Taking a break from political debates

I have decided to take a break from watching the debates and town halls held by the Democratic and Republican candidates. I started watching the Democratic town hall on Wednesday but soon got tired of it. I think it is because as a fairly close observer of politics, I am not learning anything new about the candidates’ views from these events. I think I pretty much know where they stand so watching would be largely for style not substance and I am not that interested in style. I figure that if they say something really new or interesting, I will hear or read about it elsewhere.
[Read more…]

Taking god off US currency

Michael Newdow is the atheist who at one time argued before the US Supreme Court that the phrase “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance that school children say in school violated the Establishment Clause and was thus unconstitutional. The court ruled against him on a technicality that he was at the time not the legal custodian of his daughter, the one in whose name the suit was brought, and thus lacked standing. His later attempts to rectify that issue by representing other children did not succeed at the Appeals Court level and he gave up on it.
[Read more…]

The making of Airplane!

One of the all-time great comedies is the 1980 film Airplane!. Its creators gave an interview about how they wrote the script and managed to get a major studio to back the film, especially the idea of using actors such as Robert Stack, Lloyd Bridges, Pater Graves, and Leslie Nielsen, known for playing dramatic roles, to play parts that would have normally gone to comedians.
[Read more…]

What war does

Words cannot adequately describe the horrors that wars inflict on people. In this video captured by drones flying over the city of Homs in Syria, we get a look at the staggering levels of devastation that has been inflicted on the people of that city. This used to be the third largest city in Syria and a major industrial center. It is heartbreaking to see the impoverishment of yet another country in that region similar to the way that Iraq and Libya, other countries that had a modern infrastructure, were ruined by wars.
[Read more…]

UN panel says that Julian Assange has been kept in ‘arbitrary detention’

The Guardian is reporting that Julian Assange’s three and a half years holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London constitutes “arbitrary detention”. The official report is to be released tomorrow though the British and Swedish governments were informed two weeks ago. Assange’s lawyers are already calling for him to be allowed to leave the embassy without the threat of extradition to the US hanging over him.
[Read more…]

Score a win for the Satanists

In a post a few days ago, I wrote about how The Satanic Temple had applied to deliver the opening prayer at a meeting of the Phoenix, AZ city council. The council had been having opening prayers for over sixty years but the 2014 Greece v Galloway decision by the US Supreme Court had required government entities that offered such prayers to open it up to all groups and thus avoid the appearance of endorsing specific viewpoints.
[Read more…]

Rand Paul also bows out

Rand Paul has dropped out of the Republican race for his party’s presidential nomination after coming in fifth in Iowa. I thought that he would stay in at least until the New Hampshire primary because the evangelical climate of Iowa was not really conducive to his campaign and the more libertarian streak in New Hampshire would be better for him. But his poll numbers were poor there too and he must have decided it was hopeless to carry on.
[Read more…]

Cheating in professional sports

The world of tennis was reportedly rocked by a Buzzfeed/BBC investigative report that alleged that up to 70 tennis professionals, including 16 who had been in the top 50 and included winners of singles and doubles titles at Grand Slam events, had taken money for fixing matches, either deliberately losing or arranging for their opponent to lose. Players were offered $50,000 or more for fixing games and gambling syndicates made hundreds of thousands of dollars in return. The fixing was suspected after investigators looked at suspicious bets placed on events.
[Read more…]