Sunday, March 31, 2013

History Lesson: 1492

"It’s Easter Sunday, and that means last night we all watched Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments. “Let my people go,” he told pharaoh. We were a little surprised to recall that on this day—March 31—in 1492, Ferdinand II and Isabella I of Spain issued 'The Alhambra Decree,' in which they ordered all the Jews in their kingdom on another exodus." ~Lapham's Quarterly

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tony, Tony, Tony...

Two articles on Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and Marriage Equality.

One is satire, one is not.

(Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Regarding One of the Other Big Cases at SCOTUS This Term

"ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones took a closer look at the documents in the case, and found that race had little, if anything at all, to do with the university's decision to deny Fisher admission."

More here.


Trillion with a T

A little over a year ago, student debt in the United States reached $1 trillion.

(Hat-tip to Ben Crowther.)

A Cure for Earworms?

Science is on it.

The Fate of DOMA and Prop 8 at SCOTUS

With oral arguments on the cases about to begin this week, the New York Times distills the possible outcomes into this simple and handy diagram.

Give Me Some Space

Sunday, March 24, 2013


(More here.)

Must-Read of the Week

Recently, the Republican Party pledged to work hard at being more inclusive--just like they did in 2003, 2000, 1997, 1995, 1991, 1989, 1986, 1982, 1980, and 1977. The resonances are striking.

Roe, Roe, Roe

As we head into a crucial week for the Prop-8 and DOMA cases before the Supreme Court, the New York Times considers how the shadow of a previous far-ranging decision might--or might not--factor in.

The View From Above

"This new bathing structure is situated 50 meters or so off the beach in Kastrup just south of Copenhagen. The water is clean and refreshing and the whole place is alive with kids and adults swimming and jumping off a five-meter platform."

(via BeezoBlue)


Pew reports that young adults shrunk they amount of debt they were carrying by 29% between 2007 and 2010, due to the recession.

While I don't qualify as a "young adult," I myself eliminated the credit card debt I was carrying during that same period. I also moved my money from a large corporate bank to a smaller local one.

A recent poll finds 50% of Americans want to break up the big banks, and I support that. But if we want that to happen, we have to act. We can start with our own money.

Gingrich/Santorum 2012 ... or Santorum/Gingrich 2012

It almost happened:

"But the negotiations collapsed in acrimony because Gingrich and Santorum could not agree on who would get to be president. 'In the end,' Gingrich says, 'it was just too hard to negotiate.'"

After all, how much negotiation skill does a U.S. President need?

(Hat-tip to Wonkette)

Shooting The Messenger

The U.S. Senate votes to de-fund political-science research:

"For more than 15 years, congressional Republicans have been trying to do away with federal funding for political-science research. Every time until now, political scientists successfully fought back. One reason they could: The pot designated for political science in the National Science Foundation (NSF) was a tiny percentage of overall research money—about $10 million out of a $7 billion budget. That's less than two-tenths of a percent. But it's also the majority of total grant funding for political-science research...."

The rest of the American Prospect story here.

Happy Birthday, Obamacare

The Affordable Care Act was signed three years ago today.

Dead Serious

Blogger Rod2.0 alerts New Yorkers to an outbreak of potentially deadly meningitis:

"The New York City Department of Health is urging all gay men in the city 'regardless of HIV status, who regularly have intimate contact with other men through a Web site, digital application or at a bar or party,' to get vaccinated against a deadly strain of bacterial meningitis, reports the New York Times."

Biggest Baby-Picture Ever

New data:

"The Universe is 13.82 billion years old.

The Universe is expanding a bit slower than we expected.

The Universe is 4.9 percent normal matter, 26.8 percent dark matter, and 68.3 percent dark energy.

The Universe is lopsided. Just a bit, just a hint, but that has profound implications."

More here.

When The Wind Blows...

Do Wind Turbines make people sick, or is this yet another information-viral neurosis? considers what we know so far.

Photoshow of the Week

David Bowie, a pictorial historical sampling.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


No, the chase-the-plane-to-the-end-of-the-runway scene didn't actually happen. But here is an interesting interview with someone who was there, all about the real story behind Argo.

Also, some folks weren't thrilled that "Tony Mendez" was played by an actor who wasn't Hispanic.

I understand these disagreements, and I was also entertained by the film, even as I knew a lot of what I was watching was ginned-up for the, er, movie version--a dilemma that kinda creates a meta-situation. (Heck, when I saw Frost/Nixon I was reminded that Nixon's "if the President does it, that means it is not illegal" moment was not half as dramatic in real life as Langella delivered the line in the movie.)

But then I shudder to think of how many people think they know history just from what they see in theaters or on television.

NOT The Onion, folks...

