Saturday, October 31, 2015

The story of the white guy in the photo

I remember this very well. It was a big deal in America and got a lot of press attention. But I never heard one word about Peter Norman.

Admittedly, I'm not a sports fan. Maybe this isn't news to others reading this? It's a great video, nonetheless.

Science and religion are mortal enemies

There are scientists who are religious, no doubt about it. But when working in their own field of expertise, those scientists don't consider miracles as possibly affecting their research results. They don't consider the possibility that 'God' might be placing his thumb on the scales.

By and large, they keep their religious beliefs compartmentalized. After all, if they thought that God or Satan or angels interfered in the world, how could science ever get demonstrably valid - reproducible - results?

Science is evidence-based for good reason. Religion is faith-based, which means that it's indistinguishable from delusion and wishful-thinking. Sure, some scientists are religious, but that doesn't prove that science and religion are compatible, but only that human beings aren't always rational and can sometimes hold two contradictory notions at the same time.

God: the love born of terror

A great video for Halloween, don't you think?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Worse than Benghazi

What's even worse than the Benghazi committee? The House science committee.
Last Thursday, the nation watched with a mix of amusement and horror as the House Benghazi committee spent 11 hours grilling Hillary Clinton on a bizarre farrago of issues, many of which bore only tangential connection to the Benghazi attack.

Over the past few weeks, the political narrative seems to have shifted from "Clinton in trouble" to "congressional witch hunt seeks to take down Clinton." Between McCarthy's accidental truth telling, an ex-staffer confirming the worst reports about the committee, and another House Republican conceding the obvious, it has become clear that the Benghazi committee is a thoroughly partisan political endeavor. Opinion has turned, but Republicans are trapped.

The thing is: The Benghazi committee is not even the worst committee in the House. I'd argue that the House science committee, under the chairmanship of Lamar Smith (R-TX), deserves that superlative for its open-ended, Orwellian attempts to intimidate some of the nation's leading scientists and scientific institutions.

The science committee's modus operandi is similar to the Benghazi committee's — sweeping, catchall investigations, with no specific allegations of wrongdoing or clear rationale, searching through private documents for out-of-context bits and pieces to leak to the press, hoping to gain short-term political advantage — but it stands to do more lasting long-term damage.

In both cases, the investigations have continued long after all questions have been answered. (There were half a dozen probes into Benghazi before this one.) In both cases, the chair has drifted from inquiry to inquisition. But with Benghazi, the only threat is to the reputation of Hillary Clinton, who has the resources to defend herself. With the science committee, it is working scientists being intimidated, who often do not have the resources to defend themselves, and the threat is to the integrity of the scientific process in the US. It won't take much for scientists to get the message that research into politically contested topics is more hassle than it's worth.

The article continues with plenty of examples, then concludes with this:
The science committee, Fox News, the Daily Caller, climate deniers, CEI — at this point, it's all one partisan operation, sharing information and strategies.

Republican radicalization has already laid waste to many of the written and unwritten rules that once governed American politics. The use of congressional committees as tools of partisan intimidation is only a chapter in that grim story.

But the science committee is going after individual scientists, who rarely have the resources on hand to defend themselves from unexpected political attack. It is doing so without any rationale related to the constitutional exercise of its oversight powers — not with a false rationale, but without any stated rationale, no allegations of waste, fraud, or abuse — in service of an effort to suppress inconvenient scientific results and score partisan political points against the executive branch.

The federal government is an enormous supporter of scientific research, to the country's great and enduring benefit, though that support is now under sustained attack. If such funding comes with strings, with the threat that the wrong inquiry or results could bring down a congressional inquisition, researchers are likely to shy away from controversial subjects. The effects on the US scientific community, and on America's reputation as a leader in science, could be dire, lingering on well past the 2016 election.

As if we didn't have enough to worry about, huh? But this is what happens when you put faith over reality and politics over country.

Republicans saw - and still see - racism as an opportunity to make political gains. They saw the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression (on their watch, no less) as an opportunity to make Americans so unhappy they'd vote Republican again in despair. They saw the death of four Americans in Benghazi as an opportunity to attack the likely Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

They even committed treason, attempting to sabotage America's side in the negotiations with Iran, for political advantage. There seems to be absolutely nothing Republicans won't do if they think it will benefit them politically (and that includes getting them campaign funds from wealthy individuals and corporations).

