Sunday, June 30, 2013

The terrifying Bert and Ernie

These right-wingers are certainly getting hysterical, aren't they? The New Yorker is promoting child abuse with its Bert and Ernie cover? You know, I doubt if many children read The New Yorker. Just sayin'.

And they're sitting on a couch together, watching TV! Two muppets! Jebus, how innocuous can you get?

Besides, just because The New Yorker implies something about two puppet characters, that has nothing to do with Sesame Street. "'Criminitly,' they say. 'They're Muppets! They have no sexual orientation.'" Exactly!

Bryan Fischer's idea of a 'homosexual clinch'

I thought Fischer's reaction was hilarious. Admittedly, it would be more funny if it wasn't so hateful.

Friday, June 28, 2013

America comes out of the closet

I wanted to post this entirely for John Oliver's comment: "What is it with these people and animals? Every time! This is the only issue, as well, where you go there. It's not like you go there with Obamacare. 'Oh, thank-you, Mr. President. What's next? Are we going to give health care to turtles?'"

(Unfortunately - for some reason - this clip leaves out much of the rest of his comment. You'll have to watch the full episode to hear the rest of this.)

"It's only when you're talking about sex that your... definitely not perverted brains go straight to animals. Look,... look, Senator Paul. It seems like this is a personal fight for you. Perhaps - and I'm just guessing - you're in a relationship with an animal, and you fear that this court ruling is pushing you in a direction where you'd be pressured to get married. But, relax. You don't need a piece of paper to define your love."

Funny, huh? I've wondered this as well. Why do right-wing brains immediately jump to sex with animals? There really seems to be a perverted fascination there, don't you think? Maybe Republicans really have a good reason to stay in that closet, huh?

Distant Worlds: Shadows - pirates!

Terran Federation, 2126

I described my initial steps in Distant Worlds: Shadows a month ago, shortly after I bought the game. But I ended up starting over, when it was updated to a new version.

I don't think that was necessary - indeed, I'm pretty sure it wasn't. But I'm always tempted to start over when I'm playing games, since I keep thinking I can do better the next time. I'm not sure that's the case - certainly, I seem to be just as short of resources in this game - but that's the way it is.

And I'm still playing that game, at least. :)

But I thought I'd talk about pirates in this post, since I'm now 26 years into the game, and pirates are no longer the threat they were. Note that they've been a very grave threat - in fact, the only real threat I've faced. And I really like how that works.

There are a lot of pirate factions in the game (a good thing, in a way, since they also fight among themselves), and they start with ships and technology which we empires lost when galactic civilization collapsed previously. In particular, they have ships which can travel between star systems.

Diplomacy screen: most of these are pirate factions

As an empire - I'm playing a human democracy - the Terran Federation started off very weak, with literally nothing but a home planet. We had to build a space port before we could start building ships and slowly start exploring our own solar system.

The thing is, we couldn't even start researching hyperdrives until we discovered clues to the technology on another planet in our system. Despite the name, that initial technology, Warp Field Precursors, does grant the ability to build FTL ships. It's a primitive technology, still too slow for effective star travel, but it makes a huge difference in exploring (and building) within a solar system.

Anyway, there's really no sense in building anything but two or three exploration ships before you get that first hyperdrive technology. If you've played the game before, you'll know where to send them, but you can also just let them explore the system at random. But even after you've researched Warp Field Precursors, there's no sense in building fighting ships right away, because you're just too weak to fight (and that Warp Bubble Generator is much too slow).

Pirates show up almost immediately, so you really have no choice but to pay them protection money. Later, after you've built a few ships, you can cancel that, but don't believe that your escort ships are a match for theirs! They have a real technological advantage - and they've got the further advantage of being able to explore the galaxy before you do.

After you develop real hyperdrive technologies, you can start to explore the galaxy, yourself. And you can make construction ships to build mining facilities and other bases in nearby star systems. But the problem is trying to protect them from pirate raids. It does you no good to waste money and resources building what you can't defend.

One of my prosperous colony worlds

This is a very different dynamic from similar games (or even Distant Worlds games set in the 'classic' era), where you inevitably want to expand as quickly as possible. In the Age of Shadows, you have to be careful how quickly you expand, because it's very hard to protect what you've got from pirates.

I started in a particularly rich solar system (a starting option I chose), and I only built mines there, at first. Even so, it was hard to defend them. Pirate ships were faster and stronger. I needed a fleet to attack even one escort, and a fleet can't be everywhere at once. (Plus, note that defending yourself from pirates just makes them angrier.)

But it wasn't until I colonized a new planet that they really became a problem. I had a suitable planet in my home solar system, so I figured I could defend it OK. Well, pirates just sent wave after wave of ships against it. On the one hand, the AI wasn't smart enough to send them all at once, so I could defeat their ships piecemeal. But they still did a lot of damage.

I'm not sure if it wouldn't have been smarter just to pay them off, but throughout this game, I didn't want to give them money. Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute, right?  :)  I figured that tribute would just make them stronger, so I should use the money to build more ships, myself.

And maybe that was wise,.. but building ships - and repairing ships and bases - also requires resources. Also, there's a civilian economy - civilian freighters, mining ships, passenger ships - which suffers under frequent pirate attack. Even when you kill the pirates, it disrupts that civilian economy, as unarmed vessels flee the area.

My latest escort design

You can hire pirates to attack other pirates, but that's very expensive, and you don't know which pirate faction will accept the bid. Again, I thought it was better to use that money to build up my own fleets, but I'm just not sure that was the best decision I could have made.

Ordinary pirate ships are dangerous enough, but they can also find very advanced ships - far bigger and more powerful than anything you can build for a long, long time - as galactic derelicts. Those ships can take out an entire fleet by themselves. Early on, I was attacked by one capital ship - the biggest ship in the game - which I thought would destroy everything I had, all by itself.

That didn't happen, mostly because I'd designed my own escort ships - normally, a ship so small as to be completely worthless - making them much bigger, with better shielding, and arming them with rail guns. Rail guns bypass shields, so even when I couldn't get through the shielding of powerful pirate ships, I could still do some damage. A fleet of them drove off that pirate ship, even though I don't think I damaged it much.

I kept my ships in large fleets, so I could destroy lesser pirate ships before they could escape (and without taking too much damage myself). Bigger ships I tried to capture, and, eventually, I succeeded in capturing two capital ships from pirates (and my exploration ships found a couple of powerful derelicts, themselves).

Pirates can attack almost anywhere, but they tend to send wave after wave of small ships against the same colony. I don't know what the AI reasoning is, but that makes it easy to park a fleet there and defeat them. You still take damage, but you can wipe out a lot of pirate vessels that way! Still, they sometimes seem to have an unending supply of ships.

I didn't attack their space ports, not at first. Partly, I wanted to weaken them, but keep them attacking other pirates and my empire rivals. However, our closest and biggest 'rival' is friendly, and we were making money through trading with them. Eventually, I attacked and destroyed a few of the closest pirate bases, and that has made a huge difference in the number of pirate attacks we face.

That might be coincidence, I suppose. Certainly, we were destroying every ship they sent against us. And they have other space ports, so they can still build ships elsewhere. But those ports are some distance away, and we are far from the only enemy they face.

