At least they picked the right place for it

Two men got into an argument over a $25 fee in a gun shop, and what do you know, they all decided to resolve it with — you guessed it — guns. End result: two dead, two in the hospital with critical injuries.

What struck me, though, is where it occurred: Picayune, Mississippi. It seems to me unwise to be selling deadly firearms in a place where you just know petty squabbles are going to flare up all the time.

Anonymous agents behaving underminingly

The stories about prominent harassers in the field of astronomy have been coming out a lot lately, and kudos to the field for taking steps to end a severe and chronic problem that impairs the advancement of half the members of the human race. But of course you knew the counter-reaction was coming. It’s inevitable. Pointing out that prominent men have been doing bad things always leads to defensive shrieks of witch hunt!.

So here it comes: a “group” called Underground Astronomy is very concerned about the well-being of harassing astronomers. The women they’ve chased out of the discipline, not so much.

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Hey, you know who else is camping in a cold remote wilderness?

The Bundyloons, the militia who took over the Malheur refuge. I at least had a pleasant companion in my wilderness adventure, but these guys…it’s turning all Lord of the Flies out there in Burns, Oregon.

Rumors and harsh facts arriving from outside the grounds of an Oregon nature preserve appear to be roiling the armed militants who have taken over a federal building in hopes of sparking an armed confrontation with government agents.

At least one of the militants, Joe “Capt. O” Oshaugnessy, left the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge amid drinking claims after arguing with participants over bringing their wives and children to the standoff, and another — Brian “Booda” Cavalier — left the compound after news reports revealed he had lied about serving in the military.

A former compatriot-turned-opponent claims one of the most prominent militants, Blaine Cooper, sucker-punched one of his friends — sending the counter-protester to the hospital with a concussion and serious facial injuries.

Has anybody thought to send them a conch, yet?

Can we all at least agree that Monopoly sucks?


The latest bit of casual Star Wars stupidity is the dearth of merchandise featuring the central woman character Rey — in particular, that she’s left out of Hasbro’s Star Wars Monopoly game. I agree that it’s indicative of this damned dumb unthinking sexism, and it’s dismaying every time it happens, but…there are collisions of multiple problems here.

It’s merchandising. Somebody slaps the word “Star Wars” on something, and people rush to buy it? Why? It’s the same terrible game as the version with Atlantic City properties on it, putting a different cosmetic face on it doesn’t make it better.

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With a final pretentious squeak, the attack mouse sinks into the sunset


Aww, what sad news. Casey Luskin is leaving the Discovery Institute. Hilariously, he declares victory as he fades away, and cites two instances that he claims have finally validated intelligent design creationism.

The first is that the ENCODE proved that the genome is nearly entirely functional, exactly as ID predicted and against the expectations of those Darwinists. Unfortunately for him, that is not the case, and the ENCODE propagandists relied entirely on a peculiar and narrow definition of function that did not match any kind of function the creationists might have imagined.

The second is — hang on to your hats — epigenetics. Didn’t I just post something about epigenetics? Why, yes I did. I also posted something somewhat lengthy about it. It seems to be a common misconception among creationists.

Interestingly, these were also two of the obsessions of another creationist, Perry Marshall. He didn’t understand those concepts, either.

I think it’s quite appropriate that Luskin should vanish in a puff of misconceptions and ignorance. It’s been his stock in trade all along, after all.

Another day, another creationist

My conversation with Perry Marshall about “evolution 2.0” is now online on the radio show Unbelievable.

Marshall is sales and marketing guy who has written a book titled Evolution 2.0: Breaking the Deadlock Between Darwin and Design, in which he claims to have worked out a reconciliation between science and religion based on arguments he had with his missionary/theologian brother, that hints at the quality of the science you’ll find in it. He has a superficial view of a few biological processes, like DNA error repair and transposition, and has shoehorned them into his religious belief that these are the tools used by some kind of engineering force that makes them purposeful.

He has a challenge with a $100,000 prize. All you have to do is show an example of Information that doesn’t come from a mind. Basically he’s making the clueless argument that there are no processes in genetics that produce novel information. I think Jeffrey Shallit ought to step up and claim it. Actually, he might have to fight through a mob of information theorists to get his money (if it exists, and if the judging wasn’t rigged).

Smug and stupid

Orac once again takes down Vox Day. Day read a study and misinterpreted it, which isn’t too surprising — Day is not particularly bright. In this case, the study was looking for correlations with Personal Belief Exemptions (PBEs). That is, they were trying to figure out what kind of traits underlie anti-vaccination attitudes. What wasn’t surprising is that they found a lot of well-off white people who oppose vaccination.

That played right into Vox Day’s biases. He opposes vaccination, so smart people oppose vaccination; he’s white and well-off, which to him is synonymous with being intelligent and right, so it turns into a regular orgy of confirmation bias.

The news that anti-vaxxers are whiter, wealthier, and better-educated than those who place blind faith in vaccines won’t surprise anyone who has actually engaged a vaccine enthusiast on the subject. None of them know anything about history, few of them know anything about science, and all of them are prone to simply repeating the usual vaccine scare rhetoric

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Speaking of coddled white guys…

The usual suspects are currently howling and thrashing and having temper tantrums over Steve Shives, another white guy who thinks we ought to welcome diversity, but they’re also taking the opportunity to fling accusations of hypocrisy my way. It’s simply amazing how triumphantly they are spamming my email and twitter account with this irrefutable proof that I lied.


Gosh. They got me now…oh, wait. Read that last comment. It might help.

No, I have never been accused of sexual harassment. If you were to have access to my employment record, you’d find it was completely clean — I simply do not harass women (or men, for that matter), and never have. It’s also not that I have been exonerated of charges — I’ve never been charged with harassment, because I’ve never done it (note that this does not imply that being accused means you are guilty), and I’ve scrupulously avoided circumstances where there is even an opportunity for such an accusation.

They love to make much of that incident in the 1990s — in which a young woman thought she could get a better grade by extortion. I responded by immediately removing myself from the situation and making the situation open to investigation by authorities. She did not accuse me because she couldn’t.

So I have been threatened with extortion, but no extortion took place. Similarly, I get weekly murder threats, but I have not been murdered. I am conscious of the distinction, but these wackaloons apparently are not.

By the way, these loons have also sent wild accusations of harassment to my university employers…who have treated their baseless bullshit with the respect they deserve. Those also are not credible accusations.