Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Scathing Atheist: is it fear of death?

Like all Scathing Atheist podcasts, this isn't safe for work. Well, depending on where you work, I suppose...

But it's an interesting question. Is it fear of death that causes otherwise intelligent people to cling to ancient myths? Or is it the narrative?
You're confronted with two worldviews. In one, you're a chemical anomaly that occupies an insignificant portion of a cosmic pebble for an insignificant fraction of time. You're going to spend that time engaged in activities that have no cosmic significance. ...

And then along comes this competing narrative. In this one, sure, you still have to do mundane shit to comport with your secret identity, but even when it seems to the casual observer like you're just looking for a parking space, you're really communing with the divine. Right, you spend your days playing a critical role in the cosmic battle between good and evil. ...

It may look like you're singing a hymn. But when you strip away the mortal facade, you're battling demons! You're locked in combat with the Devil himself, warring alongside God in the only battle that's ever mattered. Now, even an atheist has to admit that's more appealing than pond scum that learned to wipe, isn't it?

As I say, it's an interesting question. Of course, religion existed long before they invented Heaven. And it existed before human beings imagined some cosmic significance to their everyday lives. At least, not every early religion included that feature. But back then, we knew almost nothing about how the world worked.

Primitive myths probably weren't so primitive when they were invented. They were serious attempts to explain reality (combined with entertainment and the desire to enhance their political, social, and economic status, of course).

But they are primitive today. They're so primitive that apologists have to jump through hoops to try to rationalize away the problems with that. They're so primitive that reading the Bible - actually reading it, rather than having portions of it spoon-fed to you - is a good way create another atheist.

I suspect that there are lots of reasons why people cling to whatever religion they were taught children, but this is probably an important one. We love a good narrative, don't we? Especially when we get to play a starring role in it?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

A Really Bad Day in Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead

Yeah, these screenshots don't do the game justice. Sorry, but I didn't take any screenshots while I was playing, because I didn't know I was going to post this.

I haven't been blogging about games or books lately, although I've still been reading and gaming just as much as ever (if not more so). But I'm sick to death of politics, after what bigots and idiots (and bigoted idiots) did to our country last week, and I thought I'd post my first day of a new play of Cataclysm: Dark Days Ahead.

I've blogged about this game many times before. It's one of my all-time favorite games - which is really something, given that it's free, developed entirely by volunteers. Note that I'm playing 0.C Cooper, which is still the latest stable  (i.e. non-experimental) version of the game. But it has tons of content.

Cataclysm is a turn-based zombie-survival game. I set the options to my own preferences (no joke monsters, no skill rust, no NPC's - which tend to be annoying as hell - and extra character points), then usually pick the hardest starting scenario in the game.

Ironically, if I survive, that makes my character even more powerful. But I don't play long enough for that to matter much. I like the early game the best, when I'm struggling to survive. When survival seems assured, I stop playing or start a new character. But hey, those are just my own preferences. They don't have to be yours.

When the day began, I was drunk to the point of incapacitation, depressed, dying of an infection, and sick with the flu. I was naked, wearing only a wet towel, inside a city infested with the undead. And the house was on fire.

There was actually a zombie in the room with me, only a couple of steps away. [That's a first for me. I've never started this scenario with a zombie in the same room!] The door was only a couple of steps to my north, but my afflictions and the pain I was suffering had slowed my movements drastically. I would have died in the next few minutes, but for a chair which slowed the zombie just enough that I could get through that door and close it behind me.

[The hardest part of this "Really Bad Day" start is how slow you are. Until you heal up, you can't outrun anything (and you certainly can't out-fight anything, even if you weren't naked and completely unarmed). Luckily, zombies are mindless. They'll walk into lava if it's on a direct path to you. In this case, the lucky placement of that chair made the difference - and only just barely, even then - between death and at least a few more minutes of life.]

Zombies can break down doors, but it takes awhile. With the house on fire, the roof would collapse before that would happen. And speaking of which, I needed to get out of that house ASAP. The fire had started in the wall to my left, that same wall I'd just come through. Unfortunately, that was the same direction I needed to go.

I found myself in a large room - a combination living room, dining room, and kitchen - and there was no possible exit to the east. There were bedrooms to the north, but I could hear zombies behind the doors in that direction. So that left only west, through the smoke, as a possible escape route.

