From the webmaster:  Eclipse sparks Flat Earth debate (Mixed)

The folks over at the Philly Voice were kind enough to host dueling comments between Flat Earth believers and people who know better.

An illustration of the alternative “Pond Earth Theory.”

From the Flat Earth side:

Rahu and Ketu in Vedic astrology are considered mythology by western astronomy. Rahu is the head of the serpent and Ketu is the body. In mythology, during an eclipse, they thought the head swallowed the sun.

We have to have something rise that causes eclipses in the flat-earth model. We think it’s not necessarily caused by the moon, though it could be.

From a skeptic:

Meanwhile, over a Flat Earth, you can have a small, local sun, overtaking a small, local moon (both moving to the West above the plane of the flat Earth) and the shadow will move West to East. That’s their argument, in a nutshell, and many FE folks are very, very excited about this eclipse because it will prove them right!

The truth is that the case of the eclipse shadow is dependent on linear speed (such as miles per hour) and not angular speed. How fast will the umbra travel? The units of miles per hour require us to do some math with those units.

So if you take the Earth’s rotational surface speed (roughly 1,000 mph at the Equator, more like 800 mph in Philly), and the Moon’s orbital speed (roughly 2,000 mph, eastward), this means the shadow will move faster than the Earth’s surface, to the East.

Personally, I think Phil Plait posted the best explanation back in 1998:

There is an unambiguous effect, though, of the curved Earth, which brings me back to my vacation. My parents live in Sarasota, which is about 1600 kilometers south of where I live near Washington DC. This is equal to about 1/30 of the way around the Earth, or 12 degrees. When I am at home and go out to look at Polaris, the North Star, it is about 40 degrees above the horizon. If I lived at the North Pole, it would be 90 degrees above the horizon, or straight up. However, when I visit my parents, I travel south, and so Polaris appears lower. Much lower, 12 degrees worth! That is very noticeable to the naked eye. On the other hand, stars towards the south appear to be much higher in the sky when I am in Florida. Last year I could clearly see Canopus (the second brightest nighttime star in the sky) to the South, but it never gets high enough to see from my house.

If the Earth were flat, we’d never see this effect. If the Earth were a disk we’d only see it if we traveled along the edge, and not the face. Therefore we must live on a curved Earth, a big ball in space (as a matter of fact, this effect can even be used to determine the circumference of the Earth!).

Web Exclusive: Were-skunk escorted from Village Board Meeting (Fiction)

Bolingbrook police officers peacefully escorted a were-skunk from the 8/15/17 Village Board meeting. Mayor Roger Claar ordered the male were-skunk removed because he feared that he would spray the room.

“Our procedures for cryptid mammal removal worked,” said Officer Jill.  “Roger first sent a text message to the BCT control booth to end the live broadcast.  Then he signaled us to move in.  Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz distracted the audience with a long speech while we asked the cryptid to follow us.  I’m sure Robert is going to be mad that BCT didn’t televise his entire speech, but he did help us, which we appreciate.”

The alleged were-skunk, who asked to be called Sid, denied that he had any hostile intentions.  He claims that he was there to support Claar:

Image from toter.com

“We heard a rumor that (Roger) was going to discuss a proposal to provide trash toters to all residents.  All because some residents don’t like my cousins eating their garbage.  I also heard that Roger was going to imply that requiring trash toters is a bad Democrat Party idea.  So I wanted to be there to support him.”

Sid added that Were-Skunks, like most omnivores, prefer a variety of foods, besides grubs:

“My cousins love Bolingbrook because sometimes residents will put their garbage on the curb the night before trash pickup.  My braver cousins like to stay up late and open up trash bags after the residents go to work.  Toters make it very hard to get at the tasty food.  It’s so hard for my Chicago cousins because they have to deal with the city’s toters.  Bolingbrook is like a skunk paradise.  We’re not going to let Bolingbrook United take away our free buffet!”

After being removed, Sid said he was disappointed in Roger.  “Roger said nothing when his assistant said he was hoping for a cold winter so my cousins would die.  That was so insensitive!  All we do is eat the food your voters throw out.  Sure we spray, but only in self-defense.  We can live together, and you can learn so much from us.  Just stop acting like Naperville residents!”

