James Taylor and Carly Simon sing Mockingbird

I don’t know who had the brilliant idea of taking a familiar gentle lullaby and converting it into a really rocking song, one of my favorites that I never tire of hearing. It is a tribute to the person who did the arrangement and to two wonderful singers, seen here belting it out in a rousing live performance in 1979. Any baby listening to it is more likely to dance in their crib than fall asleep.
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A majority of Americans think god especially loves the US

As America celebrates the anniversary of its declaration of independence from England today, we will hear many expressions of patriotism. Mixed in with all of them will be sentiments that suggest that America is god’s favorite country. These sentiments are repeated all the time in public life and are pretty much obligatory for any politician in the US running for elected office. Anyone who as much as hints that perhaps god does not care much for national boundaries would be doomed to defeat.
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Book review: How to Defeat Religion in 10 Easy Steps (2015) by Ryan T. Gragun

The title of this new book provides further evidence, if one needed it, of the self-assurance that the atheist community now exhibits. We have come a long way from the days when atheists were unable to speak of their lack of faith due to feat of persecution. That state of affairs still exists in a few places, mainly in some Muslim-majority countries, but in the rest of the world nonbelievers have progressed steadily: from being in the closet, to coming out to publicly, to making the intellectual case for atheism, to taking more or less for granted that atheism is the better way of understanding the world. The final stage is looking at practical ways to help atheists deal with coming out, discussing morality and death and other important and existential questions from an atheist perspective, and taking the battle to religion with the confidence that they can defeat it.
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Is the case for polygamy as strong as for same-sex marriage?

Opponents of same-sex marriage warned of dire consequences if they were legalized, that pressure would build to make polygamy also legal and people would demand the right to marry their children or siblings or their pets. Now that the Supreme Court has authorized such marriages in the Obergefell ruling, they may decide to show that their warnings were not mere hyperbole and test that proposition by making such marriage license requests.
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Bernie Sanders drawing large crowds

The self-described democratic socialist running for the Democratic nomination for president is surprising political observers with the crowds that are turning up for his rallies. Yesterday saw 10,000 people packing a stadium in Madison, Wisconsin to cheer his basic message of challenging the oligarchic control of the US by “raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, bridging the gap between rich and poor, criminal justice reform and raising taxes on the wealthy and Wall Street.”

Sanders Madison
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Two more (short-term) victories at the Supreme Court

The religious right has been successful at chipping away at the right of women to get abortions and contraceptives, putting in one restriction after another. The US Supreme Court has generally gone along with these moves but at the very end of the past term the court issued two rulings that, at least in the short term, seemed to go the other way.
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