Luckily, the main door to the house was in that direction. However, I could see a second fire burning in the northwest corner of the living room. I had to get out fast, before the roof caved in. There was just no time for anything else.

So I plunged into the smoke, taking further damage (thus, slowing me down even more) and increasing my coughing. Admittedly, at this point, there was enough noise from the burning house that a little coughing wouldn't make much difference. But it would make it just that much harder to hide, assuming that I managed to escape at all.

When I opened the door and stepped outside, I ended up on a little patio at the northwest corner of the house, which was itself at the northwest corner of town. Walls on the south and east sheltered me from sight, and there wasn't anything but an empty field in view.

Of course, it was snowing, and I was naked, but you can't have everything, right?

Map: I started in a house in the northwest of that north town, then entered the two houses just north of that. Once I broke contact, I looped around counter-clockwise, west of that tiny subway station town, then southeast to the town with an office tower (T), ending up in a house at the northeast side of that south town, south of the mansion (M), west of the prison in the forest.

I walked west along that wall until I could see around the corner to my left. There was a pack of wolves to my southwest - and zombies closer yet (apparently drawn to the noise of the burning house). One of the zombies was huge, and another was... well, I don't know what it was. It was humanoid, but snow-white in color and with no eyes or nose, just a perfectly round mouth in a blank face.

[Note that, as many times as I've played Cataclysm, that's a monster I've only ever seen once before - and I avoided it then, too. So all I knew is that it was very, very scary-looking.]

Clearly, I couldn't go west. Maybe the wolves and the zombies and that... weird-looking horror would all fight among themselves, but I couldn't risk it, not as slow as I was moving! So I backed up, then moved north along the wall there, staying as close as the smoke would let me get.

There were zombies nearby to the east, and since I wasn't able to hug the wall and peer around it, they quickly spotted me. A grabber zombie, with long arms, was the closest, but there was a van in the street just a few steps to my north, and it wasn't smart enough to go around the van to get at me.

But when I went along the van to the north, with the grabber zombie mindlessly ripping apart the vehicle in a frenzied rage to get at me, I discovered another zombie, which shrieked loudly when it saw me, coming from the northeast. I don't know if that one had a few brain cells left, or not, but it came around the van to attack me. So I just entered the side door of the van and escaped out the back, still heading north.

The shrieker zombie saw me, but I went through a car the same way I'd gone through the van [and out the trunk, somehow], which put me just a few steps from the southwest corner of another house.

The door was to the east, but it was almost certainly locked. And there were more zombies in that direction, anyway. So I stumbled my way to the nearest window and smashed it with my bare hands. Then I leaped through the broken glass, cutting myself on the sharp edges, just ahead of that shrieker zombie, which had been delayed - but not very long - by my previous tactics.

That window wouldn't delay it very long, either - not even long enough for me to pick up a piece of the broken window to use as a weapon. But there was a bedroom door to my north, and I was able to make it there and shut the door behind me.

Luckily, there weren't any zombies inside, but there wasn't anything useful, either. Another door to the east led to a hallway, and I checked the rooms which led off from that: another bedroom, a kitchen, and a pantry. But I couldn't find any clothes or medicine. (I was hoping for a well-stocked bathroom medicine chest, but the bathroom wasn't in this part of the house.)

Before leaving, I quickly drank a coke and ate a cheeseburger I found in the kitchen. That was the only way I could carry anything, except in my hands (which I needed for smashing windows). But there was another house very, very close to the east of this one - close enough that I could probably cross the gap without anything seeing me. Things were looking up!

Of course, I was still naked (and drunk, depressed, infected, and sick), and it was still snowing. But it's funny how adrenaline and the prospect of being eaten alive can take your mind off the inconsequentials. :)

This time, I smashed a window on the north side of the house. (I was on the edge of town, so nothing but empty fields were in view in that direction.) I entered into a bedroom, and although I could hear zombies in the south part of the house, the bedroom door was closed.

There was another bedroom to the east, and I finally found some clothes there: winter boots and gloves, a hoodie, and a raincoat that actually fit. (That last was very welcome. It was early spring, and I knew that the snow would turn to rain as the day went on. Nothing like being wet to put the capper on a really bad day...)

