July 28, 2014

Milky Chance -- Stolen Dance


Whole lotta shakin' goin' on

I'm on my sixth day of taking prednisone for an allergic reaction. It's a steroid, and if you've ever taken it you know that it jangles your nerves. It's hard to type, what with my fingers skittering over the keys. So don't expect much blogging from me, at least for a few more days.

As long as I'm here, let's talk animules. Hooray! I'm friends with just about every animal that goes through my yard. (Okay, some of the birds aren't close friends yet, but they will be.) Of course, this happens because I feed anything that walks or flies by.

The animal pictured above, looking in through my glass door, is now a friend. I still don't know what he is, but he lets me come over to him and feed him now. This is huge progress. He was very cagey for a long time.

But the biggie, the step up to a new level, is that the chipmunks aren't afraid of me any more! That's incredible. I thought they'd never get friendly. But lo and behold, they will now stay where they are if I encounter them on a walk. They just look up at me; it's not like we fondle each other. But they don't run. That's so cool.

I want to be friends with every animal on Earth. And I want my fingers to stop shaking.

July 27, 2014

Dumb things religious people say

Now and then, Jerry Coyne reveals some of the seedier comments he receives at his blog web site. Here's one he offered this morning. The indented remark is from a deluded reader. The non-indented remark below it (in green) is Jerry's reponse:
I’m confused why atheists would choose to bring a child into this life when they would only die in 70 or 80 years. At worse, a child could live a life of suffering with something like heart disease or depression. If there’s no purpose in life, what’s the purpose of reproducing? It seems just too cruel.
I’m confused about why religious people would choose to bring a child into this life given that it is likely to burn forever in the afterlife.

That's telling them. How can anyone think there's no purpose in life unless Jeebus gets to play a role? That's so dull-witted it's nearly comatose. No purpose? Everything in life has a purpose: the one we give to it. Humans make meaning; it's what we do. You really have to wonder how religious people can possibly miss this basic fact of life. 

Maybe they're not alive?

NY Times comes out for marijuana

The paper of record pushes for an end to federal marijuana prohibition. It's about time.
It took 13 years for the United States to come to its senses and end Prohibition, 13 years in which people kept drinking, otherwise law-abiding citizens became criminals and crime syndicates arose and flourished. It has been more than 40 years since Congress passed the current ban on marijuana, inflicting great harm on society just to prohibit a substance far less dangerous than alcohol. 

The federal government should repeal the ban on marijuana. 
They state the facts clearly:
Moderate use of marijuana does not appear to pose a risk for otherwise healthy adults. Claims that marijuana is a gateway to more dangerous drugs are as fanciful as the “Reefer Madness” images of murder, rape and suicide. 
Now, was that so hard? It's time to end the insane prohibition against marijuana. Even the staid New York Times thinks so.

July 25, 2014

A peek in the mirror

You know how you're having a nice day, and then you walk past a mirror in your house -- and see a pair of jockey shorts draped over your shoulder?

And you realize that you put them there when you were folding the laundry three hours ago?

And then it hits you that you've just gone to the library and the supermarket looking like this?

Glamour. It's so elusive! Stay classy, people. I always do.

July 23, 2014

I can't breathe

That phrase - "I can't breathe" - has become a rallying cry against police abuse in NYC. I'm sure you've seen the story on the news. Eric Garner was simply engaging in a common poverty-economy practice -- selling single cigarettes to earn a few bucks -- when the police attacked him and caused his death.

I hope you've seen the video. (I've embedded it below.) You can clearly hear Mr. Garner saying, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" as the police continue to hold him by his neck and put pressure on his chest. They killed him. There's no two ways about it. And for what? For selling loose cigarettes, as thousands of people do every day in NYC? That's a crime that deserves the death penalty?

I thought about Eric Garner yesterday as I suffered my second attack of being unable to breathe. It's only happened twice to me and I don't know what causes it. It's terrifying. It's as if my lungs cannot use the air, as if there's no oxygen in it. And it makes me feel desperate and wonder if I'm going to die.

