Comma strikes again!

Reddit and the usual clueless suspects are stirred up again over that misstep at Skepticon, so once again I’m getting inundated by messages from people who weren’t there telling me how awful I was for mistreating those poor white people at the meeting. It doesn’t matter that I am not an organizer or volunteer at this conference, just an attendee who had no influence over decisions, good and bad, made here: Skepticon has been ‘taken over’ by SJWs, led by the nefarious PZ Myers.

I wish I could take any credit at all for the excellent talks here, but I have to be honest: I have had zero influence. Sorry, conspiracy theorists, but I am not the mastermind you’re looking for. I’m also disappointed that the Illuminati keep refusing to take my calls.

But at least I have “Terry Dean, Nemmers” AKA Comma sending more letters on my behalf!

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Bristol Palin gets something right for a change


She has declared the current Starbucks holiday cup ‘controversy’ stupid.

Do not buy in to the media hype surrounding this story!! It is just another attempt by the LEFT to make Christians look stupid.

She still gets some things wrong. All of us on the “LEFT” are shocked and bemused by the fact that anyone on the “RIGHT” thinks this is a matter of any significance at all…but the original instigator, people like Joshua Feuerstein, are most definitely not part of any left-wing conspiracy.

I am also amused by one other little fact. She thinks the controversy is stupid, but…

But even Palin said that she had chosen to buy her coffee at the local Mocha Moose instead of patronizing Starbucks.

But then maybe that’s entirely because Starbucks coffee is terrible.

Minnesota nice

I tell you, there are wretched hateful people everywhere, even in the Empire of Nice that we call Minnesota. A woman of apparently, from her name, German extraction (“Burchard-Risch” — how totally un-American) got so irate at a woman speaking Swahili (“Asma Jama”. Is that less American than “Burchard-Risch”? Shouldn’t only people with good Lakota names like “Winona” or “Wasechun Tashunka” have the right to complain?*) in an Applebee’s that she got up and smashed a glass beer mug across her face, lacerating her horribly.

Asma Jama was there with her children having an ordinary conversation, when Burchard-Risch irrationally lost her temper at hearing a conversation that she had no part in, in a language she didn’t understand, and thought that was sufficient to cuss out the Jama family, throw a drink at them, and then violently strike her. Unbelievable. How can people have that degree of xenophobia? I wonder if Burchard-Risch is a Trump supporter.

There is now a fundraiser to cover Jama’s medical expenses. Be warned: front and center at that link is a photo of Jama’s seriously cut up face.

*Except, of course, that the Lakota culture of courtesy would mean they wouldn’t get up to smack around someone for the crime of speaking that foreign tongue, English. Or excuse me, American.


It’s yet another tale of misogynists building myths about feminists. Feminists are all out to get those hard-working, super-smart guys working in the tech industry, don’t you know.

Yesterday, Eric Raymond, a software development and open-source software advocate, published an explosive allegation on his blog: a recently disbanded group called the Ada Initiative, which advertises itself as helping make tech more welcoming for women, had been attempting to entrap men by using “honey pots” to seduce them and then accuse them of rape. “The MO was to get alone with the target, and then immediately after cry ‘attempted sexual assault,” wrote Raymond’s source, an IRC correspondent he doesn’t name but who he says has been “both well-informed and completely trustworthy in the past.”

Worst of all, these evil feminists have been gunning for a high-profile target: Linus Torvalds, the tech-hero founder of Linux. “Linus hasn’t spoken out about this; I can think of several plausible and good reasons for that,” writes Raymond. “And the Ada Initiative shut down earlier this year. Nevertheless, this report is consistent with reports of SJW [social-justice-warrior, a derogatory term used frequently in anti-feminist writing] dezinformatsiya tactics from elsewhere and I think it would be safest to assume that they are being replicated by other women-in-tech groups.”

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I give up, Ben Carson, you have defeated me

01 pyramids_crossection_600

I can’t. I just can’t anymore. Ben Carson Knows Everything.

My own personal theory is that Joseph built the pyramids to store grain, Carson said. Now all the archeologists think that they were made for the pharaohs’ graves. But, you know, it would have to be something awfully big if you stop and think about it. And I don’t think it’d just disappear over the course of time to store that much grain.

There are Americans right now who hear that, and think, “Well, that’s a mighty sensible theory, I think I’ll elect that man to be President of this here United States!”, and I just don’t think I can bear the widespread stupidity any more.

I think I’ll just close my eyes and pretend he doesn’t exist. But if I open them a year from January and discover that this flaming nincompoop has actually been elected, I’ll have to spontaneously combust.

The sinful tech of hair coloring?


Oh, great. Breitbart has created a new “Tech” section, to be run by non-techie, non-gamer, non-competent poser, Milo Yiannopoulos. The only thing I can imagine even close to that miscasting was the Discovery Institute’s appointment of the young gerbil, Casey Luskin, to write science articles.

Well, I’ll give ’em a chance. I took a look at Breitbart Tech. First article that caught my eye: APOSEMATISM MAY EXPLAIN WHY SO MANY ANGRY WOMEN HAVE BLUE HAIR. Oooh! Science!

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I await the angry letters in his defense

Yet another sorry story of a prestigious man with a disgusting habit.

John Kearsley, the director of radiation oncology at St George Hospital and conjoint professor of medicine at the University of NSW, gave depressant drugs known as benzodiazepines to the 32-year-old and touched her inappropriately.

That’s the sanitized, softened-down version of what he did — you’d have to read the whole thing to get the details.

