One of the many fine moments at #whc2014

Maryam Namazie making a comment at Richard Dawkins’ talk:

I’ve been saying it for years: there are a bunch of adjectives applied to atheists by Christians and Muslims that are just absurd in context. “Aggressive”. “Militant”. “Arrogant”. I don’t understand how people who believe that the Ruler of the Entire Universe cares personally about their diet, their hair styles, and their sex lives can call atheists these things without the small gods of irony striking them dead and calling their shriveled little souls home to Hypocrisy Heaven.

And now, with the Islamic State on the march, murdering people en masse, blowing up art and architecture, and torturing at will, we can see what aggressive, militant, and arrogant really look like. Atheists are merely confident.

Did I ever tell you how much I despise Ronald Reagan?

Here, have a nice comic that explains the situation in Lake Erie.



When I was a kid, Lake Erie was a joke: it was a polluted cesspool with rivers that caught on fire. Places like Erie and Love Canal were the punchlines of a national sense of disgust with abuse of the environment, and amazingly, people got together and changed things: new tighter regulations, clean up of the worst cases (well, that was begun but never finished), and in general, we saw a reduction in pollution around the country.

Then…fucking Ronald fucking Reagan fucking fucked everything up. Trees cause pollution. Regulation is bad for the economy. And every Republican since has followed the same script, right up to “drill baby drill”. Even the Democrats are getting in the act.

And the end result is that everything is turning to shit again.

Responsibility is not just a word

Tom Levenson responds to yet another gun ‘accident’, in which a pregnant woman was shot in the head by a friend showing off a gun. I think this is a very good take on the issue; no responsible gun owner (and they all are, right?) could possibly disagree with this:

Responsible means that whatever happens with your gun is your fault.  Period.  You accidentally discharge it and no-one gets hurt? How’s this:  big fine, confiscate the weapon involved, lose the right to bear arms for a year for the first incident, forever if you repeat.  Someone gets hurt or dies?  Jail. Civil liability.  Loss of gun rights for life.  That’s responsibility.

But of course, I dream.  That’s not how we roll.  Instead, we’ll just  water the tree of liberty with a newlywed, and celebrate life by burying her fetus — and wait (not long) for the next red harvest.

Being responsible should actually mean something — it’s not just a word you use to escape the consequences of your actions. But that’s how the gun fondlers all seem to use it — they will flaunt their assault rifles, take great risks with their lives and the lives of others, and hide under the NRA-approved label of “responsible gun-owner”.

Real responsible gun owners know that they are deadly tools and would keep them locked up and treat them like they would a stick of dynamite — extreme hazards that warrant extreme precautions.

“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”

Lenar Whitney, Republican congressional candidate from Louisiana, dared to use that line from Orwell while accusing virtually every climate scientist in the world of lying.

Practically every word in that monolog is a lie, or a product of exceptional ignorance. And the terrifying thing is that she knows it.

… when I pressed Whitney repeatedly for the source of her claim that the earth is getting colder, she froze and was unable to cite a single scientist, journal or news source to back up her beliefs.

To change the subject, I asked whether she believed Obama was born in the United States. When she replied that it was a matter of some controversy, her two campaign consultants quickly whisked her out of the room, accusing me of conducting a “Palin-style interview.”

Unbelievable. But these are the people dominating the Tea Party right now.

By the way, here’s the summary of the recent IPCC report (pdf), if you want to see the data that Whitney pretends doesn’t exist.

I get email

I propose a general rule: the surest way to get someone outraged is to criticize their heroes, whether they’re political, religious, scientific, or atheist. The only solution is to not have any heroes.

It seems that I dared to criticize John C. Wright, and one of his fans wrote to disagree with me.

Mr. Myers,

I was made aware of your blog post by John C. Wright’s mention of it. I suggest you read his opinion of it, it is instructive to say the least.

I have never read anything written by Vox Day. However I have read nearly everything by John C. Wright. I share his opinion that your choice of choice of “damning” passages written by Vox Day could have been better made. Particularly by a biologist.

Because there’s nothing more hilarious than a supposed scientist arguing that fertility in women is a social construct, and the fact that women are the only type of human who can bear children is a political issue.

So really, if that’s the worst thing you could come up with written by Vox Day, you should get yourself another horse to beat. This one’s dead.

