Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Predictable poll: Nonreligious most likely to be pro-choice

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Here’s more of that “being on the right side of history” thing to make you proud:

Chart: “Americans' Own Views on Abortion -- by Major Subgroups” showing “No religion”, “Liberal” and “Democrat” groups with highest “Pro-choice” scores and “Catholic”, “Conservative” and “Republican” groups with highest “Pro-life” scores [May 2-7, 2013 by GALLUP]

That’s good company at the top.

Interestingly, the rest of the poll focuses on the curious tendency of Americans to overestimate just how many of their fellow countryfolk are pro-choice, when the research shows that the country is actually split pretty much evenly on the issue, with a slight majority favoring abortion rights with certain restrictions. (Better yet, the “legal under any circumstances” group is still more numerous – albeit barely – than the “unborn babies are sacred” camp.)

Why, it’s almost like removing objections rooted in religious dogma leaves people with few remaining reasons to argue against women’s right to bodily autonomy.

(via Friendly Atheist)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

This (non)religious Universe

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How silly is it when theists (particularly Bible-thumpers) claim that the fledgling inhabitants of one single little blue marble floating around in the unimaginably massive void of existence is the center of the entire Universe? This silly (large image below the fold):

Monday, May 13, 2013

Daily Blend: 05/13/13

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Monetized “NRC-CNRC Canada” logo (modified by Phil Plait)
  • I’m usually proud of my country, but less so when my government decides to sell out science. [pictured] (Doesn’t all research eventually lead to “social or economic gain”?)

  • So much for the idea that dropping from the blogosphere will remove Jen McCreight from the focus of obsessed slimeballs. How brazenly douchey does one have to be to lecture someone about safety whilst deliberately exposing their location?

  • It’s sad when a silly screed against “liberals” is too inane to even be worth fisking for the lulz.
    (via Right Wing Watch)

  • And finally, I am reaffirmed in my belief that babies are freaking weird.

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

    Minnesota passes gay marriage!

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    Same-sex marriage

    How’s this for a glorious turnaround? The same state that only months ago was deciding whether to impose a constitutional ban atop its existing laws against same-sex marriage now has the bicameral vote – and the governor’s promised signature – to grant marriage equality to LGBT folk:

    With deafening cheers and overwhelming emotion, the Minnesota Senate voted 37-30 to legalize same-sex marriage.


    The measure next moves to Gov. Mark Dayton, who will welcome it with his signature in a celebratory ceremony at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

    Once it is signed, Minnesota will become the twelfth state to legalize same sex-marriage.

    Yet one more state joins the right side of history. How long before the rest of the country – and someday, the civilized world at large – does the same?

    (via @breakingpol; RT: @BreakingNews)

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    This Week in Creativitas: 05/11/13

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    Things are rolling in the revisions department! Here are links to updated songs over at my art blog, Creativitas:

  • UPDATE: ‘Dark Horizons’: Re-recorded and remixed with improved sounds, modified instrumentation, and various smaller tweaks.

  • UPDATE: ‘Death of Innocence’: Re-recorded and remixed with improved sounds (especially piano) and minor tweaks.

  • UPDATE: ‘Dreams’: Fixed a couple minor issues (equalized violin & flute volumes & fixed timpani).

  • UPDATE: ‘Guitar Rhapsody’: Re-recorded and remixed with various minor edits.

  • Remember, folks: Feedback nourishes me. (Hence the name.)

    Atmospheric carbon dioxide reaches new record high

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    Keeling Curve graph: “Carbon dioxide concentration at Mauna Loa Observatory” showing current peak of 400 ppm
    The Keeling Curve graph
    [source | full size (568×318)]

    How’s this for a cheery, not-at-all-foreboding milestone?

    On May 9, 2013, atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide hit a new record high. Announced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the levels of CO2 in the air on that day* reached a daily average of 400 parts per million (ppm). This is the highest level of atmospheric CO2 in human history, and in fact the highest level for at least 800,000 years. It gets worse: the amount of CO2 in the air likely hasn’t been this high since the Pliocene Epoch, more than three million years ago.


    • CO2 levels are rising, and they’re rising far faster than any time in human history (and at least for the past 11,000 years).
    • CO2 is for real and for sure tied to rising heat content of the Earth. For quite some time that heat has been going into the air, and we’ve seen rising temperatures around the world. At the moment, a lot of that heat is going into warming the oceans, but climatologists expect to see air temperatures increasing rapidly again soon.
    • This has direct impacts, like increased temperatures in the air and water, melting ice, and more severe weather. It also has indirect impacts, like fluctuating weather patterns. This makes it difficult to tag any freak storm to climate change, but it does mean that over time, we’ll see more and more. Worse droughts and floods, more forest fires, increased ocean acidification, and more are all expected due to increased carbon dioxide in the air.
    • All this is happening on a timescale hugely accelerated over natural cycles. The Earth tends to changes over millions of years; we’re doing this to it in just a century. Without time to adapt, this will have a profound impact on life around the globe.

    B-b-but it’s cold outside where I live at the moment!

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/10/13

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    Fr. Anthony Musaala
    Fr. Anthony Musaala
  • Obama administration worsens their crackdown on state-legal marijuana.

  • Ugandan priest [pictured]: “The Catholic Church is still covering up clerical child abuse.” Catholic Church: “You made us look bad! You’re suspended.”
    (via Freethought Blogs)

  • Why do police consult “psychics”? Because people are gullible and prefer false hope to realistic desperation.
    (via @radleybalko)

  • And finally, PZ Myers schools movement skeptics about science and why their mindless dismissal of atheism as “unscientific” is decidedly unskeptical.

