a bumper sticker on your car.
2. You want to ban guns – except for those carried by your own kid's bodyguards (like Rosie O'Donnell).
3. You are against school vouchers for public school students, but send your own kids to private school.
4. You support alternative energy, but don't want windmills to spoil the view from your own backyard.
5. You think that consenting adults can engage freely in every activity except capitalism.
6. You want to outlaw cigarettes and legalize marijuana.
7. You have no problem with Hollywood movie stars flying around in private jets to give speeches on the evils of Global Warming.
8. Deep down you believe 3,000 American civilians deserved to die on 9-11.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

New FoIA rule would allow government to lie about whether records exist

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Heavily redacted document

As if the Freedom of Information Act system wasn’t enough of a clusterfuck to deal with already, the Justice Department has proposed a new rule that would make it even more difficult to get any straight answers from the Most Open and Transparent Administration in HistoryTM:

A proposed rule to the Freedom of Information Act would allow federal agencies to tell people requesting certain law-enforcement or national security documents that records don't exist—even when they do.

Under current FOIA practice, the government may withhold information and issue what's known as a Glomar denial that says it can neither confirm nor deny the existence of records.

The new proposal—part of a lengthy rule revision by the Department of Justice—would direct government agencies to "respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist."

Is it just me, or is it somewhat telling – and disturbing – that we now require civil liberties groups to actively fight the government from making it legal for officials to openly lie their assess off about matters that usually ought to be on the public record in the first place? That a government bullshits its people at all with impunity is about as controversial as mincemeat pie (not that the idealist in me doesn’t scream in dismay at such a sentence), but now, they’re actually trying to make it so they don’t even have to tell the truth about whether various records even exist. I never thought I could long for a return to plausible deniability.

At this point, the most honest thing the government could do is to just repeal the FoIA and be done with all the pretenses about transparency that they never have or will give the slightest damn about practicing.

(via @radleybalko)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Daily Blend: Monday, October 24, 2011

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Dean Boland
Dean Boland

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

Same-sex marriage in Denmark by early 2012?

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Danish flag
Danish flag

That equality plague contaminates the Danes (even more than previously, that is):

Denmark is the latest European nation to announce plans to introduce gay marriage, with same-sex couples to be allowed to marry on Church of Denmark premises.

The Danish coalition Government’s church minister, Manu Sareen, told local newspaper Jyllands-Posten that gay men and women will soon be able to marry when legislation is introduced early next year.

“I look forward to the moment the first homosexual couple steps out of the church. I’ll be standing out there throwing rice,” he said.

“I have many friends who are homosexuals and can’t get married. They love their partners the same way heterosexuals do, but they don’t have the right to live it out in the same way. That’s really problematic.”

Denmark was the first country in the world to allow gay civil partnerships with legislation in 1989. Public polls suggest around 69-percent of the population supports same-sex marriage according, The Copenhagen Post reports.

The first same-sex weddings could take place as early as March, 2012 after the legislation is passed.

Of course, imagine if some government-sanctioned church minister in the U.S. had said such things about supporting LGBT rights. Bill Donohue would have a heart attack. And the American Family Association would immediately launch a boycott. (Oh, they’d find something to boycott, don’t worry. Making shit up is certainly no obstacle to them.)

(via Joe. My. God.)

The problem with private prisons (in their own words)

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As usual, who better to expose the amorality and greed of chain-holders than themselves?:

“Our growth is dependent upon our ability to get new contracts… The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts… / … For instance, any changes with respect to drugs or ‘illegal’ immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby reducing demand for our correctional facilities to house them.” - Corrections Corporation of America Annual Report
“Our growth is dependent upon our ability to get new contracts… The demand for our facilities and services could be adversely affected by the relaxation of enforcement efforts… / … For instance, any changes with respect to drugs or ‘illegal’ immigration could affect the number of persons arrested, convicted and sentenced, thereby reducing demand for our correctional facilities to house them.” - Corrections Corporation of America Annual Report

Aren’t corporations just great, folks? The Republicans are right: Let’s let ’em take over everything! Surely nothing nefarious can arise from a wholly privatized society, can it? That’s just commie-talk.

(via The Agitator)

Fox News’s new battle cry: “War on Halloween”!

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I guess Fox News got tired of waiting for Christmas:

‘Fox and Friends’ news ticker: “WAR ON HALLOWEEN: Schools Across Country Cancel Celebrations”

Media Matters explains that Fox is now waxing indignant over claims that numerous schools are forcing students to ignore Halloween outright in an overly politically correct attempt to appease those forever uppity (il)legal aliens who might be feeling left-out.

