Friday, May 1, 2015

Chinese, NASA teams say physics-defying, solar-powered 63 million MPH space engine works!

NASA just announced a new test of an engine based on an invention by British scientist Roger Sawyer. One account says a spaceship powered by the solar-powered microwave engine would top out at 9.4% of the speed of light on a trip to nearby Alpha Centari (which, interestingly, has not one but two aliases),
     BTW, 9.4% of the speed of light is, by AKSARBENT's rough calculations, 63 million MPH — wonderful news if you, like Sammy Hagar, just can't drive 55.
Sawyer's engine
     Such a jaunt would take 92 years, by which time you would probably look even older than the admittedly well-preserved Harrison Ford, even allowing for the youth-preserving effects of going really fast.
     Deceleration performance is absolutely terrible, although you probably wouldn't want grabby brakes when traveling 17,000+ miles per second: Add another 38 years if your astronaut descendents want to stop to admire the view.
     Full disclosure: some scientists are still quite skeptical.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Here's a limping Chernobyl fox that can make a sandwich

Don't get your hopes up, Jimmy John's — animals can't sign the non-compete clauses that you require of even your lowest-wage employees.

Scalia tried floating fear that pro-gay marriage ruling would bar anti-gay marriage ministers from marrying anyone — before Kagan and Breyer shut him up

Fellow travelers: some people scream cray cray from the
gallery, some people intone it from the bench.
Shortly after crackpot-with-priors Rives Miller Grogan yelled that gay marriage supporters could "burn in hell," Justice Antonin Scalia pronounced his outburst "rather refreshing."
     Maybe he was mad that Justices Kagan and Breyer had just demolished his ridiculous suggestion that a pro-gay marriage ruling would prevent anti-gay marriage ministers from marrying anyone. (Various news accounts characterized his concern as merely worrying that anti-gay ministers would be compelled to marry gay couples.)
     Here's what he said (transcript links are here):

In response, Justice Kagan pointedly noted:
...there are many rabbis that will not conduct marriages between Jews and non-Jews, notwithstanding that we have a constitutional prohibition against religious discrimination. And those rabbis get all the powers and privileges of the State, even if they have that rule, most — many, many rabbis won't do that.
Then Justice Breyer sharply reminded Scalia:
It's called Congress shall make no law respecting the freedom of religion.

The gender bias argument against gay marriage bans gets serious attention from Chief Justice Roberts

The New York Times examined the sex discrimination argument against 'gay marriage' bans in the wake of Chief Justice Roberts's comments in yesterday's oral arguments and suggested that he might be looking for a way to rule in favor of gay marriage.
     Such arguments have been raised in lower courts before. Roberts put it this way:
I'm not sure it's necessary to get into sexual orientation to resolve the case. I mean, if Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can't. And the difference is based on their different sex. Why isn't that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?
     Here at AKSARBENT we call refutations of such reasoning the Anatole France dodge — that there is no discrimination against gays in marriage because they are free to marry the opposite sex, just as heteros are, or put another way, that neither gender suffers discrimination in same sex marriage bans because both are equally burdened from a prohibition on marrying members of their own gender.
La majestueuse égalité des lois, qui interdit au riche comme au pauvre de coucher sous les ponts, de mendier dans les rues et de voler du pain. [In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.]
                                  —Le Lys Rouge [The Red Lily] (1894), ch. 7
     Of course, citing French literature, no matter how brilliantly sarcastic, will get you nowhere in a U.S. Court of Law, so we wondered how a lawyer would argue against the sex discrimination response by the anti-gay marriage crowd.
     The Times article provided the answer:
     John J. Bursch, a lawyer defending same-sex marriage bans, had two responses in court to the chief justice’s question. First, he said, it is sex discrimination only if the two sexes are treated differently, but the bans place equivalent burdens on men and women.
     Ilya Somin, a law professor at George Mason University, wrote on The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog about law, that the problem with this argument “is that, by the same reasoning, laws banning interracial marriage don’t discriminate on the basis of race.”
     Indeed, courts for years justified bans on interracial marriage on such a “separate but equal” rationale.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Justice Scalia: screaming antigay nutcase hauled away at Supreme Court was 'rather refreshing'

Also: How Justices Kagan and Breyer shut down Scalia's blatant fear-mongering

The outburst happened shortly after Justices Kagan and Breyer demolished a Scalia religious liberty objection regarding the supposed disqualification of anti-gay marriage ministers from officiating any marriages should the Supreme Court rule same sex marriage a right. Links to transcripts and audio here.