How much damage will the Republican Party do to America before conservatives come to their senses? Or will they bring America down before that happens?

PS. My thanks to Jim Harris for the link.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Benghazi hearing

Yeah, I know. I've been posting a lot of political cartoons the past couple of days. But I love 'em! And it's been awhile since I really went overboard.

Besides, there's a theme to all of these. :)

Mitt Romney takes the credit for Obamacare

I knew this would happen, eventually. I'm surprised it only took three years, though.
Mitt Romney is finally ready to take credit for Obamacare.

Speaking to the Boston Globe for their obituary of Staples founder Thomas G. Stemberg, who died Friday, the former Massachusetts praised Stemberg for his involvement in pushing “Romneycare,” which in turn, Romney said, led to Obamacare, giving “a lot of people” health coverage.

“Without Tom pushing it, I don’t think we would have had Romneycare,” Romney said. “Without Romneycare, I don’t think we would have Obamacare. So, without Tom a lot of people wouldn’t have health insurance.”

It’s hard to imagine Romney saying such a thing during the 2012 election cycle. Back then Romney was stumbling and bumbling his way to create some distance between the health care reform he championed as a governor and President Obama’s signature health care law.

The focus by conservatives on Obamacare as the leading example of everything that was wrong with Obama made for some extremely awkward moments for the eventual Republican nominee. The similarities between the Massachusetts and the federal laws even prompted one of Romney’s primary rivals to coin the term “Obamneycare.”

The next day Romney promised to repeal Obamacare if elected and vowed that on his first day in the White House, he would “grant a waiver to all 50 states from Obamacare."

Of course, the whole point of 'Obamacare' was that it was the Republican health care plan. Congressional Democrats adopted the Republican health care plan in the hope that Republicans would join them in a bipartisan effort to get health care to the American people.

Of course, what happened was that every Republican instantly turned against their own plan. But then, Republican leaders had vowed, before Barack Obama even took office, to do nothing the Democrats wanted, no matter what it was.

Note that this was while we were in the middle of two wars, not to mention right when our economy was crashing into a black hole in the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. This was when the Republican Party decided - unanimously - to put politics above the good of our country!

PS. Of course, Romney is trying to take back his comments now, after they were noticed. What else did you expect? Funny, isn't it?

GOP grumpy cat

I like this president. In fact, I wish we'd had this Obama all along, instead of the one who bent over backward trying to appease Republicans, hoping that they'd eventually value America over politics (which they never did and never would).

Hillary Clinton clearly knows better, and that's one reason why I'm still undecided about the Democratic primary. This guy puts it well:
As an active Democrat who has remained, thus far, undecided, her performance here and at the debate have gone a long way toward convincing me to support Clinton instead of Sanders; even though, politically, my ideals line up more closely with Sanders' democratic socialism than Clinton's quasi-third way centrism.

If a Democrat wins the 2016 election, her or his main job as I see it will be defending the achievements of the Obama administration, which will surely be under even more sustained attack once he leaves office. Any major expansion to that legacy will need to be incremental given a hostile, partisan Congress that, at least in the House, is pretty much "locked in" by gerrymandering until the next redistricting cycle.

In that light, I'm increasingly leaning toward Hillary, not so much based on what she believes but on her competence, both as a public official and as a politician who knows how to punch back.

Yes. In general, I prefer Bernie Sanders' policy positions, though there's not really that much difference. And neither one is going to get his or her policy positions through Congress anyway, since the House of Representatives will stay Republican. (The GOP has gerrymandered election districts, so they continue to control the House even when they badly lose the popular vote.)

Hillary Clinton is establishment, through and through. But she's smart, she's capable, and she knows politics inside and out. Plus, there's no way she'll have the early Obama's naive hope that Republicans will be anything but bitter political enemies, no matter how much their actions harm America.

She has never been more impressive than she was during the Benghazi hearing. That's the kind of president we need. Now, yes, we need a lot of other things, too - especially to get money out of politics. But Clinton is a politician. If the voters demand it, she will get on board.

