Saturday Reads: Winter Solstice Edition

Beaghmore Stone Circles, Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone, North Ireland

Beaghmore Stone Circles, Sperrin Mountains, County Tyrone, North Ireland

Good Morning!!

Today is the Winter Soltice, the shortest day of the year. In the eastern U.S. the solstice will take place around noon, according to blogger Scott Dance at the Baltimore Sun.

The Earth’s axis tilts at a 23.5-degree angle, which is what brings the seasons, and at the point of the winter solstice, the North Pole is tilted furthest from the sun. Starting Saturday afternoon, the tilt will begin shifting upright until the Vernal Equinox.

The solstice marks the start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, of course. Although the hemisphere reaches its furthest from the sun Saturday, the coldest weather lags a month or two, with January and February, on average, colder than December here.

At the solstice, the Arctic circle is in 24-hour darkness, while it Antarctica is in full sunlight.

The moment of transition to winter has already been welcomed with a traditional ceremony at Stonehenge. BBC News:

Kate Davies, who manages Stonehenge for English Heritage, said: “We were delighted to welcome over 3,500 people to Stonehenge to celebrate winter solstice.

“The wind and the rain did not dampen the celebration. And the ancient stone circle was filled with the sound of song, drumming and chanting….

Claire, a pagan from Bristol, attended the event with her seven-year-old daughter. She said: “We arrived at 5.30am – it’s a wonderful place. You don’t have to be pagan to enjoy it – even the weather won’t put you off.”

Newgrange is a neolithic burial mound, older than the pyramids, located in Ireland. Photograph: Alamy

Newgrange is a neolithic burial mound, older than the pyramids, located in Ireland. Photograph: Alamy

From the Irish Independent: Hundreds gather at Newgrange for winter solstice celebration.

John Cantwell, (49), a healer and member of Sli an Chri or “Pathway of the Heart”, from Dublin, heralded the first ray of sun by blowing on handmade horn fashioned from a bull and ram’s horn as part of a large group of New Age and pagan celebrants who formed human circles linking hands at the base of the monument.

“Our ancestors who built this temple thousands of years ago were great astronomers and they knew something about the sun. I’ve been coming here for years and the majority of times, irrespective of the weather in Dublin or Belfast, the horizon is clear and we get an extraordinary experience of the sun like we do right now,” he said.

“It’s difficult to feel in any way negative about anything right now,” he told the Sunday Independent.

Sun coming up the passage during the winter solstice at Newgrange Tomb. Photograph: National Monuments Service

Sun coming up the passage during the winter solstice at Newgrange Tomb. Photograph: National Monuments Service

Here’s some background on Newgrange from the Guardian:

Compared to the vast crowds of druids and pagans expected to gather at Stonehenge on Saturday 21 December to celebrate the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice event at Newgrange tomb in County Meath, Ireland is a rather exclusive affair. Just 120 people get the privilege of standing inside the monument to witness the remarkable illumination that occurs when a beam of sunlight shoots down into the narrow corridor that leads into the chamber, flooding the entire 19-metre stone passage in a warm orange light.

The people who built this neolithic structure over 5,000 years ago were evidently keen timekeepers. Above the entrance to the Newgrange tomb, which takes the form of a large grass-covered mound, is a small “roof box” that is aligned to the rising sun, a piece of design believed to have functioned in the past as an indicator of the new year. And for six days each year, around the winter solstice, the effect is at its peak.

The article lists some other sites where the Solstice is celebrated, including the Great Serpent Mound in Southern Ohio.

Finally, in Iran the winter solstice is marked by an “ancient tradition” linked to Mithra, the sun god. LA Times:

The winter solstice may mark the longest night of the year, but for Iranians, it’s also known as Shab-e Yalda, a celebration with ancient ties that commemorates the triumph of Mithra, the Sun God, over darkness.

Feasting on fresh fruits from the summer season and reciting works by 14th century Persian poet Hafez, Iranians all around the world stay up to mark the start of winter.

“It’s not an official holiday in Iran, but similar to many other ancient traditions, it has become a significant cultural celebration observed by all Iranians,” said Bita Milanian, executive director of Farhang Foundation, a nonprofit that celebrates Iranian art and culture in Southern California.

