Stormtrooping while female and brown

You would think this would be a dream come true for internet Nazis: a vidya game where you get to play as a Space Nazi in the Star Wars universe. I’m imagining, though, the shock they felt when watching this preview, and tough stormtrooper dressed all in black takes off their helmet, and big reveal…

The Stormtrooper Special Forces warrior is female! Aaaaaieeee! The dream is ruined!

Really, I’m not making this up. Some Nazi youth are horrified, and not just that the protagonist is female, but has brown skin.

It’s a SFF universe with magic powers thrown in, where spaceships have dogfights like WWI Sopwith Camels, and they’re concerned that including a woman is unrealistic.

Please. If you’re one of the people making that incredibly stupid argument that it isn’t canon, or that women all have teeny-tiny muscles, or that an alien race from long, long ago and far away would all be lightly pigmented, put away your video game controller, turn off your computer/console, and leave the basement. You have to learn about reality for a while.

Here’s what’s going to kill atheism dead in its tracks

Atheists who can say it’s “refreshing” and that Trump is “the least religious president to occupy the White House since Thomas Jefferson”, and that that is a positive progression. Also, that the atheist saying such nonsense is Michael Shermer, who still has a following.

He’s careful not to claim Trump as a fellow atheist, fortunately, but instead thinks it’s great that he such a shallow, ignorant follower of vague religious impulses that it makes him more representative of the electorate.

The president’s distance from religion is hugely refreshing. It also makes him more traditionally “American,” in at least one respect, than any other modern president.

But the Religious Right claims him, and voted for him, and why? Because they’re really good at projection, viewing him as one of their own, or at least working towards a common goal. Sound familiar? That’s because Shermer is doing the same thing, looking at an incompetent narcissist and projecting his own views on to him, which actually isn’t much of a stretch. Another way of looking at it is that it isn’t religion or lack thereof which allows some people to see Trump as reflecting their perspective, it’s self-centeredness.

Shermer also sees this as a positive trend towards greater secularization.

Trump was elected president despite being the least religious major candidate in the 2016 field. Looked at this way, Trump isn’t the evangelicals’ savior. He’s just another data point in America’s long march away from religion.

Trump pandered openly to the Religious Right. He got the endorsement of James Dobson, Tony Perkins, Robert Jeffress, and Jerry Falwell Jr. He is against women’s right to choose, and wants to shut down Planned Parenthood. He’s a racist who appoints racists to positions of power. He’s a temperamental militarist. He despises science and wants the phrase “climate change” expunged from our scientific institutions. He has Betsy Devos working to dismantle our educational system. He appointed as Vice President a Christian dominionist and patriarchal tool who dreams of oppressing the LGBTQ community.

What, in all that, sounds like a march away from religion?

Meanwhile, of the other major candidates in the last election, Hillary Clinton seems to be a sincere church-going Christian, but it was not an issue in her campaign, and she did not advocate for issues that would endear her to religious conservatives. Bernie Sanders is Jewish, his religion was downplayed, and said he was “not particularly religious” and that “I am not actively involved in organized religion”.

Yet Shermer claims that Trump was the least religious candidate? Bullshit.

Furthermore, if a Donald Trump is the result of increasing the secularization of our political leaders, maybe it isn’t such a good idea to promote more secularization. I don’t think he is at all representative of secular, non-religious, or atheist ideals — and it’s flaming idiocy to claim he is — but it’s the kiss of death to claim him as one of our own.

It also doesn’t help that atheism seems to self-select for horrible people as their chosen spokesmen.

Here we go again

It’s body count time!

The number of Islamic State fighters killed by the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat by the United States military, dubbed the “mother of all bombs,” has risen to at least 94, according to Afghan officials.

We need a metric for success, so hey, let’s count up the corpses. More corpses, more winning, right? Except that we’ve been through all this before.

My friend Sazz [stderr] fought around the Vietcong tunnels at Cu Chi. I don’t write “he fought in the tunnels” because only a very small number of Americans went down in them; the rest waited up top to see what happened. One of the things he said was that the tunnel complexes were large, but also pretty small and shabby. They weren’t the kind of things Americans would build, with a Burger King and a Starbucks’ 14 stories down, and air conditioning and power generators – they were little hidey holes and they weren’t worth a damn thing to anyone; conqueror or conquered. That’s what the MOAB blew up.

When the invasion of Afghanistan was still brewing, the US marketed the idea that Osama Bin Laden had built gigantic terror complexes under Tora Bora – multi level, hydroelectric powered, and huge. Of course, such complexes did not exist.

They have never existed, unless you’re thinking about the complexes politicians build to hide from their mistakes. The gigantic MOAB probably collapsed some simple dirt tunnels (because ISIS is sure as hell not tunnelling in stone) The Vietcong at Cu Chi didn’t defend the tunnels when the Americans found them: they left and went elsewhere. The ISIS survivors of the MOAB are already gone to elsewhere, and they’ve added a few recruits from the local population, because the Americans have demonstrated what ruthless assholes we can be.


Sullivan is back. Can he please retire again?

Shorter Andrew Sullivan: We treated Asians and Jews like shit, and they turned out to be rich successful nerds, so black people’s problems must be their own damn fault.

No, really, he said that.

It’s easy to mock this reductionism, I know, but it reflects something a little deeper. Asian-Americans, like Jews, are indeed a problem for the “social-justice” brigade. I mean, how on earth have both ethnic groups done so well in such a profoundly racist society? How have bigoted white people allowed these minorities to do so well — even to the point of earning more, on average, than whites? Asian-Americans, for example, have been subject to some of the most brutal oppression, racial hatred, and open discrimination over the years. In the late 19th century, as most worked in hard labor, they were subject to lynchings and violence across the American West and laws that prohibited their employment. They were banned from immigrating to the U.S. in 1924. Japanese-American citizens were forced into internment camps during the Second World War, and subjected to hideous, racist propaganda after Pearl Harbor. Yet, today, Asian-Americans are among the most prosperous, well-educated, and successful ethnic groups in America. What gives? It couldn’t possibly be that they maintained solid two-parent family structures, had social networks that looked after one another, placed enormous emphasis on education and hard work, and thereby turned false, negative stereotypes into true, positive ones, could it? It couldn’t be that all whites are not racists or that the American dream still lives?

I’m kind of amazed that no editor stopped him and said something about that — I just assumed that they were too exhausted after reading the previous droning paragraphs, which were mostly something about how everything is Hillary Clinton’s fault. But you’d think even a sympathetic editor would stop and pause at a recitation of white America’s crimes against humanity that culminates in blaming black people for lying there bleeding after centuries of oppression.

Let’s not forget the stereotyping of Asian-Americans, and using them as a club to beat down those blacks some more. There’s something to offend everyone in that mess!

He didn’t rise, and he probably didn’t exist in the first place

Happy Easter! Skip church and instead go read this essay on why Jesus is a myth.

The vast majority of Biblical historians believe there is evidence sufficient to place Jesus’ existence beyond reasonable doubt. Many believe the New Testament documents alone suffice firmly to establish Jesus as an actual, historical figure. I question these views. In particular, I argue (i) that the three most popular criteria by which various non-miraculous New Testament claims made about Jesus are supposedly corroborated are not sufficient, either singly or jointly, to place his existence beyond reasonable doubt, and (ii) that a prima facie plausible principle concerning how evidence should be assessed – a principle I call the contamination principle – entails that, given the large proportion of uncorroborated miracle claims made about Jesus in the New Testament documents, we should, in the absence of independent evidence for an historical Jesus, remain sceptical about his existence.