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Some questions on African-American atheism Sep. 22nd, 2014 @ 09:15 pm
Kind of on-topic, comes this piece, which I found very curious:

The growth of African-American atheism

"Christianity remains central to life in the Southern United States. But with non-belief growing, secular organisations are finding new ways of supporting those who are breaking with their faith."

I am wondering if this is part of a much wider, continuous trend. I guess what I would like to inquire about with our American fellows here is, are African Americans really about to throw off the shackles of yet another factor that has been holding them back for centuries, and has served as yet another opiate for their oppression? (Marxist hyperbole totes unintended).

Really, the question is, what tangible benefits has Christianity brought to guys like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown and the millions like them, when they regularly see their fellow Christians killing them with little to no repercussion?

And consequently, would such a trend toward possibly re-inventing themselves in a context devoid of religious overtones, somehow help African Americans gain more self-confidence in a society where they may have in a way lost their identity, having been largely shaped by their enslavers and oppressors, in this "melting pot" of a mixer machine that is American society?

Ugh! Questions, questions...Collapse )

Olive Garden as Illustrative Case Sep. 20th, 2014 @ 05:47 pm

An article in Salon reveals what's really behind that weird presentation from hedge fund Starboard Value about how to "fix" Olive Garden.

As is no surprise, considering it's a hedge fund, it's all about the Benjamins.Collapse )

Cross-posted to talk_politics


Moving sands Sep. 21st, 2014 @ 12:48 am

One of the most persistent cliches about the Middle East is that it's a swamp (or rather, a desert of moving sands) where, the more you try to get out, the more stuck you get. This notion may be buzzing inside the head of president Obama too, and giving sleepless nights to his retinue of advisors and smart-heads at the White House, now that the US has started gathering a Coalition of the Willing again, and bracing themselves for another military adventure in Iraq's sands.

We all know what has brought things to this. The many various groups from the Syrian civil war that were so erratically and arbitrarily funded in the name of deposing bad Assad in the last three years, have gradually mutated into this ISIL monster. The beheadings of Western journalists have predictably sent the wheel of war going once more, although the local people have been experiencing that sort of draconian terror on a daily basis for decades - but apparently those don't matter that much, since they're brown people who talk funny and live thousands of miles away from the safety of our comfy ketchup-stained armchairs.

Read more...Collapse )

The (still) united kingdom Sep. 20th, 2014 @ 04:48 pm

Your marriage is creaking somewhat. Things are so serious that you're already contemplating a split-up. You even file the divorce documents, although your S.O. will have none of it. But in the last moment, the arguments for preserving your relationship prevail by a tiny margin, and you make a step back. You remain together, but the damage has been done - your relations that were already in splinters have suffered a hard blow. So how do you think, what are your chances of living together happily ever after?

Well, that's how Scotland and Britain are like, right now. Their 300+ y.o. union may've survived, but although 55% of the Scots said "No" to seceding the other day, the political shake-up in the wake of that vote is sure to keep echoing for quite a while now.

No doubt, the feeling of relief must've been immense in some circles. But no one had expected that the tension would be so huge, either. And all questions starting with "What if Scotland secedes" will remain alarmingly real. And these vary from curious ponderings on whether the remainder of UK would have to keep the Union Jack, to serious issues like what currency the new independent state would be using, and how severely Britain's international standing would suffer.

How the hell did it all come to this, then?Collapse )

...And idiocracy for all! Sep. 19th, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

While we're about science & education, here's some evidence why the Idiocracy movie has been rather prophetic.

Prepare to have a few thousand of your brain cells mercilessly massacred...Collapse )

If historical events had FB statuses Sep. 19th, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

See MOAR...Collapse )

Friday LOLz. The Chuck Norris of mobile phones Sep. 18th, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

A refurbished European Commission Sep. 17th, 2014 @ 03:36 pm
Five former prime ministers (not counting the chairman himself), two former foreign ministers, and a well-pronounced leader. Juncker's European Commission which will essentially be EU's government for the next 5-year term, is looking formidable. But what does that European government actually mean for Europe? And will it be somehow different from the previous one? Here's a humble attempt to look into the matter a bit more closely.