OK, I was still naked below the waist. And if you want to talk shrinkage, try being freezing cold, sick, and seriously injured, while being chased by zombies. Luckily, there wasn't anyone to see my embarrassment. (I don't think the zombies cared, one way or the other.)

After that, I snuck back out the window and headed north, only to discover a giant, pink crab-like monster fighting a zombie dressed in tattered military gear. I didn't wait to see how that turned out (though the zombie was clearly out-classed), so I turned around and ran - or hobbled, really - west. There was a science lab and a hazardous waste sarcophagus to the north, but neither would have done me any good, even if I could have gotten to them.

So I went west, into the open field, then south when I was far enough outside of town. After awhile, I came back east to loot a house on the outskirts - and finally found a pair of pants! - but there wasn't much else inside, not even enough to fill up the pockets of my hoodie.

There were a bunch of non-animate dead bodies outside the house - they looked like scientists - and some weird blob-like creatures. There were lots of zombies further east and southeast, so I turned around and headed west again. I had to skirt a large hotel and a megastore that were absolutely packed with zombies, and then squeeze between a couple of slime pits filled with more of those weird blob-creatures.

But eventually, I found a gas station, where I could grab some snacks. I ate what I could, since I couldn't carry very much, but it was very close to the forest, and I had to sneak out the back to avoid a bear which had become enraged.

As it turned out, there were lots and lots of bears around - and moose, too. There was only one direction I could go - southeast - and even that was quite difficult. In the distance, directly to my east, there was a subway stop, surrounded by a few buildings, but I couldn't even get close to it. Face it, I couldn't have outrun a bear or a moose even if I'd been healthy. As it was, I was just very, very glad to avoid their attention.

The next day, I moved into this mansion.

Eventually, I came upon another town that was directly south of the first one. I got inside a house on the northwest side of town and found a few more clothes (it was still very cold outside), but then a bunch of zombies spotted me through the window.

I couldn't outrun them, but I had a head start, so I jumped out a south window, then ran around to the back and entered the house again from the west (where I'd initially smashed a window to get inside). I closed an interior door behind me and slipped out a north window, leaving the zombies happily smashing their way through the house.

Luckily, zombies are mindless. If you use your brain - and you're not surprised in the middle of nowhere, without many options - you can usually confuse them and lose them. Of course, in town, there are a lot of zombies, so you might just run from one bunch of mindless predators to another.

Again, I had only one direction I could go - this time, north. So I skirted the north side of town (too many zombies to loot any of the buildings there) and ended up in a house on the northeast corner, with a mansion off to my north and a prison to the east.

This time, nothing spotted me, and I was able to close the drapes on every window. Better yet, I found a well-equipped first aid kit in the bathroom, so I was able to treat my infected wound. [The infection is fatal if left untreated for too long.]  It was mid-afternoon, so I'd sobered up by then, too.

But I was still sick with the flu (although I'd found some cough medicine, at least), and I had nothing to kill the pain, not even aspirin. I hadn't found a knife or a backpack or a flashlight. I'd picked up a rock, which I wielded as my only weapon. Not that I was in any shape for a fight, anyway.

Still, I'd found a few snacks and a bottle of lemonade. And nothing was trying to eat me right this minute. There were even a few magazines inside - Cosmopolitan and Sports Afield, to be precise. But it was pouring rain and too dark to read, and when I tried out the bed, I couldn't sleep either.

So I explored a couple of nearby homes and found a backpack! Finally, I could carry stuff. I didn't find much else, but I made a crude knife out of a stick, a sharp stone, and a piece of string (not for fighting, but for crafting).

Finally, I went back and tried to sleep again, but I was too sick. I kept throwing up, which just made me hungry and thirsty again. When it got dark, I cleared out a nearby grocery store, finding a shopping cart with wobbly wheels to carry everything. Still no medicine, unfortunately.

I tried exploring a couple more houses, too, and I almost died stumbling into a dark basement filled with zombies (still no flashlight, either). Luckily, the zombies weren't smart enough to do anything but stumble around in the dark themselves, and they made enough noise to mask my own movements. So I escaped with deep scratches and torn clothes.

I headed back to the house I'd found (still zombie-free) and tried to sleep again. After a few tries, and numerous fits of vomiting, I finally got to sleep, and when I woke in the morning, I was no longer sick. I'd survived one really bad day in the zombie apocalypse.

Note: I'm not sure if I'll continue with this or not, but the rest of my game-related posts can be found here.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Scathing Atheist: President Trump

"Apparently, the majority of voters don't care what's true."

Amen! I don't even want to think about the election. I'm still so disgusted with my country, so disgusted with my species, that I don't think I'll ever regain the relative optimism I once had.

I never thought we'd be this fucking screwed up! Never in my life did I imagine that America would be this ignorant, this gullible, and this dumb. I've never expected perfection, but I certainly expected better than this!

But I was wrong.

Anyway, I sure as hell don't feel like picking at this bleeding scab anymore. But this expresses what I feel quite well, so I thought I'd post it. (He's actually more optimistic than I am. But then, at my age, I won't live to see a sane Supreme Court again.)

Friday, November 11, 2016

I'm ashamed of my country

I'm still in shock after the election Tuesday. I've been pinching myself black and blue, but I can't seem to wake up from this nightmare.

But no, I can't joke about this. For the first time in my life, I'm ashamed to be an American. I am deeply, deeply ashamed of America, and I don't see how I'll ever again think of America the way I used to. I don't see how I'll recover from this.

Even worse, I don't see how we'll recover from this.

In 1972, at the height of the Vietnam War, I visited the Anne Frank house in Amsterdam. When I came downstairs afterwards, the lower floor of the museum was covered with displays comparing America - specifically, Richard Nixon's carpet bombing of Cambodia - with Nazi Germany.

That was definitely a surreal experience! But I wasn't ashamed of my country. I opposed Nixon. I was one of the protestors wearing black arm bands when Nixon came to Lincoln in 1971.

(We weren't very sophisticated back then. Everyone wearing a black arm band was directed to seats as far from the Coliseum stage as possible, while Nixon's political operatives chose his enthusiastic fans to sit in front of the cameras.)

When the George W. Bush administration proved to be torturing prisoners of war, I was shocked, horrified, and very, very angry. But I wasn't ashamed of my country. I was embarrassed, yes. But when individual Americans went bad, when our government did something even that profoundly evil, that wasn't America. I knew we were better than that.

Well, I was wrong. On Tuesday, we elected a man who not only promises to start torturing prisoners again, he brags about how he's going to do much worse kinds of torture. And note that this is the same man who said that we should kill the families of terrorists. (Yeah, that would really dissuade you from terrorism, if they murdered your family, huh?)

We are a nation of immigrants who elected a man who deliberately incites anger, suspicion, and hysterical fear of immigrants. (His own wife is an immigrant - two of his three wives, in fact. Trump's own mother was an immigrant, and all four of his grandparents were born in Europe. But they weren't brown people, I guess...)

We are a nation founded on the revolutionary idea of freedom of religion and the strict separation between church and state who elected a man who has proposed a religious litmus test for immigrants and the profiling of American citizens on the basis of their religion. How profoundly un-American!

But that's unconstitutional, you say? Who says? The Supreme Court decides what's constitutional or not, and the Republican Party is already 'saving' a Supreme Court pick for Donald Trump. (That isn't the only way they've been destroying America's centuries-long system of government, either. Far from it!)

In addition, Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 years old. The far-right Republican justices are all only in their 60's, while Stephen Breyer is 78 and Anthony Kennedy, a Republican who has been sane occasionally, is 80.

That's not a coincidence. Recent Republican presidents have made a point of choosing very young justices, so that they can cause damage to America for generations.

Remember, it was the five Republicans on the court, opposed by the four Democrats, who opened up our political system to the highest bidder. It was the five Republicans on the court, opposed by the four Democrats, who gutted the Voting Rights Act, too. This election means that the Supreme Court is lost to sanity for the rest of my life, certainly.

It's done. I'll never live to see a sane Supreme Court again. Voter suppression? We haven't seen anything yet. Legalized bribery of our politicians? Well, it's hard to see how that can get any worse, but it's certainly not going to get any better.

How about state-supported Christian churches? Justice Clarence Thomas already argues for that, freedom of religion be damned. Freedom of speech? Trump himself wants to revise libel laws so that he can punish anyone who criticizes him. How bad can it get? I guess we'll see.

Is this the beginning of the end for America? No, it's not that. The beginning of the end actually started 40-50 years ago, when the Republican Party first adopted its "Southern strategy" of deliberately wooing white racists. At the time, Republicans were no more racist, on average, than Democrats - just the reverse, probably.

