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Some thoughtful personal identity reads. October 10, 2016

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Because after that debate I think we’re all thirsty for some substance.

“If you can distinctly recall the excitement of walking into your weekly computer lab session and seeing a room full of Apple 2Es displaying the start screen of Oregon Trail, you’re a member of this nameless generation, my friend.” (Calling myself a millennial is usually not a bad fit, but yeah, this is my subcategory.)

“Five months in, I can’t remember the last time a stranger read me as a woman, and my mask of manliness is melding into my being, becoming part of me. It’s becoming comfortable. I don’t have the same sudden clarity that came with top surgery, but every new difference – smaller hips, bigger shoulders, a thicker neck – removes another layer of noise. Changing my physical self and my social self didn’t have to change my identity, but I think it might have. I still call myself genderless, but I also lump myself in with trans guys without thinking. ”

“At first, I didn’t believe I had anything wrong with me. But after meeting my current therapist, Dr. Samoon Ahmad, I began to understand and accept my diagnosis — I was bipolar, and my nude jaunt was part of a manic episode. It wasn’t until I got out of Bellevue three weeks later that I saw the front page of The Post with the headline ‘Ball Drop in Times Square.'”

“I am dark enough to not live within the tent of whiteness, but I am light enough that many people experience significant confusion when trying to class what level of ‘not-white, maybe heading toward-Black, deficient’ I am. Depending on the year and location, I am a ‘dirty Arab/Muslim,’ a fellow Latina, a Mulatto, a Mizrahi Jew, a half-white person who suspiciously may not be down with Black folks.”

“I didn’t want some American sales clerk knowing I couldn’t understand simple, elementary-school English. We’d look for that Ziploc bag in another store. I wasn’t about to let anyone think we were Middle Eastern immigrants coming here to steal jobs from honest Americans. I would not be responsible for a surge in Islamophobia over a Ziploc bag.

There are so many flavors of racist stuff here it’s like a seven-layer racism cake. May 3, 2016

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People killed by police, 2016. 389 and counting.

Compare it with this time last year: “In May, the Washington Post analyzed the 385 fatal police shootings in the United States that had occurred so far in 2015. The Post noted its number, which came out to two officer-involved shooting deaths per day, was more than twice the rate that the government had recorded over the past decade.

[Video] Putting a fake cover on a Bible and reading verses, claiming they’re from the Quran. People react pretty much exactly as badly as you’d expect them to.

30% of GOP voters (and a full 19% of Democrats) are in favor of bombing. They don’t need to know anything about the people they’re proposing to bomb. As evidenced by the fact that you can give them the name of a made-up country, and they won’t notice or care.

So [on March 7] the president killed roughly 150 people in a country where the U.S. is not at war. The Pentagon issued a five-sentence boilerplate statement declaring them all “terrorists.” And that’s pretty much the end of that.” GDI.

“The weary F.B.I. agent replied: ‘Toby….Seriously. Get some sleep.‘” An American amateur tries to investigate a (fake) ISIS agent on Twitter, and ends up getting more than a year in prison for his enthusiasm.

“Garza testified that Santellana never threatened him nor did he feel that Santellana was a dangerous person. Yet that did not stop him from recklessly approaching the vehicle with a loaded weapon and firing when Santellana did not obey orders from this large man in gym shorts, who did not initially identify himself as an officer or show a badge.” No justice for Jonathen Santellana.

Mr. Pean had expected an apology after the shooting. Instead, during four days in intensive care, prosecutors charged him with two counts of felony assault on a police officer. They accused him of attacking with four “deadly weapons” — an unspecified piece of furniture, a wall fixture, a tray table and his hands.”

“Scott Collins, a spokesman for the Inglewood Police Department said that the couple refused to obey the officers’ commands to exit the vehicle. The officers then feared for their safety and opened fire on the car — killing the couple.” Here’s the kicker: the people in question were asleep. No justice for Kisha Michael or Marquintan Sandlin (or their now-orphaned children). Black people can be literally unconscious and cops will still profess to being too terrified to do anything but gun them down.

Well, here’s at least one case of the police being in legitimate danger…from each other. Cops raid wrong house, shoot and kill the dog, shoot the man who owns the house, then one of them shoots and kills another of the cops.