Charline Z. Spencer, the public relations intern for the Village of Bolingbrook, denied that a were-skunk was at the village board meeting.

“Where do you get these stories?  The truth is the viewers on BCT suffered through an extra long meeting.  Roger felt that if he kept broadcasting Robert’s speech, there was a risk of viewers dying of boredom.  That’s why we had to de-platform Robert and replace him with a video of an 80s cover band.”

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said, “Why can’t we redefine residents as anyone who lives within Bolingbrook’s boundaries who supports me?”

A man replied, “Because the state—”

“(Expletive deleted) the state government!”

Update 8/17/17: Bolingbrook Community Television sent us the following statement:

We schedule a certain amount of airtime for the Board meetings. Normally it was for 2 hours. The meeting went over by quite a bit… We have to login remotely to change the time.  We did it twice. But we didn’t get in time for the third time.
For that, we apologize. But it was only trustee comments that got cut.

Bolingbrook Antifa secures tank (Fiction)

Bolingbrook’s Antifa, an anti-fascist group, announced that it now has a Leopard 2A5 tank.

Alleged photo of Bolingbrook Antifa’s tank

“It is now clear to us that police departments will only deploy armored vehicles whenever groups like Black Lives Matter protest,” read the press release.  “Since we doubt that (Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar) would ask for tanks if neo-Nazi militias occupied Bolingbrook, we’ve decided to get a tank for ourselves.”

According to the press release, the tank is street legal, and its cannon is disabled.  The statement went on to say there was a gun mounted on it, but that it would only be used “for self-defense.”  Bolingbrook Antifa also bragged about the tank being “stick-proof and car-proof.”

A Bolingbrook Antifa member, who asked to be called Emma, said she is ecstatic that they now have a tank.  “You can’t reason with hardcore Fascists.  They only understand violence.  They think it’s fine when they try to intimidate people with their torches, shields, and sticks.  If you hit them back, however, they become a bunch of crybabies.  They’re going to call our tank intimidating and violent.  That’s fine with us.  Bolingbrook is a safe and diverse community.  Our tank will protect the village from those who want to commit genocide!”

Noam, another Bolingbrook Antifa member, said it was easy to get the tank into Bolingbrook:  “We just put a Trump flag on it, and the police didn’t care.”  He also added that the tank is hidden, and they will only use it if Fascists come to Bolingbrook.

A police officer, who asked to be called Bob, says the department now cares about the presence of a tank in Bolingbrook.  “This is a dangerous escalation!  Do you know why Bolingbrook is a safe community?  Because only the police are allowed to use violence.  Sure you can defend yourself, but then you have to stop once we arrive!  They need to get that tank out of Bolingbrook and respect law and order.”

When trying to reach Claar for comment, a receptionist said Claar was busy and could not be disturbed:

“Don’t tell Roger I said this, but I think it might be more useful to attend the Resistance Fair than to drive a tank around Bolingbrook.  Don’t you think?”

In the background, a woman who sounded like Intern Charlene said, “You know, Money Magazine hasn’t ranked Bolingbrook as one of the best places to live since 2014, right?”

A man who sounded like Claar replied:  “The fact that they ever selected us is all that matters.”

“Ah.  So it’s like a video game achievement.  You’ll always have it, no matter what your current gaming skills are.”

“I guess.”

Also in the Babbler:

Partial Eclipse means Bolingbrook will be safe on 8/21/17
Torchlight parades banned at Clow UFO Base
UFO makes emergency landing after getting hit by a meteor
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/17/17

From the webmaster: Chicagoland responds to Charlottesville (Mixed)

By Wendy Onofrey
Webmaster

I think I can speak for the staff when we say that we are shocked by the violence and act of domestic terrorism that happened in Charlottesville, VA.  I wish I could say that this was the work of Nazi’s from space, chemtrails, or a “false flag” operation.  The truth is that this was the work of humans.  Aliens also won’t save us from ourselves.  We have to work to bring about change.

These are the following events we are aware of in the Chicago area.

