vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
From the day the "Moral Majority" became a political force for the Republicans, the public face of conservative Christianity in America has consistently and relentlessly been that of a joyless puritanical Wahhabism that could not distinguish popular music from literal Devil worship, the most shockingly callous sodomitic disregard for - indeed scorn and explicit positive delight in the misery of - the poor and needy, a fanatical devotion to destroying revealed truth for the sake of enforcing the old law, and bloody and deceitful men who hate peace and are for war without end. And that situation remains to this day.

Obviously most of Christianity in America is nothing of the sort. But so long as any gifts are accepted, the Sodomite kings will long be able to boast, "We made these sons of Abraham rich".
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
So this picture has been making the rounds: it's a picture of Anders Breivik and this caption:
[top]
This is Anders Breivik
On 22 of July 2011 he murdered
77 people & injured 319,
most were children.
[bottom]
Remember how the media made a big thing out of the fact that he was a Christian?
No? Neither do I

This kinda had me wondering just how low a bar you can go, and I started reading some commentary.

Some interesting discussion about that here, as well as Andrew Sullivan's much-needed reminder that we are all sinners who must repent, quoted in part here.

One recurring theme I've noticed: lots and lots about the bounds of the label "Christian", but nothing about the actual Christ part of it.

So I decided to search his manifesto.

What I find is pure, spectacularly naked heresy, the fulfilment of a ridiculous cartoon of every single thing both Protestants and Orthodox unfairly and overstatingly caricaturize* as wrong with Roman Catholic ecclesiology. )

In short, there is absolutely nothing in here that can even be argued as a joke to have come from what was expressed in John 3:16. This is analogous to my stating that I'm a Communist and displaying all sorts of Soviet and hammer-sickle propaganda, but I'm not a member of the Communist party and I'm working from a manifesto that celebrates the corrective power of the market, assumes private property to be the cornerstone of rule of law and the need to keep the plebs quiet and working for the good of those on top, occasionally quoting from das Kapital and the Communist Manifesto, but mostly from Stalin and current Chinese Communist Party doctrines to justify my position.

Or another analogy that could get me into a bit of hot water: I walk into a Vital Stats office in my men's suit and tie and five-o'-clock shadow and demand they change my driver's licence to say F instead of M. I insist that I am a woman and that I am representing a female voice in all that I contribute, and that all my feminist support should be understood as my supporting my fellow sisters in their plight. But it is shown at all times I openly leave a substantial amount of facial hair on and speak with a masculine voice, wear men's clothes (and express shock when other people tell me about how bad women's clothing is), use implicitly masculine inflections and vocabulary where the language makes a distinction, and generally approach all matters with total, unabashed male privilege. And then:
Myself and many more like me do not necessarily have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and God. We do however believe in Christianity as a cultural, social, identity and moral platform. This makes us Christian.
admit that personally I don't "necessarily" feel like I'm a woman at all, but I am culturally identifying with feminist cause and identity (to wit: I love pink and Barbies and am an avid fan of My Little Pony - both the old and the new cartoon, no "brony" here!) and therefore, by Dumpty, I am a woman!

It's the sort of thing that This makes me consider taking up E-Prime again.


Of course, I know the better motive for this sort of posting: the implication that what the terrorists are doing now is just as wrong under Islam as Breivik's actions are in Christianity. (The worse motive, to express total moral equivalence, is summarily rejected as indigestible waste product.) Part of my intention in the above is to show just how utterly absent the core doctrine of the Cross and salvation is in Breivik's stated beliefs, and no definition of "Christian" can include such a set of beliefs without being utterly stripped of the word's basic theological and doctrinal meaning.

Or perhaps this is another "Protesdox" bias, that the unifying identity of Christianity must be inextricably bound to the actual subjective belief of the person confessing that identity, whereas for the Catholics baptism (but was Breivik actually baptized in the Roman church or in a way that would be recognized in it?), communion (same question) and submission to papal authority may be enough. But everything I've seen from actual Catholics suggests quite the contrary and that they're much more like all other Christians in this respect.

