Note to self: Avoid scheduling layovers in Arizona

What the hell is wrong with that state? No public place is safe.

A brain scientist was arrested on suspicion of pointing a rifle toward a woman and her 17-year-old daughter inside a busy Phoenix airport terminal, police said Monday. Peter Steinmetz, 54, who works for the Barrow Neurological Institute, removed the AR-15 assault rifle from over his shoulder in a Starbucks at Sky Harbor International Airport on Friday and pointed it in the direction of the women, Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said in a statement. Arizona law permits the carrying of semi-automatic weapons in public areas, including the non-secure zones of airports.

One of the pointless things about security theater is that we now have these amazing pileups of people at security checkpoints — if someone wants to kill a lot of people all at once, do it at the security line on a busy morning at the airport. And the Phoenix airport allows people to stroll in with assault rifles, no problem? If I were a terrorist, my eyes would light up at the news of such a ripe opportunity.

Although, this is Arizona…I’m sure any brown people who walked in with an assault rifle would be immediately confronted, since white people never commit terrorist acts.

And why does that guy (who is living proof that you don’t need to be a genius to earn a doctorate) need an assault rifle at an airport Starbucks? I know the coffee is overpriced and burnt, but there are better ways to respond.

Something is wrong with SIWOTI!

Deja vu, man, deja vu. Someone else has a hate site that obsesses over their blog.

The people who run and participate in this site are largely disgruntled former commenters, some of whom left on their own after I disappointed them in some way, and some of whom were banned after violating the commenting policy. There are, increasingly, participants at the site who have never even engaged at Shakesville, but just find some satisfaction in participating in a space dedicated to the explicit purpose of destroying this community.

They explicitly want to chase me out of my space, offline, and want me to have no opportunities to make a living doing what I’ve done for the last ten years of my life. They want this community to cease to exist because they don’t like me and the commenting policy, and don’t care what destroying it would mean for the people to whom this community means something.

That’s from Melissa at Shakesville. We’ve seen exactly the same thing here at Freethoughtblogs, and over the years, I’ve had multiple badly-done Pharyngula hate-sites pop up and fade away. It’s bizarre. The trigger for all the hatred is usually the injustice of getting banned, and I just don’t get it. I’ve been there myself.

Many years ago, before I started up this blog, I’d been active debating creationists on various forums. I’d post replies and rebuttals to stupid creationist claims, and more than once, I was asked to leave or banned because I was “disrespectful” or “rude” or “making people angry”. You won’t believe what I did next:

I left.

I didn’t try to sneak back, either. I’ve always used the same pseudonym, pzmyers, on all of my logins.

These creatonists are people who are emphatically wrong and persist in endorsing idiocy, definitely triggering all of my SIWOTI symptoms, but they’ve got their place and if the owners of the forum say they don’t want me using their services, I stop using them. It’s really not that hard.

But for some reason, some people get extremely bitter about being told to go away. They are outraged that you deny them the privilege of participating on your wonderful blog. They start making sockpuppets and probing at the filters to see if they get around the ban. Remember that obnoxious Australian guy who’d create a new sock every night and get on to leave a pile of insults while I was sleeping? That went on for weeks. Remember Reap Paden, who currently holds the record for the number of pseudonyms he ran through (well over 40 before I lost track), and yet was instantly recognizable to everyone, thanks to his godawfully bad writing? There are many more you don’t know about who don’t puzzle out what I’m filtering on, and keep pounding out comments that get instantly shunted off to the spam queue. There’s one guy who comes by every week or two to make a test comment, in the hopes that the blockade will have magically lifted…and he’s been doing this for two years.

Others scurry off and set up anti sites, like the Shakesville haters. It’s a good way to leech off the popularity of someone else: provide a watering hole for all the people with a grudge against the site you despise, and gather like-minded people to sit and fume and whine and moan. And best of all from my perspective, they obsess so much that they become fanatical readers of everything I do, even more dedicated readers than the busiest of our regular commenters.*

But I don’t have it as bad as some. Shakesville is a singular site with a much more restrictive commenting policy than I have here, so she bears the brunt of the nuisances. Here, at least, we’ve spread the hate load: Ashley gets the racists, the rest of us get the same old banned-on-Pharyngula crowd, but now they’re having to strain to find a blog on FtB that they haven’t been banned from…and you’ll see that, too, when a new blog is opened up here, the same names that were long kicked outta here show up in the comments to whine at length. It really is like a tick infestation.