I also saw your post, “I’ll be good Mommy…” I’m reminded of a post I wrote a while ago regarding the propaganda tactics being taken up by your fellow travelers in the mainstream press. They seemed distastefully familiar for some reason.

In case your finger is too tired to click, I’ll sum it up for you. Your behavior in demonizing gun owners is a tactic first used to good effect by Mr. Joseph Goebbels. My father and uncles spent a goodly portion of their late teens and twenties sorting that little issue out. I could go through the whole rest of my life quite happily without seeing that repeated, thanks very much. Sadly, it looks like you aren’t going to let that happen.

The Phantom

“The Phantom”? Really? Was The Shadow too busy to write?

You might be wondering what Wright said about me. Here’s Wright’s comment:

This is an interesting link. It is from a soul who thinks it is immoral to act professionally, that tolerating someone of unpopular, or, rather of rightwing opinions (which are here said both to be poison and to dominate the narrative) is intolerable. You are not supposed to read books and judge them on their merits. Politics is precisely what a professional association of science fiction writers gathered to protect the interest of science fiction should be about.

With utterly unintentional hilariousness, the writer denounces Theodore Beale in words of thunder as a misogynist, and to prove the point quotes a utter bland an uncontroversial statement that women are better off marrying young, when they are at their most fertile and most able, thanks to the energy of youth, to care for their babies. (He has said many more misogynistic things, some of which have indeed offended me; why pick this passage? I can only speculate it is because here Beale puts his finger on what feminists hate most. They hate being women, they hate being wives, they hate being mothers, they hate fertility, and therefore they hate babies with the hatred of Moloch)

For them, everything is politics, and politics is religion, and anyone not on the side of the Leftwing angels is on the side of the Rightwing devils. These are intolerant, zealous, uncivilized fanatics. It is not because of us that there is no middle ground, no quarter, no rules of engagement. This is their life. This is their all.

No sane man would agree to join, pay dues to, or remain a member of a professional organization like that.

Let me break that first letter down into two parts. The first part is this bizarre argument that Vox Day has said many things that are far worse than the one quote I gave — please, Lord, may I never have defenders this incompetent. Then, further, they make the claim that what Day/Beale wrote was “a utter bland an uncontroversial statement” [sic] that I, as a biologist, ought to know was completely true, and that somehow I was “arguing that fertility in women is a social construct”. Say what? It seems the one quote I excerpted was a particularly good one for smoking out people who thought it was innocuous. Here is the post I wrote, and here is that bland and uncontroversial quote from Day/Beale:

Because raising girls with the expectation that their purpose in life is to bear children allows them to pursue marriage at the age of their peak fertility, increase the wage rates of their prospective marital partners, and live in stable, low-crime, homogenous societies that are not demographically dying. It also grants them privileged status, as they alone are able to ensure the continued survival of the society and the species alike. Women are not needed in any profession or occupation except that of child-bearer and child-rearer, and even in the case of the latter, they are only superior, they are not absolutely required.

I guess I need to spell out what is objectionable in that statement to the clueless: it is not that only women are capable of getting pregnant, or that fertility is a social construct. It’s the assertion that the purpose of women’s lives is to bear children. It is the reduction of half of humanity to one biological function, without recognizing that they can have additional abilities and aspirations that give them fulfillment, and that they can contribute to society in a great many ways. It is the assumption that culture is by and for men, and that women’s role is to support them…and that they should be damned grateful for that privilege.

That Wright and “The Phantom” think that statement is uncontroversial shows how deeply the poison has gone.

The second part is the traditional invocation of Godwin’s law. The post he linked to is stupid and vacuous; it was prompted by Rachel Marsden’s response to the Newtown murders, in which she encouraged more background checks to keep guns out of the hands of the “mentally stunted, emotionally disturbed and deeply insecure”. From that beginning, “The Phantom” leapt to the conclusion that Marsden had just called all gun owners “mentally stunted, emotionally disturbed and deeply insecure”, and therefore, she was just like Joseph Goebbels because… insert cartoon of overweight gun owner fondling a gun, followed by unrelated Nazi caricature of overweight Jewish man, therefore liberals equal Nazis.

It’s the flimsiest excuse to compare gun owners to victims of the Holocaust that I’ve yet seen.

Satire done right

Mark Steel praises our new-found tolerance for child murderers.