The celebration, which translates to “Night of Birth,” has come to symbolize many things for Iranians, said Touraj Daryaee, a UC Irvine professor of Iranian studies.

“This is part of Iranian tradition where evil will run havoc on the longest night of the year,” he said. “So people gather to be together until evil is gone… it’s an old idea where you need protection from evil.”

When the sun rises, light shines and goodness prevails, he said.

In other news,

President Obama said yesterday that the revelations about NSA surveillance programs have “damaged America’s security and intelligence gathering capabilities.”

The president’s year-end press conference was sprinkled with laughter and seasonal well-wishing and covered Obamacare’s poor rollout, the health-care program overall, reasons for his planned absence from the Olympic Games in Sochi – and whether his sagging poll numbers reflected his “worst year” as president. But questions about surveillance and privacy resurfaced throughout.

Obama was asked how he viewed the NSA’s mass surveillance programs after a momentous week in which a presidential panel recommended scores of major changes, CEOs of Internet companies implored him to rein in the NSA, and a federal judge ruled that an NSA program that collects “metadata” on every American phone call likely is unconstitutional.

Referring specifically to the NSA’s metadata program, which stores data on every phone call made in America for five years, Obama defended the program while also promising to change it….

“It’s important to note that in all the reviews of this program that have been done, in fact, there have not been actual instances where it’s been alleged that the NSA in some ways acted inappropriately in the use of this data,” he continued. “But what is also clear is from the public debate, people are concerned about the prospect, the possibility of abuse. And I think that’s what the judge and the district court suggested. And although his opinion obviously differs from rulings on the FISA Court, we’re taking those into account.”

Obama is now on vacation in Hawaii.

J.J. sent me some weather news this morning: Big storm hitting U.S. this weekend. Once again, the bad weather is mostly in the South and Midwest. From EarthSky:

A monster storm system will affect millions of people in the United States during the weekend of December 21-22, 2013. It’s expected to produce a wide range of nasty weather – including severe thunderstorms, flooding, snow, and ice. If you’re in the eastern half of the United States, you will feel the full force of this storm either at home or if you plan on traveling this weekend. A potential severe weather outbreak is also possible across the U.S. Southeast from Louisiana into Mississippi and Arkansas. Meanwhile, Oklahoma has already been hit hard with significant icing across Oklahoma City and into Tulsa.

The local National Weather Service offices have been busy issuing plenty of watches and warnings all across the United States. Flood watches extend from the U.S. mid-South all the way into the Ohio River Valley.

There are four threats with this storm system. One of those threats has already occurred overnight across parts of Oklahoma as freezing rain fell (and as of Saturday morning, continues to fall) across a large part of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.

Read more at the link.

The amborella flower hides a family history of sex and gluttony, according to an analysis of its mitochondrial DNA. (Sangtae Kim / Sungshin Women's University )

The amborella flower hides a family history of sex and gluttony, according to an analysis of its mitochondrial DNA. (Sangtae Kim / Sungshin Women’s University )

Here’s an interesting science story for you. From the LA Times: Sex, gluttony and hoarding marked evolution of flowering plants.

Never mind the selfish gene – the cellular family history of the oldest living species of flowering plants is marked by enough sex and gluttony to earn a place in Shakespeare’s folio.

The powerhouse organelles inside cells of Amborella trichopoda, a woody shrub that grows only in the humid jungles of New Caledonia in the South Pacific, gobbled up and retained the entire genome from the equivalent organelles of four different species, three of algae and one of moss, according to a study of the plant’s mitochondrial DNA published this week in the journal Science.

The results are the product of a years-long effort to sequence the full genome of the plant, a crucial step in solving what Charles Darwin once called “the abominable mystery” — the sudden flourishing long ago of several hundred thousand species of flowering plants.

An analysis of the nuclear DNA of the species, published in the same edition of Science, revealed that the plant is the equivalent of the animal kingdom’s duck-billed platypus — a solitary sister left behind more than 100 million years ago by what became a panoply of flowering, or fruiting, plants.

Read the rest at the link. More from Science Recorder: Oldest flowering plant genome explains Darwin’s ‘abominable mystery’

One question that plagued Darwin was why flowers suddenly proliferated on Earth millions of years ago. He referred to it as an “abominable mystery.” A new study published in Science by the Amborella Genome Sequencing Project decodes the DNA of the oldest living relative of those flowers, the Amborella. It grows natively in 18 spots and its reproductive organs are closed in by tepals, a hybrid between petals and sepals, Nature explains. It is also the only species in its genus, family and order, making it unique specimen to study.

