The rise and fall of the nerd Eich

Perhaps you’ve used the Firefox web browser. If you’re an old nerd like me, you might remember the Netscape web browser, whose source code formed the basis of the Mozilla code that lies behind Firefox. If you’re really hard-core, you might know the name of the man who wrote the original JavaScript language, without which things like ad revenues and blog networks like FtB might not exist.

Brendan Eich was that man, and for a very brief number of days he was the CEO of Mozilla—until word leaked out about his tangible support for Proposition 8 and for discrimination against gays. The uproar was immediate and impossible to ignore. Other board members resigned rather than work with/for him. OkCupid put up a notice, visible specifically to FireFox users, naming and shaming Eich for his anti-gay efforts and urging users to switch to a different browser. Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere erupted with calls for his resignation and for boycotts. Eich resigned after only 10 days in office.

The aftermath has even some liberals frowning. True, it’s a sign of the times that bigots can no longer act with impunity when trying to promote discrimination against gays. That’s a positive step and a sign of the long overdue decline in society’s willingness to condone bullying and harassment. But has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction? Have gay rights activists stepped over a line, and become guilty of “witch hunts” themselves? Is it anyone else’s business what Eich’s personal beliefs are and how they relate to his job, if he himself is careful to maintain a professional separation between the two?

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Tempting God

Via Ed Brayton comes this quote from Senator Jim Inhofe:

Inhofe: Well actually the Genesis 8:22 that I use in there is that ‘as long as the earth remains there will be seed time and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night,’ my point is, God’s still up there. The arrogance of people to think that we, human beings, would be able to change what He is doing in the climate is to me outrageous.

Even by Christian standards, that’s a monumentally stupid and irresponsible thing to say. Of course, Inhofe isn’t the first guy to say something like that. You can find very similar words being ascribed to Satan in the Gospel according to Matthew.

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Expectations: exceeded.

Since I previously expressed reservations about Bill Nye’s wisdom in agreeing to debate Ken Ham at the Creation Spewseum, I think I owe him a follow-up: he blew me away. My pessimistic assessment was wrong, and he totally pwned the opposition. Nor am I alone in this assessment. Dana Hunter has this to say:

I thought this would be a fiasco when I found out he’d agreed to debate Ken at Ken’s own Creation Museum, with only Answers in Genesis putting out DVDs, and when it seemed like only creationists were getting in the doors. And I’m still not happy this stunt will pull in some dollars for that epic fail of an organization. But to go on the creationists’ own turf, and still hand Ken Ham his ass in a sling, that’s some serious good-for-science there.

Indeed.

Check out the full article for a bunch of good links and good reading.

Go Science!

A short answer

Just for fun, I thought I’d take a stab at the 22 Messages from Creationists, giving each one a short response. Let’s start with the last one.

22. If we came from monkeys then why are there still monkeys?

If we came from our parents and grandparents, why do we still have parents and grandparents? Or, to put it in Christian terms, if Jesus came from God, then why would there still be a God?

Think, dude. [Read more…]

Muslims and Christians united at last

You see? Christians and Muslims can agree on common goals, beliefs, and values.

Kisumu residents engaged police in running battles in the city centre to protest the construction of a statue by members of the Hindu religion along Nyerere Road.

Police were forced to lobby teargas canisters at the protestors who had set the statue ablaze…

The protesters, Muslims and Christians, argued that erecting a religious statue in the heart of the town portrayed Kisumu as a city of the Hindu religion…

“Christians are not allowed to bow down to other gods and the location of the statue means everyone using this road bows,” said Erick Otieno, a resident.

Kisumu is in Kenya, so they don’t have to worry about the First Amendment. But this is why we have one. Secular is better. You don’t have to fight the police, dodge tear gas, and destroy other people’s property, just to defend a silly superstition.

The agnostic creationist

I thought this was interesting. Here’s Ken Ham’s response to the question, “What, if anything, would ever change your mind?”

Well, the answer to that is, I’m a Christian, and as a Christian I can’t prove it to you, but God has definitely shown me very clearly through His Word, and He has shown Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, that the Bible is the Word of God…

No, no one is ever going to convince me that the Word of God is not true.

Or in other words, Ken Ham is never going to be able to genuinely know whether the Bible is true or not. He’s like a broken watch that says it’s 2:45 no matter what time it is. Nothing is ever going to be able to get him to say it’s not 2:45. Ask him what time it is, and after he answers, you still won’t know what the correct time is, because his answer is not tied to the current time. And likewise, there’s no point in asking him whether or not the Bible is really true, because his answer will be completely unrelated to the truth. Evidence, facts, reality itself, are all powerless to change what he says, and therefore his faith can never accurately reflect the state of the evidence, the facts, and reality itself.

Word of the day

Just been reading some of the reviews and comments about the Nye/Ham debate, and I’ve come to the conclusion our vocabulary needs a new word to adequately describe some of what we’re getting from the anti-science side. And that word is….

regurgibate (ree-GUR-ji-bate) v. To take an obscene delight in spewing or spitting up whatever one has been fed, undigested. “Though normally easy to talk to, he can’t defend Genesis without regurgibating creationist tropes that have been debunked time and time again.”

I hereby release this word into the public domain, in hopes that it will prove useful.

“Liberty means not allowing freedom”—Nuns

What does liberty mean to you? Normally, we associate liberty with freedom, i.e. the absence of people telling us, “You’re not allowed to do that.” But the Little Sisters of the Poor have a definition of liberty that seems to be the exact opposite. And they’re suing the government for the right to impose this “liberty” on their employees. The NPR web site reports:

The Justice Department has argued that the nuns’ group is already exempt from providing birth control under the ACA, as long as it certifies its standing as a religious nonprofit. But the Little Sisters of the Poor, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, argues that documentation simply condones employees getting the coverage elsewhere.

“The sisters, under the new Health and Human Services mandate, are being forced by the government to either sign a form allowing a third party to provide contraceptives and abortion-causing drugs to their employees, or they’re being threatened with fines,” says Becket Fund director Kristina Arriaga.

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Why is Bill Nye fund-raising for creationism?

A lot of people are excited about the upcoming debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye at the Creation Museum in February. Some think Bill will be completely unprepared for standard creationist debate tactics, others think he’ll mop the floor with Ham. To me, that’s not the issue. The important thing to me (and probably to Ham) is that no matter how the debate goes, the fact that it happens at all is going to be a huge revenue stream for AnswersInGenesis.org. I’m sure if he loses, Ham will cry all the way to the bank.

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Speaking of moot

In May of 2012, the ACLU and Lambda Legal filed a lawsuit challenging the Illinois ban on same-sex marriage. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in Illinois, the Thomas More Society, representing the defendents, filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed as moot. The response from the ACLU and Lambda Legal was predictably reasonable: they also filed a motion to have the suit dismissed as moot, since there was no longer any problem requiring a remedy. But even though the Thomas More Society was happy with this outcome, their response shows a certain failure to recognize what “moot” really means.

“We’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal agree with us that their lawsuits are now moot and thus should be dismissed,” said Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel of the Thomas More Society. “Because the concerns of people of faith were ignored by the Illinois General Assembly when it redefined marriage under state law, we now turn our attention to the protection of the religious liberty rights of Illinoisans who object to being forced to participate in same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

They’re pleased that the ACLU and Lambda Legal will not pursue remedies to a problem that no longer exists, and that means the Society is now free to pursue remedies to a problem that never has existed, does not exist now, and never will exist. Good job, guys.