Above, a bit of motion capture from Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug in The Hobbit. Below, how the animation was constructed.
Linda Greenhouse at NYT explains why.
Our friend @OfficialSampson (Sampson McCormick) appears in this funny video.
Lucas Grindley at Advocate.com reports:
Among the usual laundry list of American priorities and constituencies, the State of the Union address for the first time explicitly included lesbians, bisexual and transgender people.
It might be surprising, but never before had any president used the words "lesbian," "bisexual" or "transgender" when talking to the huge audience that watches the annual State of the Union. The reference came Tuesday as part of President Obama's description of the values that make us American.
As the President celebrates the advance of marriage equality, Speaker Boehner keeps his grim face, the six SCOTUS justices maintain their practiced neutrality (they have cases pending, and were not there as a partisan cheering section), and one of the heroes of Selma rises to his feet.
It is worth noting that by using the phrase "civil right" about gay marriage last night, the President moved the discussion forward. Those of us who have been on the front lines of the marriage equality fight have studiously avoided using that phrase, because it has been a sore point with African American voters. We used phrases like "equal rights" and "human rights" instead. Here in D.C., when the Foundation for All D.C. Families hired Celinda Lake to do a poll on marriage equality in 2006, this was one of the points we examined.
The issue of messaging, where you consider your audience when framing your message, may seem cynical and calculating, but when you are trying to persuade people and win their votes, it is not helpful to start by pissing them off. This is a linguistic point on which white gay activists have respectfully let black leaders like Rep. John Lewis and President Obama take the lead. And if there is a greater moral authority than John Lewis, I would like to know who.
Does Boener have to look like he's getting a colonoscopy everytime Obama says something good about America? I thought Repubs loved America?— Bill Maher (@billmaher) January 21, 2015
Bill Maher misspells "Boehner," but he has a point.
Instant reaction is calling this the "best burn in SOTU history."
Entire address is below. I thought it was a strong speech. It didn't have the laundry list lots of people wanted, but it challenged the Republicans and showed his confidence. Bisexual and transgender people were recognized for the first time in a State of the Union address. And he celebrated the advance of marriage equality. Overall I was very pleased.
Pink News reports:
Billy Crystal has claimed that modern gay storylines on TV shows are “pushing too far”.
Crystal played one of the first regularly openly gay characters, Jodie Dallas, on 1970s comedy ‘Soap’.
Speaking to the Television Critics Association, the star claimed that he doesn’t want TV to “shove it in our face” with regards to gay issues.
He said: “Sometimes I think, ‘Ah that’s too much for me.’
Dear Billy, I assume this means you are locked in a dungeon, tied down with your eyes forced open like in "A Clockwork Orange," with a giant tv showing gay programs in a loop. I admit it does sound like torture. Maybe if it's a good boy, its tormenters will untie it and give it a remote control.
Now Billy says his comments were taken out of context. Well that's dreadful, of course.
Noah Michelson at HuffPost Gay Voices comments.
Score one for Jon Stewart. Notice that Huckabee manages to put his anti-elitism in the nicest possible light, though Stewart isn't having it. Huckabee is a lot more likeable than the other whackjobs.
MLK marched to Montgomery. I was in Montgomery Wards once in March. #aninterestingparallel— Tina Dupuy (@TinaDupuy) January 19, 2015
The above tweet, and the hashtag #aninterestingparallel, is part of the mockery in response to conservative provocateur Dinesh D'Souza's comparison of himself to Dr. King as a way of bashing President Obama. Raw Story reports.
@Pontifex If the people you are winning back to the Church find the same old policies regarding women and gay people, they won't stay.— Richard Rosendall (@RickRosendall) January 20, 2015
I figure someone at the Vatican reads the papal Twitter feed. So I offer my two cents.
@Pontifex You have brought people hope. But Catholic schools fire gay teachers and you say gay marriage is threat to family. That's no help.— Richard Rosendall (@RickRosendall) January 20, 2015
This article by Justin Jones at The Daily Beast, on unofficial gay-themed art tours at the Vatican, overstates the degree of the Vatican's and the Pope's pro-gayness, as became clear the other day when Francis spoke in the Philippines and called same-sex marriage a threat to the family. That should not be a surprise to anyone, nor does it mean we should not continue to engage the Church on a range of issues. But the welcome contrast with Benedict (whom I regard as a classic vicious closet case) is not everything.
Still, I will be interested in the Vatican's reaction to gay-themed art tours, as I am curious about their reaction to Michael Sam's twitpic of his proposal to Vito atop the dome of St. Peter's. While doctrine and policy are my main focus, symbolic gestures have their value, as do simple courtesy and respect. The latter, however, are not advanced by calling us a threat to the family. We must remember that the Curia remains powerful.
