David Silverman’s “Darwin Was Wrong” Moment

Surely New Scientist’s terrible choice in creating the “Darwin Was Wrong” cover happened not so long ago that the skeptical community has forgotten the sturm und drang that rightly came after it. And yet, here we are.

To explain: the science rag’s cover was designed to tease an article wherein the phylogenetic “tree” shape is explained to be less accurate than the more web-like structure with speciation and cross-pollination that we now understand to be the case today. So, Darwin was wrong, yes — but he was not wrong about evolution. And yet to this day, you will find creationists who use that misleading cover to suggest that evolution did not happen, therefore God. Despite being technically correct, the messaging was so poor as to cause splash damage, and atheists and skeptics were pretty mad despite the right-on-a-technicality nature of the problem.

So it’s honestly surprising to me that so many people are so bent out of shape over David Silverman’s poor messaging very recently at CPAC — no, not the people who are upset that what he said caused splash damage to women and was worth criticizing. I mean, the people who are bent out of shape over the CRITICISMS of such.
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You can take our gun columnists, but you’ll never take our freedom!

Here’s an interesting little situation that’s come up recently. Apparently, a gun columnist by the name of Dick Metcalf questioned the wisdom of gun rights advocates demanding there be absolutely no limits to the “Right to Bear Arms” by arguing that a sixteen hour course for a concealed carry permit was reasonable. As a result, he was fired from his column with Guns And Ammo, and now his career of 40 years has evaporated.

Just days after the column appeared, Mr. Metcalf said, his editor called to tell him that two major gun manufacturers had said “in no uncertain terms” that they could no longer do business with InterMedia Outdoors, the company that publishes Guns & Ammo and co-produces his TV show, if he continued to work there. He was let go immediately.

“I’ve been vanished, disappeared,” Mr. Metcalf, 67, said in an interview last month on his gun range here, about 100 miles north of St. Louis, surrounded by snow-blanketed fields and towering grain elevators. “Now you see him. Now you don’t.”

This is almost identical to what happened with that Duck Dynasty jackass being suspended by A&E for saying stupid homophobic bullshit, only that story had a “happy” ending — right-wingers successfully rallied to demand that A&E reinstate Duck Dynasty because HOW DARE THEY TAKE AWAY HIS FREEDOM OF SPEECH by… exercising their own freedom to choose what gets aired on their network. And A&E caved, mistaking the conservative outcry for something actually approaching a morally justifiable standpoint.

I anxiously await the protest by Sarah Palin, Brian Brown, and the whole host of conservative loonies to demand that Metcalf’s column be reinstated. I further await the people running interference on the Duck Dynasty issue as being a matter of freedom of speech to say something, anything, about this guy’s column about guns.

Transgender rights bill passes in Canada!

Back on March 20th, despite the Tories’ attempts at kicking the can down the road, NDP, Liberals and a whopping 15 Conservatives passed the controversial transgender rights bill in the House of Commons, making assault on a transgender person a hate crime, and protecting trans* folk against discrimination.

I hate having to say “the controversial” in this case, but as usual, it’s controversial because Conservatives don’t want to pass anything making it any less acceptable to attack anyone who isn’t a straight white cis-gendered males in this world. Making it illegal to discriminate against a trans* person, in the same way as it’s illegal to discriminate against any other non-ciswhitestraightmales, well, would simply be a bridge too far to most of them. So they’ve been fighting it with the rhetoric that it would allow sexual predators to assault women in bathrooms by pretending to be transgender. They’ve honestly smeared it throughout the media and throughout the political discourse as “The Bathroom Bill”.

Yeah, it makes about as little sense as it sounds.
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Swanson and Buehner, Conservative radio hosts, ably tear apart strawfeminism

It really is something like watching a circle jerk, honestly. I feel dirty and unsatisfied and like I was denied what I actually paid the price of admission for, in having watched these two construct then tear apart a systematic listing of every trope on the Straw Feminism tvtropes page. I feel ashamed that these people think they’re intellectually curious, and even worse, that people actually consider these arguments persuasive.

Your challenge… find something in here that remotely approximates reality, and not something like “they’re using real English words”. I listened to it twice, and I’ve got nothing. Jodi threw her hands up in frustration and walked away at about the third sentence.

Sarah Palin is a kind of feminist? Bahahaha.

An anniversary to remember, with a thumb to Harper’s eye

Today’s the 23rd anniversary of the Montréal Massacre, which has of late been a focus in Canadian politics with Harper having successfully destroyed the long gun registry.

Except, as it turns out, in Quebec. The provincial government kept their copy, with the help of a sympathetic judge, and plans on implementing their own registry, according to Stephane Bergeron in statements made marking the anniversary of the deadly shooting at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique.

Bergeron also mentioned the deadly shooting at Dawson College in 2006, as well as the fatal shooting that disrupted Premier Pauline Marois’ victory speech on Sept. 4.

“Quebec believes in a system of firearms registration, essential to the administration of justice, to police work and to the safety of the population,” he said.