Naturally, it turns out this is only slightly divorced from reality, which is that some schools are telling kids not to wear costumes during class primarily for health and safety reasons, whilst fully encouraging them to do so after school hours. Yet another “War” that doesn’t even amount to a quibble.

(via @mmfa)

High school terrorizes students to clear hall for drug search

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Joseph Macary (Superintendent, Walcott School District)
Supt Joseph Macary

And teenagers now have one more reason not to trust authorities. It started when students at Connecticut’s Wolcott High School recently had a bit of a Columbine/Virginia Tech-style panic:

At Wolcott High School one morning this week, an urgent announcement crackled over the intercom: a threatening intruder was in the building and students were told to immediately take refuge in classrooms.

Doors were locked and police, with dogs, moved in. Students stayed huddled in classrooms where they were told to stay away from the windows.

There’s just one problem, though. About that “threatening intruder”:

But what sounded like a frightening situation was just a search for narcotics. Drug-sniffing dogs combed the school while students stayed in locked classrooms, believing that an attacker was roaming the halls.

Drug-free schools are an admirable goal but I wonder when we reached the point where the war on drugs justifies police searches under the ruse of a Virginia Tech-style attack.

What on earth could authorities in Wolcott be thinking?

Ooh, I know! That it doesn’t matter if they destroy any trust kids may have in both school administrators and law enforcement officers, just so long as they make sure their lockers are devoid of the occasional milligram of weed? That’s it, right?

As is typical, the geniuses behind this little stunt can’t seem to understand what all the fuss is about:

The drug search is "something that is good to do periodically. It says we don't have drugs in the school,'' [school board Chairwoman Patricia Najarian] said. "Either way it's a win-win. I know people get concerned … there seems to be an overreaction."

Right. What’s not to get angry about? They just agreed to terrorize an entire schoolful of impressionable youths with a scenario reminiscent of some of the most horrific and deadliest attacks in recent memory, all for the sole purpose of getting them out of the way so they can search the school for something that, ideally, should be cause for neither the police concern nor the public hysteria it currently engenders. Why should people possibly be upset over that?

As if that weren’t enough, the video at the source article (which I can’t embed here) provides yet more insight into these people’s embarrassing lack of understanding:

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Post-Substituting Photo of the Day: Monkey see, monkey pet bird

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Lack of sleep, slim blogging fodder and an incoming new laptop (about which I’d be partying wildly if it weren’t for the aforementioned lack of sleep) have combined to deprive me of time and motivation to blog much for the last couple of days, so to half-assedly make up for it, here’s a cute photo of a little monkey petting a bird:

Orphaned rhesus monkey pets mate-less white dove

Admit it, you’d never leave this blog if that’s all I ever posted.

More photos of odd and quirky animal pairings at the MSNBC site.


Friday, October 21, 2011

Daily Blend: Friday, October 21, 2011

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN)

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

Friday Canine: See, I’m taller now

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Daily Blend: Thursday, October 20, 2011 – New format!

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Festus Mogae, former president of Botswana
Fmr Pres. Festus Mogae

Starting today, I’m turning the Daily Blend into an evening feature. I’ll accumulate links throughout the day and then post them at or after 8 PM as a sort of nightcap. Should make for smoother mornings on my end.

If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

* As of today in afternoon (I forget the time, exactly).

Top Canadian court rules linking to content can’t be libel

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Hyperlink: “click here.”

It’s pretty well established that Canada is a pretty sweet place in general, and part of that is thanks to our court system, which seems a tad more decent and less dysfunctional than our southerly neighbor’s. But every now and then comes a court case that seems to either threaten or reinforce that:

Hyperlinking to defamatory material on the internet does not constitute publishing the defamatory material itself, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Wednesday.

The ruling will alleviate fears that holding someone liable for how they use hyperlinks on websites, personal ones or others, could cast a chill on internet use.


In its unanimous decision to dismiss the case, the court said a hyperlink, by itself, should never be considered "publication" of the content to which it refers. But that doesn't mean internet users shouldn't be careful about how they present links. The court says that if someone presents content from the hyperlinked material in a way that repeats the defamatory content, they can be considered publishers and are therefore at risk of being sued for defamation.

I don’t have much to say, other than that this is so obviously the only correct outcome that I’m somewhat troubled this even went to court, much less got this far. Or do some people really believe that merely linking to various online content without comment inherently constitutes an endorsement, or even a republication, of said material? That is wrong even on a semantic level; there cannot be publication of material without, well, publication. Pointing something out is hardly the same as reciting it anew.

If this all seems rather inane, imagine the consequences of a different ruling, where merely shooting off a link to a crude but harmless joke or shock site could lead to criminal defamation charges and even jail time. For all the bitching we Canadians (or, at least, those I know of) do regarding our system, we really do need to realize how good we have it, here.