Read more...Collapse )
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Peculiarities of the hybrid warfare Sep. 16th, 2014 @ 07:00 pm
O, hail thee, my fellow blood-thirsty vicarious circus-consumers peaceful folks who are so utterly concerned about humankind's harmonious cohabitation with itself! Scared of the little green men in green uniforms without any signs on them, are we? Don't know where they're coming from and what they want from us, eh? East Europe trembles with the shaking ground under their boots, and prepares to eat the dust from under their heels. The angry bear is stirring, and is preparing for a predator leap: RRRAWR! But this time it's masked, it has no insignia, and it uses RT to convince the world that it's actually not a bear, but a mere lamb. You gotta believe it, or else!

"War is merely the continuation of policy by other means", Carl von Clausewitz's famous "bottom-line" says. For those unaware, that was one of the preeminent military theoreticians of the 19th century. Now almost 2 centuries later, when we're seeing direct stand-offs between standing armies belonging to nation-states more seldom than ever, the Prussian general's argument is, paradoxically, more valid than back then. Even if it's somewhat tilted upside down. Today, the boundary between war and peace is painfully smeared. The Anschluss of Crimea and the stirring of a separatist uprising in East Ukraine for the last few months is the best example of that.

So what's this new beast that we speak of?Collapse )

Ghost Riders on the Sly Sep. 15th, 2014 @ 03:26 pm
Hello again, fellow political junkies! It's time for our new installment of ridiculously over-simplified hypothetical situations that you, being the benevolent ruler of your fictional state as per the NationStates model, would have to collide with. You know, your extremist decisions are somehow supposed to shape up your country in the way you deem most suitable. The last time when we had one of these polls, the overwhelming majority of the participants decided that Sen. Clintson, who argued that the political establishment better find ways to take off the public attention of the scandals marring the political careers of politicians, perhaps, by giving them a tax cut or two, did have a point. But now the issue is a bit different, namely:

The Issue

Following the passage of a well-supported bill that contained half a dozen riders, corruption watchdog groups are lobbying the government to take action against the use of these unrelated addenda in lawmaking.

The debate & a pollCollapse )

Of angry bears and cunning weasels Sep. 14th, 2014 @ 06:43 pm
U.S. seeking to split EU, Russia economically - Lavrov
The United States is seeking to take advantage of the crisis in Ukraine to break economic ties between the European Union and Russia and impose supplies of its natural gas on Europe at prices significantly higher than the Russian ones, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

As one-sided as the Russian position in this conflict may be (and quite understandably, at that), Lavrov does have one point. It's to be expected that the US would be seeking to marginalize Russia, and sustain the monopolar world that would suit their interests best. But let me add one more point, which almost everyone seems to be bypassing. In the meantime, in result of all this geopolitical struggle, one emerging superpower is silently biding its time: China. While big business (which largely runs politics) is mostly interested in the short-term profit margins (even Lavrov is speaking of geopolitics in terms of economic profits, in this case regarding the gas supplies for the European energy market), the longer-term result of such short-sighted policies is "the world be damned after me". Meanwhile, the Chinese, as is so customary for them, are silently waiting for their time to come. And when both America and Europe finally realize that they've been bickering over the wrong pieces of the pie, it'll be too late - if it hasn't come to that point already.

The anti-Russia sanctions only suit America's interestsCollapse )

Friday nonsense -- Meanwhile in various places... Sep. 13th, 2014 @ 12:11 am

Meanwhile, in many other places...Collapse )

Friday lulz. Wizards of metal Sep. 12th, 2014 @ 02:17 pm
The progressionCollapse )

It's the Scottish Sun what won it! Sep. 10th, 2014 @ 04:29 pm
Apparently our Roops has come out in favour of Scottish Independence.

So does the panel think that it's now all over bar the shouting? Or is there still some game in the old Union?

Nevertheless, when the Scots break the Union, the West-Lothian question will have been answered once and for all as far as Scots MP's are concerned, and for many English folk, that will be a good thing.

I think though, that despite being a unionist myself, if the Scots want to go, they should go. It's not an economic decision, it is one of national identity, emotion, and sentiment. And being a poor Scot may well feel better than being a marginally less poor Briton. But being only half-Celt myself, the emotional doesn't sway me entirely, and I'm cynical about how this will look when the Navy shipyards relocate to Portsmouth, and the Banks to London.
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The Jihadist foreign legion Sep. 11th, 2014 @ 12:19 am

"Do you have vacancies for executioners?" The question was asked by a wannabe Jihadist at the website. The Latvia-based social network allows users from around the world to ask questions to fellow users under the safe cover of anonymity. Along with Twitter, FB and Youtube, it's one of the most popular websites that IS (ISIS) uses for promoting their particular brand of fanatical extremism, and fill their ranks with new recruits from the West.

