I take tremendous pride in my half-assed, poorly executed, semi-regular attempts to extract $82 billion worth of benefits per year from the Religion-Industrial-Complex on behalf of atheist U.S. taxpayers. I find this to be a worthwhile endeavor not only as a stinging retort to the appalling injustice of $82 billion in yearly taxpayer subsidies to the R-I-C, but also because I thoroughly enjoy mocking one particular church sign in the small town in Northern Maryland where my mother lives. Granted, it may not provide the full $82 billion in amusement value. But we have to start somewhere, people.
Today’s church sign does not disappoint.
THE BEST THINGS IN
LIFE AREN’T THINGS
TRINITY WORSHIP 9&11
Now let me underscore here that literacy privilege is A Thing, and generally speaking we should not mock those who do not have it. Earth is home to an astonishing number of amazing and interesting people whose ideas are well worth engaging, even if spelling and grammar are not their personal forte. This could be true for any number of reasons that come to mind readily enough: learning disabilities; neurocognitive effects of injury, illness or environmental toxins; poor nutrition; mental illness, including trauma from homelessness or abuse; and of course late exposure to non-native English. But here in these exceptional United States we have another problem. My friend CaitieCat explains:
Particularly in a US context, where educational options are very strongly influenced by class (and race, in an intertwined manner), riding the xenophobes for misspelling ‘illegals’ as ‘illeagles’, or “Muslim” as “muslin”, what we’re saying is, “You should have been smart enough to get yourself born to the right kind of parents, who’d give you access to the best education, who were educated themselves enough to teach you ‘proper’ English, and who were rich enough to make sure you never had to work after school instead of studying!”
So yeah, let’s not do that. Tempting as it may be to go after the low-hanging fruit, we can and we damn well should mock xenophobes for being racist and conservative and terrible entitled assholes. This way, the splash damage splatters all over racists and conservatives and terrible entitled assholes, not shitty spellers. Really, that’s the very least of our problems with these humans.
With all that said, if you accept (tax-free!) tuition money to
indoctrinate educate 3- and 4-year old kids, and your curriculum explicitly states “Our students are exposed to structured centers enhancing emergent literacy skills (reading & writing),” WE GET TO FUCKING MOCK YOU FOR SPELLING PRESCHOOL WRONG.
Have a nice day.
The damage caused by the recent flooding in Louisiana has been tragic and catastrophic. Only a villain of unparalleled malevolence would deliberately compound the troubles of residents of the Pelican State as they try to salvage and rebuild their homes, businesses, institutions and lives.
And what’s this?
A squirrel is to blame for thousands losing power in the New Orleans area on Thursday morning, according to Entergy New Orleans.
“Crews safely working to restore power ASAP after an animal got into our equipment,” Entergy said in a tweet addressed to the East Carrollton area.
“It was a squirrel,” the company added.
At the height of the outage, about 3,500 customers were without power.
That’s the damage caused today by one squirrel. And they’re just warming up. Once they begin to coordinate their attacks on our critical infrastructure, humans may very well be looking at an extinction level event.
A friend and Loyal Reader™ forwarded me a recent screed by Sam Harris. He asked if I would be willing to indulge him in letting him know what in it, if anything, I think is “objectionable, disagree with or find otherwise ill-advised.” Harris’s post, entitled “What Hillary Clinton Should Say about Islam and the ‘War on Terror,’” is written in the form of a proposed speech that he would like for the Democratic nominee for president to give before the November election. “Its purpose,” Harris says, “is to prevent a swing toward Trump by voters who find Clinton’s political correctness on the topic of Islam and jihadism a cause for concern.”
I did a debunking of Harris almost two years ago on this very topic. It was a tedious exercise, mainly because like all right-wing conservatives and reactionaries, he bases his irrational, evidence-free, simplistic, black-&-white views and arguments, such as they are, on falsehoods and factual inaccuracies that are a cakewalk to disprove. The task was all the more unbearable because I’ve always found Harris an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker and a witless and dull writer, so much so that I’m genuinely amazed he is not a regular op-ed columnist for the New York Times.
