Open thread

Fulfill your infidel wiles with Carnival of the Godless #54.  It’s the Christmas shopping edition.  Don’t let the irony of that escape you.

There is a new carnival I’m including this time round.  It’s Carnival of Citizens #1.  This blog circus is intended to provide an avenue for reasoned debate and discussion on a variety of topics.  The first incarnation offers a compelling mix of topics worthy of consideration.  I will say this: After visiting many of the posts, the original authors had the right idea while it appears commenters are demonstrating expected cluelessness by reverting to thugish behavior.  Still, the concept is worth exploring (assuming people are capable of civil discourse) and this version provides plenty of thought-provoking material to consider—even if one has to ignore much of the feedback from those unable to comprehend the premise of reasoned and respectful deliberation.

If you want peace, I guess you’re supporting the terrorists.  “DENVER – A homeowners association in southwestern Colorado has threatened to fine a resident $25 a day until she removes a Christmas wreath with a peace sign that some say is an anti-Iraq war protest or a symbol of Satan. Some residents who have complained have children serving in Iraq, said Bob Kearns, president of the Loma Linda Homeowners Association in Pagosa Springs. He said some residents have also believed it was a symbol of Satan. Three or four residents complained, he said. ‘Somebody could put up signs that say drop bombs on Iraq. If you let one go up you have to let them all go up,’ he said in a telephone interview Sunday. Lisa Jensen said she wasn’t thinking of the war when she hung the wreath. She said, ‘Peace is way bigger than not being at war. This is a spiritual thing.'”  That’s right.  Show her that we hate peace and won’t put up with that crap!  And if you look at the photo of the wreath, explain to me how anyone could take offense with it.  What a bunch of warmongering idiots.

Why We Worry About The Things We Shouldn’t… …And Ignore The Things We Should: “It would be a lot easier to enjoy your life if there weren’t so many things trying to kill you every day. The problems start even before you’re fully awake. There’s the fall out of bed that kills 600 Americans each year. There’s the early-morning heart attack, which is 40% more common than those that strike later in the day. There’s the fatal plunge down the stairs, the bite of sausage that gets lodged in your throat, the tumble on the slippery sidewalk as you leave the house, the high-speed automotive pinball game that is your daily commute. Other dangers stalk you all day long. Will a cabbie’s brakes fail when you’re in the crosswalk? Will you have a violent reaction to bad food? And what about the risks you carry with you all your life?”  This article really is too good and too robust to capture in a single quote, but hopefully that gives you an idea of what it’s about.  I can’t recommend enough that you go read it.

The first remarkable close-up pictures of animals in the womb: “An unborn elephant, tiny but perfect in every way. A dolphin swimming in the womb, just as it will have to swim in the ocean the moment it is born. An unborn dog panting. Each one amazing and now, thanks to these remarkable pictures, they can be seen for the first time.”  This is a fantastic gallery of photos taken from a nature program airing in the near future.  You can see more details of the program here, which includes video, additional photos, an interactive time line, and plenty of other background and information.  This stuff is really fascinating.

Bombings push Iraq closer to abyss: “The bloodiest bombings in Baghdad since the U.S. invasion in 2003, and the reprisals that swiftly followed, show that Iraq’s sectarian conflict may be too far gone for leaders to stop, even if they want to. The killings of some 250 people in just a few days last week marked a ‘high-water mark’, analysts said. It demonstrated with savage clarity how little control Iraq’s government exercises, with a security force accused of sectarian bias and a series of peace plans doing little to slow the pace of killing.”  I think it’s time to admit we’ve utterly failed and that Iraq is experiencing unremitting civil war that the U.S. is unable to curb.

Carnival of the Cats #140 can fulfill the most finicky feline fix, so go get your cat on.

Cool!  “The weird and wonderful creatures living by methane vents in the southwest Pacific have been photographed for the first time…”  Check out the hi-res version of the photo.  It’s like a wiggly feather duster, only different.

Interesting news from both evolutionary and intelligence perspectives.  “Cetaceans, the group of marine mammals that includes whales and dolphins, have demonstrated remarkable auditory and communicative abilities, as well as complex social behaviors. A new study published online November 27, 2006 in The Anatomical Record, the official journal of the American Association of Anatomists,compared a humpback whale brain with brains from several other cetacean species and found the presence of a certain type of neuron cell that is also found in humans. This suggests that certain cetaceans and hominids may have evolved side by side.”

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