But after the Democratic Party stood up for what was right, Republican politicians were willing to do what was wrong, but politically advantageous. (They still are.) They were willing to use racism, and it worked remarkably well. It worked too well, in fact. It worked so well that they kept using it, and that has drastically changed the Republican Party itself.

During the Reagan years, Republican political operative Lee Atwater figured out how to describe economics in racial terms, thus getting white working class voters to support tax cuts for the rich and otherwise vote against their own best interests, by using racism.

Later, he explained how it worked:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”

And it did work. It worked great, so the Republican Party kept using it. What do we hear just all the time from the right-wing? That black people vote Democratic because the Democratic Party takes your tax dollars and bribes them with free stuff. How racist is that?

And yeah, the fact that the Republican Party has deliberately used racism for political advantage for decades now couldn't have anything to do with black people switching political parties, right? LOL

Not surprisingly, racists tend to be gullible cowards and have other bad qualities, too. So the Republican Party started taking advantage of that as well, pushing fear and hatred while using of sexism, religious bigotry, and xenophobia. The Republican Party is faith-based and anti-science for the same reason.

Note that the GOP is anti-abortion because of racism. The religious right became politically active not because of abortion, which they didn't care about, but because they wanted tax breaks for their racially segregated schools. They adopted the issue of abortion because it proved to be more popular, politically.

Whatever works, right? That has been the motto of the Republican Party for the past half-century. Whatever it does to America, if it helps elect Republicans, they're going to do it. And it works. It keeps working!

When our first black president was elected - before he'd even taken office - Republican leaders in Congress met and agreed to do nothing he wanted, no matter what it was. Even when he adopted the Republican health care plan, they instantly turned against it. Their own plan!

This was at a time when America was fighting in two wars - unnecessary wars, started by the Republicans (one against a completely innocent country) - and while George W. Bush's second economic collapse, the worst collapse since the Great Depression, still looked to have no bottom. Republican leaders didn't care about that. They wanted America to suffer, because they figured that would help them politically.

And we rewarded them for that. Oh, they didn't regain the presidency in 2012. It didn't work as well as they'd hoped. But they did very, very well in 2010 and 2014, and that encouraged them to keep doing it. Heck, that let them keep doing it. We could have stopped this at any time, but we didn't.

Let me repeat that: We could have stopped this at any time. If racism, sexism, and xenophobia had stopped working for them, the Republican Party would have stopped using this political tactic. We let this happen to us.

Barack Obama stopped the Bush collapse in its tracks, and he got our economy growing again, but he received no credit for it. President Obama saved the American auto industry, but he got no credit for that. Heck, he even killed Osama bin Laden - you know, the guy who actually attacked us on 9/11 - after the Republicans had given up even trying, but he got no credit for that, either - not in the face of relentless criticism, stonewalling, and racist innuendo from the GOP.

And, of course, they've used that same strategy against Hillary Clinton (not explicitly racist, but that's still a part of it) with their non-stop lies for the past twenty years or more.

We let this happen. Oh, sure, I've opposed it, to the extent that I could. I've seen it happen my entire life, and I've fought it. Other people - lots more influential than me - have, too. But it continued to work. The Republican Party's Southern strategy, expanded and enlarged and buffed to a brilliant shine, is still working.

Hell, Vladimir Putin, the Russian dictator, interfered in our presidential election, and we gave him everything he wanted. The Republican Party gave him everything he wanted! Why? Well, if you're willing to use racism for political advantage, what won't you use?

And we rewarded them for that. We pretended that Hillary's emails were important, because Republican Party pundits, politicians, and political operatives repeated that lie over and over again. And we were stupid enough to believe it.

George W. Bush was the worst president in U.S. history - an absolute disaster for our country in every way imaginable. But eight years later, after absolutely nothing they claimed about Barack Obama has come true, we've just handed control of all three branches of the U.S. government back to a Republican Party which has gotten even crazier and crazier since then.

Honestly, I'm as depressed as I've ever been in my entire life. I'm sick to my stomach over this. I can barely even stand to think about it. This is the first day I've been able to blog about it, and I don't know if I can continue after this.

I'm ashamed to be an American. It's not as though I ever really bought into that "American exceptionalism" bullshit, but I certainly thought we were better than this.

