Rush Limbaugh must be desperate to emulate Alex Jones

Someone is unhappy that scientists have found water on Mars. It’s Rush Limbaugh. As he says, he’s always right, and he has seen the truth.

…this news that there is flowing water on Mars is somehow going to find its way into a technique to advance the leftist agenda.

Yep, he caught us. It’s entirely true. Leftists are planning to use facts, science, and evidence to promote a reality-based agenda.

The answer is…they are intentionally lying

A school exercise seems to have roused the ire of creationists. It included a statement about common creationist behavior.


Not Just a Theory

Next time someone tells you evolution is just a theory, as a way of dismissing it, as if it’s just something someone guessed at, remember that they’re using the non-scientific meaning of the word. If that person is a teacher, a minister, or some other figure of authority, they should know better. In fact, they probably do and they are trying to mislead you.

I would like to see some clarification of the objection.

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Practice what you preach, Matt Damon

Oy, there he goes again. Matt Damon thinks gay actors should be in the closet.

He thinks attitudes are changing, and welcomes the introduction of same-sex marriage in California in 2008. “I think it must be really hard for actors to be out publicly,” he continues. “But in terms of actors, I think you’re a better actor the less people know about you period. And sexuality is a huge part of that. Whether you’re straight or gay, people shouldn’t know anything about your sexuality because that’s one of the mysteries that you should be able to play.”

This is in the same interview that contains this:

…Damon insists he’s entirely normal. He has a wife, Luciana, whom he met while filming in Miami in 2003 when she was working behind a bar, and the couple have four daughters ranging in age from four to 16 – Alexia, from Luciana’s previous relationship, Isabella, Gia and Stella. Damon is a self-confessed family man. He has a rule that they will never be apart for more than two weeks while he’s filming. His daily life is so average even the paparazzi have decamped from outside his home in Los Angeles because he never does anything that merits a photograph.

“You know, a guy who’s married happily with four kids is not quite a story,” Damon says with a sorry-but-what-can-you-do smile. “And so they’ll come back and they’ll take an occasional picture… but it’s kind of just updating the file.”

Ah, he’s married to a woman — perfectly normal. Normal, normal, normal. Let’s make that an open part of the interview, proudly mentioned.

But if you’re gay…nothing about that can be normal. Keep it quiet. It’ll make you a better actor if no one knows about your sex and family life.

I guess that public normality makes Damon a lesser actor.

About that big announcement from NASA

I’ve been burned by NASA announcements before (remember “arsenic life”?), but this one sounds like it is genuinely important. There’s evidence of liquid water on the surface of Mars right now.

Liquid water runs down canyons and crater walls over the summer months on Mars, according to researchers who say the discovery raises the chances of being home to some form of life.

The trickles leave long, dark stains on the Martian terrain that can reach hundreds of metres downhill in the warmer months, before they dry up in the autumn as surface temperatures drop.

Images taken from the Mars orbit show cliffs, and the steep walls of valleys and craters, streaked with summertime flows that in the most active spots combine to form intricate fan-like patterns.

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Just another old case of American terrorism

The burial site for the victims of the Mountain Meadows massacre has been discovered. That massacre was one of the heinous crimes of the 19th century: the Mormons ambushed and slaughtered a wagon train passing through Utah, killing about 120 people, and taking away a few children under 8 years old. It was very Biblical. To add cowardice and racism to their crime, the Mormons also tried to pin the blame on Indians.

It’s odd to me how the weight of history can add resonance to a location, and how so many of us are oblivious to it.

Bassett said he’s surprised that the burial sites weren’t discovered before now because the Army records are very accurate. The burial site for the women and children is within sight of Utah Highway 18, he said.

“Truckers were driving by honking at me,” Bassett said. “The location where the women and children were massacred is right in the middle of the highway, to some extent.”

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A handy list

Have you ever found yourself needing to refute a claim that someone is sexist? Here’s a useful compilation of familiar excuses.


He wrote it, but he didn’t mean it. (Poor dear.)
He wrote it, but he’s just repeating what he’s heard elsewhere. (Just give him time!)
He wrote it, but now this is just a reverse-sexist lynch mob. (So I’m on his side now.)
He wrote it, but he was a product of his time. (Everyone was like this back then. There was no feminism.)
He wrote it, but it’s not like he has any influence. (Just ignore him, he’ll go away.)
He wrote it, but he didn’t realise it was offensive. (So why are you taking offence?)
He wrote it, but he’s an anomaly. (‪#‎notallmen‬)

The older I get, the more I detest the “product of his time” excuse. Human beings are capable of learning over the course of their entire life, you know, and age is not a reason to be refractory to change. It’s you young whippersnappers who generally have enough slack in your physiology that you can do whatever you want, while we oldsters are constantly trying to adapt to expanding limitations.