Listen: Oral arguments for and against gay marriage at Supreme Court

This morning the Supreme Court separately heard arguments on two gay marriage questions:
1) Does the 14th Amendment require states to license same-sex marriages?
2) And does it require them to recognize those marriages performed in other states?
Via SCOTUS blog:

Near the end of arguments on the first question, a gay marriage opponent (apparently an elderly man) was escorted, screaming, out of the chamber shortly after Justices Kagan and Breyer demolished a Scalia religious liberty objection regarding the supposed disqualification of anti-gay marriage ministers from officiating any marriages.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Obama gay jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Numbers 10 and 4 gay-themed swipes at Indiana and Rick Santorum, were listed in Politico's top ten Obama jibes.

     10. On former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum’s declaration that he would not attend a gay wedding if invited: “Gays and lesbians across the country responded, ‘That’s not going to be a problem.’”
     4. On his ever-improving relationship with Vice President Joe Biden: “We’ve gotten so close that in some places in Indiana they won’t serve us pizza anymore.”
     The New York Times stopped sending reporters to the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2007, when it apparently decided that the cozy Beltway schmoozing of journalists, celebrities and politicians had become too unseemly to merit its august presence. We can't say that we disagree.

Saudis displace 100,000 Yemenis in U.S.-abetted attacks; country was already impoverished

Democracy Now! takes apart the public statement of the Saudi ambassador.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A death in the family

This weekend AKSARBENT attended a memorial in the Omaha area for a friend claimed by cancer. At the right you see his bereft daughter and son consoling the man's companion, a stroke victim who will now have to depend on others for assistance.
     Along with our sadness, we felt an unexpected measure of anger and contempt for politicians who repeatedly raid the public purse to pursue an agenda of making life difficult in ingeniously nasty ways for whomever they happen to feel morally superior to — and collaterally, their relatives, like the ones pictured here.
     One of these types is the current attorney general of Nebraska, Donald Peterson, who we have excoriated in this blog before.
     The same Donald Peterson who filed a motion putting the State of Nebraska on record urging serious judicial consideration of the junk social science research of Mark Regnerus, author of a widely discredited study funded and/or publicized by several right-wing organizations lobbying against marriage equality.
     The same Donald Peterson who is spending Nebraska tax revenue to help the attorney general of Texas block (for as long as he can get away with it) Family and Medical Leave for gay Texas couples legally married elsewhere.
     We left the memorial more determined than ever never to caste a vote for someone who is making a career out of using his staff to kick the stool out from under people who have enough to contend with already and then cynically and laughably complaining about the alleged intolerance and incivility of people repulsed by the calculating animus of himself and his ilk.

Friday, April 24, 2015

NE AG office: judge shouldn't strike LGBT adoption ban as state isn't following it right now

Assistant Attorney General Jessica Forch, according to the Omaha World-Herald, told Lancaster County District Judge John Colborn that he needn't strike down the policy, being challenged by the ACLU, because it isn't being followed now: "We're not arguing that it is constitutional. It is not applied It is not a policy. It's nothing."
     Victims of the guideline, in place since the mid-90s under Democratic Gov. Ben Nelson, would beg to differ about the harmlessness of the policy and did recently, during hearings on LB647, a bill to prohibit the state from discriminating in adoptions because of sexual orientation.

    The notorious memo specifically bars licensing or placing children with “persons who identify themselves as homosexuals."
     Forch said [former HHS children and family services director Thomas] Pristow approved 15 placements with gay or lesbian foster parents from that time until he was let go by incoming Gov. Pete Ricketts...
     In response to questions from Judge Colborn, Forch acknowledged that proposed placements with gay or lesbian foster parents had to go through more levels of approval than other placements. She said the scrutiny was intended to prevent bias.
     Forch also said there was no evidence the couples named in the lawsuit had been discriminated against.
     Claims that two of the couples were told they could not apply to be foster parents amounted to hearsay and should not be admitted as evidence, she said.

Watching this will only make you even more disgusted with NE AG Donald Peterson's anti-marriage equality stalling tactics on your dime

The world is rapidly leaving stubborn bigots like Peterson and the like-minded heterosexual supremacists with whom he has packed the NE AG's office. But the GOP keeps propelling them into office, and they keep spending your money on legal stalling tactics to further their Quixotic anti-marriage equality agenda, which has now failed in 37 states, including every one surrounding Nebraska.

YSU posters tell LGBTs not to reveal their differences

The anonymously-posted flyers tell LGBTs to "...go about your day without telling everyone about how "different" you are."
     The message goes on:

Brought to you by the students that [sic] are sick of hearing about your LGBT pride. Nobody cares about what you think you are, or what you want to have sex with... We just don't give a fuck.

     This looks to us like the work of as few as one jerk purporting to speak for many.