My second attack happened outside a medical clinic, as I was on my way to an allergy doctor to find out why this happens to me. And as soon as someone realized I couldn't breathe, a "code yellow" was called and five medical professionals rushed toward me with a wheelchair, oxygen, etc. They put me on a machine to help me breathe and within an hour I felt fine.

But all the while, I heard Eric Garner's voice saying, "I can't breathe! I can't breathe!" I couldn't help but contrast the comforting response of the people around me, with the callous and inhumane actions of the police and EMS staff who surrounded Mr. Garner and simply watched him die.

Eric Garner is black and I'm white. And he was unlucky enough to have this happen while he was surrounded by NYPD officers who didn't give a damn whether he lived or died. They're not only the police -- they're the new militarized version of the police that has cropped up in NYC since 9/11. These officers see civilians as the enemy. And apparently you don't help the enemy, especially if he has brown skin.

It's so wrong. I'm fine today and Eric Garner is dead. Why? And if it's just his race, then we are not living in a civilized country. We're all supposed to be equal here. Where were the caregivers to help this man? Why did EMS workers not intercede when they heard his cries for help? And why did the officers not lift themselves off him when they heard he was having trouble breathing? Why?

Something has to change. We are all equal. It's just that some monsters don't recognize this. I don't want people like that to be handed a badge or a medical license. I hope many officers go to prison for a good, long time for what they did  to this man.

And by the way, he was a good man. Everyone says he was a gentle giant who would help anyone with anything. All you had to do was ask. The police murdered a teddy bear, not a criminal. And they should pay for this.

July 22, 2014

More harm from religion

Okay, so the article I'm about to quote was at HuffPo. But hey, it's got links to real articles so I think we can trust it.
Young children who are exposed to religion have a hard time differentiating between fact and fiction, according to a new study published in the July issue of Cognitive Science.
Gee, what a surprise.
Refuting previous hypotheses claiming that children are “born believers,” the authors suggest that “religious teaching, especially exposure to miracle stories, leads children to a more generic receptivity toward the impossible, that is, a more wide-ranging acceptance that the impossible can happen in defiance of ordinary causal relations.”
Put simply, religious thinking poisons the mind. Personally, the thing I hate most is seeing a story about religious parents who kill their kids to send them to "a better place". Ahem, that would be the grave. A poisoned mind is capable of terrible things.

I often say that religion is the reason why Americans can't think clearly. They've had no practice in logic because their brains were poisoned at an early age by religious nonsense.

There is no heaven, there is no hell, there is no god or devil. And that's why we should try our best to be kind to everyone we meet (including those kids at the border). Since there's no afterlife for those who suffer here on Earth, what say we try to avoid the suffering in the first place? Works for me.

July 21, 2014

Uh...that explanation won't fly

I assume my readers know all about Chris Kluwe and his stellar GLBT activism. Great guy, well-spoken. And of course he was fired from an NFL team because of it.

Apparently the Vikings supplied this strange statement in their defense:
The Vikings lawyers claims that although Preifer said we should “nuke… all the gays,” he was otherwise completely respectful of LGBT people and those advocating on their behalf.
I'm like, totally sure this is accurate. Totally. Aren't you?

This has been your daily exercise in "Explanations that don't work".

July 20, 2014

Communion on the moon. Oy.

This actually happened.
As Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepared to take "one small step for man," Aldrin wanted to commemorate the moment in a way he found most personally meaningful -- by taking communion.
You know you want to read the full story. Damn, and it's Sunday and everything.

Blood Orange - Chamakay

My nephew sent me a link to this song. I like it. Understated and lovely.

July 19, 2014

Studies suggest...

Studies suggest that many people reading this blog are not actually alive. These "people" are zombies. This is something up with which I cannot put. Thus I must determine if you, the person reading this, are alive. But how can I do this?