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

    Why are school coaches the highest-paid public employees?

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    Here’s a rather damning illustration of one of the main problems with the US educational system:

    Highest-paid public employees by US state (most states = “Football coaches”; some states = “Basketball coaches”; few states = “Not coaches”)
    [full size (970×546)]

    Maybe those Right-wing/Libertarian cranks whinging about overpaid teachers have a point after all. They just need to specify they’re talking about those who teach sports, that sacred cow that no official or administrator apparently has the fortitude to gut in order to preserve resources better spent on proper academic instruction.

    (via Pharyngula)

    Wednesday, May 08, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/08/13

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    Sylvia Browne
    Sylvia Browne
  • In case you needed more evidence that “psychics” [pictured] are bullshit-peddling vultures.

  • Vox Day says the whole idea of “warrior women” is totes ridiculous ’cause what woman would stand a chance against a dude, anyway? (Pay absolutely no attention to all these real-life warrior women who became legends for kicking [mostly dude] ass.)

  • Here’s a collection of 154 common global warming denialist claims and their easy refutations.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • Oh, noes! The awesome Eugenie Scott, scourge of Creationists everywhere as the head of the National Center for Science Education, retires.

  • And finally, here’s a dog who tries so hard to make that branch into his stick:
    (via @radleybalko)

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

    Current TV’s Fugelsang rips into Sanford and South Carolina

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    So, South Carolina voters revealed just where their “family values” lie yesterday when they took Mark Sanford, their disgraced adulterous former Governor, and made him their Congressional Representative instead. John Fugelsang of Current TV’s Viewpoint tears him and the state’s long, sad history of political duplicity to tiny pieces in this wonderful rant:

    Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

    Transcript via Current TV:

    JOHN FUGELSANG: Here’s a message from the South Carolina Board of Tourism: From the foothills of the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains to the cobblestone streets of historic Charleston, the Palmetto State is waiting for you.

    So maybe it’s time you explored South Carolina’s greatest tourism attraction: our bottomless supply of duplicitous, double-talking, political tea-bags.

    From our beloved and racist senator Strom Thurmond, who fought for segregation while secretly fathering a child he had with the family’s black maid — I’m sure it was consensual — to our beloved homophobe and longtime bachelor Sen. Lindsey Graham. From politician Joe Wilson screaming “You lie!” at America’s first black president during a State of the Union address to Sen. Jim DeMint opposing the Matthew Shepard / James Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act before quitting his post to be a lobbyist to Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, comparing starving poor Americans to stray animals that breed too much.

    In South Carolina, we’ve got a proud heritage of putting our faith in soulless fascists who feed us empty lines about the Bible, patriotism and fiscal responsibility, and that pride flies as high as the flag of the anti-American, enemy nation that rests majestically atop our state’s capitol.

    And nowhere are our values more evident than in the political resurrection of former governor and newly elected congressman — and deeply repentant Christian — Mark Sanford, who South Carolina voters have returned to the House of Representatives, where he previously served three terms, in a special election tonight.

    Now, lots of politicians commit adultery. But only one voted to impeach Bill Clinton while he was in Congress, then became governor and abandoned his post to visit his Argentine girlfriend using taxpayer funds to subsidize the trip while lying about his whereabouts to his staff, his wife and the entire state. Talk about a multitasker.

    And after, he was charged with breaking 37 state ethics laws, was unanimously censured in lieu of being impeached, violated his court orders and child support agreement, publicly humiliated the mother of his children, and trespassed into her home to watch the Super Bowl.

    Yes, this man brought sleaze to public life and remained faithful and true to it in the private sector too.

    This same governor did all he could to keep federal stimulus funds from helping South Carolina’s unemployed folks and our crumbling public education system and then used taxpayer funds to pay for family vacations and book-signing travel. All this while we ranked No. 2 in unemployment and No. 11 in child homelessness.

    But he did the right thing. He told us that Jesus forgave him and said mean things about Nancy Pelosi and Obamacare, proving that it’s OK to be a horrible Christian as long as you’re a good Christian.

    So, come on down to South Carolina. And if you’re a lying, cheating, swindling, heartless, hypocrite, political empty suit who tells us what we want to hear, we just might elect you to office too.

    And if you ever make a real mistake — like working with Democrats — well, we’ll give you a chance to mend your ways. Take Lindsey Graham, America’s sweetheart. Lindsey used to work with the Democrat Party on issues like immigration and climate change, so we censured him twice as public humiliation. And now he’s like an obedient, right-wing Tennessee Williams heroine who can’t stop screaming, “Benghazi!”

    And while we may be ranked the fifth-worst state to make a living, ninth-lowest median household income, ninth-highest percentage of residents living below the poverty line, second-worst graduation rate, second-worst in women killed by men and worst in the so-called union at reprimanding bad doctors — we’ll never hold our Republicans responsible because they tell us who to blame and hate the same people we do.

    Because from being the first state to quit America so we could keep slaves to cutting our state’s entire HIV/AIDS budget, we’ve got a breathtaking history of being manly men with a manly devotion to man’s inhumanity to man.

    Our politicians believe Darwin was wrong, and we here in South Carolina are here to prove it.

    You know when people wryly lament how “these people vote”? This is what they’re talking about.