The flower is the only link to the ancient flowers that covered the planet and is helping scientists understand the evolutionary processes that led to the 300,000 species of flowers that currently cover Earth.

“In the same way that the genome sequence of the platypus — a survivor of an ancient lineage — can help us study the evolution of all mammals, the genome sequence of Amborella can help us learn about the evolution of all flowers,” said Victor Albert of the University at Buffalo in a press release.

By comparing the genome of Amborella with other plants scientists were able to determine that about 200 million years ago a genome doubling event occurred that allowed the plants to take on new functions, such as flowering. They believe that the genome doubling may also have led to the diversification and spread of different species of flowers.

I’ll wrap this up with a couple of reactions to the Duck Dynasty kerfluffle.

This one from ABC News goes in the “Duh!” file: Phil Robertson and A&E Fight Not About 1st Amendment, Expert Says.

Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, said the issue is not actually a First Amendment violation.

“The First Amendment, like the constitution generally, only applies to the government, so if the government stops someone from talking or punishes them, that’s a First Amendment issue. If a private person says I won’t hire you or let you be on TV anymore, that’s not,” Roosevelt said.

“The idea is we don’t let the government decide what’s a good opinion, but we do let individuals decide what they think is offensive and what should be rewarded and what should be discouraged. That’s the way the marketplace of ideas is supposed to work,” he said.

Roosevelt also pointed out that the U.S. has anti-discrimination laws that bar a company from firing someone for their race or religion, but allow it to fire someone if they have opinions the company doesn’t like.

“There’s a line that is difficult to draw between religious beliefs and religiously motivated conduct, but what the Supreme Court has said is you can’t treat people differently because of their beliefs but if those beliefs lead them to engage in certain actions, you can treat them like someone who had engaged in those actions for a nonreligious belief,” he said.

It’s really too bad that people like Bobby Jindal and Sarah Palin need an expert to explain how the first amendment works.

And from Darren Leonard Hutchinson at Dissenting Justice: Duck Dynasty and Discrimination: Firing Phil Robertson Will Not Advance Gay Rights Or Racial Justice! I’ll let you read Hutchinson’s argument at his blog.

Those are my offerings for today. What stories are you focusing on? Please post your recommended links in the comment thread.

Happy Winter Solstice!!

61 Comments on “Saturday Reads: Winter Solstice Edition”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    I’ll say this much for Duck Dynasty kerfluffle: there is a definite divide in this nation that does not bode well for the future.

    Those who choose to defend this backwoods moron far outnumber those who challenge his ignorance.

    Once you have cloaked yourself in “religious beliefs” you are free to do and say just about anything as you are granted a “pass” in expressing your bigotry and ignorance while inflaming those who feel free to emerge from the woodwork.

    With education considered on the decline in the US look for more of these fools to parade their bigotry and discrimination across the mainstream and watch it take a firm hold. There are enough fools in congress these days that do not sound much different than Phil Robertson as one example.

    But from reading the comments of those who “support” this Neanderthal, they seem to be outnumbering the rest of us.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I think they outnumber the normal people who watch the show. I don’t think the majority of Americans are racist homophobes.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Well they have certainly come out of the woodwork since the day Obama won the first election.

        • bostonboomer says:

          That’s for sure.

        • RalphB says:

          They are better organized and louder but certainly don’t outnumber people of more normal opinions. That their absurd opinions are in the minority, and they know it, is why they constantly whine about being victims.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    Boston bombing victim engaged to nurse: Tragedy brought me ‘love of my life’

    Boston Marathon bombing victim James Costello believes the worst moment of his life was a blessing in disguise.

    Being injured in the April 15 attack led Costello, 31, to meet his future bride, Krista D’Agostino, while she was working a six-week temporary stint as a traveling nurse at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. He was transferred there after undergoing multiple surgeries over two weeks at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the two began a relationship that culminated in a wedding proposal in France during a recent 10-day trip.