But I was wrong. I admit it.

And now we're facing a worldwide - a species-wide - disaster while America will be led by a man who called global warming a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. We're facing a future with a crazy, dumb, and hopelessly ignorant narcissist in control of our entire nuclear stockpile.

And we've shown the Republican Party - again - that racism works, that bigotry works, that pushing fear and hatred on gullible, ignorant, cowardly Americans works.

Do you really think that they'll stop now? Remember, we could have stopped this at any time in the past 40 years or so. But we didn't. We let it work. We let it keep working. So why won't they keep using it?

Despite the close polls, I was relatively optimistic before the election. I remained confident in America. I knew that racism had worked very, very well for the GOP - for decades - but I was convinced that this year would be the tipping point. I knew that we were better than that.

Well, again, I was wrong. Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but enough people voted for Trump, threw away their vote on idiotic third-party candidates, or couldn't be bother to vote at all,... and the worst has happened. I'm ashamed of my country, to have such dumb people in it, such ignorant people, such gullible people. I'm ashamed to be an American.

And I don't see how that's going to change. Sure, there will be other elections, but the Supreme Court is lost for my lifetime, and it will be harder and harder to oust a political party which is willing to do anything for its own advantage. The Republican Party has shown that it's willing to do whatever it takes to stay in power.

That 'Southern strategy' just keeps working. It's no longer just racism, not at all. And it's certainly not restricted to the South. But it works all the better for that. Over the past half-century, the Republican Party created and nurtured a monster. We could have stopped it at any time. But we didn't. And now it's too late.

I'm ashamed to be an American.

Monday, November 7, 2016

John Oliver: multilevel marketing

Herbal supplements are a big enough scam as it is. Combine them with a pyramid scheme, and you really have something designed to separate the marks from their money, don't you think?

Inside another Trump hate rally

Josh Marshall describes another manic and febrile Trump rally:
I wasn't able to get to a computer during and after the incident last night at the Trump rally in Reno. We've got the basic news details here. Suffice it to say that we now know it was essentially a chummed up misunderstanding which escalated into a beating by a number of Trump supporters, then later physical harassment of a CNN journalist by the same group of supporters and finally the creation of a nonsensical fantasy among Trump supporters that Trump had bravely survived a mythical 'assassination attempt'.

The essential details are these. Not long after Trump claimed that a surge in Latino voting in Nevada was evidence of voter fraud, a man named Austyn Crites (later self-identified as a registered Republican who opposes Donald Trump) was in the arena, relatively near the front of the audience. There was some commotion. Trump noticed the commotion, accused Crites of "being from the Hillary Clinton campaign."

From the stage he asked Crites, "How much are you being paid? Fifteen hundred dollars?" and then called for security to "take him out."

(The idea that the Clinton campaign sends people to Trump rallies to instigate violent disruptions is an urban legend growing out of the latest James O'Keefe tape dump. There is zero evidence to support this. It is a sort of mass psychology version of projection.)

At this point Crites was apparently in the process of pulling out a sign of some sort which someone nearby thought was a gun. That person yelled "gun!" This tripped off a melee in which Trump supporters beat Crites fairly severely. Secret Service agents, seeing the melee and possibly hearing the cry of "gun", rushed Trump off the stage and took Crites into custody. ...

As I said, it was determined very quickly that nothing had happened. No attempt. No nothing. But this didn't stop the campaign from pushing out a storyline about an "assassination attempt" and a tale of Trump's bravery in immediately returning to the stage.

Next a CNN journalist went out from the press pen into the area where the incident had occurred to find out what happened. He was promptly verbally abused and physically assaulted, though seemingly to no great physical harm, mainly just shoved around.

Things got darker still when Trump arrived a short time later in Colorado. In Denver, Trump was introduced by Father Andre Y-Sebastian Mahanna, a Maronite Catholic priest who said Trump had just survived "an attempt of murder against Mr Trump."

He then blamed the press for incitement the non-existent assassination attempt.

The Trump campaign allowed this to happen and made no effort to correct the record. This was followed by another warm up speaker who joked about Clinton being a 'bitch.'

