We suck. Help save the oceans.

seaturtle

(image via Avaaz)

It’s no secret that I have no love for homo sapiens (or for Sciuridae for that matter, but they are not the goddamn problem FOR ONCE). I do, however, harbor deep affection and compassion for our cousins that dwell in the Earth’s seas.

papagayocr

This is a picture of all my aquatic friends in Costa Rica.
I don’t have an underwater camera. But since I snorkeled extensively in these waters, I can assure you they are fucking amazing.

Unfortunately, when it comes to marine habitats all over this planet, humans suck giant walrus balls. Hard. In fact, it invites karmic justice of the highest order that President Cheetohead and his merry band of motherfrackers are busy ensuring Earth’s glaciers and polar ice caps completely melt, covering the entire surface of the globe in water. (BONUS: this would also solve the fucking squirrel problem once and for all. Lard knows future aquatic space alien visitors shouldn’t have to deal with that shit.)

But at least occasionally, we humans attempt to mitigate some of the worst aspects of our lamentable existence. If only momentarily, we will put our violent domination proclivities on hold and shift to a collaborative worldview, as if our very lives depended on it. They actually do, of course. And this is one of those moments.

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Freeze peaches at Berkeley and beyond.

[CONTENT NOTE: violent bigotry. lots of it.]

I am ashamed to report to readers that The Washington Post lured me into a time-wasting, life-sucking vortex with a clickbait headline:

I invited Ann Coulter to speak at UC Berkeley. Here’s why.
My group doesn’t agree with her, but we believe in free speech.

Ugh why. Because I AM WEAK, people, that’s why. Coulter’s appearance at Berkeley is not even happening, and yet still I could not just let this shit stand.  Continue reading

Your liberal media: scolding the lefties and normalizing Trump.

A few years ago I somehow got myself involuntarily added to the distribution list for a Washington Post email brief called PowerPost: The Daily 202 (byline: “Morning intelligence for leaders.” LOL.)

daily202

I used to scan the thing along with my other daily updates, but I rarely found content interesting enough to think about (much less write about). See, these 202 peeps are the embodiment of modern corporate “journalism” in the 21st century US of A. They seem to fancy themselves “objective”—you know, all fair-n-balanced like—which is to say they are so far up the ass of the status quo they can see Chuck Schumer’s tonsils.

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Waiting for our wits to grow sharper? Could be a looong time.

The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
Eden Phillpotts, unattributed internet sources (via Freedom From Religion Foundation).

Looks like the universe is going to have to wait one hell of a long time.

The Cognitive Bias Codex, 2016 is a collaboration between Buster Benson, who recategorized Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases, and John Manoogian III, who transformed Benson’s work into this stunning image:

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And it’s not even my birthday!

[CONTENT NOTE: misogyny including slurs, racism, violence against logic, incoherence, banality, Nazis, sex toys.]

I had almost forgotten about this, what with all my squirrel monitoring duties and sofa painting and suchlike. But buried in my inbox was a gift from the WordPress gods in the form of two consecutive auto-moderated comments, written in response to a post I wrote back in July about the harms of benevolent sexism, and purporting to offer “an opposing viewpoint.”

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And now for something completely different.

Behold, and be mesmerized:

Interested in documenting one of the oldest animals on Earth, Barcelona-based production company myLapse set to capture the minimal movements of brightly colored coral, recording actions rarely seen by the human eye. The short film took nearly 25,000 individual images of the marine invertebrates to compose, and photography of species, such as the Acanthophyllia, Trachyphyllia, Heteropsammia cochlea, Physogyra, took over a year.

The production team hopes the film attracts attention to the Great Barrier Reef, encouraging watchers to take a deeper interest in one of the natural wonders of the world that is being rapidly bleached due to climate change. You can see more up-close images of the coral species featured in this film on Flickr. (via Sploid)

Tell me again what religions have to offer that comes anywhere close to the majesty and deep beauty on offer in our natural world.

[h/t Caine]

New feature! New acronym! VERY EXCITING.

A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship. –Chalmers Johnson

In the ordinary course of going about my life—you know: tormenting conservatives, torturing faith healers, smashing the patriarchy, extracting $82 billion worth of amusement for readers out of the Religion-Industrial-Complex, sounding the alarm about the deadly squirrel menace, all the usual stuff—I have found myself repeatedly thinking a very specific sentiment: most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves. And to be clear, by “most,” I mean the vast, overwhelming majority.