There are lots of different resources in the game

At any rate, there's been a significant drop in pirate attacks, so we've started expanding - rapidly. Just in case, I've got a powerful navy on guard in nearly every significant system, but without those constant pirate attacks, our young colonies are free to trade and to build. So the game really seems to have turned a corner.

We don't have any empire enemies, either. At least, we haven't been to war with any of them. We're quite willing to make friends - we benefit from peaceful trade - and those civilizations which don't like us tend to be weak and distant. (Our main ally has been fighting a war with a hostile civilization close to both of us, but so far, we haven't been drawn into the fight.)

Actually, we are very close to winning the game - at least, as the game defines it. We're a long, long way from researching everything in the technology tree, and certainly from expanding throughout the galaxy, but we're meeting most of our victory goals.

This game is a lot of fun, though it won't be to all tastes. It moves rather slowly, and there's a lot of micromanagement. You can set the AI to run anything you want. In fact, you can set the AI to run everything, while you just watch, if that's what you want to do. But the AI doesn't do things the way I would, so I end up... micromanaging - not everything, not by a long shot, but probably too much.

But there's always a lot to think about. You have to juggle your budget of course, but that's no different from most strategy games. The big difference here is resources. There are a lot of different resources in the game, and you need resources to do almost everything - including building mines to get more resources.

And all of those resources are delivered by civilian ships you don't control directly, so it's very easy to get bottlenecks. You need a healthy civilian economy, you need to provide effective security, and you need enough mines for every resource - and you still end up with work stalling for lack of a particular resource or resources.

It really is pretty complex. But if you like complex games, you might check this one out. I think the whole bundle is still on sale at 40% off, but that won't last much longer.

Note: Check here for more posts about PC games.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act

I'm not going to add much, since Cenk Uygur does such a good job here, but just remember that it's the five Republicans on the Supreme Court who decided this (just as it was the five Republicans on the Supreme Court who gave us George W. Bush as president).

You don't think they have a partisan political reason for gutting the Voting Rights Act? Ha!

Let me just close with some quotes from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dissent:
1. "The sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the [Voting Rights Act] has proven effective ... Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."

2. "When confronting the most constitutionally invidious form of discrimination, and the most fundamental right in our democratic system, Congress' power to act is at its height."

3. "Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court's opinion today. The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story. See supra, at 18–19. Without even identifying a standard of review, the Court dismissively brushes off arguments based on "data from the record," and declines to enter the "debat[e about] what [the] record shows"…One would expect more from an opinion striking at the heart of the Nation's signal piece of civil-rights legislation."

4. "Just as buildings in California have a greater need to be earthquake­ proofed, places where there is greater racial polarization in voting have a greater need for prophylactic measures to prevent purposeful race discrimination."

"A Turn of Light" by Julie E. Czerneda

(cover image from

Over the years, I've learned to trust my favorite authors. Even when a book doesn't sound appealing, I've usually been rewarded by giving it a try when it's from one of my very favorite authors - Lois McMaster Bujold, C. J. Cherryh, Connie Willis,... and, yes, Julie E. Czerneda.

So I didn't look very closely at the details of this one when I ordered it. Yes, A Turn of Light is fantasy, and I'd prefer science fiction. (Czerneda mainly writes space opera.) But I enjoy fantasy, too, so that wasn't a problem.

And this was a paperback, so I didn't have to make that decision. (Admittedly, it's a trade paperback, so almost as expensive as hardcover.) But I ordered it without paying much attention, because I was willing to give a favorite author the benefit of the doubt.

So I was shocked when it actually arrived to find that it's 854 pages long! The book is massive! Now, yes, her books have been getting longer and longer, but nothing previously like this.

And when I opened the front cover, I saw "Night's Edge: Book One." What? 854 pages and it's not even the complete story? (I would have been even more surprised had I realized then that the entire book is set in a tiny little village.)

First, let me assure you that, yes, this is a complete story. I assume that there will be sequels, but this is still a standalone book. You don't have to worry about that. And it held my attention, too.

As I say, the whole book is set in a very small village, and when I started reading, it seemed a bit... overly-descriptive - even leisurely. That might be accurate - and one reason why the book is so long - but I was never bored. The book held my attention throughout. But I did wonder a bit, at the start.

The fact is, this village is so small that everyone in it is important to the story. And the village itself is important. It's a magical place (in more ways than one).

The characters are really... nice. They're almost all very appealing, even those you don't expect to like. And if you want romance, well, the whole thing is filled with romance. But no sex. This is a fantasy novel, not a romance novel, and it's very definitely fantasy romance.

Oddly enough, for an old bachelor like me, I like that kind of thing. I like character-based fiction, and romance is frequently an important part of that. And I want to like the characters in a book, because I need to care about them, and innocent romance seems to help in that respect, too. (Personally, I never thought that text was a very good medium for pornography. Written sex never seems very realistic to me.)

At any rate, if you don't like romance, don't read this book. There's lots and lots of romance, and it all seems very obvious where it's going, right from the start. On the other hand, I had absolutely no idea where the fantasy was going, not until almost the very end.

It was kind of weird. Yes, there's a very unusual village, a very magical place, and the heroine who's desperate to travel the world isn't allowed to leave. So she doesn't. But,... what's going to happen? I didn't have a clue. I mean, I didn't know where the fantasy plot was going. The romance, as I say, seemed obvious from the start (all of the different pairings).

But this is a fantasy, and it was going somewhere. Don't get me wrong, it's not slow. Or, rather, it's slow, but it's entertaining enough that it doesn't seem slow. A Turn of Light certainly held my attention. Indeed, I had trouble putting the book down. (And that's a necessity, since 854 pages is a lot to read in one sitting!)

I'm afraid I can't describe it any better than this. It's a magical place with appealing characters and lots of romance,... and that describes most of the book. The plot advances, but it's never very clear where it's going (or it wasn't to me, at least). It wasn't even clear that it was advancing.

I liked that. Admittedly, when you get to the end, the result is not a surprise. But the fact that there was an end at all was surprising, at least a bit, since the book didn't really seem to be heading anywhere. (Of course, when I saw that "Book One," I was afraid there wouldn't be an end, not to this volume, at least.)

Sorry. I suspect that this is going to be a useless review to anyone else, but I really don't know what to say. I enjoyed it, and if you like long, romance-filled fantasy, you probably will, too. But if you want action, forget it. There is a fantasy plot here, but it doesn't get there quickly.

There's humor, and a slowly unfolding puzzle, and really nice characters, with lots and lots of romance. I suspect that some readers would absolutely hate it. But not me. I'll definitely buy the next one, probably without looking at the details. :)

Note: My other book reviews are here.

Arma 3 beta

Arma 3 just went to beta, and there's been a bunch of new content added. If you bought the alpha version, as I did, the game is automatically updated on Steam.

If you haven't bought it yet, the price has gone up, from $32.99 while the game was still in alpha to $44.99 now (still cheaper than it will be when the final game is released, though).

It's a great game. Now, I don't usually play first-person shooters, but this game isn't like that. Yes, you can run-and-gun, but that's not how most people play it. Arma 3 rewards teamwork. It rewards thought.

