Pence’s Pandering.

Yesterday was Focus on the Family’s 40th anniversary. I remember 1977 well enough, and I remember the low stirrings of this evil beast of christianity. Back then, no one took this sort of nonsense seriously; Wildmon was ranting about decadent television shows, which had little more effect than to boost ratings for said shows. The anti-abortion groups were just starting up, and most of the fanatical groups were focusing on that during the remains of the ’70s. They didn’t start getting serious traction until the mid ’80s.

Before Pence took the stage, Focus on the Family president Jim Daly announced that the group would donate an ultrasound machine to a crisis pregnancy center in Indiana in the vice president’s honor.

Pence began his speech by delivering greetings from Trump, “a good friend of mine, who’s a leader, who’s a believer, who’s a tireless defender of the values that will make America great again,” and praising firebrand Focus on the Family founder James Dobson as a “friend” and a “mentor.”

“I promise you, Focus on the Family, you have an unwavering ally in President Donald Trump,” he said.

This is why I wish people wouldn’t keep nattering on about how Pence would be so much worse than Trump as far as the presidency is concerned. Trump is beginning to lose support even among his faithful, he cannot afford to alienate those christians who would like a theocracy. They are, unfortunately, a powerful base, one most moderate christians won’t oppose for one reason or another. So far, Trump has gone out of his way to give these fanatics what they want.

Pence assured the group that Trump would stand beside them in defense of “those who are persecuted for their faith, no matter the country they call home or the creed they profess,”

Um, I, uh, no. No, that’s not what’s happening, not at all. The Tiny Tyrant is busy persecuting the hell out of a whole lot of theists.

“President Trump has stood without apology for the most vulnerable in our society, the aged, the disabled, the infirm and the unborn,”

:Snort: Yeah, right. The ‘unborn’ aren’t people. I’m aged, and while I don’t consider myself disabled, I do have specific health problems which impact my quality of life. Whatever side Trump is on, it’s certainly not mine, and it’s not anyone else’s, either, unless you count billionaire’s row. Stripping people of healthcare and safety nets? That’s not care, of any kind. The only thing Trump stands for is his own pockets.

But Pence saved his most impassioned praise for Trump’s opposition to abortion rights, telling the audience that Trump “stands without apology for the sanctity of human life.” He cited the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, the reinstatement of the Mexico City Policy, also known as the global gag rule, the elimination of U.S. support for the UN Population Fund, and the passage of a law allowing states to pull funding from Planned Parenthood.

“And this summer, when we repeal and replace Obamacare, we’re going to defund Planned Parenthood once and for all,” he promised.

Oh, there’s the wet dream of all those fundies: no more Planned Parenthood. Today would be a good day for donations. There’s video of the whole mess at RWW.

Driftwood People.

Installation at Mount Fuji, November 2008.

 

“Gathering bits of wood from here and there, like an insect building a nest, I create sculptures”.

Artist Nagato Iwasaki‘s lifelike driftwood sculptures are perfect examples of the uncanny valley — the feelings of revulsion and uneasiness one experiences from non-human objects that appear a bit too similar to real human beings. Japan seems to excel at this in areas like robotics technology, and indeed, the term “uncanny valley” itself was coined in 1970 by a Japanese roboticist, Masahiro Mori. Iwasaki takes this concept out into nature, blurring the line between flesh and wood.

Over the past 25 years, Iwasaki has been crafting these sculptures as part of a collection he simply calls “torso.” The sculptures themselves are life-sized at around 180 centimeters tall, or 5 feet 9 inches and made entirely of driftwood the artist collects in various locations in Japan. No one sculpture is exactly like another which makes them all seem like individuals with their own quirks and personalities. Descriptions of Iwasaki’s sculptures by viewers run the gamut from scary, unsettling, and imposing, to profound, intriguing, and otherworldly.

I love these sculptures, perhaps because I’ve always seen wood as flesh. You can read and see much more at Spoon & Tamago.

Nurturing Hate.

Christian Picciolini, founder of the group Life After Hate, is pictured. | AP Photo.

If there is one thing the Regime is good at, it’s nurturing hate, encouraging bigotry, and fomenting unreasonable fear. Life After Hate is a small organization dedicated to de-radicalizing those in violent, extremist groups. They have lost their funding, because the Tiny Tyrant & Co. don’t believe in domestic terrorism.

The Trump administration has dropped federal support of an organization dedicated to countering white nationalist and neo-Nazi extremism, a Politico report revealed on Friday.

The organization, Life After Hate, was founded in 2009 and is run by a small staff of men and women who were once part of racist activist and extremist movements, and who now work to de-radicalize others involved in violent extremist groups.

In its final days, the Obama administration awarded the group a $400,000 grant as part of its Counter Violent Extremism (CVE) program. Life After Hate was the only group dedicated to fighting white nationalist extremism to receive a grant under the program.

It’s also in increasing demand: Picciolini told Politico that since President Trump’s election, Life After Hate has seen a 20-fold increase in requests for help, coming “from people looking to disengage or bystanders/family members looking for help from someone they know.”

But Life After Hate Founder Christian Picciolini told ThinkProgress in February the group never received its check from the federal government. And now, the organization has been dropped altogether from the list of grants associated with the CVE program, which the Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday.

[…]

“It sends a message that white extremism does not exist, or is not a priority in our country, when in fact it is a statistically larger and more present terror threat than any by foreign or other domestic actors,” Picciolini said at the time.

[…]

“We can simply look at recent history, from Dylann Roof to Wade Michael Page to countless others who killed innocent victims in the name of white supremacist ideologies,” Picciolini added. “We have hundreds of thousands of homegrown sovereign citizens and militia members with ties to white nationalism training in paramilitary camps across the U.S. and standing armed in front of mosques to intimidate marginalized Americans. The terror threat is already within our borders, yet we refuse to even call it terrorism when it happens.”

Picciolini told ThinkProgress that the Trump administration’s decision to shift away from efforts to combat far-right hate could actually make future terrorist attacks more likely. And, the shift comes at the very moment that reports indicate far-right hate is on the rise.

Think Progress has the full story. Life After Hate.

America: Draconian, Backwards, Doomed.

Shutterstock.

America, the experiment, is one that will fail. And no, this isn’t yet another report about the disastrous regime, which is simply yet another symptom of the failure in progress. It doesn’t matter that there a few states sprinkled here and there that you could consider progressive and social minded. The majority of states are not those things. A whole hell of a lot of people aren’t those things. Christianity is the biggest obstacle to social progress, morality, and humaneness. And no, I don’t give a shit if you’re a progressive, social minded christian. Until I see all of you busy, active, protesting, and lobbying against all the asshole christians, I don’t care what you say in private. Whatever you’re doing, it isn’t enough.

The insistence on puritanism rooted in misogyny is one big reason this lost country will continue to slide inexorably downwards. Too many Americans seem to think of the country as a church, and they should have the right to oppress and stomp all over certain people. Missouri is providing a fine example of this in action:

Missouri’s Senate is considering legislation that would allow employers and landlords to discriminate against women who use birth control or have had abortions. The bill, which has the support of the state’s governor, Eric Greitens, was approved by the Missouri House Tuesday.

Known as SB 5, the bill was first passed by the Senate on June 14 following a special session called by Greitens. His aim was to overturn an ordinance that prevents employers and housing providers from punishing women for their reproductive health choices, according to a report by Feministing, a feminist website.

The ordinance was passed by the city of St. Louis, and Greitens had said it made the area into “an abortion sanctuary city.” The Senate seemed to agree with him, as did the House, which on Tuesday passed an expanded version of SB 5 that included more anti-abortion restrictions. Given the Senate’s vote on June 14, it it seen as likely to approve the updated version of SB 5. This would mean that landlords could refuse to offer housing to women based on their reproductive health choices, while employers could fire female staff members who were using birth control, or refuse to hire them. And while of course this isn’t information most landlords or employers have access to, under SB 5 they could ask women what forms of reproductive health care they are using.

Yes, of course women could lie; that’s not the point though, is it? The mere fact that anyone could be given the authority to question you on your contraception use* or specific bits of your medical history ought to scare the living hell out of everyone, it should not be something enshrined in law, to say the least. Can you imagine anything of this kind of thing being applied and passed in regard to men?

* Not that most women will be able to afford contraception in the near future.

Full story here.

Cool Stuff Friday.

Bamboo coral. Credit: Rob Zugaro.


Gorgeous red spiny crab. Credit: Rob Zugaro.

Last month, a team of 58 scientists from around the world embarked on 31 day oceanic voyage to research the ethereal life forms living at the bottom of the ocean off the Eastern coast of Australia. On May 15, the Sampling The Abyss team set out from Bell Bay in Launceston, Tasmania. During their month aboard the Marine National Facility research vessel, appropriately named Investigator, the crew visited seven different Commonwealth Marine Reserves, which are essentially National Parks for sea creatures, before returning to port in Brisbane mid-June.

The expedition was initiated by Museums Victoria in partnership with the NESP Marine Biodiversity Hub, and a government research organization called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). The goal of the trip was not only to document undiscovered sea life, but to research how they have adapted to harsh living conditions two-and-a-half miles below the ocean surface.

Check out a daily blog about the voyage here, and check out more videos on the Marine Biodiversity Hub’s YouTube Channel.

You can read and see more at The Creators Project.

For years Westerners have experimented with wearing traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and jinbei. The results have, at best, been mixed. Let’s just say that it takes a certain type of non-Japanese man or women to wear a kimono without looking out of place. I for one, have never even felt the urge to try, that is until my recent encounter with the T-Kimono.

Check out the T-Kimono, a truly great alternative to the uptight Western suit.

Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from confectionery vocational school (yes, there is such a thing). Using all-natural ingredients, Toyono designs, bakes, and ices each and every cookie by hand.

According to her website, Toyono pledges to “put her heart and soul into making colorful iced cookies that will make you smile.” Most incredibly, the eye-catching colors she uses in the icing are made from natural pigments: beets (red), spirulina algae (blue), beni imo potatoes (purple), gardenia (yellow & green), and cocoa (brown). Her creations are intricate and whimsical and so beautifully made that it’s almost a shame to eat them.

Check out her Instagram for even more examples of her confectionery handiwork.

Via Spoon & Tamago.

Ribbonesia.

Absolutely check out all the amazing work of Ribbonesia! You can see and read much more at Spoon & Tamago.

Aficionados of Microsoft’s Clippy can now have an enamel pin. The Creators Project has all the info.