But look (he says, sarcastically), this is a MAN who dedicated his LIFE to FIGHTING CANCER … I’m sure someone somewhere would like to argue that we ought to cut him a little slack, and allow him to occasionally slip a mickey to women half his age and drag them into bed for a nice fondling. Won’t medicine grind to a halt if we don’t?

Less sarcastically, I wonder how one gets to be 63 years old, at the top of their profession, director of a major subdivision of a hospital, and still think one can get away with drugging women for sex. These kinds of behaviors don’t just suddenly manifest in a one time accident — I bet he has a long history of these or lesser transgressions, yet no one had qualms about promoting him ever upwards.

Unproportional! Vicious! Hypocritical! Hysterical!


There’s a letter going around, in support of Geoff Marcy. If you’d rather not read it, just see panels 4 and 5 of this cartoon.

Dear Colleagues,

Due to my outrage concerning the disgusting attack of the (mostly) US1 astronomical community against Geoff Marcy, and the apparent lack of any counter movement against this madness, I would like to draw your attention to the danger of remaining silent in this situation.

What we can gather from the newspapers and web sites discussing the issue, it is clear that the reaction of the community was unproportional, vicious, hypocritical and hysterical2. The unleashed hate3, clearly blowing out of proportion the weight of his behavior and leaving wide open space to any further accusation against anybody showing some level of casual interaction4 and furthermore, endanger normal and friendly contacts in the community and in the society, as a whole. I hope you recognize the great danger of accepting the total destruction of someone’s undeniable contribution to science5 because of the hypocritical attitude the community seems to accept these days.

Considering the pace of events, I think that the clock is ticking very quickly. If the mature and free-thinking part of the community does not act right now, I am sure that the game ends very quickly, and those who initiated this dirty, unethical and disgraceful attack6, will win. Today Geoff, tomorrow you or me.7


Geza Kovacs, DSc
Konkoly Observatory

p.s.: You are free to circulate this letter to anybody you think might be willing to act. This letter has been sent also to other researchers.

1I’ve seen this same weird displacement activity among atheists, too. It’s just Americans who are too sensitive. I have never heard Americans accused of “sensitivity” in any other context. Either there is no sexism in Europe, or European men are especially oblivious.

2Speaking of unproportional, vicious, hypocritical and hysterical, isn’t the accusation that people who are unhappy with the lack of consequences to Marcy kind of unproportional, vicious, hypocritical and hysterical?

3Ditto. I haven’t seen any expressions of hate at all — mostly regret, dismay, and anger at both the behavior and the timidity of UCB.

4Ahem. Casual interaction? An official investigation at Berkeley found:

After a six-month investigation, Geoff Marcy — a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, who has been mentioned as a potential Nobel laureate — was found to have violated campus sexual harassment policies between 2001 and 2010. Four women alleged that Marcy repeatedly engaged in inappropriate physical behavior with students, including unwanted massages, kisses, and groping.

I just got out of lab with my cell biology students. I managed to help them do measurements of enzyme reaction rates with no massages, kisses, or groping. I would not call such activities casual interaction.

5Marcy’s contributions to science have not been destroyed. Neither has Marcy’s career.

If we’re going to talk about destruction, how about the careers of the women who fled astronomy because of the disrespect, or how about their potential contributions to science?

6Again, official, formal investigation by the university in response to a decade of bad behavior by Marcy, with at least four clear victims. If I had to name who was dirty, unethical, and disgraceful, it would be someone whose name begins with “G” and ends with “eoff Marcy”.

7It might be you tomorrow if you are massaging, kissing, or groping your students. It might also be you tomorrow if you’re in the habit of robbing banks; that you might be thrown in prison for that crime if you were to rob a bank is not an argument that bank robbers need to be treated leniently.

At any rate, Kovacs was too late. Marcy has resigned.

I guess all Kovacs can do now is help him land a new position somewhere less concerned about Dr Handsy fondling the undergrads, and more enthused about getting grants and fame. I’m sure there will be no shortage of positions available, and may Cthulhu have mercy on the students8 at his next institution.

8Cthulhu will show no mercy.

Others are coming forward. Would you believe his bad behavior goes back 30 years? Of course you would.

His inappropriate behaviour goes back a good thirty years, when he was teaching at San Francisco State University.

This is where I met him in 1985 when we both worked in the Physics and Astronomy Department while I was a Master’s student and a lecturer. It was well known that he had intimate relationships with several of his female students. But it is not the only aspect where I felt Marcy’s ethics were questionable.

In 1987, Marcy’s colleague in the search for exoplanets realized that he had handed her a revised copy of their joint grant proposal. On the copy Marcy had given her, both their names appeared, his as main investigator and hers, as co-investigator. But Marcy’s official copy, the one he had submitted to the funding agency, bore only his name.

She reported this to the department head, who fired her on the spot. Marcy was the rising star of his department. She then filed a formal complaint for professional misconduct against Marcy. But she was unable to recover her position and she left the field of astronomy. Following these events, a few people tried to draw the University’s attention to Geoff Marcy’s inappropriate behaviour with his female students.

Guess what the university did?

They had t-shirts made!

How odd. The cultists who believe the world will end today had bright yellow t-shirts and hats, and professionally printed signs, and have been waving them around to announce their imminent demise. That seems like strange behavior if you really believe the entire world will be annihilated. It’s almost as if they’re less interested in their assumed facts, and more interested in advertising their dogma.


Also, the person on the right seems lacking in confidence: The End of the World, question mark? If the world does actually end today, they’re going to be roasting in hell for their lack of faith, which means they lose whether the world ends or not.