The Atheist War on Krampus

krampus1

Tonight is Krampusnacht. I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for fighting it, though; there aren’t any shared social customs that we atheists in America enjoy, and I don’t see anyone trying to force me to celebrate it in a religiously specific way.

I guess I’ll just half-heartedly say it’s a silly tradition, but you should feel free to celebrate it however you want and in any ethically reasonable way for any random reason. Hmm. That seems to be my stance on Christmas, too.

The Morris NorthStar owes me $15

I put up a sign saying that I didn’t want their racist rag delivered to my door any more, and that I’d bill them $5 for each copy they trashed my office with. This morning: three copies delivered. Ka-ching!

Except…I don’t seriously believe they’ll pay up. Just like I don’t think their declaration on the cover, First Copy: FREE. All subsequent copies are $5 is realistic or valid. Therefore I’ll consider their trash to be fair game for trashing. Since they don’t take my demand seriously, I won’t take theirs seriously, and obviously they don’t even take it seriously. It’s SATIRE, don’t you know.

I did glance inside as I was hauling them off to recycling, and I see they’re still maintaining high journalistic standards. Their recent thrill was a visit by Little Ben Shapiro, which they described in an article titled Ben Shapiro Visits UMM, Discusses Trannies and Freedom. Charming. We learn exactly what Shapiro thinks of the topic.

Transgenderism is a tragic, horrible mental illness that people suffer from. It should be treated with nothing but sympathy. The idea that you can magically change a man into a woman or a woman into a man is anti-biology and anti-fact and foolish.

What I consider anti-biology is this prejudice that every human being must conform to one of only two types with regards to phenomena as complex and psychologically and socially fraught as sexual behavior and gender roles. But what do I know? I’m just a biologist, while Shapiro is a professional right-wing bozo and utterer of simplistic bigotry.

The article unfortunately says next to nothing about free speech, except to say that Shapiro is annoyed by the exercise of it: he doesn’t like being labeled a “racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe”. The whole thing is almost entirely about those awful “trannies”.

But he doesn’t want to be called a bigot or homophobe. Go figure.

I look forward to disposing all of the future copies of this vile thing that cross my path. Don’t worry. I’ll do it satirically.

It’s that time of year again

Time for the critiquing of American Atheists’ Christmas billboards! I will say this: this year, they’re emphasizing a more cheerful message with a little bit of humor, but still, they desperately need a pro to design these things.

Here’s the first one, and I think, the worst one.

2016-billboard-1

Uh, no. Way too busy. Just the text on the right would be OK, but the four small text messages on the left? No one is going to be able to read those as they’re zipping by in a car, and all they’ll see is the shocked, pop-eyed black woman (we’re treading awfully close to racist tropes here) staring at her smug daughter, which is not a particularly good or informative look. Also, it looks more like a banner ad on a website, rather than a roadside sign. Scrap it.

The second one, I like. Clear, simple, a snarky reference to our recent presidential campaign, and nicely promoting a strong anti-church message (if you don’t like anti-clericism, you aren’t going to like anything from American Atheists). I’d have gone for a sans serif font, though, and not used all caps. Otherwise, I think this is one of the best billboards American Atheists have produced yet (which is not saying a lot).

2016-billboard-2

Of course, one lesson they’ve learned, unfortunately, is that the quality of the content doesn’t matter, because no matter what it is, sanctimonious Christians will tear it down. This one lasted less than 2 hours before it was removed.

Related comment from that link: shut the fuck up about “heart of the Bible belt”. It does not justify anything, and the “Bible belt” is a meaningless, empty geographical distinction. I’ve visited communities in Washington state and Florida, Texas and Minnesota, central Pennsylvania and Oregon, that all declare themselves part of the “Bible belt”. The entire goddamn country is apparently this vaguely defined “Bible belt”, and it extends up into central Canada.

I suppose if Mexicans were this insecure about their religion and needed to say they believed in their version of god because of where they were born, the Bible belt would also extend south and be more of a Bible cup.

Exuberance! Shenanigans!