TEA Party group boycotting FOX News for becoming "too liberal"

(Photo by me, from the gate of the 2008 Democratic National Convention)

Well, That's Rich...

The wealthiest Americans donate 1.3 percent of their income; the poorest, 3.2 percent.

The Atlantic explains it here.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Together, Alone

Are we outsourcing intimacy?

Author Sherry Turkle has a must-see TED talk about technology and humanity.

An interview with Turkle here.

The Elephant Moves #Forward

GOP opposition to immigration reform is falling away.

It's Not Just The Kids...

The Washington Post explains why support for full marriage equality has risen so quickly.

Deny, Deny

Studio360 scores an exclusive interview with Charles Krafft, the sculptor of "ironic" work who has now revealed himself to be a Holocaust denier.

The original story here.

(Photo of Charles Krafft's Hitler Idaho (2003) via Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Gay Rights are Human Rights (and vice-versa)

A new ABC poll shows a dramatic rise in Americans' support for full marriage equality.

The status of marriage equality state-by-state.

Onion Slice

This one brings a smile to the face of this Idahomosexual.

What I'm Reading

A fascinating, unvarnished history of the bureau, and all its petty squabbles and Constitution-straining surveillance of U.S. citizens.

The Future

By 2020, twelve of the United States will be "majority minority:"

"Currently 63 percent of the U.S. population, the white share is expected to drop below 50 percent by 2043, when racial and ethnic minorities will collectively become a U.S. majority. Hispanics will drive most of the minority growth, due mostly to high birth rates, jumping in share from 17 percent to 26 percent."

(Photo by me, from Election Day 2008)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Four-Leafed Glover

TEA Party Martyrdom Mania Reaches Fever Pitch

(Hat-tip to Wonkette)

Quote of the Day

"Just as the 21st century saw friends replaced by Facebook friends, nature replaced by parks, ocean fisheries replaced by commercially farmed seafood, and sunshine largely supplanted by tanning salons, we’ll see sexual interaction reduced to mechanically provoked orgasm as human beings become ever more dominated by the machines and mechanistic thought processes that developed in our brains and societies like bacteria in a petri dish. Gender identity will fade away as sexual interaction becomes less “human” and we grow less dependent upon binary interactions with other people. As more and more of our interactions take place with non-human partners, others’ expectations and judgments will become less relevant to the development of sexual identity, leading to greater fluidity and far less urgency and passion concerning sexual expression."

The rest here.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Offered Without Comment

All In The Family

It takes a relative being gay to get Republican Rob Portman to reverse position on marriage equality. But as for the rest of the party...

well, Nate Silver looks at the numbers.

Michael Tomasky also gives Portman one-and-a-half cheers.

Richard Socarides gives props to Portman's son.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Oddest Trivia of the Week

A one-lunged pope. The jokes almost write themselves.

When Equality Ends Up in Advertising...

...for basic products that people use daily, 
then can we simply declare We've Won?

"Get Updated," indeed.

The Songs of Early Birds

I've found most of the recent OCD-talk about Hillary 2016 to be extremely premature (and an unnecessary distraction from the 2014 midterms). The best way to make sure the next president is a Democrat is doing everything we can to give the current President a successful second-term.

But Nate Silver looks at the past performance of early polling at about this point before an election:

"An examination of pre-midterm presidential polling since 1984 — surveys conducted from the day after the preceding presidential vote to the day before the midterm elections — shows that while early primary polls are not determinative, they are not meaningless, either."

More here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Quote of the Day

"More often happiness is the result of a satisfactory relationship between ourselves and our bodies. The establishment and maintenance of this sense of inner harmony is the proper function of physical culture, and the true object of physical exercise is coordination." ~ Quentin Crisp

A Tale of Two Budgets

Murray versus Ryan.

Slate's Matthew Yglesias pulls no punches.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Apostle Paul

Andy Borowitz gets the scoop on the (latest) Ryan Budget from the corpse of Ayn Rand

(Alternate-take design by me)

Happy Birthday, Jack


Ever time someone says "New Pope," my ear hears "New Coke"

Meanwhile, Andy Borowitz has the latest scoop on failed votes at the conclave.

The Onion analyzes on Conclave Fashion.

I tweeted: "Black Smoke=No New Pope, White Smoke=New Pope, Rainbow=Gay Pope"

And this story no one can make up.

Photo of the Day

Source here.

What "Going Viral" Means

Studio360 reports here.

(Sometimes I have to remind folks that the word "meme" is just twice as much "me")

The Archaeology of the Future

Some great TED talks on looking skyward.

SETI@Home: Your computer could be part of the greatest scientific discovery in history.

A Day in the Life of Living Mars