Can Ted Cruz get any creepier?

Yes he can! And he hasn’t hit bottom yet!

The Texas senator made the remarks at a rally in Nevada on Saturday. Activist Lauren Windsor flagged the speech on Twitter.

“We need courage responding to crazy town,” Cruz told supporters. “Elizabeth Warren told reporters that a guy came up to her and said, ‘I would have voted for you if only you had a penis.'”

Cruz argued that Warren’s “story is a lie.”

“In today’s Democrat [sic] Party, how do we know she doesn’t?” Cruz said to laughter. “How could you possibly know? ‘My name is Elizabeth. Call me Bob.'”

Cruz went on to insist that transgender swimmer Lia Thomas is a “dude.”

“He looks like Michael Phelps,” the senator remarked.

Listen to his audience laugh.

Growed some more

Time for my weekly spider measuring event. The young’uns molted again, and once again, they’ve grown some more.

It’s a fairly steady pattern, as I might have expected. They eat, they get bigger. There’s a fair amount of variability there, and I’ll post a couple of photos of the spider on Patreon to illustrate that.

I’ve got another egg sac close to hatching, but as usual, Steatoda triangulosa is taking its sweet time. The data so far is a rough outline with data taken at weekly intervals — it’s clear that I need to do more frequent sampling to get a better picture of how pigment patterns develop, but these guys are not in any hurry to get under my microscope. It won’t hurt, I promise!

Canada, must you do everything better than the USA?

Once upon a time, I would have said nobody could out-crazy an American — we’ve got the looniest, most deranged, most unbelievable wackaloons of any country. I could take some pride in that. But no more: Canada has a new queen, Queen Romana Didulo. I can almost envy the certifiability of this claim:

Who knew that crossing the Y-DNA of white rappers and Filipinos could be so potent? The only thing that salvages US pride to a small degree is that most of her followers seem to be American, and she’s drawing on the intellectual brain power of the US QAnon movement.

Her fraudulent claims are patently obvious except, it seems, to her mostly American followers. Many have links to QAnon, according to investigative reporters Peter Smith of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Mack Lamoureux of Vice World News, and a trio of academics. All have been tracking this story for months.

QAnon embraces wide-ranging, wild conspiracy theories centred upon the falsehood of Donald Trump’s secret fight against an international cabal of elitist pedophiles who kidnap children, traffic them, harvest their organs and drink their blood. They call the latter adrenochrome, which QAnon claims provides a psychedelic high and holds the promise of immortality.

Didulo promotes these lies in her videos, and has attracted leading QAnon figures. The result, as Lamoureux writes, is that they “sent a swarm of followers her way.”

Unfortunately, she’s not harmlessly batty. She’s an anti-vax nutcase who has called on her mob to literally kill health care workers who are vaccinating the public. She calls health care workers “ducks” in her missives.

Didulo then posted a chilling message on Telegram to “the Kingdom of Canada’s Military” ordering them to “shoot to kill anyone who tries in inject any children under 19 years old (with COVID vaccines),” and to intercept, seize and destroy all “coronavirus vaccines/bioweapons or any other vaccines.”

Noting that nearly a third of American have guns and 19 million are trained soldiers and veterans, Didulo said duck-hunting season started the next day and “by mid-morning Canada would be ‘thoroughly cleaned’.”

Her lackeys tried to ‘arrest’ some police and instead were arrested themselves. What’s astonishing is that she is still on the loose, using Telegram to send out dangerous directives…and there are people who actually believe her.

While Didulo’s ideas are ridiculous, they’ve already had a real-world effect on Canada. When Didulo told her fans that she had abolished Canada’s income tax, some stopped paying taxes to the Canadian government. Because Didulo issued a “decree” announcing that her supporters could now pay their utility bills with “IOUs” backed by her bogus government, her supporters have started losing electricity and water in their homes.

I guess we’re all just < waiting for her to get even more dangerous.

What I heard in 14 of Didulo’s many YouTube videos is deeply irrational and patently false.

She rants about everything from aliens arriving on Earth 300,000 years ago, her delusion that she has direct access to American, global and the “Earth defence commander in chief,” to her contention that she does not exist in the 3D world.

