What I’m Reading, April 23, 2014

David Jackmanson [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)], via FlickrApparently, We Need To Remind People That Pro-Choice Women Are Allowed To Have Babies, Samantha Lachman, Huffington Post, April 17, 2014

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant, and some anti-abortion activists responded to the news Thursday by showing they don’t understand what being “pro-choice” means: being able to choose to have a baby, or not.

White Supremacist’s Genocidal Paranoia: Inside the Mind of the White Man March Founder, Toby McCasker, AlterNet, April 19, 2014

Masked ethnic nationalism had been enjoying a nice stay as a dot-point in the “dark enlightenment” of the so-called neo-reactionary movement, but bigotry is never content to be itemized. Say hi to nuwe racism, and the composite ire-ony of using the Afrikaans for “new” here seems so complexly black and white as to transcend meta. Hyper-aware there is less and less room on earth for old hate, nuwe racists dress their prejudice in conspiracy and pseudoscience and call it “pride.” Pride is a much more appealing sin than wrath, and allows them to, heinously, plead victimhood just as they pursue a policy of victimization. It is like punching someone and getting angry at them for hurting your fist.

Continue reading


“Hello M’Lady,” the App that Lets Nice Guys™ Know How They Look to the Rest of the World

I was once a Nice Guy™. I got past it. Here’s a sketch from Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer that might help explain a few things to people still struggling with Nice Guy™ism.

(In case the video doesn’t embed, it should be available here or here.)

If the message you get from this sketch is that women are ungrateful and will insensitively use you for the tasks they don’t want to do, or if you still think that the “friend zone” is an actual thing, then I’m sorry, but you are still in the clutches of Nice GuyNice Guy™ism. There is still hope, but it might be a long and difficult road to self-awareness.


Pizza Cake

Did you hear me? I said pizza cake.


Pizza. Cake.


Look, just shut up and do whatever pizza cake tells you to do. Let pizza cake be your guide.

If you only see one set of footprints on the beach, it’s because I ditched your ass to go get some pizza cake.


Austin and Its Bicycles

Here’s an interesting project that creates maps showing various aspects of city life:

The Social Computing Group at MIT is compiling data for maps that demonstrate the impact that small independent coffee shops can have on life in the big city.

The interactive maps are part of the “You Are Here” project, which creates data visualizations to serve as tools for urban planning at the micro level.

The io9 article shows a map of areas with walkable coffee shops, and I had hoped to see something similar for Austin. We’re not exactly a walkable city, though, are we?

So far, the only map available for Austin shows (you guessed it) bicycle crashes:

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 8.54.17 AM

Uh, yay us?


What I’m Reading, April 22, 2014

Is Our Elites Learning, Atrios, Eschaton, April 18, 2014

The problem with the Lifestyles Of The Not Quite Rich Enough genre is there’s never any hint that anyone involved (reporters, subjects) take the next step and think, “oh, gosh, if I can’t live on $300K what must it be like to live on $50K!!!!”

“You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” An anti-gay bigot gets humiliated, Kate Geiselman, Salon, April 16, 2014

When Peter LaBarbera saw that close to a hundred people had assembled at my college to hear his warning about “the gay agenda,” I’m sure he was thrilled. He is the president of a group called Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, which describes its mission as being “dedicated to exposing the homosexual-bisexual-transgender activist agendas.”

When, less than 10 minutes later, he was left with an audience of about a dozen, he was angry. Angry enough to say, as the masses marched out, “You’re leaving? Are you effing kidding?” Angry enough to tweet, later that evening, “Two liberal professors lead their students in a walkout of my talk … rather than allow them to hear an opposing viewpoint.”

Except that’s not exactly what happened. What happened was much bigger than that, but I should back up a bit.

Is growth always good? Mano Singham, Freethought Blogs, April 17, 2014

It seems to be almost axiomatic these days to think of economic growth as an unfettered good. But must it always be so? Johann Hari in the April 2010 of The Progressive magazine wrote in a review of a book about John Maynard Keynes, whose influential work has been used to fuel growth, about what that famous economist thought about when we might know that it might be time to call a halt to growth.