    “One thing that she hates that I always say is I’m actually glad I got blown up,” Costello told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. “I wish everyone else didn’t have to, but I don’t think I would have ever met her if I didn’t, so I’m pretty happy.”

    “I do hate when he says that,” a smiling D’Agostino told Guthrie.

    • bostonboomer says:

      At the moment the bomb went off, Costello had been walking toward the Boston Marathon’s finish line with five of his friends to cheer on others. Three of those friends each lost a leg; the others suffered extensive burns and shrapnel wounds. Costello underwent multiple surgeries, including several skin grafts, and then met D’Agostino during his recovery.

      There’s a photo of him after the bombing at the link. I love romantic stories like this.

    • RalphB says:

      🙂 Of course.

    • dakinikat says:

      Got another texas politician with a quote worth a hoot:

      “Think about this, Chad. God has used Phil, of all people, a ‘Duck Dynasty’ show, to say clearly what He is thinking. I don’t agree with the way Phil said some things in the article, maybe God would not have used those words, but when he’s talking about God, and he’s talking about the principles of the Bible, that’s powerful. Think about how God is speaking to his people at the Christmas season through Uncle Phil about this issue. I think that’s the story, and I think it’s powerful, and it excites me as a Christian.”

      Yes, the great big daddy in the sky can’t take time away from doing whatever to stop war, poverty, hunger and child abuse, but it HE can take the time to channel a message of bigotry through a NW Louisiana cracker

      • dakinikat says:

        More words of wisdom:

        What about when Robertson was talking about how hard it is for a man to find a good woman to marry?

        “Mainly because these boys are waiting until they get to be about 20 years old before they marry ‘em. Look, you wait till they get to be about 20 years old, the only picking that’s going to take place is your pocket. You gotta marry these girls when they’re 15 or 16, they’ll pick your ducks. You need to check with mom and dad about that, of course.’”

      • Fannie says:

        I just read where the Cracker Barrell took some Duck Dynasty items off their shelves, so as not to offend anyone. Yes, they are all coming out of the wood work to boycott them. I am going to lunch tomorrow, and buying some chow chow.

      • RalphB says:

        Dan Patrick is a RW talk show host in Houston, when he’s not a state senator and running for Lt Gov. A well known nut job!

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Bob Newhart cancels appearance at anti-LGBT Catholic event

    Comedian Bob Newhart announced Thursday online that he would not be appearing at a conference organized by a Catholic magazine that blamed the Devil for marriage equality in the state of Minnesota.

    Towleroad reported that Newhart’s Twitter feed posted a statement saying, ” Bob will not be performing at the Legatus Summit in Orlando FL on February 6.”

    The magazine had been promoting Newhart’s appearance by billing him as a “legendary Catholic comedian.”

    I didn’t know he was still alive.

  4. ANonOMouse says:

    The irony of Mr. Roosevelt’s opinion is that it’s not the LGBT community who is calling for the Duck man to be fired or even suspended, it was the sole decision of A&E after receiving this joint letter from the NAACP & HRC

    Click to access HRC_NAACP_Letter_121813.pdf

    Apparently the NAACP and HRC requested that A&E denounce Phil’s sentiments and that they ask Phil to apologize to both communities. My guess is poor Phil refused to retract his bigoted comments, that were anything but “religious speech”, and that he likely violated some provision of said contract.

    LGBT activist groups/websites HRC and GLAAD, have given this issue very little time on their websites. I belong to both groups and neither has sent me an action alert concerning Duck Dynasty or Robertson. All anyone has to do to find out this is the truth is to visit HRC or GLAAD to see how irrelevant Phil Robertson really is to the overall concerns of the LGBT community. The dreaded “militant gay activist” that is so criticized and feared by the religious right doesn’t appear to be so militant when it comes to Phil. As I said yesterday, It seems to me that the kerfuffle comes mostly from the right because Phil was put on leave (god forbid) by A&E not at the insistence of any gay or civil rights “organization” but likely because he didn’t fulfill a contract obligation.

    Still, as a gay woman who’s spent decades having to tolerate,(many of those years in silent fear. A state otherwise known as the closet), the so-called “religious” speech of people as they insisted that I was mentally ill, immoral, sick, dangerous, perverted, sub-human and/or just plain unfit for civilized society, I find Robertson’s words extremely hate-filled, ignorant, but not at all surprising.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      While I’m up on the soapbox let me just finish with this final thought.