Oh, those wacky Trump supporters…they are so filled with joy, they planned a big victory parade in North Carolina!

The Loyal White Knights had previously announced they would hold a “Trump victory parade” in Pelham on Saturday morning. Hundreds of protestors and reporters arrived in the small town in Caswell County for the event, though the KKK never showed.

Oh, no, they didn’t show? Were they overwhelmed with a surfeit of exhilaration? Did they party just a little too hard? I supposed you could say that.

The founder of the local Ku Klux Klan was unable to participate in the group’s festivities Saturday because he was in jail in connection with the stabbing and beating of another man at a KKK meeting the night before.

The Caswell County Sheriff’s Office reported Saturday night that two men were arrested that morning after allegedly assaulting a man who was in town for a Loyal White Knights meeting.

What a shame. I hope this doesn’t quench the Klan’s joie de vivre, and that they have many more exultant, triumphant meetings in the future.

Tardigrade sex

You may have suffered many restless nights wondering how tardigrades had sex. It’s one of those burning questions that I’m sure has left many of us curious and concerned. Wonder no more! We have tardigrade porn!

In case you’re confused, here’s the text description of what’s going on in that video.

When put together with gravid females, males seemed to be attracted, moving directly towards the female and joining her for mating. On rare occasions males were not attracted to females, and this presumably occurred when females had started to absorb eggs. For mating, the male curled around the anterior end of the female exuvia, bringing his cloaca close to the mouth opening in the exuvia (Fig. 2). During mating he held the female with his first pair of legs, and the female stimulated the male by moving her stylets and contracting the sucking pharynx. Mating took about 1 h, and semen was ejaculated several times (visible under the light microscope). Exactly the same mating behaviour was observed more than 30 times in more than 30 tardigrade couples, and mating was also documented on video.

Still confused? Perhaps it would help to know that they’re bisexual, and there aren’t any anatomical differences between the sperm-producing male and the egg-producing female. Here’s a close-up of their external reproductive organs.

Cloaca (indicated by arrow) of two individuals of Isohypsibius dastychi. The cuticle opens anteriorly. A, cuticle covering the cloaca is pushed towards posterior end of the animal. B, cuticle in the natural state. Scale bar = 10 μm.

Cloaca (indicated by arrow) of two individuals of Isohypsibius dastychi. The cuticle opens anteriorly. A, cuticle covering the cloaca is pushed towards posterior end of the animal. B, cuticle in the natural state. Scale bar = 10 μm.

Surely everything is clear now! Just in case, here’s a simplified diagram of the Standard Tardigrade Sexual Position.

Mating position of Isohypsibius dastychi. The male (left) held the female (right) in the moulting stage, with eggs (in this case three) clearly visible in her ovary.

Mating position of Isohypsibius dastychi. The male (left) held the female (right) in the moulting stage, with eggs (in this case three) clearly visible in her ovary.

Distressing thought: if you are a tardigrade, it looks like you can get pregnant from oral sex.


Bingemer J, Hohberg K, Schill RO (2016) First detailed observations on tardigrade mating behaviour and some aspects of the life history of Isohypsibius dastychi Pilato, Bertolani & Binda 1982 (Tardigrada, Isohypsibiidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 178(4):856-862.

A #NODAPL victory?

The infamous pipeline is going to be rerouted.

The Army will not approve an easement that would allow the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe in North Dakota, the Army’s assistant secretary for civil works announced Sunday.

It must be a good decision, because it’s really pissing off the right people.

North Dakota’s sole member in the House of Representatives, Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, expressed his disapproval in a scathing statement released Sunday that slammed President Barack Obama as well as the protestors.

“I hoped even a lawless president wouldn’t continue to ignore the rule of law. However, it was becoming increasingly clear he was punting this issue down the road,” Cramer wrote. “Today’s unfortunate decision sends a very chilling signal to others who want to build infrastructure in this country. Roads, bridges, transmission lines, pipelines, wind farms and water lines will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build when criminal behavior is rewarded this way.”

