1. You know who else used to shake hands? Apparently John McCain believes that Cuba has just annexed the Sudetenland. But McCain’s hyperbole and hyperventilating shouldn’t cause us to overlook the significance of the human rights violations still going on in Cuba. Hundreds of political prisoners have been detained there indefinitely, without charges and without trial, for more than a decade now. Oh, wait …
2. Speaking of American colonies, John Fea highlights Tanya Basu’s National Geographic article, “Have We Found the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island?” It’s a fun bit of speculation based on a symbol discovered hidden on an early map — could that be where the lost colony will be found? I’ll just note that “Croatoan” is an anagram for “A cat or no,” which suggests, a la Schrödinger, that the colony is both there and not there until we observe it as being either one or the other.
3. Brave Colorado gun-owner stands his ground against disabled children hogging handicapped space in Walmart parking lot.
4. I’ve mentioned this before, but the United States — one of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries in the history of the world — still has zero offshore wind farms. That’s inexcusable. We need the energy and this clean, renewable energy is there for the taking.
The UK has offshore wind. So do Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, China, Sweden, South Korea and Belgium. But despite being blessed with more than 12,000 miles of coastline, the U.S. still has no offshore wind farms.
Grist’s John Upton reports on another reason this is inexcusable:
Stanford University researchers used computer simulations to calculate that a protective wall of 70,000 offshore wind turbines built 60 miles offshore from New Orleans would have reduced Hurricane Katrina’s wind speeds by 50 percent by the time it reached land. The storm surges that toppled levees would have been reduced by nearly three-quarters. And a lot of electricity would have been produced, to boot, with the spinning of the wind turbines absorbing much of the storm’s power.
A similar array off the coast of New York or New Jersey could have reduced Hurricane Sandy’s wind speeds by 65 miles per hours, the scientists found.
5. Kids who are home-schooled with the Accelerated Christian Education curriculum get really good grades. Is this because: A) Quentin Tarentino; B) a gerbil; C) Prince Albert in a can; D) The multiple choice tests supplied by ACE are absurd and absurdly easy. Jonny Scaramanga of Leaving Fundamentalism provides 33 actual examples of “jaw-droppingly bad multiple-choice questions” used by the fundamentalist curriculum, noting that this “this academically third-rate and theologically fourth-rate” system is being used in 6,000 schools worldwide.
6. American Family Association radio host and AIDS-denying racist Bryan Fischer does, at least, serve the useful function of clarifying right-wing arguments by stating them more explicitly than his more pragmatic co-belligerents:
You can ban a monument to Satan because that’s not Christianity. … You can say “No, we’re not going to let you do it. Our Constitution protects the free exercise of the Christian religion; yours is not a Christian expression, we’re not going to have that monument.” If we don’t understand the word “religion” to mean Christianity as the founders intended it, then we have no way to stop Islam, we have no way to stop Satanism, we have no way to stop any other sort of sinister religion practice that might creep onto the fruited plains.
One reason the Manhattan Declaration was so horribly written was that its authors had to twist themselves into knots trying to say exactly that without coming right out and admitting it like Fischer does.
7. Here’s Amos Lee singing John Prine’s “Christmas in Prison.” With a chorus that starts “Wait a while eternity,” this might kind of also qualify as an advent song: