The tyrant taketh, and the tyrant giveth

I took away your social threads, and there was wailing and gnashing of teeth. I had my reasons, though: off-topic threads were just getting too cliquish and leading to too much annoyance.

It wasn’t because I was trying to punish anyone. I want to encourage conversations, but productive, focused discussions. I’m going to try something new.

I’m going to create discussion threads on particular topics, with specific people appointed as curators. The model here is rq’s wonderful work on the ongoing racism thread. I’m going to formalize that, and have created a new thread titled “Racism in America“, where she and her co-curator Tony can continue to add links and commentary (and others can chime in, too!), and I’ll make it easier to find by adding a link to it on the sidebar. rq just needs to keep doing what she’s doing; I’m also going to require that discussion threads be free of argument and conflict, and if problems develop, I’ll step in and fix it in my usual tyrannical fashion, so any moderation duties should be minimal.

Now here’s the other part of this deal: anyone can propose a discussion thread. Just email me and tell me you’d like to curate one and on what topic, and I’ll make it happen, if I think it is a good idea. I could imagine, for instance, that we might want to have a discussion thread on the US Presidential Election, where you could share news, links, comments. It’s also OK to propose a temporary one: if you want to have a thread on some current theme for just a week or two, that’s fine. I also reserve the right to close a discussion thread if it becomes too wrangly, although I’ll normally just let them continue as long as the curators maintain an interest.

So email me proposals for discussions you think we ought to be having, and that you’re willing to add links and news to. Anything you regularly post links about in the comments? You can give it a little more attention with a discussion thread.

A St Louis weekend

I’m going to be taking off for the Gateway to Reason conference this weekend, and will be speaking on Sunday morning. The title of my talk is “Evolution and Cooperation: A Historical Perspective”, and I kind of suspect that the audience, what few of them show up, will be either a) mildly bored, because too many atheists are uninterested in history and philosophy of science, or b) mildly pissed off, because I’m going to show them that the history of evolutionary theory isn’t as clean and tidy as they imagine, because it got hijacked by conservatives from day one.

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Some people should not be police officers, and some should not be allowed to own guns


Three young men knocked on the wrong door.

According to people close to the investigation, three young adults, after leaving a graduation party, attempted to go to a friend’s house nearby.

A source said, they mistakenly went to the next door neighbor’s home. After repeatedly ringing the doorbell and loudly knocking on the door, the homeowner, a state trooper, came to the door. When he opened the door and shouted at them, the three men ran away.

The three got into a vehicle and the officer fired three gun shots as they attempted to flee. The car became disabled approximately one half mile from the original scene. Two of the men were apprehended at the vehicle. The third, Matthew Mayer fled, according to local sources.

And then the police sent out search teams! A helicopter with a search light! Canine units! They scoured the area looking for this desperado. And they caught him!

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Pirate hunters are much cooler than pirates


The Thunder was a criminal ship that was plundering international waters.

Banned since 2006 from fishing in the Antarctic, the Thunder had been spotted there repeatedly in recent years, prompting Interpol to issue an all-points bulletin on it in December 2013. The vessel was described as the most egregious of the ships then on its Purple Notice list, collecting over $76 million from illicit sales in the past decade, more than any other ship, according to agency estimates. The Thunder’s prime catch was toothfish, more popularly called Chilean sea bass, known on docks as “white gold” because its fillets often sell for $30 a plate or more in upscale restaurants in the United States.

The Thunder’s status as a fugitive hardly slowed it down. By keeping its locational transponder turned off, it could fish and then slip in and out of ports undetected. The ship’s name and port registry, which have changed more than a half-dozen times, were not painted on its hull, the typical practice, but on a metal sign hung from its stern. (Sailors call such signs “James Bond license plates” because they can be easily swapped out.) In March, the Thunder was stripped of its registration by Nigeria and became officially stateless, which meant that marine authorities from any country could board and arrest its crew.

“Sea Shepherd is doing what no one else will,” said Peter Whish-Wilson, an Australian senator. “The urgency of this problem has grown,” he added, “but the government response, from all governments really, has fallen.”

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Scott Walker has lost any shot at the presidency

He was campaigning in Philadelphia, and made a dreadful gaffe.

Scott Walker cut in line at Geno’s to order a cheesesteak with American cheese and no onions. He’s not getting out of Philly alive.

Unforgivable. Cheez Whiz and fried onions, always.


I also liked mine wit’ peppers…ack, no, don’t kill me!