So that’s what a gay party is like

I’ve never been to one, and I’ve never even been invited to one, and this is the first account I’ve read of one, and it’s not quite what I would have expected. Hosting the party was Milo Yiannopoulos — perfectly legitimate, since he is openly gay — and…Pam Geller? Geert Wilders? Praise for Trump, excoriation of Democrats and other liberals, condemnation of jihadis, and…bad dancing?

I am so disappointed. That doesn’t sound open and liberal and joyful and fabulous at all.

Quantum paramagnetic looping heme molecules shaped our morphology!


The other day, I was briefly harangued by someone named William Peters on Twitter. It was a strange comment that was simultaneously pro-evolution while trying to imply some peculiar doubts — it was just off a bit. He wasn’t rude or anything, but I was intrigued and curious, so I dug a little deeper. He says many things that are slightly off.

Like having a simple mathematical explanation for the evolution of humans from fish.

The world is spherical, not flat! Cartesian math = 19th C. Polar co-ordinate math describes evolution of fish to man

Uh-oh. I see trouble coming. This is a common attractor in crank biology, the idea that form is only superficially complex, and that underlying it all is an elegant mathematical formula that will explain all, and of course, the author has discovered the secret equation that will cut through all the shallow trivia pursued by his peers. We saw it in Stuart Pivar, in Vincent Fleury, in Erik Andrulis. I can sympathize with the seductive power of geometry, but at some point, you have to look at the data…and the data trumps all your abstract theorizing every time.

But at least Peters isn’t talking about toruses, the usual crank attractor. No, this guy is into vacuum cleaner hoses, magnets, electricity, and…

Quantum biology has arrived #persanguinemnostrum Enjoyed your talk in NZ 2014

We have “quantum”, mission control, I repeat, “quantum”.

If you’re in the mood for some grandeloquent strangeness, check out his website, The opening announcement is this:





[Read more…]

Twitter rule: always punch down

Scalzi has some comments on the banning of Milo, and I particularly like this point.

It’s good that Twitter punted Yiannopoulos, but let’s not pretend that it doesn’t look like Twitter did some celebrity calculus there. Yiannopoulos and pals had a nice long run pointing themselves at all other manner of people they didn’t like, for whatever reason, and essentially Twitter didn’t say “boo” about it. But then they harass a movie star with movie star friends, many of whom are Twitter users with large numbers of followers, and whose complaints about Twitter and the harassment of their friend get play in major news outlets, and Twitter finally boots the ringleader of that shitty little circus.

So the math there at least appears pretty obvious from the outside. You can punch down on Twitter and get away with it, but don’t punch up, and punch up enough to make Twitter look bad, or you’ll get in trouble (after more than a day). Is this actually the way it works? I’m not at Twitter so I can’t say. I can say I do know enough women of all sorts who have gotten all manner of shit by creeps on Twitter, but who weren’t in a movie and had movie star friends or got press play for their harassment. And they basically had to suck it up. So, yeah, from the outside it looks like Twitter made their decision on this based on optics rather than the general well-being of their users.

This is exactly the rule set that fosters bullies, and is going to make the problem worse.


It was just a mistake.

A US air strike killed more than 85 civilians, including children, in Syria on Tuesday after the coalition mistook them for Islamic State fighters.

Some eight families were hit as they tried to flee fighting in their area, in one of the single deadliest strikes on civilians by the alliance since the start of its operations in the war-torn country.

A slight inaccuracy. A little slip-up. A bit of a faux pas, don’t you know. A blunder. A goof. Flubbed that one. A boo-boo. One brown person fleeing looks like another. They were wearing middle-eastern-looking clothes! If they didn’t want to get blown up, they shouldn’t have been living in a place that has terrorists. How do you know they were all innocent? Not our fault, we had good intentions, we didn’t mean to kill frightened civilians. Gotta break a few eggs to make an omelette. We have to kill the terrorists, sometimes civilians get in the way. Would you rather let the terrorists win? Collateral damage. Collateral damage. Collateral damage.

85 dead Syrians/terrorists/Islamic State fighters/Muslims. The labels help. Makes it easier to forget these were 85 dead human beings, as long as you don’t use the labels “children”, “women”, “men”, “families”, “people”.

Ben Carson always brings the weird

Carson spoke at the Republican convention last night, and of course it was bizarre.

He starts off with an announcement that he’s a proud asshole…that is, he declares that he’s not politically correct. You know, this PC thing was invented by assholes, to justify their persecution complex when they’re called out on being assholes, right?

