A #NODAPL victory?

The infamous pipeline is going to be rerouted.

The Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works announced Sunday.

It must be a good decision, because it’s really pissing off the right people.

North Dakota’s sole member in the House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, expressed his disapproval in a scathing statement released Sunday that slammed President Barack Obama as well as the protestors.

“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road,” Cramer wrote. “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way.”

Building infrastructure is great. Building great dangerous leaky pipelines to pump poison over water supplies, and to torment and abuse the people most affected by them, is not. Suppressing the people’s right to protest is also not great.

You don’t get to revise evolutionary theory, until you understand evolutionary theory

There was a conference sponsored by the Royal Society last month, titled New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives. There have been a number of news stories about this event, some good, some bad. Here’s one: can you tell what’s wrong with it?

For example, speaking at the Royal Society was Melinda Zeder, who talked about the way in which modern synthesis fails to provide a reason for mankind’s turning to agriculture 10,00 years ago and its ensuing evolutionary impact. Growing crops may have taken years, so there could not have been a short-term evolutionary benefit to it. As Zeder told Quanta, “You don’t get the immediate gratification of grabbing some food and putting it in your mouth.” It’s also been theorized that a climate shift caused agriculture to bloom, but there’s no evidence of such a shift.

[Read more…]

Lake Wobegon isn’t such a nice place after all

Nice, diverse, liberal Minnesota hired a black man to play Santa at the Mall of America, and some people lost their goddamned minds. The Strib has closed their comments, they got so bad, but our local CBS station still has them up. A sampling:

Get used to these kinds of shenaigans! Over the past year and a half, I have met thousands of Trump supporters! They are the LEAST “racist” and MOST postive people you could know. They want what is best for ALL Americans, including a whole lot of black supporters. These are the ANGRY Hillary / Soros supporters who are doing all they can to undermine Trump, so that Hillary the horrid can run against him in 4 years. There is NO END to her ambition. She wll run until she is DEAD!

“Shenanigans”? What’s so awful about hiring a black man to play Santa? And of course this is all a conspiracy by Hillary Clinton to undermine Trump. You know, sometimes a mall Santa is just a mall Santa.

Tony Johnson
Problem is, society today, as a whole, is uneducated. If you were educated you would know that Santa clause was based on a monk named St. Nicholas who was, now get this…… CAUCASIAN! I don’t care how “color blind” you think you are, that fact will never change.

The ‘historical’ St Nicholas was a man born in Asia Minor in the 3rd century AD. If you’re going to get upset about historicity, complain about the red-suited rosy-cheeked fat man who lives at the North Pole.

What color are the elves supposed to be?

Victor Edwards
I clicked on the story fully expecting that they picked a Somali to play Santa. That would be fitting for Minnesota. Have a radical muslim who hates America and the western world play Santa. Give him a gun and some knives under his red suit and when the little Christian children come sit in his lap, he can cut their throats.

Somehow, this guy transformed a mall Santa into a child-slaughtering Radical Muslim, all in his head.

John Oakman
Oooooooooh, now I can die knowing “dat Santa bees black”. What BS.

Wouldn’t be a racist roll call without someone doing dialect.

Eileen Finnin Hargrove
Is he also transgender???

Or someone bringing gender into it.

Vox Veritas
Next = One-legged, female Santa with facial piercings.

We got all the stereotypes.

Peter Morgan
Stupid. Incredibly stupid. Santa is WHITE. BOYCOTT Mall of America. Maybe they should change their name to MALL of RAGHEAD LAND.

Please do boycott all these places that treat brown people as human. It’s one way for me to get a racist-free experience.

It’s all just downhill from here.

Barry Sorretoa

Laquisha Reynolds
I hope every self respecting White parent does not take their children to this atrocity.Santa Claus was a German character from centuries ago when blacks were eating each other in Africa…this imitation of traditional White characters from TV and movies to historical figures such as HAMILTON is a cancer that must be stopped .Blacks have very very few characters that would be worthy of being replaced with Whites but if MLK were played by a White person ..blacks would try to kill him.

Yeah, everyone knows Santa is supposed to be a white positive role model.


I need to take a shower now.

Americans are an awful, horrible people, as they keep demonstrating to me.

The Friedman Singularity

Years ago, I imagine that the management of the New York Times met to work out criteria for who would write the opinion columns in the paper. They walked in with one iron-clad commitment: they believed in “balance”, you couldn’t just bring on writers of reason and evidence, because that would be unfair to the right wing. They also tut-tutted the awkwardness of strong language and vigorously supported opinions, so they needed to find a middle ground. They decided that the way to fill their quota of conservative voices was to simply hire deeply stupid people.

And this is how Thomas Friedman, David Brooks, Maureen Dowd, and Ross Douthat got their sinecures on the pages of the prestigious (but losing its luster) New York Times.

I think David Brooks is the worst of them, but then every time I read anything by Friedman I feel like changing my mind. This doesn’t happen often, though, because Friedman makes me vomit out of my eyesockets, which is generally incompatible with being able to read further.

