This Week in WTF, July 10, 2015

(NOTE: I’m still catching up on my backlog, so some of these may not be especially timely.)

Det regnar män. Halleluja!: Sweden came up with a fun way to address Russia’s recent spate of “no homo” legislation that is totally not trying to throw us off of anything. Okay, look, Russia and Belarus have known each other a long time, but they’re just bros, okay? Can we drop this now?

Oh, anyway, Sweden is trolling Russian submarines (which, I should mention, are long, hard, and full of seamen):

The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is to deal with encroaching Russian submarines in Swedish waters with a device emitting anti-homophobia Morse code.

The device – officially titled The Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System, but nicknamed the “gay sailor” – is a “subsurface sonar system”, which sends out the message: “This way if you are gay” in an attempt to deter apparently homophobic Russians.

(h/t Marcus) Continue reading


What I’m Reading, March 25, 2014

By Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Breadth of Hobby Lobby’s Attack On Its Employees, Scott Lemieux, Lawyers, Guns & Money, March 22, 2014

Hobby Lobby et al. are citing a “burden” on religious practice so trivial as to be non-existent in order to impose actual burdens on the rights of their employees. This nicely summarizes how American conservatives think about “freedom.”

Nauru–From Island Paradise To Hell On Earth, Down With Tyranny! March 22, 2014

I remember Nauru from the time I was a pre-teen stamp collector. It was– still is– just a speck of a South Pacific Island, about 8 square miles and less than 10,000 people. Earlier, it had been a German colony that was taken over by the Brits after World War I– like Tanganyika (which, coincidentally, also has a village named Nauru). I haven’t thought about Nauru in half a century until last night. I didn’t even know that around the time Nauru became independent, phosphate mining had given it the highest per-capita income of any country in the world– almost all of which has been swindled. They went from wealth to poverty and Nauru was reduced to taking money from Australia to host a virtual concentration camp for refugees from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine and Pakistan.

Ladders on Everest are just the latest step in our commodification of nature, Philip Hoare, The Guardian, posted at Raw Story, March 20, 2014

For a place already blighted by litter, fistfights and unburied dead bodies, it’s not so much “health and safety” as “access all areas”. Its greatest hero, Edmund Hillary, declared in 2006, two years before he died: “I think the whole attitude towards climbing Mount Everest has become rather horrifying. The people just want to get to the top.” His successor, Stephen Venables, the first Briton to climb the peak without oxygen, agreed. “The mountain has become a commodity, to be bought and sold like any other,” he said. We humans have come to expect the natural world to come commodified, negotiated, shaped to our needs. From high to low, there’s nowhere we can’t go, nothing we can’t do. In this age of the Anthropocene – the era of human manipulation heralded by the industrial revolution – it is a given that we have tuned the environment to suit ourselves. Dominion is all; human ingenuity has encompassed the planet. Now pass me the phone: “I’m on the mountain.”

More like the Dork Enlightenment, am I right?, PZ Myers, Pharyngula, March 7, 2014

I am told I’m supposed to take The Dark Enlightenment seriously. I can’t. I just can’t. What it is is mostly a bunch of pretentious white dudebro computer programmers with a fascist ideology who write tortuous long-winded screeds off the top of their heads, with most of their ‘data’ coming from pop culture movies like The Matrix, and a few similarly clueless nerds who think it’s neat-o. I take it seriously only in the same way I take Libertarianism seriously: it’s a nucleus for idiots to coalesce around.

They also throw the term HBD around a lot. If you’re not in the know, HBD is short for Human BioDiversity, and it’s the hot new sciencey word for racism. The only people who use it are racists.

Photo credit: By Mike Kalasnik from Fort Mill, USA [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.


This Week in WTF, March 8, 2014

– Stand Your Sacred Realm: Two men in Houston got in a scuffle, leading to perhaps the geekiest instance of self-defense in Texas history (h/t Jason). A man got into an argument with his girlfriend, which was apparently bad enough that she called her ex-husband. The ex shows up and….well, just read:

Thompson’s girlfriend let the man inside. Thompson said he ran to the back bedroom and told the man to leave the house, but he refused and started charging at him. That’s when Thompson says he grabbed his replica master sword from ‘The Legend of Zelda.’

Not pictured: Anything that actually happened in Houston

Not pictured: Anything that actually happened in Houston

Adult Link managed to fight the guy off, but apparently the ex-husband went full Dodongo or something. Police say he got the ex-husband out of the house, but the ex “broke through the front door” to get back in. (There’s probably a better final boss to invoke here, but I’m going with Ocarina of Time‘s Dodongo.)

Dodongo ended up with stabs wounds to the leg and chest. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition, suggesting that he’s at least a mid-level enemy. Link took a flower pot to the head. I can’t think of an analogy to the game for that one.

Link told Click2Houston, “I am just trying to figure out what to do from here. I have to find a new place to live.” I hear Termina is nice…

– This wouldn’t be creepy at all: Facebook, according to rumors, is considering buying a company that manufactures aerial drones in order to provide internet access to underserved parts of the world. Because if there’s one thing people in underserved parts of the world probably just love to see in their skies, it’s American-made UAVs.

– Meanwhile, in Australia: A snake fights a crocodile. The snake wins, and eats the crocodile. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that the snake swallows the crocodile.

David Thorne was not kidding when he said that Australia’s “primary spoken language is screaming.”

– BUT FLORIDA WILL NOT BE UPSTAGED!!! Florida will see Australia’s crocodile-fighting-killing-and-eating snake, and raise it one otter fighting, killing, and eating an alligator. Sure, it’s a baby alligator, but the pictures allow you to pretend that the otter is some sort of radioactive mutant. You know, the sort of monstrosity you might expect to see in Australia.


This Week in WTF, November 9, 2012

We had an election this week (you might have noticed.) Supporters of the guy who didn’t win got a bit, um, unhinged. My only real challenge was narrowing down the WTF to a few choice examples. Finding a winner was not so hard, though.

First, some words for Republicans threatening to move to Canada, via Americans Against the Tea Party:


Yes, a Galtian wonderland Canada is not.

The Grand Prize, though, goes to teenage Kristen Neel, who may have encountered this week’s sharpest learning curve with her stated desire to move to Australia (via the Global Secular Humanist Movement):


No media establishment, it would seem, was more amused by this than the Australian media. Neel’s folly appeared in The Age and the Courier-Mail.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who has held that office since June 24, 2010, sounds like quite the bad-ass. She certainly has neither time nor patience for the more sexist elements of the government.

I hope Ms. Neal has learned something from this little kerfuffle. Two lessons that spring to mind:

1. Australia is a more complicated place than you might think. Plus, it is full of creatures that are eager to kill you.

2. The internet sur does have a way of magnifying our little goofs, doesn’t it?