Then he trots out his claim to credibility, which is that he was a brain surgeon, and treats this as a testimonial that he must be an expert on reason. I’ve dissected fish, I guess that means I know how to breathe underwater.

But then we get to the fun stuff: Carson accuses Hillary Clinton of Satanism, by way of that conservative boogey man, Saul Alinsky.

He wrote a book called Rules for Radicals. It acknowledges Lucifer, the original radical who gained his own kingdom. Now think about that. This is our nation where our founding document, the Declaration of Independence talks about certain inalienable rights that come from our creator, a nation where our Pledge of Allegiance says we are ‘One nation under God.’ This is a nation where every coin in our pockets and every bill in our wallet says, ‘In God We Trust.’ So are we willing to elect someone as president who has as their role model somebody who acknowledges Lucifer? Think about that.

It’s true! Everything he mentioned is a True Fact! Our money does have “In God We Trust” stamped on it, something that was done in the face of the Red Scare in the 1950s. The Pledge of Allegiance does say “One nation under God”…now. Again, that was an addition made in the 1950s. The authors of the Declaration of Independence included a bunch of freethinkers who included a vague mention of a Creator (but of course, elsewhere they carefully divorced themselves from any specific sectarian intention). And yes, Alinsky does include an epigraph that mentions Lucifer.

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer.
—Saul Alinsky

But see, this is where reason comes into play. You can cite a hodge-podge of miscellaneous True Facts, but you have to use your reason to assemble them into meaning. And Carson uses these fragments of facts to imply that Satan is real, Hillary Clinton serves him, and that an imaginary superbeing will turn away from America if we don’t have “In God We Trust” jingling in our pockets, like sublime capitalist prayer wheels.

This makes no sense. This is unreason. Worse, it’s the conservative version of political correctness.

At least it’s nice to know I’ll be voting for Lucifer in November.

If he wept endlessly over a checkmark, what is Milo Yiannopoulos going to do now?

Poor Milo. The Breitbart crank, hero to the worst elements of the internet, was very bitter about the fact that Twitter removed the blue verification checkmark from his profile, about as petty a slight as can be imagined. I have no idea how he’ll react to the latest news: Twitter has finally, permanently banned Milo Yiannopoulos from the service.

Yiannopoulos, who currently serves as’s tech editor, has been hailed as a standout voice of the new “alt-right” movement. As such, he has made a living as a provocateur, continually inflaming tensions between progressive branches of the internet focused on identity politics and the fervently anti-PC segment that constantly trolls it. For years, Yiannopoulous has used Twitter not only to voice his controversial opinions but to direct his legion of followers (388,042 at the time of this writing) toward his opponents. As a result, he’s been temporarily banned from Twitter a number of times for violating terms of service and stripped of his verification.

It’s about time that he was permanently kicked off for his incessant abuse. What did it at last? Milo was one of the people who led the racist, sexist online assault against Leslie Jones, whose sole crime was being one of the stars of the new Ghostbusters movie. The social injustice warriors were already irate that somehow, a remake of an old movie with women cast in major roles was an unforgivable slight against their masculinity, so they tried to pump themselves up by sending a tsunami of vile, filthy, bigoted imagery against a black woman.

It’s nice that something finally drove Twitter to do something about it — their responses to online harassment have been infuriatingly forgiving to some incredibly nasty stuff — but it’s a shame that it takes something as savage as the attacks on Jones to get them to finally do what needed to be done about one person.

Ted Storck will never let it die

We suffered for several years with this godawful cheap, loud, and frequent (every 15 minutes, from 5am to 10pm) electronic chime system that was installed in the cemetery a few blocks from my home. The guy who donated it lived miles away, and eventually retired to Arizona, after which we finally got the noisy monstrosity taken down, and a blissful, hymn-free silence settled over the neighborhood.

But Ted Storck cannot let it be. He still occasionally sends letters to the local paper, and they publish them. He’s very bitter, and feels that his inability to inflict Christian hymns on strangers is yet another example of persecution.

In church, we often sing the hymn, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians.”

Looking at the world today, you’d figure there are no Christians. This is especially evident on social media comments online, where folks are just vicious with their hateful comments. I am certain many of those comments come from Christians, or people who call themselves Christians.

I am the victim of very hateful comments over the Carillion bell system I had placed at the cemeteries in Morris. The worst came from an avowed atheist, a teacher at UMM, and his followers, but many hateful comments came from folks who claim to be Christians, or, at least, go to a Christian church here in Morris.

It has got to stop here in Stevens County and around this great country. Let folks know you are Christian by your love.