Wait a minute! I'll bet zombies can't get through the captcha verification system (those squiggly letters you have to decipher in order to post a comment). That's the ticket! Okay here's the deal. If you are not a zombie...prove it by commenting on this post.


I posted this two full minutes ago and there hasn't been one comment yet. OMD, it's true -- you're all zombies!

I may have to rethink my blog in light of this new information. I'll get back to you.

And no religion, too

More good news:
President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, fulfilling a promise to a crucial Democratic constituency, White House officials said on Friday. But the directive will not exempt religious groups, as many of them had sought.
It's that last bit in bold that's the super good news. I am so sick of religious gits attacking gay people and using their god for cover. God wants them to be cruel to gay and transgender people. It's their duty.

Screw your duty. You're just hateful loons. Kudos to Obama for not letting contractors discriminate against gays by using a religious back-door. Let's get rid of all those back doors. Hate is hate. And if your religion tells you to hate gays and transgender people, your religion is scum.

God's followers mad with urge to kill

This morning, I read an op-ed called "Faith-Based Fanatics" at the NYT. Here's a tiny excerpt:
God is on a rampage in 2014, a bit like the Old Testament scourge who gave direct instructions to people to kill one another. 
I won't steal more from the article. Just go read the original.

July 18, 2014

Not this atheist author

In a post at Dispatches from the Culture Wars, Ed Brayton quotes a religious wingnut who thinks, or at least says, that atheists don't exist. I won't run the whole thing down here. You can read Ed's original post to get the dirt. I'd just like to focus on one thing the writer said. At one point, he speaks of cosmic justice and suggests that all people, even atheists, believe in such a thing. I don't think the guy knows many atheists.

Here's the nugget that snagged my attention. After saying that atheists believe in something akin to karma, he adds:
This idea, he writes, is played out on a number of differently [sic] levels—including narrative literature, where even atheist authors invariably write stories that “exist to establish that there exists a mechanism or a person—cosmic destiny, karma, God, fate, Mother Nature—to make sure the right thing happens to the right person.
Invariably, eh? Well, this atheist author wrote a novel called Xmas Carol. In my book, there isn't a hint of a cosmic master who runs things so "the right thing happens to the right person". On the contrary. As in real life, it is luck that runs the show.

The book does, however, take every opportunity to bash religion while suggesting that humans will inevitably create their own version of heaven -- one that is real, as opposed to the vapor-ware favored by religious people.

No real atheists, indeed. There are at least a zillion of us on the internet. Has he not noticed? Religion never has anything new to say -- and that's a feature, not a bug. It's also why religion will die out, quite soon I think.


July 17, 2014

Irresponsibility is built into American news

Officer Melvin Santiago
It happened again. A guy (whose name I won't include in this post) killed a police officer in New Jersey so he could become famous. He went into a drug store with no intention of robbing it. He simply accosted the private security officer, took his gun and waited for the police to arrive. They were his quarry.

When Officer Melvin Santiago, a 23-year-old who'd only been on the force for six months, pulled up in a police car outside the drug store, the perp shot him in the head, killing him.

In the subsequent news barrage, the media helpfully informed us that the perp had told people earlier in the day that they should watch the news tonight "because I'm going to be famous."

He was right. The news media complied immediately with the killer's wish, plastering his name and image all over the TV stations and newspapers. He got what he wanted: they made him a star.

This is stupid and irresponsible but media heads don't consider the effects of their coverage. They just blast it out there, heedlessly. It doesn't have to be this way. They could easily make a simple decision to call these idiots "Coward 1" (and Coward 2, etc.) and never show their image. If the creeps don't get the media coverage they hunger for, they won't think it's "fun" to kill more cops. You think they want to go into prison and shout "I'm coward number 23!"? I seriously doubt it.

The media fosters these murders as surely as if they put an ad on Craigslist that says, "Wanna kill cops? We promise to cover the event and make you a star! Go for it!"

It's sickening. Wake up, news media. You play a huge role in these murders. But hey, I'll bet that doesn't even bother you. The money keeps rolling in, so why should you care?

And that, in a nutshell, is what's wrong with America: money is god, and all else bows before it.

July 16, 2014

Wingnuts are funny -- Part Eleventy-Six

On Ed Brayton's essential blog, I saw something very funny today. It's a quote from anti-gay hate leader Bryan Fischer. He's super upset over the rainbow-colored paper used by an SF Burger King to celebrate Gay Pride month. Because rainbow-colored paper makes Jesus cry, or something.
On today’s radio program, Bryan Fischer said that the American Family Association is thinking about issuing an “action alert” about it out of concern that “if this isn’t bottled up in San Francisco, this kind of nonsense, then it’s going to be spreading across the entire fruited plain and you’re going to be going to your Burger King in Des Moines, Iowa and you’re going to have a rainbow color wrapper for your Whopper.”
That's just so precious. I think we should toss the standard expression, "Oh, the humanity!" and replace it with "Oh, the fruited plain!" I love it.

It's been an easy summer...so far

I know, I know. I shouldn't say things like that. God is an arrogant buzz-killer just waiting to hear a comment like that -- so he can zap the person with ill fortune. Because god is love, or something.

But it truly has been pleasant, at least here in the northeast. After a bracingly cold winter, I don't think any of us knew what to expect this summer. Would it be fiercely hot? Would there be incredible hurricanes? Would it rain all summer? Surely something bad was coming.

The question we never considered is "will it be a pleasant summer with hardly any heat-waves?" It is! And I'm lovin' it.

On the other hand, there's a climate nightmare going on in California. Their drought seems like it might continue for decades. Water rationing is just the beginning of the problems heading their way.

You have to wonder if maybe Jesus heard someone in California say, "We have the most wonderful weather on Earth, don't we Maisie? We are blessed!" You know how god hates that kind of talk. And so Jesus brought the drought to California. And because he was in a particularly vicious mood that day, he put a "keep going until further notice" sticker on it. Brrrr. He's a cold one, he is.

Anyway, here's hoping the various gods blessed your area this summer. Or maybe demons. Whichever. It doesn't really matter since they're all fairytale creatures. There are no gods, children. None at all.

Dog, it's nice outside!

St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Did you see these guys on Jimmy Kimmel last night? The lead singer is wonderfully strange, a real delight.

July 15, 2014

Jerry Coyne is a treasure

On Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne's blog web site (he gets furious if you call it a blog), I found this today. He'd been musing about the fact that a quote from Steven Pinker now adorns a Chipotle bag:
Notice, too, that they chose an idealistic and happy quote (like Chinese fortune cookies, none of which ever have fortunes that say, “You suck!”).  I suppose that’s what makes people associate good feelings with the restaurant. It will be a cold day in the Yucat√°n when they put an atheist slogan on a burrito bag.
I’d love to see this one, for instance:
Pretending to be certain when one isn’t—indeed, pretending to be certain about propositions for which no evidence is even conceivable—is both an intellectual and a moral failing.
—Sam Harris 
*For non-Americans, Chipotle is a chain that purveys bland and Americanized Mexican food.
I love Jerry. He's a smart, militant atheist/biologist who really knows his stuff -- and he's funny, to boot.

Baseball to recognize gay player from the past

This was news to me.
Glenn Burke was 27 when he walked out on Major League Baseball, his promising career as an outfielder undone mostly by the burden of being a semicloseted gay man. It was 1980, and it was more important, Burke later explained, to be himself than to be a professional baseball player.
Here's a link to the NYT story, which is both sad and uplifting. I look forward to hearing more about him. It's great that Major League Baseball is remembering him. They couldn't handle it when he played but at least they're talking about him as a gay athlete today. If he was still alive, I think he'd be very happy about this.

And Billy Martin was a big old pig. Read the story to find out why I say this. And then hiss at Martin's memory. SSSSsssssssssss!

July 14, 2014

Aging is a quick ride down a short slide

When I was in my late 40s, I remember taking a car ride with a friend on a lovely summer day. At one point, we encountered "Old Billy" (I'm changing his name, but you get the idea). He was literally an old friend, in both senses of the term. Great guy, probably in his late 70s. And he looked ancient. There was a reason why everyone called him "Old Billy".

I remember looking at his wrinkles and age spots, assessing the remnants of his hair, and saying to my friend, "That will never happen to me. I mean, how could it? How could all that ruin happen to my body in the next three decades? Not. Gonna. Happen." It was clearly impossible. Old age would skip past me and attack someone else, someone who wasn't watching his back as closely as I watched mine.

Uh-huh. Well, it did happen, which I guess isn't that much of a surprise. I'm 65 and when I look in the mirror, the young guy is gone. But it's the speed of the transformation that really shocks me. I mean, a part of my body will look fine and youthful -- and then suddenly boom, all in one day (or so it seems) it appears old and decrepit.

Like just last week, my hands suddenly had big, creepy veins on them. I'm sure they looked young the day before. But now? Old-people hands. And so it goes as age travels to every part of my body, striking down youth and replacing it with age.

Seriously, getting old is like a quick ride down a steep slide. Before you realize it's happening, it's over. I'm an old guy now. And that's so weird.

Mind you, my brain is still 29 years old. And you know what? I'll take that prize and be happy with it. It's not "if you've got your health, you've got everything." (Though health is quite nice.) It's more, "if you've got a functional brain, you're a major winner."

And yes, I know. My clear-thinking brain could disappear too, in time. But for now, I think I'll consider myself immune to mental decline. Or maybe I mean that I'm just not going to think about that. I prefer my self-created myth: at the age of 103 (that's when I'll die; I've been told this by celestial beings so it must be true) I will still be blogging and writing books. I'm convinced of this. (Just like I was convinced that old age wouldn't happen to me. Ah, illusions. You gotta love 'em.)

How are you doing with your own aging process? Still too young to care? Good for you. But it'll getcha someday. It's inevitable.

Did this post cheer you up? You're welcome! Got a tale of woe about aging? That's what the comment button is for. Go for it!

July 12, 2014

Why Roman Catholic priests hate gay sex

I always wondered why the Roman Catholic church hates gays. We're just people who are trying to live our lives according to the rules we were born with. So where does this intense animosity come from?

Yesterday, I got a clue when I read a post by PZ Myers at Pharyngula. It's about the church's insane view of sexual relations between married people:
Church laws teach that spouses must fight against or quiet libidinal pleasure when they have relations or else they commit a fault for seeking to enjoy the libidinal pleasure. In Her laws and practices the Church has condemned the belief that spouses can have relations for lustful pleasure and not commit any fault or sin. The March 4, 1679 Holy Office decree on the errors of various moral subjects condemns spouses who have relations for libidinal pleasure. Canon Law 1013 teaches that the secondary motive for the marital act is mutual aid but does not mention mutual love or indulging in libidinal/lustful pleasure. Pope Pius XI’s Enyclical Casti Connubii’s teaching on the quieting of concupiscence rules out seeking to enjoy libidinal pleasure. He teaches that the purpose of marriage is the procreation and rearing of children and that the secondary purpose is companionship and friendship through the struggle of life. He also says couples should pray in order for God to help them conquer temptations. The Church Fathers are unanimous on the necessity to fight against lustful pleasure during intercourse. The Church Fathers teach that spouses sin when they have relations for lustful pleasure.
Can you believe that? Even married people aren't allowed to enjoy sex! They have to fight against it, lest they sin. How ill is that? You know, as I read this sickening tripe, I remembered distant Catholic lessons learned in my childhood. I'd forgotten they were this crazy but it's all coming back now.

This explains why they hate gays and lesbians and transgender people with such ferocity, and fight gay marriage with verbal howitzers. Here it is in a nutshell:

Our sex is all about the fun. It's literally the reason why we have sex: to enjoy it. Wow, what incredible sinners we must be. Jeebus.

With this in mind, I can finally understand the outlandishly stupid argument priests always make when gay marriage comes up: it can't produce babies, so it's wrong. In light of the insanely ill position of the church, highlighted above, it finally makes a lick or two of sense (in their addled brains, anyway). If even married people are not allowed to enjoy sex, and it has to be only about making babies, then gay marriage truly is outside the tent.

So that's why they say such stupid things about gays and marriage! I finally understand. Their argument is as stupid as it ever was, but now I see the tattered strands of their warped logic. Oy. What an ill church!

July 11, 2014

You, hamburgers and the climate: a tale of woe

If climate change disturbs you, as it should, then do one simple thing: stop eating meat. The evidence is in:
Analysis of data received from a satellite in 2004 has shown that at least during that year, livestock in the U.S. emitted more methane into the atmosphere than did the oil and gas industry.
This isn't nonsense, it's a fact. You may have heard of facts. They're the things you must pay attention to.

Don't eat meat. It's not only cruel, it's about to change the world in a really bad way. Why make our kids suffer for our mistakes? Is your steak really so important that you're willing to condemn the children of the world to a hot, inhospitable planet? To you, meat is just a food, right? So give that food up. It's quite possible to do this. There are lots of other things to eat. No human needs meat in his or her diet.

We're killing the Earth and we don't seem to care. We all need to wake up, pay attention and change our habits. It's not that hard. Really.

July 10, 2014

Consumer Reports chimes in. Better late than never.

Remember way back in the Pleistocene, when I told you not to spray suntan lotion on your kids because it's wildly dangerous? Well, yesterday, Consumer Reports said the same thing -- only they didn't have the balls to tell you exactly what the danger is. They simply say you should avoid spraying suntan lotion on the kiddies. The danger is not, as Consumer Reports suggests, the possibility of allergic reactions and asthma. The danger is (say it with me, kids) nanoparticles. They'll go into your kids' lungs and never come back out. God only knows the harm they'll do in there. One report I saw on the news last night said the companies are still refusing to say exactly what is in these sprays. But sure, go spray them on kids. What the hell, they're only kids.

Two full years have passed since I told you about this danger. How many kids inhaled this stuff between then and now? And why wasn't something said much, much sooner? I'll answer the last question: because the manufacturers of this brand of poison don't want to lose money. That's why your kids will get sick: to increase someone's profits. Welcome to America. USA! USA!

Read both stories, mine and the CR version. And then spend the summer slapping these bottles out of mommies' hands when they're about to spray their unsuspecting kids.

Got that? Good.

July 9, 2014

Okay, I'll watch it (a little, maybe)

I was going to skip "Extant", but after reading this review at SF Gate, I'm going to check out the first episode. I find Halle Berry creepy, which is why I was going to skip it -- well, that and the fact that it will be doled out like a TV soap opera (i.e., little will happen in a single episode but there will be cliff-hangers galore).

Howsomever, I want to see the couple's "child" -- a young android named Ethan, who is described in the review as a "young Brent Spiner". (He's the guy who played Data on Star Trek Next Generation.) Could be fun.

But it's got Halle Berry in it, so in the end I suspect I'll abandon the series. Still, I do want to see the mini-Data kid. It's on tonight at 9 pm on CBS. Just FYI.

July 5, 2014

Language (and customs) of baseball

I often write longish posts about the language used by baseball broadcasters. I haven't done much of that this year. (You can use the search box above-left to find a bunch of them. Just pump in "language of baseball".) But I do want to report one thing I heard.

I'm not sure who said it. I didn't note the team name or the broadcaster's name. In fact, I didn't write it down at all. But I remember. It was an old guy who said it, one of the die-hards from another era who's still hanging on as a baseball broadcaster. I love those old guys because they say things that are truly bizarre.

