Allegedly: The conclusion of the Richard Carrier saga (Non-fiction)

Now that Richard Carrier’s defamation/SLAPP suits are settled, the defendants have launched a web site telling their side of the story called Allegedly: The Website.

In 2017, Dr. Richard Carrier is sued us for reporting  on his well-known allegations of misconduct. These allegations were widely reported on throughout the community, including by third-parties both critical and sympathetic to him who were not themselves defendants.

This lawsuit had all the hallmarks of a SLAPP suit — a lawsuit filed to stifle legitimate criticism and commentary. The named defendants are Skepticon, The Orbit, and Freethought Blogs – as well as individuals Lauren Lane, the lead organizer of Skepticon; Stephanie Zvan, a blogger for The Orbit; PZ Myers, a blogger for Freethought Blogs; and Amy Frank-Skiba, who publicly posted her first-hand allegations against Carrier.

The site includes an extensive timeline of both the allegations against Carrier and the history of the lawsuits. It also reveals that the defendants spent over $265,000 on legal fees, and have only raised $$117,594 at the time the site went up.  There’s still a Gofundme site for the defendants and a separate one for Skepticon.

There are more details in their video hangout.

Since there is a legal settlement, it is safe to say that this overly long saga is finally over.

 

Bernie Sanders draws record crowd to Clow UFO Base rally (Fiction)

File photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders. “IMG_5513” by cornstalker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Reporter X

Fresh off his victory in the Nevada caucuses, Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders hosted the largest political rally in the history of Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base.  The rally was broadcasted live across the solar system.

“The solar system is feeling the burn!” said Sanders.

The crowd chanted, “Bernie or Burn!”  Sanders motioned for the crowd to stop that chant.

“Let’s be clear,” said Sanders.  “We’re not going to literally burn people.  We’re going to give people Medicare for All.  We’re going to reallocate government funds to cancel taxpayers’ student loan debt.  The only thing we’re going to burn is the structure of the corrupt New World Order!”

Sanders called on his supporters to vote in the March 1st Democratic Interplanetary Primary.  The primary is for members of the Democratic party who work off-world but within the solar system. 

“They say, ‘Oh the Interplanetary Primary is a waste of time.  The delegates selected can’t vote until the fourth round of delegate voting.  Why bother?’  I’ll tell you why, because this contested convention will go to the fourth round.  If we can survive the superdelegates and the backroom deals for the first three rounds, the Interplanetary Delegates will push us over the finish line!”

Sanders also praised the Illuminati:

“I have consistently fought for the working class. When the New World Order refused to make changes, I turned to the Illuminati.  We agreed that the current world order doesn’t work, and must be replaced.  It was a natural fit!”

Sanders then pointed to Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar:

“I want to thank my good friend Roger for hosting this fine gathering.”

“Don’t mention it,” Claar yelled back.  “Please….I’m on the verge of becoming a recurring Fox News guest.”

“Good point.  Folks.  The Illuminati is made up of both Democrats and Republicans.  Trump is a member of the Illuminati.  If I get the Democratic nomination, the Illuminati will win the Presidency.”

While Trump is a member of the Illuminati, Sanders did not show him mercy:

“He disrupted the world order, but he has no vision besides kleptocracy!  He is an incompetent fool and a useless tool.  He needs to be replaced before he kills us all!”

Sanders warned that the New World Order will fight dirty to steal the nomination from him:

“They’ve brought in Mike Bloomberg, a switch hitter for the New World Order.  He’s been a Republican.  He’s been a Democrat, but he has always worked for the New World Order.  Chris Matthews, one of their best operatives, compared my campaign to the Nazi invasion of France.  Really?  I have a message to the Bearded Men of the New World Order.  The Nazi’s killed my relatives.  That is a disgusting attack. The American people will see through your desperate lies, and vote out your puppets!”