Of course, you can play it any way you want, and you can find people who want to play the game that way, too. I don't normally play multiplayer games, either, but this one is just too much fun - at least, when you find compatible teammates. (I've been playing mostly with this small group. It's been great fun.)

This is a military simulation, of course, but you can take that as seriously, or not, as you wish. Some groups strive for the utmost 'realism,' right down to having a permanent officer structure. Some are completely unorganized, nothing but run-and-gun. Most are somewhere in the middle.

But the genius of the game is that you can play the way you want. And you can play with other people - all over the world - who want to play that way, too. (You can play with anonymous people on open servers, but that's not much fun. Most people find communities to join, so they can play with friends.)

The other thing to remember is that you're playing missions designed by other players. The Arma 3 developers have created the tools, but it's the Arma 3 community which creates the content. So the missions vary in quality, of course, but - much more than that - they differ in design.

So you don't just find compatible people to play with, you find compatible missions, too. And you can find a mod for almost anything. (If you don't find one, you can make one yourself.) That really makes the game diverse!

The Arma series has been around for awhile, and Arma 2 has a big following. So the most popular mods from that are being duplicated in Arma 3, too. This game is still in development, so all this is just beginning, but there's already a big variety of different play-styles. (Unfortunately, beginning players might get confused about the game when they stumble upon a Wasteland server, for example, thinking they're getting the vanilla game.)

I thought the trailer above was neat, but this video clip really explains the details of Arma 3 development:

But even that might give the wrong impression. Yes, this is a detailed military simulation, but you don't have to be a wargamer to enjoy it. I barely know one end of a rifle from another, and the details of military equipment interest me not at all.

If that kind of thing does interest you, then you can certainly find people in Arma 3 who share that interest. If you just want to play another first-person shooter, you can find people who'll share that desire, too (though you might be happier with one of the many other shooters out there).

Now me, I really like the teamwork in this game. I couldn't care less about military realism. (Let's face it, it's never going to be 'realistic' if death isn't permanent, and I don't want to play a game like that!) I don't care enough about military equipment to even keep one rifle straight from another. But I like the teamwork shown here:

The people I play with aren't this organized - and I'm certainly not - but we still try to work together as a team. When you play together regularly, you know what to expect. If it's not exactly what you want, you can just find a different group. There's a lot of diversity in Arma 3.

As I say, I don't play multiplayer games, not usually. I didn't even buy Arma 3 expecting to play it multiplayer. (You can play many of these missions by yourself.) I've tried multiplayer games before, but... frankly, it doesn't take too many jerks in an online game to ruin it for me.

But Arma 3 is different, because you're not always playing with strangers. Sure, everyone is a stranger at first, but you can play with the people you like to play with. (And most people aren't jerks.) It takes time, at first, to find people you're comfortable with. And they might not play exactly the way you want to play.

But it's easy to try a group and move on, if it's not what you wanted. Or you can create your own group. The Arma 3 community is diverse, and everyone seems to recognize that. If you're not a jerk, you're welcome in most of these groups,... but there are no hard feelings if it doesn't suit you and you decide to move on.

I don't know how long this will hold my attention, but I'm certainly enjoying Arma 3 now. Currently, I play with some older gamers on Saturday and Sunday nights. I've played with some great guys in Europe, too, but it's hard to find the time for that, since their evenings are my afternoons.

But it's easy to love this game. It's complicated at first, but you don't have to know everything. I'm still very much a newbie, but you don't have to be an expert to have fun at this. As inept as I am at anything approaching a first-person shooter, this game is fun!

Note: Find more posts about computer games here.

Judgment Gay

This is progress - major progress - but note that the vote was 5 to 4 (again). This time, Anthony Kennedy sided with the four Democrats on the Court.

But note that he joined the right-wing crazies just the day before in striking down the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And he was part of that terrible majority decision in Citizens United, too. It's that close at the Supreme Court.

The far right-wing justices tend to be young, too. They'll be with us for a long time. And all it would take is just one more Republican president picking one more justice. That's how close this remains for America - not just for this particular issue, but many others. It's scary.

There was more on the Daily Show last night that was pretty good (here and here), but I did want to post the following brief video clip. This is exactly the right response to Michele Bachmann:

Who cares what Michele Bachmann thinks? Only the media.

Monday, June 24, 2013

How to deal with sexism

This post is loosely connected to my previous post, but frankly, there's just so much content available along these lines, that I couldn't fit everything into one. Indeed, I'm barely scratching the surface even now.

How do we deal with sexism? How do we deal with misogyny? Dan Cardamon, in the video above, uses humor.

If you're not familiar with 'Elevatorgate,' it was that tempest in a teapot when Rebecca Watson dared to suggest that it made her uncomfortable to be propositioned by a stranger in a hotel elevator - just the two of them, at 4 AM, in a foreign country.

Oh, 'men's rights activists' had a fit! How dare she suggest such a thing! And believe it or not, they're still upset about it. This is an actual comment on the above video:
Many men feel deeply uncomfortable and depressed if a woman even remotely suggests that they are scary or threatening. Where is your concern for the feelings of these men? Why should the feelings of the woman count more than of the rejected man?

Funny, huh? But those comments he shows in this video clip aren't nearly so funny. Yes, those are actual comments directed at Rebecca Watson - indeed, just a small part of the vicious response that she's endured since then. Incredible, isn't it? Do you wonder why so many women are afraid to speak up?

If a woman feels uncomfortable, she has the right to say that, no matter what. Maybe every woman wouldn't feel that way, I don't know. But if so,... so what? What is there in what she said to bring on such rage in men? She didn't even identify the man, let alone accuse him of being a rapist. She just suggested that men not do that kind of thing, because it makes her uncomfortable.

Was he a rapist? I have no idea. Probably not, I suppose, but I don't know. How could I? But as I said, she didn't claim that he was. She has never claimed that he was. And note that she doesn't need a reason to feel uncomfortable. However, if she did, how about this situation?

That's almost identical, a woman at a conference in a foreign country, a woman who let one of the conference people into her room to talk,... and was nearly raped by him.
Guy wants to come hang out. That’s fine by me. I don’t really have any good friends at this conference, and I’m always open to making more friends since I travel so much and it can get really lonely. I had had dinner with this guy, another speaker, and one of the conference organizers a couple times earlier in the week since I had arrived early for training. He seemed pretty cool. He wasn’t bad looking either. Why not? Guy comes up to my room. I let him in. We talk for a little bit about nothing consequential. Guy jumps on me and pins me down. At which point I think, “Gee this guy seems to have gotten the complete wrong idea about this situation.” I try to pull away and say something to affect of, “You know I really like to get to know people before I do stuff like that.” This certainly wasn’t the first time someone had tried to touch me when I wasn’t receptive. That said I’d always been able to either say “No thank you,” and or physically remove myself from the situation. ...

