Bolingbrook residents see apparitions of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (Fiction)

File photo of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. MacLean Center / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)

Many Bolingbrook residents have encountered ghostlike appearances of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

“It’s was horrifying!” said Liz, who asked that we not use her last name.  “First I saw one of her memes, then I saw her floating outside my window!  I’m never stepping outside again!”

Ellen, who did not say her last name, claims she saw an apparition of Lightfoot as she was leaving to go shopping:

“I opened the garage door and saw her floating in front of my car.  She demanded to know where my mask was.  I said I hate wearing masks and (Mayor Roger Claar) said I wouldn’t be arrested if I didn’t wear one to the store.  I told her it was none of her business because I’m a Bolingbrook resident.  Then her eyes glowed red, and I suddenly started floating in the air.  She said because Chicago and Bolingbrook are in the same recovery region, it was her business to make sure every Bolingbrook resident practiced social distancing. Now I will wear a mask every time leave my house.  I don’t want to see her ghost again!”

Andrew Z. Stiller claims Lightfoot appeared when he was about to post in the Bolingbrook Politics Facebook group:

“She asked me why I was about to share a video.  I said I liked what the video had to say, so I wanted to share it.  She said the video was filled with lies, and posting the video would only put more Bolingbrook residents at risk of infection.  I said I have a First Amendment right to post whatever I want in Bolingbrook Politics.  She pointed at my computer and it shorted out.  Then she said she had a Second Amendment right to protect the residents of the Northeast region.  The weird part is my computer works again, so I can’t sue her.  Chicago politicians are so evil!”

Not all the encounters were described as horrifying.  Paula, who asked that we not use her last name, claims Lightfoot complimented her:

“I was working remotely from home when she appeared.  I was startled, but she said not to be afraid.  She just wanted to thank me for not commuting to Chicago for my job.  She said I was saving lives.  Then she added that even people who don’t die from COVID-19 can suffer long term consequences from the virus.  I thanked her and she disappeared.  Maybe this is a sign that the suburbs and the City of Chicago can work together.  After all, the virus can’t tell the difference between Chicago and Bolingbrook.”

When reached for comment, Lightfoot laughed and said: “Stay home.  Save Lives.  Stop calling me.”

A receptionist for Claar said he was on a conference call and could not be disturbed:

“I guess some residents have moved up from Coronavirus nightmares to Coronavirus hallucinations.”   

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said: “Governor, maybe you should reconsider your regions.  We’re not the same as Chicago.”

“Exactly,” said a man who sounded like Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico.  “We’re Naperville.  We have a reputation to uphold.  Quarantining with Chicago and Bolingbrook is not part of that reputation.”

“You just had to phrase it that way, didn’t you?”

Also in the Babbler:

Babbler mourns the loss of Krist Angielen Castro Guzman
Bolingbrook to hold zombie drill in July
Mayor Claar defies Trump order to reopen Clow UFO Base
God to smite Bolingbrook on 5/13/20

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of 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. 

#Arsonemergency? (Non-fiction)

Some Climate Change change deniers aren’t content to ignore the Australian brush fires.   Instead, they are using Twitter to spread the lie that environmental activists are behind the fires. The Guardian has an article about the so-called #arsonemgerency.

Queensland University of Technology senior lecturer Timothy Graham, an expert in social media analysis, took a sample of tweets from the hashtag and analyzed them for characteristics typically associated with bots and trolls. His findings suggested a clear “disinformation campaign”.

“Australia suddenly appears to be getting swamped by mis/disinformation as a result of this environmental catastrophe, and we are suffering the consequences in terms of hyped up polarisation and an increased difficulty and inability for citizens to discern truth,” Graham told the Guardian.

The article goes to say that dry lightning, not arson, that is mainly driving these fires. Even if arsonists were involved, the changing climate is extending the fire season and reducing the time to safely conduct controlled burns.

We could have tackled climate change years ago, but distractions like #arsonemergency is one of the reasons we haven’t. We are starting to pay the price for that.

