My latest, in The Atlantic: “In MAGA World, Everything Happens for a Reason.” From earthquakes and eclipses to QAnon, here’s why Christian nationalists and people like Marjorie Taylor Greene are allergic to explanations rooted in science or randomness: theatlantic.com/international/

@brianklaas Probably the best-written disquisition on this subject I've seen.

The anthropologist Pascal Boyer talks about this quite a bit, how the one constant in human belief systems -- far outstripping even that of a creator god, or an afterlife -- is the presence of intentional agents in the environment. As you say, we are disposed to believe that everything happens because someone intended it to. And if you don't see or know of anyone who could have done it, well then, the next thing you know you're believing in gods and angels and djinns and wood-sprites and demons...

I love those videos where a guy cooks a big meal -- bread, steak, veggies, tea -- in the wilderness, with nothing but a knife, tea kettle, and a big flat rock.

... And the $50,000 vehicle that brought him to the wilderness, and ten grand of video editing equipment, and an entire global trade system that brought him his spices and oils and meats and veggies...

People watching that thing thinking, I'll be ok when civilization fails, I know where there's a flat rock.

Apparently the IDF had AI support in the decision to kill the WCK food aid workers in Gaza. This is what comes of training your models on Yelp reviews.

Reportedly Russia's putting mannequins in some of their field trenches, in the hope of making Ukraine waste effort and munitions on them.

But y'know, it has other benefits! Dummies don't surrender or retreat, and as fighters go they're no worse than the regular Russian military. Also you don't have to pay off their families when the AFU blows them up. It's really a bargain all around.

Plus ça change. It didn't work then. Trouble is, it's kinda working now.

Hint: He committed more crimes as attorney general (all the while under indictment for fraud), was impeached, and only escaped through a last-minute power play by wealthy right-wing donors.

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Surprising literally no one who knows about birds of prey in cities, Flaco the owl had a TON of rat poison in his system. People are focusing on pigeon herpes (because well ok it's funny), but Flaco is an example of what our extermination efforts DO to wildlife.... nytimes.com/2024/03/25/nyregio

This seems like the reasonable take on the Crocus attacks. I'm not going to link to TwiXter, and Illia Ponomorenko's unauthorized fedibot replicators over here don't seem reliable, so screenshot it is.

By a remarkable stroke of luck, Russian investigators have found a suspicious white van with "old style Ukrainian licence plates" abandoned in the parking lot of the concert hall.

Because genuine Ukrainian commandos on a false-flag operation always drive vans with old style Ukrainian license plates across a thousand kilometers of Russia without being noticed, and then leave the van to be found at the scene. It's in the handbook and everything.

A propos of nothing at all:

When you elevate someone by tapping them on each shoulder with the flat of a sword, the edge is towards their neck, and a direct line drawn between the first tap and the second passes through that neck.

So I've decided to believe that the ceremony of knighthood deliberately suggests "I can still chop your head off" as a warning not to get any ideas.

Meduza - On March 19, Vladimir Putin dismissed warnings from U.S. diplomats that there was an imminent risk of a terrorist attack at a crowded venue in Moscow. The Russian president called the warnings “outright blackmail” by the West and an attempt to “intimidate and destabilize our society.” meduza.io/en/live/2024/03/22/t

Me, an idiot: “So, kids, by setting the thermostat a little lower and eating less meat, we’re doing our part to make the world more sustainable”

VCs, very smart: “We just raised $100 billion dollars from the sovereign wealth funds of three petrostates to build the world’s largest AI supercomputer. It uses as much power and water as Guatemala and the primary use case is for management consultants to autogenerate powerpoints for justifying mass layoffs.”

What I want to know is how can Cheddar Man be 7000 years old when Cheddar wasn't invented until the Middle Ages? I mean, why would there be a mascot for a product that won't exist for six millennia?

People like to say "if everyone is mad at you, you must be doing something right." I encourage these people to test this hypothesis by pinching babies on airplanes to make them cry through the whole flight.

The UN can and should transfer the former Soviet Union's seat on the Security Council to Ukraine. There is precedent: it transferred China's from the exile government in Taiwan to the PRC's in Beijing.

The cost of achieving a 90% clean grid using today’s technology is approximately zero.
And this excludes the external costs of fossil fuels: climate impacts, air pollution, geopolitical instability.
theclimatebrink.com/p/is-renew

One of the #Poland farmers protest leaders Hubert Ojdana claims he received a threatening letter with a bullet inside. Ojdana is a zealous pro-Russian activist as well, so he implied it was sent by Ukrainians. The problem is that his name is written in a Cyrillic alphabet no native user of either Ukrainian or Russian would use - these block letters look like visually copied from a computer font by a person who doesn’t know Cyrillic. Yet another reminder that these days are full of provocations.

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