A lovely song inspired by Dr. King's most famous speech.
(Hat tip: Mark Thompson)
@daveachuk writes about this video exploring the Hubble Space Telescope's super-high-res image of the Andromeda Galaxy:
First & Last photo by Cory Poole: https://www.facebook.com/CoryPoolePho...
Super-high resolution image of Andromeda from Hubble (NASA/ESA): http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/...
Music is 'Koda - The Last Stand': https://soundcloud.com/kodachrome/kod...
Here's an excerpt from my latest column, concerning the deadly terrorist attacks last week in Paris at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket:
Conservative pundits indignantly asked why there were no condemnations by Muslim leaders of the attacks, when in fact there was a flood of them. On the other hand, it was jarring when several despotic regimes sent representatives to a massive Paris march for the murdered cartoonists despite their own repression of journalists.
Any facile sorting of friend from foe was refuted by news reports. The last victim in the Charlie Hebdo attack was Muslim police officer Ahmed Merabet. During the kosher market incident, Muslim employee Lassana Bathily saved several hostages from terrorist Amedy Coulibaly by hiding them in a walk-in freezer.
A news report referred to Coulibaly's "fluent French and broken Arabic." Having come home to roost, the West's imperialist chickens are less likely to fit the profile. Only cooperation across faiths and cultures can save us from endless retributive justice. Defending secular freedoms against racism and sectarianism is the best response to Marine Le Pen.
Read Blade editor Kevin Naff's bracing editorial here.
The New Yorker writes:
Barry Blitt drew next week’s cover, inspired by the photographs of the Selma-to-Montgomery march that are everywhere again. “It struck me that King’s vision was both the empowerment of African-Americans, the insistence on civil rights, but also the reconciliation of people who seemed so hard to reconcile,” he said. “In New York and elsewhere, the tension between the police and the policed is at the center of things. Like Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, Martin Luther King was taken way too early. It is hard to believe things would have got as bad as they are if he was still around today.”
Lyle Denniston reports at SCOTUSblog:
Taking on a historic constitutional challenge with wide cultural impact, the Supreme Court on Friday afternoon agreed to hear four new cases on same-sex marriage. The Court said it would rule on the power of the states to ban same-sex marriages and to refuse to recognize such marriages performed in another state. A total of two-and-a-half hours was allocated for the hearings, likely in the April sitting. A final ruling is expected by early next summer, probably in late June.
The Court fashioned the specific questions it is prepared to answer, but they closely tracked the two core constitutional issues that have led to a lengthy string of lower-court rulings striking down state bans. As of now, same-sex marriages are allowed in thirty-six states, with bans remaining in the other fourteen but all are under court challenge.
UPDATE 7:51 p.m. The Obama administration will file a brief in the same-sex marriage cases, supporting equal access to marital rights in all of the states, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
I really hope that counsel for our opponents boils it down during oral arguments by saying, "Your Honors, what about the chirren?!!" and sitting back down.
@Pontifex reacts to the Charlie Hebdo murders by reminding us that Holy Mother the Church, Inc. is not a democracy. There are limits to freedom of expression, he says, and he doesn't mean things like falsely crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater. He means offending someone's religion. Well I am sorry, Your Holiness, but you are wrong. Put me on the rack if you don't like it. Oh, that's right, you don't have the power to do that any more. Well that's a relief.
I warned everyone a year ago not to commit the sin of wishful thinking with this charming pope. He is not quite the liberal some people were hoping for.
WMC Action News in Memphis reports the latest in satanic subversion.
Wait, aren't there 50 of these devilish symbols on THE AMERICAN FLAG? I'm just trying to be helpful. Just one more comment: given that this kind of aggressive ignorance and paranoia are running rampant, anyone who is comparatively sane and reasonable, yet makes excuses for not voting, deserves to be possessed by demons.
This 'winger video appears to suggest that the fired Atlanta fire chief was the only Christian working for the Atlanta government. I mean, if Atlanta will no longer allow Christians to hold jobs, then either there's a massive purge about to happen, or he was the only one. Never mind the fact that the mayor who fired him was also Christian. If you don't agree with the most extreme and intolerant version of Christianity, the nut jobs won't even acknowledge your faith. Because there is no religion but theirs. And guess which major party is fine with this insanely obnoxious and socially destructive position?
Chris Witherspoon at The Grio reports on this powerful ad featuring Kordale and Kaleb Lewis defending their family.
Amen, Brother Rauch.
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League offers another display of his Christlike forgiveness of those who give him offense.