Another factor is that for some reason these parasites really hate the idea that a blog might stand up for a cause. Ophelia is getting comments from Phil Giordana (yeah, another long-gone Pharyngula reject) who is flinging the insult du jour, “Social Justice Warrior.” Ophelia asked him why he was against social justice, and this was his answer:

I never threatened anyone online, never attacked peoples’ appearance, apologized to you for using what you consider “gendered slur”, yet I’m still banned from your blog. You fuckwit! (that one’s fine, OB said so).

Boggling, ain’t it? This is a guy who does nothing with his time online other than to rant with fellow obnoxious people about how he was banned and how awful FtB is, and to whine on Facebook about how much he despises “social justice warriors” because he was banned from several sites.

There was a comment on Ophelia’s site from thetalkingstove that I thought was fairly insightful about the situation.

I fully admit this is just speculation, but I suspect that the whining about being banned from forums shines a light on a lot of the motivation certain people have for being in the skeptical movement (such as it is). For them, it’s not about changing the world for the better; they’ve simply found something that enables them to feel superior to other people – easy targets like creationists and alternative medicine – and that makes them feel good, that their opinion and intellectual prowess are special.

Then when they encounter people who aren’t impressed by their amazing logic skillz, it hurts. It shakes that image of themselves as being stupendously rational and intellectually superior, and they can’t let that go.

Shorter version: a lot of people are in the skeptical movement because they’re arrogant arseholes.

That rings true, especially since these people tend not to be very good at that logic part — witness Giordana’s reply to Ophelia. They’re not very clever, they don’t care about anyone else, and they want to join the Smart Kids Club just because it boosts their ego, and when they’re rejected, they lash out.

I have a suggestion for them, though. Join MENSA. They’ll take anyone.


*Ironic footnote. They also like to complain nastily about regular commenters who are here every day…without calling attention to the fact that they here every day, screencapping and copy-pasting and writing angry rebuttals to every nitpicking detail.

Leveraging religion into money and death

The Korean ferry Sewol that abruptly capsized and sank last spring sank because of an act of god … that is, the depredations of a scummy Christian cult. A story in the NY Times today summarizes the causes. The company that ran the ferry was a front for a religious cult run by Yoo Byung-eun, called the Evangelical Baptist Church of Korea. He had a whole network of enterprises, all funneling millions of dollars into the pockets of Yoo and his family. One of the ways they profited was by cutting corners on everything, including safety.

Scores of cabins and even an art gallery laden with marble were added to the ferry’s upper decks, making the ship top-heavy. So much extra cargo was crammed on board that there was sometimes no space to secure it properly with chains and lashings. And, prosecutors say, the ferry’s crucial ballast water, needed to balance all the additional weight, was deliberately drained so that the vessel would not sit too low — a telltale sign to inspectors that the ferry was dangerously overloaded to bring in more money.

“It was a miracle that the ship actually sailed as far as it did; it could have tipped over any time,” said Kim Woo-sook, dean of the graduate school at Mokpo National Maritime University. “For them, cargo was cash.”

The art gallery was there to feed Yoo’s monstrous ego — he fancied himself an artist, and with so much cash flowing through his hands, he spent millions to get his photographs displayed at the Louvre. He claimed to be just about everything.

Mr. Yoo, who in his guise as Ahae cultivated an air of mystery by only allowing himself to be photographed from behind or the side, is described by the website of Ahae Press as a sort of renaissance man: “an inventor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, environmental activist, martial artist, painter, sculptor, poet, and photographer.”

Con artist. Murderer. Ruthless exploiter. Christian. Or at least, someone who saw Christianity as another easy gimmick to prey on the rubes.

But hey, they spent some money on safety.

In one of their more damning findings, prosecutors say that so much money was being siphoned away from the ferry company to Mr. Yoo and his relatives that it was starved of funds and spent just $2 last year on safety training for the Sewol’s crew members. The money went to buy a paper copy of a certificate.

There is no justice, though. The elder Yoo’s rotting corpse was found in his garden, cause of death unknown. Most of his family (apparently one son is still on the run), who all profited from his schemes, have been arrested so at least there’s that.

Oh, no! Zombie Hitler is speechifying to death squads!

Mike Adams of Natural News has gone a little too far. In addition to his usual pseudoscience, useless “medicine”, and bizarre diet advice, he’s really pissed off at promoters of GMO foods. Now I’m no fan of Monsanto — corporate agriculture is a self-serving institution where profit is king and locking farmers into second-rate solutions is a business strategy — but GMOs are really not that scary. Yet the Adams paranoia has him ranting away and comparing scientists to Nazi war criminals. Really.

Just as history needed to record the names and deeds of Nazi war criminals, so too must all those collaborators who are promoting the death and destruction caused by GMOs be named for the historical record. The true extent of their collaboration with an anti-human regime will all become readily apparent once the GMO delusion collapses and mass global starvation becomes an inescapable reality.

That’s offensive hyperbole and also cartoonishly stupid — the Nazi accusation is so tired we even have a rule to summarize it — and it’s unjustified. There’s no sign that GMOs will suddenly collapse; they’re just plants with a few genes added, you know, and that it’s done artificially and with intent doesn’t make them any worse than getting the same result by chance recombination and mutation.

But Adams takes the next step.

Interestingly, just yesterday German President Joachim Gauck celebrated the lives of those brave Nazi officers who attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler in 1944. (1) Their attempted Wolf’s Lair bombing failed, but it was an honorable attempt to rid the world of tremendous evil by killing one of the people responsible for it.

This official ceremony sends a message to the world, and that official message from the nation of Germany to the rest of the world is that “it is the moral right — and even the obligation — of human beings everywhere to actively plan and carry out the killing of those engaged in heinous crimes against humanity.”

Obviously, if molecular biologists and geneticists are just like Hitler, then the ‘health’ wackos justified in assassinating them. And the German President has just told everyone that it’s OK! They’ve got both the moral high ground, and the excuse that they were just following the orders of the German leadership!

Ray Comfort is such a special little child of God

Did you know that science has discovered that gravity doesn’t exist in space, just like the Bible says?

comfortidiocy

Tell that to Newton. I wonder what keeps satellites in orbit, or the earth zipping around the sun, if they are hanging on “nothing”.


There’s more! Ray has attempted to cover his error.

comfortagain

There is invisible gravity in space, but the earth…it hangs on nothing!

What a maroon.

If only Christians weren’t so damned ahistorical

Here’s yet another of those pious Christian groups protesting same sex marriage, using a bogus argument. It’s infuriating: they know so little of human history that they think their local, recent mores are the universal and eternal dictates of their god, when Christian perspectives on marriage and politics and every damn thing have been evolving in all sorts of directions for two thousand years.

We get the same thing from creationists. They pretend their interpretation of the Bible is exactly as Jesus intended it, when really, modern creationism would have been regarded as heretical madness by Christians at any time before about 1960.

At least this bunch provides some comedy relief. Their strategy for dealing with same sex marriage is to fast for 40 days. Only not.

A Christian group that is planning a ‘fast’ in opposition to same-sex marriage has claimed that members don’t actually have to stop eating food to take part.

Like the rest of their platform, none of this makes any sense.

She shouldn’t have gotten her face in the way of his fist

Some football player named Ray Rice got in a fight with his fiancée, and knocked her out cold in an elevator — there is surveillance of him dragging her unconscious body out. You would think, maybe, that a professional athlete would have at some time learned that he’s very strong, and that a little caution in dealing physically with other was warranted, and maybe that the appropriate way to deal with someone you purportedly love does not involve beating her unconscious.

Rice has sort-of-apologized in a press conference — to which he brought his new wife to also apologize for her actions (makes you wonder what kind of beating she’d get if she didn’t). And now he’s been sort-of-punished, so the NFL is back to stroking his ego.

It’s also precious as heck that Ray Rice feels an obligation to The Children, what with being a role model and all, but maybe he should not be a role model because, kids, lady-beating is wrong, even if the NFL doesn’t really think so. Sure, it suspended Rice for TWO WHOLE GAMES and fined him $529,411.24, which sounds like a lot of money until you realize that it is merely two games’ worth of pay for Rice the Role Model. But everyone in the sportsball world is tripping over themselves to assure us that Ray Rice really is a nice guy, no really, and he will never ever knock his wife out cold again, he promises, even though the recidivism rate for lady-beaters is about 110 percent. (Okay, not exactly, but pretty close.) Here’s the team’s general manager, Ozzie Newsome, giving Rice some quality reach-around, but not in a gay way of course, because that would be a REAL problem for the NFL:

“We also respect the efforts Ray has made to become the best partner and father he can be.” Newsome said. “That night was not typical of the Ray Rice we know and respect. We believe that he will not let that one night define who he is, and he is determined to make sure something like this never happens again.”

Hmm. I’ve been married for 34 years, and she’s never hit me, and I’ve never hit her. In our case, if I started using her as a punching bag, you could say it’s “not typical”…but even that many years of respectful behavior would not be sufficient to justify doing harm now. But if he’s a pro football player, it’s all water under the bridge.