Liberty University hires notoriously antigay assistant football coach

Above, Brown testifying against proposed LGBT antibias
additions to Omaha municipal charter, subsequently passed
In the wake of head coach Bo Pellini's firing by Nebraska, Brown's contract was not renewed.
     Brown followed Pellini to Ohio, but will now coach at ultra-right wing Liberty University, after being hired by head coach Turner Gill, an NU alumnus and former assistant coach at Nebraska, with whom Brown worked for 13 years.
     From Chris Lang, of the Lynchburg News Advance:
      Liberty is set to hire longtime Nebraska assistant coach Ron Brown as its new wide receivers coach, according to the coaching industry website was not retained in Lincoln after Mike Riley took over as the Cornhuskers’ head coach.
     ...Speaking of his relationship with Gill in a 2010 Lincoln Journal Star story: “All kinds of things that have gone on in life that you share. That’s the beauty of coaching and friendships. Even when you leave in the coaching profession, and you don’t stay together forever, you can have a friend that you still connect with in a powerful way. That’s very special. And Turner and I have that.”
      Liberty University touts itself as:
...a pioneer in online education, allowing non-traditional learners around the world access to the same quality programs as residential students. Overall enrollment has increased from 64,000 in 2010 to more than 100,000 today. Liberty is now the largest private, nonprofit four-year college in the country, the nation’s fifth largest university, and the largest college in Virginia.
     Left unmentioned in Liberty's self-promotion is the University's huge amount of federal financial aid — $445,000,000 in 2010 alone ($25,000,000 more than the government gave to NPR.) according to Alex Parene at Salon.

KNXV: Beginning of the end for Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

Arpaio's admission of a secret investigation of the wife of judge presiding over contempt proceedings could bring him jail time for intimidating a federal officer — or, in a scenario raised by his remaining lawyers (one quit his defense this week) it could get the judge removed from the case.

Watch: Lambda Legal's new marriage equality ad

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NE Gov. tells state's Atheists and Agnostics to recognize the need to strengthen religious values

Specifically, Pete Ricketts, in the governor's annual suck-up to showboat piety, the National Day of Prayer, urged:
It is fitting and proper to give thanks to God by observing a day of prayer in Nebraska when all may acknowledge our blessing and express gratitude for them, while recognizing the need for strengthening religious and moral values in our state...
Pete Ricketts is, of course, a wealthy scion of his family's business, TD Ameritrade, which strengthened moral values by ransoming its customers' trades to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars per year to a Chicago high-speed trading firm that engaged in electronic "front-running" in order to inflate the cost of purchasing stock by the amount it pocketed by intervening to up the price.

Five years after BP gulf spill, things AREN'T back to normal

Who cries more on the Internet: Italians or Americans?

Above: various Italians, weeping pitifully
Surprisingly, Americans do. But Italians are in the top five. Of course, by "Americans," we mean U.S. citizens. Canadians, though outwardly polite, actually rival even Australians as online goons. Swiftkey analyzed a billion emojis from all over the world. Its report is here.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dieseltec, antigay garage, applied for a city business license today

Although licensed by the state, facebook homophobe Brian Klawiter never applied for a Grandville, Michigan business license because he objected to possible surprise inspections of his shop without a warrant.
     After widespread ridicule and at least one demonstration outside his garage, Klawiter now has applied for a business license, after several critics pointed out that insurance companies generally do not pay claims submitted by unlicensed businesses.
     According to Michigan Live:
City Clerk Mary Meines said the city sent Dieseltec another notice last week, after Klawiter posted to the business' Facebook page that he would not serve openly gay customers. The latest notice gave the business until May 15 to get a city license, she said.
     "We sent him a letter last week and he was in today," Meines said Monday afternoon.
     Dieseltec will not be assessed a $50 fine for non-compliance with the earlier notice, she said.

Hold for release until end of the world confirmed...

John Oliver enlists Martin Sheen to update CNN's Armageddon video. Via JoeMyGod.

Odd new brief signed by NE AG's office against same sex marriage admits states are forbidden from gender discrimination in marriage

Fifteen attorneys-general (all Republicans) are urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to declare state bans against gay marriage unconstitutional, in a new brief. In it is the following:

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson
    Naturally AKSARBENT wonders, as have many others, why it isn't gender discrimination when the state allows Jill to marry a man but forbids her brother Jack from doing the same.
     The brief also speculates that declaring bans on gay marriage unconstitutional will result in "incalculable" damage to the civic life of the U.S. (presumably like wrecked social landscape in the damned state of Massachusetts, which has had same sex marriage for over ten years, along with one of the country's lowest divorce rates.) 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Brian Klawiter, antigay Dieseltec owner, ducks TV interview as his Grandville, MI garage is picketed

Brian Klawiter refused to be interviewed by WOOD8 TV during a picket of his business Saturday. An associate said Klawiter was tired of being "misquoted and having his message taken out of context."
     Rev. Robert Teszlewicz, a pastor at Catholic Apostolic Church in Muskegon, organized the protest, which drew about a dozen people. His church is not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.