    (via Political Irony)

    Tuesday, May 07, 2013

    Delaware reaches same-sex marriage equality

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    Coming less than a week after the last US state passed gay marriage:

    Headline: “Delaware Senate Passes Marriage Equality Bill, Will Be Law: The vote was 12-9. Gov. Jack Markell will sign the bill into law, making Delaware the 11th state, plus DC, to allow same-sex couples to marry. [@ 05/07/13 5:07 PM EDT]”

    Zoom, zoom, zoom!

    (via @BuzzFeedAndrew)

    Catholic Church still covering up child abuse in New Jersey

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    New Jersey Archbishop John J. Meyers
    Abp. John Meyers
    Rev. Michael Fugee (in court in 2007)
    Rev. Michael Fugee

    The popular excuse by defenders of the Catholic Church is that, sure, there might have been some priestly misconduct around minors, but that all happened decades ago and the Church hierarchy has been really super good about stopping it ever since. Except, of course, when it hasn’t.

    Case in point: The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey, which is still quietly shuffling child-abusing priests around without doing anything to punish them, much less turn them over to the proper authorities:

    Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

    Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

    But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

    He has attended weekend youth retreats in Marlboro and on the shores of Lake Hopatcong in Mount Arlington, parishioners say. Fugee also has traveled with members of the St. Mary’s youth group on an annual pilgrimage to Canada. At all three locations, he has heard confessions from minors behind closed doors.

    What’s more, he has done so with the approval of New Jersey’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

    Tell me again, dear apologists, how “the Catholic Church has the best record of any institution” in dealing with child abuse within its own ranks? Or does that just mean they’re the most experienced at keeping it out of sight while victims continue to suffer in their “care”?

    In the end, the Church didn’t need to do anything, as the Internet promptly did the job for them:

    The Roman Catholic priest at the center of a public furor enveloping Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has resigned from ministry, a spokesman for the archdiocese said tonight.

    Monday, May 06, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/06/13

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    USAF Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski
    Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski

    I’m too bored/lazy/busy reading/excited about tomorrow/tired from “work” to blog much, so here’re some links.

  • US Air Force officer [pictured] in charge of responding to sexual assaults arrested for drunken sexual assault, underlines the US Military’s generally appalling handling of sex crimes.

  • Good Riddance: Fox Cancels Long-Running, Drug War-Glorifying, Abuse-Excusing Reality Series COPS
    (via @AndrewKirell; RT: @radleybalko)

  • Those who slime together, stay together: Anti-Freethought Blogs/Atheism Plus hater encourages Westboro Baptist Church to picket upcoming Women in Secularism conference.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • And finally, how much do you know about science and religion? (I scored in the 15th and 13th percentiles, respectively. Which is probably more of an implicit condemnation of the US educational system than anything else.)
    (via Bad Astronomy)

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

    Saturday, May 04, 2013

    This Week in Creativitas: 05/04/13

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    Below are links to new, revised and updated works over at my art blog, Creativitas.

  • SITE: I changed my file hosting service from FileDen to Google Drive … and then to Dropbox. Seems to work dandy for now.

  • UPDATED: ‘Climax’ – Re-recorded and remixed with improved instrument sounds (especially for brass), added tubular bells, and made various minor edits.

  • UPDATED: ‘A Morning by the Sea’ – Re-recorded and remixed (again) with improved panning.

  • Remember, folk: Feedback feeds me. (Hence the name.)

    Doggycide Roundup: 05/04/13

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    Dog chalk outline
  • Crystal Falls, CA (04/14/13): Highway Patrol officer approaches a home, then immediately shoots & kills Osa the rottweiler when she allegedly “lunge[s] at his legs”. Includes a blatant lie by a Highway Patrol spox about how a dog wouldn’t be incapacitated when Tased or pepper-sprayed.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • Toledo, OH (04/22/13): Police shoot & kill a family bulldog after it escapes its chain and bites four assholes who were allegedly throwing bricks at him in his yard.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • San Lorenzo, CA (04/27/13): Deputies searching for a suspect approach a home, then immediately shoot three pitbulls that allegedly “c[a]me at the[m]”, killing one immediately and one later; animal control finished off the third. Family says dogs had never attacked anyone before.
    (via Dogs Shot by Police | Facebook)

  • Statistics:
    Shootings: 3 · Victims: 5 · Deceased: 5 · Survivors: 0 · Power Breeds*: 5

    Study: Conservatives actively prefer wasteful tribalism

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    Compact florescent light bulb

    I neglected to blog about this when I first heard about it earlier this week, but an interesting and revealing (if not entirely surprising) new study seems to confirm that not only do more hardline conservatives care little about preserving the environment, they’ll actively go for the more wasteful and inefficient route in order to spite ’em some tree-huggerin’ librulz, even if it means paying more out of their own pocket for it:

    A study out today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences examined attitudes about energy efficiency in liberals and conservatives, and found that promoting energy-efficient products and services on the basis of their environmental benefits actually turned conservatives off from picking them. The researchers first quizzed participants on how much they value various benefits of energy efficiency, including reducing carbon emissions, reducing foreign oil dependence, and reducing how much consumers pay for energy; cutting emissions appealed to conservatives the least.