Refuse Fascism will gather at Millennium Park at 1 PM today, then march to Trump Tower.

The Chicago chapter of the International Socialist Organization will gather at the corner of Wacker and Wabash, across from Trump Tower, at 1 PM.

The organizers of the Illinois Women’s March will hold a vigil at 6 PM at Federal Plaza, 219 S Dearborn, ST.

There will be a gathering in front of Rep. Peter Roskam’s office in Barrington starting at 6 PM.  The address is 200 N Hough ST.  The organizer asks that all signs have a positive message.

Additionally, there is a GoFund me page to pay for the medial expenses of the 19 people injured by the car attack.

If you know of any other events or support pages, please let us know.

Web Exclusive: Clow UFO Base conducts nuclear war drill (Fiction)

By Reporter X

Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base held its first nuclear war drill since 1993.

File photo of a Mushroom Cloud.

“It is just a coincidence that we decided to hold a nuclear attack drill for the first time in 24 years,” read a statement from Bolingbrook’s Department of Interstellar Affairs.  “We are not worried about a rogue nation attacking the village that Money Magazine named ‘one of the best places to live in America’.”

The drill started when all the TV screens switched to a “special report” broadcast.  Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz appeared on the screen:

“Hello.  I’m pretending to be President Donald Trump.  My big hands just pressed the big red button—“

Mayor Roger Claar then walked up to Jaskiewicz.

“You are supposed to be playing Kim Jong-un.”

“I think you have a better understanding of him than I do.”

“Very funny, Brzezinski.”

“Jaskiewicz.”

“Whatever.”  Claar then turned towards the camera.  “For this drill, there is a North Korean missile with a nuclear-tipped warhead that will hit Bolingbrook in thirty minutes.  It begins now.”

At first, many aliens visitors didn’t know what to do:

“I thought the Earth custom was to raise your appendages in the air and scream,” said Lexopexo, from Tau Ceti.  “That’s followed by performing acts of vandalism, arson, and looting.  Before I got in trouble, a security officer said that Earthlings follow instructions if they don’t want to be killed.  Since he put it that way, what choice did I have?”

Many staff members, who spoke anonymously, said while they felt unprepared, and some of the procedures were out of date, the drill was a success.

One staffer was proud of her work.  “My job was to gather all the stray pets and children and to get them to a shelter.  You know how there’s always a stray child or pet in the movies that compels someone to risk their lives to save them?  Well, that wasn’t a problem under my watch.”

Oalpogoft from Pluto tried to get back to her craft during the drill.

“I told them that I could intercept the missile and save Bolingbrook.  They refused me access to my hanger.  They said that it was more important to keep aliens a secret to the public than to save thousands of lives.  I told them that was blezede up, but they replied that nuclear war was no big deal.  No big deal?  I told them to ask the survivors of Earth’s two atomic bomb attacks if it was no big deal.  The original inhabitants of Charon thought a nuclear war wouldn’t be a big deal, and now they’re extinct.  Duck and cover didn’t save them.”

After 30 minutes, Claar reappeared on the screens:

“The drill is over.  In our simulation, a 40 MT warhead struck Clow Airport.  We’ve estimated that 7,120 would be killed and 15,390 people would be injured by the blast.  Everyone inside the UFO base would have survived.  Now, had this been an actual nuclear strike, I would be in shock over the deaths of my loved ones and supporters.  Since this is only a drill, I can appreciate the positives.  According to our simulation, the Bolingbrook Golf Club and the Promenade survived the blast.  Survivors will be able to shop, and we can convert the Golf Club into a visitor’s center after we turn the blast site into a memorial park.  It will become a profitable tourist attraction.  Surviving businesses will have to hire new workers, but they can pay them less.  I’ll also have the authority to temporarily suspend the village charter, and rule by decree again.  Sorry, Stankowitz.”

“Jaskiewicz!”

“Close enough.”

Undead to protest Theater on the Hill’s production of Night of the Living Dead (Fiction)

Five undead Bolingbrook residents plan to picket Theater on the Hill’s auditions for their production of Night of the Living Dead:

Theater on the hill will be holding auditions for their production of Night of the Living dead on 8/7/17 and 8/8/17.