Yet, her followers are devoted. They have already been distributing her cease-and-desist notices by mail and in person.

It suggests that, at some point, they might also show up with guns.

Reminder: Wanna hear some bad defenses of Noah’s Ark?

At noon my time Dan Phelps and I will be grading Answers in Genesis’s answers on the topic of Noah’s Ark. Spoiler: they fail. But you can tune in later to see how they fail.

If you want to help out, here is the AiG video (only 20 minutes long), and you can chime in in the chat. I’ll keep my eyes open for better rebuttals than ours. We sure won’t get it from the comments on their video, because they’re mainly about sucking up.

Mundane news from the spider lab 🕷

Only a week and a half until classes come crashing down on me! Today was a lab maintenance day, next week I’m relocating to my campus office every day, to get back into the routine. So the news of the day is:

  • The latest Steatoda triangulosa egg sac has not yet hatched out. S. triangulosa is dilatory, especially compared to Parasteatoda tepidariorum. I’m pretty sure I’ll see another wave of spiderlings in the next few days.
  • The adult S tri made another egg sac, making a total of 4 more waiting in the wings. This is good news — it means I’ll be getting new spiderlings every week or two for a while.
  • A P tep egg sac also hatched out this morning. There are 100-150 baby spiders awaiting my care. Today I just threw them a bunch of flies and told them to kill something, daddy’s busy, I’ll sort them out tomorrow.
  • I realized that all of the incubators in my lab are full up. There’s a bigger one on the third floor, but that means I’m going to have to trek up and down stairs every day.
  • I fed everyone. That took a while. Even with my super efficient Fly Shaker™ it was a lot of uncorking vials, shaking flies into them, stoppering them back up, and stuffing them back into the incubator.
  • The subset of S tri I’ve set aside for weekly measurements molted again, which means with my feeding regimen they’re molting ever 20 days.
  • A couple of those S tri are getting huge, fast. May need to crank up that feeding regimen.
  • One glitch in the routine: the building diH2O tanks dried up last week. I need diH2O to make fly medium, to make flies, to feed to the spiders, and I’m on a constant treadmill of making more. An interruption in the cycle of fly-making means there may be a supply chain problem next week, a little gap in production. The spiders might get hangry.
  • I stooped to buying spring water from the grocery store (Morris tap water is not acceptable for much of anything) and got fresh fly bottles going today.
  • I reassured them that even if there is a fly problem, the students are coming back next week, so there should be a fresh supply of ripe, juicy bodies in the hallway.

That is all.

Shermer’s brand of skepticism: rotten to the core

Michael Shermer <ick, spit> put out a call for an article for his worthless magazine defending CRT, and complained that no one would defend the theory (he didn’t look very hard, I guess). Aaron Rabinowitz answered the call and volunteered.

CRT, and what I believe is the moral panic surrounding it, is something I’ve written about in the past, so I reached out to Mr. Shermer, who told me he already had a CRT overview article “that mostly summarizes the history of the movement going back to its postmodernism roots (and before)”, which he described as “mostly neutral, albeit slightly critical on the consequences of accepting fully the belief in system racism by POC.”

Would you like to read this “mostly neutral” article? Don’t bother.

I later found out that that “article” is actually the CRT chapter from James Lindsay and Helen Pluckrose’s book Cynical Theories, two individuals who played a significant role in developing and mainstreaming the CRT moral panic.

You all remember James Lindsay, right? There’s a man descending into oblivion, recently banned on Twitter. Here’s all you need to know about Lindsay.

At the time, in 2018, Lindsay insisted he was a “left-leaning liberal,” a fellow traveler of the erstwhile anti-woke collective that once called it itself the “Intellectual Dark Web,” and he was praised and promoted by some of its leading figures as an important and brave public intellectual.

But in 2022, he’s a Trump-supporting, Big Lie-espousing, vaccine-denying, far-right bigot who thinks Sen. Joe McCarthy “had it right” and “didn’t go nearly far enough” during his infamous (and near-universally repudiated) witch hunts of suspected communists during the 1950s.

And, perhaps most notably, he helped popularize the “Ok Groomer” epithet (and hashtag) on Twitter, feeding the right wing’s moral panic about LGBTQ teachers.