Keep in mind that Republicans benefit far more than Democrats do by letting billionaires control our country. Even for selfish political reasons, Clinton would be wise to address this problem.

Also, Citizens United was decided by the five Republicans on our Supreme Court, in opposition to the four Democrats. There's no way that any Democratic president will appoint another Scalia, or Alito, or Thomas, or Roberts - or even another Kennedy - to the Supreme Court.

The makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court is probably the most important issue in 2016, and it will probably have the most important impact on money in politics (given the fact that, as I noted previously, the Republicans will continue to control the House of Representatives).

Hillary Clinton impressed me at the debate, and she really impressed me at the Benghazi hearing. And I've always had my doubts that a self-described "socialist" could get elected in America (as stupid as that prejudice might be).

I want to support whichever candidate has the best chance to win in 2016, because the alternative would be worse than George W. Bush as a disaster for America. I was never wild about Hillary Clinton - especially after the 2008 campaign - but she's been changing my mind lately.

We'll see. Nebraska won't be deciding the Democratic primary, anyway, I'm sure.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Tom Toles

Is this guy funny, or what? I was looking for a cartoon to illustrate my previous post, and I just couldn't stop browsing through Tom Toles' cartoons. Damn, they're funny! And spot on, too.

Anyway, here's a sampling from the past month or so.

The secret Benghazi conspiracy

When it comes to Benghazi, I'd say that PZ Myers has finally got to the truth here:
The true meaning is at last revealed. I watched bits and pieces of Clinton’s hearing yesterday, and it all became clear.

Years ago, undercover operatives within the Republican party exploited a tragic, deadly attack in Libya. They stirred up some of the dumbest people in the party with a story: Benghazi is in a foreign country, and everyone knows that the Secretary of State is in charge of the foreigns, and so master manipulator Hillary Clinton must have done sumfin’ to rile up the brown people. And then all the dumb people started howling “Benghazi!”, further derailing their party, and getting the people who howled loudest into prominent positions, and sucking up millions of dollars for an “investigation”.

And then they put a guy with a funny name and an even goofier haircut in charge of the whole thing, and every third-rate sour, bitter Republican they could on the committee, and they staged a show trial in which posturing clowns asked stupid questions and Hillary Clinton could demonstrate god-like patience and look like the only grown-up in Washington DC.

It was brilliant. The Republicans look like twits, while Hillary Clinton looked presidential. It was the Kennedy-Nixon debate all over again, with Clinton as the telegenic, good-looking one, and the entire Republican party looking thuggish.

I heard the siren song. I found myself thinking that maybe I should vote for Clinton, too — never mind that Sanders is closer to me politically, man, I could picture President Hillary Clinton so easily.

And in case you missed it all, here is a most accurately abbreviated transcription of the whole thing.

Make sure you check out that link to the abbreviated - very abbreviated - transcription of the ten-hour hearing.

It's paraphrased, a bit. But it's the most accurate - and entertaining - transcription I've seen yet. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fox News vs Captain America

Funny, isn't it? This is absolutely hilarious.

White supremacists as villains? How dare they? Well, I'm white, but like John Iadarola, I don't identify with white supremacists. Not even slightly. They are villains.

BTW, did you catch John's comment about "six years clean"? I nearly bust a gut when he said that (6 minutes, 11 seconds in).

George W. Bush kept us safe,... right?

As ridiculous as he is, Donald Trump is... not wrong about this. George W. Bush kept us safe... if and only if you ignore all the ways he did not keep us safe.

It wasn't just 9/11. We lost thousands of young men and women in Afghanistan and Iraq (not just soldiers, either, but civilian contractors who are conveniently left out of the statistics). How is that "safe"?

Fox 'News' is a complete joke. They're the propaganda arm of the GOP, nothing else.

Star Wars VII: The Racism Awakens

You have to laugh at this stuff, don't you? Is there any other valid response than ridicule?

It's pathetic. It's depressing. But you have to laugh.

The end of this clip was especially good, wasn't it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hypothetical heroics

There's a lot wrong with Republican thinking about 9/11, but... George W. Bush "united our country"?  No, the Democrats united our country. Democrats came together to support America at a time of crisis, rather than engage in partisan obstructionism.

Note what happened during another crisis. In early 2009, our economy was collapsing in the worst economic crash since the Great Depression (and, of course, we were still mired in two wars). A new president was coming into office at this time of potential disaster, taking over from the Republican who had led us into all of these messes.

Did Republicans come together to support America? Did they put aside partisan bickering for the good of the country? On the contrary. Republican leaders met together before Barack Obama had even taken office and agreed to do nothing the new president wanted, no matter what it might be. And they held to that.

Even when the Democrats adopted the Republican health care plan, in an attempt to be bipartisan, every Republican in Congress immediately turned against it - their own plan!

George W. Bush did not unite our country. After 9/11, it was the Democrats who united our country, by putting America above partisanship. Personally, I think they went too far at that, letting Bush get away with far too much. And maybe that was timidity, as well. I don't want to give them too much credit.

Nevertheless, we have a recent example, a clear example, from both the Democrats and the Republicans on how they responded to a crisis threatening America. The Democrats worked to unite us. The Republicans worked to divide us. And they're still doing that.

Anyway, the Nightly Show segment continues here:

I love his point about "hypothetical heroics." Any such claim should be met with complete ridicule. But note his point about blame, too.

You can't blame Barack Obama for Benghazi, where four people died, without blaming George W. Bush for 9/11, where nearly three thousand people died (let alone the Iraq War, where hundreds of thousands of people have died - including 4486 American soldiers).

Republicans want it both ways because it's entirely about politics for them.

PS. Note that Trevor Noah, on the Daily Show, had a segment about this, too:

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Planned Parenthood faces domestic terrorism

From TPM:
The president of NARAL, a prominent national abortion rights group, issued a blistering statement on Friday criticizing the press for devoting insufficient attention to a string of recent arson attacks at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. ...

Hogue’s full statement is below, courtesy of Media Matters.
Make no mistake: we are witnessing acts of domestic terrorism at health care facilities across the country, targeting women who seek medical advice and the doctors who are brave enough to counsel them--in the face of repeated, violent attacks and daily threats. But, instead of treating these incidents as the real and present danger to innocent civilians that they are, Congress is inviting anti-abortion extremists to testify at hearings, the Department of Justice has yet to announce a full investigation, and the news media remains silent. Where is the outrage?

Women can and will continue to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives, despite murders, bombings, arsons and intimidation by those who will stop at nothing to deny women legal abortion services. We have to remember that just six years ago a doctor was gunned down in the pews of his own church in the name of this extremist movement and against a backdrop of tolerance for the radical views.

The media need to report these incidents as what they are: domestic terrorism. By staying silent or failing to discuss this new wave of attacks on health clinics in the context of anti-abortion extremism, the media is giving extremists the cover to regressively and violently attack women, their access to health care, and the medical professionals who provide it. We call on the DOJ to investigate the recent arsons, showing that our legal system will not tolerate and further assault on women, clinic escorts, security personnel or medical staff, and the news media to hold the government accountable for keeping Americans safe from harm.

Why don't the media cover Christian terrorism the way they cover Islamic terrorism? Maybe it's that Islamic terrorism is both financially rewarding and politically beneficial to many Americans?

Saturday, October 17, 2015

CIA torture doctors sued

Sadly, this isn't as funny as my last post. But torture rarely is.

This still makes my blood boil - not just that my country tortured prisoners-of-war, which is bad enough, but that no one was ever held accountable. And many Americans still defend it! Oh, don't get me started...

Cenk Uygur makes a good point here - well, several good points, but one that I haven't heard much about. Our enemies used torture to make prisoners lie. That works, because you'll say anything to get torture to stop.

It's a completely different thing to expect to get the truth from torture. Did Dick Cheney not know that? From what I've heard, we tortured prisoners-of-war not to get useful intelligence from them, but to justify invading Iraq.

Certainly, we didn't get useful intelligence from them. But I'm not sure the Bush Administration got any useful lies, either. So I just don't know.

What Bernie Sanders says and Republicans hear

Funny, isn't it? One of the commenters on this video claims that Donald Trump's speeches are written by The Onion. Could be. It's hard to parody the right-wing these days, since you still end up sounding more reasonable than they do.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fox News 'expert' arrested

Surprise, surprise, huh? But at Fox 'News,' you don't have to be real. You don't have to be truthful. You don't have to know anything at all. You just have to hate Democrats and push right-wing talking points.