Later in the speech, Marianne Williamson astrally projected herself onto the stage and endorsed Sanders:

“Sometimes, when great minds transcend reality, they risk becoming irrelevant to reality.  Bernie Sanders is not irrelevant to our reality.  Bernie Sanders is our reality.”

After she vanished, Sanders replied, “Thanks, Marianne.  Now, where was I?”

Sanders concluded by saying all are welcome to join his “revolution:”

“If you want a President who will stand up to the Martian Colonies, come join us.  If you’re tired of being abducted by aliens, come join us.  If you even suspect that you don’t fit into Pete’s narrow moderate ideology, come join us.  If you liked Barack Obama, but think Uncle Joe has lost touch with reality, come join us.  And if you can’t tell if Amy is being nice or Minnesota Nice to you, join our revolution!  All are welcome to help us take back our country.  Fnord!”

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar offered a show on Fox Interstellar Network
Church of Christopher Hitchens issues ‘Hitchslap’ to President Trump
Carpanzano android double explodes during ‘Mayoral test run’
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/28/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own and may not reflect the views of any organizations I work for or my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Kavin Senapathy on why organized skepticism ‘can’t afford to ignore racial inequality’ (Non-fiction)

Kavin Senapathy was, until last year, one of the co-hosts for the Center for Inquiry’s “Point of Inquiry” podcast.  She recently posted about her dismissal from the podcast and CFI for Undark.

I believe the dismissal was a response to my outspoken views on CFI’s negligence toward matters of race and diversity — issues that the organization has often sidestepped in the past. If that is indeed the case, it sends a discouraging message. At a moment when racist pseudoscience is making a disturbing comeback, skeptics shouldn’t shy away from talking about race — and we can’t afford to overlook the white privilege among our own ranks.

As someone who was involved in organized skepticism for years, I think this article is spot on.  While the Chicagoland group I volunteered for was very diverse, overall, the movement was and still is, very white and male-dominated.  I used to think organizations, like CFI, would change, instead, many of them became resistant to change.  (It doesn’t help when Richard Dawkins argues that eugenics can work.)

Which is wrong, because the ideas and tools of skepticism should be for everyone, not just for a select group who consider themselves superior thinkers.  The movement should expand beyond debunking Bigfoot and UFOs.  As Senapathy writes, skeptical organizations should play a role in debunking pseudoscientific racism.  Especially when white nationalists and their beliefs are shaping many of President Trump’s policies.

Racism is among the most pressing pseudoscientific threats of our time. But it can be deceptive, masquerading as mere inquisitiveness and even helplessness. The most insidious white supremacy doesn’t carry tiki torches of festering hatred. It comes from well-meaning people who nevertheless uphold power structures with whiteness at the top. It’s woven into the very fabric of America and its institutions.

Unfortunately, CFI might have to be added to this list. 

Martian Colonial marines seize former Old Chicago site (Fiction)

By Reporter X

The Martian Colonies launched a surprise invasion of Bolingbrook and seized the former site of the Old Chicago mall.

 During a press conference with the members of the interstellar media, Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claa said: 

“Residents should stay calm. I hope I can talk some sense into leaders of the Martian Colonies so they will get the (expletive deleted) out of my village.”

Deputy Mayor Michael Lawler added: “As the universe knows, we have no effective defense against a colonial attack.  If they wanted us dead, we would be dead, because their weapons are at least 10,000 years more advanced than ours.  Hopefully we can resolve this before President Trump sends Space Force soldiers to be massacred.”

“Your crisis management skills suck,” Claar grumbled.

The Martian Colonial government released a statement denying that they had invaded Bolingbrook.  According to the report, the marines are part of a “peacekeeping mission.”

Part of the statement reads: “We are very concerned about the deteriorating political situation on Earth.  Earth’s collapsing ecosystem and humanity’s meme epidemic is stressing their governmental units to the breaking point.  Even the so-called United States, a government with nuclear weapons, is descending into lawlessness and corruption.  While we have not always agreed with the primitive policies of the Interstellar Commonwealth, we do not want to see any of its members endangered while visiting our solar system.  Our mission is to protect our alien visitors from the primitive natives of Earth.”

An employee at Cox Automotive, which owned the site prior to the invasion, claims he was present when the marines landed:

“A few minutes after I arrived at work, I was surrounded by armed aliens.  Their leader said that  they could have killed me and Roger wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.  Then he—I think it was a he—said that they were here on a peace mission, and that they were going to give me ‘special paper’ for the site.  Then several large crates appeared.  I looked inside, and saw they were full of dollar bills.  They looked real, so I agreed to give them the site.  Turns out, they paid $50.5 million.  Have you ever tried to deposit $50.5 million in cash?”

Sources connected to both Clow UFO Base and the Martian Colonies say the Colonists will build a 100 foot high “peacekeeping compound” on the site.  Troops stationed at the base will “protect” all aliens visiting Clow UFO Base, Palatine’s Rob Sherman UFO Base, and Peotone UFO Base. The colonists will hire 1500 Bolingbrook residents as “supplemental memory storage units.” 

According to one source:  “They believe humans don’t use most of their brains, but that’s not true.

Claar says the invasion is a violation of Interstellar Law and the proposed base is in violation of several village building codes.

“The rule of law still applies in Bolingbrook because I made most of the rules!” said Claar.  

Claar announced that he planned on suing the Martian Colonies in Interstellar Court.  He also promised that any attack against Clow would be resisted:

“Clow can withstand a colonial attack 60 times longer than the average UFO base on Earth can.”

“The average UFO Base can last one-second against a colonial attack,” added Lawler.  “We can last one minute.”

“Which is longer than you’ll last if you don’t shut up!” snapped Claar.

A spokesperson for the Martian Colonies said their claim to Earth predates homo sapiens and therefore they are under no obligation to follow humanity’s laws.

When reached for comment, a receptionist for Claar said he was busy and could not be disturbed.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar, said: “You are the first candidate for village manager who doesn’t want to sell the Golf Club.”

“Yes.  I think we should give it to the Bolingbrook Park District instead. A village government has no business running—”

“Next!”

Also in the Babbler:

Russia finally hits Bolingbrook with a snow attack
Residents warned to check attics for mold monsters
Werecoyotees canvass for Republican candidates in Chicago
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/21/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own and may not reflect the views of any organizations I am involved with, nor my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

DuPage Township tries to activate its ‘Plague Protocol’ (Fiction)

In response to the global Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak, DuPage Township activated its so-called ‘Plague Protocol.’

“We’ve seen the movies,” said Laura, a township employee who asked that we not use her real name.  “It starts off with locating patient zero.  Then before you know it, the global population is almost zero.  We’re acting now before it gets that bad.”

The protocol was created in 1971, shortly after the release of The Andromeda Strain movie.  This is the first time it has been enacted by the township.

“Back then,” said Laura, “We were worried about a virus from outer space infecting the world.  A couple years ago, we realized that wasn’t going to happen.  The protocol is still useful, and it will help us to survive this impending plague.”

Sources within DuPage Township say they have successfully enacted most of the protocol, like insisting employees cough into their elbows and cleaning desks with disinfectant. Some of the staff claim that a few of the trustees are enforcing the protocol too aggressively.

“I coughed only once,” said Tom, another township employee.  “A second later, (Trustee Ken Burgess) doused my desk with a disinfectant and then wiped my desk with bleach.  He said something about using ‘shock and awe’ against infection.  When I protested, he told me to wear a mask.”

Susan, a volunteer at Boardman Cemetery, claims she had a disturbing conversation with Trustee Dennis Raga:

“He was drawing on a paper map of the cemetery.  I asked him what he was up to.  He said he was trying to figure out how to ‘respectfully’ bury 115,000 people.  Then he added it had nothing to do with President Trump.  He was just planning for the ‘worst case.’  He wouldn’t tell me what it was a worst-case of.”