So what, then, do we make of that analogy? What is the core Islamic doctrine that we can with complete confidence say the Hebdo murderers or ISIS or Boko Haram or the Saudi government have utterly failed to consider in their motivations? And, more to the point, how do we establish that it is core Islamic doctrine in the face of any number of Islamic theologians (to use the word in the broadest sense, to engage in any kind of logos whatsoever about God) who would so vehemently argue otherwise?


(Relatedly... this also answers my previous question: always seek and follow the truth. Have mercy on me, a sinner.)


*as opposed to a more sober criticism, of course. There's some overlap, but it's the unfair caricature version that I've got in mind. (If you were directly linked here and don't see the asterisk'd statement, ignore this footnote.)
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Some contextual points on Hong Kong.
  1. Hong Kong was a fishing village on a goddamn rock when it was annexed by the British in 1842. The population grew and exploded during the 20th century as a result of a number of factors, but a huge one is the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). During the Chinese civil war and subsequent purging, thousands fled the violence by escaping to Hong Kong — including both sets of grandparents in my family. One was a Western car dealer in Shanghai; the other was from a landowning family. FWIW, I still have some distant relatives from the latter side in China. I have no living relatives in China on my maternal grandparents’ side. Everyone was killed.
  2. Throughout the 20th century, Hong Kong flourished, grew, and developed a distinctive culture and economy. I’m not saying everything was rosy as an English colony. I’m saying the culture and economy are real and independent from China.
  3. The events of Tiananmen may seem like they were a long time ago, and have entered history as the kind of event that’s lost its shock over time. But twenty-five years is a short time for many Hong Kongers, and Tiananmen’s outcome was far from predictable at that time. Remember that Tiananmen was only eight years before the handover. Imagine watching the coverage that summer and knowing that was to be your government soon.
  4. All of this is to give just a bit of history as to why I and many others say: Hong Kong people do not consider themselves to be the same as mainland Chinese. When I say I’m from Hong Kong, I mean that. It is not the same.


A Real Look Into The Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution.
I’ve had so many concerned friends from around the world recently message me, concerned for my safety in Hong Kong. This post is to show my dear friends, and those from around the world what its actually like here in Hong Kong at this moment.


a word from Gary Pollard
Start with this: that the parents or grandparents of almost every Hongkonger came here to escape the politics and chaos and lawlessness of mainland China.

Today, they look at a local government made up almost entirely of people chosen for their loyalty to the PRC, irrespective of their ability or their personal ethics. Almost every government minister has profound “communist” sympathies or former DAB or “leftist” connections. Some are not so “hidden” Communists. That is the only reason they are there. It feels to many Hong Kong people that they are trapped, ruled by these people. No one voted for them. When the public DID vote a prominent leftist out of the Legislative Council, the Chief Executive just appointed him to the Executive Council, which has MORE power. Screw your democracy.

That would not seem so bad if the Legislative Council could impose any restraints on the government. But too few observers understand or care that the Legislative Council is half made up of functional constituencies who are either kowtowing to Beijing or to big business. There is a split voting system where legislation must be passed both by geographically elected legislators and these special interest legislators, who are basically lobbyists. The public did not vote for them, but they can veto ANY legislation aimed at controlling the government or supporting grassroot interests.


How do protesters stay in contact with each other when the government has shut down or censored Internet and mobile networks? Simple: You don't use either.
Meet Open Garden's FireChat, the messenger app protesters in Hong Kong have been using to circumvent government attempts to prevent them from organizing by blocking social networks like Instagram. Instead of relying on a single website or government-controlled networks, FireChat uses a technology called mesh networking for its "Nearby" chat mode.


‘Against My Fear, I See That You Hope’: A Professor’s Open Letter to Her Hong Kong Students
I am inspired that you are making the student boycott your own. Earlier I had written that you were inspired by May Fourth and the awakening of social consciousness. But observing you I have come to realize that this interpretation is far too simplistic, that initial reportage did not give you enough credit for both adaptation and innovation. Some have invoked May Fourth, and some—like Longhair when he spoke to you—lectured on Gandhi and Martin Luther King. No doubt their examples have inspired you. But reading the Chinese University boycott magazines and your reportage in Ming Pao, I see that your examples are recent and cosmopolitan. You are looking to 1968 in Paris, the 2011 Chilean student boycott, and 2012 in Quebec. You self-consciously organized the preceding campus meetings to follow Quebec, to be as democratic as possible, to give each of your classmates ownership. What I thought had been naïveté was a careful imitation of a model you had identified to be successful. So, though elements of your protests may have historical roots, I salute you for seeking a new model for Hong Kong, one which—your leadership tells us—will influence student movements to come.