Building infrastructure is great. Building great dangerous leaky pipelines to pump poison over water supplies, and to torment and abuse the people most affected by them, is not. Suppressing the people’s right to protest is also not great.

You don’t get to revise evolutionary theory, until you understand evolutionary theory

There was a conference sponsored by the Royal Society last month, titled New trends in evolutionary biology: biological, philosophical and social science perspectives. There have been a number of news stories about this event, some good, some bad. Here’s one: can you tell what’s wrong with it?

For example, speaking at the Royal Society was Melinda Zeder, who talked about the way in which modern synthesis fails to provide a reason for mankind’s turning to agriculture 10,00 years ago and its ensuing evolutionary impact. Growing crops may have taken years, so there could not have been a short-term evolutionary benefit to it. As Zeder told Quanta, “You don’t get the immediate gratification of grabbing some food and putting it in your mouth.” It’s also been theorized that a climate shift caused agriculture to bloom, but there’s no evidence of such a shift.

[Read more…]

Lake Wobegon isn’t such a nice place after all

Nice, diverse, liberal Minnesota hired a black man to play Santa at the Mall of America, and some people lost their goddamned minds. The Strib has closed their comments, they got so bad, but our local CBS station still has them up. A sampling:

stgeorgeschapel
Get used to these kinds of shenaigans! Over the past year and a half, I have met thousands of Trump supporters! They are the LEAST “racist” and MOST postive people you could know. They want what is best for ALL Americans, including a whole lot of black supporters. These are the ANGRY Hillary / Soros supporters who are doing all they can to undermine Trump, so that Hillary the horrid can run against him in 4 years. There is NO END to her ambition. She wll run until she is DEAD!

“Shenanigans”? What’s so awful about hiring a black man to play Santa? And of course this is all a conspiracy by Hillary Clinton to undermine Trump. You know, sometimes a mall Santa is just a mall Santa.

Tony Johnson
Problem is, society today, as a whole, is uneducated. If you were educated you would know that Santa clause was based on a monk named St. Nicholas who was, now get this…… CAUCASIAN! I don’t care how “color blind” you think you are, that fact will never change.

The ‘historical’ St Nicholas was a man born in Asia Minor in the 3rd century AD. If you’re going to get upset about historicity, complain about the red-suited rosy-cheeked fat man who lives at the North Pole.

What color are the elves supposed to be?

Victor Edwards
I clicked on the story fully expecting that they picked a Somali to play Santa. That would be fitting for Minnesota. Have a radical muslim who hates America and the western world play Santa. Give him a gun and some knives under his red suit and when the little Christian children come sit in his lap, he can cut their throats.

Somehow, this guy transformed a mall Santa into a child-slaughtering Radical Muslim, all in his head.

John Oakman
Oooooooooh, now I can die knowing “dat Santa bees black”. What BS.

Wouldn’t be a racist roll call without someone doing dialect.

Eileen Finnin Hargrove
Is he also transgender???

Or someone bringing gender into it.

Vox Veritas
Next = One-legged, female Santa with facial piercings.

We got all the stereotypes.

Peter Morgan
Stupid. Incredibly stupid. Santa is WHITE. BOYCOTT Mall of America. Maybe they should change their name to MALL of RAGHEAD LAND.

Please do boycott all these places that treat brown people as human. It’s one way for me to get a racist-free experience.

It’s all just downhill from here.

Barry Sorretoa
FUKIN DISGUSTING
NIGERS ARE DESTROYING the NATION
EXTERMINATE the NIGER RACE
SAVE HUMANS from the MONGREL APES

Laquisha Reynolds
I hope every self respecting White parent does not take their children to this atrocity.Santa Claus was a German character from centuries ago when blacks were eating each other in Africa…this imitation of traditional White characters from TV and movies to historical figures such as HAMILTON is a cancer that must be stopped .Blacks have very very few characters that would be worthy of being replaced with Whites but if MLK were played by a White person ..blacks would try to kill him.

Yeah, everyone knows Santa is supposed to be a white positive role model.

bad-santa

I need to take a shower now.

Americans are an awful, horrible people, as they keep demonstrating to me.