In recent years most of humanity has become proudly more tolerant of groups who once seemed to be on the margins of society. But until now it’s still been seen as acceptable to be offensive about one minority, which is the child murdering community.

At last it seems the mood is changing, and finally we’re beginning to hear the child murderers’ point of view.

For example one brave soul, prepared to speak out, is spokesman Uri Drome, who explained on Radio 4 yesterday that although the Israeli government bombed a school that several children died in, the deaths are clearly the fault of the people who live in the areas being bombed.

What a refreshing change from that tired old thinking that always blames murder on the murderer.

Oh, so that’s what ethicists do

So OKCupid has been doing psychological experiments on its users. Big deal! Here’s what they think of that.

Alex Goldman: Have you thought about bringing in, say, like an ethicist to, to vet your experiments?


Christian Rudder, founder of OkCupid: To wring his hands all day for a hundred thousand dollars a year?

Sweet gig. Could they do occasional thumb-twiddling to change it up a bit? Or play Angry Birds on their cell phone?

It’s a fair fight, but it’s hard fought

Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar seems to be doing all the right things in congress — I’ll definitely be voting for her again, and also for Al Franken. All of you from states with less progressive representation can’t imagine how good it feels to actually have politicians in office who do good, rather than providing embarrassing soundbites. One of her latest efforts is a bill to close loopholes in background checks for gun sales.

For women, domestic violence is the greatest risk factor associated with guns. According to Everytown, “The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation makes it five times more likely that a woman will be murdered,” and some Center for Disease Control statistics suggest more than 50 percent of female homicides are attributable to intimate partner violence.

Klobuchar’s bill, the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, would close gaping holes in background check laws that don’t bar gun ownership by abusive dating partners rather than spouses, and don’t incorporate many stalking crimes.

This is a popular bill — polls show that the electorate, even the responsible gun owning electorate, thinks it’s a good idea to keep guns out of the hands of your local angry bully. But as you might guess, the NRA opposes it, and they’ve got a few politicians in their pocket who’ve also been told to kill the bill, or similar bills in their home states.

And that’s where it gets interesting and uncomfortable. Democrats are fighting back. Not Klobuchar directly, but three states are running an ad right now to highlight the use of guns in domestic abuse — three states with three states with Republican shills for the NRA.

The thing is that the ad they’re running portrays a fairly common domestic abuse scenario, and it is terrifying. It was a punch in the gut for me, and I’m a guy who’s never been in this kind of situation, ever, so I’m warning you: if you’ve ever had a stalker or abuser, this is an extremely potent video.

Maybe this is what we need to do more of — slap people in the face with the horror of what our irresponsible gun policies do to people. My one concern is that there may actually be people who sympathize with the man in this ad, rather than the woman.

More legal fun and games from Kent Hovind!

Kent Hovind wants the property he forfeited in his criminal conviction back! He has filed a lis pendens on the property that was seized. I am not a lawyer, and had to look it up, but apparently it’s an intent to make a legal claim on some real estate. I guess you’re not supposed to do that with properties forfeited to the government in a legal process, and which are under an injunction. But the law won’t step ol’ Kent!

So the court has fired back with a threat to hold him in contempt.

Kent E. Hovind is required to appear before the Court at 8:00 a.m., on September 8, 2014, to show cause why he should not be held in criminal contempt of Court, pursuant to 18 U.S.C. § 401(3) and Fed. R. Crim. P. 42(a). This will be a jury trial and will be held in Courtroom 5, United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola Division, located on One North Palafox Street, Pensacola, Florida 32502.

He has an option to get a court-appointed defense lawyer. I hope he doesn’t, and instead relies on the advice of his wacky right-wing conspiracy theorist buddies, because the shenanigans are always so entertaining. Anyone remember subornation of false muster?

Inhofe is wasting our time

Minnesota’s Democratic senator, Amy Klobuchar, recently introduced a resolution in the senate that simply stated a clear fact that congress tries to avoid: that climate change is real. James Inhofe (Republican doofus from Oklahoma) got up to insist that he sees nothing, nothing, and that he had a petition from 9,000 cranks that there’s nothing to worry about.

Then Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island rose up to slap him down.

People like Inhofe are a catastrophe for progress and reasonable action on important issues. Could you Oklahomans please stop electing these idiots? We’re getting rid of Bachmann up here in Minnesota, I think it’s only fair that you sacrifice a wingnut, too.