“Trust the Science,” Marjorie Taylor Greene

What a buffoon. To respond to a colleague who posted support for civil rights for LGBT folk, she had to put up a big loud stupid sign of her own, demonstrating her own ignorance.

She doesn’t have a clue what the science is. Here’s Keith L. Moore, publishing in JAMA in 1968, in an article titled “The Sexual Identity of Athletes”, pointing out that sex is more complicated than a simple binary.

In short, there are 9 (at least) parameters that are diagnostic of sex, and they aren’t always in concordance with one another. For the majority of people, they are in alignment; for some, though, they aren’t, and you can’t deny them their rights.

I despise those people who swaddle themselves in the cloak of science in the name of claims that are explicitly denied by science. Greene is a liar and a fraud.

The lure of the exotic! Adventure awaits!

I was served up an ad that, for once, triggered a deep yearning in me. It was for a Lake Superior circle tour, a collection of 84 museums in various states — Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ontario — that ring the big lake up North. Many of them looked like somebody’s old house that is used to show off some local artifact, but still, I am so desperate to get out that the whole thing looked like grand fun. It’s a measure of my need to escape that even this place looked appealing.

I wanna see the largest motorized tricycle “possibly in the world,” the world’s largest working chainsaw, the world’s largest working rifle, and I want to use the “free batrooms”.

Not really. Once I get vaccinated and once my teaching obligations are over, what I really want to do is flee Morris, Minnesota for a while.

Nothing against the Da Yoopers Tourist Trap — I appreciate the honest advertising, at least — but if I hadn’t been cooped up for a year I wouldn’t be ogling that place like it was the Louvre. Although, actually, there are probably more spiders in Da Yoopers than there are in the Louvre…

We’re getting better?

Have you been watching the statistics? It looks like we’re finally on the right track.

It might have something to do with this:

I also check the state stats. Minnesota is looking a bit above average for the country.

I still have anxiety nightmares about the pandemic, though. After all, someone has to be the last person to die of COVID-19 this year, and the end of the pandemic doesn’t mean we aren’t going to have to live with this virus forever after.

Also, I figure that once I get my second dose of the vaccine (I haven’t even gotten my first dose yet), I’ll probably get hit by a bus the day after.

The lesson for the day is…

Sex. Today I have to lecture my genetics students about sex. On Monday I explained to them how simple Mendelian inheritance isn’t the whole of genetics, that it’s much more complicated than you can possibly imagine, and now I have to explain to them that everything they know about sex is a gross oversimplification. I’m hoping everyone comes out of this course confused and uncertain, since that’s the proper state of mind for learning.

Also, I’m giving them a take-home exam. Am I the most evil college professor in the universe or what?

For further confusion, I pharyngulated myself and put up a poll on YouTube. I’ll look at it later this afternoon and heed the voice of the people.

Tsk, tsk, Michigan. How wimpy.

Somebody panicked when they found a few spiders. They closed the library!

The University of Michigan’s Shapiro Undergraduate Library was temporarily closed after venomous spiders were found in the building.

Three Mediterranean recluse spiders were found in the library’s basement storage areas in late January, university spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen said. The spiders were not in any public spaces, Broekhuizen said, and the library was closed on Sunday, Feb. 21, and Monday, Feb. 22.

That’s silly. Venomous spiders are everywhere, but they have no interest in human prey, and are generally shy and unaggressive. Relax. Call your local entomologist/arachnologist and they can scoop ’em up and relocate them or, in the worst case, euthanize them.

The university got better, though.

Broekhuizen said a misunderstanding led the library to close for two days, and based on what the university knows now, it was a mistake to close the building.

Like I have any clout with American Atheists at all

For some reason, some atheists write to me expecting that I will agree 100% with their atheism uber alles views, and that in particular, my knee will jerk and that I will oppose anything American Atheists tries to do. But that isn’t true! In the past, AA has pissed me off — especially in the David Silverman era — but there are other things where I see AA supporting a progressive agenda, and I support them totally.

For instance, Alison Gill, their vice president, has declared support for the Equality Act.

By ensuring protections for LGBTQ people under national civil rights laws, the Equality Act would strengthen protections for everyone. For example, the bill expands the meaning of “public accommodations” to include retail stores; transportation services like airports, taxis, and bus stations; and service providers like accountants.

The Equality Act would also protect youth in child welfare services by preventing state-funded religious foster care and adoption agencies from discriminating against LGBTQ people. Currently, 11 states have laws on the books that allow discrimination in adoption and foster care on the basis of religion, and other states are considering this issue.

Stop more states from adopting discriminatory legislation in the name of religion! Support the Equality Act!

Well, yes, obviously. Supporting civil rights and strengthening protections for everyone is a good and righteous position for an atheist organization to take.

But would you believe I get email complaining about AA’s position?

