Republicans speak to the invisible man

Marco Rubio spoke to the RNC last night, and reminded everyone that we atheists aren’t Americans after all.

We are special [We are?] because we’ve been united not by a common race or ethnicity [This is true of many countries. What about Canada?]. We’re bound together by common values [Again, trivially true of most countries]. That family is the most important institution in society [Is there a country that doesn't have and value families?]. That almighty God is the source of all we have [Nope. Wrong. We built that].

Special, because we’ve never made the mistake of believing that we are so smart that we can rely solely on our leaders or our government [Nice sentiment in a speech where he's trying to convince us to rely on Mitt Romney].

Our national motto is "In God we Trust," reminding us that faith in our Creator is the most important American value of all [Fuck you too, Marco Rubio].

And special because we’ve always understood the scriptural admonition that "for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required." [Say what? So the rich should pay more taxes?]

We are a blessed people [Nope. We're lucky. Some of us are rich. But millions are poor and hungry and ignorant. Don't forget them]. And we have honored those blessings with the enduring example of an exceptional America [What seems to be making us particularly exceptional among wealthy nations is the idiocy of our leaders and the piety of our population, neither of which is anything to be proud of].

I think it was a theme. They brought on Clint Eastwood to make a stumbling address to an invisible man in an empty chair, and Rubio to do the same thing with a bit more polish.

The Republicans can kiss the atheist vote goodbye, but it makes me wonder…are there any atheists left in the Republican party, besides Karl Rove?

Someone explain this to me

That nutcase Jack Sarfatti (he’s been a plague on the internet since my usenet days) left a comment on the Scienceblogs side of things, which is very similar to a lot of my email, and I really don’t understand it.

You sound like a Nazi with The Final Solution for those you consider crazy. Shame on you – another self-hating Jewish Liberal. I don’t buy Creationist’s stuff either but I would not send them to the ovens as you clearly would do if you could with the venom in your writing.

Jack Sarfatti

He’s objecting to the fact that I pointed out there’s a concentration of stupid building up in Kentucky. I didn’t say anything about concentration camps, or ovens, or Final Solutions, unless you think Kentucky is all of those things, but that never stops run-at-the-mouth Sarfatti.

What I find weird, though, is all these people in my in-box who a) use “Jewish” as an insult, and b) think I’m Jewish. I don’t consider (a) to be true (although obviously many do) and (b) is simply incorrect, as far as I know. I can’t quite put my head in the same space as theirs, so I’m just wondering what it is about me that triggers this assumption that I fit a Jewish stereotype. My accent? My curls? That funny cap I wear? My resemblance to Tevye? A fondness for a good New York bagel?

How the turtle got its shell

In my post bashing that silly article claiming to have figured out how endoskeletons evolved from exoskeletons, there was a good question buried in the comments, and I thought I’d answer it.

Are there any models pulled out of arses which explain the turtle’s unique skeleton?

Yes! I mean, no, not pulled out of arses, but there is a lot of really good and persuasive research that uses evidence to show how the turtle skeleton evolved.

[Read more...]

A momentary flash of reason

Matt Abbot is a Catholic columnist with Renew America, Alan Keyes’ wingnutty freaky weird site full of fanatics. You know he’s deep in the tank, so it’s a little surprising when his head rises briefly above the surface to splutter, “wait…Catholic priests…child abuse…disturbing…” before sinking back into the slime. What could possibly have shaken him up? An interview with an actual Catholic priest, of course.

[Interviewer]: Part of your work here at Trinity has been working with priests involved in abuse, no?

[Father Groeschel]: A little bit, yes; but you know, in those cases, they have to leave. And some of them profoundly — profoundly — penitential, horrified. People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to — a psychopath. But that’s not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer.

That’s the Catholic party line, we’ve heard it a lot. These were men of God! It’s those little hypersexualized minxes tempting them who are to blame.

Well, this time even a Renew American partisan had a momentary flash of concern. Don’t worry, he’s looking for excuses even now, and will no doubt reassure himself back into intellectual catatonia soon.

Because I have such profound respect and admiration for Father Groeschel, it pains me to say this, but I think he’s terribly misguided here. Perhaps in his advanced age he’s not articulating himself as well as he used to; I don’t know. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt, but, in this instance, it’s very difficult.

Hey, Matt! You’re so close! Just recognize that he’s wrong, the Catholic church is wrong, and that your understanding that raping children is simply wrong is the right attitude to take. And maybe you need to learn that your respect and admiration was misplaced.

The Big Theme: LIES

I spent another pleasant night not watching the Republican National Convention, but I did follow the live-blogging on ThinkProgress. It’s the best way to do it, because apparently they’ve organized a team of fact-checkers, and everytime a Republican opened their mouth, someone scurried off and looked up whether they were lying or not. It must have been a busy night, scurry, scurry, scurry, and I imagine at the end everyone was lying on the floor, panting like exhausted gerbils. Because it turned out that that was what everyone at the RNC was doing: lying.

The New Republic called Ryan’s big moment in the spotlight the Most Dishonest Convention Speech…Ever?. Charles Pierce compared Ryan to Nixon…only not as honest. New York Magazine said Ryan was betting on American ignorance (scary thing is, that’s a fairly safe bet).

Romney is on tonight. I’ll have the TV on, watching petty, vicious infighting among a mob of amoral cannibals in a devastated world. Same difference, I know.

Why I am an atheist – Mitch Austin

I was raised lightly religious, Lutheran, went to AWANA with friends.  At 14 I joined De Molay.  They say prayers at regular intervals.  The prayers are all non-sectarian, but everyone knows they’re said to Baby Jesus.  It’s also a great way to meet the ladies.  I’m sure most everyone lost their “purity” through club hookups.  Around age 17 that just kinda petered-out (no pun intended) and I didn’t give it another thought.

[Read more...]