    The study then presented participants with a real-world choice: With a fixed amount of money in their wallet, respondents had to "buy" either an old-school light bulb or an efficient compact florescent bulb (CFL), the same kind Bachmann railed against. Both bulbs were labeled with basic hard data on their energy use, but without a translation of that into climate pros and cons. When the bulbs cost the same, and even when the CFL cost more, conservatives and liberals were equally likely to buy the efficient bulb. But slap a message on the CFL's packaging that says "Protect the Environment," and "we saw a significant drop-off in more politically moderates and conservatives choosing that option," said study author Dena Gromet, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.


    Gromet said she never expected the green message to motivate conservatives, but was surprised to find that it could in fact repel them from making a purchase even while they found other aspects, like saving cash on their power bills, attractive. The reason, she thinks, is that given the political polarization of the climate change debate, environmental activism is so frowned upon by those the right that they'll do anything to keep themselves distanced from it.

    Friday, May 03, 2013

    Easter Bunny: Origins

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    Researchers have finally identified the birthplace of the Easter Bunny:

    Small rabbit in an eggshell

    (What? A slow blogging day, you say? How dare you.)

    (via @EmergencyPuppy)

    Thursday, May 02, 2013

    Rhode Island passes same-sex marriage

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    Same-sex marriage

    And Li’l Rhody makes ten (for now):

    Capping a battle that began 16 years ago, the Rhode Island House of Representatives voted 56 to 15 Thursday to pass legislation to legalize same-sex marriage.


    With the bills headed to the south steps of the State House for a public signing by Governor Chafee, Rhode Island joins its five New England neighbors in legalizing same-sex marriage and becomes the 10th state in the nation to do so.

    My upcoming weekend plans now include making a beat from all the exploding heads on the homophobic Right. How about you?

    (via @breakingpol; RT: @BreakingNews)

    Wednesday, May 01, 2013

    Daily Blend: 05/01/13

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    Kiera Wilmot (16)
    Kiera Wilmot

    How the hell can it be this hot this early in the year? This can’t bode well.

  • Animal liberation activists in Milan, Italy, heroically sabotage years’ worth of mental health research by releasing scared and helpless lab animals that cannot survive on their own.
    (via Pharyngula)

  • Who made the “bad choices” here: the model high-schooler [pictured] who created a tiny pop in a bottle by mixing chemicals in an experiment*, or the dumbass school and police officials who got her expelled, arrested and are dragging her to court for “possession/discharge of a weapon”?
    (via @radleybalko)

    • Better yet: The school then respond to criticism by declaring that “there are consequences to actions”. Indeed, and those consequences are that students will refrain from ever exhibiting any curiosity or scientific interest at Florida’s Bartow High School in order to avoid violating their ridiculous zero-tolerance policy.
      (via Pharyngula)

  • Wait, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t work? Dammit, Cracked, stop exploding my beliefs.

  • And finally, happy decaversary to MythBusting! Even though I only started watching in 2005 (“Steel Toe-Cap Amputation, Bottle Rocket Blast-Off”)
    (via @MythBusters; RT: @JamieNoTweet)

  • Justice Dept. to appeal FDA order on morning-after pill

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    Birth control

    Less than a month after a federal judge tried to rectify the US government’s pointless mucking by striking down age restrictions on the morning-after pill, the meddlesome fools are at it again:

    The Justice Department said on Wednesday that it would appeal a federal judge’s order to make the most common morning-after contraceptive available without a prescription for girls and women of all ages.

    The announcement came a day after the Food and Drug Administration said that one well-known morning-after pill, Plan B One-Step, would be made available without a prescription for girls as young as 15 — instead of only to girls ages 17 and over, as has been the case.

    The Justice Department’s action will not affect that F.D.A. decision. Rather, the department is seeking to overturn a much broader order by the judge that removed restrictions for all ages and for generic versions of the pill, not just Plan B One-Step.

    This is ridiculous. The FDA first advised that the pill should be made available for all ages in 2011 after declaring it safe and effective. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius apparently took exception this, as she then overruled the FDA because “the pill had not been studied for safety in girls as young as 11”. Not yet clear is why Sebelius apparently finds fault with the findings from the government branch strictly dedicated to studying and certifying the safety of ingestible substances, nor why a pill that has no serious or lasting side-effects would somehow be perfectly safe for 15-year-olds but not 11-year-olds, nor why a drug that’s already been in use around the world for years with zero reported casualties of any kind suddenly requires further testing before we can finally be certain of its safety.

    There’s a fine line between security-conscious pedantry and playing politics under the guise of medical rigor. Does anyone else detect a whiff of ideological resistance, here?

    (via @BreakingNews)

    Same-sex marriage sweeps across three more Brazilian states

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    Same-sex marriage

    Though the Brazilian government already allows same-sex couples to marry through a two-step process that involves entering a “stable union” and then petitioning a judge, a rapidly growing number of states are doing away with the needless complication:

    Yesterday, marriage continued moving forward in Brazil when the Corregedor Geral de Justiça in two additional states - Paraíba and Santa Catarina (Articles in Portuguese) - authorized marriages between same-sex couples. Now, fourteen of the 27 jursidictions in Brazil (13 states and the Federal District) have approved the freedom to marry. Earlier this month, Rio de Janeiro and Rondônia saw similar developments.


    In these states (and the federal district), couples can marry in Brazil without the two-step process: Alagoas (December 2011), Sergipe (July 2012), Espíritu Santo (August 2012), Bahía (November 2012), the Brazilian Federal District (December 2012), Piauí (December 2012), São Paulo (December 2012), Ceará (March 2013), Paraná (March 2013), Mato Grosso do Sul (April 2013), Rio de Janeiro (April 2013), Rondônia (April 2013), and now Paraíba and Santa Catarina (April 2013).