     Klawiter's unprovoked facebook rant  attracted the ire not only of the Internet, but of suppliers. He explained that he has "chosen" to remove the trademarks of three diesel engine manufacturers from his website. At least one of those companies, Cummins, said it notified Klawiter to stop using its logo:
     We at DIESELTEC INC hold all of our vendors and suppliers in high regard. Due to the current high level of attention we are receiving from our position on a national topic of debate, we have chosen to temporarily suspend the open display of their company names and logos. We respect that they may have alternative views from ours. We will continue to supply and service all of the familiar automotive diesel products you have become familiar with. Please call us if you have any questions about product availability.
Here's what Cummins said on its facebook page:
     Widespread attention to Klawiter has reveal a criminal record of assault and battery and the fact that he has refused to obtain a business license for his shop.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Video: Omahan who torched lesbian couple's pride flag smirks through lawyer-prompted apology

The accused, Cameron Mayfield, is represented by attorney James Martin Davis, who unsuccessfully defended Gregory Duncan recently against a hate crime charge of assaulting Ryan Langenegger, a straight Marine who was protecting two gay friends.

Reported WOWT:
     Simmons testified that Mayfield called his father approximately three hours after the alleged crime while he was being detained. His father asked him if he burned the flag. Cameron told him that he had. His father then instructed Cameron to tell the police there was no intent of hate.
     Earlier in the evening, Mr. Mayfield told a sergeant investigating the crime at his house that he had several conversations with his son about the flag and what it meant.
     He also told detectives that he raised his son to be "tolerant." He was brought up this way in part because Cameron has two mentally challenged siblings.
     Simmons also testified that the Mayfield family had a sign in their front yard approximately six months prior to the crime that read "Protect Traditional Marriage."

Friday, April 17, 2015

ESPN suspends Britt McHenry for mean girl bullying of towing firm clerk

What a nasty piece of work. Her mandated hiatus will last a week.

Here's her apology:
"In an intense and stressful moment, I allowed my emotions to get the best of me and said some insulting and regrettable things. As frustrated as I was, I should always choose to be respectful and take the high road. I am so sorry for my actions and will learn from this mistake."
No one who sees the above video is going to buy that. The bottom line is that she wants people to believe what she said is out of character when her actions betray her character as that of a shallow bitch. Would anyone who isn't, ever resort to the kind of contemptible and revulsive put-downs she employed?

Nebraska Family Alliance: Ban gay marriage because children grow up dumber when raised by women

An alphabet soup alliance of antigay "family" groups, (including the Nebraska Family Alliance)  have signed a recent amicus brief citing a who's who of right-wing junk social science, including famously discredited Mark Regnerus.
     Below is an example of the arguments in their brief, which contradicts the stance of virtually every mainstream group of psychiatrists, social workers, psychologists and physicians lined up on the other side, in support of marriage equality:   
In general, fathers also use a broader vocabulary when interacting with their children, which develops children’s expressive-language abilities. In addition, fathers often engage in peer-like verbal play, which helps older children and adolescents relate to their peers and shape their sense of self. And fathers’ use of more cognitively demanding language, together with their tendency to require children to demonstrate skills and learning, cultivates higher-level thinking and supports educational attainment and academic achievement.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Social media spanks antigay MI garage, DieselTec

One assumes a social media backlash has something to do with the fact that DieselTec's facebook page now displays this:

 From a screencap of the post published by MLive:

A $53,000, 750-lb., water-cooled microwave oven

From Wikipedia:

     In 1947, Raytheon built the "Radarange", the first commercially available microwave oven. It was almost 1.8 metres (5 ft 11 in) tall, weighed 340 kilograms (750 lb) and cost about US$5,000 ($52,809 in today's dollars) each. It consumed 3 kilowatts, about three times as much as today's microwave ovens, and was water-cooled. In 1961, an early Radarange was installed (and remains) in the galley of the nuclear-powered passenger/cargo ship NS Savannah.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Legally married NE gay couples must fill out 5 income tax returns, two of them fake

The instructions are so convoluted that the Nebraska Department of Revenue has a special page (actually two) for gay Nebraska couples legally married in other states. One joint return for the feds, then two "mock" (fake) returns — a legally mandated lie on which Nebraska returns are predicated — then two individual Nebraska returns. Thanks, anti-gay marriage Attorney General Don Peterson and Governor Pete Ricketts!

New Irish marriage equality ad

Although polls are running in favor of gay marriage, supporters aren't taking anything for granted and have initiated a #RingYourGranny campaign.

(Via @TLRD)

Denver TSA agents fired over scheme to grope attractive male passengers

According to the Huffington Post: