No Darwin for Turkey

In 2009, Turkey censored the cover of a science magazine because it portrayed Darwin.

TÜBITAK [the Turkish science agency] vice-president Ömer Cebeci, who sits on the magazine’s editorial board, pulled the plug on Darwin. He denied censorship, charging that Atakuman had secretly changed an issue intended to cover global warming. Not true, says Atakuman, who says Cebeci told her that the Darwin cover was a “provocation” at a time of imminent local elections. One editorial-board member of Bilim ve Teknik has resigned in protest at what he, at least, considers censorship.

This row has brought into focus two issues that plague Turkish science. One is political interference in the scientific civil service; the other is high levels of public support for creationism.

It happened again in 2011, when, under the guise of filtering porn, the government blocked all mention of Darwin or evolution on the internet.

So this is old news, but Turkey has done it again: they’ve blocked the sale of books about evolution.

The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has put a stop to the publication and sale of all books in its archives that support the theory of evolution, daily Radikal has reported.

The evolutionist books, previously available through TÜBİTAK’s Popular Science Publications’ List, will no longer be provided by the council.

The books have long been listed as “out of stock” on TÜBİTAK’s website, but their further publication is now slated to be stopped permanently.

The poor citizens of Turkey. First they were lied to by Christians about evolution — proselytizers have been streaming into the country for at least 50 years, searching for Noah’s Ark, and leaving a trail of ignorance behind them. I suspect they’re currently very tense about the situation with Russia, so Darwin is a convenient distraction that will have a lot of popular support.

Atheists should not condemn any culture

We atheists don’t need better leaders; we need leaders who are willing to step back and stop dominating the conversation, and dominating badly. Once again, Richard Dawkins has bungled the big conversation we ought to be having. Once again, he seems obsessed with a 15 year old kid who made a clock.

Don’t call him “clock boy” since he never made a clock. Hoax Boy, having hoaxed his way into the White House, now wants $15M in addition!

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A fabulous feast

Like many of you, we just finished a fine vegan meal assembled by my daughter, Skatje. Except most of you didn’t have the vegan part. And really, no one else had my daughter cooking for them. So we just have the meal part in common, but that’s enough, right?


I tried to start up that other fine Thanksgiving tradition, the fight over politics or religion at the dinner table, but was completely stymied by the fact that my entire family agrees on everything. No grace, and ugh Trump ick talk about anything else OK we hate him but this pumpkin pie is delicious.

I thought we’d avoid that other Thanksgiving tradition of the football game in the background, but for some reason, Skatje has gotten into handegg and has told me we must watch Green Bay vs. Chicago tonight. So that’s ahead of us.

Thank you all for the nice present!


Oh, you didn’t know you got me a present? You did! I’m in the Amazon Affiliate program, you see, and occasionally I include a link to that evil empire in my blog entries, and you click on it, and maybe you buy something, and then I get a tiny cut of what you spent. Once a month I get a little gift certificate from Amazon. I’ve been saving them up for about 8 months so I could splurge on a toy, and last week the total finally reached what I needed to cover all of the costs, so you got me an early Christmas present. It’s very nice.

I got myself a DJI Phantom 3 Advanced Quadcopter Drone, because every mad scientist needs devious surveillance equipment. Also, when I was a kid I used to lust for RC airplanes that I could never afford, and now I can get something even better.

It’s slick and easy to fly, and the software is reasonably sophisticated. I did have a bit of concern when I first set it up and it told me I needed to update the firmware…and the stupid installation procedure failed utterly. I thought for a while I was doomed to have a plastic brick that could sit on the table and buzz, because DJI has a notoriously terrible reputation for customer service, but fortunately they released a brand new software update the day after I got it that worked perfectly.

So that’s how I spent Thanksgiving morning: I took it up for a couple of flights and went spying out the local neighborhood.

Here’s an ugly example. I just went across the street to the UMM parking lot and zoomed it up to a 100 meters and fumbled about with the controls. It was fun! It’s hard to get smooth movies that show what I want — partly because there were a few times I was wiggling the wrong joystick, and because when it was high and drifted away on this blustery day, I sometimes lost track of the orientation and had to scan around to figure out where I was and what way I was pointing. Don’t feel obligated to watch it — it’s just me noodling about in the sky.

Practice makes perfect, though, unless on one of these practice flights I crash it and then have to save up gift certificates for another 8 months to get a new one.

Now I just have to figure out how to mount lasers or a missile launcher on it, and I’ll have everything a boy could want, a real stress-reliever.

I get email, Sam Harris edition

I should go back to desecrating communion wafers. That’s less aggravating than pissing off a pack of uber-“rational” atheists. Quoting Sam Harris directly is an act of such disrespectful temerity that I’ve been flooded with messages that are mostly about how feminine I am, or how I possess a female reproductive tract, or my social status as a cuckold.

But I also get messages trying to explain how, in very polite terms, I am totally wrong on everything, and Harris is totally right, and here is the math to prove it. Here’s one example; the highlighting is all mine.

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Stop me if you heard this one before

Trump is arguing with historians. He’s claiming that some golf course he owns is also the site of a historic Civil War battle (if so, good job of historical preservation, guy); real historians are saying he’s wrong, the battle he’s talking about took place miles away. But Trump has a rebuttal!

Trump waved off the historians’ criticisms in his own interview with The New York Times Tuesday.

How would they know that? he asked of regional experts. Were they there?

Maybe this particular battle is written up in the Bible. I don’t know how we could know anything about it, otherwise.

Botanical Wednesday: Plants for dinner

I’m hearing occasional gasps of disbelief at the notion of a vegan Thanksgiving, so clearly I need to show you something to make you salivate.

That’s just an example — we’re having something different — but honestly, you can have a tremendous variety of textures and flavors, all delicious, without killing an animal.

Also not shown: Lefse is vegetarian, don’t you know.