It’s true. “TURN THE DAMNED NOISE DOWN!” is a very hateful, anti-Christian sentiment, and true, loving Christianity requires turning the volume up to 11 and playing “Onward, Christian Soldiers” at everyone.

I recognize Christians not by their love, but by their sanctimonious arrogance and their pernicious whining about their victimhood.

The statistics don’t lie: the real reason Trump must be defeated

It’s the correlations. An analysis of facebook likes (we all trust that to be scientific, I’m sure) finds that potential Trump and Clinton voters have radically different tastes on a lot of different issues. Like what movie actors they prefer…


OMG. Trump voters like Adam Sandler best? Now we know who to blame for all those terrible movies. We must crush Trump at the polls or we will be flooded with more unfunny, racist crap.

George Takei is a fine person, but he doesn’t really act anymore.

This next one is appalling.


God’s Not Dead is the Trumpian favorite? I’m not personally impressed with Harry Potter, but at least it’s not that dishonest shit-smear.

Call me perverse, but now I want Pure Flix Entertainment, the company that made that abomination, to book Adam Sandler for their next god-fapping movie. I’m pretty sure the Earth will crack open to swallow their entire fan-base, creating a new paradise for us survivors.

As long as I’m mentioning science fiction…

The theme for next summer’s Convergence, has been announced, and it’s a good one: To Infinity & Beyond!


Set on a grand stage of sociopolitical intrigue, melodrama, and conflict, space operas have woven worlds of fantastic adventure and romance to capture our imaginations since the 1930’s. CONvergence 2017: To Infinity & Beyond is a celebration of all things space opera. Whether the hero is fated to a mythic destiny through blood or prophecy, or simply an average galactic citizen caught up in incredible circumstance, their adventures satisfy our hunger for the optimistic triumph of the individual and the common good.

Follow Yale athlete Flash Gordon’s strange odyssey towards interplanetary hero and uniter of planet Mongo, Rey escaping Jakku to join the resistance and realize her connection to the force, or Barbarella’s journey of personal discovery during her mission to rescue the scientist Durand Durand—when we dive into a space opera, we are truly along for a ride of epic proportion. Lovers Alana and Marko struggle to stay together as the battle between the technologically advanced Landfall Coalition the magic-using people of Wreath threatens to tear them apart in Saga. Paul Atreides dodges conspiracy to explore his destiny as religious leader of Arakis’s warrior Fremen in Dune. An Imperial Radch AI embarks on a desperate mission to uncover the truth behind her lieutenant’s murder in Ancillary Justice.

Ah, good old space opera. I will be entertained. Let a thousand Iain Banks panels bloom.

Meanwhile, in not-science-fiction, even more extrasolar planets have been identified, and some of them even look semi-habitable, maybe.

One of the most interesting set of planets discovered in this study is a system of four potentially rocky planets, between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth, orbiting a star less than half the size and with less light output than the Sun. Their orbital periods range from five-and-a-half to 24 days, and two of them may experience radiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth.

And meanwhile, in not-exactly-space-opera-but-is-it-really, there’s been a lot of appreciation for Octavia Butler lately, with people noticing the peculiarity of her fantastic stories not getting their deserved attention from Hollywood. And that makes me wonder if our vision of what is space opera is always seen through a white person’s lens. I hope we can see more “science fiction worlds from a hyper-marginalized lens”. Butler wrote classic sci-fi about aliens and space travel, but always from a weird and often curiously biological perspective — it wasn’t about space empires and space colonialization. Nnedi Okorafor also writes great SF, but with central characters who aren’t modeled after Flash Gordon. You’ve all read Binti, right? And then there’s Samuel Delany — amazing stuff from a gay black man.

So I’m a bit enthused about the prospects for next summer’s con — the topic is wide open for some real science, some standard popular tropes, and for an opportunity to expand our minds. I’m going to have to think about some panel suggestions, but you’re welcome to suggest some, too.

Bye, Bill

I’d heard the stories, but I had no idea how awful William Shatner was. And then…

And then

Thousands of fans turned out for Montreal Comic-Con July 8-10, many to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Overall, the mood was positive, forward-looking, and particularly supportive of diversity in the franchise. But then William Shatner opened his mouth, and took us all back in time (not in a fun Voyage Home way) with a string of sexist jokes.

And no, they weren’t even funny sexist jokes. They just kind of flopped there, looking stupid. He even repeated one of the more pointless ones three times.

So Leonard Nimoy turns out to be a thoughtful, interesting, enlightened human being, and he dies. William Shatner is a raging dillhole, and he lives forever. It all makes the old Star Trek really hard to watch.

Oh, hey, how about that Rogue One? No asshats involved in that one, I’m sure.