Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Worst Idea of the Year

...or maybe the decade.  Really, really, really bad idea.

 

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Go, Texas!

...which is not something I say often.  But this video, found through my friend Mark and Ed Brayton, is a clip of the TV show What Would You Do? where they hired actors to play a lesbian couple with two children and a waitress who was hassling them for being gay.  Many of the observers spoke up for the family, including one, Donovan, whose note to the family had me in tears - he is a Christian living the way I believe Jesus would have intended:

 

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New Pyramids Found?

An Egyptologist studying infra-red images from space of Egypt has found new pyramids.  Archaelogists are excited!

 

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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy Towel Day

Raise a toast

Towel_day
in loving memory of Douglas Adams:

 

 

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Culture War and the Young

Interesting Mother Jones article that confirms what I've been thinking for a while - that the culture war issues dear to the heart of the religious right, are not only not resonating with young people but are actively driving many of them away.

 

 

 

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Historian Richard Beeman on The Daily Show Responds to David Barton

Ed Bryton has provided the videos of Beeman on the Daily Show.  Beeman is a REAL constitutional scholar, as opposed to Barton, who has no degrees in history.  I don't know why but when I try to embed videos from The Daily Show parts of the code show up and it looks terrible.

 

 

 

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Monday, May 23, 2011

Ders nuttin lyke - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Humor: Satire on Academia

Fun satire, though if it were a legitimate article I wouldn't be much surprised.

 

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More Christian Nation Foolishness

Not from David Barton this time - though speaking of Barton, Jon Stewart had constitutional historian Richard Beeman on his show and they discussed what Barton had said.

Anyway, Brayton quotes the Christian Nation advocate then gives some quotes from Jefferson that are apropos.  I wish people would rermember the context that the Founding Fathers wrote from.  Yes, they were overwhelmingly from Christian backgrounds.  But they were much closer that we are to the historical period in which wars of religion wrenched Europe apart and caused havoc. More, they saw the abuses of the institutiioinal church - any institutional church, and they spoke out freqently with contempt for clerics who abused their society.  And while the 16th century was the one in which a monolithic church was broken by dissent and the creation of churches who promoted reform, it was the 18th century that began to think that governments should stand apart from any specific religion in order to provide the right that each person worship as their conscience dictated, which meant that governments should be governed by principles with a secular basis.  Madison and others listed the sources of the U.S. Constitution, and they did not list the Bible or religious principles as sources.  Government simply cannot promote a specific religion while maintaining religious freedom.  I can't see why some people refuse to see that truth.

 

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Gingrich Rises to New Level of Absurdity

That this statement could come seriously out of any campaign staggers the imagination.  If this doesn't prove that Newt suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder I don't know what does - actually, it is the rest of us who suffer from his disease.

Stephen Colbert ramped up the absurdity of it by having John Lithgow do it as a dramatic reading - superb!

 

 

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The War in Libya

I'm very very torn about the war in Libya - I feel so for those suffering under a dictator and want to see him out of power.  But it seems clear this war is illegal, and I do feel that the U.S. cannot be the world's peacekeeper, nor should we act in a way that is unconstitutional.  These things were easy for me when a President I wholly despised (George W. Bush) did them, harder now when it is a President I like far more (though in several areas have reservations about).  There were conservative constitutional scholars such as Bruce Fein who spoke out loudly against Bush's illegal and unconstitutional actions, and now there are liberals speaking out about Obama when he upholds an imperial Presidency (main one being Glenn Greenwald).  There should be more.

 

 

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Threats to Teen Who Offered to Debate Bachmann

A teenaged woman in New Jersey offered to debate Michelle Bachmann on political issues and the Constitution.  She is trying to hold Bachmann accountable for the inacurracies she spouts.  For this, she has gotten teased, threatened, and called nasty names.  Is it any wonder we can't find that many people of integrity to run for office?

 

 

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Friday, May 20, 2011

A Tribute to Courage and Non-Violence

In this op-ed from the New York Times, Bernard Lafayette remembers a moment of nonviolence and extraordinary courage.

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

NY Times on the First Book Program

...which aims to get books into the hands of low-income children.  One of the most important facts in the article: "Around the world, one thing that has been shown to be a consistently powerful predictor of academic achievement is a home library."

 

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Empathy and the Brain

Fascinating discussion of research going on to locate empathy to physical and/or emotional pain in the brain with fMRI scans.

 

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Bad Supreme Court Decision

According to Ed Brayton, a recent Supreme Court decision gives the President of the U.S. unlimited powers when state secrets are invoked.  This does sound like a bad idea and not when seems to me to be constitutional.

 

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Gallery of Bizarre Vending Machines

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Another Good Post on the Founders and Religious Freedom

Excellent post from Dave Does the Blog demolishing Bryan Fischer's arguments that the Founding Fathers meant religious freedom to only apply to Christianity.

 

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Article: 25 Ways IT will Morph in The Next 25 Years

Some of it sounds wonderful, some of it sounds scary.

 

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Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer

Sounds like this might be a must-see movie, especially since I'm so fond of Abraham Lincoln. Has anyone read the book?  Is it any good?

 

 

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Christian Historians Debunk David Barton

Barton is more influential than ever, but the more visibility he has the more credible people speak out against his distortions of history.

 

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Quote of the Day

Found through Ed Brayton:

"Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones."
-- Marcus Aurelius

 

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National Jukebox

Great historical resource from the Library of Congress.  This description is from Marylaine Block's Neat New Stuff:

"National Jukebox - Historical Recordings of the Library of Congress
http://www.loc.gov/jukebox/

Right now it includes 10,000+ recordings made by the Victor Talking Machine Company between 1901 and 1925, with the promise to add more from Victor as well as from Sony and its associated labels. Searchable. You can also browse alphabetically by genre, by playlists (early Tin Pan Alley, the Fox Trot, Sousa's band, etc.), or by composers, performers and lyricists"

 

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100 Top Journalism Pieces for 2010

Ok, I haven't read any of them yet, but plan to go back and do so.

 

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Robert Reich on the Brewing Battle in the GOP

Interesting analysis of the potential fight between the Tea Party wing and the Wall Street wing.  What this means for the 2912 election is anyone's guess.

 

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Torture Argument Again

It doesn't work.  And if it does occasionally work, it doesn't matter - it violates ethics and law.

 

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The Experience of Spirituality

This post from Gus diZerega is a beautiful expression of what Pagan spirituality feels like.

 

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And One More Thought on Abortion

If you don't want the government to fund it - and it doesn't now - then allow me to opt out of funding unnecessary wars.

 

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Anti-abortion Measures Flood State Legislatures

This flood of measures causes me great concern.  I know abortion is a really hot button issue.  I wish it never happened.  But for those who will choose it, I want it to be safe and legal.  I also believe that the vote for Republicans in 2010 was primarily a response to economic issues, and that the vast amount of social issue legislation happening now is not what the voters were looking for.

 

 

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Toilet Paper: The Great Debate

See here for infographic on over or under.  Part of the reason I'm so amused is that here at the Georgia Tech Library we produce a monthly newsletter posted in the restrooms called The T-Paper.

 

 

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David Brooks on What Government Does

I don't always agree with Brooks, of course, but this is an excellent picture of what one government department is doing to try and address a significant problem.

 

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Monday, May 9, 2011

Rating the Pundits

Ed Brayton in this post reports on a study of which pundits on the TV news shows scored the best at predicting economic, social and political trends.  Liberal Paul Krugman ranked near the top, as did conservative David Brooks.

 

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Paul Krugman on Who to Blame

There's plenty of blame to go around in the U.S. and Europe for the recent financial crisis, but a lot of people who were and still are at the top of the influence machine should be taking a lot of the blame.  Instead, their bad advice is still being listened to.

 

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Sunday, May 8, 2011

Book Review: Wise Man's Fear

Title The Wise Man's Fear (Kingkiller Chronicles, Day 2)
Author Patrick Rothfuss
Tags fantasy, kvothe, arcanists, magic, music 

Rating

*****



Wise man's Fear is book two in the story of Kvothe. How good is this series? After two books and about 1700 pages, we are not quite up to Kvothe's 17th year, and the story never palls. I never once thought this book is too long, that part should have been cut out. It is a fantasy series in a vaguely medieval setting, though magic exists and those at the University, or Arcanum, study magic and related sciences such as chemistry.

The two books are a seamless story. There is a framing story in which Kvothe is older, we don't know how old, an innkeeper living quietly at the fringes of civilization under another name. A scribe, The Chronicler, finds Kvothe and eventually persuades him to tell the real story of his life, a life about which legends abound. Kvothe grows up in a troop of traveling players, learns acting and music from his birth. The troupe is joined by an arcanist who recognizes the boy's brilliance and begins training him in magic, with the goal that Kvothe will go to the University when old enough. Kvothe survives the loss of everything at age 11 and three years of life on the streets before getting to the University, where things are, shall we say, rarely dull.

