The Christian Contagion: Globalizing Hate.

Good old American style Christian hate, it’s never enough, it must be contagious, on a pestilential level.

In the latest sign that the U.S. Religious Right increasingly views its anti-LGBTQ and anti-choice activism as part of a global culture war, American activists will be part of the training team at next month’s European Advocacy Academy, which is designed to make European advocates for “traditional” views on sex, gender and family more effective—and to make them “part of an international network that transcends country borders.” U.S.-based Religious Right groups have actively promoted anti-LGBTQ equality measures in Europe under the banner of protecting the family.

It’s bad enough that the Religious Reich has the amount of power they do in uStates, without it spreading the message of its diseased thinking elsewhere. All societies have their problems, but most of the ones in Europe are light years ahead of uStates, progressively speaking. These Americans are very bad news, and should be considered to be a contagion in the proper sense, and turned away.  The worst dregs of societies everywhere embrace this poisonous hate, drinking down the toxic kool-aid with nary a thought. Fascists of all stripes grab onto such venomous thinking like it was a lifeline, and it does provide them with even more excuses for their particular brand of hatred.

The European Advocacy Academy is organized by European Dignity Watch, a Brussels-based nonprofit group founded in 2010 that says it “defends the most vital foundations of a free society: fundamental freedoms and responsibility, marriage and the family, and the protection of life from conception to natural death.”

Oy. Short form: we don’t give a damn about you, or what you believe, you must live your life the way we say!” RWW has the full story, along with details on some of the speakers.

Renaissance Superheroes.

These amazing photos rocked my world, and there are so many of them! These are not paintings, they are photographs. From Vintage News:

The project named  Super Flemish by Goldberger has created a series of photographs that portray ultimate pop culture characters of the caliber of Spiderman, Yoda or even villains such as Darth Vader, in a Flemish treatment. The photos largely resemble 16-th century paintings, and it has taken Sacha two years to complete the ambitious project. A team of twelve people has put efforts in making the flawless makeup, hair and special effects that can be noticed on the photographs.

“A lot of the job was done before and during the shoot. Pierrick and Sebastian, my digital retouchers, helped me to get the precision and the perfection I was looking for in this series,” says Sacha. “All of it was incredible; it was like a dream come true.”

“When you see the Hulk in front of you and you, ask him to look romantic, it’s crazy. The Joker was also very impressive. He endured three hours of make-up and started to act like Heath Ledger in the movie, The Dark Knight,”  adds the French photographer.

And from Sacha Goldberger’s site:

What if Superman was born in the sixteenth century?
And what if the Hulk was a Duke?
How might Van Eyck have portrayed Snow White?

Sacha’s discovery of these characters, which goes back to childhood, gave birth to a desire
to re-appropriate them, to take them back to a time forming the cornerstone of modern western art. Sacha wants to confront these icons of American culture with contemporary painters of the Flemish school. The collection demonstrates the use of 17 century techniques counterpointing light and shadow to illustrate nobility and fragility of the super powerful of all times. It also invites you to celebrate the heroes of your childhood. These characters have become icons to reveal their humanity: tired of having to save the world without respite, promised to a destiny of endless immortality, forever trapped in their character.
The superheroes often live their lives cloaked in anonymity. These portraits give them a chance to « fix » their narcissism denied. By the temporal disturbance they produce, these images allow us to discover, under the patina of time, an unexpected melancholy of those who are to be invincible.

As science fiction meets history of art, time meets an inexhaustible desire for mythology which is within each of us.

Oh, go have a wander and look at all of them! Super Flemish and Sacha Goldberger’s main page, and Flemish in the Stars (Renaissance Star Wars).  Look at everything! And thanks to PZ for yet another timesink, I really needed another one. (Just a pinch of sarcasm there…)

The Powdercap Strangler.

The Earthy Powdercap Mushroom was minding its own business, living out a perfectly good mushroom life in Clumber Park, a pleasant, woodsy spot in Nottinghamshire, England. But it was in danger. A rare fungus was taking over—until, like a sci-fi alien erupting from a human chest, the bodysnatching fungus burst from the mushroom’s head.

These perfectly nice Powdercap mushrooms became victims of Squamanita paradoxa, the Powdercap Strangler, the Nottingham Post reports.

The Powdercap Strangler is a shadowy character. First discovered in 1948, in Oregon’s Mount Hood National Forest, the Strangler is rarely seen. It rears its actually pretty ugly head in parts of the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but everywhere it’s found, it’s an unusual sight. In the U.K., it’s only been found 23 times.

These particular Stranglers were found during a foraging expedition in the park, and identified by the British Mycological Association. The species was also seen in the U.K. in 2011.

The Powdercap is an orange mushroom, and even after the Strangler takes over, it retains an orange stem, to hold up its own grey head. As one mycologist puts it, the Strangler’s “mushroom erupts in place of the host’s mushroom.”

Atlas Obscura has the full story.

While you’re there, don’t miss this very interesting story about The Secret History of Paris’s Catacomb Mushrooms.

A Parisian inspects mushrooms growing in the tunnels underneath the city. Documents Mairie de Paris-Inspection générale des Carrières/All Rights Reserved.

Word Wednesday.



1: destructive of life: Deadly.

2: injuring or endangering society: Pernicious.

3: causing displeasure or annoyance.

4: infectious, contagious.

– pestilently, adverb.

[Origin: Middle English, from Latin pestilent-, pestilens pestilential, from pestis.]

(14th Century)

“Sir Richard was a pestilent innovator, it is certain. Before his time the Hall had been a fine block of the mellowest red brick; but Sir Richard had travelled in Italy and become infected with the Italian taste, and, having more money than his predecessors, he determined to leave an Italian palace where he had found an English house.” The Ash-Tree, Ghost Stories of an Antiquary, by M.R. James.

Note: It seems to me that pestilent innovator is a fine descriptor of Trump, although the ‘innovator’ might be a tad complimentary.