That said, he is certainly an incendiary polemicist. Or he tries to be anyway, but for me he comes off as smug and comically uninformed as any ordinary Fox News host. Except for a few items that popped up in my feeds, Harris had largely dropped off my radar. Those sure were a couple of doozies, though. Last year he made his jaw-dropping claim that far-right fabulist and then-presidential candidate Ben Carson is “one of the best people” on the subject of Islam and terrorism, even as Carson’s “own advisers admit [he] struggles with grasping basic facts surrounding international conflicts.” Before that, Noam Chomsky—who is the farthest thing from an unoriginal and uninteresting thinker or a witless and dull writer—ate him for lunch. Oh, and then there was that one time I made a bobblehead of Sam Harris for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
Researching for today’s post, however, I came across many more Harris grotesqueries that I was fortunate enough to miss, ignore or block from memory: support for racial profiling, torture, preemptive nuclear war, demanding that the US government admit that it is and ought to be “at war with Islam” and that “The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.”
Sensible fascists. Jeezus.
A decade ago, Harris wrote that Muslim immigrants to Europe exploit the Western values of their host countries by “demanding tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their mosques.” He is inexplicably unaware that, in accordance with his much-touted “Western values,” his fellow US citizens not only demand “tolerance for their backwardness, their misogyny, their anti-Semitism, and the genocidal hatred that is regularly preached in their
mosques churches“—and also happens to be the foundational principle upon which US “civilization” is and has always been based—they fucking receive it. He’s also unaware that immigrant populations assimilate to their host culture within a few generations—well, at least if they’re treated decently, for instance by having their host country not declare war on their religion or its presidential candidates threatening and demonizing them.
I honestly don’t know why I am undertaking this task again. Maybe because I find it troubling that anyone but a Fox News viewer would take the guy seriously on this issue, when conducting a cursory investigation into the facts and evidence for yourself will reveal how completely and utterly wrong he is about a unique nexus between Islamic religious ideas and terrorism (and misogyny), as well as how unethical, irrational, irresponsible and dangerous it is to promote such falsehoods. Maybe I’m doing this because I have some unhealthy masochistic tendencies I really should bring up in therapy. Maybe it’s because I like honoring the 1940s-era pianist and comedian Oscar Levant who said, “The first thing I do in the morning is brush my teeth and sharpen my tongue.”
Well, regardless, now I’ve gone and done it. My comments and edits to Harris’s latest…whatever it is are in blue.
SPOILER ALERT: Sam Harris is still wanking all over the same, tired hobbyhorse. He has learned nothing. And he likely never will.
This is a post by my improbable dear friend Don Ardell. I say improbable because Don is, among other things, a seventy-something year old world champion triathlete and duathlete, while I on the other hand can barely drag my ass to the gym a few measly times a week, muttering and groaning and complaining bitterly before, during and after every single fucking workout. He is also a pioneer in wellness (no, not the fun kind at the day spa—the REAL deal) and author/co-author of several books on the subject, the latest of which (with Grant Donovan) is Wellness Orgasms: The Fun Way to Live Well and Die Healthy.
Don also has a fantastic sense of humor: one day he asked me to be on the advisory board of his newsletter publication, the Ardell Wellness Report. Hahaha! I almost choked on my chocolate marshmallow vodka breakfast smoothie! But then I remembered a deeply moving and powerful quote by the author Carroll Bryant: “Everyone in life has a purpose, even if it’s to serve as a bad example.” And so I told Don I would be honored and happy to serve.
As long as I could do it from a superluxe day spa that offers full bar service to the massage rooms. OBVIOUSLY.
A savvy Facebook friend was quick to alert us here at Death to Squirrels central about an incident in the UK as terrifying as it is telling.