    Now, nearly 60% of the population of Brazil live in states where same-sex couples can marry without the two-step process.

    An increasingly large part of the rest of the world is looking at you, “Land of the Free”.

    (via Joe. My. God.)

    Tuesday, April 30, 2013

    Vox Day: Women should rely on daddy to choose their husbands

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    Our ol’ pal Theodore “Vox Day” Beale, who’s never encountered a form of misogyny he didn’t take to and spin as a means of preserving (his grotesque ideal of) society, has a suggestion for stripping women of their most basic autonomy:

    Who Nose asks a pertinent question:

    "If you want to understand why women are not permitted serve in Church leadership, and why human societies do not survive more than a few generations of young women being permitted to choose their own spouses"

    It begs the question: Who ought to choose their spouses?

    The Church?
    The Father?
    The Mother?
    The State?

    The question is further begged: What kind of law would need to be passed to enforce the choosing of a spouse.

    Finally, another question is begged: What would you do with the 99% of women who responded to the suggestion or the law with, "F*ck Off"?

    1. The Father, with the advice of the Mother.
    2. No law is necessary. Simply informing their daughter that a woman who is capable of choosing her own spouse is clearly also capable of paying for her own college education and supporting her own lifestyle decisions will suffice for most parents. If a woman is independent enough to insist on paying her own way in order to pursue a career, she's probably not wife-and-mother material anyhow and would likely end up a reproductive dead end regardless the options she is afforded. We can always hope that instead of children, such a woman will contribute some revolutionary Powerpoint slideshows to society, produce a cure for cancer, or introduce some truly ground-breaking HR policies that will change the world for the better.
    3. I would simply wish them the best of fortune in their future endeavors. But the number won't be anywhere nearly that high because women are, first and foremost, the practical sex.

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    Daily Blend: 04/29/13

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    James McCormick
    James McCormick
  • Canada is apparently eager to show that it can pass horrible and repressive laws in the name of “national security”, too.
    (via @ioerror; RT: @ggreenwald)

  • A win for reality: James McCormick [pictured], who made millions by selling completely useless “dowsing rod”-style bomb detectors, is finally convicted of fraud (after hundreds have already perished).

  • LGBT history milestone: NBA center Jason Collins becomes first active US big-league sports player to come out as gay.

  • And finally, Glenn Beck tragically wins wrong kind of Darwin award.

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

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Wales measles epidemic traced to antivaccination lunacy

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    It looks like the antivaccination movement has yet another cause to celebrate:

    More than 800 people have been diagnosed with measles in Swansea[, Wales] in this recent outbreak. People are lining up to get their vaccinations, and a campaign has been started to get more people vaccinated, which is a good thing; I just hope it’s in time. But with so many people contracting the illness, serious repercussions are almost inevitable.

    Wales has had low Measles/Mumps/Rubella (MMR) vaccination rates for some time … since about 1998, in fact, when Andrew Wakefield published his bogus study in the Lancet falsely linking the MMR vaccine to autism.

    Once again, he, Jenny McCarthy and the various Orwellianly-named vaccine “safety” groups out there must be ever so proud.

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    ‘The Daily Show’ compares gun control in US and Australia

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    Nothing brings the US’s struggles with adopting even the most rudimentary gun safety measures into perspective better than taking a gander at other countries that have already enacted sensible gun control. Here’s a very revealing three-part series from The Daily Show where John Oliver heads goes Down Under for one heck of a study in contrasts, both societal and political:

    Left & Right: Boston bombing caused by our pet causes

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    Tamerlan (l) & Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
    Tamerlan & Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

    Whether it’s from boxing-induced brain damage

    Could the amateur boxing career of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the deceased suspect in last week’s Boston Marathon bombings, have had a role in the massacre? That’s a question leading brain researchers at Boston University’s School of Medicine hope medical examiners look into when they perform an autopsy of the 26-year-old who was killed during a firefight with law enforcement officials early Friday morning.


    “Is it possible that some changes might have gone on in his overall functioning due to his boxing and potentially related brain disease? Yes,’’ said [Dr. Robert Stern]. “Anything is possible. But to then jump to the disease leading to well-planned behavior like this, I couldn’t go there.’’

    … or marijuana-induced brain damage

    Accuracy in Media’s Cliff Kincaid is citing reports that the two Boston marathon bombers may have been drug dealers and that “the younger brother was a pothead” to argue “that dope’s effect on the brain is what may have led him into his brother’s terror activities.”

    … it’s always reassuring to watch both the Left and Right go to ridiculous lengths to try and shoehorn an as-of-yet unexplained act of terrorism into their pet issues, especially if it allows them to eschew any uncomfortable discussion about possibly complex and nuanced factors in favor of a lazy and uselessly simplistic answer like “their brains work wrong!”.

    Another young victim of vaccine-preventable disease

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    Another family falls victim to anti-vaccination hysteria, another young child pays the ultimate price:

    Orange County health officials said a baby died from whooping cough last week.

    This is the first whooping cough death the county has seen in decades. Officials said it's been at least 20 years or more since someone died of the disease.


    Officials said the family chose not to vaccinate their child. Some parents are choosing not to fully vaccinate their children because they worry there is a link between the vaccinations and autism.

    Vaccines are safe, they’re usually cheap (when not free), and they work. This is scientific fact. The only people pretending otherwise are dingbats who don’t know any better and frauds focusing on their bottom line, both at the expense of an easily misled public.

