Why is Kasich still running?

I think it’s because he’s profoundly delusional. Here’s Kasich praising Pink Floyd and Roger Waters specifically.

But…but…but we know what Waters thinks of the Republican party.

I watch the workings of politics [in the US] and particularly the Republican Party. They work with the axiom that you can tell as many lies as you want – and often the bigger the better – and eventually they will believed.

Or this:

Because your electorate, and it’s only the Republican electorate that we’re taking about now, are kept entirely in the dark by a malignant mainstream media lead by Fox News, but closely followed by all the other talking heads that just want to kind of smile at you and toe the party line and never question anything seriously, especially about the United States or what it is and what its aspirations are or what it wants to be, except that it wants to be a major imperial power all over the world. You have bases in 135 countries, which is extraordinary, though nobody ever seems to question it.

You pour huge amounts of your national resources into the Pentagon and use it, basically, to push around the rest of the world and make yourself unpopular with everybody else. And nobody seems to address any of this. This is a silence hovering over this great nation, and I think it’s a silence that is about to be broken.

This is not to say he approves of the Democrats — he’s such a strong pacifist I imagine he looks on all American politicians with disgust. Have you seen Kasich’s positions on the military? I would like to see Waters’ response to an invitation from a Republican to get Pink Floyd back together again.

#UnMinnesotan

This ad was run in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I’m pretty sure it’s a damning example of what UnMinnesotans call the regressive Left.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Minnesotan  Pop, “Up North” and snow days all mean something to you. So do the values we’re raised with: everyday, sleeve-worn courage, goodness and kindness. Though we may be a soft-spoken bunch, we know better than to be silent or still in the face of bigotry shown to Muslims. Our fellow Minnesotans. Every intolerant social post, every prejudiced comment aimed at Muslims needs a response. Your response. We must lead people to a place of tolerance and understanding. We must come together as a diverse and vibrant community. Our values don’t take days off and neither should we. If you’re Minnesotan, you know this to be true. We know better. We can’t be tricked into betraying our values. It’d be so very, very un-Minnesotan of us.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a Minnesotan
Pop, “Up North” and snow days
all mean something to you.
So do the values we’re raised with:
everyday, sleeve-worn courage, goodness and kindness.
Though we may be a soft-spoken bunch,
we know better than to be silent or still in the face of
bigotry shown to Muslims. Our fellow Minnesotans.
Every intolerant social post,
every prejudiced comment aimed at Muslims
needs a response. Your response.
We must lead people to a place of
tolerance and understanding.
We must come together as
a diverse and vibrant community.
Our values don’t take days off and neither should we.
If you’re Minnesotan, you know this to be true.
We know better. We can’t be tricked into betraying our values.
It’d be so very, very un-Minnesotan of us.

A calm, rational reaction to the Zika virus

Peter Doherty explains the likely outcomes of the Zika virus pandemic.

What we are seeing in the Americas is a classic “virgin soil” epidemic. Enormous numbers of people and mosquitoes are being infected, the virus is transmitting at a very high level, and there may be as many as 4×106 cases. Apart from affected neonates, all will likely recover, with increasing “background” immunity progressively limiting the number of new infections in subsequent years. The current molecular technology is such that making a protective vaccine should be technically straightforward, but the process of safety testing and evaluation could take several years.

The long-term prospect with Zika virus is that we will live reasonably comfortably with it, especially if there is a vaccine to protect women of reproductive age. The principal decision for responsible authorities, like National Governments in endemic areas and the WHO, is whether there is a case for fast-tracking, then funding, a vaccine to protect all young women. For the present, pregnant women are advised not to travel to these countries and, for those where this in not an issue, insect repellant also offers some protection against much nastier viruses like dengue and Chikungunya.

It’s spreading rapidly, and one contributor to that is the ridiculous attitudes of conservative Christianity, but this one, tragic as its consequences can be, isn’t the big pandemic that will kill us all. And the answer to it lies in natural properties of adaptive immunity and vaccines.

Charles Pierce reminds us of progressive history

It’s good to see someone mention that the Democratic party has deep progressive roots. He mentions a lot of names that stirred up sad memories. Jesse Jackson, presidential candidate in 1984 and 1988; I supported him, although his campaign fizzled out in the primaries before I got to have a say out in Oregon (I really detest our system that gives Iowa and New Hampshire an undeserved excess of privilege in electoral politics). Howard Dean in 2004; he was my preferred candidate then, too. I have a long history of support for failed candidacies, I’m afraid.

I keep making these choices, and will keep on doing it, though. He quotes Jackson’s speech before the Democratic Convention, and yeah, it reminds me why.