Perhaps I was not making myself clear, “No!” “Stop!” “I don’t want to do this!” Though the guy in question had carried on a conversation in English just fine as well as performed talks and training in English, perhaps he just couldn’t understand me when I tried to explain I’m a boring person who likes to get to know someone before intimacy. Also I like to begin with kissing and work my way up to the pants down action he was trying to initiate. Once he had my pants down and his pants down and was completely ignoring my shouting for him to stop, it suddenly became clear to me what was about to go down. If I didn’t do something I was going to be raped without protection in a foreign country. I was unsure of what legal and medical help would be available to me. I could catch a disease. I could need an abortion. Do they have the morning after pill in Poland? Do they have whatever it is they give you if you have been potentially exposed to HIV? I decided it wasn’t going to go down that way, not if I could help it.

He was holding my arms down of course, so I leaned up and bit him on the arm as hard as I could, at which point he started swearing and punched me in the face. There was a good deal of struggle, at one point I had my phone and was trying to get in touch with someone I knew at the event while not live tweeting what was going on. He got a hold of my phone and threw it across the room. I hit him in the face but all that did was piss him off more. He slammed me against the wall. I hit my head pretty hard and felt dizzy. Up until now I’d only feared for my chastity, but now I realized this could be even worse than that. He obviously had no qualms about injuring me to get what he wanted. That was about it. I had been hitting the wall with my fist so hard my knuckles were bruised the next day because I knew another speaker was in that room. If between my shouting and banging I could get his attention surely he would help me. I assume he was still at the speaker party. No help was going to come. This was going to happen. I nearly got away half a dozen times, but one time I managed to lunge up towards the table and grab hold of a coffee cup. I knew I only had one shot. So I hit him with everything I had, and I got him right in the temple. And guess what, he let me go. He keeled over in pain clutching his head swearing at me. Even in the dark I could see the blood gushing from his face.

I'm a man. Do you know how infuriating that makes me feel? Have you ever been to a conference? Have you ever had to worry about rape? Have you ever had to worry about rape anywhere? Not if you're a man, like me. Not if you've stayed out of prison, at least.

I've always gone everywhere without a care. I've been to conferences. I've felt free to drink all I wanted. (I went to one work-related conference which had a free bar - funded by commercial interests - which lasted for 48 hours straight. Anything you wanted, free, for two whole days. Yeah, that was sure professional, huh?)

I've mingled with conference organizers, speakers, and guests. I've gone to hotel rooms. I've had people come to my hotel room. I've never, ever - not once - ever worried about being raped. I'm a man. And I can't tell you how much it pisses me off that women do have to worry about things like that (as well as lesser sexual assault, and sexist behavior in general).

But if you think that pisses me off, the story gets worse:
Conference staff was originally very supportive. But then they went to hear his side of the story and they suddenly wouldn’t even look at me. I realize it’s a complicated situation, but what I hit myself in the eye? I asked an organizer point blank if he believed me, and he said he didn’t know. I don’t know what the guy’s story is, but from the police and the conference’s refusal to act, I assume it’s pretty convincing. Hotel staff pulled the security tapes. Someone I thought was a friend of mine watched them with hotel staff. The general jist I got from the interaction was because I was on the tape letting him into my room, walking in the hallway with him, etc. I must be lying. Where in any of that did I consent to unprotected sex, being hit, etc?

The interesting stuff is the reactions. The people who say things like, “This isn’t what I think of course, but I bet a lot of people don’t believe you because you flirt on Twitter,” or “Everyone saw you kiss so and so at this party, so of course no one believes you didn’t want to have sex with that guy.” The implication is I think a bit disturbing. If I pursue a relationship with one guy, I have now consented to sex with any guy? I realize the typical argument is that a girl wearing a short skirt is asking to be attacked. But this seems to go a little further than that even. Because I from time to time express myself in a provocative manner, there was no attack at all. I have consented to any sexual thing any human being wants to do to me ever. Of course reasonable people should see that this is complete nonsense. “I watched the security footage. You let him in your room. How can I believe your story?” I never said I didn’t let him in. While in hindsight this was ultimately a bad move, the real irony is the author of the quote above invited me to hang out in his room alone at an event a couple months ago and have a few drinks. I accepted and we hung out and had a great time, alone. At no point did I feel threatened. The number of times I have hung out alone with another conference speaker are too many to count. I just want to be one of the guys you know. I want to be invited into your exclusive little groups of infosec rockstardom. I want to be good enough to be friends with you guys. I want to be invited to be on panels. I want to coauthor some research. Good luck having any of that ever happen for me if I have to hide in my room alone.

Yes, I know that men can be falsely accused of rape - and certainly of attempted rape - so don't even go there. I'm pissed enough as it is, just reading this, so don't even try to make that argument. There's just no comparison with what women have to fear. And you dare criticize Rebecca Watson for being uncomfortable with your clumsy invitations?

I'm just too angry to express myself clearly, so I'll let someone else do it. This is an Australian columnist, a man who's commenting on Australian issues I know little or nothing about. (My thanks to M1nks for the link!) But he seems to be just about as angry as I am, so I'll let him express it:
I mean, what is it with you losers? Do you genuinely hate women? Or are you just too stupid to live and breed? I mean that literally. The gene pool would be better without you. Yes, Sattler, I’m looking at you. And your mate, Akerman. And that restaurant owner with the sub-moronic sense of humour. And the misogynist fools the Chief of the Army is talking to here. And that slobbering waste of human skin married to Nigella Lawson. And seemingly 95 per cent of the communters on Youtube. And the army of dickless wonders stinking up Xbox Live. And the celebrated rapists of rugby league. And that soccer coach with the delightful Dark Ages twist on marital relations. And and and …

Well, you get my point.

Or you don’t, because you are a misogynist dickless wonder who thinks the last week is all just a feminazi PC plot, or even worse just a bit of fun, or just what everyone is saying anyway. That’d be you, Piers, that last one. At least Sattler had the nads and the lack of sense to front Gillard personally and destroy himself in an explosion of shameful stupidity. Your smarmy, weasel words on the ABC’s Insiders, basically gargling and spitting up Sattler’s word vomit all over again don’t even get the grudging Jackass points that his suicidal performance demanded.

Seriously. What is up with you people?

All of you.

Do you not have wives and daughters? Do you not love them and want the best for them? ...

Because the truth is the world is not solely populated by misogynists and homophobes and embittered, deeply stupid and potentially violent males. It’s also full of calmer, gentler, more intelligent and wiser men who know better than these fools and who are perfectly capable of standing them down. Men who want better for women because so many of the people they care most about in the world are women.

Where are these blokes when a man puts his hands around a woman’s neck and starts to squeeze? Where are they when some idiot demeans and disrespects a prime minister, not because of what she’s done, but because of what she is? Where are you guys? Because if you just stepped up and said no at the very moment that it's happening, not later, but right then and there, some of this wretched dickishness might finally die out.

You know? I think I'm starting to like these Australians! How about you?

Well, if you're not there yet, this might do it. This is from the Australian Army:

We need more of that kind of plain-speaking here, from our leaders and from everyone. This is how to deal with sexism.

PS. Again, my thanks to M1nks for the link (which led to the final video, too).


I'm starting a new Internet business called KickBeginner, and I hope you'll help me get the word out.

You might have heard of the controversy at Kickstarter, where a sexual assault manual was recently funded. (Indeed, it was over-subscribed, which might tell you something about our society.)