Right. That’s the guy Shermer believed to be a credible and objective source. Sort of says it all, I think.

Rabinowitz was working on the piece, communicating with Shermer on the content as it progressed. He’s a stronger man than I am, because if I got a message like the one below where Shermer brags about being a “social liberal” and promoting his own crappy book, I would have noped right out of there, even before I found out where his sympathies actually lie.

Then, predictably, Shermer abruptly pulled the plug on the article. You won’t find it in Skeptic magazine.

But good news! Rabinowitz got it published in The Skeptic, a UK magazine which isn’t a Shermer vanity rag. You definitely should read that rather than our corrupted American version. Rabinowitz is quite clear in naming some of the most rabid of the CRT opponents, and curiously, they’re all people who have have been prominently featured in Shermer’s magazine and podcasts.

While Rufo has received the lion’s share of credit for inciting the CRT moral panic, Lindsay et al’s anti-woke activism served as the social and ideological springboard for the CRT moral panic, because it gave the impression that the movement grew out of concerns expressed by self-identifying heterodox liberals. Shermer even personally promoted Lindsay and Boghossian’s grievance studies appearance on Joe Rogan, an episode full of easily debunked misinformation.

Given these facts, CRT activists might reasonably conclude that it would be harmful to lend credibility to an outlet that could use it to offset further unsupported attacks. That was certainly my largest concern in deciding whether to write this piece, which was originally commissioned by Skeptic Magazine in response to my conversation with Shermer. Ultimately, I lean towards engagement, even when the chance of persuasion is likely to be low, but we don’t have remotely enough evidence to decide on the best approach to engaging with individuals and organisations that appear caught up in a moral panic.

I believe the original question was actually something of a dog whistle, aimed largely at other critics of wokeness. It served to signal that CRT advocates can’t defend the theory, and that they are too ideologically captured to admit defeat, so they instead avoid debate entirely. Douglas Murray made this accusation explicitly in his recent interview on Shermer’s podcast, around 40 minutes in. He claims it is a major red flag that CRT advocates like Kendi and DiAngelo are unwilling to engage in public debate. In the interview both men credulously repeat one of Rufo and Lindsay’s most absurd accusations: that the woke are too fragile and fanatical to risk open debate.

I don’t consider it a red flag to refuse to debate, since there is good reason to question the efficacy of such debates. However, if you do consider it such a warning sign, it’s disingenuous not to highlight that Rufo and Lindsay also routinely deride and avoid debate, to the extent of actively blocking people who attempt to engage them in good faith. Lindsay and Boghossian have claimed that social justice advocates are such “uniformly such dreadful conversationalists” that it’s pointless to engage with them, beyond learning how to counter their tactics. How could such well-poisoning be worthy of praise when it’s coming from the architects of the CRT moral panic, yet serve as a red flag when assessing CRT advocates? I think the most plausible answer is the existence of an ‘anti-woke’ in-group bias.

I don’t entirely agree with Rabinowitz, though: I lean away from direct engagement when the opposition is actively harming people, and is already being fed at the trough of right-wing media. I would think articles, like the one in The Skeptic, that are strongly criticizing the colossally malicious agents of far-right disinformation are OK, and are the kind of engagement I would consider productive, but I would never want to promote Rufo or Lindsay or Murray (or Michael Fucking Shermer) with a face-to-face event, or one where some scumbag is using my words to promote an illusion of balance when they’re actually promoting lies and fear.

Two wackjobs met in a podcast

No. I’m not going to listen to it. I’ll take the Readers’ Digest Condensed version of the epic encounter between Boghossian and Bret Weinstein.

This was amazing.

1/ Peter Boghossian’s interview with Bret is, predictably, an hour of them discussing the mental and moral defects (including ‘being ugly’) that lead people to disagree with them

Bret brags about how intellectually honest he is and how hard he works to disconfirm his hypotheses

2/ IMO the highlight was when Bret released a suprise new hypothesis

Apparently, the Woke Mind Virus could very well be a bioweapon seeded by our geopolitical enemies to destroy The West!

3/ I thought he probably meant this in an unfalsifiable sort of “well there are russian/chinese troll farms sowing dissent on twitter” kind of way, but no, he’s very clear that he believes they might have *invented wokeness* and deployed it as a weapon

4/ Also funny that Peter Boghossian seems to have paid absolutely no attention to Bret’s content and does not know that he’s become a hardcore antivax conspiracy loon.