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Harper government celebrates destruction of long gun registry… quietly

Via Winnipeg Free Press, a spokesperson for the Public Safety Minister Vic Toews confirmed that the long gun registry has been destroyed — at least, except for Quebec’s, where legal battles are ongoing. Interestingly, the Harper government did not issue a press release on the matter; it took gun enthusiasts rumoring about the registry’s destruction before the spokesperson would confirm.

No formal news release appears to have been issued by a Conservative government that has made repeal and destruction of the long-gun registry one of its bedrock promises.

Nor has the government said exactly how much taxpayer money will be saved by repealing the registry, although a study by The Canadian Press suggests it is a small fraction of the millions spent annually on gun licensing.

Could it be because the suggested “savings” are a total canard? A non-starter? A… dare I say it… complete line of bullshit?
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Maddow: Paul Ryan Pals Around with Right-Wing Terrorists

Hey, remember the whole “palling around with terrorists” argument, about Bill Ayers? Yeah, it was misdirection.

Rachel Maddow has to do a lot of framing — over ten minutes — to give the scope of this issue before getting to the “punchline”, being Paul Ryan’s latest nonsense and the Right Wing Conspiracy Theorists’ latest outrages.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Some sick freak is mailing body parts to the Conservative Party of Canada (Update: and Liberals too!)

I thought about starting this post by saying “look, I hate the CPC as much as the next guy”, but quickly realized that evidently, I don’t. Someone — possibly multiple someones — has sent two body parts to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters.

Police would not say what the body part was, nor where it was found, though they did say it was not found at the Conservative Party offices on 130 Albert St. where the foot was sent.

Media reports said the second package, containing a human hand, was not addressed to the Tory headquarters. Police said the major crime unit continues to investigate.

Police were called to the building at 11:20 a.m. ET after a suspicious package was delivered there. Police called for the hazardous materials unit after they noticed what appeared to be blood on the package.

It’s interesting that the foot was mailed directly to the Tories but the hand wasn’t. I don’t know what that means yet.

I can envision a few scenarios where this might make sense to some deranged person — in protest of the Tories and Harper’s government’s policies, as a taunt to the police to catch a serial killer, maybe even mailing the body parts of someone they felt was victimized by the government out of revenge. I can only hope that the parts come from the same body, rather than two different ones, and that the person those parts belonged to was not freshly killed for expressly this purpose. Regardless, this story is disturbing on a number of very visceral levels.

Update: Holy shit. Okay, it’s not targeted at the CPC at all. The hand was delivered to the Liberal Party. And they have the rest of the body, and a suspect who’s been known to kill kittens on video, who may or may not have a link to Karla Homolka.

Montreal police are looking for Luka Rocco Magnotta in connection with the delivery of a human left foot to the Conservative Party of Canada headquarters in Ottawa and the discovery of body parts found in Ottawa and Montreal.

Police said Magnotta, 29, also known as Eric Clinton Newman, is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant and police are asking for the public’s help to find him.

Police said Magnotta knew the victim whose torso was found in Montreal on Tuesday.

US puts Canada on piracy watch list yet again!

Remember how, last time around, Conservative Industry Minister Tony Clement convinced the US to put Canada on a piracy watch list despite us being in last place on a list of 46 countries? Given the circumstances of that particular attempt at sabotaging our country’s standings so baselessly, can you understand why I might be skeptical of the motivations behind this news?

In its yearly report on countries that are not doing enough to protect the U.S. copyright industry, Canada is listed on the Priority Watch List with China, Russia, Ukraine and a handful of other countries.

The Special 301 Report reads:

“Canada remains on the Priority Watch List in 2012, subject to review if Canada enacts long-awaited copyright legislation. The Government of Canada has given priority to that legislation. The United States welcomes that prioritization and looks forward to studying the legislation once it is finalized, and will consider, among other things, whether it fully implements the WIPO Internet Treaties, and whether it fully addresses the challenges of piracy over the Internet.”

Other countries are more lucky.

Spain, for example, has been taken off the list after it implemented a harsher copyright law. Last December the US ambassador threatened to put Spain on a trade blacklist if the country failed to pass a SOPA-style site blocking law.

Weeks later the new law passed.

I maintain that the worldwide copyfight is an attempt to maximize short-term profits for the content middleman industry expressly at the expense of individual liberties. Hobbling Canada’s international standing in a cynical game to force us to pass SOPA-like anti-privacy anti-piracy measures is a wholly unsurprising tactic. Pulling the same tactic twice, though requires that we all forget what happened last time around.

Canada’s bill C-31 would make us an isolationist country

Seems times are tough all over. The US just passed in the House a bill that effectively repeals the 4th Amendment, and as usual any time some really terrible bit of freedom-abrogating law is passed in the States, people are talking about moving to Canada. However, I’m really hoping they’re just joking, because they’re going to find that increasingly difficult. See, the laughably named “Protect Canada’s Immigration System Act”, bill C-31, is probably going to pass due to the steamroller government in power at the moment.

This bill is laughably named because its entire purpose is protect Canada from refugee immigrants by putting them in jail for a year without review, preventing them from seeing their families for five years thereafter, and leaving their immigration status in question, all at the sole discretion of the Minister of Public Safety (presently, Vic Toews).
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