The dismissal for lack of influence is also annoying. The great galumphing herd of ignorant racists might not be individually powerful, but when they find a leader with no shame, like Donald Trump, they can trample a lot of people.

Plagiarism is such a stupid crime

I can imagine a kind of accidental plagiarism: you’re taking notes on a paper, and you neglect to indicate where you’re transcribing verbatim, and days or weeks or months later, you’re sitting down to write and you mistakenly think your notes are your own words. It can happen. It can happen a few times. But it shouldn’t happen often — if you do that a lot, it means you’ve been transcribing instead of summarizing, and maybe you should be flagging your notes for the sections that are in your own words, because apparently they’re uncommon.

When it happens often, there’s no excuse. You’re not writing or thinking, you’re being lazy. You’re also stealing other people’s work. It’s a serious offense, too: we had to fire one blogger here for it, and it was a shame because he was an interesting guy and when he wasn’t plagiarizing he was turning out good stuff. But no excuses: it’s not allowed. Ever.

There’s also the kind of plagiarism that’s just stupid. Yes, I’ve had students who’ve gone googling for material, and then just copied and pasted whole paragraphs and pages into their papers. Do they think we wouldn’t notice the change in tone and quality? Also, professors are a suspicious bunch: when I see clear, mature, skillful writing, I’ll plug excerpts into Google myself just to verify that it’s actually the student’s work…and sometimes it is (Yay!), and sometimes it isn’t (uh-oh.) Again, that’s a very serious problem. It’s an instant F on the paper, with no recourse to repair the grade.

So this is distressing: Jaclyn Glenn is a plagiarist. There’s just no way around it; watch the video there, and you’ll see it — she basically stole another youtuber’s video script, and re-recorded it somewhat dumbed down. When caught, she removed the video.

And this is after she was discovered to have plagiarized a youtube comment. Yeesh. Plagiarizing is bad enough, but using youtube comments as your source? That does not speak well of Glenn’s sources of information.

You already know what FtB would do if one of our bloggers were pulling that kind of lazy stunt. Glenn has had some kind of promotional relationship with American Atheists — will that last? I know she won’t lose any viewers over it, since she caters to a rather undiscriminating crowd.

Maryam also gives a very good talk

I’m not one of those wacky free speech absolutists. I am generally in favor of free speech, but I do think there are also obligations and responsibilities. Let me give you a few examples.

There have been a few instances where I was scheduled to speak somewhere, and officials tried to get me kicked out. That’s inappropriate. They also failed in every case, probably because I’m not as scary as Maryam Namazie. But it’s not right in her case, either.

I’ve had people picket and protest at a few of my talks. I thought that was cool — I encourage my critics to exercise their free speech privileges. My response is usually to talk to picketers and invite them to come inside and listen. Maryam Namazie isn’t one to back down from an argument, either.

I’ve never had anyone threaten to riot if I dared to speak, but that has happened to Maryam Namazie. In those cases, though, whose demands should be respected, the one who is giving a non-violent talk, or the ones who will turn violent if someone disagrees with them?

If someone is truly awful, these events can be a wonderful opportunity to deflate the bad guy. Back in 2004, David Horowitz, complaining about campus speech codes and censorship, gave a talk at St. John’s University. Yes, it was ironic that he was bitterly whining about how universities censor him while speaking at a university. But even more ironically, in part of his speech he railed against the Peace Studies course that was apparently inimical to his ideology…and students spoke up and said that they were taking that course, and that the instructor had given them class time off to specifically attend the Horowitz lecture. Imagine if Maryam Namazie’s opposition to Islamism could have been addressed by thoughtful, peaceful Islamist students showing up to listen attentively. (No, I know, wasn’t going to happen.)

There are limits to what we should tolerate on campus, though. For example, in the case of Condoleeza Rice being disinvited from the University of Minnesota campus a few years ago, I approved. I thought it was great that students were campaigning actively to stop her, because they were exercising their right to free speech, too. But mainly, there were two reasons I thought Rice should have been booted from campus. First, she’s part of an administration that was directly responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and I don’t think war criminals deserve respect. How many people is Maryam Namazie responsible for murdering? Second, the university was going to pay her $150,000 for an abbreviated lecture, a gross waste of money. How much does Maryam Namazie get paid?

But otherwise, you may disagree with Maryam Namazie, in which case you should be out protesting and making your case, but to pretend that speech by someone with whom you disagree will cause some kind of imaginary harm puts you in the same boat with Saudi fundamentalists.