By the end of the evening, Trump was fine. Crites was released little more than an hour after the incident - another clear sign that he had never been any threat to Trump. But core Trump supporters, immune from accounts of what had happened, been reported and verified, were off and running with a new fable about how Trump survived an attempted assassination. As I saw David Frum note in passing this morning, it is amazing the degree to which abusers are able to transmute their abuse into victimization, creating a grievance perpetual production machine. This is what the Trump campaign is.

Insane, isn't it? How does this man have any chance at all of becoming President of the United States?

Why hasn't the entire Republican Party been thrown into the dust-bin of history by now? Republicans politicians are already saying that they won't confirm a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court nomination, whoever it is.

And this is after refusing to even hold hearings on President Obama's pick, with the unprecedented - and downright ludicrous - excuse that the next president should get that opportunity (only if he's a Republican, apparently).

And this is with Republicans also promising non-stop 'investigations' of Hillary Clinton's emails, just as they did with their endless Benghazi hearings, because they're fine with destroying America's system of government for political gain.

And yes, the Republican Party is very likely to hold on to the Senate - and, thanks to gerrymandering, virtually certain to continue controlling the House of Representatives - even if Hillary Clinton wins the presidency (which isn't guaranteed in itself, thanks to morons on both the right and the left).

How can this be happening in my country? Comparisons with the fascist regimes of the 1930s are not out of line here (not even when it comes to the antisemitism). Did sane Germans wonder what was happening to their country when they witnessed manic and febrile Nazi Party rallies?

We all know how that turned out.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

If Congress was your co-worker

It's not just the presidency. Voting is critical for other reasons, too.

In a democracy, we get the kind of government we (collectively) deserve. It's never going to be perfect, but it can always be better.

It can always be worse, too, if rational people don't step up to be counted.

Friday, November 4, 2016

GOP threatens to paralyze a Clinton presidency

The Republican Party just gets crazier and crazier, doesn't it? In saner times, a political party would be punished at the polls for that.

What has happened to my country?

Donald Trump: no ordinary politician

What can I say, except that I fear for my country?

Why I'm Voting for Hillary Clinton

Steve Shives is absolutely right, and although I might pick out slightly different issues, I have absolutely no problem with his overall conclusion.

Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be our next President of the United States. One or the other. That's just a fact. And if you do anything else other than vote for Clinton, you'll be helping Trump. That, too, is simply a fact.

But even if that wasn't true, I'd vote for Clinton. If any of the Republican candidates had won the nomination, I'd vote for Clinton. If any of the third-party candidates were anything but potential spoilers helping Trump, if any of them had an actual chance of winning the election, I'd vote for Clinton. There's just no question about any of that.

She probably wouldn't be my first choice, if I could pick anyone in America I wanted to be president. But that's just the thing. That's not how democracies work. You have to compromise with other people in a democracy. And that's not a bug; it's a feature.

Incidentally, here's that article at Mother Jones, along with the chart about "Who Lies More," which was developed from the fact-checking of PolitiFact:

None of us are surprised at the top liars on that list, I assume. (I only wish that Louis Gohmert, the dumbest man in Congress, had been included.)

But I have to be.... um, what's the opposite of "impressed"? ... at Michele Bachmann, who doesn't just lie the vast majority of the time, but lies at a "Pants on Fire" level of dishonesty more than one in four times she opens her mouth.

At that, she tells the truth more often than Donald Trump, apparently. Not very often, true, but he seems to find it impossible to say anything that's completely true. Of course, we already knew that, didn't we?

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal


This was today's comic from Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal.  I thought it was hilarious, so I wanted to post it, but there have been a number of great cartoons there recently.

They might not all fit as well here, but I thought I'd include a couple more. You can always click on the link to see them full-size.



Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The God Distraction: The Word of God

This is excellent, although I still miss his humorous Mr. Deity videos. But this is the fourth video (including the introduction), so far, in his "God Distraction" series. This video is complete in itself, though.

Incidentally, The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel is one of the books Steve Shives has read "from his atheist perspective" (here). I highly recommend that series, and the others he's done, too.

As for me, I'd still like to get back to reading the Bible again,... sometime. But I don't know if that's going to happen. There's just never enough time for everything, and I guess I'm not as interested in blogging as I used to be.

Black Trump supporter ejected from rally

I must admit that it's hard to imagine any black person being a Trump supporter. Or any woman. Or any human being, for that matter.

But people are strange. Some human beings do support Donald Trump, as bizarre as that seems to me.