This is true for a number of reasons. It starts with our grade schools serving up steaming piles of shit: the noble escapades of Christopher Columbus, the warm and cooperative relationship between Native Americans and European colonialists we celebrate as a national holiday, a justice system that produces justice, our fearless and vaunted adversarial press, the great cause of democracy for which US citizens routinely sacrifice blood and treasure all over the world, the moral meritocracy of capitalism and The American Dream™, and on and on. Don’t even get me started on the myths we are fed about race. NEWSFLASH: there is no part of U.S. history or culture that is not inexorably linked to Africans dragged to this country in chains, and forced to work under the most brutal conditions imaginable, thereby amassing great wealth for America’s Owners. It continues to this day.

And then of course our rancid corporate media piles it on, 24/7/365, its sins of omission frequently far greater than its whitewashing of reality. We USians are surely among the most propagandized populations in the world, ever. The fog is so thick, we choke on it.

But this is what a ruling class does. This is what a ruling class has always done, and will always do. And so, quite understandably, most US citizens have no idea what our government does or who it serves.

Most US Citizens Have No Idea What Our Government Does Or Who It Serves.

MUSCHNIWOGDOWIS

#muschniwogdowis

!!!

OMG don’t you love it?! I LOVE IT. This ingenious new hashtag is guaranteed to be trending worldwide on Twitter. Any minute now.

Okay, maybe it’s a little clunky. Also: practically unpronounceable. But I am nevertheless finding it very, very useful.

Today’s demonstration of its utility comes courtesy of this headline in The Nation: The Obama Administration Has Brokered More Weapons Sales Than Any Other Administration Since World War II. You can read the whole thing for yourself for a nice overview of how it all works, though not for all the nasty little devils in the details. But the takeaway is this: the Executive Branch of the US government, from the Pentagon to the State Department to the Commander-in-Chief, is a dedicated worldwide sales force shilling for Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Northrup Grumman.

Here is one example of how it works:

Take the administration’s proposed new 10-year aid deal with Israel. If enacted as currently planned, it would boost US military assistance to that country by up to 25 percent—to roughly $4 billion per year. At the same time, it would phase out a provision that had allowed Israel to spend one-quarter of Washington’s aid developing its own defense industry. In other words, all that money, the full $4 billion in taxpayer dollars, will now flow directly into the coffers of companies like Lockheed Martin, which is in the midst of completing a multi-billion-dollar deal to sell the Israelis F-35s.

What looks like a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Israel is actually a $40 billion US taxpayer gift to Lockheed Martin. Israeli citizens, by the way, enjoy excellent universal health care, including mental health treatment and dental care for their kids. Unlike, say, the very same US citizens shelling out that $40 billion.

Hell, why not just hand it over directly to Lockheed, with the tiny little caveat that it reincorporate itself as a non-profit? (Hahaha. Oh man, sometimes I really crack myself up.)

__________

I remember reading something somewhere sometime about war profiteering once being considered an unconscionable crime, if you can believe it. Moneymaking from warmaking is evil, generating as it does massive profits for an elite few out of volatility and violence for the many. Now it is quite literally the American Way.

The ‘defense’ budget is three quarters of a trillion dollars. Profits went up last year well over 25%. I guarantee you: when war becomes that profitable, we’re going to see more of it. –Chalmers Johnson

In closing, ask yourself this question: if America’s Owners (the permanent power factions in Washington DC, a.k.a. the deep state) are perfectly willing to bomb and invade sovereign countries at will, to destabilize and violently overthrow the democratically elected leftist governments of countries whose resources they feel entitled to exploit and install brutal tyrants to guarantee unimpeded access, to assassinate and neutralize labor activists, minority and indigenous organizers or indeed anyone who poses even a minor threat to the profit-making schemes from which they so richly benefit, do you believe for one second that they will ever allow leftists in the US to amass sufficient power to turn the ship of state 180 degrees and put it to work creating more just, peaceful, equitable and sustainable societies?

Aww fuck, I’m sorry. That was a loooong question. Makes my new acronym seem downright pithy by comparison, doesn’t it?

#muschniwogdowis.

Have a nice day

Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 3: Yes and hahaha no.

UPDATE: WordPress apparently black holed a few of sentences re: Purvi Patel (and some formatting tags). I fixed it—I think.

(Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does mention: rape, sexual assault and violent abuse, including against children; mental illness including suicidal ideation; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

To briefly recap: While atheist Big Willie Jerry Coyne is notoriously prone to poo flinging, he also said some very interesting things in his Darwin Day lecture at the British Humanist Association (and elsewhere). I transcribed a few sections of his talk because I’d like to have a handy link to it to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. I also thought some readers here just might (a) find some of this talk as worthwhile as I do (see Part 1), and/or (b) enjoy my documenting Coyne’s insulting, dismissive, nearly comical obliviousness to his privilege (Part 2).

Part 3 focuses on a section of the Q&A wherein Coyne manages both to say some more really cool stuff, and then go into full mansplain-to-the-feminists mode and pull a classic Dear Muslima.

CAUTION:
POO FLINGING AHEAD.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 2: NOPE.

(Part 1 is here.)

[CONTENT NOTE: While this post contains no graphic descriptions or images of violence, it does contain discussion of: child sexual assault, abuse and death; suicide; hostility to consent, bodily autonomy and agency; homophobia; sex- and gender-based discrimination.]

Just a reminder: in the intro to Part 1, I noted that while atheist Big Willie Dr. Coyne may communicate some very useful and interesting things in this lecture (and elsewhere) that readers here may find worthwhile, he is exasperatingly prone to poo flinging, and I fully respect the decision of anyone who decides to pay him no attention whatsoever on this basis alone. As I said, FWIW I do not allow Coyne’s poo flinging in the remaining portions of the transcript to go unrebutted.

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Jerry Coyne at BHA 2016—Part 1: YES!

In February Jerry Coyne delivered the British Humanist Association’s annual Darwin Day Lecture in London. For those unfamiliar, Coyne is an evolutionary biologist, a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago, and the author of Why Evolution is True (which I have read) and Faith vs Fact (which I have not). He is a fierce critic of creationism and a fiery proponent of atheism; he blogs prolifically about these and other topics at Why Evolution Is True.

I genuinely like Jerry Coyne. He comes across as knowledgeable and affable, the kind of person I’d really enjoy sitting next to at a dinner party. Of course that doesn’t mean I agree with him all of the time, and in fact his annoying propensity to shit all over straw feminists is fucking exasperating (more on that in Part 2), as is his comical obliviousness to his own privilege (more on that later too).

But hey, nobody’s perfect. We can all decide for ourselves who we will expose ourselves to, on which topic(s) and under what circumstances. For example, Richard Dawkins is dead to me, barring his (highly unlikely) resurrection into a state of semi-self-awareness minimally capable of basic human decency and rationality. On the other hand, when a good friend recommends Jerry Coyne’s Darwin Day Lecture to me, I might be inclined to put on my (metaphorical) biohazard suit so as not to get splattered with (metaphorical) shit, and check it out. Those with less privilege are always making such calls: suit up and wade into the muck, or maybe sit this one out. Otherwise we would consistently miss out on some interesting and useful knowledge, and worse, we would hardly ever go to any dinner parties at all.

I get the Spidey-Sense that anyone reading this who is in some marginalized group(s)—i.e., not white, male, straight, cis-, able, etc.—is nodding along with me, because microaggressions are A Thing to which those privileged along these axes tend to remain haplessly oblivious. So I completely respect your making a different call about paying any attention whatsoever to Coyne (or Dawkins or anyone else).

But I found (some of) Coyne’s lecture, entitled Evolution and atheism: best friends forever?, fascinating. Moreover, he provides support for my point in this post, namely that:

there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that a robust welfare state (especially quality universal single-payer health care) decreases religiosity, while economic insecurity (with respect to wages, housing, food, etc.) increases it. See, e.g., Phil Zuckerman’s book “Society Without God.” Fiscal conservatism in the form of [American Atheists president] Dave Silverman’s “small government, low taxes, a free market” is entirely antithetical to taking the path most likely to get us to the very outcome he seeks: the death of religion.

I transcribed portions of Coyne’s lecture because I think readers may be genuinely infotained by it, but mainly because I’d like to have an easy link to it in order to help shut down the font of incoherent nonsense that is conservative movement atheism. In case it helps you decide whether to continue reading: I do not allow Coyne’s aforementioned (metaphorical) poo flinging in these portions of the transcript to stand unrebutted, and in any case no poo is flung in Part 1.

Tl;dr:

TRIGGER WARNING: Jerry Coyne.
(especially Part 2.)

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