Now, Kickstarter has apologized, with a flat-out "We were wrong" and a $25,000 donation to an anti-sexual violence organization, and they vowed this wouldn't happen again.
Third, we are prohibiting “seduction guides,” or anything similar, effective immediately. This material encourages misogynistic behavior and is inconsistent with our mission of funding creative works. These things do not belong on Kickstarter.

Suddenly, I see a business opportunity. :)  What are those people to do, now that they can't get funded on Kickstarter? Well, why not come to KickBeginner, instead?

We're not just for misogynists, either. If you can't get your racist, sexist, homophobic, or religiously bigoted project approved on Kickstarter, you're welcome here. We'll set you up with your own page on KickBeginner, where you can describe your plans in nauseating detail.

Then, people worldwide can come here and kick you in the butt. With luck, all those kicks will succeed in dislodging your head from your ass, and you can discover a new beginning - 'KickBeginner,' right? - free from all that idiocy.

Of course, there will be a small charge - I have to eat (and I have expensive tastes) - but I see this as a community service, if you'll excuse the expression. (I know that many of you are lunatics when it comes to that sort of thing, too.)

I expect this to be a benefit to you, to get kicked in the ass, a benefit to the people doing the kicking (it's cathartic, it really is), and a benefit to society in general. After all, the more people who get their head kicked out of their ass, the better we'll all be.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer sale at

(Anachronox screenshot, from GameSpot)

There's a summer sale at, and I know I shouldn't even look at these things,... but I can't resist.  500+ games at 50% off, with up to 85% off on daily deals? And their games are dirt cheap in the first place.

In their email, they helpfully noted that two games from my wishlist are on sale: Imperialism and Anachronox, both just $2.99 (half off). Now, I already own Imperialism. It's in a plastic crate,... somewhere in the basement. But sets up their versions to run on modern computers, and that convenience is certainly worth $2.99 to me.

A bigger problem is that I don't have time to play the games I've already got! On Saturday and Sunday nights, I've been playing Arma 3, and the rest of the week, I've been playing Distant Worlds: Shadows. That leaves two recent Kickstarter games, Expeditions: Conquistador and Timber and Stone, which I've hardly even touched (not to mention the many other games on my computer).

I'm behind with everything else, too. (As you can tell, I haven't been blogging much, though I've got a ton of material.) But who am I kidding? Yeah, I'll be buying those games. At $3 each, I really can't resist. :)

(Imperialism screenshot, from GamesSpot)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the corporate capture of federal courts

I wish we had a senator like this. But in Nebraska? No chance in hell!

Don't you just hate summer?

Don't you hate summer, when you can't just sit around and play computer games all day? (And blog.) Or is it just me?

Sorry about the lack of posts here, but... well, I spent most of Sunday afternoon picking strawberries. (The rest of it, I was trying to erect a barrier to keep the squirrels from my apricot trees,... which was a complete waste of time, because there are only about three apricots they haven't already destroyed, at least on my Chinese apricot.)

And yes, I should have done that Saturday, but I had other stuff that just had to be done, so I'd barely started on the strawberries when it started to rain. I continued to pick, for awhile, but it's hard enough crawling around on my hands and knees under the bird-netting without coping with rain, too.

So, anyway, I had nearly every container I owned filled with strawberries by late Sunday afternoon. I gave some to a neighbor, but most weren't in very good shape. (Early in the season, I give them away, because they're really nice, then. By now, they're much smaller and very much bug-eaten, so I keep those for myself.)

I should have picked through them Sunday night, so I could freeze them for the winter. But instead, I played Arma 3. Now, yes, I've been spending a lot of time playing this game, but only at night - and even then, only on Saturday and Sunday. Is that so bad?

Well, I guess it was that time, because by Monday, those strawberries weren't looking too great. But I still couldn't get to them immediately, because my cherries were turning red, and if I want any cherries at all, I have to keep the birds away. So I spent six hours Monday afternoon putting bird-netting on my cherry trees.

After that, I came inside and immediately started on the strawberries - the mostly rotten strawberries, by then. I spent seven hours picking through rotten strawberries, cutting off the least rotten parts of them, and freezing those. (Yum, yum - I'm sure they'll be tasty next winter.) It was 1 AM before I finished!

After a refreshing 5 hours of sleep (I had things to do), I was back outside spraying fungicide. You see, I'd discovered that the sweet cherries - on my one tree, at least - were rotting on the tree. (Maybe that's why they say sweet cherries aren't really suited for Nebraska.) I'm not sure how much good it will do to spray them now, but it can't hurt, right?

I had some errands, so I got cleaned up and left, getting back mid-afternoon,... and I just couldn't face more yard work at that point. I was tired, so I took a nap, then got up and played Distant Worlds: Shadows all night. What can I say? If I were ambitious, I'd still be working for a living. :)

At any rate, I got up and went right to work this morning. I washed a couple of loads of laundry, and while that was going on, I went back out to spray my fruit trees again (a pesticide, this time) - all before breakfast. In fact, I'm just finishing breakfast as I type this.

And now, I have to go pick strawberries again. And the lawn really needs mowing (again!). Plus, I'm behind in thinning my fruit,... and I need to get started with summer pruning sometime, too.

Don't you just hate summer?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Left behind

Sad, isn't it? Only 80% of the population, firmly in control of both of America's political parties, Christians are really suffering.

And they can't even express themselves - not on their many television stations, not on their many radio shows, not in their abundant churches, not even on the street corner, protesting gay rights at funerals - not, at least, while being immune to all criticism (except by politicians and the media, of course).

Oh, it's just so sad... :)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Mexican-American boy taunted by racists

Terrible, isn't it, how they let this little Mexican-American kid sing the National Anthem, rather than a real American, a white kid?

From TPM:
An 11-year-old boy who sang the national anthem before game three of the NBA Finals on Tuesday in San Antonio, Texas found himself on the receiving end of several racist taunts disseminated over Twitter.

After Sebastien De La Cruz performed his rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner prior to the game between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat, some Twitter users mocked him for his heritage. De La Cruz is a Mexican-American and was donning a mariachi outfit at the game.

"This lil Mexican snuck in the country like 4 hours ago now he singing the anthem," read one.

"Can't believe they had the nerve to have a beaner sing the national anthem of AMERICA #smh," read another.

De La Cruz, a San Antonio native, seemed to brush off the insults in an interview with CNN that aired Thursday.

"I think that the people who were talking bad was because of what I was wearing. And it's not my fault. It's what I love," he said.

Sure, it's Twitter. And it's a minority of complete morons, I'm sure. Still, I have to think of similar situations here in Nebraska.

We frequently have towns celebrating their ethnic heritage, usually with ethnic food, music, and costumes. One town near here, Wilber, has an annual Czech festival, for example. Of course, bigots never get angry at that. Why not?

Oh, well, it's useless arguing with lunatics, I know. And things could definitely be worse. It's hard to even imagine that kind of tragedy!

Still, you have to decide which side you're on. You either have to accept people who are different from you or hate them. Oh, you might not plan to kill any kids yourself, but that's what bigotry leads to. It's the great mass of bigots who let the real crazies do such terrible things.