Fraud? All of Fox 'News' is a fraud.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Planned Parenthood, how can you be this dumb?

Jebus, I get furious with this stuff!  I'm with Cenk Uygur on this. I promise you that he's no more angry than I am that liberals never seem to learn this stuff.

How stupid can you be? You're accused of something you didn't do, so you back down and think that will placate the people who are attacking you for political reasons anyway?

I am so sick of that kind of behavior. When you give in to bullies, that just makes it more likely you'll be bullied. Stand up for yourself, for chrissake! Stand up for what you believe in!

God damn I'm sick of this kind of behavior from liberals. When are they going to learn?

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Selling America to the highest bidder

How's that for selling our country to the highest bidder? More than half of all political donations have come from 158 wealthy families. Note that there are 320 million people in America.

Is it any wonder that the rich keep getting government help to get richer, which everyone else struggles to stay afloat? This is why America has socialism for the rich and capitalism for the poor.

Thanks to the five Republicans on our Supreme Court, money is now considered "speech," which makes bribery perfectly legal. (For all of their faults, the four Democrats on the court disagreed with the Citizens United decision. Unfortunately, thanks to terrible decisions in past presidential elections, the Democrats are in the minority.)

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cataclysm: a very bad day, with zombies

Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead is a free zombie survival game, developed and maintained by volunteers. Yet it's become one of my all-time favorite games. Every year or so, I'll install the latest version and play it again. (See my previous posts here for the details.)

I've been playing it a lot in recent weeks, but I got to the point where my character didn't really need anything else to survive. By that point, he was highly skilled, with good weapons, tons of useful items, and several secure hideouts.

Note that the gameworld is procedurally generated and nearly infinite in size, and there are many, many dangerous locations, even for an advanced character. And the content is just incredibly varied. I had all of the equipment I needed, but not even close to everything the game has to offer. And after years of play, I've never even seen most of the special locations in the game.

But I had all I needed to survive, and from a role-playing perspective, I couldn't see putting myself at risk for no reason. I'm a role-player. Why would I do something like that, in a zombie apocalypse? Well, I always get this way. The early part of the game is always more fun for me.

You see, a zombie survival game is all about a desperate struggle for survival, and Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead does that perfectly. You start out with almost nothing and with few, if any, skills. With the default start, you're not immediately at risk, but you're forced to put yourself in harm's way in order to survive.

After all, you won't survive without food, clean water, warm clothing, shelter, weapons, tools, and other items. And the vast majority of those critical necessities are found in buildings, usually in towns, and that's where the zombies are. (There are other dangers elsewhere, but this is the main issue at the start of the game.)

Hunger and thirst will kill you just as surely as zombies will, if not as quickly. So you have to explore. You will not survive without taking risks. That's the brilliance of the game.

And nearly everything is useful. (I admit it, I love loot in role-playing games!) At the start of the game, in particular, you need everything. You may not be able to carry what you find - one critical necessity at the start of the game is to find items to increase your carrying capacity - but nearly everything can be used (often to craft other items).

But towns are very dangerous for a beginning character. You're a mouse in a roomful of cats. If you find a weapon, even an unskilled character can probably destroy a lone zombie (at least, if it's not one of the more dangerous types). But if you're injured, pain will slow you down. And a mouse that can't run away from cats may find himself in big trouble, especially since the house is full of cats, and if he hopes to survive at all, he can't stay away from the litter box.

Anyway, I reached the point where my survival seemed assured, unless I started exploring very dangerous places for no real reason. And that didn't sound appealing, because it didn't seem to make sense. Of course, I could build a cabin in the forest or along a river and spend my time hunting and fishing. I could even start farming.

All of those things, and more, are possible, but... just didn't appeal to me. I love the early part of the game, where survival is a desperate struggle against hunger, thirst, the elements, and pretty much everything that moves in the game. So I started over in a new world.

This time, I chose the Very Bad Day scenario, the most difficult beginning in the game. My character started out drunk "to the point of incapacitation," depressed, with an infected injury, and sick with the flu, wearing only a wet towel (the Shower Victim profession) in the middle of a city full of zombies.

