For Your Enjoyment #37

The stocky mammals are celebrated as soothsayers that peer into the future when they emerge from their burrows, surveying the landscape for telltale shadows that signal Jack Frost's plans for the next six weeks. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, is the birthplace of Groundhog Day and the home of Punxsutawney Phil, the Peyton Manning of prescient rodents. During a ceremony at sunrise, the waddling prophet is retrieved from his heated home inside a mock tree stump and hoisted heavenward by top-hatted helpers who interpret his gestures to make a prediction while thousands watch. Phil's stardom is coupled with infamy and not just due to the fact that his forecasts have been off 55% of the time over the past three decades, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

- The groundhog: Friend, foe and/or meteorologist? (image above)

“He looks amazing in the pictures,” the photographer told the China Daily in an earlier interview. “Not everybody looks good in suits. But he’s got class...he is happy that people are being nice to him and to be welcomed by so many people. Having people pay attention to him and having a sense of existing are important to him,” he added. “I want my grandpa to feel that he is useful.” Speaking on Monday with the help of his grandson, Ding said he had enjoyed his unforeseen transformation from farmer to fashionista. “They are beautiful,” the softly spoken grandfather said of his grandson’s viral photographs. The retired farmer said he was unable to pick his favourite look from his menswear collection. “I like all of them,” he told the Guardian.

- The story behind China's coolest, most dapper grandpa

Like most gay and equality campaigners, I initially condemned the Christian-run Ashers Bakery in Belfast over its refusal to produce a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan for a gay customer, Gareth Lee. I supported his legal claim against Ashers and the subsequent verdict – the bakery was found guilty of discrimination last year. Now, two days before the case goes to appeal, I have changed my mind. Much as I wish to defend the gay community, I also want to defend freedom of conscience, expression and religion... The judge concluded that service providers are required to facilitate any “lawful” message, even if they have a conscientious objection. This raises the question: should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs? In my view, it is an infringement of freedom to require businesses to aid the promotion of ideas to which they conscientiously object. Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas.

- Revisiting the case against Ashers Bakery's 2014 refusal to accept an order for a pro-gay marriage cake - where do you draw the line between upholding personal beliefs v. practicing active discrimination?

The search is on in Australia for a motorist who is believed to have deliberately run over 17 kangaroos. Black tire marks along a road in Wacol, Brisbane, suggest the car swerved to hit the animals as they fed by the side of the road, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

- This person: Christ, what an asshole.

Of the 22 states that will be casting their ballots for a Republican nominee between Feb. 1 and March 5, 11 of them feature a Republican electorate that is more than 50 percent evangelical. Even more significant, the first state to vote is Iowa, roughly 60 percent of whose Republican caucus-goers describe themselves as evangelical Christians. As had been the case in recent election cycles, if Cruz could persuade this voting bloc to coalesce around him, then in this crowded field of Republican candidates he would almost certainly emerge the winner in Iowa.

- Welp, it looks like Ted Cruz's evangelical strategy apparently worked...

A gracious Trump gave brief concession remarks on Monday night, congratulating Ted Cruz and expressing gratitude to his team and the people of Iowa. “I’m just honored,” he said. “I’m really honored and I want to congratulate Ted and I want to congratulate all of the incredible candidates, including Mike Huckabee who’s become a really good friend of mine...I think I might come here [to Iowa] and buy a farm, I love it,” he said.

Trump displays some class after conceding Iowa

The only thing wrong with politics, he said, is “not enough good people bother to try.”

Farewell but not goodbye, Martin O'Malley 

Dropping out of the presidential race can be more important — and can have a more lasting impact — than entering it. Departing the right way can help a candidate built a lasting “brand” and set him or her up for speaking fees, TV contracts, a book deal and, who knows, maybe another run for the top prize one day....So how will 2016’s favorite soon-to-be-also-rans finally quit? 

- Some possible exit strategies to consider, including "The Mike Huckabee" approach (Spoiler alert - Historical precedent: Mike Huckabee; Most likely this year: Mike Huckabee)

Who will address the criminalization of our people? Who understands that we’re experiencing an economic crisis made worse by structural barriers to jobs and education? Who will bring us closer to real safety, freedom and power? Who has clearly shown us where they stand? The answer is someone who started this work well before campaign season, who understands our deaths as tragedies — not political talking points — and someone who will speak out against the wars being waged against our communities. Not someone who only pays attention to our concerns when it’s time to collect our votes. Not someone who gives us bread crumbs and expects us to be full. Black Americans — all Americans — need a leader with a record that speaks for itself. And to me, it’s clear. Of all the presidential candidates, Sen. Bernie Sanders is our strongest ally.

- Erica Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, is Feeling the Bern

I like Bernie, but....

- The name of this website says it all. Bernie skeptics, check it out

"For Cam to make such a bold statement with his pants -- we'll have to see in the game -- but he might walk in there with supreme confidence that this show might not really be getting to him. You don't really wear pants like that if you're having a bashful moment."

- Come Sunday, will Cam Newton and his Panthers live up to Cam's pants' hype

"The kitten players," [Boomer Esiason, the Feline Football League commissioner] offered, "are so much easier to deal with than human players." 

- Mark your calendars: Kitten Bowl 2016, airing Sunday 7 February 2016