Neanderthal Sculpture Garden

A mysterious series of rock formations recently discovered in France have been identified as potentially religious or cultural work of Neanderthals from over 175,000 years ago, over four times older than the oldest cave paintings. Inside Bruniquel Cave in southwest France, researchers have found formations of broken stalagmites that appear to have been arranged intentionally, and are scorched in places with fire. These findings suggest that Neanderthals were not the brainless brutes we think of them as, but similar to us in their capacity for culture.

The study, led by Belgium-based scientist Sophie Verheyden, cites, “The regular geometry of the stalagmite circles, the arrangement of broken stalagmites, and several traces of fire,” as well as their location over 1,000′ into the cave to suggest mastery of the environment, “which can be considered a major step in human modernity.” Uranium dating (more accurate than carbon dating) indicates that these rock circles were made 176,600 years ago makes this feat very impressive. We know that Neanderthals could make markings resembling abstract art and use fire, but they’re not known for exploring caves past the reach of sunlight, much less to create works that could be a prehistoric sculpture garden.

Full Story at The Creators Project. Unfortunately, the study is behind a paywall.

Ray Comfort & The Reason Rally, Part II.

Ray Comfort and Subway gift cards that had been intended for Reason Rally attendees (Image courtesy Ray Comfort)

Ray Comfort and Subway gift cards that had been intended for Reason Rally attendees (Image courtesy Ray Comfort)

Remember Ray’s plan to invade the Reason Rally, and sway black, atheist hearts with cheap Subway gift cards? Well, Washington police have nixed his grand plan:

Ray Comfort is reluctantly canceling plans to give books and gift cards for Subway sandwiches to atheists at a coming rally in Washington. Police forced him to cancel, he explained to WND, because of the size of his contingency. More than 1,000 Christians had volunteered to help hand out the gifts to atheists who will be attending this year’s Reason Rally. […] The huge number of people who volunteered to join him apparently caused concern among Washington police. “To the D.C. police,” he said, “that constituted a protest and therefore we needed a permit to gather. We would have to stay at the other end of the National Mall, and they said that if we persisted to approach atheists to speak with them we would be arrested.”

He still plans to be there with a crew of 17 people.


“In what is so often a cruel world, we tried to show a little kindness and it didn’t work. So it now looks like we will be eating Subway sandwiches for the next 40 years,” he said.

A little kindness? Oh, ever the liar, Ray. You were grandstanding again, looking to feed your ego, rather than doing something truly kind, like feeding people who are desperately hungry. It seems even when your planned arrogance is quashed, you still can’t manage that simple act of kindness.

Full Story Here (be warned, it’s mostly a praise and link dump all about Ray, Ray, Ray.)

Oh Fuck. No.

ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem

ND Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem

Oh, look, I get to hang my head in shame now, along with a lot of other people. Fuck.

North Dakota Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Friday morning he will file a lawsuit against the federal government over transgender bathroom policies.

Stenehjem said he is working to bring together a “coalition” of attorneys general to file a lawsuit next week in the Eighth Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals, which includes North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Arkansas. Officials from 11 states, led by Texas, took legal action this week over the Obama administration directing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identities.

Stenehjem said the lawsuit he’s bringing is “basically the same” as the one brought by the other states.


Kylie Oversen, chairwoman of the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, said it was “disappointing to see Stenehjem’s response to this directive.”

“Whether it’s at the workplace, in housing, the voting booth, or public spaces, discrimination in all forms is flat out wrong,” she said in an email.

State Rep. Marvin Nelson, the Democratic candidate for North Dakota governor, was also critical of Stenehjem’s decision. He said transgender people are probably the least likely to want to “create an issue in the bathroom.”

“I don’t know why the state of North Dakota would be spending money on this lawsuit,” Nelson said, adding other states have already taken legal action.

Via Inforum, full story here.

Stenehjem isn’t joining the existing lawsuit against the government, he’s writing up his own, but says it will mirror what other states are doing.

That statement welcomed from the North Dakota School Board Association.

“This will give courts the opportunity to really consider the legitimacy of the Obama Administration’s directive,” says Jon Martinson, who is a part of the School Board Association.

The School board association says Obama’s proposal isn’t specific enough on who is a transgender child.