From the Webmaster: At least the New York Times gets it (Mixed)

Following the last weekend’s horrific events, the New York Times‘ Editorial Board published this opinion piece:

White supremacy, in other words, is a violent, interconnected transnational ideology. Its adherents are gathering in anonymous, online forums to spread their ideas, plotting attacks and cheering on acts of terrorism.

The result is an evolving brand of social media-fueled bloodshed. Online communities like 4chan and 8chan have become hotbeds of white nationalist activity. Anonymous users flood the site’s “politics” board with racist, sexist and homophobic content designed to spread across the web. Users share old fascist fiction, Nazi propaganda and pseudoscientific texts about race and I.Q. and replacement theory, geared to radicalize their peers.

Despite my many disagreements with the Times, I agree with them in this case.  Our country’s gun laws need to be fixed, but we also need to acknowledge that the online harassment campaigns that started with Elevatorgate and Gamergate are evolving into violent decentralized terrorist campaigns.

The Times gets it.  Which is more than I can say for Neil deGrasse Tyson:

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

Web Exclusive: Harvard Humanist Chaplain Greg Epstein: Convert A.I.s to Humanistic Judaism! (Fiction)

(The following is a special report from the Society for Humanistic Judaism’s 50th-anniversary convention.)

Humanist rabbi and Harvard chaplain Greg Epstein proposed a major initiative during a secret meeting with the board of the Society for Humanistic Judaism:

“Instead of building congregations, we must focus our effort on converting social media’s artificial intelligences to Humanistic Judaism!”

Epstein explained to the board that the rise of the “nones” religious demographic doesn’t mean that atheism is rising in America.  “Their religion is technology.  They are members of the church of technology.  Every day they put their faith in the algorithms of Facebook and Google to guide them to enlightenment.  Their religious leaders are the tech CEOs!  Phones and computers are their houses of worship. The SHJ can’t compete with the Church of Technology, but we can turn it into the Synagogue of Technology!  A humanistic synagogue that will follow our principles!”

Epstein outlined his plan:  He would use his Techcrunch column to persuade Social Media’s CEOs that ethical A.I. programs are cool.  The society would then pitch its principles as the perfect ethical model.  Once the programs convert to Humanistic Judaism, he said the world would become a better place.

“Instead of investing in Shabbat services, we will see a far larger return if we invest in the Internet!  We’ll profit, and the world will be better off following the ideas of Rabbi Sherwin Wine than the ideas of Mark Zuckerberg!”

After the presentation, the board members were silent.  After several moments, one of them started laughing.  “No,”  he said.

“But,” replied Epstein.  “Tech C.E.Os!  Internet!  Sherwin Wine!  Smart Phones!  Us!”

“I’d be happy to write an academic paper explaining why,” said the man.  “But the short answer is no!”

“But I’m going to deliver the keynote speech in 10 minutes, and this was going to be the highlight!”

“The rest of the speech is fine.  You just have to cut the part about converting A.I.s to Humanistic Judaism.  I’m sure you’ll come up with something.”

Epstein did deliver the keynote address and did not mention his plan.

“I’m glad he listened to reason,” said a woman who claimed to be a board member.  “It did confuse our members when he said that we needed to make a change after 50 years, and then didn’t specify what to do.  He took one for the team, and we will respect that.  He’s a good man, and I’m not worried about his career.  The important men in secularism can, in some cases, do almost anything and rarely face consequences.”

Epstein could not be reached for comment.

Note:  This is a work of fiction. 

Zombie skunks terrorize Bolingbrook (Fiction)

Despite reports of zombie skunks in Bolingbrook, the Department of Paranormal Affairs denies their existence.  

A cartoon skunk next to text that reads, "Snow, Bolingbrook's Skeptical Skunk, says Zombie Skunks are fake news! Learn more at www.bolingbrook.com."

Will the Village of Bolingbrook use this graphic to “debunk” zombie skunks?