The key is to try and ensure that everyone has a basic level of comfort and security, and the current rapidly growing inequality works against that.


What I’m Reading, April. 21, 2014

Торжествуют (They are triumphant) by Vasily Vereshchagin [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Lost Empire that Ruled the Silk Road, Annalee Newitz, io9, April 15, 2014

Today, the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan is relatively remote, known mostly for its magnificent medieval ruins. But over a millennium ago, it was one of the richest cities on the infamous trade route known as the Silk Road. Back in the 600s CE, that route was called simply “the road to Samarkand.”


The term “Silk Road” was popularized by European explorers in the nineteenth century. German scientist Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term in 1877, while attempting to follow its eroded pathways centuries after the world economy had come to rely on ocean shipping routes. Also, there is no evidence that anyone traveled along the entire route from Europe to China until Marco Polo wrote about his journey in the thirteenth century. (Polo probably wasn’t the first traveler to do this, but his account popularized the idea and led to many more journeys.)

But for most people the Silk Road was just a local highway system. They used the routes to go from one city to another, and more rarely to cross the borders between empires.

Bill Russell, Boston Celtics Veteran, Sounds Off On Gay Athletes, Jim Vertuno, AP, April 10, 2014

NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell said Wednesday that gay athletes’ current fight for equality and acceptance reminds him of some of the same struggles black athletes faced in the 1960s. Continue reading


Texas Town to Treat Toilet Water for Tap

US Department of Agriculture [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsAccording the Burnt Orange Report, the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, is going to begin recycling its own wastewater because of the drought:

Nope, it’s not a two-weeks-late April Fools’ joke: The city will be recycling 5 million gallons of “potty water” into (hopefully) clean and (fingers-crossed) drinkable water.

The decision to reuse the wastewater comes after existing restrictions have reduces waster usage by half.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality tested the water for 41 days to ensure that it is safe.

My knowledge of water and wastewater treatment procedures is based solely on an Intro to Environmental Science class I took in the fall of 1996, but in that class we took field trips to get a fourth credit hour. We visited both a water treatment plant and a wastewater treatment plant. The city of Houston drew water from the Trinity River and treated it to make it potable. It treated its wastewater to remove the worst contaminants (poo, condoms, corpses, etc.) and dumped the decidedly non-potable water back into the Trinity River. The wastewater treatment plant was downstream from the water treatment plant, because otherwise Houstonians would be drinking the same water they peed in not too long ago. Continue reading


Monday Morning Cute: Dance!!!

To the window! To the wall!” says the sea turtle.

To the window! To the wall!

I don’t know what the hell this is, but I respect its need to dance:


Creepy Reading: Girl with the Skeleton Hand

I found “Girl with the Skeleton Hand,” by Ananth Panagariya and Yuko Ota, via Imgur. Here’s a sample:


The stories are actually quite touching, and not so much creepy, but they balance quite deftly between the two themes.

You can find more of their work at Johnny Wander.


“If you strip away the myth from the frog”: Exploring Muppet Christ Superstar

Via correliebre.tumblr.com

Via correliebre.tumblr.com

This is the weekend that I tend to get songs from Jesus Christ Superstar stuck in my head, so the idea of doing the show with Muppets struck me as both deranged and inspired:

Here’s a question we never thought to ask: how would Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock opera about the life of Jesus play with the Muppets? Now we know, thanks to the Muppet Christ Superstar album, with Kermit as Jesus, Gonzo as Judas, Miss Piggy as Mary Magdalene, and a chorus of clucking proto-Christian chickens.

Mind you, this is extremely unofficial.

Christo Graham recorded the unauthorized Muppet Christ Superstar, with the singers doing their best imitations of the Muppets. As weird as the concept is, it’s actually pretty fantastic in places, especially with the Electric Mayhem as Jesus’ followers—and Beaker meeping his way through “Simon Zealotes.” In other places, though, the voices are a bit off, particularly in the more emotional moments. Give it a listen.

Muppet Christ Superstar by Christo Graham

Photo credit: Via correliebre.tumblr.com.