Hummelgate? The right has sunk lower than I imagined

You’ve probably all read Glenn Greenwald’s withering dissection of a mock scandal ginned up by right-wing bloggers. If you haven’t, you should—the short story is that the fact of a war falling into ignominious failure is driving the apologists to desperate acts of rationalization, and the latest effort to save face involved a fairly inconsequential memo from Iraq that mentioned some temporary difficulties. That memo had to be discredited—I don’t quite see why, even if we were winning I’d expect occasional setbacks—and they turned to their usual tactic of peering at the profane text intently until they could find something that would justify their suspicions—in this case it was the discovery that the logo looked like a picture of a Hummel figurine found on the internet.

Like an entire cast of Keystone Kops, some of the loudest voices on the right-wing side of the blogosphere stumbled all over themselves to crow triumphantly over this ‘victory’…and then the U.S. Embassy in Iraq cheerfully revealed that the memo was authentic. It would be embarrassing for them if they had any shame.

Personally, I wouldn’t give a damn if that piece of paper were real or fake. The reality of the war does not hinge on the words in one memo or a thousand — the military produces memos like a blizzard produces snowflakes — but on the fact that people are dying. The dead do not walk nor are the wounded made whole if only some far right cheerleader for destruction can find vindication in a scrap of paper. It’s as if they hope their myopia gets even more severe, so the blood in the background will blur out of focus and text on a screen becomes the only reality.

Ahhhhh…I mean, Arrrrrr

That was a sigh of contentment. I went off to see the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie with very low expectations—like the last one, I expected an extremely muddled plot, lots of random noise that didn’t carry the story forward, and many places where the movie could have been edited down a bit. I was right! But it also had wonderful naval battles, glorious swashbuckling, and finally, the lady lead acquired a bit of ferocity. I just sank down in my seat and savored the unabashed piratey goodness and didn’t worry about the details, and all was well.

Except for one thing: finding my favorite character washed up dead on a beach in an early scene in the movie was very disappointing. I wiped away a tear and just imagined that she’d left behind a swarm of progeny that were flourishing off-screen.

Voice of reason meets buffoon and idiot tonight

The DefCon Blog has announced a horrific event tonight: Lawrence Krauss — he’s the good guy — is going to be on Fox, with Ken Ham and Bill O’Reilly.

Sweet jebus.

The only reason I’d be curious to see that spectacle is to find out which side O’Reilly chooses to suck up to; my bet would be that he’ll try to set himself up as superior to both.

Fortunately, I am privileged to miss it. Skatje and I are going to attend the 7:00 showing of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which promises to be the kind of flamboyantly ridiculous goofy story that won’t leave me gagging and nauseous.


I seem to have sort of accidentally won the Third Annual Satin Pajama Awards, in the category of Best Non-European Weblog. I really have got to be more careful when I sling my readership around—next time, I might put someone’s eye out. It’s gratifying to know the Europeans think I’m not bad for a non-European, even if (especially if?) it means Sadly, No! is going to have to impotently shake their fist at me.

Now I have to work on winning the Best non-Asian, Best non-Australian, Best non-South American, Best non-Antarctican, and Best non-African weblog awards before I move to an abandoned oil platform in the North Sea to win the Best non-North American weblog…and then I shall rule the world!

Another crazy Pennsylvania school teacher

The delusional creationists are everywhere, and the funny thing is how many of them consider themselves brilliant, well-informed, and objective, when what you discover on examining their claims is that they are foolish, ignorant, and blinded by religious bias — and obviously, they don’t even know it. Take, for instance, this high school teacher who issued a debate challenge.

Ritter, 59, has taught chemistry and physics at Annville-Cleona High School since 1997.

Ritter says he has no religious motivations, and he was not arguing for intelligent design or creationism.

He said he was barely aware of the controversy about evolution and intelligent design in the Dover Area School District until the issue went before a federal judge in late 2005.

Hooray for high school science teachers, they can be terrific. Unfortunately, this one who has no religious motivations and doesn’t argue for ID creationism or plain old creationism, was arguing against evolution, calling it “bad science.” As for his lack of awareness of the Dover controversy…he’s from central Pennsylvania, about an hour’s drive from Dover. Shouldn’t that self-announcement of utter obliviousness be an immediate warning that either he’s rather unqualified to be discussing the issue, and/or he’s hiding his actual motivation?

I vote for both—he’s hiding his beliefs. Later in the article, he mentions a few of his reasons.

While he said he has no religious motivations, one of his criticisms of evolution is that it promotes atheism.

“When evolutionists say that a creator cannot exist, they are saying God cannot exist,” Ritter said.

I’m also voting for “obliviousness,” since you have to be a complete fool to trot those old claims out as arguments against evolution, while simultaneously trying to pretend you’re completely open on the question of religion. Oh, well, the good news is that he only teaches physics, so he doesn’t have much opportunity to mislead his students about biology. I hope.

(via Spanish Inquisitor, unexpectedly)

Shhh. Don’t tell Larry.

A couple of Los Angelenos visited Canada and found themselves feeling strangely relaxed…and they have an explanation.

Lovely Wife developed an excellent theory. The coffee at Tim Horton’s, Canada’s ubiquitous coffee chain, is heavily drugged. Canada would be a non-stop raging 28 Days Later apocalypse if not for the fact we’re kept sedated. She’s working on the screenplay now.

That perfectly explains the mellow reputation of the only Tim Horton’s addict I know. Whatever you do, don’t deprive him of his fix!

We get email

By “we”, I mean me and Richard Dawkins. I can’t even imagine the volume of tripe that has to be flowing into his mailbox, but sometimes people send their important missives to both Dawkins and me (of course, I’m just an afterthought; the body of the letter is usually addressed to you-know-who). I’ve put the latest example below the fold—it is mildly amusing and definitely weird.

The formatting of the text is exactly as received.

[Read more…]

The lion isn’t lying down with the lamb just yet

Did you know that nature is a nice place, a kind of untamed Cute Overload where nobody ever gets an owie, there are no diseases or parasites, and everyone eats tofu? That seems to be what one school administrator in Florida believes, anyway.

A class was studying reptiles and a student brought in his pet boa. Somehow it was suggested that anyone who was interested could watch the boa being fed its usual meal: a live rabbit. The teacher arranged for the feeding to be held after school hours and attendance was voluntary. No one had to be there who didn’t want to be there. According to the story, the teacher even warned the squeamish to stay away.

I’m not bashing the school admistrator’s religious beliefs, but rather his silly inanity in the statement: “The school uses lessons and curricula that teach respect for God’s creative handiwork, and this event does not support that.” Snakes eat rabbits. Welcome to nature. Snakes don’t shop at the market for cans of rabbit stew.

Leave it to me to bash the administrator’s religious beliefs! If your idea of “god’s creative handiwork” involves an absence of death and predation, then you’re an ignorant nitwit, and I blame your religious miseducation — especially since this occurred at a place called Trinity Christian Academy. And I certainly hope this administrator doesn’t ever eat meat, and doesn’t have any pet dogs or cats, unless he wants to be guilty of hypocrisy.

Just to push the absurdity to an even greater level, this administrator has issued a proclamation.

We have taken steps to ensure this type of event doesn’t happen again.

Somehow, I don’t think the hungry carnivores that live all over the place are planning to pay much attention to that order. It’s probably enough, though, that he’ll close his eyes to reality and pretend nothing is eating anything else—willful blindness is the Christian thing to do.