Things that could only happen in a Hong Kong protest
Apologising for the barricade you put up
An entrance to the Causeway Bay MTR station was barricaded and emblazoned with signs shouting out for democracy. In the middle was a small cardboard sign - also written by the protesters: "Sorry for the inconvenience."
and the "violent", "extreme" contrast.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
An Orthodox Christian Exposition of Islam
Truly il miglior fabbro, compared to my shoddy attempts at conveying the comparison.

tl;dr if you take Orthodox Christianity and replace the guts with all the guts that were rejected by Orthodoxy, while keeping all the trappings of Orthodoxy that aren't directly contradictory to the newly implanted theology (e.g. icons versus wholly transcendent, never-incarnate God), you basically end up with Islam.

A good deal of Protestantism (including what I've rejected in the past) goes the same way with the same replacements, but inherits radically different trappings. If Orthodoxy is Wolfenstein and Calvinism is Doom, then Islam is Map31 - old look and feel, new engine. (The analogy breaks down, obviously, when the "new engine" is the one with less features, functions and versatility.)

(That said, it's definitely worth a read if you have any interest at all in either Christianity or Islam. Also the reference to the Christian God as Allah in the end is, intentionally or not and at least to the eyes of this Western-raised near-English-monoglot, a brilliant inversion of the technique used in the Beatles' "My Sweet Lord". [2014-07-21 Prompted to re-read b/c of this. Definitely intentional given the progression from "God/Allah" to "Allah" alone.])

It occurs to me that one of the big rebuttals to the Protestant argument about the "fall of the church" also applies here: how did two movements so removed from each other in space, culture and time end up with such similar, independently arrived at conclusions, unless there was some kind of truth to it? But the analogy stops there: the "fall of the church" usually is in reference to preceived additions - Trinity, icons, liturgical tradition - but what we're looking at here is deletion in a sincere attempt to fit everything into a rational, logical order.

- The Trinity contradicts itself and borders on polytheism, so let's remove it. It is beneath God to come down to Earth as one of us human scum. (In Islam from the start; eventually you get more unitarian groups from the Protestant tradition)
- This old verse says no graven images, so let's get rid of all images.
- We need to standardize everything, so let's make "The Book" binding (no pun intended) so that everyone's reading the exact same law-reduced-to-writing and everything not in that book is treated as hearsay and optional, unreliable apocrypha.
- The wrathful, vengeful God of the Hebrews looks all wussied up in the New Testament, so that is clearly a later deviation. Let's go back to being sinners in the hands of an angry God.
- If God is all that is good, then things are only good because God wills it to be good. Therefore, any "moral compass" we may have in our hearts is only a temptation and a passion.
- The last 3 points, if taken without a deep underlying faith in the starting assumption of a loving God, strongly imply that we need to be as harsh and unforgiving as possible, to be maximally true to God's divine image. (cf. Westboro; Taliban every sharia jurisdiction that isn't actively trying to soften its image for some material or political gain/survival)



(also new tag for Christianity-related posts)
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
Missionary Secrets 5: How to fruitfully insult the Prophet, or: what every proselytizer in a traditionally Christian-privileged country will get wrong if they don't go out of their way to try to get around this problem.
First, you need to earn the right to be heard. Say you're in Cairo, for instance. Demonstrate a knowledge of the history of the place. Show that you know a lot about Egypt and the people there. And this is the hard part: you actually need to really know this stuff. You really need to know about Chalcedon and arrival of Arab Imperialism (ie, Islam) and the Fatimids an Mamlukes an so on. You need to show that you know about the contemporary challenges faced by Cairenes: that Egypt imports more than 50% of its wheat, that the currency has become very weak, and so on. You also need to show that you know more about the Qur'an and Islam than your hearer. Not in a pompous, bossy way of course. Finally, you need to be able to do all of this by mostly asking questions and (really) listening to their answers (and really caring about what they say--there is no substitute for sincerity).