Note that it's also freezing cold,... and the house is on fire.

Note that I'm no longer drunk or sick here.

I started in the living room of a house, and the fire was small. But I'd had previous experience with fires in Cataclysm! The nearest door - to the kitchen - was only two steps away. I made it through the door, but before I could even close the door behind me, the ceiling of the living room caved in. Yeah, you don't want to mess around in a house that's on fire!

At first glance, there was nothing in the kitchen, but I didn't even bother to check the cabinets. My wet towel didn't have any pockets, anyway. The door to the bedroom was nearby, so I went that way, and on my way to the north window, I found a robe.

Funny, but I don't ever remember seeing a robe in this game before that, but even after playing Cataclysm for years, I'm still finding new items. In this case, a robe was far better than a wet towel, both for warmth and because it had pockets. So I quickly slipped it on, although fire was already eating through the east wall of the room. No time for anything else, so I opened the north window and jumped out.

Most homes in this game have (open) curtains on the windows, but the curtains in this house had been closed. Thus, although I started in a town full of zombies, they couldn't see me until I left the house. They could hear the roof of the house collapsing, though, and noise will also attract them. So will scent, though I'd just taken a shower. Heh, heh. (Actually, my character had the Weak Scent trait, so I was harder to track that way.)

I needed to get to the edge of town, but being drunk, depressed, injured, cold, and sick all lowered my movement speed. Until I recovered, anything would be able to catch me. And that low movement speed - even more than my complete lack of a weapon - meant that I'd have no hope of fighting anything, either. I wasn't just a mouse in a roomful of cats, I was a slow, weak, sick mouse in a roomful of cats.

But luck was with me - remarkable luck, in fact. There weren't any zombies to the north, and only a couple of zombies even saw me before I made it to the nearest house in that direction. As slow as I was, I could smash a window and dive into the house before they got there, then close an interior door on the pursuit. (Zombies can smash through a window fairly quickly, but it takes longer to beat down a door.)

And there were useful things in that house - boots and clothing that actually fit me, for one thing. I moved through the house, looting what I could, then slipped away to a neighboring house, where I repeated my actions. Each time, when I spotted a zombie - one time, inside the very house I was looting - I was able to close a door on them and gain enough time to escape.

My luck was just unbelievably good. I made it to the north side of town without any zombies following me and with a remarkably good start on equipment - all of the clothing I needed to keep from freezing to death, plus a backpack full of food and drink. And a needle and thread, and a steak knife, and several magazines with sewing and cooking tips. (Let me tell you, sewing is a critical skill in the zombie apocalypse, and cooking is quite important, too.)

I was in a house with no zombies, on the edge of town, and I could finally relax. My infection had even healed up. Remarkable luck. Only,... I wasn't tired, so I couldn't sleep. Otherwise, I would have slept until I was sober again. And the weather had changed to thunderstorms, so it was too dark to read my magazines.

But there weren't any zombies around, that I could see, so I decided to try for the house to my east (also on the edge of town). Bad mistake! Halfway there, a moose killed me.

Moose aren't normally hostile unless you get too close to them. But this one had apparently been fighting zombies. They're big, they're strong, and they're fast. Even if I'd been healthy, I wouldn't have been able to run away from it. As it was, there was just no chance. And no chance to kill it, either, even if I'd had a better weapon. (I'd picked up a stick.) I was just dead. Game over.

Oh, well. Twice more, I tried that Very Bad Day start, with results more like what I expected. Both times, I was killed before I'd even made it to the next building. I was just too slow to get away from anything that saw me.

True, I didn't die immediately, in either start. There were wrecked cars nearby, and zombies aren't smart enough to go around obstacles, so I avoided them for awhile. But I was surrounded by zombies, and I couldn't get them all smashing into a vehicle. Not for long, at least. Not long enough to get to, and into, a house.

When I tried a fourth start, it seemed at first to be just as hopeless as the previous two. I did make it to a neighboring building, but there was just nothing there. In fact, even after the second house, I was still wearing my wet towel (and it was snowing). There was a business very close to my north, but the windows were barred, so I couldn't go that way.