However, according to anonymous sources, the township is struggling to implement the most important part of the protocol.  The protocol requires the trustees to quarantine themselves into a sealed command center until the plague is eradicated. A sealed command center was built under the Levy Center but was turned into a storage room several years ago.  

The trustees are divided on how to pay to restore the command center.  Trustee Maripat Oliver wants to ask for a grant from the Department of Homeland Security. She also wants them to build a separate chamber for Trustee Alyssia Benford:

“There is no way I am going to be locked into a room with Alyssia!”

Benford, according to the sources, wants former supervisor Bill Mayer to pay for the restoration.  She wants the power to decide who is allowed into the command center:

“I know this is Bill’s fault and you guys helped him to ruin my chance to survive the Corona Beer Virus.  So either you guys do what I say, or I’ll tell the Edgar County Watchdogs that all of you are breaking the law.”

“What law?”  asked Burgess.

“I’ll have to ask the Will County Attorney’s office.  They just hired a staffer to handle all of my questions!”

An unnamed source says Supervisor Felix George is hopeful that he can resolve the dispute soon:

“Felix is telling them that if we act now, DuPage Township could be the only surviving unit of government in Will County left after the plague.  Wouldn’t it be ironic if all the people who want to disband our township died, and we survived?”

A receptionist for the Township said the Trustees were unavailable to comment. She said:

“Let’s put this in perspective.  The number of people worldwide infected by the Coronavirus outbreak is in the thousands.  Influenza has infected 31 million people in the US alone.”

In the background, a woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer,  said: “My billionaire client has taken pity on the Senior Committee.  Leave them alone.”

A woman who sounded like Benford said: “Never! It is my duty to investigate everything this township does because I am required to root out corruption.”

“I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.  Allen?”

Moments later, a man who sounded like Allen Dershowitz, said: “Actually, you have it all wrong.  The Illinois Constitution requires all politicians to be corrupt.  I just realized that a couple days ago.”

“What?” asked Benford.

“Yes.  So instead of going after these poor senior volunteers, you should be fighting against Governor Pritzker’s blatantly unconstitutional attempt to impose ethics.”

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar laughs as Russian snow attack misses Bolingbrook
Experts say global warming could help Lake Michigan’s monster
Russians infiltrate Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group

God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/14/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Essence Of Thought: The Science is very clear (Non-fiction)

Essence Of Thought has a new video out about the harm caused by attempting to convert trans youth to cis gender.

Only last year we got clear results from the “Trevor National Survey On LGBTQ Youth Mental Health” on the matter. 42% of LGBT+ youth who are the victims of so called reperative therapy attempt to commit suicide, compared to 17% who aren’t victims.

This actually increases for trans youth to 57%, suggesting that people are more sensitive to attempts to change their gender than attempts to change their sexuality.

It’s about ten minutes long and worth a view.

 

Web Exclusive: Aliens blamed for Iowa Democratic Caucus catastrophe (Fiction)

 

By Reporter X

Officials at Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base confirmed that they are investigating possible alien interference in the Iowa Democratic Caucus. 

”We are cooperating with Tigerhawk UFO Base to determine if any of our visitors played a role in this catastrophic electoral failure, ” said an anonymous official. 

According to many sources, a high ranking member reported having an ”unearthly” encounter one week before the caucus:

”I saw a bright light descend from the heavens and land in front of me. A being emerged and floated towards me. I couldn’t really see it because the light was too bright. It handed me a flash drive and said it contained an app we could use to organize caucus sites and report the results to our headquarters. I thought it was an angel. So I took the hard drive and installed it on our servers. I didn’t test it because anything made by God is perfect, right?”

After the app failed to work, the official conceded that he might have really spoken to a demon. 

Anonymous officials at Clow expect to conclude their investigation within a week:

“Every craft that came any where near Iowa is grounded. We are questioning their crews and no one is leaving until we get an answer.”