    Get your damn kids vaccinated, people.

    (via @mistressmousey; RT: @BadAstronomer)

    Thursday, April 25, 2013

    Today in bad Christianist analogies: Homosexuality vs. adultery

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    The unquestioned masters of horrible analogies are at it again: Here’s a delightfully nauseating video (in both style and substance) from Christianist group Faith2Action that tries to show why homosexuality is wrong … by comparing it to adultery:

    My transcript (yes, you may feel sorry for me now):

    TOM and his WIFE are seated on their couch. Both are overweight; Tom is neckbearded.[1]

    TOM: What I’m trying to say is … I have these desires, these … urges … and if I don’t act on them, I’m not really being true to myself.[2] You love me, right?

    WIFE: Of course I love you, Tom!

    TOM: If you love me, you’ll support what I do, who I am! I’m … an adulterer!

    Tom turns towards his MISTRESS, seated aside him and with whom he’s holding hands. (Not sure how his wife didn’t notice her.) Mistress is even more overweight and is clad in a glitzy purple top and necklace(s?), heavy makeup and sports a gaudy hairstyle.[3]

    TOM: Wow, that felt so good to say out loud!

    MISTRESS: I am so proud of you for finally coming out![4]

    TOM: [to wife] Well? Aren’t you proud of me?

    WIFE: I, um …

    TOM: Huh, I’m feeling a bit judged, here! Aren’t we, honey?[5]

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Daily Blend: 04/24/13

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    Deepak Chopra
    Deepak Chopra

    I promise I’m not dead! I think. Just reading a lot. And trying to work on my songs.

    Also, the searchbar to the right now includes an image search. Just so you know.

  • A proposal: How about parents put on probation after killing one sick child with prayer lose custody of their remaining kids before they kill another one?

  • CNN is just actively trying to punish its viewers at this point.

  • What’s more hilarious than über-crackpot Deepak Chopra [pictured] whining about TED “censoring” pseudoscientific talks? (No, really, what?)

  • And finally, I’ve updated ‘A Morning by the Sea’ over at Creativitas.

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

    Donald Trump totes burns “overrated” JEW Jon Stewart

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    Presented for your enjoyment:

    I imagine The Donald being a failed high school class president candidate who pompously demands that everyone else respect his Very Smart OpinionsTM while everyone else, teacher included, don’t even bother to hide their laughter.

    (via Wonkette)

    Saturday, April 20, 2013

    Daily Blend: 04/20/13

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    Abortion: My Mind, My Body, My Choice

    With that hurdle out of the way, time to play catch-up:

  • Only functioning abortion clinic in Mississippi gets a temporary reprieve from being shut down by anti-abortion legislators.
    (via @breakingpol; RT: @BreakingNews)

  • Rio de Janeiro becomes tenth Brazilian state to legalize same-sex marriage.
    (via Joe. My. God.)

  • Imagine that an eighth-grader gets suspended, arrested and charged for wearing an anti-gun shirt to school. Now, imagine it’s a pro-gun shirt. Any difference?
    (via @radleybalko)

  • And finally, the Family Research Council gets busted for blatantly bullshitting about the Boy Scouts. Why, exactly, does anyone still take these pathological liars seriously again?
    (via Joe. My. God.)

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

    The conspiracy theory flowchart THEY don’t want you to see

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    You know what it means if you read this, right?

    “The Conspiracy Theory Flowchart "THEY" Don't Want You To See” featuring a hierarchy of many conspiracy theories both famous and obscure (by Crispian Jago)
    [full size (963×1600)]

    That’s right: Now you know too much. They’re onto you.

    (via Pharyngula, whose host has finally lost his mind)

    Australia: Vaccines (once again) proven safe and effective

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    It’s more restating the obvious, but that doesn’t make it less worthwhile:

    Some good vaccine news for a change: A vaccine against human papillomavirus (HPV) appears to be working. HPV causes genital warts, and can lead to cervical cancer in women. In Australia, which began use of the HPV vaccine in 2007, cases of genital warts in young women aged 12 - 26 dropped 59 percent, and 39 percent for men. Not only that, but cervical abnormalities dropped as well—a glimmer of hope that for these vaccinated women, their chance of getting cervical cancer is dropping as well.

    Meanwhile, US scientists and medical workers are still struggling to get the American populace to understand that Gardasil will not turn teenaged girls into sex-crazed nymphos by demonic possession or something. Then again, this is the same country that’s facing more and more outbreaks of easily preventable diseases (some of them deadly) because of baseless and endlessly disproven fears that shots turn children into Rain Man, so you can only expect so much in the end.

    Americans: Picking themselves off by passing repressive laws

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    How long before this passes from cynical prediction to reality?

    Pressure Cooker [@ 04/17/13] | Matt Bors
    Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

    PATRIOTIC MAN: (reacting to Boston bombing) We must not succumb to tragedy.

    PATRIOTIC MAN: We’re Americans.

    PATRIOTIC MAN: (comforting weeping bald eagle and Lady Liberty) Let’s pick ourselves up. Dust ourselves off.

    PATRIOTIC MAN: (as SWAT trooper brandishing shock baton; drone flies in BG) And pass some repressive laws.

    Considering how the surviving suspect, a Chechen-born naturalized US citizen, has already had his Miranda rights suspended (raising the question of why they’re even called “rights” if they’re ignored so easily and routinely), probably not very long at all. If there’s one thing the US has a proven knack for, it’s ignoring the cautionary words of its own beloved Founding Fathers.