NiceaConOne and other links September 12, 2014

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“Pope Francis says the issue of gay marriage should be studied and not dismissed out-of-hand, a senior Roman Catholic cardinal has revealed. ”

Every time I see it, it’s a reminder to call him,” Mr. Gelles said of the number. “I find it kind of hard to relate to people I don’t know and places I haven’t been to and this thing called the Holocaust. The thing I relate to more is my grandfather.”

The descendants of the secret Nazi master-race-building breeding program. To the surprise of no one, they’re a completely ordinary bunch of people, united mostly by being freaked-out when they uncover their family history.

“Constantine was a Roman emperor, and a military man. So he said, ‘Right. Figure it out and tell me. I’ll believe anything you say, but get it all in one sock.’ He called NiceaCon One, and invited all the BNFs and SMOFs of the Christian world to have a business meeting and hammer it out.

“Divorce is higher among religiously conservative Protestants – and even drives up divorce rates for other people living around them, a new study finds.”

A little religion-based facepalming for your evening May 27, 2013

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“And yes, those directives include the claim that ‘[t]he Church’s defense of life encompasses the unborn’ and a mandate to uphold ‘the sanctity of life ‘from the moment of conception until death.” But come on. That obviously does not apply when Catholic Health Initiatives, the Church-affiliated organization that runs the Church-affiliated St. Thomas More Hospital where a young woman and her two unborn fetuses died, is the lead defendant in a lawsuit.

“I grew up in a conservative area and had internalized some challenging attitudes about abortion, poverty, and the death penalty—attitudes aligned with policy that worked against my (and my family’s) interests. Still, I discovered that I was ready to drop everything for a friend who needed my help. Eventually, I learned to hold this level of compassion for complete strangers, too. […] Here are some things I learned when I began to leave my assumptions behind.”

I am done making excuses for the pro-life movement. I am done trying to explain that the movement is not anti-woman. I am done trying to insist that the movement really is simply trying to “save unborn babies.” I’m done because it’s not true. The pro-life movement supports the exact policies that will keep abortion rates high.”

Texas School District Investigates Muslim Bias in School, Finds Christian Bias Instead: A perfect example of fear-mongering backfiring.”

“This week, a Republican state lawmaker who had backed the voucher system decided to change her mind. Apparently, she thought public funding for religious education was a great idea, right up until she learned that her religion wasn’t the only one that might benefit.”

Same-sex marriage everywhere! April 25, 2013

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The Nevada Senate! The Rhode Island Senate! The Delaware House! The entirety of France! The entirety of New Zealand — complete with Maori love songs from the gallery when it passed!

Also, the current Pope advocated civil unions for same-sex couples in his home country. And Maryland (which has been cool on the same-sex marriage front for a little while now) nixed the death penalty not so long ago.

Sometimes things don’t suck.

Science & history: Muslim inventors, pro-choice establishment Christians, pre-tourism Japan, and more November 27, 2012

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“So there my friend stood, in 1990, in Jericho, believing that the universe was 5,994* years old and staring at a man-made wall that was 8,000 years old.

20 Muslim inventions that shaped our world. You probably know about algebra, but what about quilting, windmills, and fountain pens?

If you were born in or after April 1985, if you are right now 27 years old or younger, you have never lived through a month that was colder than average.

Images from 1910: “Photographer Kozaburo was the first to produce tourist shots for Japan with an album of 51 collotype black and white photographic prints, which were painstakingly inked in by a team of 100 colourists, and gave Europe one of its first glimpses of life inside the previously secretive state.” Includes some beautifully-chosen then-and-now comparison shots.

Views on abortion from various Christian establishment groups in 1978. Episcopals, Lutherans, Presbyterians, and others articulating positions that are thoughtful, reasonable, and pro-choice.

…the women who were turned away from an abortion were more likely to rely on government assistance, more likely to be living beneath the poverty line, and less likely to have a full-time job than the women in the study who had obtained abortions. They also registered more anxiety a week after they were denied an abortion and reported more stress a year out. They were no more or less likely to be depressed. And women who gave birth suffered from more serious health complications […] than the women who aborted, even later in their pregnancies.”

“The first photographic images in the late 1820s had to be exposed for hours in order to capture them on film. Improvements in the technology led to this exposure time being drastically cut down to minutes, then seconds, throughout the 19th century. […] Seems children were just as squirmy then as they are today, because another amusing convention developed: photographs containing hidden mothers trying to keep their little ones still enough for a non-blurry picture.”

6 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About the Founding of America: the title is kind of a misnomer, as the topic is more “ridiculous misinformation you believe about the state of America before the Europeans got here.”