“They’re using public property to enforce negative stereotypes about the undead,”  said Karen, a resident who has been “terminally living” in Bolingbrook since 1998.  “It’s bad enough that I can’t go to the movies or watch TV without seeing some grotesque stereotype about the undead.  Why does a theater company have to denigrate the undead?”

The Bolingbrook chapter of the Undead Society hopes to use their protest to 1) counter myths about the undead, and 2) to persuade the company to let a representative from the society address the audience after each performance.

“The living may treat this play like it’s harmless entertainment,” said Adam, who has been “terminally living” in Bolingbrook since 2002. “ To us, Night of the Living Dead is the equivalent to Birth of a Nation.  We don’t want to ban the production.  We just want the audience to know the truth about being undead.”

According to the society’s literature, Night of the Living Dead contains many inaccuracies about the undead.  They do not eat flesh, especially brains.  “Terminal Living” is not contagious, and the undead are not a sign of a “zombie apocalypse.”

“I’ve been shot in the head three times,” said Joan, who has been terminally living in Bolingbrook since 1966.  “Before Night of the Living Dead came out, everyone was cool with my condition.  Since that movie, I have lost my friends, and I’m confined to the basement.  If it weren’t for cable TV, I wouldn’t know what was going on in the world.  I’m so happy that my husband has been so supportive.”

Karen has tried to reach out to Theater on the Hill’s staff, but they hung up on her.  She also tried to speak with Mayor Roger Claar, but he refused to help:

“I told him about our situation, and he asked if we had donated to his campaign fund or Heart Haven Outreach.  I said we don’t have any money.  He asked if we voted for him in the last election.  I said no because the undead aren’t allowed to vote in Will and DuPage Counties.  He replied, ‘Then why are we having this conversation?’  The nerve of that man!  If Jackie Traynere had won, I bet she would have listened to us.”

Bolingbrook’s Department of Paranormal Affairs released the following statement:  “Although the undead do not have any rights in Bolingbrook, we will let them protest.  They must not tell people that they are not really undead.  We will incinerate any undead who disturb the peace.”

Claar and Theater on the Hill did not respond to requests for comments.

Though Karen says she has no future, she still hopes the protest will improve relations between the living and the undead: “Before my soft flesh completely rots away, and I can finally die, I want to see a world where the undead are respected as sentient beings and not seen as monsters.  Is that too much to ask for?”

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar: I still wasn’t born in Pakistan
Bolingbrook First Party working on 24 hour Roger Claar channel
Mud monsters spotted at Lollapalooza
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/9/17

Sources: Bolingbrook to enact ‘Amazon Tax’ (Fiction)

Will Bolingbrook impose a 100% tax on online purchases?  Sources with relatives close to village government officials say yes.

Bolingbrook, IL Mayor Roger Claar

File photo of Bolingbrook Mayor Roger C. Claar. (Image from the Village of Bolingbrook web page.)

“Amazon is attacking our local businesses and printing fake news about our President,” said one source.  “(Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar) isn’t going to take it anymore.”

These sources agree that the so-called Amazon Tax will be voted on during a September meeting of the Village Board.  The 100% tax will be imposed only on retailers who do not have a brick-and-mortar presence in Bolingbrook.  Bolingbrook police officers will be allowed collect the tax if they catch any resident receiving merchandise bought from an online retailer.  The tax is expected to hit Amazon, eBay, and Etsy the hardest.  Residents can avoid the tax if they purchase a $100 annual subscription to bolingbrook.com.

“Some people will call this protectionism,” said another source.  “We prefer to think of it as Roger delivering on one of Trump’s promises.  Trump promised to protect American businesses.  Bolingbrook is part of America.  So by protecting our village’s businesses, we’re protecting America’s businesses.  You could say that Roger is making America great again.  Roger is great, but he’s too modest to be our President.”

Blake, who claims to be a member of the Bolingbrook Chamber of Commerce, praised the proposed tax.  “This tax will generate needed revenue for the village and help all of our members.  Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz wanted to spend money on an economic development office.  We’re going to make money off this tax instead.”