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
Yes, the Golden Globes were on TV last night. Above is the opening by hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Their targets included George Clooney (who was there) and Bill Cosby (who was not). Below, Transparent wins for best TV series - comedy or musical. Actor Jeffrey Tambor also won for his role, and dedicated his performance and award to the transgender community.
The Independent reports:
France’s President Francois Hollande asked Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu not to attend Paris’s phenomenal march against hatred on Sunday, claiming that his presence would be divisive, it has been reported.
The unity rally in Paris was fronted by more than 50 world leaders, who all linked arms as they led the march from the Place de la République in eastern Paris, where 1.5 million people gathered to honour the 17 victims of last week’s bloody massacre that left the country reeling.
In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the Israeli Prime Minister was seen marching just four people apart from Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, while Prime Minister David Cameron’s appearance marked his first ever street march. Demonstrators carried placards brandishing the phrases “I am Charlie” and “I am Jewish”.
Well there's a shot you don't see every day. British PM David Cameron is out of frame to the left.
Notably absent from the massive rally, which was attended by some three million people, was any representative from the Obama administration. This report from WSJ is an example of the coverage. Of course the right wing would have attacked the President whether he attended or not. Had he been there, "Obama marches with Abbas" would have been one of the headlines. I thought he should have gone. I am sure we will hear more on this, since endless attacks on this president are what some people seem to live for.
Attorney Michele Zavos, who has worked with GLAA on family law issues, has contributed an essay to the Washington Post Magazine as part of a series of essays on "How to raise successful children." Hers is titled "Help your children find themselves." Scroll down to find her contribution.
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
WKBT-TV reports on the latest howler from Cardinal Raymond Burke, in which he blames women for what he calls the Church's "man problem," including priest sexual abuse. I suggest you tweet your comments directly to @Pontifex (Burke's boss, Pope Francis).
NYT describes the above video:
Explosions and gunfire were heard at a printing plant outside Paris where the two brothers suspected in the Charlie Hebdo attacks were killed.
As people across Europe gathered to express their outrage at the military-style execution of a dozen people at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo, Catholic League troll Bill Donohue blamed the victims for bringing it on themselves.
Below, a massive rally at the Place Royale in Nantes, France was one of many across Europe in solidarity with those murdered at the satirical Paris weekly, Charlie Hebdo.
Dinesh D'Souza accuses liberals of coddling radical Islamists.
But he himself has actually made common cause with conservative Islamists, as I discussed in a book review in 2007:
His latest book’s provocation starts with the title: The Enemy At Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11. But he goes beyond Jerry Falwell’s notorious blaming of feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU and People for the American Way. D’Souza actually makes common cause with “traditional Muslims,” who he claims hate America not for our presence in the Middle East but for our decadent culture. Minimizing the vast differences between Western traditions and Islamic and Middle Eastern ones, he calls for making America more tolerable to Islamic obscurantists whose tradition includes no Reformation, no Enlightenment, and no commitment to the personal freedom that has been the engine of the West’s economic success.
Charging the left with a “campaign of cultural imperialism,” D’Souza shows no grasp of free markets. If the success of capitalism and global communication has enabled many young Iranians, for example, to embrace American popular culture, that hardly constitutes a leftist conspiracy.
D’Souza equates licentiousness with leftism, which does not explain why so many otherwise liberal social movements had strong conservative elements: suffragists who were anti-abortion; communists who were homophobic; feminists who advocated censorship; and ministers in the civil rights movement who objected to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s association with Bayard Rustin, a leading organizer and strategist who was gay.
NYT reports on today's attack in Paris by masked gunmen at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 and wounded 10. Condolences to the families of the victims.
Some in the West say that people have no right to offend other people's religions. Some assert that Christians would never tolerate blasphemy against their own religion. Both assertions are wrong. Freedom of speech means nothing if not the right to offend.
Some of our most honored literature contains blasphemies. For example, Nobel winner Günter Grass in his greatest novel, The Tin Drum, has his lead character pray to Jesus (quoting from memory), "Athlete of Athletes ... world's champion hanger on the cross by regulation nails, who lasted the longest time and earned the highest possible number of points...." He describes seagulls descending on a horse's head that had been used to fish for eels on the Baltic Sea as "the Holy Ghost descending to feast the Pentacost."
Grass has lived to a ripe old age. 26 years ago, he led a consortium of writers in guaranteeing publication of the German translation of The Satanic Verses (which btw I read and enjoyed in its English original, as I have several of Salman Rushdie's novels, one of which, The Moor's Last Sigh, has Hindu blasphemies). Whether it's serious lit or South Park, irreverence is essential to our freedoms and must be defended.
Joy erupts in a Miami courtroom as Judge Sarah Zabel of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida lifts a stay and allows gay couples to marry. Congrats to all the happy couples and all who helped make this happen.