A pitcher threw a really good pitch, but the batter got all of it. He blasted an incredibly fast line-drive over first base. It was way high in the air but the first baseman made a superb, almost superhuman jump and caught the ball. Watching what the pitcher did next, the announcer said:
"That's the kind of play where a pitcher's just gotta go over to his first baseman and pat him on the rear."
And that's why I love the old announcers: they're weird.

July 4, 2014

I side with Maya Peterson

White privilege really sucks. Go read this story about "the first black female student president of The Lawrenceville School, an affluent academy for boarding and day students located in New Jersey". Afterward, perhaps you'll join me in a cheer: "Go, Maya!"

I know, I know. It's the 4th of July and you're busy getting drunk while attempting to increase your weight by eating everything in sight. Maybe these excerpts will pique your interest and make you put that beer can down. Here's Maya speaking for herself:
"Yes, I am making a mockery of the right-wing, confederate-flag hanging, openly misogynistic Lawrentians," Peterson told BuzzFeed. "If that's a large portion of the school's male population, then I think the issue is not with my bringing attention to it in a lighthearted way, but rather why no one has brought attention to it before."
At least one alumnus is on her side:
"The fact that Maya and friends were reprimanded for throwing up black power signs that made white students uncomfortable but these white students are never, to my knowledge, reprimanded for making black students uncomfortable is the definition of racism."
This story raised my hackles. When an underdog fights back, he or she is usually crushed by the powers that be. That's what happened to Maya Peterson. And it's wrong.

July 3, 2014

July 2, 2014

Pope Francis and Beelzebub

El Diablo.
Many people thought Pope Francis would bring progressive change to his church. Alas, it seems the pope believes in all sorts of fairytale creatures, including evil ones. In the year 2014, this pope still believes the devil is real. Srsly. And now he's lifting the devil's profile big-time.
The Vatican has formally recognized the International Association of Exorcists, a group of 250 priests in 30 countries who liberate the faithful from demons.

More than his predecessors, Pope Francis speaks frequently about the devil, and last year was seen placing his hands on the head of a man purportedly possessed by four demons in what exorcists said was a prayer of liberation from Satan.
All hope is lost, kids. The devil is coming for you -- well, unless you send 20 Cheerios box-tops to the Int'l Association of Exorcists. (Whatever you do, don't fold them!) If you get those holy box-tops to the IAE in time, your eternal soul will be saved. Hallelujah!

It's hard for me to understand how anyone can believe in gods, but it's even harder to grasp people's belief in demons and devils and witches and warlocks and spells and incantations and other completely imaginary dreck.

The pope's a nut. That's the bottom line. Catholics should run for the hills.

How to roll your R's like an Italian

This just hit me last night. As an Italian guy with an Irish name, I know how to roll my R's. For people like me, it's hard to understand why anyone finds this difficult. I've tried and tried to help people roll their R's, but to no avail.

However, last night something occurred to me. I was watching a baseball game and the announcer said "Wow, he's strong!" My mind kicked into Italian mode and I said out loud: "Strong like bull!" It's just something you hear if you grow up in an Italian household. And of course, I rolled the R in "strong" and pronounced "bull" as bool.

And then I spelled the thing phonetically in my mind and came up with this:

"Stdrong like bool."

I think if people pronounced strong as "stdrong", they would magically be rolling an R just like an Italian! I'm not 100% sure this works, but try it. Just go from the t to the d in as natural a way as you can -- and you're doin' it!

That's how to roll your R's. Now, study what you've done. Note the movement of your tongue as it travels from the t to the d. That's how to make the rolling R sound. Now you can do it anytime you want.

You're welcome. So give me some feedback. Did this work for you?

July 1, 2014

Hobby Lobby editorial at the NYT

Here's an excerpt. Or better yet, read the whole thing.
Mr. Alito’s ruling and a concurrence by Justice Anthony Kennedy portray the decision as a narrow one without broader application, like denying vaccine coverage or job discrimination. But that is not reassuring coming from justices who missed the point that denying women access to full health benefits is discrimination.