So you can't just shrug it off. Racism matters. Bigotry matters. Antisemitic comments aren't comparable to the horrible things which happened to Jews in Nazi Germany, but that kind of thinking does lead to the Holocaust. Racist comments might not seem exceptional, but that kind of thinking led to lynching blacks in America.

I know a lot of people who don't make racist comments themselves, but still shrug it off - maybe laughing uncomfortably - when their friends do it. And they might find the blatant racism of the Republican base distasteful, but still vote Republican, even when the Republican Party deliberately wooed those racists with its notorious 'Southern strategy.'

America has never completely lived up to the ideals we established as a nation - certainly not when it comes to racism - but there is an 'American way.' We're a country of all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds, all sorts of different beliefs - mostly all living together in peace, all relatively united as Americans, despite our differences.

Look at Al-Qaeda for the antithesis of that,... and make your choice. Which is the best model for our country, for the world? Acceptance or bigotry? Tolerance or hatred? This isn't something to shrug off. If your friends are bigots, get new friends.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Strawberry season

Yeah, folks, I'm still alive. Just busy with strawberries.

And games, of course - Arma 3, Distant World: Shadows, Expeditions: Conquistador. And I read an 850-page book last week, while ferrying Mom around town, but I haven't had time to write a review.

But mostly, I'm swamped with yard work. I picked strawberries today until I ran out of containers to put them in, so now I'm going to watch videos while I pick through them and get them ready for the freezer.

And then back out to pick more strawberries, if I last that long. Plus, with all the rain we've been getting, the lawn needs mowing again. And the squirrels are destroying my apricot crop, so I really should do something about that. And most of my fruit needs thinning,... and spraying.

It's not all going to get done, I'll tell you that. I just got too far behind this summer. As usual. :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Bill O'Reilly appeals to younger voters

Do you think these two young Republicans might want to rethink their party affiliation after this? "Close-minded, racist, rigid, old-fashioned" - yeah, that about sums it up (although I'd add faith-based and reality-challenged).

And this line, as Cenk Uygur notes, describes the Republican Party in a nutshell: "We've become the party that will pat you on the back when you make it, but won't offer you a hand to help you get there."

Well, when you've already "made it," when you're rich, the GOP wants some of that, so they'll be your new best friend as long as you've still got money. But to help anyone who's not already rich become successful? Forget that! You should have inherited your money, as God intended.

But anyway, getting back to Bill O'Reilly, could he be any more condescending to these young Republicans? Is it because they're young? Is it because they're women? Or is it just a matter of killing the messenger? (Or just because Bill O'Reilly is a condescending POS to everyone?)

Why did Barack Obama appeal to younger voters? Oh, it must be because he was "younger and hipper" than Mitt Romney, huh? After all, young voters are so shallow, so ignorant, so "immature."

"So why should the Republican Party care about a bunch of kids who don't know anything, and they like the guy [Barack Obama] just because he's flashy?" (Note that the report said they liked the fact that Obama was trying to help.)

Heh, heh. Yeah, you're right, O'Reilly. I think the GOP should just write off anyone under 70.

Friday, June 7, 2013

In Texas, it's OK to murder a hooker who won't have sex with you

Do you think Tennessee is bad? (Sorry, Jim.) Check this out:
It’s hard to imagine, without knowing the story, how someone could shoot a woman in the back of the head and then, quite literally, get away with murder. Actually, it’s pretty hard to believe when you do know the story because that is what has just happened in Texas.

Ezekiel Gilbert hired a woman from Craigslist to be his escort and, after having spent the time he paid for in his apartment with him, she left. But they hadn’t had sex, so Gilbert wanted his money back. Instead, the woman got into her car and he shot her multiple times. She was paralyzed and ultimately died from her wounds and he was charged with the murder.

His defense said that it is perfectly legal because of the “nighttime theft” rule in Texas which states that it’s OK “to use deadly force to recover property during a nighttime theft.” Now, he’d paid the woman she claimed for the time and he claimed for the sex, so it was really a dispute over whether he was getting what he paid for. But instead of, say, suing or claiming fraud, he decided to shoot a woman with no weapons in the back because he didn’t get what he wanted from her escorting. And he got away with it.

Incredible, isn't it? He hired an 'escort.' He got an escort. What he didn't get was sex, which his 'escort' was willing to do, but wanted more money.

So he shot her in the back of the neck. He shot an unarmed woman, who was no threat to him whatsoever, multiple times in her back and neck. Yet he walks free. Heck, I'm sure Texas won't even take his gun away!

That's perfectly reasonable in Texas, apparently. After all, what's the point of having all those guns if you don't use them to settle disputes? And she was only a hooker, right? No more than a convenient target for Texas men...

Do you know what the best part of this is? (I'm using 'best' ironically, I assure you!)
Outside the courtroom, Gilbert thanked God...

Yeah, he's a Christian, of course. And 'God' thinks it's OK to shoot hookers, too. I think it's in the Bible somewhere, isn't it?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Tennessee hecklers disrupt First Amendment event

From TPM:
A public discussion held on the Muslim faith and the First Amendment in Manchester, Tennessee turned to chaos on Tuesday after several hundred people in attendance jeered and heckled a U.S. attorney and an FBI official who spoke about constitutional protections for various forms of speech.

“I came here because I wanted to learn something … but I couldn’t hear because the audience was so disrespectful,” one attendee complained to the Tenneseean. “I cried when I got here. It makes me really sad especially because these people say they’re Christians. The God I worship doesn’t teach hate.”

The event, sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council, also drew scores of protesters outside who began to yell “communist,” “socialist” and “Muslim” at law enforcement officials after the venue reached full capacity.

Of course, the god those Christians worship does teach hate. That's the thing about faith-based thinking. Since it's not about evidence, you can believe anything you want to believe. So if you hate other people, so does your 'God.'

But just think about it. This was a meeting about the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, not about Sharia law.

And did you hear the speaker in that video talking about how the American Muslim Council "continues to be a partner with us in addressing the challenges we all face in keeping our country safe..."? Yeah, it was hard to hear over the heckling. In fact, I couldn't hear the last part of his sentence at all.

Nice, isn't it? We've got American Muslims working with the FBI to defend America,... and this is the treatment they get from ignorant rednecks.

Now, I think Islam is wrong, just as I think Christianity is wrong. No religion has convinced me that its claims are true, and certainly not that faith is a reliable way to distinguish reality from delusion and wishful-thinking. But I support your right to believe, or disbelieve, whatever you want.

And that very definitely applies as much to Muslims as to everyone else.

Oh, and note that part about yelling "communist" at cops. That's rather appropriate, in a weird way, because this is just like the anti-communist hysteria of the 1950s. Haven't these lunatics learned anything since then?

But the notorious Joe McCarthy is probably still their hero, huh?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Good-bye, Michele Bachmann

OK, we can still hope. Maybe she'll run for president again in 2016? Wouldn't that be great? It would be great for political comedians, certainly.