I’m down with the Dalai Lama on this one. September 21, 2012

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An apparently-authentic scrap of papyrus from the fourth century has Jesus referring to “my wife”. Trust Slacktivist to give an interesting breakdown of what that could mean.

End-of-the-world believers: “I got to know a dozen or so believers prior to the scheduled apocalypse….Then, after Jesus was a no-show, I stayed in contact with them—the ones who would talk to me, anyway—over the following days and months, checking back in to see how or if their thinking had changed.”

A history of how people interpreted Christ’s “descent” (these days “descent into Hell”) in the days before the modern concept of Hell had come together.

When Jesus saw this he grew angry, ‘Why did you wreck my roof? Do you have any idea how much that cost to install? Do you know how many tables and chairs I had to make in my carpentry shop to pay for that roof? The reeds alone cost five talents. I had them carted in from Bethany.'”

Old news but good news: “Though the matter won’t be fully resolved until an inevitable Supreme Court case, for now, a federal appeals court this morning ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.” Plus: The first gay wedding on a military base. Awwwwwww. (Bonus: they met through a homophobic church, and started flirting after a fellowship retreat :D)

“All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.” –The Dalai Lama

Science! & Nature! (feat. strong kitties, ancient flowers, fundamentalists, words and colors) September 4, 2012

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You know, sometimes it feels like I take as long to organize these links into elegant topical groupings as I do to actually save the things…

Japanese cat weight lifting: grabbing progressively bigger fish and dragging them away! The winning cats end up waddling away, dragging these gigantic fish they can barely get their teeth around. It’s adorable.

Thirty-two-thousand-year-old flower recovered from the tundras of Siberia…and yes, they got it to bloom.

“Many of these schools [rely on textbooks that] teach their pupils Bible-based “facts,” such as the existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster and all sorts of pseudoscience that researcher Rachel Tabachnick and writer Thomas Vinciguerra have thankfully pored over so the rest of world doesn’t have to.

Elaborating on one of the specifics in that link: “What do Christian fundamentalists have against set theory?” It’s pretty mind-boggling.

Atomic theory as expressed in English with all the non-Germanic words removed.

Cross-linguistic color theory! How languages develop color words and in what order, how language affects our ability to distinguish colors, and a massive XKCD-originated survey of color names.

32 innovations that will change your tomorrow: inventions set to come out within a few years that will affect your everyday life. Some seem stupid or gratuitous (hands-free hair-washing? Is it really that hard to shampoo?), but some are particularly useful (medical-detection sensors for your teeth! Synthehol!).

Children, loans, & health care July 13, 2012

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A new round of “the Talk” is becoming a standard: how to react when your kid discovers porn online. Must include “explaining what ‘acting’ is.”

“For the past 10 years, Waschbusch has been studying “callous-unemotional” children — those who exhibit a distinctive lack of affect, remorse or empathy — and who are considered at risk of becoming psychopaths as adults.” Creepy, heartbreaking reading about one family’s struggle with their 9-year-old.

“”As a father, you’ll do anything for your child,’ Reynoso, an American citizen originally from Mexico, said through a translator. Now, he’s suffering a Kafkaesque ordeal in which he’s hounded to repay loans that funded an education his son will never get to use — loans that he has little hope of ever paying off.”

Another borrower spends $23,449.65 to pay off less than $1200 of her student loan debt, and concludes that this whole thing is a scam.

“Yes, apparently when you shove through legislation that allows religious organizations to receive state funding, Christians aren’t the only ones who want it — an Islamic school was one of 38 institutions approved for the voucher program, which is a huge problem for people who believe religion helps children so long as it is the religion of the swamp people they are representing.”

What exactly is Obamacare and what does it change?” via Reddit’s board with a most excellent title, Explain It Like I’m Five.

Jen Sorensen, the cartoonist behind Slowpoke, breaks down the dilemma of self-employed people and health insurance.

A chart of who gets quoted about abortion, birth control, planned parenthood, and women’s rights, broken up by gender.

Actual biblical views on abortion. Mostly in the vein of “this pregnant woman committed a crime whose penalty is death, so she will be put to death,” where the notion of “the unborn fetus is an independent life” never even comes up.

Your on-point video for the day April 8, 2012

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“You want to have the boy crucified and murdered just for dramatic effect?”

“No! Please, that’s sick! Not just for dramatic effect! Do you have any idea how many chocolate bunnies this thing is gonna sell?”