Thus, the video showing a man covered in black, and speaking in distinct British English, subsequently beheading US journalist James Foley, is not just meant to be a fear-inducing message, but a job announcement of some sorts. The masked suspect is known as John the Beatle (or Jihadi John) in the UK media, and is part of a trio that also included guys nicknamed Paul and Ringo. He used to be known as L Jinny for those who were familiar with the hip-hop scene of West London. The fact that he was the one to be selected for the main acting role in that horrible video, is no coincidence. The Jihadist propaganda machine is explicitly targeting young lads from London, Paris, Brussels and Stockholm, who also fancy themselves being executioners.

IS's skilful PR and unprecedented brutality has achieved one more thing: it has drawn the public attention to the increasing number of foreigners among the ranks of the group. The number of Europeans fighting for the radical Islamists in Iraq and Syria is not in the hundreds any more, but thousands, and keeps growing. The concern is that when these people come back home, they'll bring back what they've learned on the battlefield and in the Jihadist training camps, and some of them would be time bombs, now ticking inside Europe.

Read more...Collapse )

Won't someone think of the poor triceratopses! Sep. 9th, 2014 @ 12:33 am

There are times when you lose all hope in humankind. We may persumably be the most intelligent of all creatures, but just because our brains are the most developed of any mammal doesn’t mean we all use them. Case in point is the viral hilarity surrounding the image above.

Apparently, a bunch of folks have responded to a joke post on FB about Spielberg "shooting" a triceratops during a safari trip to Africa, with what for the most part looked like genuine outrage. (Poor, poor triceratops! Someone immediately jail this serial killer of endangered species!)

How could Stephen Spielberg kill a Triceratops? Gullible internet users in uproar over vintage photo of Jurassic Park director posing with 'prey'

- A photo of the Hollywood director on the set of his 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park was posted online last Sunday
- Facebook meme-maker and wit Jay Branscomb added a jokey caption claiming the photo showed a 'despicable' hunter
- Not everyone was able to appreciate his sarcastic sense of humor and criticized the 'animal killer'
- One commenter labelled Spielberg an 'inhumane p****' despite Triceratops being extinct for 66 million years
- To date the post has been shared more than 30,000 times and attracted more than 5,000 comments

Some quotes from the outrage-storm:

"Steven Spielberg, I’m disappointed in you. I’m not watching any of your movies again ANIMAL KILLER."

"Disgraceful. No wonder dinosaurs became extinct. Sickos like this kill every last one of them as soon as they are discovered. He should be in prison."

"He should be killed instead. Beautiful creature innocently living millions of years ago then this monster comes along."

But hilarity aside...Collapse )

It's the perception, smarty! Sep. 8th, 2014 @ 12:11 am

Obama: Golfing after condemning James Foley's execution was a mistake

No shit? When even your own peeps tell you that you've fucked up, things must really be stinking. But, dear Mr President, are you sure you're not making this half-assed apology only because the shit has already hit the fan, outrage-wise? ;-)

Given this, and Bush's "now watch this drive" moment, perhaps it's time the US sigil was finally changed a little bit...

But that's probably not the pointCollapse )

Telepathy confirmed? Sep. 7th, 2014 @ 09:55 pm
If only we could transfer the mind of that guy into our thick skulls, eh? ;)

Brain-to-brain 'telepathic' communication achieved for first time
Team of US-led researchers successfully achieves brain-to-brain communication between humans from India to France

...And the speculations about the implications of this were quick to follow:

"The cyborg age is coming and telepathy is going to be part of it" ...
"Soon, soldiers will be communicating by telepathy" ...
"Actual Telepathy Is One Step Closer to the Battlefield" ...
"Internet Telepathy? Thoughts Transmitted Online" ...

Conspiracy galore!Collapse )

Friday awesome... And then they all had a Guinness Sep. 6th, 2014 @ 12:28 am

Now that is what I call road rage! Sep. 5th, 2014 @ 06:17 pm
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