Yeah, I mentioned this before, but I enjoyed seeing some of Michele Bachmann's 'greatest hits' again. And I thought I'd take the opportunity to post her retirement speech, too. :)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Phyllis Schlafly's advice to the GOP

Phyllis Schlafly has always been crazy, and old age certainly hasn't improved her any. But this is really something, isn't it?

There's been a lot of talk in the Republican Party about trying to appeal to Hispanics (71% of whom voted for Barack Obama in November). But Schlafly says they should forget about that and focus entirely on white voters.
"I think the propagandists are leading us down the wrong path. There is not any evidence at all that these Hispanics coming in from Mexico will vote Republican."

First, it's blatantly racist to run your political party based on race or ethnicity. (Note that Hispanic Americans aren't necessarily Mexican in origin. And, although 'race' is a very nebulous social concept, anyway, they're not necessarily non-white, either. But we'll go with Schlafly's view of 'white' here.)

So why wouldn't Hispanic Americans vote Republican? What's so different about Hispanics that they wouldn't vote like any other Americans? Indeed, from what I've heard, they tend to be socially conservative. And they tend to be Catholic (which evangelical Protestants might not like, but the Catholic Church itself very definitely favors the GOP).

So why must the Republican Party just write off Hispanic Americans? Well, why have they written off African Americans? Rather, why do more than 90% of African Americans support the Democratic Party, instead of the Republican Party? What's different about them?

What's different, in both cases, is that they're not 'white.' That's it. That's the only difference.

Note that African Americans, at least (I don't know about Hispanic Americans), used to vote Republican,... when they were allowed to vote at all. The white South was solidly Democratic in the mid-20th Century, and had been that way for more than a century. Southern white Dixiecrats were racists, so African Americans tended to support 'the party of Lincoln.'

Not surprisingly, the Republican Party lost that support when it adopted its notorious 'Southern strategy' of deliberately wooing white racists. Democrats had repudiated the racists in their own party, so Republicans eagerly snapped them up. They filled the GOP with racists, taking the entire South for themselves. Today, the South is the Republican Party base.

Politically, that was a master-stroke. Cynical, yes. Despicable, yes. But taking the South from the Democrats gave the Republican Party the power to dominate American politics in recent decades. It gave them the power to shower tax cuts and other benefits onto the wealthy (which was the whole point - obviously, establishment Republican leaders were just attempting to use those racists for their own purposes).

They lost the African American vote, true. But taking the South more than made up for that. However,... what happens when you fill your political party with racists? Well, by and large, those people don't like anyone who's not white, and that includes Hispanics. As America has continued to become more racially diverse, that's become a problem for the GOP.

Schlafly demonstrates the problem. She's a hero to the far-right Republican base, and like them, she sees no reason why real Americans should have to put up with Hispanics. Why should the Republican Party even bother with anyone who isn't white? And, like many elderly white Republicans, she doesn't seem to have a clue how racist that is.

But Hispanics do notice that. Last month, the head of "Latino outreach" for the Republican Party in Florida switched parties, because:
It doesn’t take much to see the culture of intolerance surrounding the Republican Party today. I have wondered before about the seemingly harsh undertones about immigrants and others. Look no further; a well-known organization recently confirms the intolerance of that which seems different or strange to them.

Studies geared towards making – human beings – viewed as less because of their immigrant status to outright unacceptable claims, are at the center of the immigration debate. ...

We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research. Others subscribe to motivating people to action by stating, “In California, a majority of all Hispanic births are illegitimate. That’s a lot of Democratic voters coming.” The discourse that moves the Republican Party is filled with this anti-immigrant movement and overall radicalization that is far removed from reality. Another quick example beyond the immigration debate happened during CPAC this year when a supporter shouted ““For giving him shelter and food for all those years?” while a moderator explained how Frederick Douglass had written a letter to his slave master saying that he forgave him for “all the things you did to me.” I think you get the idea.

When the political discourse resorts to intolerance and hate, we all lose in what makes America great and the progress made in society.

Although I was born an American citizen, I feel that my experience, and that of many from Puerto Rico, is intertwined with those who are referred to as illegal. My grandfather served in an all-Puerto Rican segregated Army unit, the 65th Infantry Regiment. He then helped, along my grandmother, shatter glass ceilings for Puerto Rican women raising my aunt to become the first Puerto Rican woman astronomer with a PhD in astrophysics (an IQ of a genius as far as I’m concerned). Puerto Ricans, as many other Americans still today have to face issues of discrimination in voting and civil rights.

Note that that discrimination in voting is a deliberate attempt by the Republican Party to discourage and disenfranchise Democratic-leaning constituencies, which very definitely includes anyone who isn't white.

You know, there were protests in America when my Irish Catholic ancestors starting immigrating here in large numbers. I don't know if there were similar issues when my German ancestors arrived decades later, though I wouldn't be surprised. (I know that Eastern Europeans - especially Jews, though not just them - faced a great deal of opposition.)

Certainly, my German ancestors settled together in certain areas of our country. They had German-language newspapers, German-language schools, German-language social organizations. I doubt if that made the "real" Americans of the time very happy.

But all of these groups assimilated just fine. And it's just astonishing to me that their descendants, many of them, are so viciously opposed to immigrants now. Well, Hispanics - 'those people' - are different, right? Obviously, they just want something for nothing, unlike your own dirt-poor ancestors who came here to make a new start.

Well, this is great, as far as I'm concerned. You know that the Republican Party has no intention of changing any of their policies, anyway. They're just trying to find a message appealing to Hispanic Americans. It's just PR, and they merely want to use Hispanics for their own purposes.

Indeed, with a base filled with racists, it's hard to see how the party could change much, even if it wanted to. Well, you reap what you sow.

But sure, forget about trying to appeal to Hispanic Americans. Forget about trying to appeal to African Americans. Forget about appealing to anyone who isn't white, anyone who isn't Christian, anyone who isn't straight. And forget about trying to appeal to women, too (who they're also losing, though not in such dramatic numbers).

Instead, just concentrate on your core demographic:

USA under 'seige'
(Re. Daily Kos)

Note: I would have used the following photo, but I think this guy is too young to be part of the GOP's core demographic. However, picture him at Phyllis Schlafly's age and you'd get it exactly right.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Megyn Kelly rips Erick Erickson a new one

What? Science at Fox 'News'? What's next?

OK, I've got to admire Megyn Kelly here. In many ways, she's typical of Fox - young, blonde, and beautiful (only the women, of course), and very right-wing. But she has her moments.

Remember her on election night, speaking to Karl Rove? "Is this just math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better?"

Make no mistake, she normally parrots the Fox 'News' Republican line, herself. But as I say, she has her moments. And this was definitely one of them.

Yesterday, I posted the clip of the all-male Fox panel discussing this. And Erick Erickson has blogged about it, too:
Many feminist and emo lefties have their panties in a wad over my statements in the past 24 hours about families. ...

I also noted that the left, which tells us all the time we’re just another animal in the animal kingdom, is rather anti-science when it comes to this. In many, many animal species, the male and female of the species play complementary roles, with the male dominant in strength and protection and the female dominant in nurture. It’s the female who tames the male beast.