      I grew up in the Jim Crow south. I listened to the same sort of so-called “religious” free speech used in support of Jim Crow and against interracial marriage and interracial socialization throughout my entire childhood and into my young adult years. It was even a regular staple used by the pulpit-teers as they tried to convince their white congregants that their black brothers and sisters just weren’t good enough to be equal citizens.

      That form of “religious” speech, like the anti-gay speech of today was tolerated by white people, even those who didn’t agree with it, because it was delivered under the guise of religion and freedom of speech. Not until people became unafraid to challenge the status quo, to call out the people who delivered the hateful rhetoric and drive them back into their caves did this sort of hate and bigotry begin to subside. Phil Robertson proves that it is still alive and well and that it’s adherents will defend it and once again use “religious belief” to cloak it’s true nature and to call all of the rest of us to obey or “go to hell”. Well I’m not going to hell and neither are my friends, we’re going back to work!!!!!

      Those of us who’ve lived with hate rhetoric directed at them for an entire lifetime, know this has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with bigotry. Not until the lesbian and gay community came together during the AIDS/HIV epidemic and decided that we would no longer TOLERATE being relegated to the margins of society did we find our collective voices. So now, to the dismay and even the fear of the religious right, we will no longer be shamed or intimidated or silenced. That frightens them and all you need to do to see it is to listen to Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh or Fox & Friends to see that fear on display as they defend Duck Dynasty Phil by once again using “freedom of Religious Speech” as the disguise.

      My response to them is too bad!! We’re here…We’re not going away..Deal with it.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        Hear, hear!! It is because we are forced to tolerate this crap that it grows.

        Even Bristol Palin, the icon of celibacy, has now weighed in. It is nothing but homophobia that leads this march on behalf of that half witted “patriarch” from Duck Dynasty.

        My next question is how soon can we hear from the anti Semites who wish to make their case against the Jews?

        I mean, if it applies to one set of morons why not everybody weighing in?

      • bostonboomer says:

        Great rant, Mouse!!

      • RalphB says:

        You tell ’em, sister!

      • ANonOMouse says:

        Right on Cue because Hate is what they do.

        Westboro Baptist Church to picket A&E in support of ‘Duck Dynasty’ star Phil Robertson

        And in other not so unexpected news

        Robertson back on A&E

        This shit is so totally predictable I didn’t even need my crystal ball to know how it was going to end. 🙂

      • NW Luna says:

        Rant on!

      • Fannie says:

        I really appreciate your rant Mouse. Some time ago I thought our nation was getting ahead, weren’t, and we still aren’t. In a lot of ways I have become disillusioned….All that cultism crap, well it still haunts us today. I wonder if that is because of techonology? I guess this will go on for years, especially since we aren’t getting ahead, we aren’t self-reliant, and we are the worst when it comes relationships, our environment, diversity, and everything else. I keep hearing that the youth are more tolerant, but at the same time, the young girls are accepting all the crap that is handed out by republicans, and they don’t seem to be fighting back. I hope I am wrong.

        It’s a good sign when I hear your rants, so please leap forward, I love your expression of self and freedoms. You are a prize in our fight, so fire it up.

        • ANonOMouse says:

          Thank you fannie. You and everyone here are fighters, that’s why I love the sky dancers.

          • ANonOMouse says:

            “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people – Martin Luther King, Jr.”

  5. RalphB says:

    Edroso’s post is funny as hell but the comments are ridiculously LOL hilarious!


  6. dakinikat says:

    Poor Dancing Dave! He killed the longest running TV show ever!!! But, it’s a rumor from the NYPost so ….

  7. RalphB says:

    A good use of US power for a change and largely unmentioned by the MSM.

    tp: The Inside Story Of How The U.S. Acted To Prevent Another Rwanda

  8. NW Luna says:

    Blessed be and happy Solstice to all as the days now grow longer! May we live with more thoughtfulness, kindness and tolerance in our world.

  9. NW Luna says:

    The U.S.’s only wild herd of reindeer, aka caribou, is down to 27 individuals.