A spokeswoman for the Iowa Democratic Party refused to answer questions:

“(Expletives deleted)!  We are going to post the results this afternoon!  There is a paper record from every caucus site in the state!  Nothing was lost. All you people do is complain. (Expletives deleted)  Why does Joe Biden in such a hurry to know that he came in last?  (Expletive deleted)! You didn’t hear me say that.”

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Pro-Yang UFO collides with Pro-Sanders UFO over Palatine (Fiction)

By Reporter X

A dogfight between a UFO with a Bernie Sanders for President sign, and a UFO with an Andrew Yang sign, ended in a midair collision over Palatine.

“I heard a loud boom,” said Paige, an eyewitness who asked that we not use her last name. I looked up and saw two burning flying saucers plummeting towards Long Grove.”  She later added, “I knew the Democratic primary was contested, but I didn’t realize it was this bad.”

David from Long Grove claims he was one of the first people at the crash site:

“It was horrible.  Two aliens were hitting each other with computer tablets.  One said Earth needed a revolution.  The other said Earth needed a mathematical evolution and a dividend.  Other aliens were gravely injured but crawling towards each other.  They were going to fight to the death over Bernie and Andrew.  How horrible! I think I’m going to vote for Elizabeth Warren or Joe Biden.  I still can’t decide.”

Sheila Z. Blake, a spokesperson for the Palatine Police Department and Palatine’s Rob Sherman UFO Base, confirmed the incident and that both crews have been arrested:

“Unlike (Bolingbrook’s) Clow UFO Base, we do not tolerate our visitors displaying political ads.  We believe that aliens, and Russians, should not be involved in our political process.”

Blake explained that both crews were being treated for injuries, but were expected to make a full recovery.  She also added that both UFOs were destined for Iowa, but spotted each other over Schaumburg: 

“The captains of each ship started insulting each other.  Traffic Control instructed them to return to Clow controlled air space, but they didn’t listen.  Instead, they started shooting at each other.”

Blake added that the social media team for Sherman UFO Base was able to pass off the crash as one of the many “mysterious booms” residents of northeast Palatine report to the police.

“Most of the time, they’re just UFOs launching whose crews forgot to activate their silencers.  This time was more serious and could have created a major security breach.  Let us make this clear:  Politics and UFOs do not mix in Palatine.”

Palatine Mayor Jim Schwantz laughed when asked about the crash:

“Where do you come up with these stories?  All I have to say is that our State of the Village Address is on February 19.  It’s free, unlike the one at a certain village we both know.”

Yang denied his campaign buys ads on UFOs:

“You know, with my Freedom Dividend, more people will have time to read your silly articles, and donate to SETI@Home.”

Sanders didn’t deny buying UFO display ads:

“That’s nice.  We need all the help we can get.  Biden has the 1 percent on his side.  Trump has the Russians on his side.  If the aliens want to display my signs, so be it.  Now stop calling me!”

A receptionist for Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar said he was busy and could not be disturbed.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar, said: “Okay, Michael.  When I step down in May, the mayor’s job will be part-time, and my village manager will make most of the decisions for you.  Your job is to attend ribbon cuttings and defeat Bolingbrook United in the next election.  Any questions?”

“The office will still have a bar, right?”

“I’m taking the bar with me.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not me, that’s why!”

Also in the Babbler:

Interstellar Commonwealth announces audit of Earth’s covert societies and governments
Bolingbrook police officer kills mold monster
Sources: Trump will announce the cancelation of the US election at Bolingbrook Golf Club
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/5/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Guest Opinion: Now get to work (Mixed)

File image of Congressman Sean Casten.

The following is from a Twitter thread posted by Congressman Sean Casten, who represents the Illinois Sixth Congressional District.  We have made minor edits for clarity. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the Babbler’s editorial staff or of the bloggers on Freethought Blogs:

Let’s take a moment to rise above the shame of the US Senate this week and focus on some larger scale reasons for optimism about our democracy.

Start with that beautiful and always insightful line of Learned Hand: “Liberty lies in the hearts of men (and women). As long as it remains it needs no court, no constitution, no law to defend it.”

If we’ve learned nothing of our country and fellow citizens since 2016, it’s that liberty still lies in the hearts of Americans:

The majority of Americans, after all, voted for Hillary.

And in response to Trump, the majority of Americans didn’t give up. They marched. For women. For science. For our lives. For our democracy. Peacefully. But righteously. And it was that righteous civic action that flipped the House with the biggest (and dare I say, most awesome?) freshman class since Watergate. And it was that righteous civic action that flipped the Virginia legislature, which gave us the final state required to ratify the ERA. And started the process to rejoin RGGI.

Meanwhile, in the House we have not only ended Trump’s legislative agenda, but advanced an agenda that is not just the Democratic party agenda, but the agenda of the American people.

The bills we have passed have the overwhelming support of the American electorate, Ds and Rs alike. Ensuring universal healthcare. Background checks for guns. Dealing with climate change. Campaign finance reform. These things are popular! This isn’t surprising, since the Democratic members of Congress are as diverse as our country. On the obvious metrics (race, gender, sexual preference) but no less significantly in terms of ideology. The fact that you can go from AOC to Joe Manchin and still be in the same party is a testament to a party that reflects the full diversity of the majority of the country. And that diversity only happened because Americans got engaged after Nov ’16.

This point gets lost in all the silly “Dems in disarray” nonsense. Diverse opinions, held by people with the courage to express them is what democracy is all about. Celebrate it!

Now to be sure, there is no equivalent diversity across the aisle. The ideological walk from Steve King to Peter King is not that long. And the fact that they all stay on message is not that surprising. But it’s not how representative government is supposed to work.

And the fact that all that righteous civic action brought about all this change doesn’t mean that 2020 will be a cakewalk. To the contrary, it will be harder. Because the @GOP – a once great party – has been totally captured by a base and donor class whose interests are wildly opposed by the majority of the country. Absent reform, they have no path to retain power that is not based on lies and disenfranchisement. That’s ultimately what the impeachment trial was about: withhold the truth so we can get back to appointing unqualified judges and protecting those who seek to corrupt our democracy.

What’s on the ballot in 2020 is not a contest between Democrats and Republicans. It is a contest between Democracy and kleptocracy. Between the rule of law and the law of the jungle. But here’s the thing: we have nothing to fear from our 300 million fellow Americans. They’re good people. We’ve just seen 3 years of good people, rising up in peaceful defense of this beautiful, 244-year-old experiment.

Our threat is instead from just a few hundred elected @GOP officials. And that’s a battle we can win. Because while there’s hatred here, it’s dumber…and love has got the numbers.

So yes, be angry at those in the Senate who would destroy our democracy rather than alienate their donors. Who would destroy the institution in order to preserve their job. But take greater solace from the fact that they are in the tiny minority. Their power reflects their position, not the will of those they represent.

So back to Learned Hand, in full:

…what is this liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow.

“The spirit of liberty is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which seeks to understand the minds of other men and women; the spirit of liberty is the spirit which weighs their interest alongside its own without bias; the spirit of liberty remembers that not even a sparrow falls to earth unheeded; the spirit of liberty is the spirit of him who, near two thousand years ago, taught mankind that lesson it has never learned, but has never quite forgotten—that there may be a kingdom where the least shall be heard and considered side-by-side with the greatest.

I’d say that spirit still lies in the American heart. I wouldn’t have gotten this job if it didn’t. That heart is a bit battered and a bit stressed. But for all that, a bit wiser. So take solace today not in our institutions. Because in the final analysis, they won’t save us. Take solace in the liberty in American hearts that still beats strong and is the only thing that ever has saved us.

Now get to work.

Note: Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group