What I’d like to know is whether, if there is any other issue of domestic violence with this guy, the NFL will come back and say, “We were wrong — turns out thumping women is typical of Ray Rice, he’s an asshole, and he’s fired.” Any takers on that one? I suspect instead the NFL is right now deploying a team of PR specialists prepared to hush up any future incidents.

But here’s a professional apologist for athletes from ESPN commenting on the issue:

But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong done upon them?

But what about addressing women on how they can help prevent the obvious wrong done upon them?

Yeah, ladies, it’s your responsibility to avoid pissing off muscular 200 pound football players. Ultimately, it’s all your fault.

We need to ban Minnesotans

Clearly, residents of this state are the problem. Look what this wretched Minnesotan did.

A Minnesota man who admitted shooting a 17-year-old girl multiple times because she asked him to stop trespassing on his riding lawnmower has been charged with attempted first-degree murder.

According to a criminal complaint obtained by The Associated Press, 40-year-old Chad Pickering shot the 17-year-old girl in the chest, right thigh and left ankle while she was standing on the deck of her Bemidji home on Monday night.

“The victim herself was able to describe what had happened and talk to us and tell us that she’d simply been shot when she stepped out of her house to check on her dogs,” Sheriff Phil Hodapp explained to WCCO.

The teen told investigators that she had asked Pickering not to ride his lawnmower through her yard. She also said that he often carried a pistol with him on the lawnmower.

That’s just the way Minnesotans are…

Oh, wait. Wrong word. Not Minnesotans, but rather assholes with guns.

Is Ted Nugent still a darling of the Republican party?

I knew Ted Nugent was a nasty piece of work, but this…can he possibly be a bit more blatantly racist? He’s had a couple of shows cancelled at Indian casinos — first by the Coeur d’Alene tribe in Idaho, and most recently by the Puyallups in Washington — and I guess it made Nugent a mite testy.

“The Coeur d’Alene Tribe has always been about human rights — for decades, we have worked individually and as a Tribe to make sure that each and every person is treated equally and with respect and dignity,” said a statement from the tribe.

A spokesperson for the casino said that the company didn’t want to provide a platform for the “racist attitudes and views that Ted Nugent espouses.”

Nugent responded to the cancelation by calling the Coeur d’Alene Tribe unclean vermin.

By all indicators, I don’t think they actually qualify as people, but there has always been a lunatic fringe of hateful, rotten, dishonest people that hate happy, successful people, he continued. I believe raising hell and demanding accountability from our elected employees is Job One for every American. I am simply doing my job.

Brilliant: fired for racist remarks, so he calls the whole tribe “vermin” and questioning their status as humans, perfectly confirming the accusation.

Creepy ol’ Ben Stein

Remember Ben Stein? Lazy character actor best known for his mind-numbing drone, reactionary conservative who writes dull screeds on bogus economics, the creationist voice of Expelled? He’s in the news again, when we’d all rather he just goes away.

He wrote a bizarre rambling bit of nonsense for the American Spectator about how he travels the country, helping breathakingly beautiful women, taking them out to dinner, giving them writing advice, and boy, does airline food suck or what, and Obama is a failure. And he spent a fair amount of the essay just writing about this stunningly beautiful, absolute knockout young Eurasian woman who just happened to be in the airport.

As I walked through SFO in search of my driver, I came across a stunningly beautiful, absolute knockout young Eurasian woman. She was lying on a bench right next to where my driver was supposed to be, so I sat down next to her and chatted her up.

This story has evolved somewhat. Now she’s ambushing him and harassing him for money..

About five months ago, as I was walking through SFO to get into my car, I met a young woman who was extremely excited to meet me. She was literally jumping up and down with excitement. She told me she was a “performance artist” but hinted at some scary parts of her life. She said she would like to be a writer and asked if I could help. We exchanged texting addresses and off I went in my car. I spent fewer than five minutes talking to her in a busy airport terminal.

See? Ben Stein thinks Ben Stein is the kindest, sweetest person around. He deserves a medal for helping a young, beautiful woman out, giving her money and advice.

“I should get a medal for helping this woman. This is a person who appealed to me for money. She said she would send me some examples of her performance art. Some of those examples were racy, and some were not. I just don’t get what I have done wrong. She is mad at me because she wanted more money. … I didn’t expect anything from her.”

This “I am not a crook” moment was prompted by the fact that the young woman, Tanya Ma, released screen shots of their phone messages. And it’s true, he didn’t touch her, he didn’t do anything criminal — he just exposed the fact that the private Ben Stein is a deeply creepy person.

Sext messages below the fold. Wash your hands afterwards.

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