We find common ground at the plant gate that closes on workers without notice. We find common ground at the farm auction, where a good farmer loses his or her land to bad loans or diminishing markets. Common ground at the school yard where teachers cannot get adequate pay, and students cannot get a scholarship, and can’t make a loan. Common ground at the hospital admitting room, where somebody tonight is dying because they cannot afford to go upstairs to a bed that’s empty waiting for someone with insurance to get sick. We are a better nation than that. We must do better. Common ground. What is leadership if not present help in a time of crisis? So I met you at the point of challenge. In Jay, Maine, where paper workers were striking for fair wages; in Greenville, Iowa, where family farmers struggle for a fair price; in Cleveland, Ohio, where working women seek comparable worth; in McFarland, California, where the children of Hispanic farm workers may be dying from poisoned land, dying in clusters with cancer; in an AIDS hospice in Houston, Texas, where the sick support one another, too often rejected by their own parents and friends.

[Read more…]

Maher and Chachoua get taken apart

Last Friday, Maher hosted cancer quack and HIV fraud Samir Chachoua on his show for an embarrassingly credulous segment, in which he claimed to have cured Charlie Sheen’s HIV with goat’s milk. This weekend, Virginia Hughes quickly put up a good takedown, and now this morning, as I expected, Science-Based Medicine eviscerates Chachoua and Maher at length.

If there’s one person who is living proof that being an atheist has nothing to do with being a skeptic, it’s Bill Maher. Touting himself as being supremely rational in comparison to those “God botherers” and Republicans, Maher has himself embraced antivaccine pseudoscience, other cancer quackery, and general pseudoskepticism about “Western medicine.” Nor is this the first time he’s embraced HIV quackery, either. Indeed, I’ve been pointing out for more than a decade now just how much pseudoscience Maher embraces. Unfortunately, in some circles, that doesn’t seem to matter. For example, in 2009 Atheist Alliance International awarded Maher the Richard Dawkins Award, which was likened to Jenny McCarthy receiving a public health award.

So I suppose it’s not that surprising that Maher went full quack. I just never expected him to embrace so quacky a quack so credulously. My bad.

This is not the first time, it won’t be the last, and sadly, it will not harm his career as a self-proclaimed skeptic one little bit.

As much as I’d like to believe it…

This claim that beards are good for you is unadulterated anecdotal nonsense.

In an investigation led by the BBC, beards were found to contain microbes that kill bacteria — in other words, a potential new kind of antibiotic.

First clue: the BBC is not a scientific institution. They’re a media company.

Second clue: they set up an imaginary conflict with a hypothesis by another media company: the New York Post.

By that point, the third paragraph, you can just dismiss the whole crapfest.

I kept going, but their whole methodology is pointless. They sent off swabs taken from men with beards to be dabbed on petri dishes, and some were found to have bacteriocidal properties. Whoop-de-doo. You can do that with dirt, too. Why are people surprised that there are complex and diverse interactions between organisms at the microbiological level?

The Oregon occupation will end soon

The authorities have finally done what they ought to have done in the beginning: deprived the occupiers of the Internet.

David Fry, one of the four remaining militants, said the FBI made it so the occupiers can’t make outgoing calls on their cellphones. Fry said he can receive incoming calls, but that the other three in the refuge appear unable to receive calls on their cellphones. The militants also said they’ve lost access to the internet.

Without the ability to post self-aggrandizing youtube videos of themselves, ridiculous as they made themselves look, the whole thing wouldn’t have been able to snowball to the size it reached. And now it’s down to four who are trying to negotiate complete amnesty for themselves. Guys, you’ve got nothing to bargain with!

The social justice balancing act

Ally Fogg makes a very good point.

The first recourse of the racist fearmonger has always been to point to one atypical incident, a riot, a murder, a rape, and hold it to be typical, to be both representative of an entire population and the responsibility of that entire population. The left cannot win by pretending there are no criminals, no thugs, no rapists, no damaged people among the shifting sands of humanity. We can win by unequivocally condemning inappropriate and criminal behaviour while simultaneously and correctly insisting that we will not allow ourselves to judge the many by the sins of the few. We will not allow ourselves to be distracted and diverted from our humanitarian obligations by fear, because history shows us where that leads. We will not allow ourselves to turn our backs on those in desperate need, because we are smarter than that and we are better than that. That is the only way the argument can be won.

I would add that one thing that’s become obvious is that if you hesitate to condemn an act because the perpetrator is a member of an oppressed group, the racist fearmongers will then turn around and use that to condemn the entirety of the left of conspiring with the group that they hate. It’s what they do, and they’re very good at it — you might even say it is the dominant trait of fearmongers, that they’re adept at smearing everything into a giant category of blame.

It’s one of the things that makes addressing them difficult: anything you do will get you swept up into the burning shitpile of hatred they keep aflame. So you might as well just do the right thing.