Matt Taibbi has a stronger constitution than I do, apparently, and reviews Friedman’s latest metastatic column, I mean “book”, Thank You for Being Late. He is very unkind. Not unkind enough, but he gets close to what we need.

We will remember Friedman for interviewing 76 percent of the world’s taxi drivers, for predicting “the next six months will be critical” on 14 occasions over two and a half years (birthing the neologism, “the Friedman unit”), and for his unmatched, God-given ability to write nonsensical metaphors, like his classic “rule of holes”: “When you’re in one, stop digging. When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”

Friedman’s great anti-gift is his ability to use many words when only a few are necessary. He became famous as a newspaper columnist for taking simple one-sentence observations like, “Wow, everyone has a cell phone these days,” and blowing them out into furious 850-word trash-fires of mismatched imagery and circular argument.

Yeah, that’s our man Tom. Terrible writer, inane pseudo-philosopher, the most predictably unimaginative source of idiotic “ideas” on the NY Times roster. I have no idea why he’s still employed. There must have been some kind of blood pact signed at the meeting I imagined, or perhaps they closed the deal with an orgy and Friedman has recordings.

Taibbi singled out one example of Friedmanesque unprofundity: this graph, intended to illustrate his claim that we’re being overwhelmed by our own technology.


Bad timing. I’ve been grading lab reports lately, so I’m particularly sensitive to abominations like that. Label your axes! What are the units? Are “adaptibility” and “technology” even measurable in the same way and with the same units? Hey, the ordinate is “rate of change” — do you actually intend to argue that human adaptability, for instance, is increasing? Where’s your evidence? And then I draw big red slashes through the whole thing and tell the student that this is unacceptable, you get a 0 for this assignment, go back and rewrite it.

No, really, this is disgraceful. It’s an obvious attempt to pretend that a subjective claim is factually objective by falsely casting it in the form of a quantitative measurement. You don’t get to do that.

And then it gets worse. Friedman draws a second version of the graph, with his suggestion for how we can correct this mismatch between adaptability and technology.


Hey, my metaphor of vomiting out of my eye sockets no longer looks so hyperbolic, does it?

So the Friedman solution for our current production of excess technology beyond our capacity to absorb (a problem that he hasn’t actually shown to exist) is to build a time machine, go into an undefined moment in the past, and make people “learn faster”. He’s written a whole book about an undemonstrated problem, illustrated it with a bogus graph, and solved it by drawing a line on the graph that shows he doesn’t understand his own illustration, and that requires multiple amazing technological feats to accomplish…in a book that complains about the rapidity of our technological advances.

I know what this means. He’s trying to get a raise from the NY Times by feeding them more of what they hired him for.

Do we really want to encourage people to rewrite Christmas carols?

They’re already so tiresome, the world doesn’t need an excuse to play Christmas carols more. I already cringe when I step into any store.

But OK, just one. As we all know, “Baby it’s cold outside” is one of the rapiest songs ever, so how about killing those lyrics? So Lydia Liza and Josiah Lemanski did. Here’s the new version.

I really can’t stay/Baby I’m fine with that
I’ve got to go away/Baby I’m cool with that
This evening has been/Been hoping you get home safe
So very nice/I’m glad you had a real good time
My mother will start to worry/Call her so she knows that you’re coming
Father will be pacing the floor/Better get your car a-humming
So really I’d better scurry/No rush.
Should I use the front or back door?/Which one are you pulling towards more?
The neighbors might think/That you’re a real nice girl
What is this drink?/Pomegranate La Croix
I wish I knew how/Maybe I can help you out
To break this spell/I don’t know what you’re talking about
I ought to say no, no, no/you reserve the right to say no
At least I’m gonna say that I tried/you reserve the right to say no
I really can’t stay/…Well you don’t have to
Baby it’s cold outside
I’ve got to get home/Do you know how to get there from here
Say, where is my coat/I’ll go and grab it my dear
You’ve really been grand/We’ll have to do this again
Yes I agree/How ’bout the Cheesecake Factory?
We’re bound to be talking tomorrow/Text me at your earliest convenience
At least I have been getting that vibe/Unless I catch pneumonia and die
I’ll be on my way/Thanks for the great night

I still don’t want to listen to it every day, but stripping out the consent overrides makes it a little better.

Next, kill Jesus from all those other old chestnuts. “Chestnuts”, damn. Now I’m thinking of that other Christmas favorite that starts off with a line about chestnuts…the problem with most of these songs isn’t actually the lyrics, it’s the frequency.

CNN reports a miracle: concrete doesn’t burn!

It’s amazing. The fires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee have killed people and destroyed wooden homes, but our delightfully insightful and evidence based media found a concrete statue of Jesus that survived while the house around it turned to ash. Praise the lord!


Hang on a moment — it looks like the foundation of the house also survived the blaze. Praise cinderblock, the one true god!

Can we test whether CNN’s broadcasting studios will survive an inferno next?