I have no idea what an "emo lefty" is supposed to be (neither did Kelly, apparently), and Erickson continues to demonstrate his ignorance of science every time he opens his mouth. (Yes, human beings are an animal species. No, that doesn't imply that we should model ourselves after other species, necessarily. Neither should lions try to act like rabbits, or vice versa.)

But Kelly points out scientific research which backs up her position. "Why are we supposed to take your word for it - 'Erick Erickson's science' - instead all of these experts?" And then she points out the similarity to complaints about interracial marriage decades ago, ending with a nod to President Obama.

Is this still Fox 'News,' or have we gone into some parallel dimension here?

Of course, I don't expect Megyn Kelly to stray far from the party line in most cases. She's clearly ambitious, and she's not going to buck Rupert Murdoch or Roger Ailes, so I suspect that this little controversy is just a way to promote the Megyn Kelly brand. And note that it won't do Fox 'News' any harm, either (more on that below).

Maybe that's cynical, but I'm not about to overlook the rest of Kelly's career at Fox. I've posted clips of her before that are far less flattering than this one! Still, I must give credit where credit is due.

And I absolutely love any civil war among right-wing extremists:

Bryan Fischer: "And I want to tell you,... you talk about a feminist on steroids, that's Megyn Kelly. She was hot!" (I don't think he understands what that means, these days.) "And I like Megyn Kelly, but she is a feminist to the core, she was resentful, she was angry, she was bitter, she was hostile, she was aggressive to these poor guys..."

Yeah, "these poor guys" who are supposed to be dominant, huh? And now they're crying because Megyn Kelly was too "aggressive." Wahhh!

That's hilarious, don't you think? I feel the same way when I hear those so-called 'men's rights activists' whining about women. But,... but we're supposed to be dominant! It's just not fair. Why won't you let us be dominant? Pretty please?

But note how Fischer ends this: "I mean, I like Fox News. And they're better than anything else that's out there in terms of cable news and mainstream media, but... you certainly can't count on Megyn Kelly to defend a biblical view of roles in the home."

I called this a civil war, but it's not, not really. Fox 'News' may not be crazy enough for the craziest people on the right (and yes, no matter how crazy you get, there are people even crazier), but that's all they've got. They're not going to abandon Fox over this.

And what about Fox? They're in this to make money. Sure, they push a right-wing agenda, but money trumps everything else. (And remember, the Republican Party's 'Southern strategy' itself was designed not to defend 'biblical views,' but to pass tax cuts for the rich.) And their audience is dying off.

Fischer's bunch of elderly white religious nuts aren't a growth industry for Fox. (Even right-wingers, most of them, have no use for the "biblical view of roles in the home," not these days.) They're useful, sure, but Fox isn't going to worry much about them. Or about Erick Erickson, either. Megyn Kelly, on the other hand, is likely to attract viewers - even younger viewers.

She's not going to turn liberal. There's no chance of that. But it's likely to help her and Fox 'News' both if she stands out from all the other young blonde women Fox likes to hire. And pushing back, a bit, against the likes of Karl Rove (now that he's no longer the hero of the GOP), Erick Erickson, and Lou Dobbs isn't going to harm her a bit.

Or harm Fox 'News,' either. If I were really cynical, I'd suspect that Roger Ailes put her up to this. Ailes isn't going to let their demographic die off. He got rid of Glenn Beck, when Beck ceased to be a moneymaker, and he got rid of Sarah Palin, too, for the same reason.

Fox is going to stay closely tied to the Republican Party, of course, no doubt about that. But, unlike the GOP, Fox won't be resistant to change, not if their profits are at stake. And promoting younger, hotter people - especially women (for any number of different reasons) - is likely to be a big part of their strategy going forward.

I made fun of Fox 'News' for their all-male panel discussing women's issues, but that's an image problem, and Fox is very good at fixing such things. Don't expect any substantive changes, because that's not going to happen. But image? They tend to be very good at the superficial.

Remember, this is the same 'news network' that calls itself 'fair and balanced'!

The falling problem

Saturday, June 1, 2013

All-male Fox panel laments female breadwinners

Funny, isn't it? Four right-wing men complaining that women are starting to make more money than men, starting to be the breadwinners in their family? Yes, we must be "watching society dissolve around us," huh? How scary!

Can you get any more typically right-wing? Note that Fox 'News' could have found women who agreed with this. Heck, they've got lots of right-wing women available at Fox. But apparently, it just never occurred to them.

They use women for show, just like they use right-wing Hispanics and African Americans. But the idea that women might have a place in a conversation about women's issues? They're just as clueless about that as House Republicans were when they convened an all-male panel to discuss contraception.

And speaking of "typical," how about Erik Erickson's grasp of science? Now, that's hilarious, isn't it? "I'm so used to liberals telling conservatives that they're anti-science, but ... when you look at biology, when you look at the natural world, the roles of a male and female in society, and the other animals, the male typically is the dominant role..."

If you know anything about biology, it should be that other species are not necessarily a role-model for human beings. Yes, we're related to other species, but that doesn't mean you should model your life on how rabbits live, or aardvarks, or even lions.

In fact, I suspect that Erickson would be the first to abhor living in a matriarchal society like elephants, for example, do. So yes, he's not just anti-science, but absolutely clueless about it, too.

But OK, if you want to bring science into it, is it really bad for kids to have a mom as the primary breadwinner in the family? They all declare that as fact, but they present absolutely no research backing up their claim. Did they just pull that out of the same orifice where Fox News gets most of its 'facts'?

Obviously, I don't expect the 'fair and balanced' network to be fair and balanced, but it is pretty funny to see four men complaining about a gender-related issue, isn't it?

Note: My thanks to Ann James for the link - and the encouragement. :)

Five stupid things about near-death experiences

I don't have much to say about this one, except that he's absolutely right. If you think that near-death experiences mean anything... supernatural, you haven't been paying attention to reality.

And I agree with him about dreams, too - pleasant dreams, at least. I dream about my dad sometimes, and I'm usually very happy to do so. After all, I'll never see him again. And although he's not really there, in my dreams, it's good to feel that he is, for a little while.

Dang! Going to Hell after all...

When I blogged about this last week, I thought it would be funny to see how right-wing Protestants reacted. Instead, I should have anticipated a backlash from within the Catholic Church itself, huh?

Now, the Pope is supposed to be infallible when it comes to church doctrine, right? So how can some lowly reverend - "Vatican spokesman" or not - contradict him?

And that's quite a rollback, too! If you read that statement, it seems to claim that no one but Catholics - not even members of other Christian denominations - will get to Heaven. I guess Hell is going to be pretty crowded, huh?

But see, this is why the Catholic Church had such a pedophile scandal, too. The big problem (for them) wasn't so much the pedophile priests, but the fact that they tried to cover it up. Instead of protecting children, they moved those priests to unsuspecting parishes where they could find fresh victims.

That's because their primary goal was not to protect children, but to protect the church from scandal. The church itself, the institution, is far more important to the celibate old men who run the Catholic Church than anything else - more important than their parishioners, more important than children, more important even than their god. It's everything to them, because they've given up everything for it.

So when the Pope implied that people don't really need the Catholic Church, that probably set off alarm bells throughout the organization. Pope or not, that couldn't be allowed to stand.