Joan Z. Phillips, the owner of an Etsy shop in Naperville, opposes the tax.  “Some of my best customers are in Bolingbrook.  I’ll lose them if this tax is passed.  We’re not a major corporation threatening Bolingbrook’s businesses.  We’re a small business trying to earn a living off the Internet.  If this tax succeeds in Bolingbrook, the idea will spread, and we’ll be ruined. Besides, Claar is a Republican. Since when do Republicans propose new taxes?”

Amazon sent an unsigned e-mail stating that they are not worried about the tax:

“All we have to do is open a Whole Foods store in Bolingbrook, and we will be exempt from the tax.  There is a reason we bought Whole Paycheck besides our desire to sell overpriced groceries over the Internet.”

A receptionist for Claar said he was in a meeting and could not comment on the existence of the tax.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said, “Charlene, we now have a sister city in Pakistan.  This will improve my relations with the local Muslim community and undermine Bolingbrook United’s political base.  Do you understand your role in this?”

“It’s pivot time, Roger.  I took dance classes, so I’m good at pivoting.  In fact, let me read my new press release to you.  ‘Bolingbrook celebrates Sialkot’s liberation from the oppression of unrestrained democracy.  Sialkot will now prosper under a new national government properly balanced between its civilian and military branches.  It is also our wish that someday our police department will be allowed to have a greater say in who governs Bolingbrook.’  What do you think?  We do have to support our older siblings, of course.”

“I’m all too familiar with that.  However, I think I need to explain the concept of sister cities to you.”

Also in the Babbler:

Mayor Claar apologizes after Trump calls Martian Colonists stupid
Pterodactyl spotted over Bolingbrook
Bolingbrook police arrest Denisovan man for prostitution
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/3/17

From the Webmaster: Maybe Milo and skepticism shouldn’t mix?

By Wendy Onofrey

Webmaster for the Bolingbrook Babbler

For some reason, Skeptic decided to post a review of Milo Yiannopoulos’s new book Dangerous.  Let’s just say that if Michael Shermer’s Moral Arc bends towards Milo, then count the staff of the Babbler out.

PZ Myers rightly condemns this favorable review.

Of course, this ‘review’ cites all the usual crap: Christina Hoff Sommers, there is no such thing as rape culture, except that when there is it comes from Islam, the police are the greatest defenders of the black community, and of course, political correctness, identity politics, and cultural Marxism. It’s a totally mindless recitation of the nonsense you get on Reddit and in YouTube comments.

Even Hayley Stevens has problems with the review and what its publication says about the skeptical movement.

Something like skepticism, as an approach to assessing claims and being proactive about tackling harmful misinformation, should be as free from ideologies as possible, and yet certain sections of organized skepticism (read: American, male, rich, and famous) seem to specifically target feminists, “identity politics” and some areas of the LGBTQ community – namely trans* people while writing fond reviews of problematic public figures such as Milo.

When Hayley and PZ agree, that’s a sign that maybe you’re doing something wrong.

To add insult to injury, Phil Torres writes for Salon about what he sees as the descent of New Atheism.

Although the new atheist movement once filled me with a great sense of optimism about the future of humanity, this is no longer the case. Movements always rise and fall — they have a life cycle, of sorts — but the fall of this movement has been especially poignant for me. The new atheists of today would rather complain about “trigger warnings” in classrooms than eliminate rape on campuses. They’d rather whine about “safe spaces” than help transgender people feel accepted by society. They loudly claim to support free speech and yet routinely ban dissenters from social media, blogs and websites.

All in all, it hasn’t been a good week for New Atheism.

Time for me to back to work on the next issue of the Babbler.  The staff on a big story that I plan on posting on Monday or Tuesday.

From the Webmaster: Save Snopes (Mixed)

We’ve had disagreements with Snopes before.  OK, a lot of differences, but we can’t deny that they are one of the best sites on the Internet.  With “fake news” and “alternative facts” flooding the Internet, they’re one of the best places to go for real news and real facts.

Is this the end of Snopes?

Now they’re facing financial problems and a legal dispute which may force them to shut down.

Since our inception, we have always been a self-sustaining site that provides a free service to the online world: we’ve had no sponsors, no outside investors or funding, and no source of revenue other than that provided by online advertising. Unfortunately, we have been cut off from our historic source of advertising income.

We had previously contracted with an outside vendor to provide certain services for Snopes.com. That contractual relationship ended earlier this year, but the vendor will not acknowledge the change in contractual status and continues to essentially hold the Snopes.com web site hostage. Although we maintain editorial control (for now), the vendor will not relinquish the site’s hosting to our control, so we cannot modify the site, develop it, or — most crucially — place advertising on it. The vendor continues to insert their own ads and has been withholding the advertising revenue from us.

Snopes has setup a fundraising page in response.  As of this writing, it’s still short of its $500,000 goal.  Most of the staff of the Babbler, including myself, have donated.

For over twenty years, Snopes has practiced skepticism in its purest form.  If we’re willing to support it, then maybe all of the skeptical readers who frequent Freethought Blogs should too.

Wendy Onofrey
Webmaster for the Bolingbrook Babbler

Mayor Claar tries to replace Trustee Jaskiewicz with an android (Fiction)

Did Mayor Roger Claar offer to replace Trustee Robert Jaskiewicz with an android?  Some sources say yes.

 

“Sure we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘Roger’s robots,’” said one of the sources.  “But I never thought they were real until now.”

The sources agree that Claar was upset after Jaskiewicz gave a speech criticizing Claar for refusing to put two items on the meeting agenda.  After the meeting had adjourned, Claar brought Jaskiewicz into his office.  Most of the sources said that Claar talked about the rumors that his trustees are androids.

According to the sources, Claar said the following:

“You know residents have called my trustees robots, and the Babbler has reported on my android factory.  They’re not telling the whole truth.  All of them are humans.  They have histories you can confirm.  The reality is that my trustees don’t attend the meetings.  Their android doubles do.  It’s a great arrangement.  They can spend more time with their families- and I get trustees who will always vote yes, and give public service announcements.  It also reduces meeting times, which save on our electric bills.”

Next, Claar reportedly made an offer to Jaskiewicz:  “Due to complicated agreements between the New World Order and the Illuminati, I can’t remove you and replace you with an android.  But I can ask you to have an android sit in for you at the village board meetings.  Think about it.  Do you want to be bored at our meetings, or do you want to be home with your family?  I’ll even let you decide which announcements it will make at the end of the meeting.”

Jaskiewicz allegedly replied, “The New World Order and the residents elected me so I could stand up to you.  You’re not going to replace me with one of your robots.”

Claar allegedly answered, “Then I vow to bore you to death so I will be able to replace a foe with a resident!”

Jaskiewicz did not reply before the deadline.

A receptionist for Claar replied that he was busy with intern Charlene, and could not be disturbed.

In the background, a man who sounded like Claar said, “So Charlene, I hear you’re organizing an Internet counter-attack against Bob.”

“Yes.  I’ve already written the viral articles.  What do you think of these headlines?  ‘Based Mayor bashes bumbling trustee.’  ‘Awesome mayor destroys anarchist trustee.’ ‘Smart mayor shreds stupid opponent. Why won’t the liberal media report this?’”

“I just adjourned the meeting after he ranted.  I didn’t reply.”

“The article will mention that, but it’s the headline that counts.  No one reads the articles.  Oh!  Which background should I use for the memes?  I have this GIF I call ‘Tired Jaskiewicz.’  I also have an animated GIF called ‘Swiveling Jaskiewicz.’  Which do you like?”

“Before I answer that question, I need to ask you if you used village property to make these items.  Someone could say that they’re for political purposes, and I would be forced to hold a disciplinary hearing.”

“Um.  Aren’t my niece and nephew cute?”

“They are, but I’m a career politician.  That trick won’t work on me.”

“Drat.  Um, I’m sure my parents can donate to your campaign fund.”

“I can accept it, and still give you a fair hearing.”

Also in the Babbler:

Prophet Muhammad argues with Mayor Claar
Bolingbrook’s Bigfoot insists it is not a ghost
Mayor Claar dares Russians to flood Bolingbrook
God to smite Bolingbrook on 7/27/17