“A simple declaration that now on Wednesday, I’m a female, I’m declaring myself a female, although genetically and biologically I’m a male, and I want to be able to use now the women’s bathroom and the women’s locker room, is not going to fly,” said Martinson.


“Children and their education shouldn’t be politicized like this,” says Kristen Benson, Family Therapist

Benson says she often hears horror stories about life for those in the transgender community.

“She was a transgender child and she was so scared to use the restroom and didn’t feel like they didn’t have the support at school, so they didn’t eat or drink anything while at school. Because that is how they could avoid this issue, and no child should have to do that,” says Benson.


A debate of a political or lived experience, that will take months and money to fight.

“It’s a travesty that we are wasting time, energy and money to prevent children from using the restroom when there are children in this state who aren’t eating,” said Benson.

Via WDAY6, full story here.

Going back to the Inforum article for a moment, I took part in their poll:


Eliminating Conflict by Design.

Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League shared a potential design for a gender-neutral restroom that the theater chain hopes to build at its new location. (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League shared a potential design for a gender-neutral restroom that the theater chain hopes to build at its new location. (Courtesy of Alamo Drafthouse)

While activists and officials on both sides of the debate are lawyering up, the founder of a popular Austin movie-theater chain has unveiled plans for his business to sidestep the debate altogether, before it’s had a chance to fully take root in Texas.

The idea, outlined on Facebook by Alamo Drafthouse Cinema founder Tim League, is to design a restroom that is “comfortable for all genders.”

“Instead of taking sides on whether or not sexual predators will be invading the restrooms of our stores or public schools, we’ve been thinking about what an inclusive commercial gender-neutral restroom design might look like so that these challenges are not even part of the dialogue,” League’s post says. “The consensus was that we’d have a room with ‘standing’ toilets (heck, we’re even looking at those all-gender urinals) and individual rooms with sinks, mirrors and trash cans in each room, our ‘seated’ toilet area.”

“I don’t want to have any ‘men’ or ‘women’ signs in the building,” the post adds.


The restroom would be placed in the next Alamo Drafthouse location, League said, noting that he has been working with an architect.

His Facebook post includes a drawing of the evolving design that he hopes will meet city code.

What exactly a gender-neutral urinal looks like remains an open question, even for those involved in designing one.

“It’s new territory,” Alamo Drafthouse architect Richard Weiss told NBC affiliate KXAN. “It’s something we’re looking into. It’s essentially a urinal that has a throat that comes out, it’s a deeper stall.”

“The ultimate goal,” he added, “is that everybody should be able to do what they want to do where they want to do it.”


In a subsequent Facebook post, League clarified his position on transgender people and restrooms.

“My intent on the previous post was to discuss architectural design details for the proposed bathroom,” he wrote.

But, he added, he does not consider himself a neutral voice on the issue. Instead, he’s taken a side.

“My side is that bigotry and the associated violence and/or shaming stemming from your choice of stall is unacceptable,” he wrote. “But changing that mindset is likely going to take a long time. My hope is that by changing the design of restrooms we can in the meantime avoid some potential violence.”

He told KXAN that he was moved to take action by stories of young people becoming targets of violence.

“It’s the stories you hear of transgender kids getting beat up in high school bathrooms,” League said. “That’s a real problem and like I say, you can’t necessarily change everybody’s mind immediately on these issues, but you can hopefully by design eliminate conflict.”

Full Story Here. And a Way to Go! to Tim League, for being thoughtful, for listening, for caring, and for seeking a solution.

Make that Twelve. Again.

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks during the 145th NRA Convention inside Freedom Hall on Friday afternoon. May 20, 2016(Photo: Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal)

Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin speaks during the 145th NRA Convention inside Freedom Hall on Friday afternoon. May 20, 2016(Photo: Alton Strupp/The Courier-Journal)

FRANKFORT, Ky. – Kentucky is joining 11 other states in their lawsuit against the federal government over its transgender bathroom guidelines.

“The federal government has no authority to dictate local school districts’ bathroom and locker room policies,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a statement Friday announcing Kentucky will join the case. “The Obama administration’s transgender policy ‘guidelines’ are an absurd federal overreach into a local issue.”

Also in his news release, the Republican governor took a swipe at Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“Unfortunately, Attorney General Andy Beshear is unwilling to protect Kentucky’s control over local issues,” he said. “Therefore, my administration will do so by joining this lawsuit. We are committed to protecting the 10th Amendment and fighting federal overreach into state and local issues.”