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that the South Selkirks caribou herd is now one bad winter, or misguided shoot-’em-up party, away from extinction. The animal we celebrate as a holiday symbol today stands as the most-endangered big furry mammal in the United States.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Mother Jones ‏@MotherJones 50s
    The 9 worst things said about women, abortion, and rape in 2013:

  11. dakinikat says:

    Tornadoes just hit Monroe Louisiana … I’m wondering what Pat Robertson will say now

  12. RalphB says:

    Expensive sheriff in Arizona.

    Independent paper’s founders awarded $3.75 million over trumped-up arrests by Joe Arpaio

    The founders of the independent publication Phoenix New Times won a $3.75 million settlement from the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors in Arizona on Friday, ending years of litigation after were arrested by Sheriff Joe Arpaio under false pretenses.

    The Arizona Republic reported that Maricopa County has been forced to pay nearly $17 million in settlements related to cases of political attacks by Arpaio and Thomas.

  13. dakinikat says:

    The Cajun/Creole part of our state needs to secede

    Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne said Saturday that Louisiana will help connect the unscripted television juggernaut “Duck Dynasty” with new producers if the show’s stars, the Robertson family, cannot resolve their differences with the A&E network over controversial comments made by patriarch Phil Robertson to GQ magazine. “If the Robertson family cannot come to an agreement with A&E and wants to continue the show, Louisiana already has the infrastructure in place to maintain their record-breaking program,” Dardenne said.

    There’s a rat that wants to drown on a sinking ship.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Oh, for freaking pete’s sake!

    There are a lot of problems in Washington, D.C these days, but not many solutions to them. Inefficiency, an allergy to cooperation, and stiff resistance to pragmatism have all ground the federal government to a stand-still. But one op-ed contributor to the Wall Street Journal knows what the real problem is: not enough rich, white men.
    In Saturday’s paper and online, author Joseph Epstein mourns the collapse of what he describes as the “genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment,” (WASP, the commonly-held acronym for White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant). Instead, he argues, we are living in a meritocracy, governed not by an elite subset of the uppermost crust of society but rather by a group of people who overcame some kind of adversity and achieved success thanks to their own merits, not based on what family they were born into. This, according to Epstein, is a tragedy.
    Epstein’s embrace of white privilege (or is it power?) is almost too transparent, resembling something closer to satire than to outright racism. And yet he gives no reason to believe that he isn’t completely serious when he argues that modern day “corruption, scandal and incompetence” are hallmarks exclusive to this new era of non-white rule. Or when he memorializes the virtues of keeping those not born into the “WASPocracy” away from the halls of power. Or when he faults the leadership of the country’s top colleges for its role in ending white rule by “lessening the number of legacies automatically admitted, and using racial preferences to encourage the enrollment of blacks.”

    Yo! Mister Epstein! no one woulda let you into the premier country clubs in any of the towns I grew up in! You really want to return to that?

  15. RalphB says:

    God I’m getting sick of this bitching about Obamacare!

    The New York Times and the ACA: the yuppie whine-athon continues

    I see the New York Times has published yet another article about very privileged people whining about the ACA.

    In this case, said article features a couple making $100,000 a year who, under the ACA, will be paying $1,000 a month for health care covering themselves and their two sons. Take it away, Dean Baker: …

  16. RalphB says:

    The Rude Pundit on Pope Francis has a very good post.

    This Fuckin’ Pope

    The nice thing about being an atheist is that you can say things like “Your god blows beagles” and not worry about lightning strikes frying you or earthquakes swallowing you up. Sure, sure, you gotta know your audience and maybe not say it to certain people’s faces because they are delusional enough to think a magical sky wizard has commanded them to kill anyone who suggests that he blows any kind of dog. Another thing about atheism is it means you don’t really have to give a shit what some high muckety-muck in a tall hat or turban tells you about how to live your life.

    But the Rude Pundit’s not an idiot and he’s not so narrow-minded as to dismiss the words of leaders of different faiths, especially when those words can have an enormous impact on the genuine sheep who make up the flock. Let’s put it this way: if just a word or two from a Zombie King could make all the zombies in the zombie apocalypse stop eating people and instead start organic gardens and go vegan, that would be a net positive. Sure, the world is still overrun with rotting zombies, but at least they’re not trying to gnaw on your guts.

    So, yeah, the Rude Pundit’s finding himself more and more jazzed by Pope Francis the more he reads the things this fuckin’ guy says. …