May all my enemies be this stupid

I really, really don’t understand the minds behind this: I’m getting a bunch of messages from sniggering puerile slymepit types who have jumped on a hashtag bandwagon, #wherespzmyers. They’ve got a photo of my face photoshopped onto a plush doll, and then they photoshop that into various scenes.

Warning: the very first image that turned up at that link above is a smiling picture of me spliced into a graphic ISIS beheading photo.

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Perhaps there’s something in the water in Queensland?

It’s where Ken Ham comes from, you know, and apparently the region has a bit of a reputation. Not everyone from Queensland can be bog-ignorant, of course, so it’s perfectly reasonable that someone from Queensland would be appointed head of the Australian national science organization, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). So good on their latest head.

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CJ Werleman self-destructs

And it’s really unfortunate — politically, we’re probably more alike than different, and we need more outspoken liberal voices in atheism. But he has done the unforgivable: serial plagiarism, and when caught out, has apologized, but simultaneously belittled the seriousness of the offense and blamed it on a campaign by our little neo-conservative atheist cabal of Harris and Boghossian.

I agree that they are wrong about so much else, but when they’re right, they’re right, galling as it is. This is a situation that requires much more reflection and far greater amends than Werleman has given it. He has also effectively written himself out of any of the debates, internal or external, about atheism.

The ‘evidence from comic book’ argument against evolution

Well, he did it: the Digital Cuttlefish found a novel argument against evolution. It has to be seen to be believed — this creationist is claiming that the X-Men disprove the theory of evolution.

Already you should be saying “It’s a comic book and a movie! It’s not real!”, and for a bonus you might point out that the biology of the X-Men franchise is ludicrously awful, and in general, the mass media don’t understand evolution, but let’s give him a chance. Let’s see this argument.

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Ursula Le Guin has alway been a man

That’s one of the surprising revelations from her new book of essays. It caught me by surprise; I’ve seen her speak and I’ve read her books, and she always seemed like a woman, but her point is that she was born in a time when women were subsidiary to men, and the goal was always to be manly, even in ersatz way. It’s a strange twist on a familiar stereotype, and Le Guin goes out of her way to force me to think, which is clearly a very manly thing to do.

I enjoyed her characterization of that manly paragon, Ernest Hemingway, who was everything a writing man should be. She’s really bad at being Hemingway, and she knows it.

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Not the Canadians, too!

They’re so nice. But they still have the same problems with sexual abuse.

Over the past month, a number of disturbing revelations have come to light within the Canadian literary community. I use the term “come to light” deliberately, because many of us were already fully aware of how dangerous it can be to be a woman in this particular culture.

At great risk to herself, Toronto poet Emma Healey penned a thoughtful, candid and scathing condemnation of the sexual and psychological abuse that exists in our own backyard. On the website TheHairpin.com, she detailed a relationship she had at 19 with an unnamed prominent Canadian writer and English professor. He was 34. The alleged ensuing dynamic was inappropriate at best, and entailed sexual assault at worst.

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We may have had skin color differences before, but America invented being smug about them

I would like everyone to read this wonderful twist in perspective on American history — I think this kind of thing ought to be taught in public schools. The United States of America is exceptional: in the ferment of the 18th century, we invented both an inspiring political document, our constitution, and we invented white people. Not the people themselves, but the abstract distinction that set up “whiteness” as a mark of a privileged class. It was brilliant: it was a strategy that immediately divided those lower class rabble rousers who were screaming for equality, and set them to fighting among themselves, and half of them fighting for the wealthy upper class.

As time went on, the labor needs of the land holders continued to grow, and desperate to cultivate the land, they were loathe to let go of their bond servants and the bondsmen and bondswomen’s children (whom they kept in bondage for a legally defined time as well). In the mean time, a growing American peasantry was proving as difficult to govern as the European peasantry back home, periodically rising up in riot and rebellion, light skinned and dark skinned together. The political leaders of the Virginia colony struck upon an answer to all these problems, an answer which plagues us to this day.

The Virginians legislated a new class of people into existence: the whites. They gave the whites certain rights, and took other rights from blacks. White, as a language of race, appears in Virginia around the 1680s, and seems to first appear in Virginia law in 1691. And thus whiteness, and to a degree as well blackness, was born in the mind of America.

This plan worked gorgeously. It broke all efforts of the majority of people, African or European, to fight for civil and political rights in America against a landed class that literally ruled everything. It reduced a portion of the people to the status of the negro slave, and gave the poor but now white people a precious and entitled inch to stand above the permanently enslaved on the social ladder. The next thing the politicians did sealed the deal: they paid poor whites a bounty for runaway slaves, and often made them overseers for slaves, turning every poor white in America into a prison guard against the people who had once been their neighbors and allies.

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