The membership of AA is becoming increasingly
alarmed re Alison Gill’s role and activities in AA
which openly favor the LGBTQ cause.
We members feel this is a dereliction of duty
toward the Atheist cause, which, as a paid
employee of AA, Alison Gill is obligated to
support and promote solely and primarily.

Please note that this person does not speak for the “membership of AA”, or for even just the “AA Life Members”, as the letter is signed (I happen to be an AA Life Member), or particularly for me. Supporting the LGBTQ cause should be a natural for atheists, since this strengthens protections for everyone.

But that isn’t even the worst complaint.

What has the LGBT community done to support the rights of Atheists? Not a damn thing. When the Boy Scouts ended its ban on Gays but continued its ban on Atheists, did Gays stand behind Atheists and protest the continued bias against them by the BSA? No, of course not, although the LGBT people have demanded the support of Atheist and Humanist groups for their own narrow interests.

What the fuck…? Whatever happened to the golden rule, and doing things because they’re right, not because we expect immediate reciprocation? This is not a transaction. Civil rights are not something you fight for for one group, but not another.

I don’t even know why they’re complaining at me, I have zero influence with any atheist organization, and if I did, I’d be telling Alison Gill and American Atheists to keep it up and do more.

Gender reveal parties are still a thing?

It’s another lethal gender reveal party.

Growing up, Christopher and Michael Pekny were brothers and best friends. It only made sense that when 28-year-old Christopher was preparing to celebrate the upcoming birth of his first child, his little brother was right there beside him.

“My brother Michael and my brother Chris were so incredibly close,” Peter Pekny, their oldest brother, told The Washington Post early Tuesday. “‘Chris and Mike’ — it was one name. They were always, always together.”

And so the two men were together Sunday morning, tinkering in a garage in Liberty, N.Y., to rig a small device to emit a pink-or-blue burst during the grand finale of a gender-reveal party planned for later that evening.

But the homemade device unexpectedly malfunctioned, killing the expectant father and seriously injuring his 27-year-old brother, New York State Police said in a statement Monday. Police are still investigating the cause of the explosion, but no criminal charges have stemmed from the accident.

Jesus. The original gender reveal gimmick was just cutting into a cake to see what color it was under the icing…and now people are building bombs? I suspect that baby and her mother would have preferred to have a father around, rather than some irrelevant pink or blue confetti.

By the way, the woman who started the craze, and the daughter revealed by the pink cake, have evolving views.

Karvunidis says her views on sex and gender have changed, especially when she’s talking to her daughter.

“She’s telling me ‘Mom, there are many genders. Mom, there’s many different sexualities and all different types,’ and I take her lead on that,” Karvunidis says.

“Celebrate the baby,” she says. “There’s no way to have a cake to cut into it, to see if they’re going to like chess. Let’s just have a cake.”

Let’s get everyone on board with that simple idea, OK?

He’s not wrong

MC Hammer (!) had to rebuke one of those anti-philosophy, science-is-all-about-truth types, and he put the hammer down.

“When you measure, include the measurer” is such a good line. He has splattered this @drewgrey character so effectively that he doesn’t even realize how thoroughly crushed his views are.

Right now I’m rethinking parachute pants. You know, they probably are pretty comfortable, and nice and loose for dancing. Could he have been right about them, too?

Darwin, Victorian

Adam Rutherford presents a balanced assessment of Darwin.

Darwin was a liberal, and an abolitionist, perhaps influenced by his taxidermy tutor in Edinburgh, a Guyanese man called John Edmonstone who had once been enslaved. But we must be honest in our assessment of him and his work. He was a man of his time, and The Descent of Man contains many passages that seriously jar today, being scientifically specious and politically outmoded. Darwin never mentions Edmonstone by name, only as a “full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate”. He speaks of how the “civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races”.

In the more elegant quotations, you may note the typically Victorian use of “man” to mean all humans. It is less forgivable given Darwin’s belief that women were intellectually inferior: “If men are capable of a decided pre-eminence over women in many subjects, the average of mental power in man must be above that of woman.” At least part of his incomparable legacy is that we now know this to be incorrect.

That’s fair. Basically, everyone who lived over 50 years ago was stuffed to the gills with wrong ideas — wrong as we know them to be now, and 50 years from now the next generation will be appalled at what the majority believes now (“You went to church, and thought capitalism was good?”) — but at least he was in the vanguard of those trying to bring about a better world for all.

Still, when Bill & Ted fetch him back to the modern day in their telephone booth, I expect to be disappointed. I can imagine Darwin tut-tutting on Twitter about all those women in comic book movies, and suggesting, in the name of the betterment of mankind, that maybe those ladies should be home tending the children, and maybe they aren’t better than a dog anyways, what with all these modern ideas. Let’s keep him in the 19th century!

Hmm. Maybe we could use that telephone booth to send a lot of 21st century babblers back the 19th, where they’d be happier.