Scott Adams, master of ignorance


I used to regularly take slaps at Scott Adams, but it got old — he’s so imperturbably stupid that it seemed mostly pointless. He thinks he already knows everything, so he’ll never learn. Either that or he’ll talk to himself in a series of positive affirmations to confirm that he’s right anyway…PZ Myers telling him he’s wrong can’t possibly compete with Scott Adams telling Scott Adams how brilliant Scott Adams is.

But now David Futrelle reminds me that not only is he stupid, he’s just an awful person. Adams has written a complaint about how poor men are so put upon by feminists, because of their rules. He tries to explain what a typical imaginary date is like.

[Read more…]

How English is weird

John McWhorter explains the peculiarities of the English language — note, not why English is the bestest language of them all, but what’s so idiosyncratically bizarre about this language we native speakers all take for granted. I remember learning German, for instance, and wondering why they had all these annoying articles and declensions and confusing stuff that wasn’t like my language, instead of wondering why English had so many confusing oddities.

For instance, he explains how early on the collision between Germans and Celts produced a peculiar hybrid.

Crucially, their languages were quite unlike English. For one thing, the verb came first (came first the verb). But also, they had an odd construction with the verb do: they used it to form a question, to make a sentence negative, and even just as a kind of seasoning before any verb. Do you walk? I do not walk. I do walk. That looks familiar now because the Celts started doing it in their rendition of English. But before that, such sentences would have seemed bizarre to an English speaker – as they would today in just about any language other than our own and the surviving Celtic ones. Notice how even to dwell upon this queer usage of do is to realise something odd in oneself, like being made aware that there is always a tongue in your mouth.

At this date there is no documented language on earth beyond Celtic and English that uses do in just this way. Thus English’s weirdness began with its transformation in the mouths of people more at home with vastly different tongues. We’re still talking like them, and in ways we’d never think of. When saying ‘eeny, meeny, miny, moe’, have you ever felt like you were kind of counting? Well, you are – in Celtic numbers, chewed up over time but recognisably descended from the ones rural Britishers used when counting animals and playing games. ‘Hickory, dickory, dock’ – what in the world do those words mean? Well, here’s a clue: hovera, dovera, dick were eight, nine and ten in that same Celtic counting list.

And then we get the Norse and the French barging in and weirding the language even more. But it’s still refreshing to see an article that talks about the accidents and contingencies of language without trying to rank one as better than another.

However, we might be reluctant to identify just which languages are not ‘mighty’, especially since obscure languages spoken by small numbers of people are typically majestically complex. The common idea that English dominates the world because it is ‘flexible’ implies that there have been languages that failed to catch on beyond their tribe because they were mysteriously rigid. I am not aware of any such languages.

What English does have on other tongues is that it is deeply peculiar in the structural sense. And it became peculiar because of the slings and arrows – as well as caprices – of outrageous history.

By golly, McWhorter sounds a bit like an evolutionary biologist there.

Is World Net Daily for real?

It’s practically a cartoon of far right idiocy, but it’s popular, and no one ever seems to stop and wonder that they can promote such hatefulness and ignorance and still maintain a readership. But then, this is the country of Trump and Carson, where a race towards stupidity has become a successful strategy for running for the presidency. And that scares me. We’ve got loons promoting murder and fascism, and we shrug our shoulders and say it’s just a fringe, don’t worry.

But look at what that fringe is saying.

My own politically incorrect suggestion is that we remove ISIS from the face of the earth, hopefully as a joint effort with every other nation it has threatened or attacked, and that we then bomb Mecca off the face of the earth, not concerning ourselves in the least with collateral damage, letting the Muslims know once and for all that our God is far more powerful and, yes, vengeful than their own puny deity.

It’s harsh, but they’ve been asking for it for over 1,400 years, and it’s time they got it. I, for one, am sick and tired of seeing the Islamic bullies demand our lunch money and, like a bunch of scrawny wimps afraid of our own shadow, we hand it over. What’s even more appalling, we then pretend we did it because we’re good guys who realized that they’re human beings just like us, and who just happen to be a little bit hungrier than we are.

not concerning ourselves in the least with collateral damage means killing innocent civilians. And that is OK to this fellow, because the important thing is destroying a religious center (yeah, that’ll win us friends and allies), and demonstrating that our god is more vengeful, barbaric, and murderous than their god.

I’m also baffled by the resentful claim that somehow, we are the weak country that’s getting taken advantage of by bullies, as if Iran is the bad guy sending drone strikes against outdoor weddings in Poughkeepsie, Scranton, and Walla Walla. As if Kuwait is forcing Americans to buy their oil at gunpoint. As if our little dribble of foreign aid is going to countries that are faking their poverty.

That guy, you can be sure, gets out and votes in every election, and he votes angrily against those damn liberals on the basis of that kind of bigotry and ignorance. And that’s why we’ve got the representatives we do.

We should be terrified not by terrorism, but by the lunatics in our own country.

Consider the possibilities, atheists!

Let’s look on the bright side of this infuriating story.

Khalil, 29 and Ayyad, 28, moved to Philadelphia from Palestine 15 years ago. Khalil now owns the Feltonville pizza shop — Pizza Point — that gave him his first job. The friends were in Chicago visiting each other’s families and met back at the airport Wednesday night to take the same flight home. The gate agent told them apologetically they wouldn’t be allowed to board because a passenger was afraid to fly with them after overhearing the men speaking Arabic.

So they called the police, and argued, and finally, after a delay, were allowed to board the plane. It’s totally unjust that someone can just whine about a fellow passenger’s religion or language and get them kicked off.

But…you know, last time I was on a flight, there was a Catholic priest in all the sombre regalia boarding the plane with me.

You can see where this is going.

Can I go to the gate agent and claim that I am afraid to fly with a member of a child-raping cult that worships death? Because that is just as reasonable as claiming I’m afraid that a couple of pizza guys were a danger because they didn’t speak English to each other. But hey, if airlines are going to bend over so much to avoid defying the bigotry of their passengers, we could start acting as stupid as those fools and be really annoying.

Except, unfortunately, that I have no interest in competing in the idiocy race with bigots, and generally when I’m boarding a plane I just want to get the process over with and get to my destination.

Also, I doubt that they would care what an atheist fears, anyway.


Colbert has still got it. He developed an instant Christianity test, just like the Republican presidential candidates want.

If you want to know if somebody is Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: Jesus said ‘I was hungry,’ and you gave me something to eat, ‘I was thirsty,’ and you gave me something to drink, ‘I was a stranger,’ and you…

And the answer is…

[Read more…]


Minneapolis/St Paul are good cities and good places to live. This state was largely occupied by German Catholics and Scandinavian Lutherans, so it may be 80% white, but they also have increasingly diverse populations, with rising numbers of African Americans and Hmong and Somali people — it’s a city where a Muslim, Keith Ellison, can get elected to congress, and that, as the largest by far population center in the state can get a fairly liberal state legislature elected. Hey, Prince lives there!

The rest of the state…well, I can say that the people are generally laid back and well intentioned, and friendly as all heck. Lake Wobegone isn’t a total misrepresentation. But it’s also poorer and much more conservative.

This is Minnesota’s 6th congressional district.


[Read more…]