I'd started right in the middle of the city, too. On the map, I could see the outskirts of town to the east and the west, but they were equidistant, with a lot of buildings in between. There were zombies on all sides of me, and no other building was even close. It really looked hopeless.

A mansion, with my stash of loot. (Note that these three screenshots are from later in the game, since I keep forgetting to take screenshots as I play.)

I wasn't willing to give up without a fight, though, so I tried to lure zombies into the house with me, then escape from a different room (closing the door behind me). That worked for a couple of the zombies, but not all of them. I was just too slow.

But I did make it to some vehicles in the street and, again, I tried to lose them that way. There were two vans (neither one drivable), but when I moved into the back of the first one, I discovered that it was a mobile meth lab - with some low-grade meth already prepared! Ah, aren't drugs great? :)

Yes, meth has dangers even when you're healthy, let alone when you're already drunk, sick, and infected. But zombies were going to eat my brain, so what did I have to lose? So I ate some and doubled my speed. (Admittedly, that was from an unusually low level, but I ended up half again as fast as I would have been fully healthy.)

Now I could run away from everything - at least, for a time. Certainly, I could make it to the next house, and then the one after that and the one after that. I didn't find much - I was still having quite poor luck in that respect - but I was alive. And I made it to the edge of town, then lost the zombies following me as I ran into the open field to the west.

I was still freezing. And as I started to come down from that meth high, I became completely exhausted. I went south to a house on the outskirts, hoping to be able to rest there. There was a zombie - a 'boomer' - inside, and I still had no weapon (or any ability to use one). But the meth hadn't completely worn off, so I was fast enough to stay away from it. I lured it outside, away from the town, and threw rocks at it until - finally - it died.

I was still drunk, still sick, and still injured (though I'd disinfected my wound), and with meth withdrawal on top of that, I thought I'd pass out before getting inside the house. Despite my exhaustion, I could only sleep for a short while before hunger woke me. I ate everything I had, tried to sleep again, woke hungry again, and explored the house for anything I could eat.

I was still exhausted when I woke the next time - again, because I was starving - but it was night. So I went across the street and looted a couple of houses for food (luckily, without encountering any monsters). I ate what I found, slept again, and the next time I woke, I was only 'very tired,' not exhausted. Of course, I was hungry again. (Mostly, that was because of meth withdrawal, I suspect. But my character also has the Heavy Eater trait, so he needs more food than most characters.)

It was still dark, and I was able to loot a grocery store this time. It was a very small grocery store - disappointingly small, in fact. But in addition to food, there was a shopping cart there, only slightly dented. So I could haul everything I looted.

I went back to bed after that - it was lucky nothing found me, especially since I'd smashed the window beside the bed in order to get inside - and slept until morning. I was sober. I was straight. I was healthy. Even my flu had gone away (and usually, flu hangs on like... well, the flu).

In effect, I was in the same situation as a normal starting character. OK, I did have a shopping cart. And a few other items, too. It wasn't that bad. But the only way I kept from freezing was by wrapping the blanket around me as I slept. And I couldn't use most of the stuff I'd looted from the grocery store, not yet. (Raw macaroni doesn't make a very good meal.)

I was still unskilled and poorly equipped. Yet, the difference was just incredible! I could move again. I could run away, if I had to. And I was on the edge of town - a very large town - so I had lots of options. Well, assuming that a moose didn't attack me, or a cougar, or wolves. But although the countryside isn't safe, it's usually a lot safer than cities.

Yesterday had been a very bad day, with zombies. Today? Well, today still had zombies, and it was still cold, and I wasn't at all prepared to take on the world,... but I was optimistic. I was sure I could survive the day, and that made it a heck of a lot better than the previous day. :)

I love this game!
PS. My other posts about Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead, and other computer games, are here.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The best 8 seconds of Bill Nye

Best of all, the whole video is only 22 seconds long. Well, it doesn't take Bill Nye long to respond to this kind of thing.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Elizabeth Warren vs the NRA

Great, isn't she? I wish she were my senator.

Of course, Congress will choose the NRA over children, every time. But it doesn't have to be this way. And I'm certainly glad that someone is still fighting back.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Mystery Faith

Interesting stuff, isn't it? I'd always just assumed there was a historical Jesus, but the more I hear of these arguments, the more I have to wonder.