    Matt Bors adds a little commentary (it’s a few days old, before the alleged terrorists were identified):

    As news of the Boston bombing was coming in I was this rush to assign blame to either right-wing patriot types or Muslim terrorists depending on if you were a liberal or conservative. I guess the idea was to score some political points off the dead blown apart bodies by demonizing an entire group. I won’t be surprised if it’s either group, but maybe we should wait until there’s a shred of evidence pointing to a culprit before we make ourselves look like a horse’s ass. There will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for demonizing, overreaction, and further militarizing our local police forces.

    (via @ggreenwald)

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    My art blog: Introducing Creativitas!

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    If I’ve been quieter than usual this week, the reason is I’ve been spending every day planning, designing and coding (and coding, and coding, and …) a brand-new website that I’m now – finally – ready to unveil. You might remember the false start I had ’round last Christmastime when I tried to set up a separate art blog to try and keep my creative works from being tainted by all my inflammatory political rhetoric (heh). Well, I’ve now gone ahead and finished the job.

    Now presenting:


    (It took me an inordinately long time to come up with such an obvious name.)

    All my music, stories and art has already been ported over there and backdated to their original publication dates, here. I’ll now be replacing their instances here with redirects (rather than deleting them outright, which would screw up links and post counts and other details). From now on, the only time I’ll be mentioning my creative works here is to post the occasional notice whenever I’ve updated something over on Creativitas.

    So … that’s about it, then. Off you go, and don’t be afraid to sate my hunger for yummy, nourishing feedback. (Pretty please?)

    UPDATE: 04/20/13 1:42 AM ET —

    Finished. All posts here have been redirected and their comments closed.

    Arkansas Republican mocks pro-gun-control “Boston liberals”

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    Representative Nate Bell (Republican-Arkansas)
    Rep. Nate Bell (R-AK)

    I don’t have anything noteworthy to add regarding the almost Kafkaesque week the US is going through (not to mention that I’ve been unusually busy with a quasi-secret project that I’ll be unveiling soon). At this point, the most that any rational and decent people can do if unable to offer any direct assistance to those affected in Massachusetts, Texas, Illinois and wherever else calamity has struck in the last few days is to send their hearts and thoughts out to the victims and their close ones.

    Or, in the case of Rep. Nate Bell (R-AK), mock them:

    Because the only thing to help in a massive police manhunt over an act of violence is a terrified and outraged mob taking to the streets with even more fucking guns.

    Better yet, Bell later non-apologized for the timing of his statement, rather than having said such a ludicrously inappropriate thing at all. Because taunting the victims of terrorism should always be kept until after all their blood and tears have ceased to flow. Like, give it a week or something.

    (via ThinkProgress)

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    New Zealand legalizes same-sex marriage

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    Same-sex marriage

    And the land of orcses and Hobbitses makes 13:

    New Zealand's parliament has legalised same-sex marriage, the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

    Lawmakers approved the bill, amending the 1955 marriage act, despite opposition from Christian lobby groups.

    The bill was passed with a wide majority, with 77 votes in favour and 44 against.

    This comes less than a week since Uruguay became the 12th country to pass LGBT marriage equality, following Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. (Johnny Cash would be proud.) Meanwhile, gay marriage is all but imminent in both France and Britain as well.

    Sure sucks to be homophobic these days, don’t it?

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Daily Blend: 04/15/13

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    Guantànamo Bay detention camp fence

    My thoughts and hopes go to Boston, MA today. How utterly senseless.

  • Alternate lede: “Sure, Gitmo detainees [pictured] were captured without charges and illegally imprisoned far away from home for many years with zero due process … but hey, they get to enjoy books and videogames (in between all that sleep deprivation and waterboarding)!”
    (via @ggreenwald)

  • In response to UK’s current measles epidemic, The Independent gives platform to discredited quack responsible for modern anti-vaccination movement. (They later retracted the article.)

  • Canadian feminist becomes latest target of those compassionate, “human rights”-oriented Men’s Rights Activists.

  • And finally, here’s what religion has done for us this month:

  • Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []
  • Massive Islamic protests in Bangladesh calling for the hanging of “blasphemous” bloggers;
  • The New Zealand Herald: “Beheadings in Papua New Guinea for sorcery”;
  • Five Jerusalem women arrested for violating Israeli law by praying out loud in public, which ultra-orthodox men find “provocative”;
  • The Guardian: “Muslim Brotherhood backlash against UN declaration on women rights”;
  • Hamas in Gaza Strip orders genderal segregation in all schools;
  • BBC News: “Kenya condom advert pulled after religious complaints”;
  • French man Wilfred de Bruijn assaulted and beaten for walking with his boyfriend in public;
  • Large anti-gay protests in Paris, France against pending same-sex marriage legislation;
  • Gay Star News: “Gay man ‘stoned to death’ in Somalia”;
  • Senior pastor Bertheophilus M. Bailey Sr. at Claremore, OK’s Mount Zion Baptist Church charged with punching his son in the face;
  • “Former Franklin County Pastor Charged With Sexual Torture, Abuse”;
  • Teacher at Pleasanton, CA’s Centerpointe Christian Preschool ties up two-year-old girl for refusing to nap;
  • The Times: “Priest accused of sexual abuse at West Sussex children’s home”;
  • Indiana megachurch pastor Jack Schapp fired and jailed for molesting troubled 16-year-old girl across state lines;
  • BBC News: “Ex-priest Patrick McCabe sentenced for child abuse”;
  • Pastor Artelino Vallada at Toronto, CA’s Jesus Christ the Open Door Church charged with sexually assaulting four girls and women;
  • Irish Central: “Irish Priest accused of sexual abuse pleads with Pope Francis not to be dismissed from Church”;
  • Police confiscate computers from priest’s home after tracing downloads of child porn to his parish offices;
  • RTE News: “South African cardinal says paedophilia 'not a criminal condition'” [Which it isn’t. Child molestation is. Get it right, people. —JM]
  • Priest Angel Perez of Woodburn, OR’s Saint Luke Catholic Church accused of molesting 12-year-old boy;
  • “Former Wetumpka youth pastor sentenced to 10 years in prison in sexual abuse of child”;
  • Rev. David Kramer jailed for molesting young boys in US and Australia;
  • “Oregon priest gets 6 years for child sex abuse”;
  • Associate pastor Darin Evans at Elmhurst, IL’s West Suburban Community Church imprisoned for having sex with an underaged girl in public spaces;
  • PressTV: “Austrian former priest charged with sexual abuse of minors”;
  • Rev. James Burnett of Mokena, IL’s Saint Mary’s Parish accused of molesting several young boys in his care; diocese accused of knowingly sheltering crooked priests;
  • Pink News: “Cardinal O’Brien alleged to have been in long-standing physical relationship with male priest”;
  • North Carolina Republican lawmakers propose bill to establish state religion (bill has since failed);
  • Oneindia: “Rajasthan: Video reveals family commits suicide to meet god”; and
  • Woman at church asks worshipers give “$100”, “$1,000” or “$150,000” if they can.
  • If you have any story suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments or send them in.

    Houston restaurant’s beer sales pitch: domestic violence humor!

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    Snark fails me: Why would anyone, anywhere, ever think this was a good idea?

    Sign for Houston, TX’s Roots Bistro: “BEER SHOULD BE LIKE VIOLENCE / DOMESTIC”

    No, really. I understand the concept of no publicity being bad publicity and all that, but … really?

    Some people are weird in a very frightening way.

    (via ThinkProgress)

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Reorganizing my music; songs offline for a while [updated]

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    My music

    As often happens, I’ve had a sudden change of heart and decided to revamp the folder structure for my music. Which means I have to go and manually rearrange every folder in my FileDen account. Which means changing the MP3 files’ URLs. Which means they’ll all be broken links that I then need to replace (again, manually) across this blog.

    I think I hate myself now.

    Oh, well. Will update when done. Expect songs to alternate between on- and offline until then.

    UPDATE: 04/14/13 11:00 PM ET —

    Okay, I guess that didn’t take as absurdly long as it usually does. All finished, songs fixed, bedtime.

    Local man debunks evolution, sets sights on gravity next

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    Darwin Fish eating Jesus Fish

    In which local Californian paper Contra Costa Times prints this cogent and thorough debunking of Evolutionary Theory:

    Evolution is a fantasy

    Jayne Thomas, in her March 29 letter, "Evolution is not a 'viewpoint'," is right in insisting evolution isn't a viewpoint.

    The fantasy, not theory, of evolution supposedly works by survival of the fittest. Fittest for what?
    Fittest to survive? So evolution merely asserts that those who survive, survive.

    My friend, God, nearly laughed his head off when he heard that one.

    Raphael Sealey


    To be fair, anyone who still has imaginary friends is probably going to believe some pretty dumb things, anyway.

    (via Friendly Atheist)

    From reasonable regulation of dangerous instruments to tyranny

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    Yet again, nothing tears through wingnuts’ delusions like a little bit of satire. Here’s Tom the Dancing Bug’s take on all the raging and whining from gun nuts who can’t possibly see reasonable gun control as anything else than an insidious government plot to ban all guns (presumably to leave the sheeple defenseless against a UN invasion to bring about a New World Order, or something):

    Comic: “First they came to register…” | Tom the Dancing Bug (by Ruben Bolling)
    Transcript: (click the [+/-] to open/close →) []

    BLOND-HAIRED MAN: I’ve heard tell that private citizens were once allowed to own them.

    BLOND-HAIRED MAN: How did we Americans lose that precious right of ownership?

    BLACK-HAIRED MAN: I know not. Let us ask the very old one. Perhaps he remembers.

    BLACK-HAIRED MAN: Very old one, how did it happen? How did the government…

    VERY OLD MAN: Shhh! There are government ears everywhere!

    VERY OLD MAN: Long ago, we were happy and free. Responsible owners made sure they were stored and used properly.

    VERY OLD MAN: Then the government said we’d have to register each and every one of them.

    VERY OLD MAN: It seemed reasonable. They are dangerous things. But I know what the government really wanted.

    I and others fought it with all our strength. But the feds needed this foothold and would not be denied.

    VERY OLD MAN: We lost. And the government had taken the first step on its inexorable path.

    VERY OLD MAN: Soon after the registration requirement, sure enough, suddenly you needed a license to use one.

    VERY OLD MAN: Next you were prohibited from owning one without holding insurance! Then came the final step that brought us to today…

    VERY OLD MAN: The illegalization of car ownership!

    BLOND-HAIRED MAN: The fools! Reasonable regulation of dangerous instruments always leads to tyranny!

    (via Political Irony)