And seeing something like this from a missionary in public is surprisingly inspiring. We are saved in our weakness but too often do everything in our power not to boast of it.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
I am compelled to say something about corporate “personhood.” While I recognize that this doctrine is firmly entrenched in the law, see Bellotti, 435 U.S. at 780 n. 15, 98 S. Ct. at 1418 n. 15; but see 435 U.S. at 822, 98 S. Ct. at 1439-40 (Rehnquist, J., dissenting), I find the entire concept offensive. Corporations are artificial creatures of law. As such, they should enjoy only those powers—not constitutional rights, but legislatively-conferred powers—that are concomitant with their legitimate function, that being limited-liability investment vehicles for business. Corporations are not persons. Human beings are persons, and it is an affront to the inviolable dignity of our species that courts have created a legal fiction which forces people—human beings—to share fundamental, natural rights with soulless creations of government. Worse still, while corporations and human beings share many of the same rights under the law, they clearly are not bound equally to the same codes of good conduct, decency, and morality, and they are not held equally accountable for their sins. Indeed, it is truly ironic that the death penalty and hell are reserved only to natural persons.
Western Tradition Partnership vs. Montana, 2011 MT 328 (MT 2011)
Justice James C. Nelson, dissenting at paragraph 132
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
A thing about the rage Obama inspires in "conservatives" and how it fits into American history. I'll leave this quote, which compared to the rest is rather generic and flaccid, but the real stories in this are best left in context.
In a democracy, so the saying goes, the people get the government they deserve. Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.


On to lighter matters.

Frites de la liberté, égalité, fraternité et all that. (warning: some comments worth reading)

For some reason this reminds me of various LJ/DW exchanges between me and [personal profile] helarxe. If we were women. Talking about being fucked in the ass. Literally.

Shadows in the Woods. I've got to try this sometime.

And a thing about octopuses and other things.
What was keeping scientists from accepting the existence of consciousness outside of our own family tree? Simple brain anatomy. Older models of brain activity lodged complex, conscious experiences—like musing about a piece of music or reminiscing about a piece of cake—in our highly evolved cortex. But, as the authors of the new declaration noted, many nerve networks involved in “attentiveness, sleep and decision making appear to have arisen in evolution as early as invertebrate radiation, being evident in insects and cephalopod mollusks (e.g. octopus).”

Even emotions (or, according to the declaration, their “neural substrates”) are not dependent on an animal having particular brain structures, such as our cortex, after all. In fact, many other neural regions are activated when we emote and “are also critically important for generating emotional behaviors in animals,” the scientists noted.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
The best piece on money [personal profile] helarxe or I have read this year.

No money quote, find one yourself.


And two more from [personal profile] steorra:

Ethnographic research into the God Hates Fags cult.
In the 1980s, feminist ethnographers started saying: We all know that all that stuff about sheer objectivity is not true. We have an emotional connection, and not talking about it is denying a traditional form of women’s language. One of the central tenets of feminist ethnography is that ethnography should be for the use and benefit of the subjects—for example, women survivors of marital abuse.

But what happens when you have some empathy with a person whose goals you can’t share, don’t share, won’t share, whose position you just generally don’t respect? Given my personality, it’s not that easy for me to turn that off. You want to connect, you want to be approved of. It was helpful for me to take new people to church services with me. I didn’t become desensitized because I could see the horror in their faces.

...

You just can’t say these people are just awful anymore. What they do is awful, but it also illuminates how many other awful things are done under the guise of conservative Christianity. I don’t want to make a blanket statement about all conservative Christian churches—what I’m really talking about is the homophobic/political branch. You can have conservative theology that doesn’t end up here, proclaiming God’s hate.

Sociologist Kathleen Blee warns about using empathy either falsely or deceptively, or allowing it to turn off your critical thinking. I had the benefit of Blee’s insights.


Another drop in the ocean of reasons why the War On Drugs was a bad idea: it's not causative of gang activity. With plenty of particulars and generalities explaining why not.
A crime-org might start out in the drug business and shift its activities elsewhere, or vice versa. Randolfo Contreras has shown that in the 1990s when the crack cocaine business dried up in the Bronx, former street dealers went into other areas of crime. In Mexico, when increased border surveillance cut into drug deliveries to the US, crime-orgs expanded into extortion and kidnapping for ransom. The Zetas, because of their organization as Special Forces, were less directly connected with the drug business itself; when they became independent of the declining Gulf cartel, they have moved aggressively into more purely predatory use of violence against other cartels' territories. This is not so much an effort to monopolize the drug trafficking business, as a different political strategy, leveraging their special skill, highly trained military violence.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
A single screenshot of the game was worth the just under 300 words it took to describe what was infringing.