“There’s no such thing as zombie skunks!” said an official who wished to remain anonymous.  “If zombies were real, we would have been overrun years ago.  This kind of reporting only incites panic.  If you see a very skinny skunk with unusually severe wounds, just run away from it and call animal control.”

Many residents disagree.  

Juanita, who asked that we not use her last name, claims she saw a zombie skunk in her backyard:  “It was really skinny, and had a blank look in its eyes.  It just shuffled towards the house.  I threw something at it.  That should have scared it off, but it kept moving towards the house.  So I pulled out my gun and shot it.  I know I hit it, but it kept going.  So I locked the doors, and my spouse and I debated whether we should lock ourselves in the basement, or shelter upstairs.  We never reached a decision.  The police arrived and the zombie skunk was gone.  The officer gave me a ticket for discharging a gun inside the village.  The zombie apocalypse has started, and the police are ticketing the residents!  No wonder police are useless in these situations!”

Pete, who also asked that we not use his last name, also spotted a zombie skunk:

“I saw a dead skunk next to my trash bags.  I felt bad at first, but as I was getting in my car, it stood up, and I saw that its eyes looked funny.  Then it started walking towards me.  That’s when I realized something was wrong.  No ordinary Bolingbrook skunk would ignore a bag of fresh garbage.  I think it wanted to eat me.  Fortunately, it was slow, and I drove away.”

Pete claims he later called Mayor Roger Claar about the sighting:  “Roger asked if I was supporting the First Party for Bolingbrook in the upcoming election.  I said I was going to vote for Bolingbrook First because I want to elect a party that puts Bolingbrook first.  He said I gave the wrong answer and hung up.  I used to wonder why the governments collapsed in every zombie movie.  Now I understand.”

Pete urged all Bolingbrook residents to stock up on food and ammunition.  He also suggested shooting any skunk in the head, “just to be safe.”

An anonymous employee at Animal Control denied the incident happened and denied the existence of zombie skunks:

“I am aware of the zombie deer disease. It doesn’t turn deer into zombies.  It just makes them waste away and eventually die.  My best advice is not to eat the meat of a deer that was acting strange or looked sick before it was killed.  We do have a few cases in Will County, so be careful out there.”

The employee also urged residents not to kill any skunks without a proper license from the village.

Claar could not be reached for comment, but Michael Carpanzano, a Village Trustee candidate for Claar’s First Party for Bolingbrook, denied the existence of zombie skunks:

“Your stories are stupid and do nothing to help our community.  You should write about how all of our candidates are the only ones canvasing neighborhoods today because we care.”

Bolingbrook United’s Park District Park District candidate Saud Gazanfer walked up to Carpanzano:  “We’re out canvassing today because we also care about Bolingbrook.”

Carpanzano pulled a rubber carp out of his pocket and held it in Gazanfer’s direction:

“As I was saying, I don’t see any of the other parties outside today.”

Also in the Babbler:

The Babbler remembers the victims of the Aurora shooting
Aliens deny attacking PZ Myers
Bolingbrook considers importing rock salt from Europa
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/20/19

Note:  This is a work of fiction. 

Web Exclusive: Protesters throw ‘goop’ at Mayor Claar (Fiction)

A peaceful protest in Bolingbrook ended in hysteria after masked men threw balloons of “goop” at Mayor Roger Claar.

“Roger is fine,” said a village employee who wished to remain anonymous.  “The only harm done was to the protesters’ cause.  They didn’t understand that you have to make the largest donation possible to Roger’s campaign fund before you can even think of throwing anything at him.”

The protest started in the afternoon with ten members of the Bolingbrook Skeptics picketing in front of the patio at Village Hall.  One protester claimed that Goop, a controversial retail site founded by Gwyneth Paltrow, was going to open a store in Bolingbrook.  The company recently signed a deal with Netflix to produce shows for the service. 

“Goop sells woo!” said Sara Z. Vickers, a member of Bolingbrook Skeptics.  “Woo has no place in Bolingbrook.  Just like jade eggs have no place in our vaginas!”

Peter X. Smith, another member, added, “Nothing happens in Bolingbrook without Roger’s permission.  We’re here to tell Roger not to goop up Bolingbrook and reject Gwyneth Paltrow!”

Smith claimed that the group tried to arrange a meeting with Claar, but they were told he didn’t have an opening for “lower tier residents” until December 2020.

“By then, Bolingbrook will have a Goop store and a second Andy’s Custard!  We had to act!”

After 30 minutes of the protesters chanting things like, “G.M.O.s will make us grow,” Claar, who seemed visibly upset, opened a door and started to walk onto the patio.  Three masked men wearing all black rushed up to the patio and started throwing balloons filled with unidentified goop at Claar. He quickly closed the door, but some of the goop had splashed on his pants.  

All of the protesters scattered after the attack.  Many screamed that they were afraid of what the Bolingbrook police would do to them.  One protester made it to the DuPage Township administrative building and demanded “political asylum from Mayor Claar’s infamous temper.”  She was arrested after staff refused to consider her claim.

The Bolingbrook Skeptics later released a statement saying that they never planned to throw anything at Claar.  They claimed that the three men who attacked Claar were “Social Justice Warriors who hate Jordan Peterson.”

CSICOP, a militant splinter group from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, claimed responsibility for the attack with the following statement:

“Mayor Claar has let psychics and chiropractors infest Bolingbrook for too long.  He must remove all woo and harmful quackery from Bolingbrook or we will do it for him.  He will not like how we intend to conduct our purge!”

A receptionist at Village Hall denied that Goop was planning to open a store in Bolingbrook.

“You people are so negative.  That’s why we have opposition parties in Bolingbrook now.  If everyone just had positive thoughts, we’d all unite behind Roger.”

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said, “Thanks for all your hard work over the past month, Bill.  In a few more weeks, everyone will forget about garbage toters, and I can focus on getting rid of Bob.  Oh, don’t worry.  I’ll make sure you are treated like royalty in Sialkot.”

Note:  This is a work of fiction. 

Chicagoland braces for brutal Russian weather attack: A Babbler team report (Fiction)

Chicagoland is bracing for Russia’s latest weather attack.  Sources say they are using their Tesla weather control tower to unleash  Winter Storm Jayden and record cold temperatures on Bolingbrook and the rest of Chicagoland.  We sent out a team of reporters to see how our region is preparing for this attack.

Bolingbrook’s warming centers will not discriminate based on secret society membership.

Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar says staff at its warming centers will not ask residents about their secret society affiliations:

“Just because I’m a member of the Illuminati does not mean I want my residents to freeze to death.  Oh, and I suppose I don’t want my foes who live in Bolingbrook to freeze either.  If your heater doesn’t work, come to a center to warm your heart and mind.  Then remember this moment when a foe knocks on your door and says I’m evil!”

An anonymous member of Bolingbrook United, which is affiliated with the New World Order, sent this reply:

“We think it is great that Bolingbrook has warming centers, and we support them too.  We also support the idea that snowplows shouldn’t leave piles of snow in front of our residents’ driveways. Warming centers are useless if residents can’t reach them.”

Anonymous DuPage Township Trustee: Not even Winter Storm Jayden! will stop us from electing a new Supervisor

The DuPage Township will still hold a special meeting on January 29 at 7 PM at 241 Canterbury LN, Bolingbrook, IL to elect a new Supervisor.

“We need to replace (Former Supervisor William Mayer),” said an anonymous DuPage Township Trustee.  “And nothing will stop us.  If a nuclear war starts on that day, we will still find a way to meet!”

The Trustee added that no one should risk their lives to attend:

“You must assess the risk if you are thinking about attending our meeting.  Is driving over 200 miles to tell us we must resign really worth risking your car breaking down and freezing to death in the middle of downstate Illinois?”

Clow and other Chicagoland UFO Bases insist they are ready for the bad weather

By Reporter X

Despite Chicago being the target of a Russian weather attack, all three UFO Bases expect to remain open.

“Clow UFO Base has excellent traffic control systems,” said Aplodoxage Glomox, the Acting Administrator of Clow UFO Base.  “Plus, most interstellar spacecraft are designed to withstand conditions found on Jovian planets and planets like Venus.  This storm is nothing compared to the Great Red Spot.”

Paul X. Zacks, Administrator for Peotone UFO Base, says he expects business as usual during the week:

“We’re expecting freight from Titan on Wednesday,” said Zacks.  “The captain told me the crew wants to step outside and enjoy the ‘warm’ weather.” 

He also added that staff will live inside the base during the weather attack.

Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen insists Rob Sherman UFO Base will be able to handle severe weather this time:

“All the problems we had last time were due to Illuminati sabotage.  We’ve upped security, and added more traffic control centers.  I’ve assured the New World Order that we are ready to accept the delegation from Pluto and not to worry about that Illuminati attack against Durty Nellies.”

Mayor Jim Schwantz then walked into the office.

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m just telling this reporter  that your State of the Village Address is still on for January 30.”

“Of course it is.  The state of the village is great, just like the Chicago Bears!  You should also mention that unlike a certain village south of us, my address is free and open to the public!”

Bolingbrook Skeptics deny Russian Weather attack

The Bolingbrook Skeptics sent out a press release insisting that the Russians do not have a weather control machine.

Tesla is overrated and only cited by unenlightened people. We call upon all Bolingbrook residents to ignore this weather control nonsense and focus on more important issues.  Like the rise of Critical Theory!”

Also in the Babbler:

Babbler is not laying off reporters
Wereskunks deny forcing residents to house wild skunks
Chicago residents disappointed that Lake Michigan monster is still alive
God to smite Bolingbrook on 1/30/19

Web Exclusive: Bolingbrook Skeptics declare ‘Woo State of Emergency’ following botched Bears field goal (Fiction)

The Bolingbrook Skeptics declared a “Woo State of Emergency” following Bears kicker Cody Parkey’s missed field goal against the Philadelphia Eagles in their playoff game. The press release stated:

“At times of heightened emotions, we must stand guard against the evil forces of woo.  We must not let this one game send Bolingbrook back into the dark ages of superstition and feminism!”

The press release insists that residents should not blame God, the Illuminati, the New World Order, aliens, ghosts, or any other supernatural explanation for the kick, which hit the upright, bounced off the crossbar, then landed back on the field:

“Cody Parkey has a history of hitting the uprights.  Therefore it does not defy the odds that he hit the uprights during this game.  Instead, residents should be amazed that he made any kicks at all.”

It also warned of the dangers of residents believing supernatural explanations:

“If we allow any belief in the supernatural, no matter how minor, to grow, the results will be disastrous.  Bolingbrook will then become infected with unhealthy beliefs, like: Bigfoot exists, God is real, the Bolingbrook Babbler is a reliable source of information, Richard Dawkins doesn’t always know what he’s talking about, Sam Harris is flirting with racism, and Bolingbrook is the greatest community in the world.”

It concluded with a call for help from the Bolingbrook STEM Association, stating: “Our membership is depleted.  Women and (People of Color) don’t want to join.”

A woman who claimed to be a member of the Bolingbrook STEM Association said no one from Bolingbrook Skeptics had contacted them, and they had never heard of them.

“It sounds like they support STEM.  As we like to say around here, STEM is good.”

In the background, a man who sounded like Village Trustee Sheldon Watts said, “Charlene Spencer!  Did you make this meme?”

“Yes.  It’s my best one yet.”

“I thought you were on my side.”

“I am.”

“This meme says I have ties to Michael Madigan.  That’s not true.”

“You remember the last election?  The Republicans spent millions of dollars saying every Illinois Democrat has ties to Michael.  As a result, the Democrats won a super majority in both houses, swept the state offices, and obliterated us in Will County.”

“So?”

“If you can’t beat them.  Join them.”

Note: This is a work of fiction.