Of course, it doesn't matter much to me. One human being, more or less, wouldn't be too remarkable, one way or the other. Certainly, there's no reason to believe the magic stuff, either way.

Incidentally, Richard Carrier mentioned his examples of evil done by the god of the Old Testament. If you're interested, here's the link.

Frankly, as bad as that is, it's not everything. If anything, it minimizes the evil (nothing, for example, about burning priest's daughters alive for having sex outside of marriage). I do not see how anyone can read the Old Testament and remain convinced of a loving god.

Feel safe yet?

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The cult of the 2nd Amendment

From Ed Kilgore at TPM:
Nowadays this revolutionary rationale for gun rights [that the main purpose of the Second Amendment is to keep open the possibility of revolutionary violence against the U.S. government] is becoming the rule rather than the exception for conservative politicians and advocates. Mike Huckabee, a sunny and irenic candidate for president in 2008, all but threatened revolutionary violence in his recent campaign book for the 2016 cycle, God, Guns, Grits and Gravy:
If the Founders who gave up so much to create liberty for us could see how our government has morphed into a ham-fisted, hypercontrolling “Sugar Daddy,” I believe those same patriots who launched a revolution would launch another one. Too many Americans have grown used to Big Government’s overreach. They’ve been conditioned to just bend over and take it like a prisoner [!]. But in Bubba-ville, the days of bending are just about over. People are ready to start standing up for freedom and refusing to take it anymore.

Perhaps the most surprising statement on this subject from a Republican presidential candidate was by a rare figure who dissents from the right-to-revolution talk, per this report from Sahil Kapur at TPM a few months ago:
Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz's argument that the Second Amendment provides the "ultimate check against government tyranny" is a bit too extreme for potential 2016 rival and fellow Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

"Well, we tried that once in South Carolina. I wouldn't go down that road again," Graham said, in an apparent reference to the Civil War. "I think an informed electorate is probably a better check than, you know, guns in the streets."

Graham joked about this, but liberals generally are not amused by the suggestion that “patriotic” Americans should be stockpiling guns in case “they”—it’s not clear who, of course—decide it’s time to start shooting police officers and members of the armed forces in defense of their liberties, which in some cases are perceived to be extremely broad. Indeed, a lot of Second Amendment ultras appear to think the right to revolution is entirely up to the individual revolutionary. Here’s Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, the darling of the GOP Class of 2014, talking about this contingency in 2012:
I have a beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter, and it goes with me virtually everywhere...But I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from the government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.

You can wonder, as I often do, how people like Ernst would react to such rhetoric if it were coming from a member of a black nationalist or Islamist group. But clearly, there’s no point in progressives seeking any “compromise” with them on gun issues. They can only be defeated by a true mass social movement supporting reasonable gun regulation. But it’s important to understand that according to the Cult of the Second Amendment, opponents of gun measures have every right to fire back, literally.

So who decides when a police officer needs to be shot and killed, or a president, or any other government official?

In 1776, we didn't have a democracy. No one had a democracy. Today, we do. Today, we can vote. If you lose a vote, is that when you decide that police officers should be killed? Or politicians, elected by the majority of voters, whom you dislike?

And how is this different from ISIS? What makes Christian terrorists any better than Muslim terrorists?
PS. That picture above? You've probably seen it before, I'm guessing. It was popular for awhile. But I never heard the sequel, myself. Holly Fischer, that right-wing Christian gun nut who bragged about her morals and integrity, was later found cheating on her husband.

Because nothing says "moral Christian" like adultery, right?

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Making history fit the Bible

Funny, isn't it? Of course, reality doesn't matter to the faith-based, even when it's this easily demonstrated.

Where were you when the world ended?

What were you doing September 23rd, when the world ended? Oh, you didn't notice? Me, neither. Huh! I'm not surprised I wasn't raptured, but I wonder why I didn't even notice the asteroid strike? I'm not usually that absent-minded. :)

This is why a prophet should never be too specific. Of course, it won't make the slightest bit of difference to the faith-based. Failure never does. They'll still believe what they want to believe.

Oh, and did you notice the guy with the blackboard, giggling about the end of the world? Religious nuts just can't wait until the world is destroyed. How many of them would hurry it along, if they could?