(And for those who'd rather read an article than a judgment, here's one.)

Funny thing is, I tried to imagine a game that had all the function of Tetris and none of the look and feel... and just could not. (I did, however, end up playing an actual Tetris game in my head. In black and white and no score or "next piece" display.)

Also got me thinking about Freedoom as well... with the brown imps and pink demons and vaguely similar music and all those textures explicitly made to resemble Doom I can't help but think the basic concept of a non-infringing free IWAD is, well, doomed (however technically and unenforcedly) by its current implementation. :/

But is it even possible to do an IWAD that has none of the look and feel of Doom at all? Or do the constraints of the game mechanics require a (technically) infringing level of semblance?

And still look decent on custom maps designed for the Doom IWAD?


This looks like a pretty decent article on the merits of that Obamacare lawsuit.
Differences in labeling do sometimes matter in legal—and especially constitutional—analysis. In most instances, however, and most certainly when the issue is taxes, it is the substance that matters, not the form. In this column, I will discuss how the dissenting justices in the ACA case became overly obsessed with a matter of labeling, in their analysis of the taxing power. In the course of doing so, I will also explain how Chief Justice Roberts’s controlling opinion clearly—and even elegantly—dealt with the dangerous red herring that so distracted the
dissenters.

...

Even the most casual observer understands that the words used in the Constitution and the statutes must be understood in context. For instance, the First Amendment’s guarantees of free speech and the press are correctly extended to “speech” that is more than simple oration, and to a “press” that now typically involves no printing presses at all.

Moreover, the meaning of the same word differs in some statutory situations, as compared to its meaning in the context of seemingly similar constitutional wording. For example, there are several important international treaties (which are the law of the land under the Constitution, and which are enacted into law through enabling legislation) that use the word “arms” as a reference to thermonuclear weapons. Even the most expansive reading of the Second Amendment, however, has never said that any rights of the people to “bear arms” extend to such weapons.
As someone who is not a practising lawyer in the USA, I can safely and freely say that I have nothing but contempt for the dissenters in this case, but this author can explain why a lot better than I can. (hint: I'm posting this so I can finally use the is-ism tag again)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
So folks are going about talking about how prostitution is legalized in Canada now with this new ruling.

Wiki's got a good summary of what's actually going on. Basically: prostitution, in the sense of exchanging sexual favours for valuable consideration, has not been criminalized this whole time. Our Criminal Code only prohibits certain specific expressions of it or certain activities incidental to it, to the effect that, as Bedford&Co. argued, basically ruled out the best and often only realistic ways prostitutes have of screening out the violent scumbags and serial killers. Trial judge decided all the prohibitions were thus unconstitutional; appeal court allowed prohibition of communications in public.

More info here. (written before the appeal decision came out)


And now I dump some unrelated links.

A brief history of my entire moral development between prepubescence and now.

So an allegedly conservative group is trying to prevent Latino assimilation into the American norm, and to harness anti-assimilation feelings and resentment to aid their anti-gay cause. To sum up: divide by race, and oppose assimilation of immigrants. Lovely. I didn't catch this reading at all at first. Maybe there is more to this whole meltingpot/mosaic distinction than I've taken for granted...

"“But the facts are, from my understanding, Miss Havisham is around 50." ::thinks, does some rough math. Bricks shat.::


Still wondering how to respond to someone who posted this a week or so ago. I'm still convinced that the vast majority of pro-lifers I encounter are actually, whether they are conscious of it or not, so concerned about abortion merely or at least primarily because it's a rallying point, a shibboleth, the mark of a particular Christianity-based flavour of the old evil cult of patriarchal violence.

But on the other hand, disregarding the practical effect of acting on such morality I cannot justify abortion theoretically without drawing an admittedly arbitrary line - one far more arbitrary than, say, my refusal to go either cannibal or vegan. Whatever you do to a chicken before or after it hatches, it will not be a person the way even a 2-year-old is: the human zygote does in contrast have that capacity.

And yet intuitively I find it, if anything, even more absurd to care more about the welfare of a human zygote than a chicken, to the point where I am quite reluctant to simply throw out the philosophical high-faluting in favour of an admission that my position is strictly pragmatic. (The conscious mind has an astounding ability to miss obvious things.)

So perhaps, then, to answer the question I saw on a related link, what experiences I've had (as a childless unmarried male with no younger siblings) that I believe have led me to my current beliefs. After some thought, I'd say pretty much all of them - as an ex-fetus.

I understand more now than I used to. My experiences have shaped me, given me the ability to appreciate the world around me, allowed me to develop the capacity for morality that lets me function in this world and at least the capacity to make the attempt to not leave this world a worse place than I found it. I have experienced suffering and happiness, to the point where I can differentiate one from the other and make some inferences about what is good. And I see the same sort of thing happening with the people around me, and I value them for it and hope they can see value in me in a similar way. Actual personality, actual sentience, actual value - it all builds up and develops over time, without which we only have a theoretical potential. I had no value before I could value, except as a particular object bearing the potential attributed to it by someone else.

And if an object and a person are at odds with each other in a zero-sum situation, the actual suffering of the person trumps the existence of the object any day.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
If you're not a conservative voter with a dog in this fight, watching Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and whoever else is running for the GOP nomination this week try to hold on to front-runner status has been great slapstick, like watching a cruel experiment involving baboons, laughing gas and a forklift. No matter how many times you ring the bell, those poor animals are never going to figure out how to move that pallet of bananas – yet they keep trying, taking the sorry show from one state to the next, over and over, as if something is going to change.

The latest ape to fall off the heavy machinery is Romney, who in a single week before the South Carolina primary went from near-certain nominee to national punch line, in genuine peril of becoming one of America's all-time electoral catastrophes. ...

... Less than a week after New Hampshire, Romney committed a series of gaffes that revealed his crucial character flaw: He's a hypernervous control freak who flips out if you try digging around below the paper-thin veneer of his schlock patriotic presentation. The robotic Mormon financier looks like a walking OCD diagnosis, a trim coil of tightly wound energy with perfect coif and tie, seemingly living in permanent terror of a single hair falling out of place. For this type of anal-retentive personality, the messy chaos of South Carolina was a phobic horror. Faced with actual opposition, he lost his grip on everything. At a time when a quarter of the population has zero or negative net worth, when outrage against the financial elite is at an all-time high on both sides of the political aisle, Romney, it turns out, is so weirdly tone-deaf about his status as a one-percenter and bloodsucking corporate raider that any question in that direction sends his eyes pinwheeling. As his electably boring-mannequin act began to crumble, his carefully concealed true self – a deluded gazillionaire nitwit – was suddenly thrust naked onstage for all of America to gape at.
Read the whole thing. It's the "It Came From Wasilla" for our generation or something.

(h/t: the no comment guy)
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
Okay, first, let's get the really horrible link over with.

...

The rest of it is not horrible I promise.

"How is it wrong that they are dead? A brand new insight, no. A good reminder, yes.

As is this. If I can get to this point before age forty it will have been a non-failure.
(an OP is fine too (like, go read it and stuff))

I want a version of this for a men's suit blazer. For blindingly obvious reasons.

This however is something I want, let's just say, somewhat less. D8
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
Jonathan Coulton on the whole paranoid security-theater freedom-hating racket that's got the government by the balls these days, albeit in a much more rhetorically balanced and fact-checkable way than I usually so it.
Is it really as dire as all that? It’s an emergency is it? Tim points out that he and a lot of other content creators have been happily coexisting with piracy all this time, and I’m certainly one of them. Make good stuff, then make it easy for people to buy it. There’s your anti-piracy plan. The big content companies are TERRIBLE at doing both of these things, so it’s no wonder they’re not doing so well in the current environment. And right now everyone’s fighting to control distribution channels, which is why I can’t watch Star Wars on Netflix or iTunes. It’s fine if you want to have that fight, but don’t yell and scream about how you’re losing business to piracy when your stuff isn’t even available in the box I have on top of my TV. A lot of us have figured out how to do this.
Which is seconded by a commenter:
The real trick is making the content available to consumers. A great example of this is Valve’s digital distribution platform. Before Steam came along there were lots of games you simply could not get without pirating them. Now, you can legally obtain almost the entire last decade of PC video games from Steam AND the publishers get a cut, unlike the used games market. I can honestly say that I haven’t pirated a game since Steam started having summer/winter sales. It just isn’t worth the trouble to pirate when its so easy to get what I want legitimately.
What I did not quote was the part where he drives home the fact that the threat this anti-Internet legislation is supposed to fight has not been demonstrated to cause any measurable harm.
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
Cost of Living Increasingly a Struggle for China's Poor
BEIJING — China’s poor are being hit hard as the cost of putting dinner on the table soars, sharpening resentment and highlighting a fast-growing gap between rich and poor.