Beshear responded that Bevin’s statement “is not truthful.”

Beshear’s statement said, The Office of the Attorney General has been closely reviewing this matter. On the day the federal government issued its guidance, the governor stated he was researching legal options. I expected to be consulted on those options, but my office has not received a single phone call from the governor or his attorneys on this matter … Sadly, this is another example of the governor’s office playing politics instead of trying to work with us.”

The Full Story Here.

Back to Eleven.

Attorney General Jim Hood. AP Photo.

Attorney General Jim Hood. AP Photo.

Yesterday, Gov. Phil Bryant hollered “Twelve!”, referring to his state joining up with eleven others to sue the government over transgender rights. Today, it seems the Governor is on his own:

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says the state will not be joining a lawsuit against the federal government, despite Gov. Phil Bryant’s plan to be involved.

“Gov. Bryant has now joined the suit on behalf of his office, but not the state,” Hood said Thursday in an online statement, referring to the governor’s plan to bypass his authority. “Only the attorney general can represent our state in such lawsuits, which includes all branches of government and, more important, all of the people of our state. I cannot lend the name of the state of Mississippi to this lawsuit.”

Clay Chandler, a spokesman for the governor, told The Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., that the  Democratic attorney general refused to join in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday by Texas and 10 other states. The 11 states are suing the Obama administration over the guidance it issued May 13 that suggests public schools respect the gender identity of transgender students. Chandler told the paper that the governor had plans to use one of his own staff attorneys in the suit.


Hood wrote in his online statement that transgender people have been using the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity for many decades. “This activity by a small percentage of people has gone virtually unnoticed by our society for probably a century,” he continued.

Since there has been no “enforcement action brought by the federal government against a Mississippi school” because of the guidance, Hood says he will not be taking steps toward joining the lawsuit at this time.

I’d feel better if Hood hadn’t tacked on an “at this time”, but at least it is a sensible reaction, a rare commodity these days. Full Story Here.

The Largest Christian Event on Earth.



Yesterday, Christians from Brazil celebrated the Corpus Christi holiday, a date to celebrate the body of Jesus Christ. Evangelical churches held a major event in São Paulo’s city center: the March For Jesus, an event organized by the Reborn in Christ Church for the past 24 years. This year’s numbers are staggering: more than 500 churches were there, attracting a public of 340,000 people. Organizers have called it “the largest Christian event on Earth.”


This March for Jesus is evidence of the demographic change witnessed by Brazil over the last few decades. In the 1960s, evangelicals made up no more than 4% of Brazilians. They are now 22% of our population.

These churches began preaching in Brazil early into the 20th century – always maintaining a low-profile fashion. The two main branches of evangelism found in Brazil were Pentecostal churches, first created in the U.S. with the influence of Baptists and Methodists, and Neo-Pentecostal churches, which blame the Devil for just about anything that isn’t going according to plan.

The latter group rose in the 1980s with an approach geared towards the media, and began to buy up TV and radio stations – and used airtime to spread their word. Neo-Pentecostals are adherents of the Prosperity Theory, which connects financial gains to the blessings of God. Evangelicals represented just 5% of the Brazilian population in the 1970s. Now, they number 1 out of every 4 Brazilians. Every year, 14,000 new churches open nationwide. [That’s absolutely staggering, how many churches are actually necessary? At that rate, there shouldn’t be room for anything else.]


Full Article Here.

Pork-dipped Bullets and Armed Idiots.

Texas militia member -- (AJPlus screen grab)

Texas militia member — (AJPlus screen grab)

In a video posted to Twitter by AJPlus, weekend warriors in Texas explain that they will be using bullets dipped in pigs blood or smeared with bacon’ grease when the time comes to stop the “Arab uprising” they believe will overrun their state.

In the video, one unidentified militia member explains the importance of using pork-dipped bullets.

“A lot of us here are using either pig’s blood or bacon grease on our bullets, ” he explains, adding, “So that when you shoot a Muslim they go straight to hell. That’s what they believe in their religion.”

Added another militia member, “Don’t f*ck with white people,” before showing off his shooting prowess with a shotgun.

I don’t think I can say anything remotely reasonable about these people, so I’ll just go with Fuck. Scary.

Via AJPlus and Raw Story.