5/ Bret’s recent interactions twitter with yours truly😘 seem to have crystalized into a new talking point. You don’t have to pay attention to your critics if they haven’t “accomplished anything.” This raises the question – what has Bret accomplished?

Yeah, Bret used to be a biologist. Boghossian used to be a skeptic.

The poopy-pants brigade in action!

Project Veritas still exists, and they were recently slapped with $150,000 in legal fees because they tried to sue Stanford University and failed. I love watching them fail.

An academic blog post in September 2020 from a Stanford-affiliated nonpartisan coalition called the Election Integrity Partnership was at the heart of Project Veritas’ lawsuit.

The blog post questioned a Project Veritas report about alleged “ballot harvesting” in Minnesota. Zilly’s ruling dismissing the lawsuit said “the phrases in the blog post that Project Veritas challenges as defamatory are nonactionable opinions.”

“Ballot harvesting” is perfectly legal in Minnesota. It just means that volunteers will pick up sealed absentee ballots from voters and deliver them to polling places. Project Veritas tried to make a big deal of a normal, legal process as “corruption”, and they were taken to court over it.

Unfortunately, $150,000 in small change to the deep pockets that fund these rotten “think tanks”. What I don’t understand is why they keep pouring cash into these corrupt, discredited jokers. James O’Keefe is a notorious liar with no credibility, who has been banned from Twitter for various disreputable activities.

Right-wing provocateur James O’Keefe, best-known for his undercover “sting” operations and deceptively edited videos, was permanently suspended from Twitter on Thursday for what the social-media site said were violations of the its policy on manipulation and spam.

But, you know, what I find most revealing is that the rich conservatives who pay for his shenanigans, who like to pretend to be defenders of righteous American values, have been overlooking the decadent frat boy behavior of the crew.

As an administrative assistant for the conservative undercover group Project Veritas, Antoinetta Zappier had some unusual responsibilities. She claims she would be woken up in the middle of the night because Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe had lost his apartment keys, or asked to fake O’Keefe’s signature onto thousands of copies of his book, after donors had paid $200 each to receive “signed” copies.

And then, there was the time, Zappier says, she had to buy supplies to clean up a boat after partygoers at an event hosted by O’Keefe relieved themselves on the floor.

In a lawsuit filed Sunday, Zappier alleges that her duties for Project Veritas extended to a particularly debauched boat party for Young Republicans. After buying hundreds of dollars worth of alcohol for the party, Zappier alleges, she was left frantically purchasing cleaning supplies when attendees “defecated on the floor.”

The boat-excrement scene is just one incident alleged in a federal lawsuit Zappier filed Sunday against Project Veritas. The allegations—which also include an abortion, a near-fatal drug overdose, pornography, and secret sexual recordings—portray a conservative group running out of control under O’Keefe’s leadership.

What is it with with these right-wing kooks pooping their pants all the time? And why do the fat cats continue to fund them?

It hurts him more than the people he fired

Look at this man. He is so sad. He is crying. His life is so difficult.

Poor man. Why is he crying? Because he is a CEO. Because he had to fire two of his employees. Oh, sure, the employees have lost their income and are going to have to struggle to find new jobs, but think of the mental anguish their boss went through.

This boss, though, had the idea that he could burnish his reputation as a Good Guy by crying for a camera.

“This will be the most vulnerable thing I’ll ever share,” HyperSocial CEO Braden Wallake wrote on LinkedIn Tuesday. “Days like today, I wish I was a business owner that was only money driven and didn’t care about who he hurt along the way. But I’m not. So, I just want people to see, [sic] that not every CEO out there is cold-hearted and doesn’t care when he/she have to lay people off. I’m sure there are hundreds and thousands of others like me.”

If there are a hundred thousand like him, that implies there are two hundred thousand people who have lost their jobs.

Isn’t it nice that the boss can hurt people and then post a picture to show he isn’t cold-hearted? I’m sure the PR was useful for him.

The article itself is 16 paragraphs about the weeping boss, and we know nothing about the two fired employees, not even their names.