Vegetable prices are up anywhere from a third to double over the same time last year. Cooking oil, fruit and some meats are also up, according to surveys, official figures and testimonies from food sellers and shoppers.

The upshot is that China’s poor — though not its rich — are struggling.


In pictures: China's Wealth Gap
"The agricultural tax is high. Government officials say they are going to reduce the rural taxes, but they haven't and we don't know when they will.

If they did reduce our taxes, that would really change our lives. We are so poor because there is no development here.

The government does give aid but for some reason there is hardly any allocated to this area. I have no way to buy fertilizer. We need economic help."


and a smattering of cyberpunk dystopia goes here. )

Now, in the context of the foregoing:

Michele Bachmann: Look To China On Social Program Cuts
Bachmann said that Lyndon Johnson's Great Society has "not worked, and it's put us into the modern welfare state...If you look at China, they don't have food stamps."

She continued, "They save for their own retirement security, they don't have AFDC (Aid to Families With Dependent Children), they don't have the modern welfare state, and China's growing...and so what I would do is look at the programs that LBJ gave us, with the Great Society, and they'd be gone."


Cain Would 'Overturn the Supreme Court If They Overturned DOMA'
"If the Perry case or a DOMA case gets to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court were to overturn DOMA or to find a -- quote -- unquote -- constitutional -- a U.S. Constitutional right to same sex marriage, if you were president, what would you do?" Brown asked.

"I would lead the charge to overturn the Supreme Court if they overturned DOMA," Cain insisted. "Whether that was new legislation coming out of the Congress like Rep. [Michele] Bachmann said. The United States Congress is supposed to pass laws so if they did overturn DOMA, that charge, I would lead to reverse that."


(hat tip for original link that started this: [personal profile] flemco)
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
As someone not from the USA and after talking with other such people, yeah I gotta say the perception is like that - though I suppose the blow may be harder for those who unlike me didn't really think that many Americans that high up were that boneheaded.
I never had much sympathy for the view that America’s economy was about to be eclipsed by China’s, and the main reason was our political institutions. Those checks, balances and laws provide an orderly means to change course in response to new challenges. China’s authoritarianism deprives the government of a feedback mechanism to tell it when it is meeting the needs and aspirations of its people. That makes its system intrinsically fragile.

Events of the last few weeks have forced me to reconsider. While the crash of a high-speed train highlighted many of China’s ongoing weaknesses, it also revealed, in the vigorous reporting and commentary that followed in print and online, a nascent apparatus of accountability. Conversely, America’s ostensible success in avoiding default in fact highlighted the growing dysfunction of its political institutions. If these events are portents of things to come, then the day when China displaces America as the world’s economic superpower is closer than I thought.

My more optimistic take is that the behavior of the markets and record disapproval ratings will force Congress to acknowledge the idiocy of their recent behavior and to adapt by substituting compromise for brinkmanship. Investors won't learn much new from S&P's announcement. Politicians should.
In response to the last quoted paragraph, here's the guy who invented dynamite:
Perhaps my factories will put an end to war sooner than your congresses: on the day that two army corps can mutually annihilate each other in a second, all civilised nations will surely recoil with horror and disband their troops.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
The long form version of Don't Be A Sucker.

A thing to be watched, esp. if you have seen the shorter (<17min) version.
(It is about people.)


EDIT: As is this, holy crap guys

I know this

if life is illusion, then I am no less an illusion, and being thus, the illusion is real to me. I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, and am content.

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