How is it that the story never gets dull? The plots are good, first of all. Rothfuss never violates the reader's willing suspension of disbelief. The reader feels that yes, this could have happened in this way in this world. There is also plenty of action. Yet Rothfuss also builds the story with exquisite detail, showing Kvothe's life as more than just action. We have Kvothe's thoughts, emotions, his loves, dreams, fears, - and we have his soul, at the heart of which is music and magic. We have his interactions with the other characters, all of whom are also marvelously human. Kvothe is brilliant, but young. He makes mistakes and deals with the consequences, and there are also consequences when he gets things right. We see him almost mad in grief, in love, with all a young man's difficulty figuring love out, we see how music anchors him, we see how he cares for others, how he deals with enemies... In short, we see a universe entire through one brilliant character.

How good is this series? I started reading Wise Man's Fear about noon on Saturday, and with a couple of interruptions finished at 7:15 Sunday morning, and I'm a person who needs a good night's sleep. Do I recommend both books? Oh, yeah. With these two books and Discovery of Witches, my year of reading is already extraordinary, and it is only May!

 

Publication date 2011
Publication DAW Hardcover (2011), Hardcover, 1008 pages
ISBN 0756404738 / 9780756404734

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Friday, May 6, 2011

Right Wing Watch Critiques David Barton's Appearance on The Daily Show

David Barton, the leading purveyor of the Christian Nation myth, appeared on the Daily Show last Wednesday.  Barton has become more famous lately, partly due to adulation frm GOP presidential candidates Huckabee, Gingrich, and Bachmann.  Here Right Wing Watch specifically addresses Barton's appearance on the Daily Show, pointing to places where once again Barton lies or distorts.  Also Chris Rodda, who has put blood, sweat, and tears into refuting the Christian Nation myth, is now offering her book as a free download.  Why does any of this matter?  Because it speaks to the freedom we have in this country to worship or not worship according to each person's conscience, a freedom I cherish very much.

 

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Robert E. Lee Quote, 5/5/1861

Remarkably prescient quote, found through the Centered Librarian:

"If it came to a conflict of arms, the war will last at least four years. Northern politicians will not appreciate the determination and pluck of the South, and Southern politicians do not appreciate the numbers, resources and patient perseverance of the North. Both sides forget that we are all Americans. I foresee that our country will pass through a terrible ordeal, a necessary expiation, perhaps, for our national sins."

Robert E. Lee - May 5, 1861

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At least Salvador will find the door… - Lolcats 'n' Funny Pictures of Cats - I Can Has Cheezburger?

Fifty Years of U.S. Spaceflight

The anniversary of Alan Shepard's flight was yesterday.  What a wonderful event to celebrate!

Hm... I don't think I shared that my department in my library sponsored a program at the end of March called "The Post-Shuttle Age: the Future of NASA".  We did a research guide for it and on the guide is a link to the video of the program.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nick Kristof on Helping Many Moms

Great article on making childbirth safer in developing countries,using the example of a woman in Somaliland who on her own built a hospital, serves many women, and trains midwives so many more can be helped.

 

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Best Description of Donald Trump to Date

From Jim Hightower:  "...the flaming ego with feral hair..."

 

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Article: 10 Ways the Birthers are an Object Lesson in White Privilege

Despite cringing at #10, I think this article makes a really important point that too many are too intimidated to say.

 

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Did Torture Help Find Bin Laden?

Google Books offers Tools for Learning Klingon and Elvish

If you're hankering to learn a more, shall we say exotic, language...

 

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Google Chrome Ad on the It Gets Better Project

As part of a campaign on how the Internet helps people, Google created an ad highlighting the It Gets Better Project started by Dan Savage, aimed at gay teens at risk of suicide.  It is a well done ad, and brought a few tears to my eyes:

 

 

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Quote of the Day

Found through Ed Brayton:

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children." - Dwight D. Eisenhower

 

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A Gay Girl in Damascus

This post is from a gay woman in Syria, whose life was just threatened and whose father protected her.  It is very moving.

 

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The Atlantic: Dead Authors on Twitter

Who knew you could tweet from the hereafter?  A list of writers as varied as Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Edith Wharton, and Douglas Adams, among others.

 

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